Tuesday, April 24

Submission: Media needs more pro-Palestine narratives for balanced perspective


“I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction.” This quote from current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to Israeli settlers in the West Bank in 2001 shows why Americans would do well to educate themselves as to how they can be so easily moved when it comes to the Palestine-Israeli conflict.

This is why Students for Justice in Palestine will be screening “The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in The United States.” The film sheds light on the mainstream media’s role in creating a pro-Israel narrative.

Tune into most mainstream news outlets and you will find much more coverage in line with the Israeli narrative that ignores the Palestinian perspective. As a result, it leaves Israel’s human rights abuses largely unchallenged on the air. If they are challenged, they may be dismissed by the anchor and will usually go back to a core talking point.

Any American who follows the news will hear regular accounts of Palestinians committing acts of violence. Israeli government officials and spokespeople will be called on the air, and the message will reaffirm Israel’s right to defend itself. However, these news stories tell us almost nothing about why this violence exists in the first place. The media leads us to believe that Palestinians are inherently violent, anti-Semitic terrorists who cannot accept Israel as a Jewish state.

Yet the media ignores subjects that effect Palestinians every day: the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the continued expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements in Palestinian territory, home evictions and demolitions by the Israel Defense Forces, the separation wall, military checkpoints, bombing campaigns and the utter denial of Palestinians’ most basic human rights.

This elision of context is the essence of what is called “Hasbara,” or “explanation” in Hebrew. As the magazine Haaretz explains, “Hasbara” is a form of propaganda on an international scale, sanctioned by the Israeli government and primarily aimed at western countries and is meant to influence conversation in a way that positively portrays Israeli policies. “Hasbara” targets political elites and the public simultaneously through the mass media, and is carried out by government agencies, nonprofits, lobbying groups, students, journalists and bloggers.

Popular discourse about Gaza provides one good example of the effectiveness of “Hasbara.” Many argue that Israel withdrew all its settlements from Gaza in a gesture of good will and peace, when all they got in return was Hamas firing rockets at them. Israeli officials have repeated this go-to talking point in the midst of Israel’s horrific bombing campaigns on the Gaza Strip in 2008 and 2014.

Given this set of facts, one would be inclined to side with Israel. However, reality paints a different picture. The fact is that Israel never left the Gaza Strip. They withdrew their settlements, but they retain complete control over Gaza through land, air and sea; the Israel Defense Forces use giant walls, watchtowers, gun boats and military aircraft overhead. No Palestinian is allowed in or out of Gaza without Israel’s permission – for this reason, Gaza is often compared to an open-air prison. With these important details left out, Americans are left with only the pro-Israel narrative to refer to when forming their opinions.

The arguments raised in this submission are explored in greater detail in “The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in The United States.” The film takes a close look at pro-Israel public relations efforts inside the U.S. and shows how the Israeli government, the U.S. government and pro-Israel advocacy groups work together to direct U.S. mainstream media coverage in favor of Israel and against Palestinians.

The film provides a complete analysis of Israel’s long fought battle for the minds of the American people, which has only intensified over the years due to widening international condemnation. As long as the United States continues to support Israel and its oppressive policies, Palestinians will see no change for the better. And the American government will support these policies as long as the American population tolerates them.

As a member of Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA, I would like to invite those who completely disagreed with this piece as well as those who know nothing about the conflict to come watch this film with us and join in on a discussion with the executive producer Sut Jhally and founding Pink Floyd member Roger Waters.

The screening will be held Wednesday in James Bridges Theatre at 7:00 p.m. You can visit our Facebook page for more information and to reserve a free ticket. The worst it will do is change your mind.

Mansour is a third-year anthropology student and member of Students for Justice at Palestine’s UCLA chapter.

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  • Beer Baron

    The myth of Arab Muslim victimhood is cheap propaganda stemming from the failed Arab attempts to destroy Israel, and drive its Jewish population “into the sea.”

    The anti-Israel left continues to pander to the irrational, bigoted demands of the Middle East’s Arab Muslim majority to suppress the region’s only non-Muslim state, in favor of yet another Arab Muslim country. That blatant disregard for the rights of anyone who is not an Arab Muslim is precisely the reason why the Jews of Israel had to fight for national independence.

    The mere existence of Israel proclaims the national rights of the Jewish INDIGENOUS population of Israel; a country and a people that predate Arab colonialism and will outlive it as well.

    • peepsqueek

      Arab victimhood is real, but it is mostly due to Palestinian Arab leadership. With all the Arab wars against the Jewish State, and after subsequent defeats, they created the doctrine of the limited-liability war. Under this theory, an aggressor may reject a compromise settlement and gamble on war to win everything in the comfortable knowledge that, even if they fail to win, they may insist on reinstating the status quo in the original 1948 UN Mandate Partition Resolution.

      Every Hamas rocket fired into Israel’s civilian populations is an act of war and a war crime, and even a bigger crime to the Palestinian people, knowing that Israel is going to return fire with superior fire power. Yet Hamas does this over and over and over again. Israel has early warning sirens for incoming rockets, but it forces thousands of Israeli parents to grab their children and run for bomb shelters. The results of Israel’s response are then used for Arab propaganda at the expense of victimizing their own populations.

      To add to your other point– Besides Israel, no other ethnic or religious minorities have the full right of self determination in the Middle East.

      As far as the far left is concerned, I don’t get it. No Islamist (as political right as you can go) would ever support any liberal causes, to include a woman’s right to choose, gay rights, the right to change your religious philosophy, or even the right of freedom of expression to a cartoonist. Yet the far left wants to single out Israel for human rights violations and BDS in a sea of Islamic Countries with abysmal human rights records. Why not just boycott the entire Middle East? I am fine with boycotting Israel or having them go before an international Court, as long as every other Country in the region has to live up to the very same standards of human rights.

      • peepsqueek

  • Mikaere

    @Bear Brain Perhaps a good (unbiased) history course would give you more accurate background. Actually, the documentary sounds like a good start. The Palestinians ( who had nothing to do with the antisemitism Jews had to endure in Europe) were all of a sudden made to pay the price, by being thrown off their land by these Eastern European Jews escaping bad treatment in Europe. Because these particular Jews acted like colonialists toward those living there must be understood. For anyone to think these Europeans somehow owned another peoples county or land is, as we know from historical experience here in the US, is not the most moral choice. We know manifest destiny is wrong.
    We know, or someday we will know, Zionism, a political entity of superiority of one people over another is wrong.

    • peepsqueek

      The banner of Islam flies over 99.9% of the Middle East land mass, and 1.5 million Palestinians live in Israel proper as citizens on land that hypocritical activists claim are ethnically cleansed. Every last Jew was removed from Gaza 11 years ago and Hamas rockets rained down on Israel within weeks. Lesson learned! Hypocritical activists say it would be better for peace if the West Bank (birthplace of David, Solomon, and Jesus) were free of Jews. The fact is that before 1967, Israel was a constant target for Arab terrorism before there was a single Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Gaza.

      Be honest Mikaere, you would really like to see the banner of Islam fly over 100% of the Middle East land mass. Hamas: No Muslim shall rest until the banner of Islam flies over every inch of the land.

    • ModernMaccabi

      Jews have lived in the region that is now called Israel for thousands of years. It is the historic and ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. Why was it wrong for Jews to flee persecution and violence aimed against them in Europe, Russian and the Arab world to move to what was then Ottoman Palestine or British Mandate Palestine, when it is perfectly ok for Arabs and Muslims to flee wars and head to the United States and Europe? Can you imagine if Americans and Europeans started violent riots to kill and maim Muslim and European refugees as the Arabs did to Jewish refugees starting in the 1920s who fled to what was then British Mandate Palestine?

      The Jews who fled to the region in the early 20th century did not kick out any Arabs/Palestinians. They actually bought land from the Ottomans and others, but nationalistic Arabs did not want them there and attacked and started riots. Which then resulted in the creating of Jewish defense units. The British tried to keep the peace before their mandate expired in 1948, but the Arabs never gave up their goal of expelling the Jews. That is why they refused to accept the UN partition of the land between Arabs and Jews in 1947 and started a war that continues to this very day.

      The hypocrisy and lack of knowledge of the facts contained in your post is striking.

  • ModernMaccabi

    The author and the “film” (which ironically is nothing more than anti-Israeli propaganda) he is promoting both conveniently fail to mention or address the following important facts about the ongoing conflict between Israel/Jews and the Palestinians/Arabs:
    1) The seemingly endless Palestinian and Arab violence and terrorism against Israelis and Jews. It is notable that the violence started in the 1920′s long before the creation of Israel and continued with Arab initiated wars in 1948, 1967, 1973, airplane hijackings, murders at the Olympics, bombings aimed at civilians at restaurants, nightclubs, buses, stabbings, shootings etc…;
    2) The sophisticated and well funded anti-Israel propaganda organizations such as SJP, BDS, Palestine Legal, Mondoweiss, Electronic Intifada, etc…, not to mention other groups included in the Muslim Ummah which is vociferously against Israel and pro-Palestinian narrative;
    3) That Hamas, which is in control of Gaza, is sworn to the destruction of Israel as a state and the expulsion of Jews from the region.
    4) That Hamas started the most recent war with Israel by launching rockets at civilian populations among other things.
    For the foregoing reasons, both the author and the film should not be taken seriously.

    • Ganesha_akbar

      Material support for terrorism is terrorism.

      Recall, in a 6 to 3 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a federal law that makes it a crime for Americans to provide “material support” of any kind – be it in the form of cash, weaponry, training, personnel, services, or “expert advice or assistance” – to a foreign terrorist organization, even if that support is for ostensibly peaceful purposes.

      Hamas would be one such example. It conducts terrorist attacks against Israel with one part of its organization while running propaganda endeavors with another. Propagandizing for Hamas (as this film does) to support Hamas outreach programs would allow Hamas to use propaganda money elsewhere; and it would allow Hamas to not have to reduce funding for its terrorist activities.

      So, thanks once again to Omar Mansour (the local Hamas propagandists) for making it easier for Trump’s NSA to track your activities and Session’s Justice Department to prosecute your material support propaganda campaign.

      Great job, SJP terrorism-enablers!

      • Avram Cohen

        But the Americans do provide material support in the form of high tech weapons in situations like the Syrian rebels (terrorists) who enjoy beheading Christian Syrians and Armenians and others in Syria… the BS MSM propaganda koolaid is flowing strong, lol

  • Dre_loves_Trump

    The Old City of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters – The Jewish Quarter, The Armenian Quarter, The Christian Quarter, and The Muslim Quarter. Just guess who are the only ones who don’t get along???

    • peepsqueek

      To add: It is important to note that the first enduring Jewish agricultural settlement in the Modern Palestine was founded not by European refugees, but by a group of old-time families, leaving the overcrowded Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. According to the Turkish census of 1875, by that time Jews already constituted a majority of the population of Jerusalem and by 1905 comprised two-thirds of its citizens. The Encyclopedaedia Britanica of 1910 gives the population figure as 60,000, of who 40,000 were Jews.

      In 1878 they found the village of Petah Tikva in the Sharon Palin, a village that was to become known as the “Mother of Jewish Settlements” in Palestine. Four years later a group of pioneer immigrants from Russia settled in Rishon le-Zion. Other villages followed in rapid succession. All land sales, under the Ottoman Empire, had to be approved by Islamic Courts. Non Muslims paid extra taxes, therefore it was good business.

  • Dre_loves_Trump

    Most amazing stat of all – 197 Nobel Peace prize winners have been Jewish – 12 have been Muslim.. That means 16 million people have done more for the world than 1.6 billion…Thank God for the Jews…

    • peepsqueek

      There is no doubt that this tiny minority of Jews has contributed much to the world, including this e-mail technology that we are using right now. However, you cannot take Nobel Prizes or lack of Nobel Prizes into an international Court of Law when sorting out a balanced scale of justice in these specific cases.

      To your other point, God is a concept not a physical entity, which is why every cultural has a different idea about the concept. The one concept we can all agree on is Santa Claus, so have happy holiday don’t fight over who has the true spoken word of God, because every religion takes that claim (falsely)

  • Ellen Hanson

    Conflict between east and west in the middle east is as old as history itself. The west, the Greeks, was fighting the east, the Persians, in 1000 BC. (I was a math student and my knowledge of history is not the best, so additions/corrections to what follows are welcome.)

    The conflict has been more or less continuous since that time, going through various transformations, and continues to the present day.

    After the Greeks fought the Persians, the Romans fought the Persians, and then with the advent of Christianity and Mohammedanism the Christian West fought the Muslim East, with a great give and take with the Muslims conquering northern Africa and parts of Spain, and then falling back. This back and forth went on for centuries.

    The Crusades in the Middle Ages were a continuation of this conflict.

    The British colonized the Muslim countries in the 1800s.

    The latest variation began when the United Nations, created to solve conflicts between nations on the basis of justice and respect for all, ignored 3000 years of history and every principle of justice and fair play, and as their first act created the apartheid state of Israel in the middle of Arabia.

    The wars continue to this day, with the US military dropping 25,000 bombs/year on the ME.

    http://blogs.cfr.org/zenko/2016/01/07/how-many-bombs-did-the-united-states-drop-in-2015/

    • peepsqueek

      First of all, the United States and Israel has the capacity to drop just one bomb and end any war in the Middle East.

      To your other point about history, here is another aspect: Egyptians were not Arabs, nor did they speak Arabic. Syrians (Assyrians) were not Arabs, nor did they speak Arabic, Moroccans (Berbers) were not Arabs, nor did they speak Arabic, Iraqis (Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, Azides, etc) were not Arabs nor did they speak Arabic, Libya was not Arab, nor did they speak Arabic, the Sudan (tribal Africa) was not Arab, nor did they speak Arabic, Tunisia was not Arab, nor did they speak Arabic. Why are they all called Arab Countries, and belong to the League of “Arab” Nations, and live under some form of Islamic Sharia, which is Arabian?

  • Ganesha_akbar

    Egyptian-Arabs in Hamastan have already ethnically cleansed Gaza of every ethnic Jew. Meanwhile, Jordanian-Arabs of The Palestinian Authority demand boycotts to affect removal of “settlements” and that no Jewish communities be allowed in Judea (the so-called “West Bank“).

    It would appear that people demanding the ethnic cleansing of Jews from these disputed territories envision one country (Israel) where Jews, Muslims and others may live as equals; and another (Palestine) where Jews are verboten.

    If that isn’t Islamo-supremacist Apartheid, I don’t know what is.

    Victims of anti-Semetic propaganda have proven Joseph Goebbels right– if lies are repeated often enough, then people will come to believe them.

  • Andee

    Thanks so much for writing this, and kudos for you guys finally exploiting the truth about the media. So freaking biased. Was sad to miss the event/movie screening but everyone should be educated on this. I guess when you are more educated you are trained to ask questions (esp Phd students), and don’t just take one side opinions or “facts” to heart. You ask questions, WHY was this happening, and you read about the other side too. Thanks for sharing. Not even going to address all the trolls that comment here, cuz it’s all the same blah blah blah.