Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Going Rogue: Challenging Israeli Actions in the Media

No, this is not a post about Sarah Palin. We've recently seen some great examples of media coverage of Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights--and U.S. complicity in those violations. Here's just a few examples of people who are challenging Israeli actions in the media: 1) CNN International is carrying a powerful report entitled "Israel a rogue state?" which features interviews with Israeli scholars Avi Shlaim and Shlomo Sand. Watch the video below: 2) Journalist Helena Cobban, who is now Executive Director of US Campaign member group Council for the National Interest, has an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor entitled "Can Obama stand up to Israel?" in which she argues that the Obama administration needs to take action against Israel's ethnic cleansing policy in East Jerusalem or face a dangerous international backlash:
"This is Obama's chance to set a new, just course for the Middle East on a firmly pro-American basis. He can do this by linking US aid to Israel to its compliance with international law in the city, by supporting action by the UN Security Council to uphold international standards there, and in other ways. The 250,000 remaining Palestinians of Jerusalem desperately need this action. So does Obama's peace diplomacy."
3) Documentary filmmaker and human rights activist Adam Shapiro (whose editing skills we have to thank for our new Motorola Droid commercial spin-off) published a scathing opinion piece on Huffington Post, calling his friend and now-Virginia Congressman Tom Good, Jr. to task for his support of H.Res. 867 condemning the Goldstone Report:
"That this resolution was introduced against the Report because the primary victims were Palestinian is an extension of Israel's policies of discrimination that set Palestinians apart as a people with inferior rights. Voting in favor was akin to a stamp of approval that Palestinian lives are not equal: yes, they were killed, but so what, their deaths are not worth investigating. Such blatant disregard for a specific people's humanity and human rights in favor of another people's superior rights and privileged standing can only be understood as apartheid. Congressman Perriello and his colleagues have turned their backs on international law and human rights. They failed to offer a word of support for Palestinian freedom and the lives of the more than 300 Palestinian children killed by Israel in the winter war."
4) US Campaign supporters wrote letters to the editor and op-eds in response to our national day of media action against Israel's apartheid wall, which corresponded with the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. We got feedback from supporters letting us know that they had written in to a diverse range of media outlets from national newspapers to local papers to blogs. Here's US Campaign supporter Moneta S. Prince published on November 9 in The Austin American Statesman:
"Tear This Wall Down I enjoyed reading Maj. Dorian de Wind’s account of the historical night November 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall began to come down. What joy the Germans felt! Another wall needs to come down: the one that separates Palestinians from Israelis and Palestinians from Palestinians, a 400-mile barrier that snakes around illegal settlements and is flanked by a 230-330 foot wide “buffer zone” which has confiscated Palestinian territory. We have been told it is for the security of Israel. If so, why is it all on Palestinian land, eventually to gobble up 50% of the West Bank? It is a land grab, pure and simple, designed to harass Palestinians, make it difficult for them to tend their fields and orchards, using “security” as an excuse to destroy houses, orchards, and mainly to make a two-state solution impossible. Israel has the right to build a wall – but only on its own territory."
And here's supporter Robert Fischer in the WCF Courier on November 12:
"Tear down West Bank wall CEDAR FALLS - On June 12, 1987, Ronald Reagan faced the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and uttered the famous words, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" On Nov. 9, 1989, the wall actually came down after 28 years and two states that had been divided became one again.
Another wall of separation now stretches in a serpentine manner throughout the West Bank separating Israeli "settlers" from Palestinians as well as Palestinians from Palestinians. Our former president Jimmy Carter accurately characterized it as an apartheid wall. The wall is an Israeli government tool for creating a state that has room for only one religion and one race.
It is time for another American president to face another wall of shame and say, "Mr. Netanyahu, tear down this wall!" Tearing down the wall could lead the way for Israel and Palestine to come together in a single, secular state with no requirements for religion or race for citizenship. People could worship freely; they could work and do business together, and their children could attend the same public schools. Lest someone object that this is a utopian vision and totally unrealistic, such a system is working in the United States."

The WCF Courier published another letter the next day, by Don Wiederanders, which sets a great example by including the names of Members of Congress in the letter. Congressional staff keep track of all mentions of their Member of Congress in local media outlets, so this is a great way to get the attention of lawmakers:

"Israel building a wall of its own
CEDAR FALLS - A glorious event took place 20 years ago on Nov. 9, 1989 - the fall of the Berlin Wall. That was the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union - the most repressive superpower since the notorious Third Reich.
Today and every day - 365 days a year - we the citizens of this great country give Israel more than $10 million. They use our "gift" to build what they call the Separation Barrier - Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel peace Prize winner, rightfully calls it the Apartheid Wall. It is every bit as evil as the Berlin Wall. You can help to bring it down.
Contact Rep. Bruce Braley, Sen. Charles Grassley, Sen. Tom Harkin and - most importantly - President Barack Obama. Tell them to stop aid to Israel until Israel ends the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Then we can celebrate the fall of another wall."

To check out media coverage of the US Campaign, click here. Click here to see media coverage of Israeli apartheid and the BDS movement. Most importantly, remember that this sort of coverage only appears in the media if we put pressure on media outlets to include it. Click here to find out how YOU can influence the discourse.