Sunday, February 1, 2009

CBS on West Bank: Follow-up

I recently heard that CBS (and in particular, those who produced the 60 minutes segment in question) have come under fire from pro-Israel groups furious about alleged 'bias' in the program.

This is an instructive moment.

The program laid bare the realities of daily life for Palestinians (e.g. that they cannot use the huge, modern highways designated only for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, that they must go through excessive and humiliating checkpoints, etc.). Bob Simon spoke firsthand with settlers, with the potential new PM of Israel, with former Israeli officials. Between what they said and the glimpse at daily life for most Palestinians (whose homes are regularly invaded by and inhabited by IDF, for example) there was enough there to dissolve the thick layers of myth surrounding the issue as it is typically discussed in most mainstream US outlets. It is unsurprising that this would anger the most hard-line Zionists. For them, this program was likely read as a surreptitious attempt to create sympathy for a people (the Palestinians) who are, at the end of the day, terrorists/competitors for the holy soil of Israel. Thus, despite the indisputable facts presented in the program (the settler-only highways, the militant expansionism and colonial mentality of the settlers, the checkpoints, the militarization of the West Bank, etc. etc.) were 'biased' precisely insofar as the program didn't buttress each and every glance into Palestinian life with a litany of ultra-Zionist propaganda ('but Israel MUST defend itself at all costs', 'Israel's post-'67 borders are immovable', 'Small, vulnerable Israel is totally surrounded by hostile, belligerent terrorists (i.e. all of the non-Jewish inhabitants of the West Bank) who want noting more than to destroy it', etc.). This is precisely why it is so fruitless to discuss/argue about the isssue with hardened Zionists. When approaching people of this political ilk, there is a sense in which it falls on deaf ears to mention to them the realities of oppression, subordination, racism, atrocities, mass killings, bombing raids, war crimes, ghetto-ization and siege, apartheid, etc. From what I can gather, that the atrocities are occuring is intelligible but is nonetheless perpetually subordinated to jingoistic slogans, religious/messianic mandates, 'us versus them' arguments, etc.

1 comment:

Sasha said...

You act like this "oppression" exists in a vacuum. Were it not for the horrors of two intifitadas there would be no check points. Were it not for Israel's hostile neighbors, not terrorists in the West Bank, but nations armed with modern weapons and unscrupulous means (restricting water supplies as Syria did from the Golan Heights in 67), there would be no need for occupation. Were it not for Arab Jew hatred that found the existence of a Jewish state so abhorrent they declared war to end that existence, there would be a nation called Palestine with much more land than is now an option for the innocents trapped between these juggernauts. But I guess its useless to argue with a hardened liberal, logic and history do little to overcome the emotion outpouring of support for the underdog, the resistance.