Last night in Tel Aviv there was a great demonstration against the Gaza slaughter of a year ago. 1000 people marched through the middle of the city, from Rabin square to the Defense Ministry. They carried signs showing a blood-soaked land. Anarchists against the wall denounced apartheid. They said that Israel had targeted women and children. Some called for a binational state.
The stars were out: Shlomo Sand, author of the Invention of the Jewish People, the everlasting Uri Avnery, and Gideon Levy, who had written that day that the peace process is a joke. As we marched, a police helicopter flew over us and Israeli media interviewed many of the protesters.
Two foreign crews were there.
One was Brazilian. Another was a hardworking woman journalist who walked through the body of the protest, asking people why they were there and filming their posters and banners. She was from Al Jazeera. Joseph Dana told me that he regularly runs into Al Jazeera at protests in Israel. Al Jazeera follows activists into the West Bank when they march against the wall or try and protect Palestinian farmlands from settlers.
“Al Jazeera has interviewed me many times. They’ve asked me what I’m doing there.” He has also seen al-Arabiya at protests. “I’ve never been interviewed by American media. I’ve never seen them at a demonstration. They are all stationed here. CNN is here. Bloomberg is here. ABC and CBS. They’ve never interviewed me. Even the BBC. Where is the BBC?”
The point is obvious. Arab media are trying to document the dramatic struggle that is taking place for the soul of Israeli society after 42 years of occupation. The American media have largely closed their eyes to this wrenching division in Israeli life–and, on a parochial note, deprived American Jews of any awareness of, let alone sustenance for, the reemergence of a non-Zionist tradition in Jewish communities. On this subject as on many others involving the Israel/Palestine conflict, Arabs are better informed than we are.