It’s ’68– and who will be the Cronkite of the Jewish community?

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 8 Comments

"That’s it. If I’ve lost Walter Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America"— President Lyndon B. Johnson, February, 1968

After reading the tragic and heartbreaking news concerning the Israeli attack on the activists attempting to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, two events from the Vietnam War era come to mind, the Kent State shootings and Walter Cronkite’s editorial following the Tet Offensive. Wikis:

The Kent State shootings, also known as the May 4 massacre or Kent State massacre, occurred at Kent State University in the city of Kent, Ohio, and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by members of the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis. Some of the students who were shot had been protesting against the American invasion of Cambodia, which President Richard Nixon announced in a television address on April 30. ..There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of four million students, and the event further affected the public opinion, at an already socially contentious time, over the role of the United States in the Vietnam War.

Notice that Americans are now talking about the underlying issue, the blockade of Gaza. Again, Wiki/Cronkite:

In mid-February 1968, Cronkite journeyed to Vietnam to report on the aftermath of the Tet Offensive. Upon return, on February 27, 1968, Cronkite closed "Report from Vietnam: Who, What, When, Where, Why?" with an editorial report: To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.

Many people throughout the world have been able to objectively ignore the explanations, rationalizations, and spin by the Israeli government on this latest violation of international law and human rights against peace activists and the people of Gaza. Hopefully, however, the "serious" leaders of the Jewish American community, like Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, Rep. Howard Berman (Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee), or Rep. Gary Ackerman (Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia), realize the ever-increasing dangers of blindly backing the Israeli government and, finally, have the courage to stop condoning State terrorism. Just one of these individuals needs to stand up to the twin bullies, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, by removing his one-sided political support for Israel and encourage a more vigorous and fair response from the President of the United States.

They must immediately state, like Mr. Cronkite, that "the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could." If they don’t, then it will be up to the world community to remember the shock and horror of today’s events, support the ideas of the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and demand that our politicians do the same:

News Release 31 May 2010 Gaza aid convoy killings: Those responsible must be held criminally accountable – UN expert GENEVA–

The UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, urged Monday the international community to bring to justice those responsible for the killing of some 16 unarmed peace activist, when Israeli armed commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to Gaza. Israel is guilty of shocking behavior by using deadly weapons against unarmed civilians on ships that were situated in the high seas where freedom of navigation exists, according to the law of the seas, Mr. Falk said. It is essential that those Israelis responsible for this lawless and murderous behavior, including political leaders who issued the orders, be held criminally accountable for their wrongful acts….

8 Responses

  1. potsherd
    June 3, 2010, 11:54 am

    “hopefully” this would be true, but factually, all those named have already stood up to back the Israeli massacre.

  2. Colin Murray
    June 3, 2010, 12:21 pm

    Just one of these individuals needs to stand up to the twin bullies, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, …

    This is extremely unlikely to happen because all of the individuals you mention support Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and colonization in the Occupied Palestinian Territories including East Jerusalem. Differences of opinion among them about optimal methods and the need to reduce international visibility are irrelevant.

  3. LeaNder
    June 3, 2010, 1:04 pm

    the more you mention it the more it is back on my mind. tin soldiers and Nixon(‘s) coming …

  4. Chu
    June 3, 2010, 1:04 pm

    Who really needs a Cronkite now that we have so many blogs to get informed opinions from? Cronkite was good for his a day, but he would be tarred a leftist in today’s news.

    But maybe Maddow, if she could stop hating Muslims! Just kidding, seriously, Never her!

    • kylebisme
      June 3, 2010, 1:36 pm

      Blogs are great for those of us who have the initiative to seek out good information, but we still need a Cronkite to inform the masses who don’t.

  5. chet
    June 3, 2010, 6:48 pm

    The leading US news outlet now is “Sixty Minutes”.

    A one-hour story on the attack on the activists and the illegality and immorality of the Gaza blockade would accomplish more than a million op-ed pieces and blog posts.

    • Dan Kelly
      June 3, 2010, 7:49 pm

      So they’ll do one one-hour piece, and then it will be forgotten. Bob Simon did a piece on the Gaza massacre last year that was, by mainstream standards, pretty decent. How many Americans remember that?

      One of the problems is the medium itself. This isn’t talked about much, if at all, here. See Neil Postman and Jerry Mander for more on the horrors of television, but I will relate a personal story. My father and I were watching an episode of 60 Minutes a few months ago. It was a story on the economic woes different folks are going through here in America, and we were both in tears by the end of the segment. Ten minutes later, we were both laughing at the next segment, and by the end of the night, after watching Sunday Night Baseball, any concern or moral outrage we had as a result of that initial segment on 60 Minutes was all but forgotten. Since I remain active with this stuff, I keep coming back to it, and it resonates with me. But my father watches 60 Minutes every Sunday, gets touched by a story for a moment, then watches something else and goes to bed and by the time he wakes up in the morning not much, if any, of the feeling that was evoked while watching the story is left. I think that my father’s experience is probably typical of the majority of Americans who watch TV.

      As Fred Friendly said back in the late 60’s, “Television can make so much money doing its worst that it cannot afford to do its best.” He said that in 1967! That was before the consolidation of the media in the 90’s under Clinton, which have made things much, much worse than probably even Friendly could have imagined.

      Jerry Mander has done excellent work on the psychological effects of
      TV and how the medium isn’t really effective for getting important messages across. And of course Postman’s classic “Amusing Ourselves to Death” is the standard on how TV has corrupted the entire political process and democracy itself, among many other things.

  6. notatall
    June 3, 2010, 8:50 pm

    A better analogy might be the killing of Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman (especially the last two) in Mississippi 1964. James Forman, the brains behind Mississippi Summer, was reported to have said that nothing would change until some white people died. It took the death of white people to wake U.S. public opinion.

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