US press coverage of Israel is a theme in Dennis J. Bernstein’s Consortium News interview with Max Blumenthal about his new book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. The book came out at the beginning of October. And Blumenthal relates that he’s had a hard time getting press coverage.
DB: This is one of the most, if not the most, censored subjects in the U.S. The liberal press is perhaps worse than the conservative press. We talked before about Rachel Maddow. Chris Matthews has a new book and will be on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Has NPR reached out to you yet? Morning Edition? Are any of these folks interested in this censored subject?
MB: I’m glad you asked that. In my last book tour for Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party, I got books for Fresh Air and Terry Gross. I didn’t understand the significance of the show until my interview aired. She actually let me give my analysis uncensored on the Christian right and the Republican Party. Within five minutes of the show airing I went onto the Amazon page for my book and was number eight overall for books on Amazon. I was beating Glenn Beck, whose book was being bulk bought by conservative organizations.
People were eating it up, because they finally heard an analysis, even about the Republican Party, that had been sort of off-limits in the mainstream media. My publicist has tried to book me on Terry Gross again. If people hear my analysis, I think they are hungry to hear about my journalism and experiences. Terry Gross’s producer has flat out rejected it. I have not gotten onto any mainstream media.
DB: Do they say why they aren’t interested?
MB: I was asked to submit something by the New York Times op docs, a new section on the website that published short video documentaries. I am known for short video documentaries about the right wing in the U.S, and extremism in Israel. They solicited a video from me, and when I didn’t produce it in time, they called me for it, saying they wanted it. So I sent them a video I produced with my colleague, David Sheen, an Israeli journalist who is covering the situation of non-Jewish Africans in Israel more extensively than any journalist in the world.
We put together some shocking footage of pogroms against African communities in Tel Aviv, and interviews with human rights activists. I thought it was a well-done documentary about a situation very few Americans were familiar with. We included analysis. We tailored it to their style, and of course it was rejected without an explanation after being solicited. I sent it to some other major websites and they have not even responded t me, when they had often solicited articles from me in the past.
It is clear what is going on here. Luckily, the Nation magazine will show this documentary later this month, appearing with an excerpt from my book. There are some brave people out there who are willing to allow me to have an audience, but that’s what’s going on with this subject. There are so many great journalists who are doing such a better job than the mainstream correspondents posted in Jerusalem. Many of these journalists are Palestinian. Others, like Nora Barrows-Freedman, who works with the Electronic Intifada, are denied a mainstream audience. It’s not like you are attacked - it’s that you are denied an audience. There is a curtain of silence around this issue. What I am trying to do is break though that curtain..
Blumenthal also relates an interesting story about Time Magazine’s coverage of the conflict.
Conflict management is Netanyahu’s open strategy. Karl Vick [of Time Magazine] talked about that and how Tel Aviv is doing quite well, while Palestinians might be mired in increasing levels of misery. Why does Israel need a two-state solution if Tel Aviv is doing so well? Netanyahu’s people were furious about this article. I know from a source at Time magazine, that people at Time-Warner, the parent company of time, were furious about the article, and they exert a lot of pressure on Time because these are pro-Israel donors and they have big connections with Netanyahu.
So Time magazine sent its managing editor, Richard Stengel, in May 2012 to meet with Netanyahu. He arrived ready to relay a heavy dose of “Bibi-think” to the American public. The result of the interview that Richard Stengel returned with was a bizarre article, a fawning profile of Netanyahu arguing with god, who dubbed Netanyahu “King Bibi” who conquered Israel and god said will, Netanyahu now make peace or war? This was on the cover of Time - the same exact cover Time ran when Netanyahu was Prime Minister 16 years before asking, can he make peace?
You can’t take Netanyahu at his word when he says he doesn’t want to make peace. It’s these pressures inside the U.S. that prevent it from happening. Some journalists are sent to Israel to write press releases for Netanyahu, and others who are doing their job reporting the facts on the ground are themselves intimidated and punished. Luckily Karl Vick is still there doing a decent job. Consider this quote from Netanyahu: it sums up the Israeli public relations operation in two lines. ”It doesn’t matter if justice is on your side. You have to depict your position as just.” So that’s what they are doing.