Do you ever feel that you’re having no effect whatsoever on the issue? I had that feeling, listening to two recent pieces on public radio where Israel’s brand was riding high.
First WNYC, the New York public radio station, did a piece on women in the movies that was overtly political, inasmuch as it pressed for greater variety and quantity for women’s roles in film. Host Julianne Welby seemed thrilled by Kristen Meinzer‘s interview with “a very high profile actress,” Scarlett Johansson. The journalists applauded Johansson’s range, which Meinzer said evidences
her box-office bang: People love her, people flock to see her.
Roll tape: Johansson talking about her portrayals of women.
Not everyone loves her! NPR said not a word about the recent SodaStream flap, in which Johansson had to resign from Oxfam because she reps a company that makes seltzer machines in the occupied Palestinian territories. I guess that hasn’t hurt Scarlett Johansson at all, in some quarters.
Then National Public Radio did this piece on an Israeli Palestinian who won a reality TV contest, called Master Chef. Host Melissa Block had a bubble in her voice the whole interview, and the word Arab was said again and again (I count 12 Arabs and Arabics). But no one said the word Palestinian.
Nof Atamna-Ismaeel is the first Israeli Arab to win “Master Chef,” and she’s a microbiologist. She joins me now from Tel-Aviv. Nof, welcome to the program and congratulations….
Nof, I’ve read that you have a dream now, which is to open a Jewish-Arab cooking school. What’s your hope for that cooking school?
Atamna-Ismaeel then said, “I really think that this is the only way that we can solve a little bit of this conflict is by sitting together and trying to talk to each other.”
I’d have little reason to object to this story if NPR did pieces on why many Palestinians are against dialogue, why many oppose “normalization,” and why Palestinians inside Israel are second-class citizens. Or why Palestinians object to being called Arabs– inasmuch as it racializes them and denies their nationality. Or if NPR interviewed Shira Robinson about her new book about Palestinian legal status in Israel, for instance. But that’s just not a story for NPR.