Heads up to all you Democratic Party activists who care about Palestinian rights: prepare to get marginalized by the establishment media and the Democratic Party elite.
As you know, there is now a battle inside the Party platform committee over what the platform will say about Israel and Palestine, with Bernie Sanders committee representative Cornel West saying that the party is “beholden” to AIPAC.
But there is huge pressure on the Sanders forces from the Hillary Clinton camp to keep their mouths shut about Palestine and move on to fight Donald Trump. And the media is helping out the party leadership by making the story yesterday’s news. New York Times covered the split over Israel and Palestine last month, but did not cover the more recent battle over Israel/Palestine language last week in D.C.
Last night Chris Matthews did his part by airing a Hardball segment on MSNBC titled “Bernie Sanders’ list of demands,” which then left out a key demand! Matthews essentially censored any mention of Israel and Palestine. Though he teased the segment with a vague reference to the Israel/Palestine fight:
There’s a mideast fight coming up. We’ve got Jim Zogby in there and Cornel West. We got some people who are pretty red hot on some issues in there right now who are going to make some issues out of foreign policy.
But after that, the segment had nothing at all to say about the Middle East, let alone Palestine. And Hardball should be seen as official media w-r-t the Democratic Party. The segment featured Ed Rendell, who is a Democratic Party establishment figure (and Israel supporter) whose former political guru, David Cohen, is executive vice president of Comcast, the media company that owns MSNBC. Cohen is also a big Israel supporter: a former Jewish Federations leader who has been honored by an organization that buys up land to give to Jews in Israel. Cohen has held a big fundraiser for Hillary Clinton and held fundraisers for President Obama.
No wonder Chris Matthews keeps his mouth shut about those “red hot” issues.
On the show last night, Joy Reid sought to propitiate the Sanders red hots by saying that “in a lot of ways he’s gotten the fundamental things that he wanted.” She said the Democratic Party is “significantly to the left” of where it was when Clinton began running for president, “on things like trade,” the Keystone pipeline, and income inequality. Reid cited Elizabeth Warren and Occupy as other progressive forces. “He should take some credit for what he’s achieved and not look at like personal battles with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, I think it diminishes what he accomplished.”
Notice again that she left out Israel and Palestine as issues that the left ought to care about. This has been the pattern for 50 years: our party will be somewhat liberal on lots of domestic issues, but we’re shoulder to shoulder with the Republicans on Israel and don’t try and politicize that. A lot of us thought Israel support was going to be politicized this year. It has been, to some extent, but now’s the time to shut up. There are sure to be demonstrations at the convention next month in Philadelphia. I predict that only the left/alt press is going to cover them.
The US Campaign to End the Occupation is doing its part to get the conversation into the mainstream. It cites Cornel West’s statement at the platform committee meeting that the issue of Palestinian rights is now at a “turning point” in the US discourse. The US campaign urges folks to submit their views to the Democratic platform drafters here, and it writes:
Cornel West is right. If these conversations are happening at the highest levels of political parties, then we are indeed at a turning point.
And with the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia approaching next month, we have an amazing opportunity to make our voices heard loudly
Speaking of marginalization, this is a related development. The latest Foreign Affairs has a new special issue all about the “struggle for Israel.” The tiny country gets red carpet media treatment. You’d never know from this special issue that the country’s leadership is exploding, with the center saying that the rightwing government is paranoid, extremist, Nazilike, and posing an “existential” crisis to the state. No Israel is just going through a transition here. The issue features a piece by a pro-Israel propagandist, Martin Kramer, two pieces by Israeli journalists Aluf Benn and Amos Harel, an overly hopeful interview with Tzipi Livni that never addresses human rights atrocities, and a softball interview with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked with only mild pushback against her intolerance from interviewer Jonathan Tepperman. Oh and a very good piece about Israel’s second class Palestinian citizens, by the Palestinian scholar As’ad Ghanem.
But there is nothing I can find about life in the occupied territories in this panoply. The piece on Israeli political culture by an Israeli journalist completely downplays Israel’s fascist currents, leaving out a high general’s charge that Israel is echoing the Nazi period. And there is nothing from an American critic of the special relationship, let alone an anti-Zionist or pro-Boycott leader.
And you will see that in the same issue of Foreign Affairs, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer have an essay about a new grand strategy for U.S. foreign policy, called the Case for Off-shore balancing. In it they call for better relations with Iran, describe ISIS as a “minor problem” for the U.S., see China as a real economic threat to be taken on, and say of Europe: “the United States should end its military presence and turn NATO over to the Europeans.” The word Israel doesn’t appear in their essay; though this is the tenth anniversary of their groundbreaking essay on the Israel lobby, Foreign Affairs doesn’t want to hear any of that from them. No, it devotes a half dozen navel-gazing articles to Israel, making it seem like it is a normal country in flux, occasionally wondering if it is too dependent on the U.S. That’s how the establishment works: raises mild questions, marginalizes real critics.