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We must shift American public opinion in order to end Palestinian oppression

Opinion
on 34 Comments

History shows that those committing atrocities on the world stage don’t wake up one day and spontaneously end their crimes. As regular readers of Mondoweiss know, Israel won’t end Palestinian oppression on its own. Outside pressure is the only hope, and the most powerful vehicle to deliver that pressure, BDS, is building momentum. That is, boycott and divestment are, but sanctions are not yet a serious topic of discussion in U.S. political discourse. And they need to be. 

The best hope for Palestinians is a change in American public opinion. Losing the support of Americans, including the largest Jewish population outside Israel, would mean losing American military support. At that point, Israel would be isolated on the world stage. 

What will it take? When will a critical mass of Americans understand that Palestinians have been oppressed for 70 years? That it’s wrong for the U.S. to bankroll Israel’s military? And that our blind support of Israel is morally bankrupt? Despite encouraging signs of late, most Americans still believe Israel’s actions are justified—because like Israelis, their American supporters see Palestinians as sub-human.

The dehumanization of Palestinians underlies so many absurdities. One example: the endlessly repeated myth that Palestinians teach their children they must kill Israeli Jews. No sane parent would encourage a child to take an action that would ruin the child’s life. Or end it. The notion that it could become a societal norm in parenting is beyond absurd. Those who believe this myth can only do so under the premise that Palestinians are less than human.

Another example: the claim that insisting on the right of return for Palestinians is equivalent to demanding the destruction of Israel. As Rahim Darwish points out, this absurdity dehumanizes Palestinians by denying their feelings, aspirations and needs.

It doesn’t end there. Whether it’s the conflation of Hamas with ordinary Palestinians or blaming Palestinians themselves for the abysmal living conditions in Gaza, the function of the propaganda is the same: to deny the humanity of all Palestinians. 

This answers the question above: what will it take? To end the atrocities, we must reverse the dehumanization. 

Ultimately, Americans will see the injustice clearly only when they’ve unlearned the absurdities that cause them to ignore the humanity of Palestinians. If they see Palestinians as monsters who teach their kids to kill Israelis, they never will see Israel’s actions as the atrocities they are. Instead, they will rationalize away the brutality as somehow necessary. Even when snipers shoot unarmed Palestinians in cold blood, which we saw continue for months on end, American public opinion will be mixed, at best. 

Which means those of us who support the Palestinian cause must place more emphasis on the humanity of Palestinians, rather than the actions of Israelis. 

For example, many more eyes were opened last year by the abuse of young Ahed Tamimi by Israeli police. Why? The horrific nature of Israel’s actions in this case was in no way unique. 

For me personally, the force of Ahed’s story was multiplied because months earlier, I’d read Ben Ehrenreich’s book The Way to the Spring¸ which provides vivid detail about the daily lives of the Tamimi family. I learned how welcoming they were to Ehrenreich, I got to know their personalities. I saw their everyday struggle. Through Ehrenreich, I even felt as if I shared meals with them. So when I read about Ahed’s arrest and imprisonment, it angered me more than usual. 

Just as the dehumanization of Palestinians occurs in countless ways in multiple contexts by Israel and its American supporters, so too must the effort to re-humanize them. There are three areas that are the most promising, in my view (although undoubtedly there are many others worth our effort as well).

First, counterparts to Birthright—interfaith group missions and other organized trips that use travel to counter the pro-Israel position—must be strengthened and expanded. More American thought leaders need to visit the occupied territories, witness the oppression, and experience, first-hand, the humanity of Palestinians. 

Second, far too few people in the United States have ever known a Palestinian or even have a friend or family member who knows one. It’s easy to harbor crazy thoughts about any group when you’ve never been in contact with them. We can change that dynamic.

The election of Rashida Tlaib to Congress likely will be a big step in that direction. A concerted effort by the entire Palestinian-American community to expand their everyday contact with other Americans could be a much bigger one. Believing that Palestinians teach their children to kill is impossible for a rational adult (and a challenge even for an irrational adult) if her friend is Palestinian.

And there’s a ripple effect, which means those of us who are not Palestinian-American have our part to play as well. When I’ve mentioned to others my personal relationships with Palestinians—and directly confronted the absurdity of what they’ve been told—it has an impact. It’s nowhere near as powerful as direct contact with Palestinians would be, but it helps.

Third, we need more people to hear and read stories that humanize Palestinians. We can all do more to expand the reach of Ben Ehrenreich and other works like his. Almost every day, Mondoweiss provides stories of Palestinians and their humanity—the daily routine that can be both mundane and miraculous, as well as the extraordinary moments of resistance to Israeli violence.

People don’t respond emotionally to numbers. Over one hundred Palestinians were killed by Israeli sniper fire in the Great March of Return—but American popular opinion didn’t change. Ditto for the horrific statistics from the 2014 Gaza massacre.

To be sure, many fantastic writers speaking out for Palestinians do so in terms more analytical than story-focused. But as brilliant as, say, Rashid Khalidi and Norman Finkelstein are, and as much as I am personally grateful for what they’ve taught me, I don’t know if they move American public opinion very much. It’s the personal stories, like the glimpses of the Tamimi family in The Way to the Spring, that move people.

Remember Tariq Abukhdeir, the young Palestinian-American who was brutally beaten by Israeli police in 2014? When he returned to America, still badly bruised, he spoke in Washington, DC, about his ordeal. Young Tariq was so compelling that Sen. Barbara Boxer went to the empty Senate to speak about no topic in particular, knowing that C-SPAN’s policy would force it to turn its coverage from Tariq to her. She feared the impact coverage Tariq would have on American public opinion.

And more recently, coverage of Razan al-Najjar, the young Palestinian medic killed last year by Israeli sniper fire, reached beyond the bubble of those already concerned with human rights in Palestine.

The personal story of every oppressed Palestinian should be told, even if it’s just in a blog post or video that only a dozen Americans read or see. Those stories add up. They make it so much harder to buy in to the absurdities, and so much easier to reject them. 

The task for every one of us is to use every channel we can to awaken an American public that swallows the absurd claims labeling Palestinians as less than human. Shame on them for being taken in. Shame on us if we fail to bring them back to reality.

Robert Lord

Robert Lord is a Phoenix activist, blogger, former Congressional candidate, and associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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34 Responses

  1. Kay24 on July 11, 2019, 11:25 am

    It should start in Congress and the media. Once they are able to undo the shackles that bind them to the zionists, have no fear of zionist wrath, exercise their right to free speech,and are able to reject AIPAC and it’s influence in what they do and say, only then will the tide turn. To dream the impossible dream……

    • Misterioso on July 12, 2019, 9:37 am

      @Kay, et al

      Not precisely on topic, but a relevant must read!!

      https://www.mintpressnews.com/israel-mandatory-course-students-abroad/260240/

      “‘Go Forth and Lie’ Israel Rolls Out Mandatory Course for Students Travelling Abroad”

      By Miko Peled, July 9/19, MPN News

      JERUSALEM, PALESTINE — “While Israel tries to portray a friendly face to the outside world, internally it is promoting racism and violence at levels that are more alarming than ever before. A course to prepare young high school students traveling overseas to be good ‘ambassadors’ stands in contrast to racist policies and the advancement of a military that is encouraged to exercise unprecedented violence against civilians.

      “Young ambassadors
      “Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, recently demanded that the Israeli Education Ministry halt an online course that was designed to prepare young Israelis traveling abroad to be ‘good ambassadors.’ The content, particularly regarding anti-semitism and BDS (the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement), is so offensive to Arabs and Muslims that a school in Nazareth canceled an exchange program for high school students from the city to go to Sweden, rather than having the students exposed to the content of the course.

      “To actually see the content of the course, one has to enroll, and so I did. The course has 12 chapters, starting with an introduction by former Minister of Education Naftali Bennett. Bennett begins by explaining ‘what is an ambassador,’ and then gives examples of how to be a good one.

      “Bennett’s introduction is friendly, straightforward and full of praise for Israel. He provides students with tools with which they can ‘explain’ Israel. For example: ‘If it wasn’t for Israel, you could never wake up in the morning, because the chip in your cell phone that works as an alarm is made in Israel. You couldn’t find your way to work because the application WAZE is an Israeli product, so you’d get lost. If you made it to work somehow you wouldn’t have a computer because Intel produces its parts in Israel, and then your account would be hacked because cyber security is made in Israel. On top of that, you would have no cucumbers to eat because Israel invented the irrigation systems that make it possible to grow cucumbers.’

      “Bennett also mentions that the students may encounter people saying crazy things about Israel like that it is an ‘apartheid state,’ and that Israeli soldiers are killing Palestinians, and that, of course, this is all nonsense. Israel, he says, as a photo of Palestinian Knesset member Ahmed Tibi is shown, is the only democracy where the minority Arab population has freedom and participates in a real democracy.

      “Other chapters include ‘What is a State,’ ‘The Status of Jerusalem,’ ‘Israeli Accomplishments,’ ‘How to Combat Anti-Semitism,’ and ‘BDS,’ among others. It is stated by Gideon Bachar, a special ambassador for issues of anti-semitism, that historically Jews suffered from persecution due to anti-semitism by Christians in Europe and Muslims in the Arab world. Today anti-semitism in Europe is fuelled by massive immigration from Muslim countries.

      “BDS, Talia Gorodes explains, is a coalition of ‘green and red.’ According to Gorodes, Director of ‘Reut’ Institute for Strategic Thinking, green represents Islamic fundamentalism and red represents radical leftist groups. Together they create a powerful front to delegitimize Israel. However, not to worry, Israel has a plan and ‘you student ambassadors are part of the plan.’ The students are told that the way they conduct themselves and listen and explain things will dramatically change the way the world perceives Israel and change it for the better.

      “Adalah’s letter stressed that the ‘Education Ministry’s propaganda exam focuses on core issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that are the subject of deep political controversy.’ The course guides students — indeed they are required to choose specific ‘correct’ positions, as though ‘they reflect an objective factual truth.’ The course, Adalah also claims — and, having taken it, I must agree — presents a racist ideological perspective that creates an equivalence between Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and anti-semitism and violence.

      “This course is also required of Palestinian high school students who are citizens of Israel and study in the Israeli school system.

      “Notorious general promoted
      “As the Ministry of Education is preparing students going overseas to show the kind and gentle face of Israel, Ha’aretz reports on the promotion of notoriously violent IDF officer Ofer Winter to the rank of major general. His new job is one of the most prestigious in the IDF: commander of the 98th Division, also known as the Fire Formation, which includes the Paratroopers Brigade, the Commando Brigade, and two reservist brigades.

      “Winter’s promotion was delayed for several years by the previous IDF Chief of Staff owing to his role in what is called Black Friday in Rafah. ‘Black Friday’ is the name given to a massive, irrational and vengeful attack on Rafah during the Israeli assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014. Winter, then a colonel and commander of the infamous ‘Givati’ Brigade, came to public attention twice, once as the result of a letter he sent to the unit commanders, in which he wrote that they were fighting ‘a blasphemous enemy that defiles the God of Israel.’ His use of religious terminology was cause for concern even in Israel but should come as no surprise.

      “Winter was educated in two radical, religious-Zionist educational institutions. The first is Yeshivat Or Zion, which is headed by Haim Drukman, one of the most notorious leaders of the ‘settlers movement.’ The second is the military preparatory academy ‘Bnei David,’ in the settlement of ‘Ali.’ Bnei David has come under severe criticism for racist comments made by fanatic Zionist rabbis who teach there. They are known to follow an aggressively racist curriculum and have been quoted teaching that Arabs are slaves and Jews are masters and that Hitler was not wrong, he was just on the wrong side

      “Winter also raised concerns when, under his command, the Givati brigade was criticized for its conduct during Black Friday. It was August 1, 2014 in Rafah and a cease-fire was in place when hundreds of innocent people were killed as a result of what is known as the ‘Hannibal Directive.’ Ha’aretz reported at the time that ‘[t]his was the most aggressive action of its type ever carried out by the IDF.’ Codeword ‘Hannibal’ is an IDF military directive that is given when a soldier is taken prisoner. It allows for unrestrained use of firepower to stop the abduction, even at the price of the life of the soldier that was taken.

      “In this case, the directive was given after an Israeli officer was captured following a clash with Palestinian fighters in which an officer and a soldier were killed. It was during what was supposed to have been a cease-fire for humanitarian purposes. According to a report by Amnesty International, when the IDF attacks began: ‘The roads in eastern Rafah were full of disoriented civilians moving in all directions. Believing a ceasefire had begun, they had returned – or were returning – to their homes. Many decided to turn around, attempting to flee under a barrage of bombs and gunfire.’

      “According to testimony given by Palestinian witnesses, the attack included ‘jets, drones, helicopters and artillery.’ The attack was described as ‘raining fire at pedestrians and vehicles at the intersections, indiscriminately hitting cars, ambulances, motorbikes and pedestrians.’ Ofer Winter was the brigade commander. Now he has been given what many consider to be the most prestigious commands in the IDF, which will no doubt make him a strong candidate to be a future army chief of staff.

      “Racist municipal ordinances
      “Following an election promise to act against the ‘conquest’ by Arab residents from surrounding communities of a city park, the municipality of the city of Afula issued an ordinance that says only city residents may enter the city park. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, reports from the northern city of Afula that when Attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi who lives in neighboring Nazareth brought her infant to the park, a security guard stopped them from entering because they are from Nazareth, which is a Palestinian Arab city.

      “This is not the first time that Afula is in the news owing to racist tendencies. In 2018, Jewish residents of Afula, along with the mayor, protested against the sale of a home to an Arab family. Afula is not alone. The establishment of admissions committees in kibbutzim, moshavim, and other communities were created to stop Palestinian citizens of Israel from moving in.

      “It is no coincidence that Israel’s nation-state basic law includes a clause that authorizes ‘a community, including those belonging to one religion or nationality, to maintain separate community living.’ This basic law affirms Israel’s policy of segregation and makes it constitutional and thus unchallengeable in court.

      “Israel is more overtly racist and violent than ever before, and yet it is preparing Israeli youth who travel overseas to paint it with bright, friendly colors. If ever there was a time when the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions — BDS — against Israel was not only justified but urgent, it is now.”
      _____________________________________________________________________
      Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

      • Misterioso on July 12, 2019, 11:14 am

        Just out: Time Magazine analyzes Netanyahu:

        https://time.com/longform/benjamin-netanyahu-interview/?utm_source=emailshare&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email-share-article&utm_content=20190712

        “‘Only the Strong Survive.’ How Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu Is Testing the Limits of Power” Time Magazine, by Brian Bennett, Jerusalem, July 11/19

        EXCERPTS:

        “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pacing the stage at a cyberconference in Tel Aviv, and he is not happy. For the past seven minutes, he’s been making the case that his policies have launched a booming tech industry in Israel and enabled the tiny country that once fought for its existence to become a security force around the globe. He’s holding his shoulders up and back, a stage tip he got from Sean Connery. His red tie, white shirt and dark suit mirror a certain American President who has emerged as a massive Netanyahu ally.”

        “But there’s a problem. Graphics on the giant screen behind him keep popping up at the wrong time. ‘Who’s dealing with the slides? Get that person out of there,’ Netanyahu says, with the sweep of an arm. He makes his next point, then orders: ‘Now show a slide.’ Pause. Nothing. ‘God, I’ve never had this happen before. This will require debriefing.’

        “In mid-July, Netanyahu will surpass David Ben-Gurion, the closest thing Israel has to a founding father, to become the longest-serving Prime Minister in the country’s history. Bibi, as he is universally known here, has won five elections and cultivated a U.S. President who appears intent on fulfilling Netanyahu’s every desire. So why isn’t he in a better mood?

        “The unpleasant reality is that Netanyahu approaches the career summit with his personal power arguably at its greatest risk. Prosecutors have threatened indictments on corruption charges. And he has failed to form a government following his most recent election victory, in April. Instead of spending the summer handing out ministries to allies, Bibi is preparing for yet another campaign, a September do-over election that will test yet again whether the Israel that has grown to resemble its Prime Minister—prosperous, powerful and resilient, yet insecure—still wants him.”

        “That future, however, remains mortgaged to Netanyahu’s approach to power.

        “He has built Israel’s strength in part at the expense of nearly 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and the effective blockade of an additional 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the militant group Hamas. The human cost of that approach is well documented. Last spring, for example, when Palestinians in Gaza repeatedly and at times violently neared the border wall with Israel, only one Israeli was killed, but its forces killed 189 and wounded 9,204, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

        “In the run-up to Israel’s April elections, Netanyahu turned up tensions between Jews and Palestinians living inside Israel, sometimes called Israeli Arabs, by saying that Israel is ‘not a state of all its citizens’ and that ‘Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people—and them alone.’

        “In an Israeli electorate shifting steadily to the right, the rhetoric did Netanyahu no great harm, and he won the election. But his tolerance for extremes—he brokered an electoral agreement involving a party associated with anti-Arab militant Meir Kahane into his last electoral coalition—further reduced common ground with Israel’s supporters abroad, including the roughly 40% of the world’s Jewish population that resides in the U.S. The tensions with American Jews, 52% of whom are Democrats, according to a recent Gallup poll, had already been aggravated by Netanyahu’s strategy of conspicuously aligning Israel with the Republican Party, straining a long tradition of making U.S. support for Israel a nonpartisan issue. A Pew poll in April found only 26% of Democrats and those who lean toward Democrats have a favorable view of the Israeli government—less than half the number expressing support for Israel’s people.

        “Inside the country, many Israelis have been alarmed by Netanyahu’s efforts to remain in power. Israel’s Attorney General has said he plans to indict Netanyahu after a hearing in October. The fraud, bribery and breach-of-trust allegations assert the Prime Minister made deals with newspaper publishers and a telecom company for better press coverage and illegally took expensive gifts from a Hollywood producer.

        “Netanyahu rejects the charges, but since the last election, his allies have floated plans for legislation that would provide him immunity from prosecution and bar Israel’s Supreme Court from revoking it.

        “The moves compound the impression, already articulated by critics, that Israel’s Prime Minister has embraced the same populist authoritarianism rising elsewhere around the world. ‘Netanyahu has opened the door for fascist elements within the Israeli society and undermined democratic principles,’ says Avner Gvaryahu, a former head of an Israeli sniper team who is the executive director of Breaking the Silence, a veterans’ organization devoted to directing the attention of the Israeli public to ‘normalization’ of its occupation of Palestinian territories.

        “On the same day that Netanyahu spoke at the cyberconference, Barak, his long time political rival, announced he would also be running in September. He criticized what he says are Netanyahu’s ‘repeated attempts to disrupt democratic processes,’ saying the Prime Minister has allied himself with extreme elements that want to undermine the judicial system, curb the freedom of the press and erode the military’s ethical code.

        “These are dark days the likes of which we have not known before,” Barak said. “The Netanyahu regime must be toppled.”

      • JWalters on July 12, 2019, 4:53 pm

        “your account would be hacked because cyber security is made in Israel”

        Our computers ARE hacked because cyber security is made in Israel. This is partly how Israel controls political and media figures. Total surveillance for total control. The bogus, so-called “war on terror” is the manufactured excuse for the total surveillance.

      • RoHa on July 12, 2019, 7:48 pm

        I don’t like cucumbers.

      • RoHa on July 12, 2019, 7:54 pm

        The massive immigration from Muslim countries is mostly fuelling anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe.

        It does fuel anti-Jewish sentiment among the people who believe that the immigration was orchestrated by Jews to destroy Christianity and European civilization.

      • oldgeezer on July 12, 2019, 11:36 pm

        @RoHa

        You may excel in terms of grammar and punctuation but your analysis totally ignores the impact of the Islamophobia industry which is a joint effort of Christians and right wing Jewish organizations. You blame the victim while ignoring the main perpetrators. The vile racism was in play long before any significant immigration.

        Probably why I feel your rigid linquistic policing is absolutely irrelevant in terms of humanity and morality.

        A misplaced comma or quote mark does not justify the bigotry that is occuring. Yeah I am ok with the bogotry against grammar police. Period.

      • RoHa on July 15, 2019, 2:04 am

        The Islamophobia industry started before the recent wave of immigration, but that wave provided fuel for it.
        Even without the Islamophobia industry there would have been an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe. When a large number of immigrants enter a society, the original members will regard them with caution. When those immigrants show little sign of being willing to assimilate, then they will be faced with hostility, since the immigrants will be seen as failing in their duty to uphold the society. This is how the Palestinians regarded the Zionists. This is how the Europeans regard the latest wave of immigrants.
        (Of course, the Zionists exacerbated the situation by declaring their intention of taking over. The recent immigrants to Europe have not declared this intention.)
        As for blame, I didn’t blame anyone.
        But I will blame the Western and Zionist politicians.
        It is their wars which destabilised the world and started this mess.
        The refugees are their victims.
        The people of Europe are their victims.

    • JWalters on July 12, 2019, 5:04 pm

      “It should start in Congress and the media.”

      Spot on. I strongly encourage all Mondoweiss readers to push mainstream news outlets into being increasingly truthful about the Palestinians and the Israelis. Frequent their online forums, publishing key point with links to great MW articles. Educate the MSM consumers about the existence of MW and the coverup happening in the MSM.

  2. irishmoses on July 11, 2019, 7:05 pm

    A good and important article, Robert Lord. You’ve captured the key to changing the mindset of ordinary Americans regarding the plight of the Palestinian people, personalizing or humanizing Palestinians with personal examples of the trauma they experience in their everyday life. Ehrenreich’s book on the Tamimi family is a perfect example of the effect of personalization.

    I think you’ve overlooked perhaps the most effective way of personalization, the use of art, specifically fiction and drama in humanizing a people and convincing broad audiences of the validity of a peoples’ claim. Leon Uris’ novel, Exodus and the later movie of the same name had an enormous effect on US public opinion and literally put Israel and Israelis on the map in the minds and hearts of most Americans. He did so by creating compelling characters who told the classic story of a beseiged but heroic David (Israel) confronted by hordes of savage Arab Goliaths who are ultimately vanquished by the Israeli Davids led by none other than Paul Newman. It was myth creation at its very best and it worked.

    I decided, a few years back, to create my own, more accurate version of the modern Exodus story by writing my own novel (The Exodus Betrayal: A President Confronts Israel) which I recently published on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Exodus-Betrayal-President-Confronts-Israel-ebook/dp/B07RW61X5V) and have been advertising here on Mondoweiss. It’s sold over 120 copies to readers on this site so I’m pleased there has been strong interest in it.

    Phil Weiss, the founder and editor of Mondoweiss was kind enough to interview me at length about my novel. The interview, (“Imagine A US President Taking Iran’s Side in a Conflict with Israel and you get Maguire’s Thriller, Exodus Betrayal”) can be found at https://mondoweiss.net/2019/06/president-conflict-betrayal/

    My hope is that my novel can create enough buzz and interest in the negative effects of Israel and its US lobby on US interests and on the plight of the oppressed Palestinian people that US public opinion can be changed from unquestioning support of Israel to something more balanced in favor of US interests and justice for an oppressed people. I know it’s a long shot but, as you point out in your article, we need to awaken the American people by personalizing the plight of the Palestinians.

    I hope you’ll read the interview and perhaps my novel as well. I look forward to your comments.

    • LiberatePalestine on July 12, 2019, 12:13 am

      → It was myth creation at its very best and it worked.

      It was thoroughly racist, disgusting Zionist propaganda that dæmonised the «Arabs» and glorified the settler-colonial invaders. Of course it worked in the US, which uses the same plot, with only the racial categories being different. Exodus is a Zionist version of the dishonest «Western» genre, in which humble but dedicated whitey triumphs over hordes of bloodthirsty savages.

    • Misterioso on July 12, 2019, 8:46 am

      @irishmoses, et al

      For the record:

      “In 2001, Edward Said called Leon Uris’s 1958 novel Exodus: ‘The main narrative model that [still] dominates American thinking’ about Israel. As Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston put it more recently (2012), in an article entitled ‘The ‘Exodus’ effect: The monumentally fictional Israel that remade American Jewry,’ Uris’s narrative ‘Tailor[ed], alter[ed] and radically sanitize[ed] the history of the founding of the State of Israel to flatter the fantasies and prejudices of American Jews.’ Burston quotes American Zionist Jeffrey Goldberg, who served in the IDF as a prison guard, to the effect that ‘Exodus … made American Jews proud of Israel’s achievements. On the other hand, it created the impression that all Arabs are savages.’ And he quotes none other than David Ben-Gurion: ‘As a literary work it isn’t much…But as a piece of propaganda, it’s the best thing ever written about Israel.’

      “Of course, even more Americans owe their education in Zionism to Otto Preminger’s 1960 movie version of the book, which has been ‘Widely characterized as a ‘Zionist epic’ [that was] enormously influential in stimulating Zionism and support for Israel in the United States.’ It was Exodus, the movie, that really viralized (as we say now) the “Exodus-effect.” (The Polemicist, Sept. 22, 2014, “Israel’s Human ‘Shield Hypocrisy,’ The Early Days”)

      Furthermore:
      “Yet Exodus was not the product of a virgin birth; its origin has been described by a public relations practitioner named Art Stevens in a book called The Persuasion Explosion. He writes that ‘skillful public relations can speed up the acceptance of a concept whose time has come. A striking example of this involved eminent public relations consultant Edward Gottlieb. In the early 1950s, when the newly formed State of Israel was struggling for recognition in the court of world opinion, America was largely apathetic. Gottlieb, who at that time headed his own public relations firm, suddenly had a hunch about how to create a more sympathetic attitude towards Israel. He chose a writer and sent him to Israel with instructions to soak up the atmosphere of the country and create a novel about it. The book turned out to be Exodus by Leon Uris. His novel did more to popularize Israel with the American public than any other single presentation through the media.’” (Art Stevens, The Persuasion Explosion, Washington, D.C; Acropolis Books, 1985, pp. 104-105).

      “Stevens notes that unhappily for Uris’s pretensions to objectivity, Uris became carried away by the passion of his own propaganda. He followed Exodus with another book on the Middle East called The Haj, which an Israeli reviewer in the Jerusalem Post described as ‘a raving diatribe against Arabs, their culture and their religion,’ adding that it ‘depicts Arabs in a manner that would make Meir Kahane blush.’” (“The Passionate Attachment: America’s Involvement with Israel, 1947 to the Present,” by George W. Ball, undersecretary of state in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, US ambassador to the UN, and his son, Douglas, (W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. New York, N.Y., 1992, p. 200 and p. 348.)

  3. gamal on July 11, 2019, 7:27 pm

    ” Whether it’s the conflation of Hamas with ordinary Palestinians ”

    What are you conflating Hamas with?

    Are not Hamas ordinary Palestinians?

    Are they the bad Palestinians we must kill to save the good ones? just like SyriaIraqLibya ?

    you know apart from the utter dereliction of not bothering to examine Hamas beyond the demon status ascribed to it, the murdering irrational natives so much beloved of European culture not bothering to study their positions and context (context in particular) in depth and what is even more depressing is that this just a rerun of the endless litany of names from primitive, marauders to terrorists to militants now Hamas, why not address them, study them, question them and always keeping in mind that no one, however much you may choose to ignorantly loathe them can be colonized and dispossessed and confined or slaughtered without the commission of many crimes of which it is traditional in cultivated circles not to blame our victims and ascribe their oppression to their “religious conservatism” or barbarity or corruption (which we have been instrumental in instituting) wrongheadedness or whatever.

    America by its duplicitousness and its 50 year subversion of Palestinian resistance made a Hamas of one kind or another not only inevitable but also morally necessary America destroyed the PLO and betrayed the puny PA, Palestine will save itself in its own way.

    Tell you what let’s try a thought experiment why not take 2 million say a cross section of American society dump them in Gaza for 70 years in precisely the same circumstances and persecution as the Palestinians have endured, what do you think it would be like now? Palestine survives in impossible conditions a little respect rather than this raving and callous condescension would be welcome. show a little respect to the denizens of this latest western abomination.

  4. LiberatePalestine on July 11, 2019, 8:00 pm

    Settler-colonial Canada stifles criticism of the Zionist entity:

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/canada-joins-campaign-stifle-criticism-israel/5683337

  5. brent on July 12, 2019, 1:20 am

    Thank you Robert Lord for emphasizing the role of public opinion in the politics of America and in tolerating oppression. In addition, to the perception that Palestinians condone even reward “terrorism”, there is also a perception the bad things that happen, are brought upon themselves. These perceptions arise from the intensively cultivated and controlling narrative, that Israel is the victim and has the right to defend itself, even preemptively.

    This victim narrative is the most powerful weapon in Israel’s bag of manipulations and so long as the narrative stands, oppression will almost certainly continue.

    Resistance that focuses on equality or independence, while refusing lone wolf violence, would empower Palestinian activism, build a stronger bridge to Israeli humanists and American Jews. Those who can alter Judaism’s course and create safe political ground for American politicians to move onto….. changing everything.

    Those dedicated to armed resistance would do well to consider which path is more likely to bring a future of peace and positive neighborly relations. Of course its a problem that goal is not universal and can continue seemingly endless wars in the Middle East.

    • MHughes976 on July 12, 2019, 4:41 pm

      The Bible narrative seems to me be a weapon of very great importance alongside the victim narrative. I think that people in the West might well find Palestinians nice people but that that recognition would make no great change. Nice people can have the misfortune to be caught up in events greater than themselves, events with a sacred significance – and we know from the Bible, as it seems to many, that if anything is sacred it is the Jewish cause in the Middle East. Perhaps one of the most powerful things about Uris’ Exodus – not that I’ve read it – is the title and its promise of bringing the Biblical narrative to contemporary life. Both Martin Luther King and Gustavo Gutierrez, the founder of Liberation Theology, found the Exodus story instructive and inspiring, almost definitive of the escape from oppression and the creation of a society where oppression has no place – though that is not the real theme. It’s difficult from that point to reject Zionism.

      • irishmoses on July 12, 2019, 8:53 pm

        And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.
        “My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out.
        “Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces.
        “Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.
        “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run.
        “I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way.
        “I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you.”

        From the Book of Exodus, Chapter 23, The Second Book of the Torah, and the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament)

        Please explain to me what part of this ghastly biblical quote MLK and Gustavo Gutierrez found “Instructive and inspiring, almost definitive of the escape from oppression and creation of a society where oppression has no place…”

        If this is the definitive quote that grants Jews a biblical deed to Palestine, it seems to be including a much larger area: All of historic Palestine, half of Syria and Iraq, and all of Lebanon and Jordan.

        Perhaps there’s another quote from the Good Book that will clarify all of this for me?

      • LiberatePalestine on July 13, 2019, 10:03 pm

        → Perhaps there’s another quote from the Good Book that will clarify all of this for me?

        God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.

        ——II Thessalonians ii.11

      • MHughes976 on July 14, 2019, 3:28 am

        I may not have looked in the right place but I have not seen a full, critical exegesis of Exodus from a liberation theology point of view – there’s a comment on this from Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, ‘How Liberating is Exodus?’ (Fortress Press). But the fact that Exodus is, even so, celebrated as a story of ‘God who acts’ against slavery demonstrates the existence of a mighty tradition of thought which might not be stopped in its tracks by simple recognition of Palestinian humanity. Being normal or nice may not be much in comparison with being sacred.
        I believe that MLK tried, in a sermon called ‘Death of Evil on the Seashore’ , to interpret Exodus as a call for peace and love even for evildoers.

      • echinococcus on July 14, 2019, 10:50 am

        “Being normal or nice may not be much in comparison with being sacred”

        Sharp insight, Hughes. How true.
        This is precisely why all things sacred and any belief are the main enemy of humanity.

      • LiberatePalestine on July 14, 2019, 9:59 pm

        → This is precisely why all things sacred and any belief are the main enemy of humanity.

        Correct. To make something sacred is to place it above criticism. But nothing should be above criticism.

  6. Talkback on July 12, 2019, 5:42 am

    A “Jewish” state cannot exist without oppressing Nonjews under its control. That’s the nature of an Apartheid state.

  7. plimespo on July 12, 2019, 11:40 am

    Mr. Lord is correct that American public opinion about the Palestinians and Israel needs to and should change, and everyone has a duty to weigh in publicly to that end.

    But, realistically, we must recognize what we are up against. The whole paradigm, the whole culture, the whole political climate has to change.

    A sample is a New York Times article of July 11, 2019 by two political scientists, entitled: “Politicians Don’t Actually Care What Voters Want,” which the authors say is supported by evidence. If they’re correct, it could mean even a change in public opinion along the lines Mr. Lord proposes wouldn’t affect politicians’ actions.

    And we have to realize most Democratic and all Republican politicians are in lockstep on globalism, imperialism and their related support of Israel against the Palestinians despite all the negatives that means for the Middle East, America and 95% of Americans.

    Big factors are the pervasive and pernicious lobbyists for large multinational corporations, the military, weapons manufacturers, Israel and Saudi Arabia and a foreign policy elite
    (with special mainstream status, recognition and something to gain from media, think tank and university connections and special favors to foreign countries and their leaders) that now combine to control both houses of Congress, the Executive branch, the Courts and the mainstream media.

    Of course, our politicians and other “leaders” should get on the right side of history and not only speak out against Israel and its war crimes perpetrated by Israeli security, military and brownshirt paramilitary (i.e. settlers in illegal settlements based on land stolen from the Palestinians), but forcefully advocate for a change in the decades-old U.S. political class and foreign policy establishment financial and other uncritical support of Israel. We need to withdraw all of our support for Israel and apply the stick as well as the carrot to the Israel – Palestinian negotiation process. We need to support the anti-Israel BDS movement and the new outspoken members of Congress who support Palestinians.

    I hope we’re moving in the right direction, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    • Talkback on July 12, 2019, 1:01 pm

      plimespo: “A sample is a New York Times article of July 11, 2019 by two political scientists, entitled: “Politicians Don’t Actually Care What Voters Want,” which the authors say is supported by evidence. If they’re correct, it could mean even a change in public opinion along the lines Mr. Lord proposes wouldn’t affect politicians’ actions.”

      It’s muach worse:

      The United States isn’t a democracy — and was never intended to be
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/11/06/united-states-isnt-democracy-and-was-never-intended-be/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.92ed86a39349

      Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy
      https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746

      • plimespo on July 12, 2019, 9:05 pm

        Agreed.

        Chris Hedges said it well in “Wages of Rebellion” (2015), powerful in its indictment of our totalitarian-like surveillance state, the corporate oligarchic elite and their lackeys in all three branches of government, both major parties, the mainstream media, and educational institutions – and that includes Trump, Obama, the Clintons, most members of Congress and the Federal Judiciary. In the vanguard of that elite? You guessed it – the Israel Lobby in its manifold forms.

  8. Ossinev on July 12, 2019, 1:26 pm

    @Misterioso
    “But there’s a problem. Graphics on the giant screen behind him keep popping up at the wrong time. ‘Who’s dealing with the slides? Get that person out of there,’ Netanyahu says,”

    I thought he carried around a “portfolio” of portable cardboard cartoons you know like the all time classic Iran “only days (or is it seconds away from)” one.

  9. genesto on July 12, 2019, 1:39 pm

    While I certainly appreciate the author’s spirit, I cannot be as sanguine about the ability to change American Mideast policy by simply changing Americans’ understanding and, therefore, attitude towards Palestinians. While certainly valuable, it’s simply not enough.

    Let’s face it, most Americans neither know nor really care about the Palestinian people and their plight. Sure, humanizing the Palestinians has value in changing the narrative and improving the discourse. But, many of us who visit this site regularly know that there is a price to pay, sometimes a very steep one, for showing any amount of sympathy and understanding towards the Palestinians. Our new progressive, gang-of-four women in Congress are learning this lesson the hard way.

    No, American policy will change when the American public sees clearly that supporting Israel unequivocally against the Palestinians is hurting our country and them personally. When they finally realize that the billions we spend on military aid to Israel to manage and expand the Occupation, and the trillions wasted on Middle East conflicts associated with our unwavering support for the Jewish state, is draining us financially as well as spiritually, then things will change. And not before.

    • LiberatePalestine on July 13, 2019, 10:12 pm

      → many of us who visit this site regularly know that there is a price to pay, sometimes a very steep one, for showing any amount of sympathy and understanding towards the Palestinians.

      All the more reason to pay it. Imagine your quotation in a different, though substantially similar, context:

      * Many of us know that there is a price to pay, sometimes a very steep one, for showing any amount of sympathy and understanding towards the Jews/Slavs/Roma/&c oppressed by the Nazis.

      * Many of us know that there is a price to pay, sometimes a very steep one, for showing any amount of sympathy and understanding towards the Blacks in the US/Azania.

      * Many of us know that there is a price to pay, sometimes a very steep one, for showing any amount of sympathy and understanding towards the Indigenous Americans oppressed by the Spaniards/French/Portuguese/Dutch/English/Yanks/Canadians.

      • RoHa on July 15, 2019, 2:09 am

        Israel is not the only topic on which saying forbidden things will get you into trouble. (See, for example, what happened to Peter Ridd and Alan Josephson.)

        But I think it is a more fiercely policed topic than any other.

    • genesto on July 15, 2019, 12:32 pm

      @LiberatePalestine. My point was not to discourage fighting against the seemingly overwhelming odds against us. Far from it. I was only trying to make the point that simply trying to humanize Palestinians in the eyes of Americans was not enough because of these odds.

      The fight HAS to continue, but we have to be wise in our strategy moving forward, since the Zionists seem to be working harder than ever to defeat us.

  10. Ossinev on July 12, 2019, 1:47 pm

    @Misterioso
    The Bible according to GruppenFuhrer Bennett;
    “On top of that, you would have no cucumbers to eat because Israel invented the irrigation systems that make it possible to grow cucumbers.”

    OMG imagine a world without major Zio ” inventions ” like cherry tomatoes and would you Adam and Eve it cucumbers. Sooner or later they will be laying claim to the invention of the potato.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cucumber

    These Zios are truly overflowing with the brown stuff.

  11. oldgeezer on July 12, 2019, 4:43 pm

    Geeze these Israelis and zionists are certifiable. Totally delusional. And the right wing is trying to drive out the few sane ones remaining.

    One can only wonder what they will claim next. Bonkers.

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