Air Date 5/25/2021
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left Podcast, in which we shall take a look through a wide angle lens at the current flare up of the conflict in Israel and Palestine, including a discussion of disparate power dynamics, lived experience in Palestine, the creation story of Hamas, understanding the definition of apartheid, and recognizing how the reactions in American politics and media are shifting. Clips today include a segment from The Mill Series featuring the late great Michael Brooks, Deconstructed, The Intercept, AJ+, Chapo Trap House, Ring of Fire Radio, and The Empire Files.
Michael Brooks takes a question on Israel - The Mill Series - Air Date 3-9-20
UNKNOWN COLLEGE STUDENT: [00:00:43] As someone with a Jewish background, how do you feel about Bernie's plan for Israel, especially as someone concerned with foreign policy?
MICHAEL BROOKS: [00:00:53] I love it. It's an absolutely necessary. My Jewish values teach me to oppose apartheid.
UNKNOWN COLLEGE STUDENT: [00:00:58] Okay. Could you elaborate please?
MICHAEL BROOKS: [00:01:03] I mean, there, there really isn't that much to elaborate on. So for me, my politics are built on a base of economic justice and anti-racism, in some ways as distinct from some of this woke stuff in a way. I grew up, I was pretty connected to left politics so I always knew growing up about the travesty, that was the human rights situation there. And I knew that people I admired like Nelson Mandela said South Africa is going to not be properly free until the Palestinians are free.
In 2006, I believe, I read a piece by a guy named Tony Judt in the New York Review of Books who was a really important Jewish scholar, and he just said, the argument was that literally this is childish. The idea that you have an ethno state or a religious state, if you're committed to any type of broad based social economic equity and civil society, it doesn't work, no matter how justified. Of course there's justification because of Jewish history for Israel, there's justification for Kurdistan because of Kurdish reality. There's justification for Pakistan.
It's notable that Israel and Pakistan are both disasters. Israel, not in the sense of if you're of European Jewish background you have a nice life there. If you're not, you are even inside 67 borders is not a fully equal citizen. And the situation in the West Bank is, I mean, it is literally Jim Crow like, and Gaza, it's just an atrocity. So that's not something that anybody could reasonably ask me to support.
And I understand, yeah, there are some actions from some Palestinian groups that we can condemn. In fact, those have not even really been in any way seriously in play since 2003. And when we talk about... look, and the apartheid word specifically is both used by people who were crucial in ending apartheid in South Africa, like Desmond Tutu or Ronnie Kasrils who served as Intelligence Minister under Mbeki, who I've interviewed. And the other main people use the apartheid word are Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak. So it is what it is, and I don't support second-class citizenship and occupation and sieges for anybody, no matter who they are.
UNKNOWN COLLEGE STUDENT: [00:03:33] Are you not concerned about the binary between either condemning Israel entirely, being also a stance that a lot of very strong and notorious anti-Semitic people agree with, versus seeing this as more of a complex issue, where it is wrong what's going on and that there's also a way to do this, that Israel still exists and is supported?
MICHAEL BROOKS: [00:03:53] So it's not a complex issue. That's the big thing. It's super simple. There's one group that has enormous power, it's the most powerful country in the middle east, it's backed by the United States, it acts on another population of people with total impunity, and it is never held accountable for anything. So there's no symmetry in the relationship. Period.
And just as a thought experiment, IDW people, if we know that if somehow a population of Jewish refugees ended up in West Bank and Gaza and an Arabic government in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv had an open air prison in " Jewish Gaza", which they bombed with white phosphorus, they killed civilians indiscriminately, and they had no provisions for medicine. They had an embargo that blocked food, that the electricity wasn't running, that there was an over 48% unemployment rate, life expectancy and malnutrition statistics were horrifying. One of the major policymakers in this hypothetical Arabic, Palestinian state said, we need to put those Jews on a diet in the West Bank, there was another Jewish area where there was a little bit more autonomy, but there was regular Arabic settlements, where they pulled up the Jewish farmers foods, they terrorized' them with rocks, the security forces broke children's bones and they couldn't drive their own roads. We'd all have no problem understanding what that was. So there's nothing complex about it.
The second part of your question, it's a pure asymmetry relationship, and the question is rights or not. So that's it, it's not complicated. The second part of your question, at this point, there's always been, there's always going to be crackpots who are anti-Semitic who condemn Israel. That's not what drives the movement, particularly in the United States. If you work around most people who are concerned with this issue, it's actually populated with a lot of Jewish people. The real question we have to ask is why is it that AIPAC is hosting a information minister for Slobodan Milosevic. Why is it that there's relationships between the Israeli government and far-right parties in Europe? Why is it that Benjamin Netanyahu's son is posting borderline alt-right memes? Why is it that Israel is an alt-right state, even though it is from the descendants of the victims of one of the greatest crimes in history? That's a serious question. And that's inseparable from the racism of the project, which goes back to the first part that we have to solve.
Thank you Shalom.
Life and Death in Occupied Palestine - Deconstructed - Air Date 5-21-21
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:06:18] Over the last decade, Israel has aggressively fortified its wall and its security apparatus, and it has rapidly expanded settlements in the West Bank and throughout the occupied territories, in clear violation of international law and norms. One thing often missing from this conversation is what all of this looks like from the other side of those checkpoints.
MERIAM BARGHOUTI: [00:06:38] The settlements here in the West Bank are usually more violent settlers that really don't believe in Palestinians at all.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:06:48] That's our guest today: journalist Meriam Barghouti, who is based in the city of Ramallah on the West Bank. She joins us now. Meriam, welcome to the show.
MERIAM BARGHOUTI: [00:06:56] Thank you for having me.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:06:58] So can you tell us a little bit about the neighborhood that you live in?
MERIAM BARGHOUTI: [00:07:02] So I live in Ramallah, which is considered the de facto headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, and it is located in the West Bank. It's surrounded by checkpoints almost in every direction and it is considered, quote unquote, Area A, which means it's under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. But military incursions by Israel are commonplace here, but my neighborhood relatively quiet.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:07:30] How much has it changed since you've lived there?
MERIAM BARGHOUTI: [00:07:34] A lot. Ramallah has changed drastically in the past couple of years, especially with this attempt of turning it into this metropolitan city by the Palestinian Authority and stationing themselves here as the de facto headquarters. You've seen old homes demolished that kind of date back to the sixties and the fifties and replaced by commercial buildings, becoming more densely populated because it is the center of job opportunities, of non-governmental organizations and international non-governmental organizations, as well as media spaces. So it's changed heavily and it's also becoming gentrified in different areas.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:08:17] And what's daily life like there? Like how much freedom of movement do you have? If you leave your place, how far can you go before you run into a checkpoint?
MERIAM BARGHOUTI: [00:08:26] Not very far. And it's misleading to suggest that there is a distance because flying checkpoints are commonplace where the Israeli military can just station itself in any direction, depending on the day and what's happening, and you'll be stopped like any set, permanent checkpoint.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:08:46] So you could like leave, go to a restaurant, there'd be no checkpoint. And then when you head home, there could be one on the way home.
MERIAM BARGHOUTI: [00:08:53] See, that's the thing, it depends. So within Ramallah, the city center itself, there are absolutely no checkpoints. I have relatively free access to movement and you can even pretend that there is no occupation here. So it's a little more subtle and clandestine in Ramallah, but it's not just the Israeli military occupation. In Ramallah we're also watched and surveilled by the Palestinian Authority police. So just because we're not physically stopped at checkpoints, we are still stopped in our ability to express freely and our ability to pursue our lives freely as well.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:09:30] What is the relationship nowadays between, not to get too off track, but between younger Palestinians, the PA and the police force of the PA.
MERIAM BARGHOUTI: [00:09:39] It's a very antagonistic relationship. The Palestinian Authority has constantly acted as the arm of Israel and in the West Bank. And in terms of youth, there's a huge sense of distress towards the Palestinian Authority and their police recently as protests in support of what is currently happening in uprisings around Palestine.
The Palestinian authorities started arresting Palestinians. And in Ramallah near the Mukataa, which is the headquarters and the presidential compound, essentially Palestinian police pulled a gun on protesters and youth. So the relationship is -- I don't think there is a relationship, if I'm honest.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:10:26] What has been the Palestinian Authority's posture toward these protests? Like in general, over the last couple of weeks, like from the top?
MERIAM BARGHOUTI: [00:10:35] It's a hesitant support. So the Palestinian Authority commonly monopolizes or weaponizes Palestinian protest for their own gain. And I think right now they're afraid that it threatens their own positions of power because they were created under the Oslo Accords. They were created within the system of the Israeli military occupation here. And they feel threatened in terms of whatever little power and jurisdiction they have could go away as well.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:11:08] I've heard some people argue that one reason that Hamas kind of stepped into this confrontation that was mostly taking place elsewhere outside of Gaza, was to show up the PA or to establish itself as somebody willing to stand up, where the PA leadership wasn't. What do you make of that and how have you people where you live received Hamas's intervention into this?
MERIAM BARGHOUTI: [00:11:34] I think that's a disservice and an insult to the situation here. And it's an over-simplification of it. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian political factions generally have had a very distraught relationship. But especially with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and the PLO with the division between the visit and the West Bank. I don't think Hamas is trying to show muscle power, basically, in the face of the Palestinian Authority. And if it is, let's also give Palestinians the agency and the recognition that we're more intelligent than that. Right now West Bank been under siege for 15 years. If you hear Palestinians ululate, what is happening in regards of the Hamas response, it is not a ululation to Hamas, it is a call out to end the siege. It is a call out to stop the systemic violence on the Vesey. If you've been imprisoned, if you've been held in an open air prison for 15 years, you're going to kick and scream and shout by any means possible and available to you.
This focus on Hamas, because it is firing rockets, because it is using armed confrontation, is a disservice again to the Palestinian people.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:12:54] Hamas is often described in the US media as a terrorist organization. What's your response to that? And what do people in your generation feel about that label?
So the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the PLO, was declared a terrorist organization by Israel and the US before that. Every Palestinian political faction has or is on the American terrorist list. But currently the PLO became, you know, Israel's best friend and the Americans only discuss any affairs of Palestinians with the PLO. Unless you remember things like Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist, and now he's very glorified and glamorized, even in the US. So organizations or any confrontation of an oppressed group is almost always initially called a terrorist organization until people begin to see the unequal power dynamics that are present within the context. So contextualizing the situation, I think, will allow us to redefine terrorism.
And if anyone is confused about what terrorism is, maybe they should look up what terrorism means in the US code of federal regulations: it's "the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."
This is literally Israel.
Blowback: How Israel Helped Create Hamas - The Intercept - Air Date 2-20-18
MEHDI HASAN: [00:14:25] Officially Hamas, which is the acronym for an Arabic phrase meaning Islamic resistance movement, was founded in 1987 at the start of the first Palestinian Intifada or uprising against the Israeli occupation, but its roots were planted much earlier. The Hamas founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, was a half blind, disabled Palestinian cleric and member of the Muslim brotherhood.
The brotherhood had been repressed by the Egyptians in Gaza prior to 1967, but once the Israelis invaded and occupied the [Gaza] Strip, they didn't just turn a blind eye to these Islamists, they encouraged them. See these Israelis, especially right-wing Israelis, wanted to undermine the power of the dominant Palestinian political force at that time, the nationalist PLO, at the heart of which was the secular Fatah party of Yasser Arafat -- their Bech Noir.
By empowering Sheikh Yassin and the Muslim brotherhood, Israeli leaders thought they could divide and rule the occupied Palestinians, play them off against each other, secular nationalists against religious Islamists. So in 1978, when Yassin wanted to officially register his Islamic association, which was basically the precursor to Hamas, the Israelis were only too keen to help. Yaseen built and grew a network of Islamist social institutions across Gaza, including schools and clubs and mosques, and Israel helped fund some of those projects. Most American politicians have no clue about any of this. Although the former Republican Congressman Ron Paul once made this point on the floor of the house.
RON PAUL: [00:15:54] Hamas was encouraged and really started by Israel because they wanted Hamas to counteract Yasser Arafat.
MEHDI HASAN: [00:16:01] Arafat himself told an Italian newspaper, " Hamas is a creature of Israel." He even claimed that former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin admitted as much to him, calling it a fatal error. Now you might be wondering, why should I believe mad, Ron Paul or the famously shady Yasser Arafat? Well, you don't have to, you can believe top Israeli and the US officials who've basically owned up to all this. Brigadier Yitzhak Segev, for example, who is the Israeli military governor in Gaza and later told the New York Times reporter that he helped finance the Islamic movement.
"The Israeli government gave me a budget," he said, "and the military government gives to the mosques." Colonel David Hahkan worked in Gaza in the late 1980s as an Arab affairs expert in the Israeli military has admitted that the original sin was Israeli support for Yassin in the late seventies. But at the time he has argued, nobody thought about the possible results.
Well, Avner Cohen did. Cohen was Israeli officially was responsible for religious affairs in Gaza for more than two decades, and who now says, " Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel's creation." Yeah, cohen's words. He actually wrote an official report to his superiors in the mid 1980s, warning them not to play divide and rule in the occupied territories, and calling on Israel to, "break up this monster before this reality jumps in our face."
But no one else on the Israeli side really took the possibility of blowback seriously at that time. They never do, do they? Hamas has since killed far more Israeli civilians than any secular Palestinian military group and its leaders have been pretty viciously anti-Israeli and even anti-Semitic in their rhetoric. Yassin would eventually be assassinated by an Israeli air strike in Gaza.
SILVAN SHALOM: [00:17:42] Sheik Yassin and its organization, the Hamas, are responsible to the killings of more than 400 Israelis. So the question shouldn't be why now? I think it should be why not before.
MEHDI HASAN: [00:18:00] Why not before? Well, because before, israel was actually nudging and winking at Yassin and co, building them up as a rival to Arafat's Fatah. The die was cast for blowback. Blowback incidentally, that they decided to double down on when they assassinated Yassin.
UNKNOWN REPORTER: [00:18:18] I hear the crowds chanting for Hamas and any idea that this operation would actually suppress or diminish that organization seems to be ill judged.
MEHDI HASAN: [00:18:27] The inconvenient truth is that Hamas is in part a creature of Israel's own making. An enemy that Israel spent more than 20 years helping to build up, and then spent the next 20 years, the past 20 years that is, trying to bomb, besiege, and block paid out of existence. The three Gaza wars fought by Israel against Hamas since 2008 killed around 2000 Palestinian civilians and a dozen Israeli civilians. That's the real human cost of blowback.
David Long, a former middle east expert at the US State Department under Ronald Reagan, told journalist Robert Dreyfuss, "I thought the Israelis were playing with fire. I didn't realize they'd end up creating a monster." But I don't think you ought to mess around with potential fanatics. It's a lesson both the Israelis and the Americans never seem to learn though. And as usual, innocent people, in this case Palestinians and Israelis, continue to lose their lives as a result.
Is Israel Guilty Of Apartheid Against Palestinians - AJ+ - Air Date 5-14-21
DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: [00:19:23] Many people think of Israel and Palestine as two countries at war with this one, a state for Jewish people, occupying this one here, where Palestinians live. The truth is both Israeli Jews and Palestinians live all over this territory, ruled by one government and one army, based on the idea of...
HAGAI EL-AD: [00:19:43] advancing the supremacy and domination of one group of people, Jews...
YARA HAWARI: [00:19:47] and that is what guides its policies and its practices towards Palestinians.
DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: [00:19:53] In other words, apartheid. Apartheid is a loaded word tied to the racist South African regime of White minority rule. But although the word comes from there, apartheid isn't just a description of what happened in South Africa. It's actually a crime against humanity under international law. In 2021 human rights watch accused Israel of carrying out apartheid. It based this accusation on the 1973 Apartheid Convention and the 1998 Rome Statute, which say that three elements have to occur for the crime of apartheid to apply.
They are: an intent by one group to dominate the other; systematic oppression by one racial group over another; and one or more inhumane acts like denying people, the right to leave and to return to their country, expropriation of landed property and the creation of separate reserves and ghettos. So let's see if any of these apply to Israel's rule over Palestinians.
HAGAI EL-AD: [00:20:49] About half of the people that live here, under Israel's role, we've got a stadium and the other half are Jews, like myself.
DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: [00:20:56] For those 7 million Israeli Jews, almost the entire land is one space. Whether they're here, or here, they have the same rights, privileges and legal status. They can move freely, vote in the same elections and live under the same laws. The boundaries are invisible to them. But for the 7 million Palestinians, the boundaries are very visible.
Whereas, this is essentially one space for Israelis, Palestinians have been divided into four areas. Each area gets a different colored ID card issued by Israel and your life and rights are determined by that ID card. In Gaza, Palestinians have no freedom of movement and are under a complete Israeli blockade. Israel no longer has soldiers inside Gaza, but it controls every aspect of life from the outside. People in Gaza have no civil or political rights. They've got no say in the Israeli government that controls them.
Palestinians in the West Bank also have very limited freedom of movement, with their population divided into 165 disconnected cantons, cut off by Israeli military checkpoints, walls, settlements, and other infrastructure. They also have no civil or political rights in Israel. In EastJerusalem, Palestinians generally have more freedom to move, but Israel can take away their right to live in the city. They can't vote in Israeli elections, and Israel also bars them from taking part in Palestinian politics. Palestinians who are citizens of Israel can travel relatively freely, but they face restrictions on where they can live. They can vote in Israeli elections, but face legalized discrimination. Yara Hawari is a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship.
YARA HAWARI: [00:22:34] This ID system, it penetrates all areas of life, where you live, what you study, what you work, et cetera. Even the more intimate areas of life such as who you marry.
DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: [00:22:46] That's because for the most part, a Palestinian can't pass on their ID status to their spouse.
YARA HAWARI: [00:22:51] And this has huge implications on where they can live. Many did actually end up leaving and choosing to live abroad because it is that difficult.
DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: [00:23:01] On rare occasions, Palestinians are able to change their ID, but only in one direction.
HAGAI EL-AD: [00:23:06] So for instance, if a Palestinian from EastJerusalem, moves somewhere else inside the West Bank, they could lose their residency in EastJerusalem and Israel since it's considered as a downgrade, then that's the direction that would be feasible. And further down the line, again from Israel's perspective, if West Bankers move to the Gaza Strip and then that's the direction that Israel will accept, but not in the opposite direction.
DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: [00:23:33] So while Palestinians are granted different rights based on their IDs, nowhere do those rights match those of Israeli Jews. Looks like we can check off at least one of the elements required for apartheid to apply.
When Israel was founded in 1948, 700,000 Palestinians had fled or been forced out. The result was that the new state had a Jewish majority. To maintain that majority Israel has never allowed the refugees to return. The Palestinians who remained were given Israeli citizenship, although they were kept under strict military rule for 19 years. But in 1967, when Israel occupied more lands, including Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, it faced a problem. It wanted the land but didn't want the Palestinians on that land, so it's refused to extend citizenship to the rest of the Palestinians under its control while keeping them under military rule ever since.
To further control the ratio of Palestinians to Israeli Jews, Israel still bans Palestinian refugees and their descendants for moving into any of the territories it controls, while encouraging any Jewish person, anywhere in the world to immigrate to Israel, even if they've never set foot there before. In Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities actually have a population target -- 60% Jews to 40% Palestinians. Palestinians in Jerusalem are only granted a permanent residency permit. Even if they've been living in the cities it's before Israel was founded..
HAGAI EL-AD: [00:25:01] About 350,000, Palestinians are in that status, which is Orwellian, the way it's defined, because the only thing permanent in terms of residency is that it can actually always be taken away.
DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: [00:25:13] These permits can be revoked if a Palestinian moves out of the city, but Jewish Israelis living in Jerusalem never lose residency, even if they move to the other side of the world. This discrimination has been enshrined in Israeli law. The 2018 Nation State Law says that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people and that the right to national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.
That means that even Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, aren't considered equal to Jews with Israeli citizenship. As Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, put it, Israel is not a state of all its citizens, but rather the nation state of the Jewish people and only them.
So let's go back to that list from before. The Nation State Law is only one of many Israeli the laws that explicitly discriminate against Palestinians. For example, there's the 1950 Absentees Property Law, deeming Palestinian refugees absentees, Israel seized hundreds of thousands of acres of their land. Even though they were only absent because Israel wouldn't let them return. Remember, denying people the right to return to their country is on the list of inhumane acts that legally make up the third element of apartheid. There are more Israeli policies that could fall under the category of inhumane acts, especially when it comes to land.
HAGAI EL-AD: [00:26:30] So, Israel desires the land, even more so desires empty land or land that it makes empty, and doesn't desire the Palestinians living on that land. And that has resulted in policies in which land is constantly moving in one direction. Land that used to be Palestinian becomes state land, and then that land is allocated for the development of towns and communities for Jewish citizens.
DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: [00:26:57] And yes, expropriation of land is also an inhumane act. So let's see what that looks like on the ground. Across the entire territory, Palestinian communities are overcrowded and surrounded by Jewish only communities.
YARA HAWARI: [00:27:10] It's the same type of practice of encircling Palestinian communities so that they can't expand, cutting them off from one another. It's a continuous practice that began in 1948 and was expanded to the West Bank 1967.
DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: [00:27:27] The Israeli state prioritizes Jewish development in places where it wants to restrict the growth of Palestinian communities, with the government keen to Judaize areas like the Galilee and the Negev.
YARA HAWARI: [00:27:37] Israeli politicians frequently use that term: to Judaize an area. In other words, to ensure Israeli Jewish dominance in a particular area, where the government has a concern over the Palestinian demography. And in any other context, this would be condemned as gross ethnic engineering. It's in its basic laws, which is essentially the Israeli constitution. The land is deemed for the Jewish people, not the Israeli people, but the Jewish people.
DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: [00:28:06] In fact only 3% of the land inside Israel's 1948 borders is allocated for its Palestinian citizens. Meanwhile, hundreds of new communities have been built for its Jewish citizens, many on the ruins of destroyed Palestinian villages. Plus there's the 200 illegal Jewish settlements that have been built across the West Bank as well. At the same time, thousands of Palestinian homes have been demolished or are under threat of demolition, having been built without permits because Israel rejects most Palestinian building applications.
Meanwhile in the Negev desert, the Israeli government wants to maximize the land available for Jewish development. So it has tried to force Palestinian Bedouin citizens into small townships by demolishing their homes and not allowing them to connect to the water and power grids. One village, Al-Araqib, has been demolished more than 180 times.
YARA HAWARI: [00:28:58] Now, just across the green line, a similar struggle is taking place in the village of Susiya, which is in the West Bank, just south of Hebron. And it too has faced a series of mass demolitions by authorities in attempt to establish Israeli Jewish control over the area.
DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: [00:29:14] Looks like we can check off another one of the criteria for apartheid. Israel has total control of this entire territory. Even in Gaza and the West Bank, which have some limited autonomous Palestinian administration in place, israel controls the borders, trade, resources, water, electricity, the airspace, the electromagnetic spectrum, the population registry, and more. Accusing a government of carrying out a crime against humanity like apartheid is no simple matter, but we've seen how Israel's control over and discrimination against Palestinians fits the legal threshold for apartheid. Israel's own leaders knew this was happening, although they didn't do much to stop it.
UNKNOWN REPORTER: [00:29:56] The state that you have at the moment is an apartheid state.
EHUD BARAK: [00:29:59] It's not yet apartheid, but it might come on the slippery slope toward apartheid.
DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: [00:30:05] Still, how could aparthied apply to Israel when, say, Palestinian citizens can vote?
YARA HAWARI: [00:30:10] So as a Palestinian citizen of Israel I cannot question the fundamental Constitution of Israel, which says that the state is for the Jewish people and the Jewish people alone. My citizenship doesn't allow for inclusion in that state. And so therefore, participation in Israeli elections or in the Knesset is really nominal and has no potential to change policy.
DENA TAKRURI - HOST, AJ+: [00:30:33] Another argument against the accusation of apartheid is that the occupation is only temporary and when it ends, Palestinians will rule themselves.
HAGAI EL-AD: [00:30:41] Normal people don't think that 54 years is temporary. We've passed that line already a very long time ago. And yeah, there's a lot of Israeli propaganda insisting on that worldview of democracy plus temporary occupation. No, it's not a democracy and it's not a temporary occupation. It's one regime between the river and the sea, and that regime is apartheid.
Focus on Palestine feat. Mohammad Alsaafin - Chapo Trap House - Air Date 5-20-21
MOHAMMAD ALSAAFIN: [00:31:05] So the Palestinians who live in Sheikh Jarrah haven't lived there for hundreds of years. Those families moved there in the fifties, in the early fifties. The reason they moved there is because they were refugees forced out by Israel from their homes near Haifa and the Mediterranean coast. When Israel was founded 700,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from the territory that became the state of Israel. That's three quarters of the Palestinian population at the time. They were either forced out a gunpoint or they fled after hearing reports about many massacres that were committed by Zionist paramilitaries prior to the establishment of the state of Israel. And that ethnic cleansing is the only reason, and the only way that Israel was able to create a Jewish majority. It was deliberate, ethnic engineering to force out the people who were living there, who were the majority and create a Jewish ethno state with Jews would be the majority in a state where they were a definite minority until just a few months prior.
And so the families that moved into Sheikh Jarrah did so because, at the time, israel hadn't yet occupied the West Bank. The West Bank, including East Jerusalem was under the governance of Jordan, and the Jordanian government in coordination with United Nations had offered this plot of land, Sheikh Jarrah, to these families in exchange for them giving up their refugee status, essentially giving up their claims to return to their homes near Haifa that Israelis had taken over.
And so what happened is, after Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank and took over, is that these families who had already been ethnically cleansed from their homes once were facing the exact same thing again. We're talking about generational, like a generational cycle. And that's what makes Sheikh Jarrah so poignant, because it's not unique in the sense that Israel has been trying to kick out Palestinians from several neighborhoods in Jerusalem for the same reason. Among them Silwan, which is just south of the old city, and where a settler organization called Elad, which I believe is also registered in the US as a nonprofit and received a hundred million dollars from the Israeli-Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich who owns Chelsea football club.
The Guardian and Buzzfeed revealed last year that he'd actually spent a hundred million dollars in this organization that explicitly works to ethnically cleanse the village of Silwan. And their reason or their stated reason for doing it is that there's a archeological site under this village dating back to the times of King David, thousands of years ago. And so therefore, because King David possibly once lived there therefore it belongs to Jewish people.
FELIX BIEDERMAN - HOST, CHAPO TRAP HOUSE: [00:33:50] Very reminiscent of, there's an anecdote of Netanyahu, he displayed some coin in his office that he says the ancient Hebrew on it translates to Netanyahu, which is a Hungarian name that's existed for 500 years.
MOHAMMAD ALSAAFIN: [00:34:07] And I think actually, if I'm not mistaken, the Netanyahu name was actually adopted, so that wasn't even the original family name. I need to double-check that. So what Elad does in Silwan is they've created a archeological park, and slowly bit by bit taking over land around the houses, around their homes, in some places bribing some of these Palestinian families after choking them off, bribing them then with some payment exchange for their houses. The ones who stayed behind they suffer from humiliations, checkpoints, inability to build, to grow, to expand.
And they're building this archeological park and obviously the main, it's a tourist attraction for American evangelicals, they're the main people who go there, that's the main that's the main audience. So Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, all these areas, these represent a continuation of the Israeli policy in 1948 to remove Palestinians from land that it desires and replace them with Jewish settlers. And what's really interesting is there was a sign at one of the the pro-Palestine protests that erupted over the US that's stuck with me. Someone hold up a sign that said every Israeli town was once Sheikh Jarrah. And if you think about it, that's essentially the crux of this issue.
Every Israeli town was once populated by Palestinians, who've been forced out and replace with Israeli Jews. And that's why it's hilarious when the Israeli Foreign Ministry says that what's going on in Sheikh Jarrah is just the private real estate dispute between two private parties. It's not. It's state-backed. And the other thing is, under international law, Israeli courts should have no jurisdiction over East Jerusalem anyway, because it's considered occupied territory. So there's layers to how much the Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, there's layers to how much they're forced to endure.
And it's not a private real estate dispute because Israeli state is fully complicit in this. Whether through with the forced evictions that are made by Israeli soldiers and the police, or it's the court system that refuses to hear the -- so this is the other thing we're talking about, the crux of the issue. The claim by these Israeli settler organizations that the land in Sheikh Jarrah once belonged to Jews, and they're using land deeds from the Ottoman Empire to prove this. And there's question marks about how valid these land deeds are, some of them may be forgeries, some not, but what's interesting is that they're not saying we have to return this land to the people who owned it, they're saying that because Jews wants to live here than any Jew could then move in and kick out the Palestinians that live there now. And that's why you get Jacob from Brooklyn moving in to these families houses.
At the same time, I mentioned that the Sheikh Jarrah families are originally from near Haifa, Israeli courts don't allow them to make a claim to return to their houses that are still there. So the Israeli courts will hear any case for any Jewish organization that wants to reclaim the land that a Jew might not have lived in for hundreds of thousands of years, but a Palestinian who's still alive and says I want to go back to the house that was mine a few decades ago, Israeli court system will not hear that argument, will not allow it. And that is a testament to the apartheid system that Israel's running against Palestinians.
Heather Digby Parton on why the reaction to Israel is different this time - Ring of Fire Radio - Air Date 5-21-21
SAM SEDER - HOST, RING OF FIRE RADIO: [00:37:36] Just from your observations, you've been watching this professionally in some form or another for almost two decades as well. What do you notice that is different this time around?
HEATHER PARTON: [00:37:46] It's, it's really different. This is not the same. These situations have flared up from time to time. And as you point out, it's been sometimes much worse than others. And in the past there was bi-partisan reflexive agreement to endorse, if not outright endorse, support the Israeli position on it, it's a matter of self-defense, they have a right to do it, et cetera, et cetera. And you still hear some of that, even from the president who said the same thing. Israel is our ally. We support it, whatever.
And of course it was always a fatuous kind of response because the issue, the Palestinians who lived there or also living there, this is not a matter of two countries fighting one another. This is much more, it's an apartheid situation, which is also a word that we're starting to see used in respectable foreign policy circles in a way that it never has been before.
And that's really important because if you go back and you look at what happened with South Africa, for instance, it took that kind of clarity, of people actually calling out the system and actually saying, look, we are just not going to support this. We can't support it. And it was fought tooth and nail by the right and by the center for a long time. And it finally changed, partially due to internal issues in South Africa, but also partially due to the international pressure that brought that about.
So what we're seeing here in the United States, I think, and we talked about this a little bit last week, I think that there's been a kind of a consciousness-raising on Democrats and the center and maybe even some Republicans, because you're even seeing some movement there of the non-evangelical right being a little bit more skittish about going all in with Israel on this. And I think it has to do with our new awareness of -- it's a new awareness, although it's been a reality forever -- our own history of apartheid, our own sense that, they'd be the kind of racist, colonial systems that have been in place for centuries. There has to be a reckoning for that. And we're seeing also the authoritarian right wing government of Israel under Benjamin Netanyahu reflected in our own situation here politically on the right with this rising authoritarianism, Donald Trump, and the fact that Donald Trump was so incredibly close with Netanyahu, basically said he could do no wrong. They had Jared Kushner over there every five minutes doing everything he could to shore up Israel's power in the region. And I think that a lot of Americans, particularly in the Democratic party, are starting to see that this is not a sustainable position for America to take any more. And I think we're seeing it in Europe too.
This is a general Western sort of retreat from reflexive support of Israel, no matter what it does. And mainly because it's insupportable. That's just the reality. And has been for a long
time, but yeah.
SAM SEDER - HOST, RING OF FIRE RADIO: [00:40:35] It has been, but there's a definitely a different perspective on it.
I should just say that in terms of Europe, the irony is that the Europeans have always been slightly more skeptical, it seems to me, of reflexively taking Israel's side in these things. But when now what we're seeing is that there are elements in Europe , thinking about Viktor Orbán and other more authoritarian regimes that are basically -- and the Israeli government has made no secret of their alliances with some of these far right, fascist, fascistic movements in Europe. The exact quote escapes me, but the high-placed Israeli military official -- this was some years back -- was asked directly, like, how can you do this?
I think maybe it was also in the context of the Christian Scientist movement in this country. Like how can you ally yourself with people who ultimately want to see you burn in hell because you're not -- and the Israeli general was like when it comes to that, we'll deal with that issue. But in the meantime, we'll take their support. And that is a very dangerous game that is being played with there. And in fact, my understanding is that some reporting suggests that Netanyahu has advisors who are basically saying, we need to give up on diaspora Jews, particularly , American Jewery as our basis of support in the United States and rely on the Christian Zionists.
And look, this has been coming for some time. And there's a couple of factors that seem to be working out. First off, when Netanyahu came and spoke to the Republican Congress as a snub to Barak Obama, I remember when Tim Kaine of all people said he wasn't going to go. And there was a couple of Democratic senators who were saying, I'm not attending the session. And to me, that was the first example I saw of a certain type of politician who would have never dared to do something like that. Because there was no upside to it or there was too much of a discipline issue if someone took that type of sort of moral stance or something like that against Israel.
And that has changed. We're seeing that change across the board. We have multiple members of Congress, members of the Squad raising issues like delaying, if not canceling weapons sales. Bernie Sanders is out there very vocally saying these things as an American Jew.
And I also think there's a generational change. I grew up in an era where many people my age, in their early to mid fifties and older in the wake of the Holocaust, in the wake of the establishment of the state of Israel, and the wake of multiple attempts to destroy Israel. The 1970 the Yom Kippur war, the 1967 war, et cetera, et cetera.
And much of my Jewish education was, essentially, the pillars of it were the Holocaust and the existence of Israel, and then maybe a little bit of Hebrew. And I think that has changed. I think over the years, there has been a more jaundiced view of Israel, and the perspective on it has changed, and particularly with this younger generation.
And like you say, I think there's also been a greater awareness of this dynamic of when you see police go in and beat Palestinians living in their homes, they start to understand the vernacular here, because they're watching it in this country now on some level as well, because largely this is a function of of phone cameras again.
And so there has been a marked change, I think, and it's going to be interesting to see where it feels like Biden was both a) thought that he could avoid all of this just generally, and also surprised by the fact that he couldn't just ignore it because there were members of his own party would be upset about it and voters. And I don't know, Twitter is not the end all be all, but if you look at these things, it has changed. It really has changed. And I think I don't know what this is going to bring about. The United States gives Israel almost $4 billion a year in technology, excuse me, in war technology, and that money makes a difference to Israel. We keep hearing that it doesn't, but it does. I'm quite convinced in that report.
And I really do think it is a matter of time before Israel loses American support, if you're in a position where Democrats are in control.
Debunking Israel's Human Shield Defense in Gaza Massacre - Empire Files - Air Date 5-19-21
ABBY MARTIN - HOST, EMPIRE FILES: [00:45:02] At the time of this recording, at least 217 people have been killed by Israeli bombs in Gaza. 63 of them were children. The vast majority non-combatants. Israel has leveled residential buildings, towers, housing, international media outlets, all the roads leading to Gaza's trauma hospital, a Doctors Without Borders hospital, and refugee camps.
In the Al-Shati refugee camp massacre on May 15th, they killed seven members of the same family huddled in their home. And in one single air raid on May 16th, they killed 42 civilians, including 10 children.
Every single one of these civilian dead Israel claims were human shields. So there's nothing to condemn. It's not their fault. It's the fault of Hamas. Nothing to answer for, no pressure to stop. No accountability. We're just supposed to take their word for it.
This is repeated without question by corporate media. For example, when Israel leveled the building housing Associated Press offices, claiming it was a secret base for Hamas, they provided no evidence whatsoever, even in secret to the US State Department.
But CNN, instead of grilling Israel about the claim, instead grilled the Associated Press about turning a blind eye to Hamas.
The human shield narrative is really the only defense Israel and the US have for excusing these brutal crimes against humanity. Here's the thing: claiming civilians you kill are human shields is not some sort of "get out of jail free" card. Why is it up to Israel to determine if their actions are war crimes or not?
I'm going to give you five points that completely evaporate Israel's human shield defense, and explain why it must be something to answer for in an international criminal court.
Point 1: Israel provides no evidence that there are human shields.
So far, the best they can do is share these photo-shopped images. See the building is red. That means Hamas is there. You know, for all of Israel's sophisticated surveillance technology with eyes over every single inch of Gaza, you'd think that they'd be able to produce more than cartoons and doctored graphics.
In fact, the only proof they have provided so far are fake videos of Hamas rockets in residential areas. On May 15th, the IDF published a video of an Israeli training operation using a Hamas decoy, but claimed it was an actual Hamas missile launcher near civilians. In another life Netanyahu's spokesman tweeted a video claiming it was Hamas firing rockets next to an apartment building; turns out this was a video from 2018 in Syria.
So where's the actual evidence? If they cannot provide any, their claims must be investigated and brought to a trial. Even if there was evidence that Israel was hitting legitimate military targets, it still is illegal to kill such an outrageous amount of civilians. And you can't legally blow up a hospital, even if there are militants nearby. Either way, Israel should not be allowed to be above the law.
Point 2: We shouldn't take Israel's claims of human shields at face value, because they have an extensive history of lying about it. I think the most irrefutable example are their killings at Gaza's Great March of Return, which we documented in our film, Gaza Fights For Freedom.
At this great march, Israeli snipers directly targeted and killed 183 unarmed demonstrators, including 35 innocent children. At these protests, journalists marked "Press," medics performing medical aid, a man in a wheelchair, and so many more. But Israel said they were all human shields. So it was all legitimate.
Here's where they really exposed themselves. According to international law, human shield applies to civilians as collateral damage when you're targeting military forces in combat, but at the Great March protests, there were no militants, nobody shooting at Israelis, nobody with weapons, no targets remotely connected to military operations.
So if all of those children, medics, journalists, and disabled people were human shields, who were they shielding? Even when they killed a celebrated female medic, Razan al-Najjar, they released a propaganda video saying she was a human shield. But shielding what? Under no circumstances would killing that many civilians at an unarmed protest with the defense that they were human shields for non-existent military targets hold up for a second in a war crimes tribunal.
Today Israel relies on the fog of war to make this claim seem possible. But just two years ago, Israel showed an irrefutable pattern of lying about human shields, and now they have zero credibility.
Point 3: According to Israel's own definition of human shield, every man, woman, and child in Gaza is a human shield. They claim that anyone in the vicinity of not only Hamas missile sites, but Hamas offices, Hamas individuals, is a human shield. This includes Hamas members who are sleeping at home with their families and the surrounding houses. This includes anyone within a mile of any Hamas institution, which is literally all of the 2 million people who live there. Look, Hamas is the government of Gaza. Therefore, any civilian infrastructure is considered Hamas infrastructure, everything from transportation to healthcare. So anyone in the vicinity of those things or people can be killed with impunity. Even Israel's minister of defense confirmed that this is indeed their view. Stating on May 18th, that quote no person, area or neighborhood in Gaza is immune from airstrikes. How is it an any way acceptable that Israel can categorize every human being in Gaza a legitimate target? And if you take Israel's logic far enough, they could kill everyone in Gaza and it would be justified.
Point 4: If you accept Israel's definition of human shield, then you have to accept that Israel is using human shields as well. Armed Israeli soldiers are everywhere among the civilian areas. Not only that, but their military bases are nestled in densely populated residential areas.
For example, the Israeli defense forces main headquarters is smack dab in the middle of a residential sector of Tel-Aviv and a major shopping center. Has anyone accused Israel of using human shields?
In another example, the Israeli army broadcasts from a residential apartment tower with antennas on the roof. If Hamas leveled that building, does anyone doubt it would be deemed a war crime?
What we have here is a double standard. Israel wants the human shield defense for them to be any civilian they kill. But for any civilian killed by Hamas, it's a war crime.
You know, the purpose of international laws of war is to create a standard that's applied to all sides equally. But Israel and the United States have a different view: that the rules only apply to their enemies.
Point 5: If everyone in Gaza is a legitimate human shield, that's only because of Israel's own design. This is a situation of Israel's own making. Israel drew the borders and Israel refuses to let anyone leave. To leave Gaza, you must get approval from the Israeli government, and the government will almost always say no.
So what are people supposed to do, who want to remove themselves from the carnage? They have literally nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide. Israel has made Gaza, in every sense of the term, an open-air prison. They trap 2 million civilians in this tiny strip of land. Then they bomb their neighborhoods and say they shouldn't have been there.
The mountain of civilian dead has to be looked at through the perspective of the Israeli blockade and the inability of anyone to escape. Resistance forces in Gaza have nowhere else to go to. Gaza's self-defense capabilities are confined to this heavily populated area. And Israel has intentionally made Gaza unlivable.
The only way Gaza is able to exert pressure on Israel is by firing rockets. If they peacefully protest their conditions, they're massacred just the same. If they do nothing, Israel continues to blockade them, erode their living conditions, while ethnically cleansing the rest of their land. Israel has made it so the only leverage Gaza has to get any change is using the one weapon it has. Besides, Gaza has the right to self-defense under international law. And contrary to what Israel claims, the current round of fighting was started by Israel, not Hamas, when they deployed criminal violence against Al Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah.
And right at the outset on May 12th, Hamas offered a ceasefire to Israel. Israel rejected it because they wanted to keep going, despite their rhetoric of only wanting the rockets to stop. So if Israel is going to keep bombing, Gaza has no choice but to fight back. And that in turn becomes the excuse for Israel massacring so-called human shields.
It's far from the first time this term has been used to state-sponsored mass slaughter. Human shield propaganda has been long applied by the empire to dehumanize the enemy in nearly every major world conflict or war, from its atrocities in Korea to Iraq. And it always serves the same purpose: to dehumanize entire populations, giving the perpetrators a free pass to act with total disregard for civilian life.
What the Israeli government is trying to do is cover up what their military is actually doing, which is indiscriminate bombing. That seems glaringly apparent, and international law is very clear about indiscriminate attacks being a war crime, strictly prohibited in any situation.
The U.S. Media Has A Palestine Problem - AJ+ - Air Date 5-22-21
SANA SAEED - HOST, AJ+: [00:55:38] You're a well-known anchor at a major American news network covering an ongoing story about an ally country engaged in a military assault against a population in a territory it illegally occupies. In the midst of this, a story breaks that your allies military has now bombed a building that houses journalists. Is your reaction going to be dismay? Condemnations? Demands that journalists and other civilians be protected? Or is your response going to look a lot like CNN's Brian Stelter's?
BRIAN STELTER: [00:56:08] I think the obvious question that comes to mind is what were the Israelis supposed to do if they are sure, if they had intelligence that can be vetted, that Hamas was using these news bureaus as a shield, as a hiding place. What were the Israelis supposed to do?
SANA SAEED - HOST, AJ+: [00:56:23] Covering Israeli occupation and apartheid seem to be excrutiatingly difficult for many major media outlets, especially here in the United States. There's a lot of sanitization of language, whitewashing of the situation, and an erasure of the real power imbalance that exists between Israelis and Palestinians, even an erasure of Palestinian humanity.
UNKNOWN REPORTER: [00:56:42] Do you support the protests, the violent protests that have erupted in solidarity with you and other families in your position right now?
We've seen this type of rocket fire during major operations and major wars.
SHEP SMITH: [00:56:54] Violence, spiraling out of control in the Middle East. Fires in Tel Aviv. Military strikes a neighborhood in Gaza. That began as a land dispute in Jerusalem.
SANA SAEED - HOST, AJ+: [00:57:06] Since May 11th, the Israeli military has been bombing Gaza. The airstrikes followed an escalation of ongoing Israeli state violence when worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem were attached by Israeli police during the last days of Ramadan. And this was following ongoing Palestinian resistance against the forced and illegal displacement of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem to make room for more Israeli settlers, a situation that isn't unique to this neighborhood.
Almost immediately, English language news media, especially US outlets, chose a side under the guise of objectivity, and we can see it in the language that's been used. State-sponsored illegal forced displacement became "evictions", something Mohammad El-Kurd , a resident and writer from Sheikh Jarrah, called out on CNN.
MOHAMMED EL-KURD: [00:57:51] To start, it's not really an eviction. It's forced ethnic displacement to be accurate because an eviction implies legal authority while the Israeli occupation has no legitimate jurisdiction over the eastern parts of occupied Jerusalem under international law.
SANA SAEED - HOST, AJ+: [00:58:04] Israeli police attacks on Palestinian Muslim worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque became "tensions" or "clashes", a term, which not only erases the genesis of the violence and occupying state force inflicts on the people it occupies, but also obscures the power imbalance between Israelis and Palestinians. A decades long Israeli occupation of Palestine, and a now recognized system of apartheid becomes a conflict, another term, which presents the occupier and the occupied as equals.
The Israeli military assault on Gaza, which at the time of filming this has claimed over 230 Palestinian lives, becomes a war between a heavily armed country and the people living on a tiny strip of land that it occupies. And if the war isn't with Gaza, then the wars with Hamas, whose military wing is up against one of the world's most technologically advanced and well-funded militaries, which is also the only country in the region with nuclear capabilities.
And I'll throw it to John Oliver to quickly explain why Hamas rockets and Israeli bombs just as don't make for a meeting of equals.
JOHN OLIVER: [00:59:09] The use of the phrase, "tit for tat war" in a conflict where you just pointed out one side has suffered over 10 times the casualties. Something which speaks to both the severe power imbalance at play here and how that often gets obscured by how we choose to talk about it.
SANA SAEED - HOST, AJ+: [00:59:25] In addition to sanitized language, there's also the passive voice, which suddenly becomes dominant in an industry where that's a big grammatical no-no. Palestinians aren't killed by Israeli bombs, they die. Israelis, however, are killed. Buildings aren't destroyed by Israeli airstrikes, they collapse after Israeli airstrikes. And mainstream coverage, even when it's good like the Last Week Tonight segment, still often presents current events devoid of seven decades of context. The recent events in Jerusalem can't simply be reduced to a flare up or an escalation. Describing these events in this way and demanding a restoration of calm, whatever that means, diminishes the greatest act of violence that is inflicted on Palestinians on a daily basis, the occupation. All coverage and context needs to go back to that.
Sheikh Jarrah does not exist in and of itself, it exists in the context of seven decades of settler colonialism, whose purpose has been the dispossession and subjugation of the indigenous population. Attacks on Al-Aqsa don't exist in and of themselves, but are part and parcel of a long-existing Israeli strategy to dismantle and discourage Palestinian mass gatherings. This is especially true in this particular case, when the attack followed protests against the continuing state-backed Judaization of Jerusalem by forcing out the Palestinian population. And we can't talk about the West Bank without talking about how among almost 3 million Palestinians, there are more than 700,000 illegal Israeli settlers.
We can't talk about Jerusalem without pointing out how the Israeli controlled city has a policy of keeping the ratio of Palestinians to Israeli Jews 40:60. That's an official policy to ensure Jewish dominance of the city. And then Gaza, we can't talk about Gaza without mentioning that it's a small strip of land the size of Detroit, home to 2 million Palestinians. There is no official border that demarcates it. And it's under siege from Israel by land, air, and water. Of the 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, 1.4 million are refugees who were expelled from or fled their homes due to the ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by Jewish militias before Israel's creation in 1948. These refugees, like all Palestinian refugees, we're blocked by Israel from ever returning to their homes despite the United Nations demanding that they be allowed to.
Now American mainstream coverage of Israel, of occupied Palestine, isn't surprising when we look at how closely aligned to the media establishment is with not only the American government, but its foreign policy interests. It's the same reason that this happened, that the American mainstream uncritically reported and amplified and Israeli strategy to make Hamas think that the military was going to do a ground invasion. And Israeli and pro-Israeli voices and perspectives dominate cable news shows, and even daytime shows, despite the vast amount of Palestinian commentators available.
JAKE TAPPER: [01:02:13] Did the Palestinians, even though they don't have a state, do they have the right to defend themselves?
GILAD ERAD: [01:02:18] What do you mean? They have the right to defend themselves from who? We are not attacking Palestinians.
JOE LIEBERMAN: [01:02:24] What we have here is a terrorist organization, Hamas, on one side and our ally, democratic ally Israel on the other side, and therefore, we have a responsibility to support Israel and its right to defend itself.
SANA SAEED - HOST, AJ+: [01:02:41] And it's not surprising that the New York Times, the leading newspaper of record, continues to use language and reporting which, at best, equalizes Palestinian and Israeli violence and suffering, and at worst de-humanizes as Palestinians. Since 1984, every New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief has lived in a west Jerusalem home that was ethnically cleansed of its inhabitants during the Nakba, which is what Palestinians call what happened in 1948. And the [New York] Times also has had staff and reporters covering the occupation in various capacities who have children who served in the IDF. How many Palestinian Jerusalem bureau chiefs has the Times had? How many Palestinian staff reporters does it have on the ground? Or how many Palestinian ground reporters does any other major American newspaper or cable outlet have on the ground?
Now, everything that I just laid out might make the situation seem so incredibly dire, but this time there has been a bit of a shift.
MOHAMMED EL-KURD: [01:03:38] This is a war crime. This is ethnic cleansing. They can do all their propaganda and say that this is a private land dispute, but looking, it doesn't take much looking at the history of this country and seeing how this country came about. It came about by stealing people's homes and stealing people's lands and destroying people's villages.
ALI VELSHI: [01:03:55] Palestinians are at best third-class citizens in the nation of their birth. The idea that it's even remotely controversial to call what Israel has imposed on Palestinians a form of apartheid is laughable.
UNKNOWN REPORTER: [01:04:06] United Jerusalem is a city that is a success story and will continue to be.
According to Israeli reports, only 7% of the building permits issued in Jerusalem over the past few years have gone to Palestinians. They make up 40% of the city's population.
NOURA ERAKAT: [01:04:20] What we need is more than the secession of violence. We need sanctions against Israel in order to put pressure on one of our times apartheid regimes.
JOHN OLIVER: [01:04:30] For the record, destroying a civilian residence sure seems like a war crime, regardless of whether you send a courtesy heads-up text.
SANA SAEED - HOST, AJ+: [01:04:38] Bolstered by the recent human rights watch report, which supports what Palestinians have said for decades, terms like apartheid and ethnic cleansing have made it into the mainstream. And while there is a long way to go to significantly shift the narrative into one, which doesn't give equal time, space and moral footing to the occupied and the occupier, there are some suggestions that we are witnessing a change. And there is a part of me that wonders, in addition to the rising tide of progressive politics, how much of a role did the reckoning over racism in the US media last summer, following the George Floyd protests, have to play in some of these changes.
What we're seeing today is that Israel's structural racism and violence are no longer deniable. And both those who watch the news and those who make the news are boldly challenging the media and political establishment to call out Israeli apartheid and to stop protecting it and enabling it.
So in the midst of it, filming this, we actually saw a leak of an internal CNN memo that said that the Ministry of Health in Gaza should be referred to as the "Hamas-run Ministry of Health". Can't make this up.
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [01:05:45] We've just heard clips today, starting with The Mill Series, which featured Michael Brooks giving his thoughts on the dynamics at play in Israel and Palestine. Deconstructed spoke with a resident of Palestine to understand the lived experience there. The Intercept highlighted the story of how Hamas was created AJ+ broke down the elements of apartheid and how they apply to Israel. Chapo Trap House looked at the history of ethnic cleansing and how apartheid rules function to maintain the ethno state. And Ring of Fire Radio discussed the turning tide in the media and politics in US opinion. That's what everyone heard, but members also heard bonus clips from the Empire Files, which debunked the circular logic of the human shield rationale for why Israel should be allowed to kill civilians and AJ+ took an even deeper dive into the media coverage of Israel in the US, how bad it is, and how it's beginning to shift. For non-members, those bonus clips are linked in the show notes and are part of the transcript for today's episode, so you can still find them if you want to make the effort. But to hear that and all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly into your podcast feed, sign up to support the show at BestoftheLeft.com/support or request a financial hardship membership, because we don't make a lack of funds a barrier to hearing more information.
Every request is granted, no questions asked.
And now I have a special lesson for you.
Curation Lesson #1: Definitions - Air Date 5-25-21
For context, I received a message recently and I've converted a portion of it into a VoicedMail so that we can have a listen, because this is what inspired me to launch a brand new mini educational series. So let's go.
CRAIG FROM CLEVELAND: [01:07:29] Your show is an aggregator. Right? You pull things from other shows. So, why should I donate to your show rather than donate to Rev-Left, or Antifada, or Democracy Now!? Democracy Now is a show that I personally pledge my money to.
I don't think you do anything original that is worth millions or thousands of people donating their money towards. I think you should be grateful for what you have.
The way I contribute to your show is by recommending it to others. But I would rather give my money to the actual people who are doing the original content themselves.
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [01:08:00] So that got me thinking. But to start, I want to be clear that where people spend their money is a deeply personal thing based on value judgments that are unique for every individual. I don't begrudge anyone donating to any media outlet that they get value from. And I never suggest that anyone should donate to this show instead of any other.
That said, it appears that there is some misunderstanding about what we do here, which could be causing people like this person to inadvertently undervalue the work we do. And so to help clear this up, I have designed a series of lessons to better understand what curation is and why it should be valued.
Today's lesson is on a clarification of terms. So, to his first point:
CRAIG FROM CLEVELAND: [01:08:58] Your show is an aggregator. Right? You pull things from other shows.
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [01:09:02] More precisely, what I do is curation, and aggregation is one form of curation. Other forms include distillation, elevation, mashup, and chronology. I would argue that I do every one of these varieties of curations at different times, and we'll address the other forms on another day. But quoting from the article, "The five models of content curation," here is what it says about aggregation. Quote: "Aggregation. There is a flood of information online, and Google can only give you a best guess at the most relevant, but there are millions and millions of pages returned for any search result. Aggregation is the act of curating the most relevant information about a particular topic into a single location. This is the most common form of content curation. You still may have hundreds of pieces of source material, but just the fact that it is in a single location and not millions of pieces of information has a high value for people interested in a particular topic." Unquote.
And when I read this and other things like it, it got me thinking in the comparison I like is of museum exhibits versus a museum storage warehouse. The warehouse has shelves to the ceiling, endless rows of boxes, basically think of the last scene in the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Even if everything is meticulously labeled so that you could, in theory, find what you're looking for, no one would go to a museum that was just a well-organized warehouse. It is the curators at museums who make the exhibits consumable and useful for people.
Next up, in the article, "Why curation is important to the future of journalism," a quote is attributed to Andy Carvin, the senior strategist for NPR who ran their social media desk back in 2011 at the time of writing, highlighting the true meaning of the word "media." Quote: "It means being in the middle, in this case between sources and the public. So curating really isn't that different than what reporters have always done. It's just in real time and a hell of a lot more transparent." Unquote. And the same article pulled another relevant quote, this time from Ernie Smith, editor of Short Form Blog, saying that curators are like tour guides. Quote: "Good curators know where to find interesting things because they know the paths and can provide a knowledgeable voice to make things a little easier to parse. A good curator can see a clear direction and show others the way." Unquote.
So to wrap up, addressing the caller's primary question:
CRAIG FROM CLEVELAND: [01:12:08] So, why should I donate to your show rather than donate to Rev-Left, or Antifada, or Democracy Now!?
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [01:12:14] The problem is that the question is making a false comparison. Best of the Left is not a traditional media outlet, and shouldn't be compared to them along a false dichotomy of original versus aggregated content. The work we do is much more similar to the museum curator who applies deep wells of knowledge and experience to be able to carefully research, select, arrange and label artifacts in a way that creates deeply informative and often moving exhibits for those who visit. And I, like the museum curator after creating an exhibit of deeply researched and meticulously arranged material, metaphorically step out of the way so that people can experience what's been created.
But when I do that and step out of the way, it's not a surprise then that through this process, people would ultimately undervalue all of the work that is invisible to them. The particular irony is that making it look easy is actually evidence of how much work goes into the finished product.
Now, there's much more to be learned about curation and future lessons, but if you've already been spurred to action, you can support the work we do by becoming a member. You can donate to us directly or through Patreon. All of the details are at BestoftheLeft.com/support. And that link will be down in the show notes. Thanks for your attention. Join us for our next lesson.
Final comments playing a logical deduction guessing game in celebration of Towel Day
Thanks to all those who called into the voicemail line or wrote in their messages to be played as VoicedMails. If you'd like to leave a comment or question of your own to be played on the show, you can record a message at (202) 999-3991, or write me a message to [email protected]
And now today I have something completely different for you, completely different. We're going to play a game. Totally just for fun. I have a guessing game and the prize is six months of free membership. Just came up with it. There's no particular reason for that. And I also give memberships away for free to anyone who can't afford it. So we consider it to be of whatever value you think that is. It's going to be fun anyway, though.
The question that you are going to be answering is: What did I name my phone?
But don't worry. I have hints for you.
So, first couple of hints go like this: My computer and my digital watch and my phone are all named on the same theme.
I named my computer "Deep Thought." I named my digital watch "A Pretty Neat Idea." And if you need more hints along these lines, I once gifted my father a custom license plate holder that I think he might even still use, where you can print, you know, your own words around the edge, which reads: "One hoopy frued who really knows where his towel is", which is particularly fitting because today, basically the occasion for why we're playing this game, is Towel Day.
Towel day is in celebration of the person and body of work being referenced in all of these nonsense phrases. So if you don't already know who and what I'm referring to, I hope that you will do the minimum of digging, find out, and then go read the original material for yourself. The radio plays were also pretty good, I recommend those. Please don't watch the 2005 film, I was aghast at how poorly that was done.
So anyway, for six months of free membership, what did I name my phone that fits with the theme of "Deep Thought" computer and a watch named "A Pretty Neat Idea"?
I have one last particularly important hint for you though. You'd never guess it without this.
My super intelligent phone, you must know, is blue. And so when I was trying to think of a name and went and did some research on what an appropriate name for a super intelligent shade of color blue would be, I promptly found my answer.
So send your guesses. There's no time limit on this and no limit to the number of people who can win.
If you send me the correct answer, email, voicemail, whatever you want, as long as I can get back in touch with you. I will set you up with a free six month membership to Best of the Left. So you get all the bonus content and all of that for six months. If you're already a member, then you can just play along for the self satisfaction that comes with the knowledge of a job well done, just like a well-programmed personality in an automatic door.
So keep the comments coming in. As always, you can call us at (202) 999-3991, or by emailing me to [email protected] That is going to be it for today. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the monosyllabic transcriptionist trio, Ben, Dan and Ken, for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks of course, to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at BestoftheLeft.com/support as that is absolutely how the program survives. For details on the show itself, including links to all of the sources and music used in this and every episode, all that information can always be found in the show notes on the blog and likely right on the device you're using to listen.
So coming to from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from BestoftheLeft.com.