Palestinian-Canadian Robert Massoud provides a review of a new documentary that explores the relationship between American media and the Israeli Lobby, and how this has helped shape America’s sympathy towards the Israeli narrative of the conflict.
The word “occupation” not only describe physical space as in “Occupied Palestinian Territories” but also emotional or intellectual space as in other parts of the world most especially in the United States. For many people who follow Israel-Palestine, the US represents the single power than can make or break “peace in the Holy Land.” Yet after a steady reality for 50+ years, the record has been solidly “break” with barely the faintest whiff of “make.” Why is America not acting for peace? A recent documentary from Media Education Foundation offers an answer.
A new documentary about Israel-Palestine is making the rounds – albeit – smaller rounds than it deserves as it is proving to be too successful at proving its point – “the occupation of the American mind”. The documentary featuring a galaxy of well known commentators and analysts and narration by Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd fame) is simply “too hot” and is being turned down by American film festivals.
The film argues that Israel and the Israel Lobby have waged a very successful public relations war on the American people to keep them from understanding Israel’s role and actions in keeping the conflict on high heat while blaming the Palestinians for the failure to achieve peace and even for their own destruction. A classic case of blaming the victims and the powerless.
The film shows this has been achieved through the Lobby’s mastery of propaganda techniques via the corporate media and almost exclusive access to US media personalities. The net effect is to embed the desired narrative or frame to automatically define the reporting or analysis. Over and over again, it shows how Israel Lobby or spokespeople are allowed to simple make baseless claims or exaggerated statements without being challenged.
The result is an American population what has more or less accepted the line that Israel is simply exercising its right to defend itself against bloody Palestinian terrorists bent on killing Jews or “wiping Israel off the map,” and other like assertions. This even in the face of brutal exercise of near total destruction in all out attacks on Gaza in 2009, 2012 and 2014 where the exact opposite happened, Palestinians are killed and Palestine is getting wiped off the map.
An acquiescent and accepting American public means that its government can continue a 30+ year policy of not only arming Israel but also paying $3 billion annually for the privilege. Obama has recently committed to increasing the annual amount to minimum $3.7 billion.
The documentary received a solid round of applause from the 75 attendees at Beit Zatoun in Toronto on a beautiful spring night in May. Although dealing with the “American mind” in the open discussion period following many asked, “What about the Canadian mind? We feel occupied as well.”
The main discussion revolved mostly around what can we do as individuals given that the media is so closed and controlled. There was some comfort in the defeat of Bill 202, Standing Up Against Anti-Semitism in Ontario Act, 2016 in the Ontario legislature the previous week which was seen as victory for BDS which perhaps is the last remaining nonviolent resistance strategy for Palestinians. There was also recognition that challenge is not just media relations but also that the battle must be taken to local MPs and MPPs who are largely uninformed and open to being educated and possibly influenced.
The other popular question was where will this film be shown? How can I get a copy? The distributor is pursing a very activist and innovative program to make easy and affordable distribution of actual DVDs or internet streaming at variable costs to enable wide exposure to activist circles and hopefully from there to even larger ones.
Expect great things from this documentary – bring it to your network. For more information about the film and distribution see The Occupation of the American Mind. For a first or a three part The Real News Network interview with narrator Roger Waters.
About the Author
Robert Massoud is a Palestinian-Canadian. In 2004, he founded Zatoun, Fair Trade olive oil from Palestine to serve as a symbol of light, hope and peace. Robert also founded Beit Zatoun (House of Olive), a culture centre, art gallery and community meeting space in downtown Toronto to promote the interplay of art, culture and politics and to explore issues of justice and human rights – local and global. Robert founded a worldwide project called “Trees for Life Palestine” which plants 10,000s of olive trees every year in Palestine. Zatoun is a major supporter of “Project Hope” providing “art as therapy” to help heal many thousands of children living in refugee camps in Palestine.