By Michael Severson
Advertising finances a magazine’s publication. The higher the readership, the higher the cost to place an ad on its pages; evidently, the higher the readership, the higher the exposure for the advertiser. So, imagine the potential of The Smithsonian at over seven million readers, according to its web site. Now imagine a full page color advertisement in the December issue, proclaiming, “You’ll love Israel from the first “Shalom,” its history, unpolluted beaches, and so on.
The readers of the magazine were exposed to half truths, if not an entirely fabricated reality. What the ad failed to tell them is that the serenity of Israeli beaches and the thrill of its history hide behind them an untold story of tears and blood, and a version of history to which they will not be exposed. What the magazine doesn’t show is the 27 foot high apartheid wall, the military checkpoints, the confiscated land, the ruined orchards, the waterless wells, the demolished houses, and to its neighbors to the north, the destroyed, cluster-bombed wasteland.
That is the picture I see, the picture I’ve seen, but, again, the picture that won’t be in The Smithsonian. Would the magazine have such an advertisement even if there was money to pay for it? I doubt it. Critics of this idea would say that such an advertisement is political. But is the Israeli advertisement less political, really, considering that what it promotes rests upon the land, the losses and the blood of the Palestinian people?
The reality in Palestine is a series of such dreadful pictures. To see such a reality and not to object to it is complicity, and complicity in a crime that mounts to a degree of partnership. Indeed, Israel has and is committing in Palestine some of the greatest crimes seen in the twentieth century, crimes that are successfully suppressed.
I thought about all of this, and wondered, what can an individual do to expose such crimes? Perhaps alone I can’t do much by way of boycotting this company or that. So what if I boycott Caterpillar, the American company which supplies Israel with the machine used to demolish Palestinian homes, used to murder Rachel Corrie, used to ruin orchards, devastate farms and destroy lives. True, but I can write to my representatives, make my voice heard, educate and inform so that average Americans don’t continue to live with the idea that Israel’s inception and survival is a divine miracle. I can object to the billions of give-away money to Israel for armament and whatever it chooses – and I do think if enough Americans knew about this and did likewise, this criminal complicity would end. I will not buy products produced in illegal Israeli settlements, and I will not renew my subscription to The Smithsonian. False advertisement is an act of deception that cannot be tolerated.
So here goes my note to the Smithsonian:
Main Advertising Office
420 Lexington Avenue, Suite 2335
New York, NY10170
I ask you to read the above message, published at The Palestinian Chronicle, in regard to the advertisement in the December issue promoting tourism to Israel.
As the above makes clear, the picture is not what I see; the text is not what I read, for the underlying intent behind the ad is not a vacation, but a political message, a promotion of a country guilty of numerous crimes against humanity. These crimes are well documented by fine historians, Palestinians, Israelis and researchers throughout the world. One must read learn of such facts, if one chooses not to be complicit.
The money received for placing the advertisement taints your otherwise informative magazine. Strong words, I am sure, for you to read. I suggest the following: donate that advertisement money to a Palestinian cause, to the UNRWA perhaps, to purchase food or some medical supplies, to aid surely one of the most oppressed and militarily subjected people; please refuse to accept advertising for an apartheid country.
Santa Rosa, CA
The United States
– Michael Severson contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.