Living in a Fantasy World, or How to Write About Palestine for Mainstream Media

'Pretend that the United States is an 'honest broker' ..'

By Roger Sheety

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shuttles from one country to another in a (seemingly) desperate, last-minute attempt to save the latest round of fake “peace” talks between Israelis and Palestinians from collapsing, mainstream media journalists are dutifully following him around, reporting on his every utterance as if the fate of the world depended on it.  For instance:

“The talks have spiraled into an impasse as each side accuses the other of bad faith and places impediments in the way of a resolution,” write Michael Gordon and Isabel Kershner in the New York Times.  “Worried that the process was in danger of collapsing, Mr. Kerry publicly appealed to the leaders to ‘lead’ and not let the atmosphere deteriorate further” (“Israel Halts Prisoner Release as Talks Hit Impasse”).

“Mr. Kerry has shuttled backwards and forwards for negotiations with Israel and the Palestinians in recent weeks,” gasps the BBC.  “However, Washington has expressed exasperation at what it calls ‘unhelpful, unilateral actions’ taken by both sides” (“Kerry calls for ‘reality check’ in Mid-East peace talks”).  Poor Mr. Kerry, what is he to do?

“The U.S. on Friday began a painful re-evaluation after 15 months in pursuit of a deal whose failure, American officials said, would risk fueling violent Palestinian actions against Israeli occupation and renewed calls in Europe for an economic boycott on Israel,” write Jay Solomon, Carol Lee, and Nicolas Casey in the Wall Street Journal (“White House Signals Pause in Mideast Talks”).  (Yes, it took three people to write that drivel.)

Beyond repeating verbatim what Kerry and various other officials say, however, none of these reports actually explain anything of substance leaving the reader typically both confused and indifferent.  Thus, based on these and literally hundreds of such articles over several decades in mainstream media, I have created a guide for aspiring corporate stenographers, excuse me, journalists; particularly those who wish to write on Palestine and the so-called “Israeli/Palestinian conflict.”

First of all, never mention the Nakba, the destruction of Palestine beginning in full force in 1947/1948 by European Zionists.  Although this is the root cause of the “conflict,” it is taboo—so don’t ever talk about it.  Don’t mention the over 630 Palestinian villages that were de-populated and then destroyed by those same Zionist forces.  Don’t talk about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the use of massacres and terror to de-populate Palestinian cities like Haifa, Akka (Acre), Safad, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Beersheba, and Lydda and Ramle for example.  Don’t bring up Plan Dalet, which was the Zionist plan to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its indigenous population through multiple massacres and terror.

Don’t connect Plan Dalet to the Allon Plan, which was the plan to take over the rest of Palestine in 1967: Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, in addition to the theft of Egypt’s Sinai and Syria’s Golan Heights.  And don’t connect those plans to the Prawer Plan, which is the current Israeli scheme to remove by force the remaining Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab (renamed “Negev” by Zionists) and steal their land.  Don’t talk about these plans because Israelis never plan to steal other people’s land and kill and ethnically cleanse the indigenous Arab populations there.  These things just happen.  And they’re in a “tough neighborhood,” after all.

Feign concern for Syrian and Iraqi refugees but don’t ever talk about Palestinian refugees despite the fact that they have been dispossessed and living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, and the West Bank for over six and a half decades.  Don’t talk about their inalienable right of return to their stolen homes and land, despite the fact that this right is based on international law and is applicable to all peoples of the world.  Also, don’t talk to Palestinian refugees.  Period.

Adopt Israeli/Zionist terms as your own, even if they are racist terms and you’d never otherwise use them yourself.  For example, talk about Palestinian children as “demographic threats” and “demographic time bombs.” Also, when U.S. leaders like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, or John Kerry refer to Palestinian children as “time bombs” and “threats to Israeli security,” don’t question them.  Don’t ask, for instance, “Mr. Kerry, would you ever refer to Latino Americans or African Americans or Asians in America as demographic threats/time bombs?”  He won’t like that.

Always refer to Palestinian resistance to Israeli aggression as “terrorism.”  Israelis are never terrorists; they are simply defending their interests by continually occupying and stealing more Palestinian land, demolishing Palestinian homes, uprooting their olive trees, and killing or imprisoning whoever gets in their way.  Always refer to Palestinians who refuse to give up their homes and land as “militants.”

Blame Palestinians whenever you can.  But, if you’re feeling generous, use “balanced” phrases that begin with “Both sides.”  For example, “Both sides are to blame,” “Both parties must make compromises,” “Both sides must come to the table,” “Both sides are being unhelpful,” and so on.  Don’t try to explain how Palestinians are also to blame if they attempt to defend their homes, or take Israel to the International Court of Justice, or use clear, concrete language to explain how their land is being stolen right from under them.  These people are unreasonable militants anyway.

Use terms like “Israeli security” to cover up the fact that Israel refuses to define its borders and, simultaneously, uses this fact to continue stealing Palestinian land.  Also, use this same term to cover up the fact that Israel is the only state in the Middle East that actually has nuclear weapons, has threatened to use them in the past, and may well threaten to use them again.  But if you can help it, don’t mention Israel’s secret, illegal, uninspected nuclear weapons program at all.  It’s a secret.

Pretend this is a conflict between two equal sides.  Use phrases like “it’s complicated” or “it’s complex” in lieu of established historical facts.  Don’t talk about settler colonialism, Palestinian dispossession, and racist apartheid Israeli laws.  Don’t bring up the World Zionist Organization’s map presented at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, which showed how European Zionists planned to take over all of Palestine, as well as south Lebanon, Syria’s Golan Heights, parts of Jordan, and parts of Egypt’s Sinai.  Also, don’t show this map, which is widely available online (like here).  After all, you don’t want your readers to put two and two together.  Because, you know, it’s complicated.

Instead, repeat time and again that Israel is the “only democracy in the Middle East” even though it is no such thing now and never was to begin with.  Never mention Israel’s over 50 racist laws which, among other things, prohibit Palestinians from buying the same land that was stolen from them in 1948 and after.  Always refer to Palestinian citizens of Israel as “Israeli Arabs” even though they reject the term and are, in fact, Palestinians.  Don’t mention that they are, at best, second class citizens of a settler colonial state and have family and friends living only a few kilometers away in various refugee camps who they cannot meet thanks to racist, apartheid Israeli laws.  Also, don’t mention that artificial settler colonial states like “Israel” are never democracies to the indigenous people they dispossess and usurp.

Boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS)—don’t talk about that.  Don’t mention that it is a non-violent, international campaign initiated by Palestinian civil society to boycott Israeli goods “until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights.”  But if you must talk about it, adopt Israeli/Zionist language that Palestinians are trying to “destroy” Israel, somehow, by attempting to hold the state accountable to the most basic principles of international law and morality.

Don’t link to or mention online news and analysis Websites that are dedicated to documenting this “conflict” from a non-corporate (that is, real) viewpoint, such as Palestine Chronicle.com, Ma’an News.net, Electronic Intifada.net, and Mondoweiss.net, for example.  These Websites have a bad habit of actually talking to Palestinians.  And many of the articles there are even written by Palestinians, too.  Imagine that.  Also, don’t link to or mention Websites which provide full contextual and historical background to this supposedly “complex” conflict; Websites like Palestine Remembered.com, If Americans Knew.org, or Palestine Land Society, for instance.  Remember, historical context is a bad thing and should be avoided whenever possible.

Pretend that the United States is an “honest broker” in these endless talks when indeed it is anything but that.  Don’t mention the fact that the U.S. funds Israel to the tune of several billion dollars a year, arms it with the world’s most dangerous weapons, gives special treatment to Israeli companies, and gives Israel unlimited diplomatic support as it kills, dispossesses, or otherwise abuses Palestinians daily.

Bring up anti-Semitism, the Nazis, the Peloponnesian War, and anything else you can think of to justify the continuing theft of Palestinian land and the destruction of Palestinian society.  Don’t quote Zionist leaders like David Ben-Gurion who said:

“If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel.  That is natural:  we have taken their country.  Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them?  There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault?  They only see one thing:  we have come here and stolen their country.  Why should they accept that?”  (Nahum Goldmann, The Jewish Paradox)

I could go on, but you get the idea.

So, if you follow the above guide and censor, redact, or otherwise re-write established historical facts, no doubt you will become very successful in your chosen profession as a corporate journalist, especially in North America.  Who knows, maybe even Hollywood will come calling and you’ll get to write and direct silly propaganda films like Otto Preminger’s Exodus or Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker which show the invaders as the victims and the defenders as ungrateful savages and terrorists.  I understand that fantasy writers make very good money in Hollywood these days.

– Roger Sheety is an independent writer and researcher.  He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Follow him on Twitter @ibinfalasteen.

1 Comment

  1. I am not anything but a old boy on a dirt road don’t watch tv because its all b.s. I have only lived here for 2 generations not thousands of years and I will fight to the death for my families home and I wouldn’t expect different from anyone else. Terrorism in a uniform is still terrorism. Invasion by a foreign occupying force putting the owners of the land in concentration camps is illegal everywhere on earth except Palestine?? I don’t pray n what not much but I do for those people. I hope my country quits supporting the Zionist terrorist soon but I doubt it lol it’s to good for business. it would be such an easy fix I would think, give back what you’ve stolen get out or stay but no Zionist

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