Gaza & the US Press


USCPR Executive Director Yousef Munayyer is featured on CounterSpin, FAIR’s weekly radio show, to deepen understanding of the Great Return March, the context, and the possible ways forward.

JANINE JACKSON: In November 2012, Israel was pounding Gaza with drone missiles and artillery. At the time, Counterspin spoke with Yousef Munayyer, then Director of the Jerusalem Fund, now Executive Director of the coalition the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. This is Yousef Munayyer talking with Counterspin’s Steve Rendall in November of 2012:

YOUSEF MUNAYYER: Well it’s very difficult to talk about where does it all end when we don’t really understand where it all began. The problem with the United States media, and I think it’s not just the United States media but particularly in the United States, is that this is not an important issue in the United States media priorities until it is at crisis point like it is now, when people start paying attention. But when you only pay attention at a crisis point, you lose all the nuance and the context and the history that led up to this that are vital for understanding what the problems are and consequently how to solve them. I think that to have a discussion about how to move forward and how to fix these issues, we need to have a much better understanding of the genesis of these issues, of the underlying causes and factors for Palestinian discontent, for us to understand how to resolve it. Unfortunately I think it is just the nature of our media that is just far more concerned with spending endless TV hours on the salacious affairs of military generals than talking about the serious problems that affect people around the world. I think the coverage is extremely slanted towards the Israeli perspective. I think that’s slightly improved over time, but still largely in favor of the Israeli narrative. I think the proof of that is that when an Israeli citizens are not being bombarded with rocket fire from Gaza, there is no coverage of deaths that are continuing to take place because of Israeli incursions and violations in the Gaza strip. It is only when Israelis are put under a difficult situation that the US media starts to pay attention. Because of that we really lose perspective here as viewers and as readers and as a general audience of the US media. Of course to your point this is not a war, this is by many been covered as a war between Israel and Hamas. This is not a war, this is not two armies and two states battling against each other, this is a domestic problem where the Israelis are oppressing violently the dissent of Palestinians who are demanding their rights from the state that does not want to give it to them. We need to put it in that context to really understand what’s going on. Unfortunately in the world of two-minute sound-bytes and whatnot, it’s not conducive to proper understanding of an extremely nuanced situation, the genesis is sixty-four years in the past.

STEVE RENDALL, COUNTERSPIN: Well I mentioned at the top the regional political changes and there’s been some funny discussion in US media about those changes. NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell in what could be described as an awkward moment of candor stated “so you don’t have a reliable dictator or a totalitarian leader in Egypt whom the United States can do military-to-military and diplomatic relations with.” She was lamenting the fact that there’s no longer an Egyptian dictator to help the US and Israel manage the Palestinian problem. What does that tell you about the American media?

YM: I think she along with policy-makers in Washington are also lamenting the loss of dictators throughout the region to help them manage the Palestinian problem. What that means is that the media reflects a US interest and US policy which has always been to favor stability through the use of force, and the imposition of dictators throughout the region without concern for the popular will. It is particularly clear in the Palestinian case, where you see the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people being denied, so long as there are friendly allies of the United States willing to cooperate in denying them. I think until we’re able to talk about those legitimate grievances as in fact security issues, then we’re not going to realize the impact that has. We cannot keep just saying we’re going to keep them under wraps, it’s just not going to work. I think the Arab Spring has proven that’s just not going to work. I think that what this has shown us in Gaza is that as much as the Israelis might want the Palestinians to go away, they’re not going to go away, and you have to start dealing with them as human beings and as equals for there to be a just solution to this issue, because the use of force is simply not going to work.

SR: In your New Yorker piece you seem to think that the time for a two-state solution is passing or has passed. In the remaining time I wonder if you could talk about what possible good solutions might be available?

YM: There are flaws to every solution. I don’t think a one-state outcome or a two-state outcome are perfect. I don’t think we’re going to have a perfect solution. The bottom line is a solution that’s going to work is the one that comes closest, that’s the closest approximation to justice for the largest number of stakeholders involved. Unfortunately the two-state solution is no longer able to provide that, if it ever was. The continued expansion of Israeli colonies on Palestinian territory have made the process for peace a process of turning Palestine into little dismembered pieces. The possibility of a Palestinian state emerging there I believe is beyond the realm of geographic and physical possibility. So we need to start thinking about what other outcomes within a one-state framework can provide for an approximation of justice for the largest number of stakeholders possible. The first step is having that discussion, then we can start talking about policies that will move us in that direction. But it’s about time to start having that discussion.

JJ: That was Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, in 2012.