Lesley Stahl and the 7 pillars of conventional wisdom
Lesley Stahl’s report from Sunday’s “60 Minutes” about the illegal Israeli colony “the City of David” is an unadulterated, albeit very sophisticated, piece of Peace Industry propaganda. It is a case study for how the media sets the “appropriate” parameters of debate according to “conventional wisdom” of “serious people”.
She starts off the show with a cute intro about the holiness of Jerusalem:
Jerusalem is one of the holiest cities on Earth, for Jews, for Muslims and for Christians. It is also one of the most difficult issues at the negotiating table as Palestinians and Israelis struggle to continue the peace talks.
Conventional Wisdom #1: the current discussions between various members of the Peace Industry are a sincere/heart warming/Hallmark channel effort for peace.
What’s the challenge Lesley?
“The challenge is how to divide the city between the two sides. Back in 2000, then-President Clinton came up with some parameters for how to do it: areas populated mostly by Jews would remain Israeli; those populated mostly by Arabs would become the new Palestinian capital. That meant that for the most part East Jerusalem would go to the Arabs.”
Convention Wisdom #2: The challenge to peace is dividing Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israelis, and Clinton’s 2000 plan was the reasonable way to solve this challenge.
Conventional Wisdom #3: Acquisition of territory by aggressive force and settling a civilian population in occupied territory are OK if the US backs you. Only those who are un-serious outsiders could possibly expect the Geneva Conventions to be enforced.
Throughout the segment, Palestinians of Jerusalem are referred to as “Arabs” except when it is in reference to the Palestinian state. What’s insidious about the report is that even when seemingly criticizing Israel, the criticisms are only around the edges and they only serve to reinforce Peace Industry propaganda.
This brings in Conventional Wisdom #4: Palestinians are “Arabs” until they are lifted up as Proud Palestinians upon peacefully negotiating their way to their glorious state of Palestine.
Another problem is an inconvenient truth: that biblical Jerusalem is not located in the western half of the city. It’s right under the densely populated Arab neighborhood of Silwan.
Silwan isn’t a Palestinian neighborhood, it’s an “Arab neighborhood”. Just like Baghdad, Beirut, and Amman are Arab neighborhoods. Who can tell the difference these days?
But, when referencing a future Palestinian state, Palestinians get to be called Palestinians:
Palestinian Jawad Siyam was born in this “very, very special place” and says he can trace his roots there back 930 years. He’s pessimistic about the Palestinians ever having their own state. “What will happen to this village if there’s a two-state solution?” Stahl asked
Conventional Wisdom #5: Palestinians have an ancient heritage in East Jerusalem. As far as West Jerusalem goes, that’s the Israeli side, and Palestinians have absolutely no claims or rights on that land.
Here’s another passage loaded with conventional wisdom and brainwashing:
The Arabs say it’s a provocative thing to do. Devout Jews Yonatan and Devorah Adler live in one of the houses El’Ad bought. El’Ad has raised tens of millions of dollars, half from the United States, and buys the homes on land the Palestinians claim for a future state.
Conventional Wisdom #6: Palestinian land isn’t really Palestinian land. It’s only a “claim” among many competing claims. To assert that one claim has more validity than another is “biased” and must never be spoken of.
Here’s Lesley Stahl talking to religious settlers living in the City of David colony:
“And yet, when you see those maps, it’s over in the Palestinian side,” Stahl pointed out.
“Yeah, well, maps are written on paper. This is written on our hearts,” he replied.
To the untrained eye, Stahl seems to be doing a good job of reflecting the insanity of the Zionist project. But take a second look. Criticism of Israel is allowed only if the underlying premise reinforces Peace Industry conventional wisdom. In this case it’s that East Jerusalem is the “Palestinian side” (the as yet uncolonized parts) and West Jerusalem is the Israeli side.
“The government pays for the gun guards?” Stahl asked.
“It’s tax money. It’s, I pay it. Everyone who is paying taxes is paying it,” Jawad Siyam replied.
“You pay taxes and that money goes to pay for the guards to guard the settlers,” she remarked.
“Yes, of course,” Jawad said.
“So you’re helping guard the settlers,” Stahl remarked.
“Yeah, I’m a fan of the settlers and the gun guards,” he replied sarcastically.
Another seemingly positive exchange which shows that Palestinians of Jerusalem pay for their own oppression through their taxes. But, look closer. Are the Palestinians Israeli citizens? Then why do they pay taxes to the Israeli government? Was there some sort of illegal unrecognized annexation of East Jerusalem? Not for “60 Minutes” to say.
The implication given is that Palestinians living under the Israeli government is the natural state of affairs. It’s timeless and just is. It would of course be biased to point out that East Jerusalem Palestinians have no political rights to vote in the governmen that they pay taxes to.
More he said/she said “journalism” comin atcha!
That feeling of Jewish encroachment has been heightened by the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, who is doing all he can to make sure East Jerusalem remains under Israeli sovereignty. He wants to create a Bible-themed garden and turn it into a tourist park adjacent to the City of David. But as with the dig, the local Arabs see this as another attempt to gobble up their side of Jerusalem.
Remember, it’s “Jewish encroachment” not land theft by a government which happens to call itself the “Jewish State”. The legitimate “Jewish-ness” of that State behind the green line is thus reinforced, yet again.
“Local Arabs” “see” a plan to build a tourist park right on top of their heads as an attempt to “encroach” upon their rightful and legitimate part of Jerusalem (and only that part, shut up about the parts your grandparents were kicked out of). Who are these “local Arabs”? Are there also “local Jews”? Who knows if this is really a land grab.
“Building the mayor’s park requires demolishing 22 Arab homes in Silwan.”
Presumably “local” Arabs. Is there any context to the situation? Has the Israeli government demolished any Palestinian homes in the past? Not sure. Although it would be helpful in evaluating the validity of Israeli claims, context is biased so it mustn’t be spoken of. That would be taking a “side”.
“The mayor says that area is a slum in which the houses were built illegally and his plan will fix that. But the locals want to stay in their homes.” (pictures flash on the screen of Palestinian slums).
How did these areas get to be slums? Was it the result of extreme racism in allocating development funds for everything from trash collection to school buses? That’s a secret. Again with the “locals”. How local are they? Where are they locally from? Is this the locals’ indigenous “locale”? I told you I don’t know, stop asking me silly questions.
Here comes my favorite part:
“The European Union, the United Nations has criticized this plan to get rid of these 22 homes. Public opinion, especially while the peace talks are underway, is looking at this and saying you’re trying to get rid, move Arabs out of Jerusalem,” Stahl said.
Is this plan illegal? Is it a war crime? Has it been Israeli policy for decades? What does the law say? I don’t know about that, but all I know is the EU and the UN “criticized” the plan during “peace talks”.
“But that’s the way it looks. And my question is, why not wait until the peace talks are settled?” Stahl asked.
Is this really a plan to “move out the locals”, or is it just the way “it looks” to Lesley Stahl? This is clearly not a relevant question. The only relevant question here is: WHY CAN’T HE JUST WAIT!?
Asked what she meant by “why now,” Stahl said, “Because it’s on the table at the peace talks. That’s why now.”
Does this mean Lesley Stahl believes it’s best to wait to wait and steal more Palestinian land til Abu Mazen formally surrenders Silwan to Israel in the fake state solution? And here comes the money shot:
“Settlements have been a stumbling block in peace negotiations of the past. And what your organization is dedicated to doing could become the stumbling block again,” Stahl told Doron Spielman.
Conventional Wisdom #7: Settlements are the obstacle to peace. It’s nothing else. Not refugees’ unrealistic expectation to return, not discrimination against Palestinians inside Israel, and not babies born stillborn at checkpoints. The only obstacle to peace is a few religious crazies in Jerusalem screwing it up for everyone.
“We are looking, Lesley, to go down and uncover history,” he replied. “If coming back to my home after 3,000 years is a stumbling block to peace then I think that that is not a very good peace.”
If given the chance, a Palestinian would say, “If coming back to my home after 60 years is a stumbling block to peace then I think that that is not a very good peace.”
Why weren’t these dueling “rights of return” contrasted against each other? More importantly, why don’t I see the segment as a step forward for explaining the Palestinian plight, and why do I have to keep ruining the fun? I guess I’m just a hopeless cynic.