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Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land (2004)

| Documentary | Video 2004
This video shows how the foreign policy interests of American political elites-working in combination with Israeli public relations stratgies-influence US news reporting about the Middle ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Seth Ackerman ...
Himself
Stav Adivi ...
Himself (as Major Stav Adivi)
Arik Ascherman ...
Himself (as Rabbi Arik Ascherman)
Hanan Ashrawi ...
Herself
...
Himself
Robert Fisk ...
Himself
Neve Gordon ...
Himself (as Dr. Neve Gordon)
Toufic Haddad ...
Himself
Sam Husseini ...
Himself
Hussein Ibish ...
Himself
Robert Jensen ...
Himself
Michael Lerner ...
Himself (as Rabbi Michael Lerner)
Karen Pfeifer ...
Herself
Alisa Solomon ...
Herself
Gila Svirsky ...
Herself
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Storyline

This video shows how the foreign policy interests of American political elites-working in combination with Israeli public relations stratgies-influence US news reporting about the Middle East conflict. Combining American and British TV news clips with observations of analysts, journalists and political activists, Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land provides a brief historical overview, a striking media comparison, and an examination of factors that have distorted U.S. media coverage and, in turn, American public opinion. Written by exerpted from Media Education Foundation

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2004 (USA)  »

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$70,000 (estimated)
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[first lines]
title card: In 1967, following a war between Israel and the countries of Syria, Jordan and Egypt, Israel militarily occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.
title card: That year, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 242 calling on Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories.
title card: Israel has yet to comply.
title card: Today, 3 million Palestinians live under illegal military occupation.
title card: Today, the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians are plagued by daily violence and insecurity.
narratress: The...
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Passion
by Peter Gabriel
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User Reviews

 
Israeli interests' invisible stranglehold on US media presentations of the Israel-Palestinian conflict
28 January 2009 | by (Berkeley, California) – See all my reviews

Being a long-time student of Middle East affairs and Arabic who does not get my information from mainstream media (and particularly not from ABC, NBC, CNN, etc.), I am constantly stunned to find out how little Americans understand about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This film shows why. And how much better the news is contextualized even in Britain or on the Continent.

____________________________________________________________________

'Today, the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians are plagued by daily violence and insecurity.'

'The Israeli-Palestinian conflict dominates American news coverage of international issues.' _____________________________________________________________________

Thus begins this instructional-style documentary from the makers of 'Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire' (Jeremy Earp, Sut Jhally, also 2004 but released four months earlier), this film written and directed by Sut Jhally and Bathsheba Ratzkoff just came to my attention three years after release when a friend in Rome sent me links to it in video form online. In view of the media control by pro-Israeli interests in the US described in the film, it's not surprising that it was so little shown it previously escaped my notice, and even that I learned about it from someone who lives outside the US.

As a Media Education Foundation summary puts it, this film shows "how the foreign policy interests of American political elites--working in combination with Israeli public relations strategies--influence US news reporting about the Middle East conflict. Combining American and British TV news clips with observations of analysts, journalists and political activists, 'Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land' provides a brief historical overview, a striking media comparison, and an examination of factors that have distorted U.S. media coverage and, in turn, American public opinion."

"The stranglehold on the US media of Israeli interests." That sounds like shrill agit-prop. Or even like the old anti-Semitic canard that the Jews control the media, or the banking system, or the Eastern Establishment. But it's not like that. Given the evidence of biased, misleading reportage here from the best known American TV journalists and anchormen in clips, which is ably contrasted with facts reported by the BBC and commented on by American peace activist rabbis like Michael Lerner of Tikkun, an ex-IDF officer anti-war activist and other experts on media accuracy, as well as Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky (the usual suspects), there seems to be a pervasive blackout of the Palestinian point of view--or of anything Israel does that may not be legal or nice. Israeli attacks are always described as "retaliations" (only Palestinians "attack"); Israeli settlements are renamed as "neighborhoods;" and the whole background of the conflict is never, ever filled in.

The charge can be brought against Bathsheba Ratzkoff and Sut Jhally's film--as it constantly and predictably is by US movie reviewers in The Daily News, The Village Voice, the NYTimes, and Variety (all found on the IMDb page or Metacritic)--that this film is "a one-sided account" (NYTimes), "pedantic" and "humorless" (Variety), and "may be better suited for classroom viewing than for theatrical exhibition" (Village Voice). But does that make its information untrue? I don't think so. The same criticisms could be leveled at 'Hijacking Catastrophe,' an indictment of the Bush administration post 9/11 rated equally low by Metacritic. But both films are devastatingly accurate. This second one contains more crucial information. The Bush administration at least has been replaced. The Israeli-Palestinian situation is more urgent and horrific than ever, and the US media bias has just been devastatingly illustrated in the sanitized coverage of Israel's brutal assault on Gaza and its civilian population. The reasons are many and complex and the wrongs are on both sides, but the picture Americans have been getting is completely misleading. As you will see if you watch this film.

This is available online in YouTube segments (which add up to the entire film) which will be found under the heading "Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land." It is essential for a majority of Americans to understand media better and read or watch more critically. Let's take the Sunday New York Times Magazine that just appeared (January 25, 2009). An article is entitled "Can Social Networking Turn Disaffected Young Egyptian into a Force for Democratic Change?" This is to be welcomed as a realistic and in some ways hopeful picture of the political scene in what is essentially the US's second client state in the region, Egypt being the second highest US aid recipient after Israel. But let's look at how the article begins: "Only a few hours after Israel's first air strike against Hamas positions in the Gaza strip late last month, more than 2,000 protesters marched through the streets of downtown Cairo, carrying Palestinian flags..."

"Israel's first air strike against Hamas positions in the Gaza strip" introduces the events in the misleading context provided by mainstream US media. They were air strikes all right, but what makes all the difference is that they were attacks on mostly civilian targets which included hospitals, clinics, ambulances, schools, apartment buildings, shoppers in marketplaces, kids hon their way home from school, and even UN headquarters. The "collateral damage" was immense from the Israeli assault on Gaza (obviously not a "war," though the US media use that word). It amounted to 100:1 ratio of deaths, 100 deaths for every Israeli death that occurred during these hostilities.

"Hamas positions" is a whitewash phrase, indicating that this article will not be taking any hard looks at Israel's actions. How, then, can we trust what is says about so-called "disaffected young Egyptians, " if it begins with a biased presentation of the events those Egyptians were demonstrating against? Americans need desperately to wake up to how the media are distorting the Israel-Palestine conflict. Until that happens, most of the US will continue to live in an Israel-can-do-no-wrong fog and public pressure to change things (which the US has the power to do) will be hard to marshal.


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