At the conclusion of his letter to the Nexus last week (“Money for Anti-terrorism Ads Comes From Hollywood Players,” Daily Nexus, May 7), David Reeves referenced the Nexus ads depicting Israeli students and their encounters with terrorism and asked, “What are they trying to sell?” I would like to propose an answer.
First, however, it is important to explain the political agenda behind the ads, which should be regarded with deep suspicion by those who legitimately value the viability and security of the world’s only Jewish state. The agenda is, in a nutshell, the hyper-militarization of Israeli society, the continued reliance on deadly military force to achieve the aims of Sharon’s government (security and peace for Israel being nowhere on that list) and the depiction of the Palestinian people – both those engaged in the legitimate struggle for freedom and statehood, as well as those who resort to brutal acts of violence – as terrorists.
This agenda requires the dehumanization of Palestinians and the exploitation of frightened and desperate Israelis, who both become victims of the cycle of violence which Israeli reactionaries have long advocated – what is called “stalemate” in internal planning documents by individuals like Henry Kissinger, who helped design the policies in the early 1970s. The end goal of the stalemate is, in the words of Barak’s chief negotiator at Oslo, a “neocolonial dependency” in Palestine that would be “permanent.”
Thus, to answer Mr. Reeves’ question, these ads are selling fear, anger and the sharp “us vs. them” dichotomy that must permeate the political climate in Israel as well as the United States (our support is critical) if these militarist policies are to be sustained. The ads represent the callous exploitation of the suffering being experienced by the people of Israel, meticulously packaged and shamelessly politicized in pursuit of these ends. They are the reactionary Israeli right’s version of George W. Bush’s innocent plaintive, “Why do they hate us?”
The sentiments behind these ads are not unique. Take, for instance, a talking-points document produced by two right-wing Israeli PR firms that was leaked to the public recently. The document concedes that the thug Yasser Arafat has been a great asset to Israel because “he looks the part” of a “terrorist.” On the other hand, the document warns that “[t]he emergence of Mahmoud Abbas as the new Palestinian Prime Minister comes exactly at the wrong time. His ascent to power seems legitimate. He is a fresh face, and a clean-shaven one at that. He speaks well and dresses in Western garb.” And, of course, there is Abbas’ gravest sin: “He may even genuinely want peace.”
Fortunately, determined and courageous Israeli citizens and their friends and allies worldwide, who overwhelmingly outnumber those who support Sharon and his cohorts, are actively resisting this push toward militarism and neo-colonialism. To assist them in their struggle, those of us here in the U.S. must continue educating ourselves and articulating our own goals and visions for a better future, those founded on a culture of human rights, on international justice, on sustainable development, and on the globalization of human solidarity.
In this light, how should the ads read? I imagine a picture of two teenagers hanging out, one Palestinian and one Israeli; the text below reads: “Since September 2000, 478 Israeli civilians and 2003 Palestinian civilians, including hundreds of children under 18, have been killed. The lesson of this violence is clear: Terror is our common enemy.”
Nico Pitney is a fourth-year philosophy major.