Browsing Category

Media Resources

Media Resources

When They Don’t Ignore, US Media Often Disparage Palestinians’ Right of Return

For many years, US corporate media have consistently failed to adequately inform audiences about the Palestinian right of return.

Even though the refugees are a crucial reason that the issue of Israel/Palestine remains unresolved, only a small portion of the coverage addresses the right of return. I used the media aggregator Factiva to search the databases of three major US newspapers:  the New York TimesWall Street Journal and Washington Post. In a combined search of these three publications, Factiva returns results for 45,285 pieces that mention the Palestinian issue over the last ten years. Of these, only 624 contain the phrase “right of return.” In other words, since March 2009 these outlets have published 44,661 articles that bring up the Palestinian question while omitting a phrase that is absolutely integral to it, and one of the main reasons that it remains unresolved.

To put it another way, only 0.01 percent of coverage of Palestinians or Palestine in the last ten years in the TimesJournal and Post informs its audience about the right of return or even mentions it at all. That these are US media outlets writing for largely US audiences underscores the seriousness of this hole in the coverage, because US tax dollars are used to prevent the Palestinians from exercising this right.

When the right of return is mentioned in media, pundits and other journalists often baselessly call its legitimacy into question. In the Wall Street Journal, Michael Weiss (2/1/11) referred to it as the “Palestinians’ so-called ‘Right of Return.’”  The Post’s Jennifer Rubin (10/2/14) opted for the same formulation, criticizing Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, because he wouldn’t “give up the so-called right of return.”

Weiss and Rubin are lying to their readers. Using the qualifier “so-called” is a way of saying that the right is illegitimate, but UN Resolution 194, adopted in 1948 by a 35–15 vote after at least 750,000 Palestinians had been expelled from their homes, could hardly be clearer: It says that

refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property.

A 2014 editorial in the Journal (3/24/14) said that Abbas wouldn’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state “because doing so means relinquishing what Palestinians call the ‘right of return.’” The phrase “what Palestinians call the right of return” makes it sound as if the Palestinians are the only ones who think the right is genuine. In reality, UN Resolution 3236 (XXIX), passed 89–8 in 1974, reaffirms

the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return.

An explainer in the Times (1/6/15) said that

the West Bank and Gaza have permanent residents, but there are also many Palestinian refugees in other countries who claim a disputed right of return, while many Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and assert their country’s sovereignty there.

Missing from this sentence, which purports to be part of a neutral Q&A on Israel/Palestine, is any indication of who is doing the disputing and on what basis, or of whether the settlers’ claim has any merit. A more accurate phrasing would be

the Palestinians have a UN-backed right of return that Israel and the US have prevented them exercising, while many Israeli settlers living in the West Bank assert their country’s sovereignty there in defiance of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

WaPo: How Awful Was John Kerry's Speech on Israel

Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post12/26/16) called John Kerry “intentionally obtuse”–or worse–for not denouncing the Palestinian right of return.

When then–Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech at the UN outlining the US’s decision to abstain from voting on a resolution critical of Israel, Rubin complained in the Post (12/26/16) that Kerry and the resolution

do not demand, for example, Palestinians give up the right of return. He is either intentionally obtuse or lying about the resolution’s predetermination of key issues between the parties.

She doesn’t even bother to explain why she thinks Palestinians should be told to give up this right; to her, it seems, Palestinian rights are simply bogus ipso facto.

Another Post article (2/28/18) said it is “justifiable” that Israel considers the right of return a “deal breaker” in negotiations with Palestinians. No further explanation is offered; apparently the authors see it as self-evidently justified to keep ethnically cleansed Palestinians from going back to their homes.

Another way the right of return is distorted in media coverage is when its exercise is cast as an act of violence. The Post’s Colbert I. King (5/15/17) wrote that:

More than 5 million Arabs and their male descendants, now living in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, count themselves as refugees from Israel’s 1948 War of Independence with an “inalienable right” to return to the homes and property in the area that is Israel. That claim is fundamental to Palestinians. It is, however, a nonstarter in Israel. For Israel to recognize and allow implementation of the “right of return” claim—with the millions that would flood in to Israel—would be, as Israeli leaders fear, an act of national suicide by the Jewish state.

The routine twisting of the facts is happening here: We’re not talking about “5 million Arabs” who “count themselves as refugees,” but the 5 million Palestine refugees from 1948 who are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. 1948 was not the only time that Palestinians have been made refugees, but King overlooks these populations: According to Badil, a resource centre for Palestinian residency and refugee rights that has special consultative status with the UN’s Economic and Social Council, a further 2.25 million Palestinians have become refugees since 1948, and 718,000 more are internally displaced.

King also transforms Palestinians returning to homes from which they were expelled into an act of aggression: They would be “flood[ing] in to Israel,” wrecking everyone and everything in their path, as floods are wont to do.

NYT: Gaza's Miseries Have Palestinian Authors

For Bret Stevens (New York Times5/16/18), marching for the right of return is a “grotesque spectacle”

When he endorses the view that the right of return would be “an act of national suicide by the Jewish state,” King is referring to how Palestinian refugees returning to parts of historic Palestine that include what is currently the Israeli side of the 1949 armistice line would alter the present demography and and make it so that Jewish people are no longer the majority. In the Times, Bret Stephens (5/16/18) took an analogous position:

What is the ostensible purpose of what Palestinians call “the Great Return March”?

That’s no mystery. This week, the Times published an op-ed by Ahmed Abu Artema, one of the organizers of the march. “We are intent on continuing our struggle until Israel recognizes our right to return to our homes and land from which we were expelled,” he writes, referring to homes and land within Israel’s original borders.

His objection isn’t to the “occupation” as usually defined by Western liberals, namely Israel’s acquisition of territories following the 1967 Six Day War. It’s to the existence of Israel itself. Sympathize with him all you like, but at least notice that his politics demand the elimination of the Jewish state.

Notice, also, the old pattern at work: Avow and pursue Israel’s destruction, then plead for pity and aid when your plans lead to ruin.

One way to look at Palestinians realizing their UN-guaranteed rights is as “national suicide by the Jewish state,” as King does. Or as, in Stephens’ terms, “the elimination of the Jewish state.” Note that both columnists, from virtually opposite ends of the establishment media spectrum, are embracing a version of what Adam Serwer (Atlantic4/19) offered as a defining trait of white supremacism: “that a certain ethnic group has a legitimate claim to permanent political hegemony.”

Alternatively, one can adopt a perspective that prioritizes democracy and international law, and says that finally allowing the refugees justice will enable conditions in which the present dynamic of ethnic partition, occupation and Levantine Jim Crow, which depends on the denial of Palestinian rights, can be replaced by Jewish and non-Jewish people living with equal rights in a one-person/one-vote system across all of historic Palestine.

NYT: The Insanity at the Gaza Fence

To Roger Cohen (New York Times4/20/18), standing up for the right of return is part of the “insanity.”

Taking the supremacist approach, Roger Cohen of the Times (4/20/18) asserted:

There’s no point mincing words: The right of return is flimsy code for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. It’s consistent with the absolutist use of “occupation” as defining Israel itself and with the view that the sea is a pretty good place for Jews to end up.

Here Palestinians exercising rights afforded to them under international law, and by any coherent sense of justice, is the same as driving Jewish people into the sea. This equation does not seem to be made by anti-Zionist Jewish organizations, who decline to see Palestinians as bloodthirsty savages who will upon being uncaged immediately commence the slaughter of Jewish people.

When news outlets ignore or deny the Palestinian right of return, they are saying that Palestinians matter less than a supposed right to dispossess and oppress them. This leaves Palestinians with no right to live in their homeland as anything other than second-class citizens or, most often, disenfranchised subjects of military occupation in a Middle Eastern bantustan.


Featured image: View of Jerusalem (cc photo: Etienne Valois)

Media Resources

Aretha Franklin, ‘Queen of Soul’, dies aged 76

Aretha Franklin, the “queen of soul” known for hits like Respect and Think, has died in Detroit at the age of 76.

The legendary singer was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and announced last year she was retiring from music.

Franklin had 17 Top Ten US chart hits over a music career spanning seven decades.

The star gave her final performance last November at a gala in New York held in aid of the Elton John Aids Foundation.

In a statement, her family said: “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart.

“We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins knew no bounds.”

The family also confirmed her death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type.

Born in Memphis to a gospel singer/pianist and a celebrated Baptist preacher, Franklin was tutored from an early age by such gospel stars as Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward.

She struggled to find fame in the early years, with record label Columbia unsure how to frame her impressively powerful voice.

Sir Elton John led the tributes on his Instagram account, writing: “The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music.

Aretha Franklin in 1992
Image captionAretha Franklin performing in Chicago in 1992

“Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated… I adored her and worshipped her talent. God bless her. My condolences to all her family and friends.”

Annie Lennox said: “She has reigned supreme. and will always be held in the highest firmament of stars as the most exceptional vocalist, performer and recording artist the world has ever been privileged to witness.

Sir Paul McCartney wrote: “Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years. She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever.”

Presentational line break

Aretha Franklin’s greatest hits

Aretha Franklin in November 2017
Image captionShe gave her last performance in New York last November
Presentational line break

A move to Atlantic Records in 1966 saw Franklin paired with the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, prompting some of her most soulful and fieriest performances.

By 1968 she was renowned throughout America and Europe as “Lady Soul” – a symbol of black pride who appeared on the cover of Time and was given an award by Martin Luther King.

Media captionAretha Franklin singing at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009

After an eye-catching cameo in cult comedy The Blues Brothers, she scored a number of big hits in the 1980s including Who’s Zooming Who? and the George Michael duet I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W Bush in 2005, when she was saluted for “capturing the hearts of millions of Americans”.

Ten years later she reduced President Barack Obama to tears when she sang (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman at a Kennedy Center Honours ceremony, having previously performed at his inauguration.

Presentational line break

Analysis from Mark Savage, BBC music reporter

Aretha Franklin performing in LA in 2012
Image captionAretha Franklin’s music moved millions of people and sound-tracked social change over five decades

Nobody could inhabit a song like Aretha Franklin.

You only have to compare Otis Redding’s original recording of Respect to Aretha’s version to hear it. His is superb. Hers is otherworldly.

Even her most thunderous performances retained their humanity – something her disciples often overlooked.

The desolate colours she painted onto the verses of Carole King’s (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman made the release of the chorus even more joyous.

In later years, she was let down by the material she chose (or which was chosen for her) but her performances still had the poetry and power to move audiences – including, notably, Barack Obama – to tears.

Media Resources

Summer Outfit

Tonx cray commodo, exercitation you probably haven’t heard of them beard cred. Selfies iPhone Kickstarter, drinking vinegar jean shorts fixie consequat flexitarian four loko disrupt dreamcatcher beard craft beer stumptown. Paleo 90′s bitters eu, yr incididunt YOLO sapiente fingerstache.

Exercitation photo booth stumptown tote bag Banksy, elit small batch freegan sed. Craft beer elit seitan exercitation, photo booth et 8-bit kale chips proident chillwave deep v laborum. Aliquip veniam delectus, Marfa eiusmod Pinterest in do umami readymade swag.

Continue Reading

http://vimeo.com/72975767
Media Resources

Cosmic Love

Disrupt vero ea id fugiat, lo-fi lomo post-ironic irony kitsch Banksy. Tumblr kale chips single-origin coffee Wes Anderson +1 tousled, disrupt butcher sapiente banh mi brunch nisi irony. Artisan wolf fap lomo, laborum Tumblr anim consequat fashion axe sartorial leggings viral.

Continue Reading

Media Resources

My Silver Lining

Disrupt vero ea id fugiat, lo-fi lomo post-ironic irony kitsch Banksy. Tumblr kale chips single-origin coffee Wes Anderson +1 tousled, disrupt butcher sapiente banh mi brunch nisi irony. Artisan wolf fap lomo, laborum Tumblr anim consequat fashion axe sartorial leggings viral.

Exercitation photo booth stumptown tote bag Banksy, elit small batch freegan sed. Craft beer elit seitan exercitation, photo booth et 8-bit kale chips proident chillwave deep v laborum. Aliquip veniam delectus, Marfa eiusmod Pinterest in do umami readymade swag.

Continue Reading

Media Resources, Sc. & Environment

Favorite Colors

Disrupt vero ea id fugiat, lo-fi lomo post-ironic irony kitsch Banksy. Tumblr kale chips single-origin coffee Wes Anderson +1 tousled, disrupt butcher sapiente banh mi brunch nisi irony. Artisan wolf fap lomo, laborum Tumblr anim consequat fashion axe sartorial leggings viral.

Exercitation photo booth stumptown tote bag Banksy, elit small batch freegan sed. Craft beer elit seitan exercitation, photo booth et 8-bit kale chips proident chillwave deep v laborum. Aliquip veniam delectus, Marfa eiusmod Pinterest in do umami readymade swag.

Continue Reading