FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Chris Hayes and Palestine

The other night, after opening his MSNBC show with a segment on the racism of, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, Chris Hayes turned to Israel, recently identified by Secretary of State John Kerry as a country teetering towards apartheid. Kerry naturally, had to walk back his comment explaining that he should have used a different word but, if accidental, the slip was Freudian. Surely one of the United States top cabinet members is aware of the military checkpoints, the Jewish-only settlements, the massive separation barrier, and the rampant inequality. If Israel isn’t an apartheid-state then what is it? What word should have Kerry used to describe a system that effectively reduces an entire people to second-class citizens?

mediumblue.cover_5.06x7.81_EC-e1394643725270-291x450

To discuss Kerry’s apartheid reference Hayes had one guest on: Josh Block, head of the Israel Project, and a former spokesperson for AIPAC. You may remember the name because he was fired from the Truman National Security Project in 2011 for smearing Israel-critics as anti-Semites. “Josh was removed from our community because he’s unable to differentiate between an honest debate and a personal attack,” Truman spokesman, David Solimini, told Salon at the time, “There is real anti-Semitism in the world and we can’t debase the term by using it for everyone who disagrees with us on Israel policy. There is a clear pattern here. Over time many of our community members had come to realize Josh isn’t interested in an honest debate.”

Block’s debate skills haven’t seemed to evolve since the Solimini analysis: he started out explaining how Israel was a “vibrant democracy” and questioned whether life in the West Bank was really even that bad. For his part, Hayes pushed back against Block’s statements. After all, Hayes is as left as it gets at the network. He’s even had Palestinian guests on previous segments. Within the context of the mainstream media he’s quite good. Additionally, he seems to understand the reality of the situation. In 2010, he went to Palestine and reported on it for The Nation writing that Hebron felt, “as if we were walking through a post-apocalyptic urban video game brought to life.”

Nonetheless, that’s a very steep curve to be graded on. Which is to say, beyond the context of the mainstream media, he’s not doing very well at all. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t had a Palestinian guest on since November of 2012, when Noura Erakat and Yousef Munayyer joined his program. In a blog post the day after the Block interview Munayyer wrote, “Why are Palestinians absent from the discussion in the U.S. mainstream on issues that impact them negatively and acutely? Lean in folks and get a good look, you might be left wondering whether Israeli apartheid laws are in effect in the U.S. mainstream media preventing access for Palestinians there too.”

We might also ask why nearly every criticism of Israeli policy from MSNBC, no matter how tepid, seems to be framed in a manner that lets Democrats off the hook. The lead-in, to the Block interview, was a montage of Israeli leaders who have used the word “apartheid” before. The implication, whether intended or not, is clear: John Kerry is saying something rational and the administration is attempting to move a constructive debate forward. Now here’s Josh Block, to talk about how Palestinians can apply for Jordanian citizenship. He represents the opposing point of view.

The contours of debate generated by MSNBC remain completely narrow. The single greatest impediment to Palestinian self-determination is the United States government. The Obama administration’s course remains, largely, the same as every previous President’s. As Josh Ruebner, founder of Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel, has written, “Obama requested…record-breaking levels of military aid to Israel, which has now plateaued at $3.1 billion annually…Obama requested…ever-increasing levels of money for the joint research and development of anti-missile programs, which amounted to more than $1 billion during Obama’s first term. These supposedly ‘defensive’ weapons drastically changed Israel’s strategic thinking, making it virtually cost-free for it to go on the offensive against Palestinians…”

There is a growing movement attempting to highlight these facts and force Israel to observe international law. It’s called BDS and there are many activists willing to talk to the media about it; quite a few of them are Palestinian. Go figure.

Michael Arria is the author of the new CounterPunch book, Medium Blue: The Politics of MSNBC.

More articles by:

Michael Arria is the author of the new CounterPunch book, Medium Blue: The Politics of MSNBC.

March 18, 2019
Scott Poynting
Terrorism Has No Religion
Ipek S. Burnett
Black Lives on Trial
John Feffer
The World’s Most Dangerous Divide
Paul Cochrane
On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle
Dean Baker
The Fed and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate
Thomas Knapp
Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Binoy Kampmark
Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings
Mark Weisbrot
The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition
Weekend Edition
March 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Is Ilhan Omar Wrong…About Anything?
Kenn Orphan
Grieving in the Anthropocene
Jeffrey Kaye
On the Death of Guantanamo Detainee 10028
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
In Salinas, Puerto Rico, Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria
Ben Debney
Christchurch, the White Victim Complex and Savage Capitalism
Eric Draitser
Did Dallas Police and Local Media Collude to Cover Up Terrorist Threats against Journalist Barrett Brown?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb
David Rosen
America’s Puppet: Meet Juan Guaidó
Jason Hirthler
Annexing the Stars: Walcott, Rhodes, and Venezuela
Samantha M. - Angelica Perkins
Our Green New Deal
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Nightmare Budget
Steven Colatrella
The 18th Brumaire of Just About Everybody: the Rise of Authoritarian Strongmen and How to Prevent and Reverse It
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Riding the Wild Bull of Nuclear Power
Michael K. Smith
Thirty Years Gone: Remembering “Cactus Ed”
Dean Baker
In Praise of Budget Deficits
Howard Lisnoff
Want Your Kids to Make it Big in the World of Elite Education in the U.S.?
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Foreign Policy is Based on Confrontation and Malevolence
John W. Whitehead
Pity the Nation: War Spending is Bankrupting America
Priti Gulati Cox
“Maria! Maria! It Was Maria That Destroyed Us!” The Human Story
Missy Comley Beattie
On Our Knees
Mike Garrity – Carole King
A Landscape Lewis and Clark Would Recognize is Under Threat
Robert Fantina
The Media-Created Front Runners
Tom Clifford
Bloody Sunday and the Charging of Soldier F
Ron Jacobs
All the Livelong Day      
Christopher Brauchli
Banking, Wells Fargo-Style
Jeff Mackler
After Week-Long Strike, Oakland Teachers’ Contract Falls Short
Chuck Collins
Bring Back Eisenhower Socialism!
Binoy Kampmark
Grounding Boeing
James Munson
Why Are We Still Sycophants?
Jill Richardson
Politicians Are Finally Catching Up on Marijuana
Warren Alan Tidwell
Disasters Don’t Discriminate, But Disaster Recovery Does
Robert Koehler
Artifial Morality
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Goodenough Island in MacArthur’s Wake
Alex McDonald
U.S. Iran Policy: What is Great?
Tracey L. Rogers
Stop Making Women Apologize
John Sarbanes – Michael Brune
To Clean Up the Planet, Clean Up DC First
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail