Israel, Gaza and Cable News

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

The second most horrifying aspect of the horrific events in Israel is watching cable news explain them.

For any viewers who believe Palestinians are individual human beings with lived experiences worthy of America’s understanding, there’s basically two options: yoga breathe or binge watch The Joy Of Painting. Otherwise, prepare to endure being told how you feel amid fellatio & answer interviews with IDF spokespersons and endlessly inclusive definitions of antisemitism from Jonathan Greenblatt.

Perhaps there’s a parallel cable universe whose green rooms are unfilled with retired generals on retainer to Raytheon ever ready to expound on weapons capabilities with the smug neo-virility of Frank Thomas hawking testosterone supplements. A universe where think tank militarists who have never fought for anything more consequential than grant money are asked for their financial statement instead of their talking points.

Above all, a news universe where fecal politicians such as Tom “I may look like Norman Bates but I’m far less sane” Cotton or Lindsay “All I’d need to flee are my sashaying portmanteau and camera rouge” Graham cannot speak for more than five seconds without being called out for the bilgewater sluicing from their lips.

Yes I know. The prospect of such a universe is as likely as clicking on MSNBC to find four Muslims discussing day to day harassment on the West Bank.

American media exists for one reason: to limit the parameters of acceptable debate. Nowhere more so than when discussing the Middle East. Where context, to say nothing of factual history, is the most avoided of topics for its proximity to American complicity in oppression.

Any gentile who has written about the basic unfairness of the way Palestinians are portrayed in American media knows the drill. {My most recent piece on the subject can be found here at Counterpunch. My first, somehow managed to appear atop the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Commentary Page in August of 2001 across from the odious Morton Klein.}

The writer must navigate a maze of whataboutism checkpoints constructed to invalidate their opinion around the obscenely false charge that they hate Jews. As if empathy for Palestinians or Israelis was a binary choice. And even though the most honest and far reaching discussion of the treatment of Palestininians can be found among Israeli Jews themselves.

Meanwhile, Israel apologists are as ubiquitous as GEICO commercials. Blithely racist references to “mowing the lawn” are routinely proffered as if every blade of grass were not a human life. Former Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harmon even managed an epicly new level of indifference. Strapping Orwell and McLuhan into a funhouse ride to reassure viewers that while images from Gaza are terrible “it’s not as bad as it looks”.

And the maddeningly nauseating non-irony is that the voices who now demand unequivocal support for Israel were always, ALWAYS, the most equivocating in response to the thousand and one crimes Israel routinely inflicts on Palestinians. Always the most eager to dismiss, dehumanize, and delay any semblance of justice. Always the most willing to fracture their hands from the intensity of their bipartisan applause whenever Netanyahu strolls up to Capitol Hill to interfere in American elections or demand more cash for the Torah-unhinged settlers who comprise his political base.

Israel has every right to defend itself, but anyone who believes moral clarity exists when defining terrorism and punishing terrorists should Google the following: Irgun – Stern Gang – Begin – Shamir. Netanyahu nurtured Hamas for the same reason Hillary Clinton nurtured Donald Trump… to postpone accountability. With the same inhumane results.

Cable news, of course, doesn’t do accountability. It prefers focusing its cameras on George W. Bush (looking pale and karmically bloated as if the river of blood on his hands had begun coagulating within him) to solicit his opinion on good and evil.

But increasingly, despite the theme music and chyron scrolls, cable news viewers are focused on the asymmetric nature of the horror. And it’s fast becoming impossible to shield them from acknowledging common humanity.

For no heart wrenching story of butchery being shared by grieving Israelis could not be shared by grieving Palestinians. No photos of an ended innocent life, or reminiscences of the personality and unfulfilled aspirations which ended with it, differs because it ended in savagery at a kibbutz and not beneath rubble created by American-financed ordinance.

But for defenders of the status quo still intent on eluding empathy, try this. The next time you’re near a playground take a moment to watch a small child at play. Watch the unbridled joy they take in hauling ass at top speed. Their bursts of laughter from motion and discovery. Then picture that child in Gaza.

Everyone knows what needs to be done. The entire region was not created by land grants from Yahweh and Allah but by the distracted movements of Arthur Balfour’s protractor. Create two separate and independent states. A state of Israel and a state of Palestine. Each with defined borders and massive international financing and security. Not at some future date if and when blah blah blah blah f**king blah…NOW!

Failing that, these are the only relevant questions for cable news to ask Netanyahu apologists in the United States: What exactly is the plan? How high must the mound of the slaughtered rise for you to feel secure? How many dead Palestinian children do you require to claim victory over evil? And when, in all recorded history, has killing people resulted in the subservience of their surviving relatives?

Everything else is dead air.

Jerry Long is a writer, actor, podcaster and political satirist who, with his brother Joe, has worked with Adam McKay on numerous projects. He can also be reached at