“There’s no room for complexity in the American media when it comes to Israel and Palestine,” said Robin Andersen, the award-winning author and professor emerita of communication and media studies at Fordham University, to host Robert Scheer on this episode of the Scheer Intelligence podcast.
In the almost three weeks since the October 7th attacks in Israel, the coverage around the war in the Middle East is as alert as ever, except only for one side, Andersen and Scheer discuss. The real and fabricated stories of Israeli devastation plastered mainstream outlets during the onset of the war, but since then, the bombing campaign on Gaza has yet to receive equal attention.
For Palestinians, “the only explanation is that these people are terrorists and they’re evil and they’re animals. When you set that up and you mix it in with Israeli officials saying ‘we’re going to turn them into rubble,’ and then you’ve got President Biden saying [Israel] can do whatever they want to defend themselves, that is a setup for the worst kind of violence as far as the world is watching,” Andersen said.
Scheer backs up this sentiment, explaining that in all their history, the Palestinians have faced adversity in every sense and this is what the media also ignores. Scheer explains how Palestinians have suffered thoroughly with respect to their lack of state power and their shabby treatment even in the Arab world, where they have been forced to wander around and experience killings in their camps.
“Atrocity propaganda,” is what Andersen says feeds the war machine and the manufacturing of consent for killing innocent Palestinians. Lies and misinformation are put out to justify the bombing of civilians and “time passes, the bombing continues, and then…we’re going to find [that] all of this stuff will be revealed and by that time it’ll be too late,” Andersen said.
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This transcript was produced by an automated transcription service. Please refer to the audio interview to ensure accuracy.
Scheer: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, where the intelligence comes from my guest. In this case, Professor Robin Anderson, who spent 35 years at Fordham University, professor of communications and all sorts of things. Just a personal note. I grew up pretty close to Fordham. I went to City College, but, you know, Fordham went through periods of being a quite conservative place and then opening up and so forth. But the reason I wanted you to come on today is I read an article that Project Censored distributed, Project Censored is a really worthwhile group of scholars and others. And I notice you are very actively involved and concerned how the media has covered the Hamas attack on Israel and the Israeli response in the bombing destruction of Gaza. And it really is very powerful. And so why don’t we begin with that, your relation to this issue and you have basically made your life’s work critiquing, evaluating journalism and communication.
Scheer: So tell us more about yourself and why this issue and what you have to say.
Andersen: Well, yes, I’m a media critic, a generalized one. I’ve written about war for almost my whole career. My book, A Century of Media: A Century of War, actually won a book prize. So I’ve been doing this for a long time. So when I see a frame that I see applied to a situation like the Hamas attack in Gaza is very familiar to me, it’s a story that starts at one moment and it was the Hamas attack and the Hamas attack was was over and over again repeated kind of on this rotational loop with with the crying children and the crying women and everything that had gone on. And it was a terrible attack. They killed civilians and they killed children. But right following or enmeshed within those images was the worthy statements by the Israelis. The prime minister and the defense general that that these people are inhuman, they’re animals. And we are going to show them and give them what they want. We’re going to turn Gaza into hell. We’re going to turn it into a tent city because because humans don’t do these things, only animals do. So right there we have the story completely taken out of context. And if you don’t know that this story is pulled out of a sequence of ongoing violence that’s been going on in the Middle East, in Gaza and in the occupied territories for many years, there’s no motivation for it. There’s no reason. There’s no explanation. And so the only explanation there is is that these people are terrorists and they’re evil and they’re animals. Once you set that up and then you mix it in with the Israeli officials saying we’re going to turn them into rubble. And then you’ve got President Biden saying they can do whatever they want to defend themselves. That is a setup for the worst kind of violence as the world is watching and what we are seeing now without explanation and that is a very standard War frame that that mainstream and corporate media uses that always is aligned with U.S. military designs.
Scheer: You know, in a way, this is so disrespectful of scripture. Whether you take the Hebraic, you know, version of the Bible or the Christian version, because they use war, peace, struggle, contradiction to make points about ethics and values. And this has been reduced to just simple propagandistic victory. And complexity is really what will save us in trying to understand world events. And nowadays, if you dare suggest some complexity, let alone criticize Israel. But if your just suggest some complexity, you’re the enemy of civilization. I just read an article in the Wall Street Journal if you dare to even use the phrase settler colonialism, which after all, clearly does apply this, you know, whatever. Yes, these are people largely at that moment in time is Israeli Jews who came because of the horrible Holocaust. They didn’t trust any Western or any government in the world to give them security, and they went to a historic homeland. The question I want to put to you is really about the media’s indifference and indeed obliteration of history. We get a lot of people teaching now about fake news and how to make spot fake news.
The main way to do fake news is to reinvent history or obscure it. And I just want to throw in my own two cents, and then I’m in danger of going on and taking too much time. But let me try to be brief. I happened to visit Gaza and the West Bank after the Six-Day War and the immediate aftermath. I had gotten into Egypt and I covered the war from the other side. And then I went over. And the first myth is that the Palestinians hadn’t attack Israel. The Palestinians were an occupied people. They were occupied in the West Bank by Egypt, they were occupied by Jordan, they were occupied in Gaza by Egypt and the Golan Heights with Syria. Okay. And now Israel is at peace with Egypt and certainly Jordan. And that was done quite early. And the only people who paid the price were the Palestinians who attacked Israel. And in fact, Palestinians who had been living in Israel proper donated their blood. They were loyal to the government and so forth. Okay. That’s first myth. Second myth is that the Israelis and the Labor Party who took over and I interviewed people like Allon and Diane, and everything I was all over this area. at first I said, if you come back here in ten years and we’re still occupying, we will not be the Israel we wanted to create. You cannot be an occupier. And this is in an incredible movie. “The Gatekeeper” that interviews all these people from Shin Bet, you cannot be in this position of occupying another people, giving them no fundamental rights of governance or anything else, creating an apartheid state. Okay. That’s number two.
Third, distortion is Netanyahu is the one who legitimatized Hamas and that the Israeli government used Hamas and thought they okay, they’re religiously oriented. The PLO under Yasser Arafat, they’re secular. They have worldwide appeal. They’re arguing basic human rights. We’re going to use Hamas as a weapon. This is divide and conquer that never seems to get mentioned. Where did Hamas get the legitimacy and respect to rule Gaza? It came from the Israelis. Now, even saying that is probably a firable offense. You know, even daring to push this. But the fact is, the only way we can combat a fake history is to try to introduce some notion of complexity.
Andersen Well, Bob, there’s no room for complexity in the American media when it comes to Israel and Palestine, as you know. Katie Halper from the Hill did a monologue broadcast a year ago, and she pointed out that that human rights organizations have identified that Israel’s occupied territories are an apartheid system. And she detailed some of the things you were just talking about of what happens in Gaza particularly. We know that the Israelis control food, water, electricity, when when when we see this bombing and there’s no food and water, we have to ask how did that happen? How is it that Israel has so much power to turn off the water and the electricity and the hospitals? There’s currently no health care. So there’s no nuance. There’s no room for nuance.
This MSNBC actually tried to move a little bit away from calling Hamas terrorists and Fox News. You know, blurted out, oh, my God, they’re they’re pro-Palestinian. They’re, you know, this is terrible. MSNBC, as you know, took its three Muslim anchors out of their anchor chair. And now they’re still on. But they couldn’t have even most of them sitting there in the anchors. There’s there’s been a real movement in American public life done by the Israeli lobbies to make sure no criticism of Israel enters into the public, into public discourse.
Scheer: Well just–
Andersen: Now We’re seeing it at a really important time and a really important moment in history where journalism is completely closed down. And there’s one Palestinian woman who just two days ago got an op ed in The New York Times. She never said Israel, she never said occupation. She just you know, she said, we are having to fight for air time. And and this is what Palestinians and it was very much an artistic heart piece. But that’s the only way you can get into the American media now if you’re Palestinian.
Scheer: Yeah. Let me just be clear about this language. I mean, I have no trouble saying that the attack on Israel by Hamas was an act of terrorism. If by that you mean you use civilians and kill them and terrorized them and frighten them, I personally think the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was a major act of terrorism because civilians were targeted. This does not and I know somebody watching this will say he justify terrorism. I am opposed to it. I consider it a horrible war crime. I think people should be punished for it and condemned. So I feel that way about them, the very fact that I have to say this yet I don’t if I talk about the Israeli bombing of Gaza and I call that terrorism, oh, then you lose your job or something or you’ll be denounced and so forth. Right. So language has lost its significance.
That’s the terrible thing about fake news is when you cannot apply the scientific method, state a hypothesis, look for evidence and so forth. The evidence is quite clear. And amazingly enough, President Biden actually said this yesterday. He defended a two state solution. Now, personally, I think the two state solution is inadequate to the situation because they’re not viable states. The way people are talking about, as you just pointed out with Gaza, they didn’t control anything. They can’t even be a beachside resort and get some income, you know, Right. And so forth. But at least Biden finally repeated U.S. policy, which is there has to be some kind of resolution. There was. And Rabin was the man who, you know, literally ended his life by endorsing it. And no one ever mentions he was killed by a fanatical Jewish person and his views and respect for him is involved in the Netanyahu government.
Andersen: Well, that was that decision was made at the Oslo Accords in 1993. And at that time, the Palestinians said, yes, Israel has a right to exist. The PLO, the Palestinian Authority then and Israel said yes, and Palestinian has a right to self-governance. That’s what they agreed upon. So why does the The New York Times claim in its editorial and its reporting on the music festival that saying the Palestinians would never agree that Israel is a state. So you get this kind of constant misinformation, you know, being woven within. Well, well, while part of the Palestinian side is not mentioned, I think you’re absolutely right, too, about terrorism and the word terrorism. If we take terrorism back and where it started from, it was originally always state terrorism with the state of France in Algeria, and they terrorized the civilian population. It’s the it’s killing the civilian population in war that is terrorism. Now, we.
Scheer: Always used to say this.
Andersen: Is non-state actors.
Scheer: Yeah. I just want to say, because you triggered a thought in my brain. I was in Vietnam. I wrote about it very early on. The stated strategy was to dry up the sea of people that the Viet Cong were supposedly swimming in. This was the whole thing of the carpet bombing. This was the whole strategy that McNamara developed was precisely because too many of the ordinary people were supporting the Viet Cong. By the way, a country still run by communists that we now much prefer to China and want them to make our iPhones. But the irony is that war and it’s long forgotten. Talk about fake news was deliberately a war on the civilian population because as General Eisenhower, when he was president, said, if there had been an election, 80% of people would have voted for the communists or the other side, the Viet Minh. So the idea of waging war on ordinary people, whether they were at a rave or they are tilling their fields is something Unfortunately, almost every powerful government in the history of humanity has used, and we are certainly no exception.
Andersen: That’s why it had to be in modern times. The distinction between state terrorism, which we do all the time, as you just pointed out, and Israeli anything. The Israelis don’t do terrorism because they’re a state and Hamas does terrorism because they’re not a state. So, however, if we think about it as killing civilians, yes, Hamas terrorized civilians and killed them. And that in itself was horrible, widely condemned. Even in New York, the Center for Constitutional Rights said we we have it, though we have been working for Palestinian rights and we recognize human dignity in the way that civilians have been treated in the occupied territories as apartheid. We still completely condemn the Hamas attacks, and that was widespread throughout the humanitarian community and the legal community.
So then let’s ask the reasons why. Right. Right after the attacks, we all agreed we didn’t like it. It was horrible. So then how can you escalate into this very lopsided violence that’s happening that that Hamas gets then transferred into the demonization of Hamas, gets transferred over to the Palestinians, and then we can then wipe them out, which is definitely in the Geneva Conventions, in all of the Internet against all international law. And that is what they’re doing with the hospitals there. They’re completely destroying a culture and all of its systems of operation, its libraries and its schools. So there won’t be a Palestinian anymore. In fact, it’s kind of fulfilling what one of the Israelis constantly says to the Palestinians, “there’s no such thing as the Palestinian people.”
Well, after they’re done, that’s what they will be. So why the atrocity propaganda then if we think about it, stuff goes back to, you know, Germans bayonetting babies, that they’re cutting the throats of 40 babies that Hamas did when they took over the Kibbutz, not verified, slopped all over all of the BBC, you know, all of Britain’s newspapers, so many in this country without verification and then walked back that the source was a fellow named David Ben Zion, who was a a fanatical settler who had called for lynch mobs and called them animals and had been working in the occupied territories for a while. And he put this propaganda out that was then widely spread and there with no verification. So what? So why that? My point is how it has led to genocide is that the Israelis were building up this momentum to do what they wanted in in Gaza. And the and the the atrocity propaganda fed into that mightily. And the bombing of the hospital is still being disputed. And so time passes. The bombing continues. And then after after whatever is going to happen here, we’re going to find, you know. All of this stuff will be revealed and by that time it’ll be too late.
Scheer: So let me ask you a question as a communications scholar. And because we’re both, I assume I’m much older than you, but we’re both of an age where we I think you must have experienced McCarthyism and and so forth. And it’s very interesting. This is the third rail subject, Israel and so forth. Yeah. Where the people you would normally count on, people myself who are Jewish, who understand why you want to control unbridled state power or anybody who is going to wage war unnecessarily. You know, I have memory of World War Two even. And somehow there’s been this exemption. And to give anybody an exemption who has state power that you’re going to be judged by a different standard is, first of all, a denial of what is claimed to be the Judeo-Christian tradition. After all, the whole notion here is the devil or evil can be in you. You have to do self-examination. You have to constantly ask for forgiveness of a God, and worry about the judgment of an all mighty. Whether you spell the word or not, God. But the fact of the matter is, these religions are really warning us about our own capacity for evil. And yet somehow you just mention, you know, Israel and so forth. And the irony here is the people, if you want to blame people, you have to blame my German relatives on my father’s side. You know, I’ve gone back to visit them. They’re nice people. Most of them, of course, were even born after the war. But the fact is it was the most advanced, civilized, high scientific nation, Christian nation that did the Holocaust. And we’re ignoring the lesson of the Holocaust. You can’t blame it on Islam. You can’t blame it on people still living primarily in agrarian life in Palestine. So what I want to ask you is where are your colleagues and the academic world and why are they not speaking out more?
Andersen: Well, Bob, there’s the Canary Mission, which has been openly attacking academics for speaking out on Palestine. You know, Palestinian professors have tweeted things and they’ve lost their jobs. These people actively write letters. It’s you’re absolutely right. It is the third rail. I, I most admire the young Jewish opposition to this. And, you know, I have friends in Jewish Voices for Peace. And if not now, they’re the ones that have actually gone back to the values that you’re just that you just expressed. Not in our names. We we we don’t condone this kind of violence against anybody. I think CCR in New York, the Center for Constitutional Rights, said it best when they said we value human dignity and human life so much. That’s why we’ve been fighting on behalf of the Palestinians who who are not allowed to live in dignity under this oppressive apartheid regime. But that’s also why we really abhor the violence against the Israeli civilians that happened by Hamas.
So what we have to do is find a way to break the cycle of violence. You’re talking about a media frame that constantly is about revenge. It’s about a war frame. It’s it’s the world on all kinds of other issues. You can’t talk to anybody because they’re labeled terrorists. There’s no negotiation. There’s no peace. There’s no structure for peace dialogue. That what cannot enter into the frame are humanitarian values that are all over the U.N. and UNICEF and all of that stuff that we know is the best way to treat our fellow citizens and work toward global citizenship. But it’s not being allowed in this country at this moment. And young people and anybody who opposes it, I have great admiration for and I’m retired now, but they can’t touch me, so I don’t blame them. Frankly, when I was writing about war, this is like true confession. I it wasn’t that I avoided Israeli and Palestine. It’s just that I never went there. Right? I know there was kind of something stopping me, and I think it was that. But when I wrote, when they killed, when the Israelis assassinated Shireen Abu Akleh, you know, when she was reporting from Palestine, the Al-Jazeera Palestinian American journalist, that’s when I really got mad. And I learned all about it and wrote several pieces. And I find that Israel has this long history of a propaganda and as Chris Hedges openly puts it lies. They simply lie. They put up a video just like they put up the video bomb that charged the Palestinians with bombing the hospital. They put out a video then that showed, oh, this is the Palestinian fighter who killed her.
No, it took it took months for for media to take it frame by frame and look where the bullet came from. And look, this was an assassination hit from an from an Israeli convoy. Even the Times later admits. But. At the time. Now, President Biden got off with it. He didn’t hold the Israelis accountable. And for me, that was the moment that really told us that that White House has lost the the ability to speak in the language of of human rights and acknowledge human rights violations where they occur. And that is really one of the main things that got us to this point. This is this is everybody’s fault. But the United States is very much also to blame.
Scheer: Yeah, you know, I don’t mind. I mean, I think I welcome it that we’ve sort of gotten autobiographical here. And I, I hear what you’re saying because for me, it’s really actually been the great challenge and mystery and confusion of my life. It happens that while my mother and father were not legally married, my father was a German Protestant immigrant and my mother was a Russian Jewish immigrant who actually fled the Bolsheviks and came here after the Russian Revolution. And I was raised primarily in a Jewish neighborhood. I was born in ’36. So I went through the war. And my half brother, who I actually didn’t even know at that time, bombed our hometown in Germany. My 100% German relative and my German relatives were very anti-fascist. They were on the left of things. But still as a kid, the question that kept coming up, I was asking my father this, my relatives, why are you people killing the Jews? This is when we first were learning about the Jews and I wasn’t learning about it from the New York Times or anything, but I was hearing about it, you know, and people arriving and, you know, before the war and during and so forth.
And so the great ethical challenge of my whole life is how could people that I was raised to respect, which were the German people, what you know, Beethoven and Heinrich Heine and all the poetry and the science and order and clean, clean streets and everything. How did they commit the greatest barbarism in human history? Modern human history, no question. Systematic genocide, but done to scientific standards, done with logic, done with keeping records. So when I got the opportunity to go to Egypt, I was invited by a guy named Michael Ansara who was at Harvard SDS and his father had worked for the Egyptians. So he said, You know, I could get you in there. He called me when I was editing Ramparts. Would you want to go? I was held by the Egyptians for 8 hours because they did, you know, and I never held off identifying myself as Jewish. And I know there was antisemitism, although there were prominent Egyptian Jews and so forth. But what I took away from that and by the way, I went on that trip when I finally got to Tel Aviv, I felt liberated. I felt, wow, this is New York as I wanted New York. It was joyous. It was safe, you know, And temporarily I forgot about the Six-Day War and the Suez Canal and the imperialism and everything. And the people I talked to. This is why I bring up the movie The Gatekeepers, An Israeli movie that you must see is three bucks on Amazon Prime. You can buy it for 12. But it’s amazing because what the people said, Shin Bet said was when I was there, I believed Allon and the people in the Labor Party party that they really wanted to have two states, that they understood the Palestinians.
I was even taken into Gaza by a Palestinian mayor of a town in Israel who was elected. He took me in there and he had no trouble with clearance. And so what is shocking to me is this visiting the Palestinians, This may be heresy to say, it are the modern Jews. You know, they don’t have state power. They are forced to wander even in the Arab world. They are treated shabbily in the Arab world. Just look at the killings in Lebanon, in the Palestinian camps. Look what even happens in Jordan. Anti Palestinian feeling is wrong. They were, at the time, the most secular or least fanatical in terms of religion. And I actually believed and the people that took me around from the Labor Party and leftist parties and the Kibbutz…. I actually believed peace would break out because after all, the Israelis talked a better game about democracy than the Egyptians or the Jordanians, certainly Saudi Arabia that we have embraced and where 15 of the hijackers came from, not one was Palestinian. And the irony is that the most exploited population, maybe Yemen is another one, but certainly one of the most exploited populations that has never had power is presented as somehow the Goliath and the sixth largest military in the world, as I’ve been reading, is Israel, or certainly one of the most powerful. They’re the David still, and that is a parody, a vicious parody of history, biblical history.
Andersen: News media never, rarely reports on Israeli violence. It usually and does not condemn it. It is most of the time seen as retaliatory. Israeli has a right to defend itself, even when it’s the aggressing force which, which really… That’s what happened to the two state solution. Israel and the United States moved very much away from the two state solution as the settlers began to take over the West Bank, it was based on an agreement that Israel wouldn’t take any more land. And over and over and over again, the Israeli government has moved closer and closer to the right. So much so, as you know, that the Israeli citizens were in the streets in massive numbers in Tel Aviv when they basically closed down the courts. Now, that’s really dismantling democratic institutions, and it has been doing so within Israel. But Israel to us is still this this holy land where where Jews could go and be safe. And it’s a terrible tragedy what happened. But I think that that if we look at Germany and how that happened, that really goes back to the Versailles Accords and what happened there when when the West decimated and didn’t really allow Germany to come back economically, but they managed to do it. But all of these this waring and war after war, which creates more hostilities and aggression, that you move away from a peace and humanity experience. Where we are now, it’s a terrible loss of compassion within all of our countries and all of our hearts, really. It’s very important, I think, now to call for a cease fire before this entire people is destroyed. And that’s what’s happening now. That’s the outcome of all of this.
Scheer: Okay. Well, before we wrap this up, and I have talked once again too much, please lay out what you said in your article, specifically about the media coverage of this issue and why it is failing the obligation of a free press.
Andersen: Well, I think we’ve talked about it here.
Scheer: In your article, you went very specifically about coverage. I don’t know, maybe if you don’t have it right now.
Andersen: I know it, I mean.
Andersen: So there was a lack of historical context initially. Without the context of knowing why Hamas and the Palestinians could be easily demonized, you add some atrocity propaganda onto that. No voices of caution.
Scheer: But when you say propaganda, they did commit atrocities.
Andersen: The Israelis. I’m talking about…
Scheer: No, no.
Andersen: No. Yes. Hamas committed atrocities. No, not the type of atrocities that escalated the hatred which is slicing babies and raping women. Those are the particular war propaganda stories that I’m talking about.
Scheer: Well, talk about that as a professional. Take us through those stories, because not everybody knows. I talk to people all the time who say, yeah, and they rape people and they did this and this. So…
Andersen: Specifically with.
Scheer: That’s what you did in your article. I want you to be to the communications professor and take us through this case study. That’s what you did in your article. Should have been done with that. So I’m trying to make amends now and have you do it.
Andersen: So Hamas was being demonized. And in the midst of this, it wasn’t a far leap to then put that on to Palestinians. But part of the demonization, and what I argue is you didn’t really need this type of atrocity propaganda coming out because everybody who worked for Palestinians in the humanitarian community recognized that this was a terrible violation of international law and that civilians were killed. Now, then a few days later, you add that they sliced the throats of 40 babies. Now, babies is a very visceral type of emotional propaganda that’s been around since World War I, when Germans were falsely represented as bayonetting babies and having babies on their bayonets marching around. This you pointed out also, that these baby incubator story in the first Gulf War was what prompted us to get into Desert Storm, which was which is the first Gulf War when we went into Kuwait, into Iraq. So this is an old saw. It’s an old use of the death of innocence that was put all over the media in in the UK and America without verification. And also the rape of women. The most horrible thing you could do in a war is rape women. And you know what the awful deceptive thing about this is now, the raping of women actually is a war strategy, and it is a way to attack populations. But Hamas, there’s no verification, and Hamas didn’t do that, they didn’t have time to do that. So the atrocity propaganda then.
Scheer: Is this true?
Andersen: There’s no verification. There’s no truth in the…
Scheer: Because until this moment, I actually believed there must have been, and I’m not— I’m being serious here…
Andersen: So did I, but the investigative reporter that you had on just the other day, Alan MacLeod, is the one who documented both stories the best. The Los Angeles Times walked it back and said, ‘no, we don’t have any verification for the rape story.’
Scheer: Are you talking about the podcast that Max Jones and Diego Ramos did? Yeah, it’s very good. It wasn’t on KCRW, which is what we’re doing for this, but that was very thoughtful, yeah.
Andersen: Today these stories are still repeated. Politicians keep repeating that they chopped off babies’ heads. When President Biden said he saw actual pictures, he had to walk that back. But that sticks, because then you get most of the verification on our kinds of new sources that this was atrocity propaganda. So you demonize them to such an extent that you pound the drums of war so much and you keep telling Israel that they can defend themselves, and then that’s when you have this kind of a genocide occurring. And I don’t throw that word around lightly. A genocide is very well defined in international law where it’s the deliberate attack to kill and destroy not only people, but a culture. And that’s what they’ve been doing in Gaza since since the attacks. Now, and all of this, as you pointed out, a lot is very much happening without any caution or an understanding of where the Hamas violence came from.
As you point out, as we all know, when we are mistreated, when people are mistreated, when societies are mistreated, they hold on to that. Violence begets violence. And that’s why I keep saying we need to recognize our humanity on all sides and move toward that position and get back into an idea where all human life is valuable, which is written into the International Declaration of Human Rights, and that all of us should exist in dignity. And when we don’t, that should be stopped. So because the united… You can’t just constantly harp on one side of violence and allow them to do whatever they want. When you have denied for the longest occupation in history, that civilians have been killed. They live under horrible conditions in the Gaza Strip and on the occupied territories. Settlers are allowed to go in and take their homes. They kill them. They bulldoze their olive trees and take out their means of living. And this has been going on for years. So if we want to stop violence, we have to stop it on all sides, not just wipe out one source of violence that we have now demonized and pointed the finger at for years.
Scheer: Yeah, it’s extremely… So we’ve got that, that’s basically what you did say. And I do want to wrap this up, but the takeaway point to my mind is that we have a tendency to give a blank check to any state actors. We did it with the United States and say the the case of My Lai, or Abu Ghraib, the torture and so forth, ‘oh, just a few bad apples did this, but our state would never do it.’ Now, in fact, it was state policy to do carpet bombing and destroy civilians, the Russians in Ukraine, anywhere, anything we say, ‘Well, state actors or Saudi Arabia, our president right now is condemning Palestinian Hamas in no uncertain terms. We would love to give another fist bump to the Saudis. And of course, they’re going to buy most of our weapons and so forth.’
So this idea that state actors and dropping the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, just killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people on their way to school or what have you. It’s a very, it’s a treacherous notion that if the states do it, particularly if they call themselves democracies. Right. You know, Israel and the United States. But somehow this makes it, you know, kosher. I want to misuse that word. But I mean, it gives it respectability, but it also makes it legal by some moral code. And that moral code is the thing that I would say that I think what this is becoming a biblical tragedy of the kind described that, you know, religious people claim they want us to study, and it always involves a demonization of the others. It always involves giving yourself the right to mark every other house that has a Jew. That’s why we have a remembrance of that ethnic attack and everything else.
And the sad thing here, I personally to this day believe that the Jewish people had a right to have a state somewhere, some place in the world where, you know, but the slogan was a land without people for people without land. Unfortunately, this was a very well populated area, and that was not a majority Jewish. But nonetheless, I grew up understanding why Jewish people should feel threatened after the certainly after the Holocaust anywhere in the world. The irony here is, I would argue, this experience of occupying these other countries, and I was told this by leading Israelis that if you continue to occupy and you become the occupier, you lose your moral basis, you lose your perspective. And I sadly, you know, I think this is a terrible thing. I want to say something else positive that you mentioned before. Even now, the most — not most — but a certainly disproportionate, given Jewish population of people speaking out and condemning what Israel is doing, are Jewish voices. Yeah. And I think that is the most honorable tradition. You have to call out your self that is in every major religion. You have to call yourself out.
Andersen: And to get into the rules of modern warfare. And the logic of that, after the horrors of World War I and II, you mentioned Nagasaki, we firebombed the Axis powers, we killed a lot of civilians. The international community, for the latter half of the 20th century attempted to establish Geneva Conventions, which would tone down and and help stop war. And that’s what these rules of war are about. Now, the United States violated that and Iraq was an illegal war because you have to have a reason to go into another country. So we said that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and he also had helped take the the Twin Towers down and he had yellowcake uranium. None of that was true. So the United States is one of the biggest violators at this point of international rules of war. They won’t sign onto the International Criminal Court. And in doing that, you were talking about the consequences of the Israelis being occupiers. Nobody has brought them to account using the international law because the Americans vetoed them in the criminal court and veto any court and they have vetoed now two calls for a cease fire in international community. So there has to be some accountability now for all of this violence. And I think that talks can begin. And I think we just need to back up Rashida Talib and some of the other in the Progressive Caucus who are really trying to now call for a ceasefire. And I think I’ve called my congresspeople and senators and told them to start working on this. And I think that’s what we can do, too. And we just need to work on that at the moment.
Scheer: I just want to and I really appreciate talking to you. I do want to mention Project Censorship, right? Project Censor, yeah. Which I rely on quite heavily to do some very good reporting. And I want to make a final point. Sometimes media works. We both teach about media, and sometimes people within a society do get it right. You know, David Halberstam and Daniel Ellsberg and others got Vietnam right. Sy Hersh exposing My Lai, the atrocities. Got it right. And in the case of this Israeli-Arab dispute, when I saw this movie, The Gatekeepers, when it first came out about ten years ago, whatever it was, it made in Israel and the main and the people talking in it are all the leaders. They were leaders of Shin Bet, the Israeli Secret Service, Secret police. The only person you know is the leader who administered or ran the West Bank and Gaza. You cannot discuss this history without seeing this movie. It is an incredible document. And one of the things that I didn’t realize, I didn’t realize until I watched rewatch this movie is they say these people. Yes, two state solution. We were never told about it. Nobody said that’s our goal here in Gaza or the West Bank.
They said, and then they build up. It was only when Rabin, you know, a former general and certainly had been able to be hawkish and defend Israel, embrace, you know, the idea of this two states that he came and he was killed and killed by a Jewish fanatic. And these people in Shin Bet said we had to reposition and protect. We didn’t realize we would have to protect our own leaders from our more irrational elements. I would really recommend because people will come away from this and say, what did they know and think? That particular movie is not the only thing to study and not the only thing to read as a great body of literature and so forth. But that one, I don’t think you can just… You watch that. I think it will change your attitude. I don’t make any money from this. I’m not promoting. But it’s really a reminder. I want to thank you and Robin Andersen, Professor Andersen, a emeritus of Fordham University. Is that a Jesuit school? I think they’d be proud of you. They’ll be proud of you. Thank you. The fight by logic is over.
I want to thank Laura Kondourajian and Christopher Ho at KCRW, the NPR station in Santa monica, for posting these shows. I want to thank Joshua Scheer, our executive producer. Diego Ramos, who writes the introduction, and Max Jones, who actually got us together, because even though we teach communications, somehow we needed Max Jones, a summa cum laude graduate from the Annenberg School at USC, who got us together finally. And I do want to thank, on this particular show, a shout out to the J.K.W Foundation, which in the memory of Jean Stein. And here, I want to remember her. She was one of the, she was somebody who came out of the most prominent Jewish families in Los Angeles. Jules Stein was her father and nonetheless, and very much in cooperation with the great scholar Edward Said, I would say the two of them and her support of Edward Said in his work. I think they did more to get us to think honestly about this question maybe than anybody else I could think of right now. And they did it at times when they were scorned, and certainly Jean Stein was, and Edward Said was certainly a magnificent scholar. So I’ll end on that note. See you next week with another edition of Scheer Intelligence.