Thursday, January 4, 2018

Failed Attempt to Occupy the Minds of the Residents of the North Shore of Massachusetts

The Unitarian Universalist Church in Marblehead, Massachusetts publicized its plan to show the film "Occupation of the American Mind". 

The theme of the film is that attempts to criticize Israel in America have been met with a well-funded public relations attack combining pressure, intimidation, threats, misrepresentations and charges of anti-Semitism.

The film, which has been praised by the Israeli Haaretz Newspaper’s Gideon Levy (“I wish every American would watch this powerful documentary), Director and filmmaker Ken Loach, (A film that demands to be seen), Nation writer Dave Zinn (“A vital and unmissable film”), The Guardian’s John Pilger (“One of the most compelling and important documentaries in recent years” and Media expert Robert; W. McChesney (“One of the most brilliant and important documentaries I have ever seen”) has been shown without protest in hundreds of other venues. 

A local supporter of the government of Israel, being unsuccessful in intimidating, threatening and pressuring the church into cancelling the showing of the movie, purchased this expensive full page ads and placed it in local newspapers (followed by my analysis of the protest published in the local Marblehead Reporter:

"Why would a church show an anti-Semitic movie?"

The Unitarian Universalist Church in Marblehead is transforming the phrase “it can’t happen here” to “it is happening here.”
Just as individuals across the country raised their voices in protest against bigotry and hatred spewed by White Supremacist groups at rallies in Charlottesville and in other communities, we call on the community to protest the upcoming screening of the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, hate-filled documentary The Occupation of the American Mind on Sunday, November 5 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Marblehead. 
We call on the Unitarian Universalist Church to cancel the screening of the movie because it:
• Is narrated by a well-known anti-Semite, who supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction Movement against Israel
• Presents a factually incorrect and distorted account of Israeli-Palestinian situation, which is anti-Israel and anti-Jewish
• Lacks transparency; for example, Israel invaded Gaza in 2014 because Hamas, which is a terrorist organization whose sole obsessive objective is to destroy Israel, and whose Charter calls for the murder of every Jew on the planet, built a network of tunnels to infiltrate Israel and terrorize and murder her citizens; Israel was forced to bomb a hospital because that is where Hamas launched missiles from
• Is anti-Semitic by virtue of it being anti-Israel by holding Israel to standards it applies to no other people
• Fails to portray Israel as the thriving, vibrant democracy that it is
• Portrays Israel as the singular enemy of human rights in the Middle East, when in fact, many Muslim countries kill gay people, oppress women, practice honor killings, and perform female genital mutilation
• Perpetuates negative stereotypes of aggressive Israeli soldiers out for the kill
• Implies that America is alone in its pro-Israel stance, when in fact, Israel has positive relations with India, China, Russia and many African countries
• Is filled with interviews by anti-Israel individuals
• Fails to inform people that Palestinian children are raised from childhood to hate Jews and Christians
• Will fill people’s minds with lies about Israel and lies about America
• Will increase anxiety amongst Jewish students, many of whom are experiencing anti-Israel sentiments and anti-Semitism at their schools 
We should be able to count on UUC to stand up to hatred and bigotry. We call on people of all faiths to stand up to bigotry and hatred by calling Reverend .....  at 781 .... or emailing office ........ to protest the screening of The Occupation of the American Mind. 

Protest: Failed Effort to Occupy Marbleheaders’ Minds
Ronald W. Fox

I have been a member of the local Jewish community for most of my 78 years.

For 45 years, I have observed, read, and spoken out against the government of Israel’s brutal oppression of Palestinians.

Fortunately, intense pressure and intimidation failed to stop the showing of “Occupation of the American Mind” at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead. The film documents the development of a PR propaganda program (hasbara) by Israel and US Jewish organizations since the early 80’s to prevent Americans learning about anything that would put Israel in a bad light.

Americans, therefore, know little about the illegal 50 year occupation, the longest in the world; the 123 illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem  housing 650,000 Israeli citizens forbidden by the Geneva Convention from being transferred to these occupied territories; the killings and injuring of over 100,000 Palestinians; the illegal wall; the theft of Palestinian lands so that Israel now controls over 60% of what was to be the Palestinian state; the invasions of Gaza; the wanton and willful demolition of 27,000 Palestinian family homes, the holding in administrative detention of thousands without charges ever being brought; the destruction of 800,000 Palestinian olive trees; and the restrictions on movement not for security but for humiliation. 

These actions over the last 50 years not only violate the basic American values of democracy, equality, self-government and freedom to protest but the core values of Judaism:  “Justice, Justice, Shall You Pursue”; Learn to do well, seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow;” and, of course,  “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”.

Through this wildly successful PR effort, Israel’s violence and lawbreaking is almost always “reframed” by mainstream media, politicians and spokespersons for Jewish institutions as Palestinian terrorism, anti-Semitism and Israel’s need to defend itself.

Local efforts to prevent open discussion about the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians have occurred regularly since at least 1982 when, during a local debate on Israel’s invasion of Lebanon a local rabbi led a walkout yelling “anti-Semites, anti-Semites”. Other attempts to speak out or hold programs critical of Israel have been met with intimidation and similar allegations.

So while I am angry and saddened by this protest, I am not surprised.

The effort led by the Lappin Foundation  to ban this event falsely alleged “anti-Semitism” and demonized Palestinians and Muslims is an example of, and has all the marking of the Israeli developed PR propaganda playbook.

Those who would try to suppress the truth about what the government of Israel is doing are on the wrong side of history and doing a disservice to Israel. Their actions in support of the illegal occupation and settlements are leading to the death of the two state solution and leaves Israel with two options: a one state solution or being found guilty of the crime of apartheid.

I am not a member of the church but I have been aware of its role pursuing peace with justice since its efforts opposing the Vietnam War in the 70’s. The anti-Semitization and the smear campaign waged by the Lappin Foundation does a terrible injustice to this church.  So I hope members of the community, Jewish and non-Jewish will join me in commending Rev. Wendy von Courter, Carolyn Corzine and the other members of their committee for having the courage to stand up to this smear campaign.

The institutions of the local Jewish community need to counter the impression that the Lappin Foundation speaks for the entire Jewish community and that it supports its agenda to censor any criticism of the government of Israel. I recommend they immediately begin to plan and sponsor a film like Occupation 101 that shows Palestinian life in the occupied territories and follow it up with an open discussion about whether Israel’s actions there are necessary for self-defense or whether they are violations of the international human and civil rights of Palestinians.