How KPFT Radio got ambushed by the Israel lobby
A reporter on the KPFT Radio for Peace, a liberal beacon in US media, was sacked for saying that “the Jews” have too much media influence. Rattled by accusations of anti-semitism, KPFT went on to arrange for Israel’s local diplomatic mission to have a regular slot to promote itself as “The Voice of Peace”.
There are a few issues here that are worth deconstructing.
1. The original statement is indeed racist if it lumps all Jews together and echoes a traditional anti-semitic stereotype of disproportionate influence. Since many other social groups (e.g. rich white men) have disproportionate influence and are not attacked for it, and as media, financial and political influence only seem to be measured out proportionately in the service of racial scapegoating and finger-pointing, the statement would appear to be out of order.
2. On the other hand our media are indeed utterly biased in favour of Israel, and this is in part driven and moulded by a well organised Jewish lobby that acts as Israel’s foreign legion. Israel openly recruits, trains and funds these people to intervene in social media and online comments, to plant press stories and to monitor and reply to every utterance about Israel. It should be permissible to state this as long as it is not applied to all Jews as a collective characteristic.
3. But presenting this as “excessive Jewish influence” not only feeds racist stereotypes. It actually serves this Israel lobby, in three ways. First, it gives it a field-day for one of its favourite riffs, of Jews as endangered victims. Second, it helps it to distract from Israel’s daily atrocities against the Palestinians and also its assault on Jewish traditions of justice and tolerance. Third, it helps to promote this Lobby’s central claim that Israel equals Jewish, and that to be Jewish means to be pro-Israel. This claim is receding daily, with growing Jewish alienation from Israel, the prominence of Jews in Palestine solidarity work (who unfortunately can’t influence the media nearly enough), and the multifarious Jewish factions within Israel who are virtually at war with each other.
4. So the statement about “excessive Jewish influence” plays to the Zionist game by lumping all Jews together indiscriminately, tying them to Israel and sidelining those groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Israeli Jewish opposition, which support the Palestinian resistance: all those that Israel tries to write off and excommunicate as “self hating Jews”.
5. KPFT has further equated Jewishness with Israel by allowing Israel’s diplomatic service free use of its airwaves to put out unabashed Israeli propaganda, in recompense for a statement that was not about Israel but about Jews. What could be a clearer way of saying that Israel represents Jews?
6. And what would be a clearer way to reinforce the view that Jews, or Israel, are over-represented in the media than to give their viewpoint yet more coverage? Far from counteracting the “excessive media influence” statement, this response only seems to prove that Jews have a unique hold on the media. Imagine if someone had made a racist comment about the Afrikaaners who ran the South African apartheid regime in the 1980s. Would that regime really have been rewarded with free air time to claim South African Blacks were happy and free and to promote South Africa’s sporting events or holidays? KPFT’s listeners must be thinking that only people with excessive media influence could swing such a result from one unguarded remark about … excessive media influence.
7. Some of KPFT’s listeners, outraged by the pro-Israel propaganda now coming out of their favourite radio station, are demanding that the Palestinian viewpoint should be heard. “We need” as one comment insisted “to hear from the oppressed rather than the oppressor”. Yes, of course we should.
8. But this would only go so far. It would not upset the pervasive claim that Israel “speaks for the Jews”, which is what keeps Israel’s words unchallenged, and which this whole incident has so far only reinforced. So we should also hear from those Jews who say “no, Israel doesn’t speak for us” and “not in my name”: people such as holocaust survivor Lilian Rosengarten who sailed on the Jewish Boat to Gaza, such as Jewish Voice for Peace which is at the leading edge of the BDS fight, and such as Israel’s jailed Jewish protestors and army whistleblowers Breaking the Silence and Combatants for Peace.
These voices are the key to dislodging Israel’s legitimacy.
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