This past Saturday night (January 16), our local public radio station, KVPR, aired the most anti-Israel 55 minutes that I’ve heard anywhere. And that is saying something, because KVPR’s competition in the listener-supported radio world carries the Pacifica network, home of Amy Goodman.
The weekly program is called “A World of Possibilities”, and is produced by an outfit called Connexus Communications”, which is supported by grants from ‘progressive’ foundations, especially the Ford Foundation. It’s provided free for download and broadcast by anyone who wants it.
Saturday’s episode was called “Victims No More: Seeking the Middle Way in the Middle East,” but there was no “middle way” or balance about it. The host, the snotty Mark Sommer — who often peppers his remarks on unrelated programs with anti-Israel comments (in a program about Darfur, he said conditions were “as bad as the Palestinian territories”) — interviewed five guests. Let’s look at what each one contributed to the program:
Amal Jadou, deputy chief of the PLO mission in Washington spoke for about fifteen minutes, delivering an unrelieved rant about the horrors of occupation, all the humiliations suffered by the Palestinians, whom she calls “the Jews of the Jews” in support of her offensive position that Jews have persecuted Palestinians just as they themselves were persecuted in Europe. Need I remind you that Jadou’s PLO practically invented terrorism as a political tool and has murdered thousands of Israelis, more than any other terrorist group?
Rami Khouri, a Palestinian/Jordanian journalist living in Beirut, also got about 15 minutes. Khouri, educated in the US, speaks excellent English and specializes in sounding moderate while delivering his zingers, such as talking about Israel’s “colonization program,” saying that “the Israelis have shifted very sharply to the right,” that “both sides fight in vicious and barbaric ways,” that the “core of the [Mideast] conflict” is the Palestinian question, that the US has not historically been a “fair mediator” but has leaned toward Israel, that the US has “echo[ed] the views of the right wing in Israel,” and that Israel “overreacts[!]” to Iranian threats.
Haleh Esfandiari, a Iranian/American scholar who was imprisoned in Iran got about 7 minutes. She didn’t talk about Israel or the Palestinians at all, and — because of her opposition to the Iranian regime — seems to have been included as a form of balance.
Motti Cristal, an Israeli who served as a negotiator when Palestinian terrorists invaded and occupied (and damaged and desecrated) the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem for 40 days in 2002, had his seven minutes of fame. He explained his theory of “interest-based” negotiation and the power relationships between Israel and the Palestinians. Nothing earthshaking, and I wasn’t sure why he was included until he dropped his payload, in response to a question from host Sommer: “in order to reach a comprehensive settlement … you have to include representatives of Hamas in any negotiation table set between Israel and the Palestinians.” You could almost see Sommer licking his lips with glee.
Josh Weiss, an academic and ‘negotiation consultant’, had the final 5 minutes. Weiss’ contribution was the idea that the issues on both sides were primarily ‘symbolic’. Palestinians didn’t want to actually exercise a right of return, he said, they just wanted to overcome their sense of “being wronged.” You could have fooled me. But Weiss really shone when host Sommer, apropos of nothing, asked him about ‘occupation’. “When I go [to Israel], you know, I feel it, I feel the connection to that, to being part of the occupier. In some way it’s like what white South Africans might have felt,” Weiss said. Why thank you, Josh.You can go back to your Harvard office now.
“Most people on both sides are victims of an argument they had no part in creating,” says Sommer in conclusion, ignoring the fact that the Palestinian leadership, by refusing to accept any solution that implies the end of the conflict and the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, has played a very big part in keeping the argument alive. Indeed the whole thrust of the program is to repeat the mantra “both sides, both sides, both sides,” ignoring small asymmetries like the fact that Israel’s goal is to live peacefully in the Middle East and the Palestinian goal is to prevent this!
KVPR, as I mentioned before is a listener-supported station. I do not believe for a moment that most of its listeners share the vicious point of view of Mark Sommer, or think that a program composed of blatant anti-Israel propaganda belongs on the schedule. If your local public radio station carries “A World of Possibilities,” please write to it (in Fresno, you can contact KVPR Program Director Jim Meyers — I intend to) and tell them that this is not the way you want your donations used.