A free copy of a 24-page local newspaper called the “Community Alliance” landed on my porch today. Fresno has had more than one alternative newspaper competing with its one commercial paper, the Fresno Bee, over the years. Forty years ago it was the staunchly conservative Fresno Guide. Members of the counterculture hated the Guide, so they never picked up the free copies that were thrown onto their lawns, driveways and porches. Little by little, they weathered. By now they’re all gone.
I picked up my copy of the Community Alliance. Unlike the Guide, this is a ‘progressive’ newspaper. It mostly contained locally written articles about people, events and issues in the area, but there were a few pieces about international subjects by diverse writers from outside the community. There is no distinction drawn between news and opinion, something that the right-wing Guide was careful about, I might add.
I’d been warned that almost every issue contains at least one letter or story attacking Israel, and it’s not surprising. Our ‘progressive’ community brings us between one and four films, speakers, panels, or other events devoted to bashing Israel every month. There are dedicated anti-Israel activists in many local organizations — the Center for Nonviolence, Peace Fresno, California State University Fresno, WILPF, the Unitarian Universalist Church, the Islamic Cultural Center, KNXT (the TV station of the Catholic Diocese), etc. — and all of these and others have been sponsors or co-sponsors of such happenings. So how could they miss this opportunity?
This issue has a full-page article calling for us to end Israel’s “apartheid and occupation” by boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). I won’t bother much with the content, except to say that it accuses Israel of fascism, apartheid, genocide, and ethnic cleansing, calls the Turkish Mavi Marmara terrorists “human rights activists,” and more.
The ‘occupation’ that the BDS movement opposes is not the occupation of Judea and Samaria that began in 1967. It is the ‘occupation’ that consists of the continued existence of a Jewish state. BDS will not end until the ‘return’ of the Arab ‘refugees’:
An overwhelming majority of organizations have endorsed Palestinian civil society’s two calls for boycott, divestment and sactions against Israel and for academic and cultural boycott of Israel — until it ceases to deny Palestinian history, ends the Occupation, ceases discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and permits displaced Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. — Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada
There are stronger statements in Arabic, which make clear that the goal of BDS is not coexistence, but rather to further what they call the “de-Zionization” of Israel.
What is distressing is that the local Left does not appear to see anything exceptional about this article, or any of the other articles and letters published in the Community Alliance vilifying Israel, or any of the daily diet of lies and slander they are fed from the local alternative radio station KFCF and the Pacifica network.
Many of the people that support these institutions are my friends — the beaming face of one of them shines from an advertisement for his business in the Community Alliance — and many of them really do care about fixing the social problems like homelessness and hunger which are prevalent in our economically strapped region.
I’ll go further and say that some of them know that what they read and hear about Israel in the ‘progressive’ media and in the steady stream of anti-Israel films and speakers is viciously false. Some of them have family members that live in Israel and have been there more than once.
Yet they don’t object to the steady stream of distortions, lies, blood libels and propaganda supporting the most murderous of Israel’s enemies — people who really do want to commit genocide, like Hamas — that emanate from the media and organizations that they support.
I’ll grant that these organizations do good in the local community. I’ll grant that the left-wing perspective on local, national and international issues should be heard, no less than the conservative one. But what has happened (for historical reasons that I won’t discuss now) is that with respect to Israel, the progressive ideals of self-determination, justice and peace have been warped and changed into their polar opposites.
So what I want to know is why people who know better don’t complain about the films and speakers? Why do they allow the anti-Israel activists free rein in local organizations? Why do they continue to buy ads in the Community Alliance and contribute funds to KFCF and Pacifica Radio without protesting their outrageous bias?
Why is that?