Media, Messages and Menschen? [A Short Story]

[I am going to tell a story {in the first person} of a man who tells the story of a man who has very strong political opinions about international politics, geopolitics in the middle east, and the role of the United States government in what he sees as the overarching political dogmas and received ideas of our time, particularly in how the media constructs the images and the ideas we receive to meet a particular agenda, or so he insists; what the other man thinks, the man I am going to tell the story of telling the story of this other man, I will leave for you to discern. You are not to assume that what anyone says is what I believe, which I will not here share with you, just as if I did share with you my opinions, you should not assume that what I told you or expressed to you were the opinions of the author of me, just as no one should blame Mr. Sterne for Tristram’s opinions or Tristram’s life, not really, not if you want to be a sensitive reader, an intelligent reader., a highly literate reader–and of course I am assuming you should, not necessarily that you will. ]

I heard a man talking one day at a bar on 8th Street in the East Village, how long ago exactly I do not recall. He blurted out quite audibly that You will always know the names of the Israeli Soldiers who are killed while invading Lebanon, but you will never know the names of the Palestinian children murdered by State sponsored terrorism at the hands of the Israeli Military. It is a familiar cry heard from Al Jazeera, but this man was a European American.

Why is that? I did not ask in response to this man’s outburst. I could have, but did not. There was a pause before he continued, How is the media in Israel and America (worse here than even there) not a flip of the coin from the worst image of Al Jazeera we hold in our prejudices? Is this rhetorical question itself a prejudice–I could have assumed as much. I did not. Endemically drawn bigotry against Arab Muslims, against any Muslims might be more prevalent in America than what we used to call Anti-Semtism when we reserved Jews as being the only Semites.

I did not offer anything in rebuttal. I noted in my head that we do have fears enhanced and raised by our media in response to Muslims in general and Arab Muslims in particular. I know I am supposed to dismiss this man’s rant as horribly anti-Semitic, that, as he said, we are not permitted the grace of Free Speech where the state of Israel is concerned–and you cannot believe that Truth is a yardstick that measures news when it concerns Israel or Israeli military actions in the Middle East, or when it concerns the United States using Israel as its own pit bull around the world.

I could ask if it were true that wherever the Israeli Military and its actions or objectives are concerned, news resembles press releases from the State Department, but I will not. I will not because I do know that when it concerns Israel, the American media has a particular soft touch, kid gloves, no? The same media does not equally reserve this soft touch for the United States Government, not that it should for the latter. I understand–and you too should understand–how everyone in America has to walk on egg shells whenever any criticism of Israel is openly raised, whenever any criticism of Jewish people is raised, including something as seemingly benign as critiquing Orthodox Jewish Landlords in New York City and their documented horrible record here in the City Of New York–and Mayor Bloomberg did let them off their leash, not that Orthodox Jewish Landlords are the only landlords that should be put on a leash, he said. He was not raising his voice. He was not bellowing as you might want to imagine, as you might be inclined to believe, even disbelieve me telling you he was not raising his voice–so much so for suspending disbelief, and so much for not imposing yourself onto the text, one of the greatest fallacies any reader can perform, and we do act out our fallacies, no?

There is no debate where these matters are at issue–issue is not permitted. The media is as Orwellian about this as is possible. Any examination of our media–whether it be print, broadcast, film et cetera–will reveal a decidedly pro-Israel bent, which is not a problem, he said. But then what is? Zionism itself, or being a Zionist, is not what is wrong with the news, or who controls the media in the matters of corporate decisions made by persons at the corporate level. The problem is that a particularly virulently right wing Zionism is at the core of controlling the media and the messages that get disseminated, he said as he ordered another pint.

This right wing Zionism, if it existed in a political reality that did not see an overwhelming shift to the right, would not be as atrocious as it is becoming today in a world politics that finds liberals where once stood moderate conservatives only a couple of decades ago, I heard him say. And that is . . . Obama would certainly have been a moderate Republican in the 70s, no? With no changes in his rhetoric or choices or decisions, I too understand.

I wonder where we are headed and just how much of the First Amendment is still alive in America because I see that we are convinced that news as propaganda can only exist in a place like the former Soviet Union or a place like Nazis Germany, or certainly from the editorial desks of Al Jazeera. You were not likely to see anything in the mainstream media concerning Police Officers bullying protesters during any Occupy Wall Street demonstration. You might never see the atrocities of the Israeli Military against Palestinian or Lebanese women and children, hospitals and schools. Israel’s use of White Phosphorous against the Palestinian People has gone unreported, he said loud enough for everyone to hear him. He was not talking to me or to the bartender or even only to us, but to everyone present and not present, to everyone he had every wanted to say these things to but maybe could not or had not thought of enough for him to have framed them as he was framing them at the bar.

Our media is complicit in the atrocities of Israel at the behest, or the condoning, of the United States. Nothing in the media about Israeli crimes against humanity will be disseminated, but every Arab Muslim Terrorist Organization’s retaliation or initiating crimes–and they do initiate crimes–will get the fullest treatment in all organs of America’s media. He paused. He took another sip. he took a gulp.

The latter is not the problem; the former is. I did not follow.

And in America, the media will jump at the opportunity to critique the United States military use of drones in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Iraq, but it virtually deletes all information concerning any question about Israeli military tactics  . . . and I wonder why, what kind of people will critique the United States with impunity, but not the State of Israel or anyone close to themselves from among the monied or power elite.

Critiquing America’s policies and actions allows us to maintain the illusion of Truth in our media. If the media outlets criticize the American military, they most certainly would the Israeli military if there was anything to say, right?

There are politics that our media and the State of Israel share. All of this sounds good to too many people who passively accept news as fact when it comes from one of our media conduits either in print or by broadcast. This is what they count on and use against US.

He asked me if I wanted a beer, to have one on him. I accepted.

Zionism is a Nationalism, and anyone subsumed by it is working with the same psychology of any nationalist. Nationalists in America criticize the media for its negative portrayals of the American military; Zionists would have to do the same, almost by compunction, where matters of Israel are concerned. I’m not with any of these Arab terrorist organizations in my sympathies–

I have lambasted President Obama for not responding quickly enough or even now forcefully enough against ISIS. I have no illusions that we are going to have to kill all of them–yes, and I mean that, so I do know the manias that beset Zionists, particularly reactionary ones. ISIS is not like Nazism–there is something even more deeply fanatical about it than even the Nazis Party could muster. We got Germany to surrender; this will never happen with ISIS. And we are going to unavoidably kill hundreds of thousands collaterally if we are ever going to destroy ISIS, I thought but did not say. And I have no illusions that any of that will be murder; it will not.

The metaphysics that accompanies religious fervor, religious devotion to the point of mania is not the same as political extremism or political fanaticism, I thought. I said, the most ardent Nazis had difficulties after the war; but Nazis could and did find political usefulness in both the Soviet Union and the United States; politics has always been a game of hop-scotch; hop-scotch is the favorite game of all politicking and politicians. There is no such inclusion from or for ISIS.

I thought, both of these facts may be too horrible to comprehend, but again I have no illusions, not at least any of the ones our President suffers. This is going to be extremely bloody, but we cannot slink away from this as Obama belived we could in 2014 when we should have hit them hard and yes with ground troops. Kill, kill and kill again thousands of Muslims in league with ISIS and its designs. “I wonder how many of the people I teach would either be with ISIS in their imaginations or vote with Fundamentalists here at home in repealing Roe versus Wade,” a friend told me a friend of his said. “Can you imagine as medievally as they live that they are on the same page with you democratically,” my friend’s friend was heard saying, my friend said

Our media sorts to the simplistic: Arab Muslim, bad; Israelis, good. The Jewish State is lauded as a model of and for the future of middle eastern democracy (a laugh) in contrast with Arab Muslims who are presented as horribly degraded, endemically anti-American, hopelessly brutal and stupid.

They are though beset by some of the most corrupt governments in the world, I said.

I see little hope of democratic progress in the middle east. I do  not see it from among the Muslim women I see in Brooklyn.

Why Obama thought it was okay for Muslim Rebels in Syria to indulge their genocidal impulses, however limited in the minds of the State Department, is beyond me? Why he continues to turn a blind eye to Muslim atrocities against Christians in his Black African Nation ally, Nigeria, is also beyond me, I said.

Why the Zionist Media in America does little to publicize it, I could suspect. Why Protestant Fundamentalists seemingly ignored it in the past, I also could suspect, seeing as the Christians slaughtered are primarily Orthodox Christians, either eastern or western (i.e., Catholic). And don’t tell me you trust Protestants any more than you do Jews when the politics of Protestant, Jewish and Catholic conflict? He asked, looking right at me, straight in my eye.

The fundamentalist Christians in Nigeria have found themselves the flip side of the Muslims in Nigeria, both equally reactionary, ultra-conservatively theocratic in their impulses and desire to affect policy. I fear the same will become prevalent here; medieval Muslims and yes, medieval fundamentalist Christians–and that’s the irony. American Fundamentalist Christians are certainly more medieval in their conception of and for their religion than Catholics or other Orthodox Christians. I have not found anything as ignorant in its attempts to administer religion socially than fundamentalist Protestanism.

He paused. He sipped. I sipped. I paused. I looked. He said,

The horror of the image mongering in the media is that Jews are presented as virtual Übermenschen while Arab Muslims are shown skirting the border between human and subhuman. How much has Jewish self-image-making learned from the Nazis that placed Jews in a position similar to the one Arab Muslims are placed in today by the American media–and who runs this media of ours, print and broadcast–where Truth is a laughable concept by those in control. I have the feeling that there is a horrible contempt for the American People by those who run our media outlets, whoever they may be, one in league with or right alongside that of Wall Street CEOs, whoever they may be? Even Einstein, I said, had asked this question nearly seventy years ago when he wondered if Jews would do too the Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews.

The only possible conclusion one can draw from the premises as they are arranged in the media is this: Arab Muslims are to Jews what Jews were to Nazis; Palestinians are the people who, in the State sponsored propaganda of Israel and the fostering conduits of the American media, have created a state within the state of Israel. It is in Israeli propaganda that Palestinians are a virus in the body politic of Israel. It’s almost as if the Palestinians are perceived as having always lived as a foreign body inside a Jewish State–this land in the common Zionist rhetoric is something that by inference has always been Jewish and not Palestinian or Arab Muslim and Arab Christian, I listened to him say.

He said, the Jewish State for Jews as Germany in 1933 was certainly only for Germans seems the unofficial slogan of Israel. Not all Jews are with this, believe this, assert this, promote this, support this–but the latter gets done where no opposition is mounted. By omission, right wing Zionism has achieved many of its goals, has reached hegemony among American Zionists, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim (yes, there are Muslim Zionists).

What should I have said? I did not ask myself in earnest, but did wonder about vaguely. To imagine what he said was true was easy enough for some; difficult would be an understatement for others, many, many others. Are all Zionists reactionary and/or fascist; certainly not, of course, we could say, but just what is a mater of course, that which does not need to be said, and this needs to be said. Are there still liberal Zionists? I would imagine, although I have not given this enough thought either way to be useful here, as too many others have also neither the facts or the thinking to go along with critiquing anyone who speaks on Zionism, and it seems as if it is only ever the fanatics, on either extreme.

A Right Wing Zionist Israel is one of the greatest threats to world peace and a virulent impediment to the spread of humanism in the world today. Any reactionary state anywhere–does Russia come to mind–is a threat to peace. A Reactionary form of Zionism has gained greater valency and validity but it is nonetheless contemporary form of fascism. Anyone who thinks Zionism in its right wing, particularly its reactionary form, does not have a lot in common with other forms of totalitarianism is mistaken. Zionism in its most benign form is still Nationalism and prey to all the vices of nationalist politics. The real horror in all of this, though, is that reactionary Zionists today have learned their political, rhetorical and propaganda lessons well enough from the Nazis and improved on them to our horror and their glee. It is almost an historical logic that reaches its conclusions from horribly construed premises; this makes it more heinous, but also that much more difficult to admit or combat.

I did not know what I was supposed to say. I was thinking that I should say nothing, that it would be more fruitful to hear what he had to say if he imagined he had a sympathizer, not that I was or was not in sympathy with him. I held neither position on a lot of what he said. He does make it known that he is talking about Right Wing Zionism which infers that there is a Left Wing Zionism, and that there might be other Zionisms, no? Of course there are, and that is a matter of course rhetorically, not vocally.

What then should I have done? I did what I thought I should have done; I listened. I was privy to opinions a man like him only really shares with those like himself.

[He said what he said and did what he did, thinking he should listen instead of opposing, making him retreat or become more virulent, which might not be what he wanted, needed, as he imagined he could need something from this man in a bar speaking about Zionism as he saw it in the world today, particularly the right wing version of it, as he sees having subsumed all other versions of Zionism we have had contact with in our political and intellectual history. What this means for you or for me–and as far as I am concerned, you can conclude for me only what you have here in the text, as it has been presented in the text, nothing outside the text, what form, style, content, other matters in the manner of presenting the text as I have . . . these then are what should inform what you say . . . but I warn you to be wary just where it is you place me in the spectrum you have created for yourself as far as the opinions herein are expressed.]

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