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Why oppose the Israeli consulate having a show on KPFT?

Submitted by Commandrea on December 28, 2010 – 9:10 pm4 Comments
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By Nick Cooper

Illustration by Shelby Hohl

On December 14th KPFT’s open journal program was hosted by the Israeli Consulate of the Southwest Region, in a show they have labeled “The Voice of Peace.” Open Journal is a 5 day a week program that is open to the public to have their say on KPFT’s airwaves. The show was hosted by program director Ernesto Aguilar, who asked consular officials softball questions, and station management has publicly declared their long term commitment to airing this program in the open journal slot. Many people in Houston have been outraged that a listener funded station with a mission to promote peace has given a program to a government guilty of war crimes and apartheid treatment of Palestinians. Nick Cooper has done a great job of summarize why it makes sense to oppose this show on our airwaves. - Intro by RoBlock

Why oppose the Israeli consulate having a show on KPFT?

As an official voice of the Israeli government, the Israeli consulate necessarily has as a mission to legitimize and propagandize acts of war. Further, during a time of an active illegal military occupation and in light of the Goldstone Report, Israeli consulates necessarily find themselves in the role of propagandizing and whitewashing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Don’t you want to talk to everyone, including those with whom you disagree?

Interviews with the Israeli consulate are important, as there are many tough questions that should be asked. However, turning over control of programming to the Israeli consulate is different. There are many other formats that are appropriate to bring in the Israeli consulate, including debates and moderated discussions.

If Obama came on air to talk about how much we are helping Pakistan and no one asked him tough questions about the illegal drone attacks, he would have gotten a free-pass. Similarly, if the Israeli consulate can come on KPFT and frame things the way they want without getting confronted on anything, we have provided a platform for military propaganda.

Who is in charge of Israeli consulates?

The far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman is the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs (Israel’s equivalent of our Secretary of State). On December 21st 2010, Lieberman told Newsweek that he wanted to take Israeli citizenship away from at least half of Israeli Arabs.

Does allowing people to hear the Israeli government’s perspective on KPFT somehow go against peace building?

Giving the Israeli consulate its own show violates the call from Palestinian academics and intellectuals for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions to create a just peace in Palestine / Israel. By rejecting this tool for peace and justice, KPFT is working against its own goals and denying a “just demand” by a disenfranchised group.

Doesn’t their naming it “Voice of Peace” show that their hearts are in the right place?

The original Voice of Peace pirate radio show was created by a dissident who opposed settlements and occupation, and was himself oppressed by the Israeli government. For the consulate to steal this title is to co-opt this legacy.

Vague talk of peace is actually counterproductive to lasting peace — Israel’s occupation and always increasing land-grabs are a form of war, but can go on during times of so-called peace. As such, it falls on Israel’s victims to bring up the uncomfortable issues, while the Israeli government would rather talk about nicer things. Giving them a show on KPFT to talk about those nice things plays into this strategy.

So you are saying Israel is trying to present itself disingenuously to Pacifica’s audience?

This show exists to normalize American conceptions of Israel, to talk about Israeli society in a way where the context of it being engaged in a colonialist project is absent. Much of the outreach that Israeli consulates and supporters are making now across the U.S. is in cultural projects. Israel wants to talk about anything other than Palestine. Listening to the first Voice of Peace show, policies regarding Palestine were not mentioned.

Shouldn’t KPFT balance out its “Palestinian-friendly” programming such as Arab Voices and Al Jazeera?

Shows like Arab Voices and Al Jazeera are not produced by parties to hostilities nor their satellites. They serve no government’s propaganda purposes. Furthermore, they never support brutality or war-crimes. If they did, they would soon be kicked off the air. We should hold up the Israeli consulate to the same standard — if they support any of Israel’s atrocities (the occupation, the white phosphorus munitions, racial discrimination, administrative detention, home demolitions, etc.) then they too should be kicked off the air. But we have to explicitly ask them, as it is not in their interests to bring up such sticky topics.

Israel has infinitely more resources to get out their messages in the U.S. By running shows like Arab Voices and Al Jazeera, KPFT is taking a tiny step at balancing out the pro-Israel bias in our media landscape. This is Pacifica’s rightful and usual role. If KPFT were to try to balance all of its pro-peace and justice messages with their pro-oppression counterparts, it would just be limiting even further the minuscule percentage of the radio dial devoted to peace and justice. The nuclear and meat industries could have their own show to balance out If You Love This Planet and Vegan World Radio. Borderwatch could have a show to balance out Coming to America.

If KPFT feels there is an imbalance that needs to be addressed, Arab Voices and Al Jazeera should be balanced out by equivalent counterparts, not by the Israeli consulate. There are many Jewish groups that share a similar mission with Pacifica, and deserve shows, such as Jewish Voices for Peace, Rabbis for Human Rights, The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Anarchists Against the Wall, Women in Black, Gush Shalom, the Jewish Antizionist Network. Another possibility would be to run some content from a legitimate Israeli news partner, such as Haaretz.

If KPFT must give time to the Israeli consulate, the only legitimate balance would be to give equal time to Hamas. The Goldstone Report accused both Hamas and Israel of war crimes, and it is inappropriate to give a program to only one side of such an armed conflict.

By Nick Cooper nickcooper.com More information at houston.indymedia.org – kpfttownhall.org and the facebook group “End Israeli Government Programing on KPFT Radio for Peace.” For more on the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement: bdsmovement.net

4 Comments »

  • Haithem El-Zabri says:

    All excellent points - thank you. It is really beyond the pale that KPFT’s director and programming manager have decided to do this and ignore the will of what I imagine is the vast majority of their listeners. They’ve definitely lost my support and my respect, and they will continue facing opposition until they get their act together and stop giving war criminals a platform to spread their false propaganda and whitewash their government’s crimes against humanity. What a disgrace! SHAME ON KPFT.

  • The Man says:

    First I would like to thank Pacifica for giving air time to the Israeli Consulate. I think that news reporting should be fair and balanced. Arab Voices violently denounces Israel, and the state of Israel does not have a voice to defend itself, this is not democratic. Secondly, I withhold financial contributions from Pacifica because many of its programming is not fair or balanced.

    Thirdly, I think FPH, which is owned by Arabs, incites violence against Jews and Israeli’s while acting as FPH is a hipster organization.

    Thankyou.

  • Josef says:

    Adding a “Palestinian-friendly” program would most likely be Palestinian propaganda just as the Israeli content is by and large propaganda and propaganda v propaganda does not a right make. Neither groups should have a voice on KPFT because all they would be doing is spewing polemical content that serves factions rather than inform a general public.

  • David says:

    The whole point of the local Israeli-consulate produced piece was to talk about the 99% of Israel that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict. Almost every media outlet in the ME, including al-Jazeera, is a product or owned by state sponsors. Israeli representatives have never shied away from talking about the conflict in appropriate forums; this is not one of them. It is just a radio show about parts of Israel that don’t get mentioned in all the noise about the conflict. The BDS movement, to which this author subscribes, is nothing more than another attempt to deligitimize the entire state of Israel. Israel bears no more resemblance to apartheid era South Africa than an apple does to an orange. There are so many other parts of the world that are worthy of attention: most recently the popular uprising in Tunisia. Where is the opprobrium for the oppression of Christians in Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere in the Moslem world? Where is the indignation for the slaughter of hundreds of Sufi Muslims in Pakistan? Israel is far from perfect in its relationships with Palestinians and its Arab population, but to state that it is committing war crimes and oppressing its non-Jewish population speaks more to the author’s ignorance than anything else.

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