On Sunday afternoon, June 10th, people came to Washington D.C. to take part in a global rally and march to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Most estimates put the demonstration at around 5,000 participants making it the largest national demonstration against the Israeli occupation in U.S. history.1 Americans were not alone in their actions with similar rallies occurring worldwide from London to Malaysia to Australia to Tel Aviv. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and United for Peace and Justice sponsored the event in which more than 300 other organizations took part, including Neturei Karta, a group of anti-Zionist orthodox Jews.2
The Rally began on the West-Lawn of the Capital where several speakers and a hip-hop performance engaged the crowd before demonstrators started to march. Emotions ran high when the anti-occupation protestors were confronted by a hundred or so Zionists holding signs such as, “Israel We Stand With You” and “Israel is on the map to Stay.” Passionate exchanges took place on both sides, but no major confrontations occurred. Now to the news, or shall we say, the lack there of.
If anyone had any doubts as to the stifling of information by the corporate media on this contentious issue, you should doubt no longer. For those of you, like myself, who expected to see some coverage regardless of its nature or bias, it seems our expectations were unfounded. Obviously, there are many important stories to cover on a Sunday afternoon; I mean, Paris Hilton is in jail for Christ sake! What does it take to get a blurb in a local newspaper these days? The Washington Post‘s headquarters is in Washington, D.C., right? Well, you couldn’t tell by reading their Monday addition. I searched the entire paper for a sentence, a mention, anything at all about the rally. What did I find? You guessed it, nothing. So then I figured I’d try a little harder to find some coverage of the rally; I mean, just because the Post didn’t cover the demonstration didn’t mean it wasn’t adequately covered somewhere else in the depths of our diverse media, right? Wrong. Well … somewhat right. After many hours of searching, I decided to go to The US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation’s website. Once there, under the “in the news” category, I found their reported press hits. Guess how many hits they found nationwide? Four. Guess how many hits were in mainstream media outlets? Zero. The rally got coverage in a whopping three local newspaper publications nation-wide: the Austin-American Statesman, the Buffalo News, and the Detroit News; The Huffington Post, which is a blog, and the Jerusalem Post based out of Israel, were also noted.
The U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation claims the rally was a “huge success,” but for whom? Not for those of us who were at the rally protesting against the illegal occupation, that’s for sure. If our goal was to raise awareness and dialogue about the illegal occupation and the U.S. government’s direct economic and military support of the occupation, then it was a failure. To be fair, it should be mentioned that the failure of the event was not a result of the organizations involved; they were, after all, successful in leading a peaceful and populous rally, march, and subsequent lobby day on Capital Hill. Failure came in the form of our media and its refusal to give the march any airtime, which begs the question, why didn’t the demonstration get any mainstream coverage, even from the Washington Post? I don’t have the answer.
Perhaps at least one major factor in the lack of media coverage was the zionist community’s decision to not protest or partake in, but largely ignore the demonstration. As the director for the Jewish Council For Public Affairs, Hadar Susskind, put it, “We didn’t feel the need to bring it more attention.” Seems like their strategy may have worked better than they could have hoped.3
Not too long after the march I spoke with a representative from the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation; the representative stated that a discussion was on-going as to how they could gain greater coverage in the future. I also tried to contact the Washington Post about their blackout of the demonstration, but received no response. By writing this piece, I hope to give a voice to a rally and march for justice that went unheard.
- US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation [↩]
- www.nkusa.org [↩]
- June 11th, 2007. Jerusalem Post-online, Hilary Leila Krieger [↩]