In my third post about publishing–or, rather, not publishing–my book about migrant workers and African refugees in Israel, I examine the role of violence in the media and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
And then there was a ray of light. In the wake of the May 2012 race riot in Tel Aviv, the mainstream media was suddenly paying attention to African refugees in the Jewish state. My agent called to say that we might be able to ride the wave of violence to sell my book about migrants in Israel.
There’s something wrong with an industry that only sits up and takes notice when things get bloody. There’s something sick to me about riding the riot and the asylum seekers’ fear and suffering. But, hey, sex and violence sells. As a number of my students pointed out, when blood is spilled, the international community pays attention to issues that the world usually ignores. And it seems the only way to force Israel’s hand.
During and after Operation Pillar of Defense, my university students in the West Bank were divided on the role armed struggle should play in Palestinian resistance. Some felt that violence only begets violence and chastised their classmates who rejoiced in seeing footage of Tel Aviv residents dashing to bomb shelters. When one young man told the class that he was happy to see “Jews running like chickens” to take cover, a girl in hijab turned around and yelled at him, “Haram!” She went on to upbraid him for enjoying anyone’s suffering, including that of the Jews.
Others felt that the frightful images coming out of Gaza—and the lopsided body count—might call the international community to action. And then there were those who were conflicted: violence sucks, they said. But sirens in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem made Israel pay attention to Gaza and to ease the blockade a little bit. That proved to them that, as awful as bloodshed is, fighting back is the only way to “peace.”
It’s all too easy to blame the Israeli government for ignoring Palestinian demands for human rights. It’s comfortable to point the finger at journalists, editors, and publishers who follow a sensationalistic “if it doesn’t bleed it doesn’t lead” line. However, at the end of the day, the fault lies with a public that, to put it simply, just doesn’t care.
Or does it? Noam Chomsky and others...Read More