“Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population, and I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half,” Che quipped in the SNL skit.
The “joke” works because Israel has vaccinated Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank while discriminating against millions of Palestinians in the same area, contrary to its obligations under international law.
Simply saying something is anti-Semitic, as Che’s critics do, cannot be allowed to become an acceptable means for obscuring anti-Palestinian discrimination.Sadly, Bella makes the situation worse by failing to quote a single Palestinian. reported by Post colleagues.
But human rights groups are not an adequate stand-in for Palestinian analysts pushing back directly on the Che controversy.
By contrast, Bella does not have any problem with quoting Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Gilad Erdan, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, and a petition from the American Jewish Committee. All represent the Israel lobby or Israel itself.
This sort of exclusion of Palestinian voices, also witnessed in Bella’s tweet about his article, is a form of discrimination that has persisted for far too long in American journalism. Worse, it reinforces the apartheid reality Israel has constructed.Palestinians should be provided space to make their case and not relegated to a link to a tweet where readers can then click on a podcast for further details. Ironically, in the interview with Halper, Ali mentions how MSNBC and CNN don’t invite him on their programs.
Mainstream journalists have to examine more closely their anti-Palestinian bias, and ombudsmen, where they still exist, have an obligation to raise questions in their news organizations.
Bella’s quoting of Erdan is also striking. Ruth Eglash, Bella’s former colleague at The Washington Post, is senior communications adviser to Erdan, who is both Israel’s ambassador to the United States and to the United Nations.
That connection is left unmentioned in the article as is the fact that Erdan previously was minister of strategic affairs and led the fight against equal rights for Palestinians by targeting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
I raised concerns about Eglash’s job change late last year.
A collegial connection may or may not have been at play in this article. Bella has not responded to an inquiry from The Electronic Intifada about any communication he had with Eglash or to a question about the exclusion of Palestinian voices.
Had Bella spent more time with Ali’s commentary on the subject, he would have known it was insufficient to write that “Israeli officials have cited the Oslo Accords in arguing that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are responsible for their own health systems.”
As reported by my colleague Omar Karmi and by Ali more recently, “Israel’s refusal to supply vaccines to Palestinians is a flagrant violation of its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention. As the occupying power, it must ensure the health and hygiene of the civilian population it occupies.”
Strikingly, Israel lobby groups have so far dropped the ball in failing to criticize the map provided of the region by SNL. The occupied Golan Heights are quite rightly not included as sovereign Israeli territory.
For apologists for Israeli expansionism this surely should constitute an egregious failing by SNL to note the full extent of Israel’s territorial conquest. Notably, the violation of international law was signed off on by the anti-Semitic Donald Trump himself – while president of the United States.
Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians and Arabs is going to continue to be fodder for comedians and informed commentators. Whitewashing pushback of the sort we’re currently witnessing from the Israel lobby and representatives of the Israeli government should raise further questions about the reality of anti-Palestinian discrimination by Israel.
But Che had a seat and a loud microphone. An apartheid government unaccustomed to having its racism noted to a wide American viewing audience should increasingly expect such criticism.