Summit (Ave.) vigilence

By Karen Redleaf

In 2003, the Media Education Foundation made a documentary called “Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land: U.S. Media & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” Anyone concerned with truth and the role that our media plays in keeping us from grasping the truth about this conflict needs to see this film. Essentially, the role that the U.S. media plays is to take “real world” events and run them through a series of filters. After the filtering process is complete the resulting product is called “the news” and reported as such. A la George Orwell’s 1984 under “the Ministry of Truth,” “the news” may have nothing in common with reality.

I experienced this recently when I made “the news” on your campus. With a small group of local area residents, I participate in a weekly vigil held at the intersection of Summit and Snelling Avenues. This vigil has been going on for several years now. It is a vigil in solidarity with the people of Palestine as they struggle for justice and self-determination. The people of Palestine are up against an Israeli occupation of their land which is illegal, immoral and exceedingly brutal. They are also up against a media machine which renders their horrific daily reality INVISIBLE. So we vigil. We vigil to make the invisible visible. We vigil to try to create dialogue where there is only a monologue or silence. We vigil because it is one of the only tools we have to get the word out. We are often misunderstood, misrepresented, even demonized. That makes sense. When you raise your voice to speak up for people who are invisible, misunderstood, misrepresented, and demonized, you are also misunderstood, misrepresented, and demonized, if you are not rendered invisible. For those of us with lots of privilege this is a new and painful experience. For the oppressed peoples of the world it is a very old story.

So why show up at 4:15 every Friday afternoon to face the weather and the ignorance. I can only speak for myself. I am Jewish. I was raised Zionist. I am a tax-paying U.S. citizen. I am well educated. I know that the occupation of Palestine is illegal, immoral, and exceedingly brutal, and I am complicit. I am complicit because all the brutality is rationalized in the name of security for the Jewish people. My security. This is a myth, a lie. I am complicit because Israeli brutality is funded by U.S. taxpayers—my tax dollars at work, 15 million dollars a day. This is the truth. There is a mythology constructed by intellectuals to rationalize spending U.S. taxpayer dollars at the rate of 5 billion per year supposedly to protect the security of the Jewish people. I need to stand up against this gigantic academic-military-media machine to say “NO.” No, I will not allow you to pretend this misguided policy makes me more secure. The Israeli state, born out of genocide, is now committing genocide. Growing up, I heard the phrase “never again” constantly. I took it to heart. I was raised to wonder how the Germans could stand by while the Jews were exterminated. I don’t wonder anymore. I know what is happening in Gaza, in the West Bank, and in Lebanon while “good” people across this country and around the world stand by and watch or refuse to see. I do see, and I stand on the corner so that you will see too. Stop by and talk to us. Join us.