Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Phyllis Bennis Called Up For Damage Control

After not one, not two, but three articles about the recent Presbyterian anti-BDS vote, the Huffington Post has decided "You know what, we really need one more." So the fourth article is by Phyllis Bennis and it was posted in the "Media" section, even though it has nothing to do with the media at all. As you might expect, the article is filled with the usual propaganda that we have seen twice already: this loss was really a win, and so forth. It's also very amusing because she directly contradicts her three token "academics" from earlier. Let's get into it.

Right from the beginning, Ms. Bennis tries to control the conversation away from her failure and towards her success. See, before the vote as we all remember the BDS crew were slapping each other on the back expecting to bask in their victory. However, when the vote failed they needed something to fall back to, and they did with the toothless settlement boycott resolution. Watch the spin from Ms. Bennis:
""In Close Vote, Presbyterian Church Rejects Divesting in Firms That Aid Israeli Occupation," said the New York Times. The Associated Press reported, "US Presbyterians Reject Israel Divestment." According to the Christian Science Monitor, "Presbyterians Reject Call to Divest over Israel's West Bank Occupation."...It took Ha'aretz, the leading Israeli daily, to get it right: "Presbyterian Church in U.S. votes to boycott Israeli settlement goods," their headline read. "
Have you got it? To say that they rejected divestment is true, but wrong, whereas to say they favor boycotting settlements is true, but right. In other words, if the mainstream media isn't putting the pro-BDS spin on the story, they are in Ms. Bennis' opinion "doing it wrong." Can anyone else say "cult mentality in action?" But coming up is the best part:
"The voting at the Pittsburgh meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) -- PC (USA) -- was the latest step in an eight-year campaign to bring the Church's investment policies into line with its commitment to social justice."

Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize that the Church was committed to "social justice" after they decided gay marriage was an affront to their values. I can't say I am surprised to find that homophobes flock together though. And that doesn't even count the whole question of Arab human rights violations that get the BDS seal of approval.

Anyway, now comes to the two step between what the three token "academics" said and what Bennis is saying:
"The Presbyterian effort further demonstrates that the broader BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign to bring non-violent pressure on Israel to end its violations, far from representing a marginal or fringe movement, actually reflects a broad shift in mainstream opinion."
Hey, do you remember earlier when the three academics said that this didn't have anything to do with the "broader BDS campaign," and the only people who claimed it did were evil Zionists like American for Peace Now? Because they did. And what a surprise: they turned out to be lying to us. But still, it takes some pretty serious chutzpah for Ms. Bennis to take a vote that failed in a place where it once succeeded and transform it into a "broad shift in mainstream opinion." As if the Presbyterian Church leadership is somehow reflective of that.

So the spinning continues throughout most of the article, including the resurrection of the TIAA-CREF hoax, the writing of a single anti-Israel opinion piece (big whoop) and of course heavy reliance on the author's own biased opinions. And at the end she brings out the biggest gun she has: a poll by Israel hater James Zogby's company:
"In 2010, in the midst of the furor surrounding the Obama administration's differences with Netanyahu's government in Israel over settlement policy, a Zogby poll asked participants to choose which of two responses to Israeli settlement building best matched their own. Response number one said Israelis were building settlements for security and they had the right to build wherever they chose. Sentence number two said the settlements were being built on confiscated Palestinian land, and they should be torn down and the land returned to its original owners. Despite its deliberately provocative language, 63 percent of Democrats chose sentence number two."
 Ah, can you feel the wind on the spin? Leaving aside the obviously biased question format, not to mention the skewed sample, here are a couple of other factoids Ms. Bennis forgot to mention:

-In 2010, 65% of all recipients had a favorable view of Israelis as opposed to 21% favorable view of Palestinians.
-On the settlement question, although the 63% of Democrats picked the obviously coached answer, only 40% of people overall did. Most people either disagreed or weren't sure.
-Most people thought President Obama should be "impartial" in conduct Middle East negotiations, yet on,ly 6% of people thought he should lean towards the Palestinians.
-35% of people think that Jerusalem should remain under Israeli control, 33% think it should be divided, 25% aren't sure. So not very helpful there.

As usual, that's some pretty impressive spin from Ms. Bennis. But what we see is actually quite normal: Americans on the whole like Israel, if not its policies. And although support for Israel does fluctuate, support for the Palestinians remains marginal. If I were a Palsbarist like the author, I would probably try to spin it as well.

1 comment:

  1. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize that the Church was committed to "social justice" after they decided gay marriage was an affront to their values. I can't say I am surprised to find that homophobes flock together though."

    Them and the Boy Scouts of America, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, the Torah (Leviticus), many Orthodox Jewish Rabbis ("Rabbis around the country are taking a stand against gay marriage"http://storify.com/amst201project/homophobia-in-orthodox-judaism),
    Amsterdam's chief Rabbi,half the population of Israel, the IDF ("40% of IDF’s gay soldiers suffer abuse" Jerusalem Post) and a great many more.

    Israel is not, really, the beacon of pink light that it pretends to be outside of the tightly-knit Tel Aviv gay community.


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