Commentary: Controlling the Message By Anne Cromwell

Tuesday August 23, 2005

Michael Stephens of Chicago in his Aug. 16 letter to the editor says Rabbi Sara Schendelman “tells it exactly like it is” when she states that we in Berkeley “are the most intolerant place in the U.S. when faced with a differing view.” 

Mr. Stephens then proceeds to compare Berkeley’s close-minded residents to the “extremely conservative Republican” Mormons, who he found to be so open-minded while attending a convention in Salt Lake City. 

Mr. Stevens, I grew up in Salt Lake City. Mormons, including my family, are hospitable. So were white Southerners famous for their hospitality to outsiders even in the darkest days of Jim Crow suppression of blacks. Mormons have a long history of being pro-Zionist. Their entire religion is based on their belief that the 10 lost tribes came to America and became American Indians. How do you suppose a rabid anti-Palestinian, pro-Zionist such as Sen. Orrin Hatch keeps getting re-elected? Today, (Monday, Aug. 22) President Bush will be speaking in Salt Lake City. The ABC affiliate in Salt Lake City refused to air an anti-war commercial put out by the Democratic Party. Republicans outnumber Democrats twelve to one in the state of Utah. This is open-minded? 

I’ve often wondered how when all the facts are readily available, as pointed out by Gerald Schmavonian’s Aug. 16 commentary, that people such as Lawrence White (Aug. 5) still continue to make up fables about the history of this conflict. My kudos to Mr. Schmavonian. Finally someone succinctly and methodically confronted their lies. 

Dan Spitzer (Aug. 16) says “a local publication shouldn’t waste time and space on international matters which can be found elsewhere.” Then why does he keep writing to the Daily Planet about international matters? The problem is the major news organizations all slant their coverage. This week we are witnesses to the removal of a few thousand illegal Israeli settlers in Gaza. They will be compensated to the tune of over one billion dollars in U.S. taxpayer money. Gaza is home to over one million Palestinians, most of whom are refugees or descendants of refugees expelled from Israel proper by Israel after the 1948 War. None were compensated for their properties expropriated by the Israeli government, not even one cent. Then, after the 1967 conquest of Gaza, Israel took 40 percent of Gaza for a few thousand illegal Israeli settlers, removed all the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living there, killing thousands of Palestinians in the process, and bull-dozed tens of thousands of their homes. And not a word on Nightline, nor any American TV news network, nor the New York Times, nor the Washington Post at the time. Compare that to the coverage a few thousand illegal settlers being removed from illegal settlements receive from those news sources. The fact is, Mr. Spitzer, a local publication is not wasting time or space on international matters since much of it cannot be found elsewhere. But Mr. Spitzer and his buddies all know: If you control the sound bites, you control the message. 


Anne Cromwell is a Piedmont resident. r