Thursday, January 22, 2009

PR For Palestine?: It Was the People Who Created the Conditons for the Demise of Apartheid, Not the Pop "Icons"

It Was the People Who Created the Conditions for the Demise of Apartheid in Southern Africa, Not the Pop Icons

PANW Editor's Note: What this author with the Mail & Guardian (reprinted below) does not understand or chooses to ignore is that these pop and television personalities that are mentioned did not create the conditions for the emergence of the worldwide solidarity movement with the people of Southern Africa. It was the grassroots organizers and conscious students who made "apartheid" a household word. People like Oprah and the others only turned their public attention to the region when it became popular and safe to do so. Others only came on board after the creation of a democratic government after 1994.

It was the liberation movements and their allies that pushed for sanctions against the racist settler-colonial systems in Southern Africa. The people of the region died in their hundreds of thousands, they were displaced and driven into exile both inside the countries and outside. This movement against the racist system was not a joke or a big party.

What is good about this article is that it further exposes the collaboration among so-called artists and celebraties with the imperialist policies of the United States, which supports and finances the State of Israel. It is not what these people say that is significant in overturning oppressive systems, but it is always the masses who make history.

Wanted: PR for Palestine

Jan 21 2009 06:00

Maybe it's because they don't look good on T-shirts. Or because that beard thing they've got going in Gaza ain't got "struggle chic".

What is it about the battle for Palestinian rights and statehood that doesn't spur the "moral" world to action, get Bono and Bob Geldof to whip up a concert (with a call-in pledge line) or at least produce a catchy tune?

After all, Israel's violations of international law, disregard for its own Supreme Court, serial rights violations and slaughter of the Palestinians whose land it occupies are well documented, and have been thrown into relief for the umpteenth time by the horrors in Gaza.

In Los Angeles last February actor Jon Voigt, a band called The Teapacks and Sylvester "Rambo" Stallone appeared on stage to drum up support for the Israeli citizens of Sderot, on the Gazan border. When will it be the Palestinians' turn?

Increasingly, parallels are being drawn between apartheid South Africa and Israel's policies towards the Palestinians. But the idea of a cultural boycott of Israel hasn't occurred to the world's beautiful people.

The Rolling Stones once fell over themselves to pledge solidarity with black South Africa and Nelson Mandela. But last September Mick and his men were packing up the leathers and heading for Tel Aviv. To their credit, they cancelled, blaming "premature announcements".

Last year the multiple Grammy-winner and former member of the anti-racism band The Fugees, Lauryn Hill, strutted her stuff in Tel Aviv, joining a queue of hip-hop artists who have played to packed houses in Israel. One can forgive rapper 50 Cent -- he makes no bones about money being his mission. But what about the supposedly socially aware band the Black-Eyed Peas, whose most famous song goes on about "people killing / people dying / and children hurt / you hear them crying"?

They weren't, of course, asking the thousands-strong Israeli crowd "Where is the love?" for the Palestinians. Instead of expressing solidarity with the downtrodden, or calling for peace and tolerance, singer Will I Am cooed sycophantically to the delighted crowd: "All we hear about you on TV is bad news. This is the first time I'm here and it looks to me like the most beautiful land on earth!"

Palestinians from Hebron or Gaza City could tell Will otherwise, if he bothered to ask.

Incidentally, the Peas were also unfazed by the crushing of Tibetan monks and civilians beneath the Chinese jackboot. Performing in China last June, they said that "all this Chinese boycott stuff" was wrong because it would "punish a whole country".

Except to a handful of artists of conscience, such as Annie Lennox, the Palestinian cause just doesn't seem sexy enough. Has the suffering of the Palestinians made the world blasé? As Susan Sontag wrote in Regarding the Pain of Others, the grisly images might have made it all ho-hum.

The Palestinians are in dire need of a Max Clifford who could package their plight to the outside world. They will need a catchier slogan than "Free, Free Palestine!" -- and an audit of what is useful imagery and what isn't. Boy in checked headscarf pulling V-sign -- in. Bodies mangled by Israeli army in a "routine operation" in Gaza -- out.

The publicist would have to trawl the lists of the thousands in Israeli jails to find a Palestinian bloke with "Mandela potential" to get the world interested in freeing him.

Perhaps the answer is to get Palestine on to Oprah. But then again, maybe not: the Queen of Talk Shop (who abhorred apartheid) announced last year she was planning a "solidarity visit" to Israel. Israel's United Nations ambassador, Danny Gillerman, quickly climbed on to this, remarking that "the visit of a figure with such influence in the international media could help bring an end to the indifference towards the terror threat faced by Israelis". Hopefully Winfrey will heed Desmond Tutu's advice to visit the occupied territories as well.

Granted, the cause hasn't been helped much by talk of an Islamic state in Gaza or by grisly suicide bombings. Nor should the daily rockets faced by the residents of Sderot be minimised, no matter how ineffectual they may be. But, then again, the "necklace" didn't stop the concerts and T-shirts demanding the fall of apartheid South Africa.

Nobody cares -- nobody who's cool, that is. The cause of the Palestinians has all the ingredients of a blockbuster: bodies in the streets, weeping women. They just can't seem to get the world's buy-in …

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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