Taken from Aspen Daily News (Apr 02, 2006)
Michael Franti: The propagandist
by Judy S. Kava
Michael Franti was in town last Saturday, March 25 for a concert/film showing that was sold out at the Wheeler. In my opinion, his film titled "I Know I'm Not Alone" about his recent travels to Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories as a musician turned "peace activist" was one-sided, filled with propaganda and exhibited his lack of historical perspective and knowledge of the facts, especially when it comes to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Generally, the film: 1) portrays the Israelis as "aggressive and land-grubbing" while the Palestinians are painted as the "peace-loving victims"; 2) tries to pass off the security fence built by Israel as a sinister apartheid wall; 3) emphasizes the "plight of the Palestinians while ignoring relevant history that led them to their present situation and doesn't even touch on the very real and continual attacks on Israel since its birth as a nation in 1948.
I would ask Mr. Franti and those responsible for the production of this film if Israel is so "land grubbing" why, with all its military might is it approximately the size of New Jersey while the Arab nations surrounding it take up an area the size of all of North America?
Why, in 1982, did they give up the Sinai Desert (an area more than twice the size of the current state of Israel and won by Israel in 1967 in a war it was pulled into by enemy neighbors bent on its destruction) in exchange for a "cold" peace with Egypt?
Why, since the signing of the Oslo Accords, have they consistently been ready and willing to offer land to the Palestinians in exchange for nothing but the promise to live side by side in peace?
And why did they just last summer pull out of Gaza, displacing thousands of Jews from their homes, businesses and livelihoods?
In contrast, the Palestinians, portrayed as "peace-loving" in the film, have three times been offered a state of their own (1948, 1967 and 2000) and three times they have refused and responded with violence. Most recently, they have chosen to put the known terrorist organization Hamas, which refuses to even acknowledge the existence of the state of Israel, into power.
As to Israel's "aggressive" nature, while the goal of Palestinian suicide (homicide) bombers has been to target and kill as many Israeli civilians as possible with each bombing, the Israeli army, in its response, has gone through great pains, many times at the risk of soldiers, to avoid civilian casualties. Although the film made it seem as if the Israeli army is in the habit of demolishing Palestinian homes arbitrarily, the fact is that these demolitions have been targeted as a defense measure, specifically at homes of known terrorists or families of suicide bombers, who were being compensated for sacrificing their children as "human bombs."
Although his film is long and tedious, Mr. Franti neglected to include even one inch of footage covering the terrorist attacks to which Israel has been subjected in recent years -- bombings that took over 1,000 Israeli lives and injured over 7,000, many critically. If he hadn't left this "small detail" out, viewers would have seen the reality of blown up Israeli buses, discotheques, restaurants, university cafeterias and shopping centers, complete with all the horrors of blood and body parts strewn all over these establishments and streets. Then they might have understood that the fence (less than 5 percent of which is concrete) may have been built by the Israelis, but the necessity for it was created by the terrorists.
During a question and answer period following the film, I got up to make some of these points and one of the kids in the audience yelled out to me that I needed to "study my history." As a Jewish woman and the daughter of Holocaust survivors, when it comes to Israel, in addition to living some of this very history (my parent moved our family there from Poland in 1956 and on to Colorado in 1959), I've devoted a lot of time over the past years to just that pursuit.
My wish is that some of the audience at the Wheeler last Saturday night (which seemed like it consisted of mostly young locals) instead of showing up to film's like Mr. Franti's with a lack of knowledge of the history and facts, and therefore highly susceptible to just this type of propaganda, do the same.