What’s so threatening about peace, love and understanding (to paraphrase Elvis Costello)?
In one of those rare convergences of hypocrisy that cross national divides, an Israeli TV network has refused to broadcast commercials featuring Palestinian political leaders telling the Israeli audience that they have a Palestinian peace partner (see Broadcasting Authority Bans Geneva Accord Commercials). Palestinian TV has already broadcast commercials featuring Israeli dovish politicians telling Palestinians the same thing.
The ad Palestinians got to hear: Yossi Beilin tells Palestinians that Israelis want peace (credit: Haaretz)
The flap mirrors an almost identical one that developed this week in which all four major U.S. networks refused to broadcast an ad that criticized the Bush position on tort reform, saying that it was too “controversial.” The Israeli network used almost the same language to explain its cupidity:
…The advertisements present a certain viewpoint regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and strive to convince the Israeli public to adopt this viewpoint. The authority said a 2003 High Court ruling bars it from airing any commercials that include controversial subject matters.
The commercials, sponsored by the group which initiated the Geneva Accord, tout a negotiated solution to the conflict. The language of the accords virtually duplicate the language from the Camp David/Taiba 1998 proposed agreement, which was accepted by the then Israeli government. So what I’d like to know is what makes the Geneva Accords so “controversial” and unacceptable to the Broadcast Authority? Is an agreement endorsed by then prime minister, Ehud Barak, so dangerous that the Israeli viewing public should not be allowed to see a commercial endorsing it?
And in a crowning irony, the Israeli democracy which Israelis, their supporters and the U.S. government rightly and monotonously tout so highly adopted censorship as a policy; while the Palestinians, who no one claims (yet) live in a democratic society got to listen to the very same commercials. How can the Israeli right continue to moan about the impossibility of making peace with a society embroiled in autocracy and corruption, when the Palestinian media have shown themselves freer than the Israeli media have in this instance?