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PACBI-PACBIs Position on Direct Arab (including Palestinian) Interaction with the Complicit Israeli Media

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PACBI | 2016/07/01

PACBIs Position on Direct Arab (including Palestinian) Interaction with the Complicit Israeli Media


According to the principles of journalistic ethics, the professional obligation to allow diverse opinions excludes views that promote hatred, racism, and racial discrimination, as these constitute the antithesis of pluralism, democracy and human rights.

The mainstream – Zionist -- Israeli media plays a pivotal role in dehumanizing and demonizing Arabs, particularly Palestinians, and in justifying, covering up, and therefore perpetuating, human rights violations committed by Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid. This and the prevalent military censorship and self-censorship explain the Israeli media’s overwhelming racism, colonial spirit and lack of professionalism, despite some rare voices who swim against the current boldly and with ethical principles.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) -- a key part of the Palestinian BDS National Committee which leads the global BDS movement – does not consider direct Arab interaction with the Israeli media as an act of normalization, necessarily. Accordingly, it has not called for a comprehensive boycott of this complicit media. Citing it and using whatever accurate information that it may provide, for instance, fall outside the scope of the boycott.

BDS calls for isolating Israel’s regime of oppression as well as isolating corporations and institutions that are implicated in its denial of Palestinian rights under international law. As an inclusive movement that is anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, BDS rejects all forms of racism and does not call for boycotting individuals. It targets complicity, not identity.

However, based on a cost-benefit analysis, and in line with the overall BDS principles, PACBI considers interviews and opinion pieces given by Arabs (with the exception of Palestinian citizens of Israel) to complicit Israeli media as causing far more harm than good, regardless of intentions. 

Therefore, PACBI urges Arab (including Palestinian) cultural, academic and political figures not to publish in the complicit Israeli media complicit or give it any interviews.

Some Arab figures who have agreed to give interviews to or write in complicit Israeli media outlets justify that as an attempt to "nourish internal Israeli dissent" or "conquer" the Israeli mentality with "subversive" views supporting Palestinian rights. While the intent may be noble, the reality on the ground shows that their attempts are ill-advised, misplaced and often harmful to our nonviolent struggle for our rights.

Giving interviews to the largely biased, racist and deeply colonial Israeli mainstream media inadvertently provides it with a Palestinian/Arab stamp of legitimacy that validates its false “liberal” pretenses. This, in turn, gives credence to its dominant coverage, which remains overwhelmingly biased, unprofessional and racist. Accepting this is too high a price to pay by Palestinian and other Arab intellectuals, especially when compared with the expected benefits. 

For more than two decades, Palestinian and Arab normalization projects with Israelis have been premised on the mythical possibility of encouraging internal dissent through “rational dialogue” with "the other," without suggesting how the lop-sided relationship of colonial oppression should be targeted with pressure to promote and enhance such desired dissent.

The theoretical benefits that some expect to achieve from engaging with the Israeli media, experience over the last decade has shown, have almost always proven to be dismal, at best, in sowing "internal Israeli dissent." Due to many substantial factors, Israeli society has steadily shifted to the fanatic right, and key political Israeli leaders have cautioned that it has been “infected by the seeds of fascism.”

BDS encourages Palestinian and Arab relations with progressive, anti-colonial Israelis to be based on the principle of co-resistance to oppression not a false and unethical "co-existence" under oppression. 

A key operational principle in the BDS movement is context sensitivity, which means that our allies and partners anywhere decide their local tactics and targets based on their own particularities. So long as their activities and positions are in harmony with the inclusive, anti-racist principles of the BDS movement, we respect our BDS partners’ views, even if we may disagree on some of them.  


The anti-normalization criteria that the Palestinian-led BDS movement has put forth and that were adopted by a near-consensus of the largest Palestinian civil society entities since November 2007, at the first national BDS conference, call for boycotting events and activities that portray the relationship of colonial oppression, which is inherently abnormal, as if it were normal. Such activities are not just deceptive; they contribute to whitewashing Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people.

The relevant part of the cultural boycott guidelines states:

(4) Normalization Projects are boycottable.  Cultural activities, projects, events and products involving Palestinians and/or other Arabs on one side and Israelis on the other (whether bi- or multi- lateral) that are based on the false premise of symmetry/parity between the oppressors and the oppressed or that assume that both colonizers and colonized are equally responsible for the “conflict” are intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible forms of normalization that ought to be boycotted [10].  Far from challenging the unjust status quo, such projects contribute to its endurance.  Examples include events, projects, publications, films, or exhibitions that are designed to bring together Palestinians/Arabs and Israelis so they can present their respective narratives or perspectives, or to work toward reconciliation, “overcoming barriers,” etc., without addressing the root causes of injustice and the requirements of justice.  Other factors that PACBI takes into consideration in evaluating such products and events are the sources of funding, the design of the product or event, the objectives of the sponsoring organization(s), the participants, and similar relevant factors.


Given that the only normal – and indeed welcome -- relationship between those from the oppressor community and those from the oppressed community is one that recognizes the basic rights of the oppressed under international law and involves a common struggle against oppression, joint projects that meet the following two conditions are not considered forms of normalization and are therefore exempt from boycott:


(a) the Israeli party in the project recognizes the comprehensive Palestinian rights under international law (corresponding to the 3 rights in the BDS call); and


(b) the product or event is one of “co-resistance” rather than co-existence.


Public debates between Palestinians/Arabs and Israelis are also excluded from the boycott if organized without any cooperation with Israel, its lobby groups, or its complicit institutions.


Posted on 01-07-2016

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