From the Tyee website I discovered a rather disturbing look at life in the Gaza Strip, the West bank and other portions of Israel and Gaza, a documentary from 2003 that examines the perceptions of the current troubles in the Middle East as presented by the American media. From a bit of a leftist bent, it’s no doubt a program that wouldn’t get much in the way of exposure from a news service such as FOX.
Titled Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land, it’s a story decidedly favorable towards the Palestinian side of the Middle East issue. It features some pretty horrific images of brutality in Gaza and other areas, some of which can be very hard to watch and does provide a bit of a window into the mindset of people living there, explaining to a degree why those ancient hatreds run so high.
Made while Israel still occupied many of the settlement areas and Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon were the main players in the area, it spent much of its time on that period in recent Middle East history.
It’s certainly not the last word in the debate over the troubles of the Middle East. And in a way is propaganda of its own design. It focuses on the media coverage of the dispute and provides its take on the manipulation of the daily news from that viewpoint.
The program which runs over one hour was a presentation of the Media Education Foundation and features the thoughts and ideas of Noam Chomsky and a host of intellectuals and political officials in America, Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East. It focuses very much on the behavior of the Israelis but doesn’t offer up the same criticism of Hamas or Hezbollah, who also have done things in the area that obviously are not in the interests of peaceful co-existence.
The documentaries makers frequently quote a number of UN resolutions that they say are ignored by Israel, but don’t offer up the same criticism of resolutions ignored by the Arab side of the argument. Of course documentaries are supposed to provide background on a story and some on occasion do take sides; this one certainly takes its cause of media bias to heart. There’s not a particular rush to offer up some balance to the documentary, it does seem that in this instance that’s not the mission.
That being said, in order to begin to understand an issue you need to learn all sides of the debate. This documentary provides a small piece of a very large and complex puzzle.
You certainly won’t pick up a feeling of hope while watching this, but you do get an understanding of some of the elements in the Middle East that have led us to the tipping point we seem to sit on in 2006.
You can understand how the seeds of hatred can be planted, what you despair for is a sense that somehow both sides can co-exist and find common ground. After watching the documentary, there’s certainly more despair than hope. You end up wondering if all the different groups involved will ever find enough in common will to live peacefully.
While portions of the documentary are close to five years old in content, it sadly reflects a part of the world which today is still mired in a never ending cycle of violence. It’s an interesting, if rather depressing look at a part of the world that puzzles us most of the times and horrifies us at the worst of them.
(To view the documentary on line, click here)