Sunday, September 30, 2007

A New Low for NPR's "This I Believe": "I support the military checkpoints" for Palestinians

My Sunday morning tea was nearly ruined by this morning's episode of the NPR series "This I Believe." It featured Tamar Duke-Cohan, raised in Israel, who teaches classes about the Hholocaust at Hebrew College, Newton, Mass.

Here are a few juicy examples of Duke-Cohan's beliefs:

Moral or not, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is a fact of life, as is the threat of terrorism. Given this realpolitik, I support the military checkpoints, which have managed to halt suicide bombings despite their negative impact on Palestinian lives.

Military occupation simply a "fact of life"!

Does the Israeli need for security outweigh the importance of the rights of individual Palestinians? I believe it does and my mother believes it does not.

Duke-Cohan's mother belongs to Machsom Watch, an Israeli women's group that monitors Israeli soldiers' behavior at checkpoints. It is an extremely courageous group--check out its monthly reports. (The photo above, of the Qalandiya checkpoint, is from Machsom Watch.)

Note that "This I Believe" chooses to feature an Israeli point of view that supports the military occupation. And a point of view that argues that the "morality" of this position is based on the fact of an ongoing argument between Duke-Cohan and her mother over these issues.

...we are duty bound to confront moral dilemmas and scrutinize the implications of our actions. For me, this is the main lesson of the Holocaust. We must hotly debate the political and ethical questions posed by today's complicated world — and we should sometimes disagree, avoiding the dangers of "group-think," while striving for compromise. That's why I believe in asking hard questions and arguing about them.

Would NPR ever broadcast an essay from someone like Duke-Cohan's mother? Or from a Palestinian living under the military occupation that Duke-Cohan considers simply a "fact of life"? This I (kinda) believe: not. (I couldn't find anyone taking such a position when I hunted through the "This I Believe" data base. Does this conform with Edward R. Murrow's moral vision?)


Alannah said...

Wow....just, wow.

Because of my work with Palestinian students, this is an issue I am spending more and more time thinking about. I'm still in the thinking stage...haven't written about it yet.

letango said...

"Would NPR ever broadcast an essay from someone like Duke-Cohan's mother?"

I do believe so.

Ted Swedenburg said...

Correction to the statement: "Would NPR ever broadcast an essay from someone like Duke-Cohan's mother?" I should have written, "Would 'This I Believe' ever broadcast an essay from someone like Duke-Cohan's mother?" I checked over all the archives and the show has NEVER broadcast an essay that was favorable to the Palestinians. I'd be happy to be proven wrong.

letango said...

Kudos for being thorough!!! Where do you find the time? Dedication... I like it.