Bearing Witness in Palestine (11/02)

In his preface to Franz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, Jean-Paul Sartre described the callous nature of the individual bred into a colonial regime. "This imperious being," he wrote, "crazed by his absolute power and by the fear of losing it, no longer remembers clearly that he was once a man; he takes himself for a horsewhip or a gun; he has come to believe that the domestication of the ‘inferior’ race will come about by the conditioning of their reflexes. But in this he leaves out of account the human memory and the ineffaceable marks left upon it; and then, above all, there is something which perhaps he has never known: we only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made of us."

Though Sartre wrote mainly about European colonies, primarily the French in Algeria, his descriptions of the settler and his state are apropos of Israel’s  neo-colonial history — a history largely hidden from the US public, if not from the rest of the world. Aided by the US government and mainstream media, Israel has mounted one of the most successful propaganda campaigns in modern times, forcing the Palestine’s indigenous population to forfeit their right to resist. This stands in stark contrast to Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress, which renounced its right to armed resistance only after the South African government acknowledged the human right of its indigenous population.

The genesis of Israel, and the 50-plus year conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, is the topic of Free Speech TV’s latest media project. A first in US television history, Mobile-Eyes on Palestine is an ongoing, grass-roots campaign that bears witness to over half a century of ethnic cleansing. The State of Israel has a military budget of billions, financed largely by the US. In contrast, most Palestinians fight with nothing but the stones of their lost land. For the most part, the world just watches as the wreckage accumulates. But Mobile-Eyes aims to nudge people off their couches and into the political arena, transforming viewers into political agents engaged in the nonviolent movement for Palestinian freedom and self-determination. 

Originally broadcast over the last weekend in July on DISH Network channel 9415, and on community access channels around the country, the series includes 48 hours of programs, including first-hand reports by FSTV journalists, as well as resource lists and action alerts that encourage viewer involvement in the movement to end Israel’s occupation. Several programs can now be viewed online at Video copies are also available. 

Working with activists and artists, FSTV uses television to cultivate an informed and active citizenry and advance progressive social change. The only national, progressive, non-commercial television network in the US, it sees Mobile-Eyes as the first in a series of action-oriented, media/organizing campaigns that connect issues, grassroots groups, media activists, and audiences through high-visibility weekend or week-long program specials. Recognizing the urgency of the Palestinian crisis, FSTV has not only recorded stories of Palestinian resistance, but also documented the shrouded realities of life under occupation for the embattled Palestinians still living in two of the last remaining bastions of colonialism, the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel was founded on Palestinian land in 1948, providing a refuge for the surviving Jewish diaspora of the Nazi Holocaust. But it simultaneously provoked another act of genocide: the extermination of entire Palestinian villages, and the forcible expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. In FSTV’s Imperial Geography: Israel and Palestine, radio journalist David Barsamian traces the history of Israel’s subsequent land seizure while dissecting the propaganda that has distorted public discourse.

The series also features an original FSTV production, In a Prison Called Palestine. In June 2002, reporters Shannon Service and Andrew Dieringer accompanied a delegation of Global Exchange peace activists to the West Bank and Gaza. The delegation’s goal was to protect civilians from further violence by attempting to rebuild destroyed areas and homes and replanting uprooted trees. Service and Dieringer conducted dozens of meetings with Palestinian and Israeli peace and human rights organizations, journalists, medical workers, and ordinary individuals to learn more about the occupation and the recent Israeli invasions.

"Living under occupation, violence is an everyday occurrence for Palestinians," explains Service. "Israeli military action is so common for Palestinians that our hotel continued to take meal orders as we listened to missiles explode a mile away on a Gaza refugee camp where 80,000 people live in a one kilometer radius." In A Prison Called Palestine reveals what life is like for ordinary Palestinians, who must bow to the whims of Israeli soldiers, young conscripts who wield the world’s most advanced weaponry. "Israelis and Palestinians are both imprisoned, observes Dieringer. "One lives in a gated community and the other is under occupation. This isn’t a way for either side to live. Imposed curfews, barbed wire, tanks, M-16’s, and checkpoints are now the norm."

The series also includes an interview with the well-known actor and human rights advocate Edward James Olmos, who spoke with FSTV in June before his keynote speech at the Muslim Public Affairs Council Media Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles. Explaining the motivation behind his political activism, Olmos recalls Mahatma Ghandi’s famous insight: "While it is true that everything we do is insignificant, we must do it anyway." In this sense, Olmos shares FSTV’s mission: to cultivate an active citizenry mobilized to advance progressive social change.

An integral component of the campaign is a call to action. In conjunction with Global Exchange, Palestine Media Watch, the International Solidarity Movement, and Not In Our Name,Mobile-Eyes highlights specific actions that individuals can take to help bring an end to the ongoing Israeli siege and restore hope for the Palestinian people. For more information, as well as links to these and other organizations working for justice in Palestine, interested, call Free Speech TV at (303) 542-4807, or visit FSTV’s website.

Three Ways to Mobilize

1. WRITE AND CALL: A growing number of Jews around the world believe that peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians will only be possible when Israel ends its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. A network of Jewish peace groups is working to achieve that objective through protests, pressure on our elected officials, and direct support of the Israeli peace movement – in particular, the Israeli military refusenik movement.

You can have an impact! Write a letter to your local newspaper, call President Bush at 202-456-1111, or join an "adoption group" to support imprisoned Israeli reservists who refuse to fight in the occupied territories by visiting For more, contact Not In My Name, a US Jewish peace group, at or (312) 409-4845. 

2. JOIN A DELEGATION. First-hand exposure to human rights abuses in the Occupied Territories can further public understanding of the region¹s realities, giving people the chance to document experiences and educate others about the need for change. Become part of non-violent, sustainable grassroots solutions that embody peace with justice. An international presence CAN make a difference. For more information, go to To participate on a Palestine/Israel delegation, contact Global Exchange at (800) 497-1994, Ext. 251,, or email 

3. TALK TO THE MEDIA: Why did CNN run a five-part special series on Israeli victims of Palestinian violence, but refuse to run a similar series on Palestinian victims of Israeli violence? The news network also established a web memorial for every Israeli victim killed this year, but nothing similar for Palestinians. Obviously, media bias is widespread. Contact Palestine Media Watch at and do something about it! 

Linda J. Mamoun is Communications Manager for FSTV. She can be reached at