In recent weeks, I have studied Spotlight, a film that should explain why our current presidential election is about none of the critical issues facing our nation.
This Clinton-Trump campaign, is, most certainly, not about the critical foreign policy issue of Israel’s expansive and repressive grip on Palestinian freedom.
Spotlight is the 2015 Academy Award winning real-life examination of a team of journalists working to uncover, and identify, those at fault in a massive church cover-up.
The title comes from The Boston Globe‘s investigative team of reporters, which spent eight months examining the role of the Boston archdiocese hierarchy in covering up sexual abuse of children by priests.
Early in the film, two men, Boston Cardinal Bernard F. Law (Len Cariou) and Martin Baron (Liev Schreiber), the editor of The Globe, are in a quiet conversation.
The Cardinal says to the editor, “The city flourishes when its great institutions work together.” The editor politely dissents, arguing that the paper should stand alone.
Their conversation, New York Times critic A.O. Scott, wrote, “sets up the film’s central conflict”. He continues:
The image of two prominent men talking quietly behind closed doors, haunts this somber, thrilling movie and crystallizes its major concern, which is the way power operates in the absence of accountability.
Directed by Tom McCarthy from a script he co-wrote, Spotlight is in the rich tradition of an earlier investigative newspaper story, All the President’s Men, which exposed White House involvement in the Watergate Scandal. Spotlight won the Academy Award for best picture. McCarthy won the Academy Award for best original script, which he co-wrote with Josh Singer. McCarthy is currently one of our finest film-makers. See his The Visitor for his creative take on immigration.
Spotlight will remind you that our media, at its best, does not cower before the institutions that shape our nation.
What the mainstream media does at its worst, however, which it is demonstrating during the present campaign, is to “work together with its institutions” to satisfy the demands of those institutions.
Little on the political front, for example, approaches the evil conduct of Israel in its repression of Palestinians, a repression that could not continue without American financial and political institutional support.
A presidential campaign should explore how to confront such conduct. This one does not.
Fortunately, there are a few journalists, like Glenn Greenwald, who understand how the institution of mainstream media serves as one of Israel’s major enablers in Israel’s addiction to American power and money.
Greenwald appeared recently on the web site, Democracy Now, hosted by Amy Goodman. At one point in the interview, Goodman asked Greenwald about Trump. His answer began:
[Donald Trump], the person the Republican Party has nominated, on a personal level, is extraordinarily unstable and vindictive and dangerous and narcissistic, in a way that you really wouldn’t trust him to occupy any minor political office, let alone command the military of the United States and the entire executive branch.
Goodman also asked Greenwald about his recent essay, “As Israel Prospers, Obama Set to Give Billions More in Aid While Netanyahu Demands Even More.” His response:
One of the things that happens during the election campaign is that all the focus of the media, and therefore the American public, goes to the personalities of the two candidates, and the U.S. government does incredibly important things, consequential things, that get ignored.
The United States already is by far the biggest benefactor of the Israeli government. We already give $3 billion a year in taxpayer money, in military aid, all sorts of other forms of aid, including diplomatic cover as they bomb Gaza, as they occupy the Palestinians, as they violate international law.
It’s because the U.S. government enables this. And we transfer all this money to Israel, even though, in many ways, Israel is more prosperous and thriving and its citizens enjoy more benefits than American citizens do, including universal healthcare and free college, which Israelis enjoy but the U.S. doesn’t, as we transfer billions of dollars to them.
One of the things that President Obama is doing, with almost no attention, is he has negotiated a deal with Israel to significantly increase the amount of money that Israel gets for 10 years, so no government, no future Congress can even reverse it, to give them many, many billions more than we’re already giving them.
The idea is to keep Israel militarily superior to its neighbors to ensure that they can continue to dominate the region without challenge, and also domestic political reasons, for the Democratic Party to show voters who care about Israel, namely evangelical and Jewish voters, that they are doing even more for Israel. And it’s incredibly consequential.
Gideon Levy, the Israeli Ha’aretz columnist, continues to inform the world and remind his own government, that “what Israel does to the Palestinians, is incredibly immoral”.
In a recent column, Levy cited population numbers that should shame Israel and its American enablers.
A state where half the subjects are denied rights can’t be democratic. In a state that doesn’t intend to change its borders or the nature of its rule, this discussion is merely part of the delusion of perpetually parading around naked but feeling fully clothed.
Two peoples equal in size live under Israeli rule: about 6.3 million Jews and 6.3 million Arabs. Half and half. That’s the outcome of 50 years of life in a binational state, not Jewish and not democratic. To the 1.8 million Arab citizens, you have to add the 2.7 million Palestinians living under direct Israeli rule in the West Bank, and about 1.8 million living under indirect Israeli rule in Gaza.
The fate of all these subjects, from registration at birth to the currency they use and most of their rights, is set in Israel. They are subject to its rule; they are part of the state.
Presidential candidate debates will soon begin. One question that should come up, but will not, is this:
Should the U.S. government continue a guaranteed increase of its current three billion dollars a year to the prosperous nation of Israel, even as Israel continues to oppress half of the population under its control?
The picture of Boston Globe staff members is from the film, Spotlight.