The Occupation of the American Mind



Legendary British musician Roger Waters, founding member of the iconic rock band Pink Floyd. Waters is the narrator of a recent documentary titled “The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States.”

Democracy NOW interviewed Sut Jhally, professor of communication at the University of Massachusetts Twho produced he Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States.”
WATERS opened the documentary with these words:


Over the course of 51 days, the Israeli military dropped nearly 20,000 tons of explosive on Gaza, a densely populated area the size of Philadelphia, killing over 2,000 Palestinians and wounding tens of thousands more. The overwhelming majority of these casualties were civilians.The sheer scale of the attacks sparked outrage and condemnation around the world.

This mass murder of 2014 was the last straw for progressive Jews whose youth abandoned Israel in droves when the truth could not be hidden.
Sadly as waters says, “But in the United States, the story was different. Polls show the American people holding firm in their support for Israel.These numbers were striking, but they weren’t new. Over the course of a conflict in which Palestinian casualties have far outnumbered Israeli casualties, the American people have consistently shown far more sympathy for Israelis than for Palestinians.

PSUT JHALLY: Well, it started, actually, quite a while ago, and the reason for it is that American public opinion is so far outside the bounds of world opinion when it comes to Israel. The moment you start to talk about this, there’s an attempt to silence you. So you’re actually not allowed to talk about it. And then, actually, once you do talk about it, you realize that Americans have a very warped sense of the conflict. I learned this from my own students, as well as from public opinion polls, that most Americans think that, in fact, it’s the Palestinians who are illegally occupying someone else’s land in the Middle East.

Well, it’s such a clear kind of instance of colonization. We’ve just had 50 years of occupation, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and, until recently, of Gaza. And that’s actually very, very clear, because there’s also this instant—Americans think it’s so complicated. That’s actually—when I talk to my students, they always say it’s too complicated. And I just actually explain to them, you know, in a few sentences, that this actually is a very, very simple conflict. And what—and when the conflict is that simple, what you have to do is you have to make it more complicated. And that’s the function of public relations.


In Israel this is called hasbara. We call it bull shit or lies.

Jhally: And so, that’s what we focus on. We focus on the public relations campaign in the United States to essentially confuse the American public about what was going on, so there will be no pressure coming from the public on this. And in that sense, you know—and we say this in the film—the occupation of Palestine also depends upon an occupation of American public opinion, that unless the American government is aboard with this and acts as a protector of Israel, then that occupation is not possible


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