Israel’s other “crisis of democracy”

Over the past few months, mainstream news media have given extensive coverage to the massive street protests mounting inside Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right right government continue their assault on the nation’s democratic institutions.¹

What’s mostly been missing in this coverage, however, is the fact that millions of Palestinians have been living under an illegal and brutal Israeli military occupation for decades with virtually no protection from these same democratic institutions – a violation of international law and human rights that’s persisted through liberal, moderate, and right-wing Israeli governments alike.²

“The democracy that we are now struggling over is a democracy only for the Jewish citizens of Israel, and partially for the Palestinian citizens of Israel,” Israeli journalist Gideon Levy said last week. “What about 5 million people who live under [Israel occupation] who have no civil rights whatsoever? How can you speak about democracy and ignore this? What kind of democracy can exist in an apartheid state? I understand the desire to try to recruit as many people as possible to this protest. But the way they ignore the real dark side of Israel is for me unacceptable and unbearable.”³

To get some perspective on this mostly hidden part of the story, and to understand why the question of Palestinian human rights has been largely pushed out of view in mainstream U.S. news media coverage of the current crisis, we’ve assembled a slate of films that clarify the key issues at stake.

We especially want to call your attention to the acclaimed documentary The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States, which you can watch here on the Kanopy streaming platform through your university or public library or stream free here through MEF.

We also want to highlight Not Backing Down, an electrifying public event we organized in 2019 to call attention to the silencing of pro-Palestinian voices in American universities and beyond. Headlined by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, Dave Zirin of The Nation, Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, and journalist Marc Lamont Hill, who was fired by CNN for speaking up for Palestinian rights, Not Backing Down drew a packed house of thousands of people and gained national attention after right-wing groups tried unsuccessfully to shut it down. You can watch the event for free here.

Click below for more information about these two titles and the rest of our selection!

1. “Protests rock Israel as it passes curbs on some Supreme Court powers,” by Ari Rabinovitch, Reuters, July 25, 2023.
2. “Israel’s Real ‘Crisis of Democracy’ Is That It’s Not a Democracy,” by Gregory Shupak, FAIR, May 16, 2023.
3. “Israel’s Fight over Judicial Changes Ignores Occupation & Apartheid,” Democracy Now!, July 25, 2023.