The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States
Written, Produced & Directed by Loretta Alper and Jeremy Earp
Israel’s ongoing military occupation of Palestinian territory and its repeated invasions of the Gaza strip have triggered a fierce backlash against Israeli policies virtually everywhere in the world — except the United States. The Occupation of the American Mind takes an eye-opening look at this critical exception, zeroing in on pro-Israel public relations efforts within the U.S. Narrated by Roger Waters and featuring leading observers of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the film explores how the Israeli government, the U.S. government, and the pro-Israel lobby have joined forces, often with very different motives, to shape American media coverage of the conflict in Israel’s favor. The Occupation of the American Mind provides a sweeping analysis of Israel’s decades-long battle for the hearts, minds, and tax dollars of the American people — a battle that has only intensified over the past few years in the face of widening international condemnation of Israel’s increasingly right-wing policies.
Running time: 85 mins
ROGER WATERS, the narrator of The Occupation of the American Mind, is an English rock musician, singer-songwriter, and composer. He is best known as the bass player, co-lead vocalist, lyricist, and principal songwriter in the rock band Pink Floyd. Over the last few years, he has emerged as a prominent advocate for Palestinian human rights.
AMIRA HASS is the correspondent for the Occupied Territories for Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper. As the correspondent for the territories, Hass spent three years living in Gaza, which served as the basis for her widely acclaimed book Drinking the Sea at Gaza. She has lived in the West Bank city of Ramallah since 1997.
M.J. ROSENBERG was a Congressional aide for 15 years and worked on the staff of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest pro-Israel lobbying group in the United States, before becoming a fierce critic of U.S. policy in the Middle East. He has worked for the media watchdog group Media Matters, writes a weekly column for the Huffington Post, and runs a popular blog that looks at issues related to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
STEPHEN M. WALT is Professor of International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the author of numerous books on U.S. politics and international affairs, most notably The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. He has also been a Resident Associate of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution, and has served as a consultant for the Institute of Defense Analyses, the Center for Naval Analyses, and the National Defense University.
NOAM CHOMSKY is a leading U.S. political theorist and activist, and institute professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. He is the author of dozens of books on political propaganda and U.S. policy in the Middle East, including Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media and Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance. The New York Times has called him “the most important intellectual alive.”
RULA JEBREAL is a foreign policy analyst, journalist, novelist, and screenwriter with both Israeli and Italian citizenship. Jebreal became the first foreign anchorwoman in the history of Italian television, winning a Media Watch award for her coverage of the Iraq war, and by age 33 earned the highest European journalism award, the International Ischia Award for Best Journalist of the Year. She was also a commentator for MSNBC.
HENRY SIEGMAN is a research professor in the Middle East Program at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, a Senior Fellow on the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations, and former national director of the American Jewish Congress. He was ordained as an Orthodox Rabbi, and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his service as a chaplain during the Korean War.
RASHID KHALIDI is one of the world’s foremost scholars on modern Middle East history. He is currently Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, and the author of numerous acclaimed books on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, including The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood and, most recently, Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.
RAMI KHOURI is the Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, as well as a columnist at the Beirut-based Daily Star newspaper. He is a Palestinian–Jordanian and U.S. citizen and resides with his family in Beirut and Nazareth.
YOUSEF MUNAYYER, a political analyst and writer, is Executive Director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center, and served as a policy analyst for the American–Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). He writes on matters of foreign policy in the Arab and Muslim world and civil rights and civil liberties in the United States, and is a frequent commentator on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NBC, CBS, Al-Jazeera English, and C-Span.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN is an American political scientist, activist, and author of numerous books on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, including The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering and Image and Reality of the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict. He was also the subject of the critically acclaimed 2009 documentary American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein.
MAX BLUMENTHAL is an award-winning journalist for The Nation magazine and New York Times bestselling author of several books on right-wing politics and the Middle East conflict, including Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, and, most recently, The 51-Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza. His on-the-ground video reports about right-wing pro-Israel sentiment within the U.S. and Israel have generated millions of hits on YouTube.
PHYLLIS BENNIS is a writer, activist, and policy analyst on Middle East and UN issues. She is currently the Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C., and helped found the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. She writes and speaks widely in the U.S. and around the world, is a frequent commentator on the conflict in U.S. news media, and is the author of several books, including Understanding the Palestinian–Israeli Conflict: A Primer and Ending the War in Afghanistan: A Primer.
NORMAN SOLOMON is a journalist, media critic, and the author of more than a dozen books on U.S. news media and political propaganda, including War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death and Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in News Media. He also founded the alternative news source The Institute for Public Accuracy and the online activist group RootsAction.org, and in 2012 was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in California.
MARK CRISPIN MILLER is professor of media studies at New York University and one of America’s foremost authorities on advertising, public relations, and political propaganda. He has made frequent appearances in documentaries about U.S. media culture, and is the author of several books, including Boxed In: The Culture of TV and Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney’s New World Order.
PETER HART is the communications director for the National Coalition Against Censorship. Previously he was the activism director for the media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a writer for FAIR’s magazine Extra!, and was a co-host and producer of FAIR’s syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is also the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly.
SUT JHALLY is professor of Communication at the University of Massachusetts, a leading scholar on advertising, public relations, and political propaganda, and the author of several books, including The Codes of Advertising and Enlightened Racism. He is also the founder and Executive Director of the Media Education Foundation, a documentary film company that looks at issues related to U.S. media and public attitudes. He is the producer and director of dozens of documentaries about U.S. politics and media culture, including Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land: U.S. Media & the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
The Occupation of the American Mind is a production of The Media Education Foundation (MEF), a Massachusetts-based organization that produces and distributes educational films about the social, cultural, and political impact of American mass media.
LORETTA ALPER (co-director, co-producer, co-writer) has produced and/or directed several documentary films for the Media Education Foundation (MEF), including Captive Audience: Advertising Invades the Classroom; Class Dismissed: How TV Frames the Working Class, and War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. In addition, she heads up MEF’s media research team. Prior to joining MEF in 2000, she was a high school English teacher in Amherst, Mass., worked for a number of independent print and radio outlets, curated an independent film series, and was a 35-mm film projectionist.
JEREMY EARP (co-director, co-producer, co-writer) has produced and/or directed several MEF films, including Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire; The Mean World Syndrome: Media, Violence & the Cultivation of Fear; Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People; Not Just a Game: Power, Politics & American Sports; Tough Guise 2: Violence, Manhood & American Culture, and Blood & Oil, which takes a critical look at the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia and the militarization of American energy policy. Prior to joining MEF, he taught at New School University and Parsons School of Design in New York, at the Art Institute of Boston and Northeastern University in Massachusetts, and worked as a news and sports reporter for a daily newspaper in Greater Boston.
SUT JHALLY (executive producer) is the founder and Executive Director of the Media Education Foundation, a documentary film company that looks at issues related to U.S. media and public attitudes. He is the producer, director, or executive producer of dozens of MEF films, including Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land: U.S. Media & the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict; Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire; Dreamworlds: Desire, Sex & Power in Music Video; Advertising & the End of the World; Wrestling with Manhood: Boys, Bullying & Battering; and Tough Guise: Violence, Media & the Crisis in Masculinity. He is also professor of Communication at the University of Massachusetts, a leading scholar on advertising, public relations, and political propaganda, and the author of several books, including The Codes of Advertising, Enlightened Racism, and The Spectacle of Accumulation.
JASON YOUNG (editor, co-producer) has edited and co-produced several documentaries for the Media Education Foundation, including Guyland: Where Boys Become Men; Not Just a Game: Power, Politics & American Sports; Tough Guise 2: Violence, Manhood & American Culture; White Like Me: Race, Racism, and White Privilege in America; and Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood.