Saturday, November 17, 2012

Twinning Weekend


            I bet that most of you didn’t know that this is the Fifth International Weekend of Twinning.  What, you ask, is the Fifth International Weekend of Twinning?  Go to the website of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, and you will read the following:        

“Organized annually by The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) in cooperation with the World Jewish Congress and the Islamic Society of North America, the Weekend of Twinning is an annual initiative based on synagogues, mosques and Muslim and Jewish student and young leadership groups forming partnerships and holding joint programs together with the goal of building ties of communication, reconciliation and cooperation between Muslims and Jews. …  We are excited that synagogues and mosques and Muslim and Jewish student, young leadership, and women's organizations in as many as 25 countries around the world are expected to take part in twinning events.”   

Last night, Haytham Younis, a Syrian-American, and I went to the University of Maryland and addressed a large contingent of Jewish and Muslim students about our experiences as co-founders of the Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Society of Washington (JIDS).  Tomorrow, JIDS will be bringing in scores of teenagers from synagogues and mosques all over the Washington DC area to help clean up a public park and engage in dialogue.   Similar events are happening all over the nation, and in much of the world.  But I can almost guarantee that the national media will avoid these stories like the plague.  Nobody will be throwing Molotov Cocktails, firing rockets, schtupping mistresses, ranting against people of color, or standing in the middle of a hurricane for no apparent reason.   So who cares, right? 

  Clearly, Fox News and MSNBC don’t care.  They are the real twins – both fighting from a similar playbook.  Call it a vitriol-only zone.   And don’t forget their motto:  “If you can’t mock it, you can’t report it.” 

            I’ll tell you who else doesn’t care: the wild children running Hamas.  And let’s also not forget the Israeli Government.   No, I’m not talking about the generals who are defending Israel against Hamas rockets.  They’re actually doing their jobs.  I’m talking about Netanyahu and his minions who have the chutzpah to proclaim that they support the “Two State Solution,” and yet continue to build more and more settlements in the West Bank.   What does that say about their concern for their Palestinian “Twins”?

            With all due respect to Alanis Morissette, “rain on your wedding day” is not ironic.  What is ironic is that the Holy Land is raining bombs during Twinning Weekend. 

I don’t doubt that reporting on the escalation of warfare in Israel and Palestine is important.  I want my fellow citizens to remember that region.  I want their spokespeople in Congress and the media to call on President Obama to engage himself once again on the topic of Middle East Peace.  I want them to remind the President that visiting Israel zero times during his first four years in office is unacceptable.  I want them to say that even if Israel and Palestine aren’t ready to sign a peace treaty tomorrow, there is a TON that can be done in the present to help make peace possible in the future.   

So yes, please, report on the war!  Talk about the savage Palestinians and the stiff-necked, macho Israelis.  Condescend to them all, the way we always do.   Pretend that we Americans would act in a “measured” fashion if we were constantly absorbing rocket fire from Canada or Mexico.  Please – say whatever the hell you want about Israelis and Palestinians.  Just make sure that you focus our attention on that region so that we can stop ignoring it.

But surely, Mr. and Ms. Newsperson, you can’t report exclusively on Israel and Palestine.  Surely, you’ll have some time left for other news.  I encourage you to devote some of that time to reporting about the so-called “fiscal cliff” and whether we’re on the verge of a deal to avoid jumping off the cliff.  And I encourage you to report on the efforts of the Republican establishment to figure out the lessons of the 2012 elections; that’s important stuff, because we do need two healthy, sane political parties.

Report on all of that.  But don’t forget to report as well about stories like the Weekend of Twinning.  Come to our events and interview the rabbis and the imams who are as fanatical about peace as the Hamas is about war.  Teach your audience on TV and the radio that America has legions of enlightened Muslims, and that the Muslim religion can be a source of tremendous inspiration for Jews and Christians alike.

And if you want to figure out how to make time for this story?   Here’s a hint.  Remember that wave of stories you were reporting about adulteress biographers, shirtless FBI agents, and Generals who care more about their johnsons than their wives?   Good.  You can continue to think about that stuff all you want – you can even fantasize about it, if that’s what turns you on.  Just please, stop reporting about it.  We have plenty of TV channels that are already focused on sex and petty crimes and other sorts of garbage.  We can’t afford to devote our national news coverage to that crap – not as long as they’re still fighting in the Middle East.

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