Star Wars has a special meaning for me and my wife. We went to see The Empire Strikes Back the day we got married in 1980. We own a copy of the original Star Wars trilogy and watch Episode V every July 11th if we are home. So you can imagine yesterday’s announcement Carrie Fisher had passed away saddened us greatly.
Upon returning home from a short vacation, I turned on CNN hoping there would be reminders of the hours of enjoyment Fisher provided through her films, books and too infrequent appearances on talk shows. I was not disappointed. Besides the usual, easy to access clips from Star Wars, her other movies, the one woman show Wishful Drinking and assorted TV appearances, I was amazed at the length the CNN research team had gone to in order to present a full picture of a life cut short.
CNN had even obtained a copy of a then relatively unknown 19 year old’s first audition tape for the role of Princess Leia. Seated in a wooden chair across from Harrison Ford, Fisher delivers her lines with a much stronger British accent than used during filming. The CNN commentator parsed the video to explain why Fisher’s audition vaulted her ahead of other well known actors such as Jodie Foster who were also being considered for the part.
Although the headline for almost every on-line and broadcast obituary referenced her iconic role as Princess Leia, each seemed to go out of its way to make readers and viewers understand Carrie Fisher was no one-hit wonder. She was a talented performer and writer of both books and screenplays. She was a fighter who constantly battled depression and prescription drug additions to share her talents and experiences with the world.
STOP! I can hear one of the students in my imagination class interrupt. “Okay, professor. We know you are a big Star Wars fan. And we know you were saddened by Leia’s passing. But what does that have to do with a UN resolution condemning Israel for building settlements on occupied territory on the West Bank?” My reply, “It’s just one more example of looking for relationships between seemingly unrelated things and how that relationship helps you understand both issues better.”
Twice over the past four days, I had friends express their anger at Obama’s decision to abstain rather than veto Security Council Resolution 2334. Their opinion were unsolicited. We were not talking politics or international affairs at the time. Maybe they knew I was an Obama supporter and just wanted to hear how I, a Jewish-American, could defend the president. I listened politely without showing my cards largely because, even though I did have an opinion, I was unsure of the facts which might support my perspective. Above all, I had not read the full text of the resolution.
And that is when I realized the connection between Carrie Fisher and SC2334. While print and broadcast media went to extremes to help us understand the entirety of her life, the news associated with the U.S. abstention was painted with a broad, emotional brush. Media were more interested in exploring the animosity between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu or the tension between the out-going and in-coming administration. Little if any time was spent on UN Ambassador Susan Powers’ detailed explanation of the vote including on-going concerns about both Israeli and Palestinian roadblocks to a lasting peace. And in most cases, the actual text of the resolution was no where to be found or referenced in American media accounts.
Yes, SC2334 condemned construction of additional settlements in violation of existing UN resolutions dating back to 2003. But it also contained the following language.
Recalling also the obligation under the Quartet roadmap for the Palestinian Authority Security Forces to maintain effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantling terrorist capabilities, including the confiscation of illegal weapons,
Condemning all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction,
Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders.
How many of the most ardent critics of the President’s decision not to veto SC2334 are aware of this language? If only the media would put the same time and effort into explaining a complex geopolitical issue as they do unraveling the history of a cultural icon.
For what it’s worth.