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پاسخی تاریخی به اولاند
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بوسیله نیک پاکپور
نقش مخرب مزدوران فرانسوی علیه ایرانایران و1+5
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The Salafization of the Turkey
Rouhani's full speech.
'Iran's threat propaganda dangerous for world security' - Rouhani to UN Assembly 2013 (FULL SPEECH)
Published on Sep 24, 2013
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A group of protesters has taken down the monument to Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin on Kiev's Bessarabskya Square, reports RT's Irina Galushko. Dozens of protesters attempted to deface the monument last week, but were repelled by riot police. Ukraine's Communist Party decried the attempt as unacceptable and placed a patrol to guard the monument. However, neither the party's patrol, nor police were seen guarding the Lenin's monument on Sunday.
CrossTalk: Dividing Ukraine
Published on Dec 4, 2013
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Ukraine on Edge
Ukraine on Edge: Fresh clashes erupt near parliament in Kiev
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'US- Al-Qaeda terrorists'
'West negotiates with terrorists as Syria atrocities reach new level'
Published on Dec 17, 2013
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Nukes in the Middle East
The Truthseeker: Who Has Nukes in the Middle East (E30)
Published on Dec 15, 2013
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Israel & Saudi.
Pair in Despair: Israel & Saudi team up frustrated at US policy
Published on Dec 12, 2013
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McCarthyism Made Us
McCarthyism Made Us Veer Away From a Systemic Doctrine for Change - Ralph Nader on RAI (1/3)
On Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay, Ralph Nader says McCarthy's reign of terror made people seek more empirical change, we went after auto companies - no "ism" there - December 18, 2013
Named by The Atlantic as one of the hundred most influential figures in American history, and by Time and Life magazines as one of the most influential Americans of the twentieth century, Ralph Nader has helped us drive safer cars, eat healthier food, breathe better air, drink cleaner water, and work in safer environments for more than four decades. The crusading attorney first made headlines in 1965 with his book Unsafe at Any Speed, a scathing indictment that lambasted the auto industry for producing unsafe vehicles. The book led to congressional hearings and automobile safety laws passed in 1966, including the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. He was instrumental in the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC), and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Many lives have been saved by Nader's involvement in the recall of millions of unsafe consumer products, including defective motor vehicles, and in the protection of laborers and the environment. By starting dozens of citizen groups, Ralph Nader has created an atmosphere of corporate and governmental accountability.
McCarthyism Made Us Veer Away From a Systemic Doctrine for Change - Ralph Nader on RAI (1/3)PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to Reality Asserts Itself.
Ralph Nader first made headlines in 1965 with his book Unsafe at Any Speed, a scathing indictment that lambasted the auto industry for producing unsafe vehicles. The book led to congressional hearings and automobile safety laws passed in 1966, including the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. In his career as consumer advocate, he founded many organizations, including the Center for Study of Responsive Law, a public interest research group; Project for Corporate Responsibility; and Public Citizen. His legislative accomplishments also include the Clear Clean Air (1970); Occupational Safety and Health Act (1970), which also pushed for the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970; the Freedom of Information Act in 1974; the Clean Water Act (1977); Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 1977; the Mine Safety and Health Act (1977); the Whistleblower Protection Act (1989); and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Nader was also a leading figure in the antinuclear movement of the 1970s and '80s, advocating for the total abolition of nuclear and fossil fuel energy in favor of energy conservation, solar energy, tidal, wind, and geothermal sources. He's also the author of several books, including Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future, and his most recent collection, Told You so: The Big Book of Weekly Columns. He's also a four-time candidate for the president of the United States. And he continues to be an outspoken critic of corporate power and its political influence over U.S. politics.
And he joins us now in our studio in Baltimore.
Thanks very much for joining us, Ralph.
RALPH NADER, POLITICAL ACTIVIST, AUTHOR, AND ATTORNEY: Thank you, Paul.
JAY: So, most viewers know we usually start with people that we--haven't done Reality Asserts Itself before. Our first segment's a little biographical, and then we get more into segments about what our guests think.
Now, people have had an opportunity, those who--and I would--a lot of our audience, they probably know a lot about your history. And if you haven't watched the documentary An Unreasonable Man, it's a pretty good way to get a sense of Ralph's background. And if we did a biography of you, we would--and talked about it, we'd need about a month of segments.
So I'm going to kind of jump to a couple of things and just focus on them. Just to begin with, I know from watching the film, your mother was an activist, your father was very political, and they would ask you--I think, at dinner, they--you'd have to kind of prepare for a topic, you know, have an opinion and do some research. But what was the politics of it? You're born in '34. You start to become aware of the world during the war. There's a massive antifascist movement. There's politics of all kinds. There's socialist politics and communist politics. And it's a fervent of ideas. What's in your house? How would you describe the kind of political spectrum?
NADER: Well, people showed up in those days. The sidewalks were full, the stores were full. You didn't have shopping malls. You didn't have iPhones. You didn't have television. So they had to eyeball each other. And when you eyeball people and you want to improve things, good things happen. So that was the atmosphere I grew up in.
World War II was interesting, 'cause Franklin Roosevelt would ask for sacrifice, and, you know, we would see rationing of meat, a rationing of other products. So more people started gardens. We had chickens in the back yard. I had to water the chickens early in the morning. You know, we saved paper. We saved string. We saved tinfoil.
So I was, you know, eight, nine, ten years old. That's a good way to grow up. You learn frugality. You learn what now is called recycling. You learn discipline.
JAY: And what was the--sort of your consciousness and discussion in the house of the antifascist character of the war and that kind of politics?
NADER: Well, it was, I mean, really a vigorous pronouncement that this was a good war. We were attacked--Pearl Harbor. You know, the Nazis were swarming over Europe, going into Russia. So we've never seen that since. I mean, very few people were really against the war. There were isolationist, don't get mixed up in Europe's war. But everything changed after Pearl Harbor in December 7, 1941, and some of our ships were attacked by German subs. So it was viewed as a defensive war. It wasn't, you know, going with drones all over countries in Asia and Africa and, you know, breaking through countries that never threatened us, attacking people. No. It was a different type of attitude.
JAY: Now, as a teenager, you start becoming--you know, growing up, your formation of your political ideas in a somewhat more mature way. It's becoming the height of the Cold War. You know, after--you know, in the '40s and leading up to the House Un-American Activities Committee and McCarthy hearings, how did this shape/affect you?
NADER: Well, it's really amazing that one senator, Senator Joseph McCarthy, who defeated La Follette in Wisconsin on the grounds that he wasn't liberal enough, rather, that La Follette was not liberal enough. Joe McCarthy, it was like a reign of terror. He's scared people. He intimidated people. He ruined people's careers through his highly publicized congressional hearings, his wild accusations anonymously against people in the federal government.
But, you know, it spilled over. I mean, there were students at university, college, they didn't want to show up at what they thought were activist symposiums. They didn't want to do any marching. They just--they figured, you know, they'd be stigmatized as soft on communism or, you know, reds.
And the overall impact was--on the progressives and liberals was it made them veer away from any kind of systemic public philosophy to change things for the better. So they just became very empirical. They'll try to get a labor union organized or try to get better working conditions or something like that because they didn't want to be accused of isms, you know, like socialism or communism. And the other side was, of course, they were all about capitalism.
So just amazing effect, Joe McCarthy and his acolytes, not just on civil liberties, but on the whole mindset of people.
JAY: And how did it affect your mindset?
NADER: Well, it affected it in the sense that you didn't come forth with any doctrine of social change, because if you had any kind of coherent doctrine or platform, they would label it as a ism. You know, it would be socialism or any kind--syndicalism. You know? So we became very empirical. You know, we went after the auto companies' unsafe cars. No ism there. People are being killed every day, injured because of unsafe cars, lack of seatbelts and padded dash panels.
And that has affected the left all the way to the present day, whereas the right wing, they've got this capitalism--although, you know, it's--corporate capitalism is the antithesis of capitalism. I mean, owners of corporations, they have no control, the shareholders have no control over General Electric or IBM or General Motors.
So it really had an amazing impact. As a result, there were no big thinkers on the left the way the right wing had Friedrich Hayek, even though they distorted what a lot of--Ludwig von Mises and so forth.
JAY: In the '60s, with the rise of the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, there was a very politicized sector, especially on the campuses with students, and globally there's national liberation wars going on. You must be having these arguments about a more systemic analysis, a more systemic approach versus specific reforms.
NADER: Well, even the '60s. Number one, it was the Cultural Revolution, so they couldn't really say ism. You know, they might say ['wAstr@lIzm] or, you know, anarchism, but, you know, it wasn't some foreign ideology.
The other part was concrete reforms, civil rights, women's rights, the beginning of gay-lesbian rights, the rights of students on campus, and then consumer rights, and then environment. You see how programmatic it was. Everybody avoided linking it together and basically saying, you know, big-time corporate capitalism is an omnicidal momentum. I mean, it just has one thing in mind, and it will destroy or weaken or co-opt anything in its way that is civic, that is democratic.
JAY: In terms of your own beliefs, if we're talking this period of the '60s and, you know, leading into all the great list of legislative accomplishments, but in terms of your own thinking, did you believe this was a reformable system, that step by step you would have these pieces of legislation and more people would wake up, and you would kind of get to a form of capitalism that you hoped it would be?
NADER: No, because, I mean, my father was a restaurant owner, and small capitalism is nothing like giant multinational global capitalism. That's a completely different animal that has to control government to turn it against its own people, 'cause government was basically the only countervailing force to these big corporations.
So I believe that certain things could be ameliorated. I mean, cars could be made safer, food cleaner, medicines tested better, air cleaner, water cleaner, things like that, because it didn't go to the fundamentals of corporate capitalism, although sometimes they would indicate, oh, this was terrible, you know, it's going to end the--Henry Ford said it was going to end the auto industry to put some safety devices, going back to World War I when they were invented, like seat belts in cars. Yeah. I mean, I was quite aware of that.
And I was ready for the backlash. I told the reporter for The Detroit News, Saul Friedman, once, I said, we're pushing for regulation of big business to demonstrate that it wouldn't work after a few years. It would just work at the beginning, and then the counterattack, lobbyists, campaign contributions, all the things that corporations do to get back their position.
JAY: But you hoped it would lead to something more transformative in the future.
NADER: I did. I hoped for a cooperative economy, you know, where people own their own businesses, co-ops, food co-ops, insurance co-ops, you know, the way they developed in Switzerland and Norway and Sweden. But that took too much time. It reminded me of Oscar Wilde, who once said socialism will never work, 'cause it requires too many meetings. And that's part of it.
The other part is corporations have been very clever A) in distracting people, especially young generation, with entertainment, with professional sports, turning them into spectators. Now you've got, you know, 24/7 entertainment. There's no end to it. And they've also been very good in making people internalize a sense of powerlessness. And the moment people think they can't fight Exxon or City Hall or whatever, they become powerless by definition. They create their own powerlessness.
And so this whole growing movement for a higher minimum wage now--. I mean, I've been saying for years, you know, what's wrong with the labor unions? What's wrong with the 30 million workers today who are making less today than workers made in 1968, adjusted for inflation, even though the productivity has doubled for workers? Why? Because they thought it would take a huge effort to turn around Walmart and McDonald's and the Congress.
And what's beginning to be shown down now: it doesn't take that much effort at all. Already they're--it's becoming--rising to the top three or four issues for the Democrats. And why? Because you had, like, four or five thousand workers once in a while getting out and demonstrating against McDonald's or having one-day strikes.
And what we've been doing in Washington, getting the D.C. City Council--they just, you know, unanimously came behind a $11.50 minimum wage--it's now $8 or so--in the District of Columbia over three years. We haven't won yet, but the amount of effort put in is, like, pipsqueak. And if you made ten pipsqueaks, you'd win. I mean, this book I wrote, Seventeen Solutions, I wanted the title subtitle to be: it's easier than you think, people. But, you know, just think you're a little bit more powerful.
The Constitution starts "We the People", not We the Corporation. They don't even mention the corporation or a company in the Constitution. So why do they rule us? Because we have disempowered ourselves by making excuses for ourselves. Oh, it doesn't pay to vote, because it doesn't mean anything to us. Oh, why go to a city council meeting? It doesn't matter. That's exactly what the big boys want you to do. They'll pay you to be cynical if you don't do it free.
JAY: The legislative accomplishments--I went through the dates: '66, '70, '74, '77. What happened after that? In terms of America, what happened after that?
NADER: Simple. Congress changed because of Tony Coelho, who was a congressman from California, who was head of the House campaign finance fund for the Democrats. And he persuaded them to start pitching corporations and corporate executives. He said, if the Republicans can get plenty of money, we can get plenty of money. So he'd go to these PAC meetings in Washington, and they would basically ask for contributions, up to $5,000 minimum per candidate, and the PACs would say, well, how are you on the oil depletion allowance? And are you for more regulation of drugs, medicines? What are you on the tax issue? Just corrupted, with Reagan becoming president, too, in the '80s. And you could see it was harder and harder to get congressional hearings, harder and harder to get decent judges to hear your case, harder and harder to get regulatory agencies to issue safety standards or even to make investigations.
So money really corrupted the Democratic Party, because before that, they got most of their money from big labor, and the Republicans got it from big business. Now it's, like, 40 times more money comes from commercial sources than from labor.
So we started seeing the doors close in Washington. And we'd work harder and harder, we'd start a lot of citizen groups, file lawsuits, and we'd achieve less and less.
JAY: Post World War II, there was--the world was American capitalism's oyster to be opened. Europe was devastated, Japan was devastated, the Soviet Union was devastated. I mean, America is the behemoth industrial power, in fact the only industrial power for a long time. But by the time you get to Reagan, you now have this kind of globalized economy. But earlier, there's a lot of wealth to share with American workers. Like you could--you know, like, for the American elites you can say there was a--you know, for peace at home, we can give in on some of this stuff. But Reagan seems to represent a kind of moment where there's a realization in the elites, hey, we don't have to share this with them; they're too weak.
NADER: Yeah. And when he fired the air traffic controllers and jeopardized the whole airways--and luckily there weren't any crashes, which is why I think Reagan was born with a four-leaf clover in his diaper.
JAY: Yeah, 'cause that would have been the end of that.
NADER: Oh. I mean, that was a signal to big business that they could really roll labor. They would weaken the unions, they could hire corporate-busting law firms, they could make sure there isn't labor law reform in Congress. It was a signal moment in the very, very shift of power in the hands of the big corporations.
But, look, we won World War II, right? Okay. Our veterans don't get checks every month, but in Germany the soldiers from the Nazis, they get checks now every month.
So here's my rap on winners and losers in World War II. We won World War II, okay? Germany, Italy, I mean, they lost it, right? So watch this. In Germany and Italy, they have four weeks or more paid vacation, everybody, regardless of whether they're unions or not. They all have universal health insurance, everybody, regardless of whether they're members of unions. They have paid maternity leave, paid family sick leave, paid daycare. Okay? They have higher lower wages--that is, the bottom third have higher minimum wages in Germany and Italy, as well as the rest of Western Europe. Right? They have cheaper and better public mass transit. Okay? They have better pensions, alright? And they have tuition-free higher education, right? We have none of these in the United States 65 years after World War II. None. None. We have some labor unions. You know, they get--.
But I just have a friend whose wife gave birth this week, and she works for an environmental agency of the federal government. No maternity leave paid. They give her three months unpaid maternity leave. In the Netherlands and France they'd give you six, eight months, then they'd turn it around and give the husband paternity leave. Who won World War II? See?
This comes from a two-party tyranny. We did not have multiple parties. And, you know, as you know from your native Canada, it was a third party that started universal Medicare in Canada, led by Tommy Douglas. So it was a two-party. One.
We had none of the--ways people get into politics are much easier in Western Europe.
JAY: But now, you know, as we see capitalism in its--the '08 financial crisis and the sort of recovery of Asia, you start to see--and let me add another big thing is there's no longer this--even if it's hypothetical--or was it theoretical?--but there wasn't this supposed socialist Soviet Union that was going to guarantee jobs and insurance, health insurance, and this and that. I mean, the message of European capitalism and America to Europe, not so much to Americans: well, you don't need socialism to get all this; capitalism can do it for you.
NADER: Yeah, social democratic politics they called it.
JAY: But now Europe is now turning on itself, and they're doing everything they can to get rid of all this stuff. And now they want to be like the American model, to be more competitive.
But I guess where I'm going with this is: have we entered a kind of new stage of history of capitalist development?
NADER: Well, basically it was globalization that did it to Western Europe. Once they took in the model of the World Trade Organization, once they in effect financialized more of their economy--derivatives, speculation, stock market, all that--that's when they started going down. I warned them: do not accept the U.S. multinational model, 'cause it's going to happen to you. And the effect of the multinational model was exacerbated by the European common market. So if they got in one country, they'd get in a lot of the other countries.
However, they still have a safety net. And it's frayed badly in England. For example, they're charging students now as high as $12,000 a year for tuition. But by comparison with us, nobody dies in Western Europe--nobody dies in Western Europe because they don't have health insurance. They're insured from the cradle to the grave. In this country, 800 Americans die every week, every week, 'cause they can't afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time. And that's--figure comes from a Harvard Medical School peer-reviewed study in the December 2009 Journal of American Public Health. This is not some wild figure. Eight hundred a week, and not a single major politician is talking about it in the election year last year.
JAY: If you go back to what we were talking about earlier, the effect of the Cold War and how it, you know, blocked many people trying to do a more systemic analysis and more systemic vision for what could be, it seems to me that the thing that you're just not allowed to talk about here as a result of the Cold War is who owns stuff. You can talk about distribution, you can talk about higher or lower taxes, you can even talk about inequality, talk about it, but you can't talk about who owns stuff, 'cause, oh, that sounds like socialism.
NADER: Even when it's us, the people. Like, we own one-third of the land in the United States, public lands. We're never taught that. All that rich minerals and trees and grazing and gold and iron and silver. And the reason why we're not told about that is because we start saying, hey, if we own all this, why don't we control it? Why aren't we getting some of the results from all these minerals? Why do we give our minerals away to companies domestic and foreign under an 1872 mining act? We give it away for $5 an acre. You know, the Canadian gold giant Barrick Corporation, well, they found gold on federal land in Nevada over 15 years ago, and they estimated it was $9 billion worth. And so under the 1872 mining law, they went to Washington and they documented their find with their geologist, and Washington had to give $9 billion worth of gold for $30,000 with no royalties back to Uncle Sam.
So they don't want us to know we own the public airways. They don't want us to know, because otherwise we could have our own TV networks, our own radio. They don't want us to know we own that huge trillions of dollars of government research and development that built the aerospace industry, the semiconductor computer industry, the biotech industry, the containerization industry, half of the pharmaceutical industry. Right? Never mind that 400 of the richest people in our country control as much wealth as the 95 percent of the rest of the country. No, no. I mean, that's beginning to be publicized, that the 1 percent, you know, control.
But the real dynamic that isn't being [incompr.] is if you start getting people saying, hey, we own all this stuff, why are we paying such high price for drugs? That drug was developed with taxpayer money by the National Cancer Institute and the NIH--that's a federal agency. They give it away to a drug company. See?
So that's the real revolutionary education. It's that the biggest wealth of our country is owned by the people and controlled by corporations.
JAY: Okay. In the next segment of our interview, I'm going to ask Ralph whether the kind of legislative reforms that he's so well known for, is it still possible to have these kinds of reforms.
So please join us for the continuation of our series of interviews with Ralph Nader on Reality Asserts Itself on The Real News Network.
How to Nullify the NSA
How to Nullify the NSA (and every other government tyranny)
Hardly a week goes by that we aren’t faced with some new outrageous piece of legislation from the increasingly tyrannical government. But once these bills have been passed, what can we actually do about them? What if stopping this legislation was as simple as saying “no”? Join us this week on The Corbett Report as we explore the nullification solution, a long-repressed piece of political history that offers us a way out.
Pathology of the Rich
The Pathology of the Rich - Chris Hedges on Reality Asserts Itself pt1
On RAI with Paul Jay, Chris Hedges discusses the psychology of the super rich; their sense of entitlement, the dehumanization of workers, and mistaken belief that their wealth will insulate them from the coming storms -Bio
Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig , spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.
Zionist chemical weapon
Toxic Loophole: Israel refuses to give up chemical weapon stock
Published on Dec 15, 2013
A potential forceful intervention in Syria was avoided in September, after the government agreed to destroy its toxic arsenal. Efforts to rid the Middle East of chemical weapons are being held up by Israel and Egypt's refusal to join the international convention. But, with Syria now on-board, there's little space left for countries to maneuver - as Paula Slier explains
Fmr. Israeli Intel. Chief Says Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Greater Risk than Nuclear Iran - Phyllis Bennis on Reality Asserts Itself pt2
On Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay, Phyllis Bennis examines the Israeli debate about Iran and Palestine, the role of AIPAC and the complex changes taking place in Middle East politics - December 11, 13
Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow and the Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. She is the author of Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer, Before and After: US Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis , Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer and Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer.
Fmr. Israeli Intel. Chief Says Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Greater Risk than Nuclear Iran - Phyllis Bennis on Reality Asserts Itself pt2PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network, and welcome to Reality Asserts Itself. I'm Paul Jay.
We're continuing our series of interviews with Phyllis Bennis. We're going to dig into some of the more current issues now, starting with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Phyllis is the director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She's been a writer, analyst, and activist on Middle East and UN issues for many years.
And I did a much lengthier introduction in part one. And I suggest you do watch part one before you watch this part two.
But let me just quickly tell you some of the books Phyllis has written: first of all, four primers--a primer on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, one on ending the Iraq War, U.S.-Iraqi crisis, and U.S. War in Afghanistan; and many other books, including--let me pick one--Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the UN Defy U.S. Power.
Thanks for joining us again, Phyllis.
PHYLLIS BENNIS, FELLOW, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: Great to be with you.
JAY: So I want to start off talking about some of the debate that goes on in Israel--or perhaps lack thereof.
Haaretz has a piece today, and I'll read a quote from it. The headline is "Ex-Shin Bet Chief: Effects of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Riskier Than Nuclear Iran". The story goes, former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said Wednesday evening that he believes the unresolved conflict with the Palestinians has much graver ramifications for Israel's future than the Iranian nuclear program. Quote, "I say it even though it is unpopular to do so." "We need an agreement now, before we get to a point of no return, after which a two-state solution will be impossible." Speaking at an event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Geneva initiative, Diskin said, "I would like to know that our home here has clear borders, and that we're putting the sanctity of people before the sanctity of land. I want a homeland that does not require the occupation of another people in order to maintain itself."
The people I talk to in Israel, including our journalist, says, like, this is a voice that barely exists in Israel, that there really isn't much debate about this. And Diskin and people like him are kind of off in the wilderness.
BENNIS: You know, I'm not sure I absolutely agree with that. I think that there is actually--in the press, at least, there is more debate in Israel and in the Israeli press than there is in the United States, where there's much more fear about challenging anything about the general accepted discourse on Israel. Inside Israel, Diskin is one of a number of people. There was a film that came out last year called The Gatekeepers that featured a number of former Shin Bet leaders like him and former--.
JAY: Just for those that might not know, Shin Bet is the Israeli intelligence service. And in fact, as Phyllis is saying, many former heads of the various intelligence services in Israel have said similar things to this.
BENNIS: So that's not new. It's also, I think, understood in a lot of parts of Israel that the situation with the Palestinians is not going to work the way it is now.
Now, the problem is that for a large number of Israelis, it is working. For most Israelis, the situation is very comfortable. Israelis have passports. They can go anywhere. Israel is the 23rd per capita wealthiest country in the world. It has the fourth-largest/strongest military in the world. It has the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East. Iran doesn't. Israel does. And it has, of course, the uncritical backing of the United States. So things for Israelis are pretty good.
You know, the number of Israelis killed in violent attacks is way down. There were two this year, zero last year. I mean, it's--this they can deal with. This is not a problem.
The problem is, for the Palestinians, the idea of a two-state solution, if it hasn't already disappeared, is virtually about to disappear. And I think that in Israel a lot more people would be aware of it and are starting to become aware of it again in a way that they used to be more aware of it because of the global campaign known as boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), which is a campaign to use nonviolent techniques of both economic and other kinds of sanctions to pressure Israel to stop its violations of international law against the Palestinians.
In the main, so far, ordinary Israelis have not felt that, but you are starting to see the impact of those kinds of campaigns on ordinary Israelis. And if you look at the model in South Africa in the anti-apartheid period, it was when the sports boycott took hold that ordinary South Africans, who are absolutely sports-driven, sports-crazed, that's when it started to connect that this really wasn't going to work in the long-term. In Israel, it's about science and culture and technology that's are--that's that obsession at a society-wide level. And when you have things like--just in last couple of days, we saw the American Studies Association, one of the most prestigious academic organizations in the United States, just voted to support the academic boycott against Israel. That's going to have an enormous impact on Israeli academics. When leading theater and musicians, theater people and musicians decide to abide by the boycott call and refuse to perform in Israel, that cultural impact is having a huge effect.
JAY: Now, this quote I read from the former Shin Bet leader--and as you said, he's not the only one. There's been a lot of these former guys. But the American media almost entirely ignores these guys. And it's like you're--this is, like, almost--this is an important section of official Israeli public opinion.
BENNIS: It is, but I also think that things have changed. I don't think that's the case anymore. If it were, you would not have seen the film The Gatekeepers nominated for an Academy Award for the best documentary. It got enormous publicity. It was reviewed in every major paper and, you know, on NPR, and all the TV stations were talking about it. Now, does it get talked about all the time as much as it needs to? No.
JAY: Well, how much influence is this having in the American Jewish community? And why don't we see any reflection of this in American politics? Netanyahu comes to Congress and gets--like, you know, what is it? Fifty standing ovations.
BENNIS: This is the big challenge. We have massively changed the discourse in this country. The press is different. Publishing is different. Popular culture is different. And the debate in the Jewish community is different.
What has not changed is the policy, and that has far more to do--.
JAY: The policy and the politics, like, congressional politics.
BENNIS: Yes, but that's where the policy gets made. That hasn't changed. And that's the huge challenge that we face.
If we look at an organization like the U.S. campaign to end the Israeli occupation, it's 12 years old. When we started, it had, I think, six organizations and about 15 people meeting--very nervous, and they were scared about what we were about to do. Now there are over 400 member organizations that include giant church-based organizations, Jewish Voice for Peace, which has 140,000 members. You know. All of these giant organizations are part of that coalition, of that campaign.
So we see a huge shift in how people are talking about this issue, what is safe to talk about now. You know, I don't worry about getting shot by the JDL the way I used to anymore. It hasn't happened for years. You know, the debate is entirely different.
What's not different is that our political system is still hijacked by corporate interests, by wealthy lobbies. And one of the most powerful of those lobbies, of course, is the set of pro-Israel lobbies led by AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. There's a host of others, Christian Zionist organizations, as well as all the Jewish organizations.
JAY: We did some stories and some investigation on this, and the conclusion we came to: that a great deal of North American Jewish public opinion is extremely critical and does not vote based on Israel issues. But a lot of big Jewish money is very closely connected to Netanyahu and Likud.
BENNIS: Right. This is--and it's not surprising. The money follows the right. You know, it's not surprising that the right wing is always better funded than the left, because the right wing represents the interests of big money, whether it's corporations, whether it's the military-industrial complex, or in this case it's the wealthiest component in the Jewish community and among Christian Zionists. That's where the money is.
It used to be that AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the other pro-Israel lobbies in the Jewish community, could meet with members of Congress and say, look, we've got money. We may give you some. Mostly we're going to hold you hostage, that if you don't toe the line, we're going to fund an opponent that you don't even expect yet. But we'll also bring you votes, because we have influence in the Jewish community and people will vote the way we tell them. They can't say that anymore. And that's huge. They still have the money, but they don't have the votes, because the Jewish community has changed.
JAY: Something happened on Syria that was rather--seemed unique, this moment where AIPAC seemed to be lobbying heavily for an American military intervention.
BENNIS: And they lost.
JAY: And they lost.
BENNIS: That's not the first time it's happened. We saw it back in 1981, where AIPAC was dead set against, as the Israeli government was dead set against, allowing U.S. arms sales of what were known as AWACS (it was a particular kind of high-tech surveillance plane) to Saudi Arabia. And the Israelis at that time, unlike now, where they're actually quite close to being in bed with the Saudis, at that time there was a great deal of antagonism between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and the Israelis and their lobbies said, this is unacceptable; we cannot allow the U.S. to sell AWACS to Saudi Arabia. At that moment, because there was a divide between the interests of the pro-Israel lobbies and what was perceived as U.S. national interests, the national interests won.
The reason that the lobby often seems so powerful is that, yes, it does have a lot of influence. I don't--I'm not denying that. But it has been historically pushing in the same direction as the majority of U.S. policymakers want to go. So imagine if you're running behind a car, and you start to push the car as it goes forward, and the car starts to go fast. You can claim, wow, I was really strong--I pushed that car 30 miles an hour. You know, maybe you didn't. Maybe you were pushing it in the direction it wanted to go anyway.
Now, it is true that the lobby has had enormous influence.
JAY: Yeah, 'cause a lot of the American--there is a section of the American professional foreign-policy establishment that doesn't agree with this totally pro-Israel status.
BENNIS: Right. The realist sector often is very critical of the tight bond between the U.S. and Israel that prevents a more strategic assessment of where U.S. interests actually lie. I often disagree with them, because they see their--U.S. interests are with oil-rich monarchies instead of Israel, etc. There's a lot of social questions to that. But they are historically significant in the U.S. policy debates.
JAY: So, now, President Obama is developing these negotiations with Iran. Clearly Netenyahu and that whole section of the Israeli elite are opposed to this. There's a whole section of the American neocons are opposed to this. The Saudis are opposed to this. But is this a kind of a--something new in American politics that an American president would so get off the agenda of Israel? And he has not, up until now, certainly.
BENNIS: This president is not off the agenda of Israel. We should be clear about that.
JAY: On Iran?
BENNIS: This president--let me say it--this president has been, according to Israeli officials, the most pro-Israeli president in the history of the United States.
JAY: Vis-à-vis the Palestinians.
BENNIS: I said the most pro-Israeli politician, the most pro-Israeli president. That includes arms sales. It includes collaboration on new weapons systems. It includes billions of dollars in military aid every year. It includes protecting Israel at the United Nations to ensure that it's never held accountable.
Having said all that, it is also this president, Barack Obama, who has been willing to cut a deal with Iran as part of a global movement of countries, of governments that are looking at changes in the region as a whole and saying, I know the Israelis don't like this; I'm going to do it anyway.
So both of those things are true. The fact that Obama has signed off on the deal with Iran does not change the fact that he is still the most pro-Israel president overall that we have had in the United States.
Now, at the political level, is Bibi Netanyahu going to, you know, welcome him as a brother and a friend? No, absolutely not. The tension between Obama and Netanyahu remains very, very tight, and it's very strong both on the question of Palestine, in terms of language, and strategically on the question of Iran.
Right now, Netanyahu is quite isolated in Israel. The military and the intelligence officials in Israel are saying that there needs to be an agreement with Iran, that going to war with Iran would be crazy. The current chief of staff of the IDF, the Israeli Defense Force, has said, we could do it alone, we could go to war alone. But both he and other top military and intelligence officials have said, but it would be crazy for us to do it, because if we did, while we might have the military capacity, we would be left with the entire world turning against us and we would lose the support of the United States and Europe and the rest of the world. That's a very true assessment, that it's a huge risk.
JAY: And that's partly because Obama is saying--and I think he is listening to American foreign-policy professionals in saying--and, you know, his Asian pivot, his whole strategy is about China--that getting involved in a war with Iran would weaken the ability of America to project its power, which is the same reason he opposed the war in Iraq, not 'cause he's antiwar and not because he's pro-peace with everybody. He wants to maintain this ability to project power. So a deal with Iran makes sense. But the Saudis hate it, the Israelis hate it, and he's willing, apparently, to do it anyway.
BENNIS: Right. And I think that that is a very important statement about how he sees U.S. foreign policy.
It's also true that this is a moment when conditions in the Middle East are shifting massively and nobody is very sure how things are going to play out. So the Saudi opposition is--not because Saudi Arabia wants to go to war with Iran, but Saudi Arabia and Iran are contending as to which is going to be the regional hegemon, who's going to be more influential.
JAY: Well, the sources I talk to that are very connected to the Saudi military establishment, they have told me they don't want to go to war with Iran, they want the United States to go to war with Iran, and that they do want an actual hot war. People I've talked to--.
BENNIS: I think some in Saudi Arabia do want to. I don't think that's the majority opinion in the royal family, and it certainly isn't the opinion of most Saudis. And I think that that's important, because right now the Saudi royal family has less support domestically than they've ever had since the kingdom was created. They're looking across the border at Bahrain, where only the intervention of 15,000 Saudi soldiers prevented the overthrow of the king of Bahrain. They're looking at the UAE, at Jordan. In all these absolute monarchies--Jordan somewhat less, but even there--where there is beginning to be real ripples of change, the Arab Spring is not leaving out the monarchies, despite the very different political relations.
So no one is very sure how this is going to play out. The decision that the Obama administration had made--late, but they made it--in the period when the U.S.-backed dictator of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, was being overthrown in early 2011, in that period you saw a decision by the administration that we can't keep up this position that we can only deal with military dictatorships and absolute monarchs; we're going to have to deal with some of these Islamic-flavored movements and governments. So they were willing to do that. Then that got smashed with the military coup that overthrew the government of Mohamed Morsi.
JAY: Which the Saudis had a lot to do with.
BENNIS: Which the Saudis had a lot to do with. And the Saudis now are making up massively for the loss of U.S. influence in Egypt by bringing in a coordinated gift, if you will, of $12 billion, dwarfing the $1.3 billion that the U.S. was paying to the Egyptian military. The Saudis, along with the U.A.E. and some of the other Gulf states, have kicked in $12 billion to the government and the military with the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood.
So you have this very complicated issue where Iran is now seen as having a lot of influence in the region through Hezbollah in Lebanon, through the government in Iraq--despite the fact that the government is dependent on U.S. funding, it's politically far more accountable to Iraq--sorry--it's politically far more accountable to Iran than it is to the United States, and, of course, in Syria, where you have a real regional war, a proxy war being fought out in Syria. There are at least six wars being fought today in Syria. And the people paying the biggest prize, of course, are the people of Syria.
JAY: There's an interesting report today in AP which talks about Iran saying, once the sanctions are dropped--and they're talking as if they're assuming this six-month deal will become a real permanent deal--Iran is going to start pumping oil without any containment. They don't care what OPEC has to say about how much oil, and they don't care. I think the quote was, we don't care if the price of oil goes down to $20.
BENNIS: Twenty dollars a barrel.
JAY: Well, if there's anything's that's going to freak the Saudis out, it's that.
BENNIS: That's certainly true. And the Saudis are facing a huge challenge of their oil is not going to last forever either, and only in the last few years have they been willing to acknowledge that. The kingdom is facing a serious challenge with a growing population, and enormous, bloated royal family whose levels of privilege are legion.
JAY: And losing leverage with the United States, the way the United States is becoming such a big oil and gas energy producer now. I saw something that said in four or five years the United States could be the number one energy producer in the world.
BENNIS: Right. A lot of that is because of national natural gas, but also it's because the U.S. government is willing to take on fracking and do all of these really dangerous kinds of unusual, if you will, sources.
JAY: But all of this, again,--
BENNIS: But the other side of it--.
JAY: --lowers the leverage of the Saudis.
BENNIS: Right. But the other thing that lowers the leverage is that as of 2010--this is now three, almost four years ago--the Middle East has not been the source of the largest amount of imported oil. Even as imports in general have gone down, the Middle East has been eclipsed by Africa for who is providing the majority of imported oil to the United States. So, you know, we're looking at a situation where the oil weapon no longer exists in the same way.
So everything right now in the region is shifting. And in that context, it makes it much easier, I think, for the Obama administration to move towards an agreement with Iran, which, given that it's quite--it's narrow, it's limited, it's only going to be six months, there's huge opposition brewing both in Congress, in Israel, from Saudi--.
JAY: But it's a seismic shift from U.S. policy, Israeli policy. And in reality, Saudi policy had been regime change in Iran. They're a long way from regime change.
BENNIS: This is a long way from regime change. There's a kind--and I think that the war in Syria and the sense of what the cost would be--but more than anything else--and I think this is true for the Obama administration--. I don't entirely agree with you about your assessment of where Obama was on the war in Iraq. I think he really did believe that the war in Iraq was what he called a "dumb war."
JAY: Oh, yeah. That's what I'm saying.
BENNIS: Right. But I think--.
JAY: I'm saying the only reason he opposed it is 'cause he thought it was dumb, not for any other reason, not 'cause it was illegal.
BENNIS: Right. But I think--well, I'm not sure that he didn't think that there were aspects of it that were illegal also.
But I think that the key is we're looking at a situation now where the effect of the Iraq War, what it did to U.S. credibility around the world, has been very sharp in its impact. And I think that in the Obama administration there's a growing recognition of that. They saw, you know, the demand for U.S. intervention in Libya. And then what were we left with? A disaster in Libya. You know, ask anybody in Libya now: are you better off today? Very few people are going to say yes. You know, it's a violent, dangerous place for ordinary people. Nobody can live an ordinary life in Libya these days. So the U.S. is looking at the whole question of the militarization of diplomacy that had characterized the last decade and saying, maybe we need to change this.
JAY: Okay. We're going to--in the next segment, we're going to talk about this. You recently wrote a piece which talked about are we looking at a new period of diplomacy rather than militarization as the number-one go-to policy choice.
So we're going to pick up the discussion in the next part of our series of interviews with Phyllis Bennis on Reality Asserts Itself on The Real News. Thanks for joining us.
Zionist to Anti-Zionist
From Zionist to Anti-Zionist Activist - Phyllis Bennis on Reality Asserts Itself pt1
On RAI with Paul Jay, Phyllis Bennis traces her development from active Zionist youth to whom Jewish identity meant support for Israel, to a leading American anti-Zionist writer and analyst - December 10, 2013
Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow and the Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. She is the author of Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer, Before and After: US Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis , Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer and Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer.
From Zionist to Anti-Zionist Activist - Phyllis Bennis on Reality Asserts Itself pt1PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to Reality Asserts Itself.
The situation in the Middle East is getting tenser. At the same time, it looks like there might be some breakthroughs and resolution on things--the negotiations with Iran, the situation in Syria. But of course there are many forces at play here that might blow all of this up in the air.
Now joining us to talk about all of this is Phyllis Bennis. Phyllis is the director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She's been a writer and analyst and activist on the Middle East and UN issues for many years. Two thousand and one, she helped found the U.S. campaign to end the Israeli occupation. She cochairs the UN-based International Coordinating Network on Palestine. She continues to serve as an adviser to several top UN officials on the Middle East. And she's in the running for the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories.
Phyllis is the author of many books, including Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today's UN, Before & After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11th Crisis, Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the UN Defy U.S. Power. And she's done four primers, as she says (but I said primers): Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, Ending the Iraq War, Understanding U.S.-Iran Crisis, and Ending the U.S. War in Afghanistan.
Thanks very much for joining us, Phyllis.
PHYLLIS BENNIS, FELLOW, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: Great to be with you, Paul. I'm glad to be in Baltimore.
JAY: So, as people that watch Reality Asserts Itself know, we usually start these series with a personal background of our guest, get to know a little bit about why they think what they think, and then we'll move more into current issues and what they think.
So, Phyllis, let's kind of go back. Just give us a sense of the kind of politics in your household when you grow up, in terms of your parents, the culture, the influence. What is it?
BENNIS: You know, I grew up with a very traditional, Reform Jewish, Democratic Party family. Nobody was an activist.
BENNIS: West Los Angeles. I grew up in California. Don't I come off like a California girl?
BENNIS: And for me the idea of activism around the big issues of the time, which included the--you know, I grew up in--I was born during the McCarthy period, the anticommunist surge of the '50s, and then, of course, the--.
JAY: And a great focus on it in L.A.
BENNIS: Absolutely, and a great period of the civil rights movement.
But until maybe high school, those things didn't touch me very much. I was very involved in the Zionist movement. I was a very active Zionist youth group organizer, camp counselor, camp director, all that stuff. I learned a lot about organizing, actually, in those days.
JAY: So Jewish identity was a big part of your identity.
BENNIS: Jewish identity was a huge part of my identity, although it's interesting that unlike friends of mine who grew up in the same period, say, in Long Island or in New York, or elsewhere, in California for Reform Jews the religious part was not very important. You know, God really never never entered into the equation. It was all about Israel. This was all about Israel.
JAY: And so this is--your father and mother are imbued in this.
BENNIS: Both my parents were very involved. Both of them were Sunday school teachers at our temple. My father was active on the temple board for many, many years. My mother used to tell me later that from the time I was about two, she would take me to the Sunday school and drop me off in the first-grade class so she could go teach her own class and that they used it as a babysitter. So I was imbued in all that stuff.
JAY: And Israel is what to you? I mean, I assume as a kid you weren't there, were you?
BENNIS: No. No. We couldn't afford to go.
JAY: So what is this image in your mind of what Israel was?
BENNIS: The image in my mind was very much the Golda Meir version of making the desert bloom and there are no Palestinians. This was not the kind of cutthroat Zionism where you talk about the Palestinians, you talk about expelling them, you talk about the need to establish an iron wall. It wasn't any of that. For us, Palestinians didn't exist. They were simply not in the equation. They certainly weren't on the land. As I got older, junior high, high school, started--left ideas started creeping in, the question of the civil rights movement was emerging, socialism was starting to be a word I would hear, and in that context, Israel was very much about all of that. The kibbutz movement was a huge component of what I--.
JAY: And how much was the Holocaust and World War II--I mean, you're not that, actually, far away. I know when I grew up in the same period, we were actually singing children's songs, you know, ridiculing Mussolini and Hitler. We weren't that far away from the war.
BENNIS: I didn't grow up with any of that.
JAY: Maybe I'm older than you are.
BENNIS: Maybe a little bit older--not too much, probably. I didn't grow up with any of that. My father, of course, had fought in World War II, but like so many of that generation, he came home, put away his uniform, and never talked about what he did in the war until much later.
JAY: So, you know, flowers bloom in Israel and reclaiming the desert and all these sort of positive stories. But is it also about Jews need Israel because they're going to come get us again?
BENNIS: Not really. That's what, when I think about it, is a little odd. I mean, I read the novel Exodus over and over again as a kid when it came out, and I saw the movie, and, of course, we were all enamored of Paul Newman as the handsome Ari Ben Canaan. You know. So that played a big part. And, of course, the Holocaust shaped that novel in terms of the legitimacy of the creation of the state of Israel.
But in terms of my life, I didn't hear about that. My relatives had left Europe before the Holocaust. My grandfather had come from Russia escaping pogroms in 1910, but my other grandparents were already here. They were born in--three of my four grandparents were born in New York. So we didn't have family in the Holocaust. I didn't have that personal connection. And it was more about Jewish identity. It was very much old-fashioned identity politics more than anything else. So that was my identity. I was very proud of it.
JAY: So I would guess people that watch The Real News know this already, but Phyllis is probably, if not the, one of the most outspoken, articulate critics of Zionism amongst North American Jews. So how do you get from there to there, here from there to here?
BENNIS: Well, the short answer is the Vietnam War. You know. I grew right through high school with this focus on Zionism, and that was my social environment, those were my friends, that's who I hung out with. And then I went away to college. And I start college in 1968, the big year, if you well. And in that context I spent my first year being very much a serious student. You know, this--you do grow up with, as a Jewish kid--and you probably did too--that it's all about education, it's all about, you know, getting good grades. That's all the levels of expectation.
JAY: I grew up with that. I just didn't listen to any of it and quit school the moment I could.
BENNIS: Well, there's that. So here I am, a 17-year-old kid, you know, showing off, linking up with a group of graduate students, and going to--taking their courses, taking their postdoctoral seminars, and thinking of myself as quite the intellectual. But by the end of my freshman year, I'm suddenly immersed in the student movement antiwar stuff. The Black Student Union had taken over the computer center the year before in the struggle to get an ethnic studies department on campus.
JAY: You go to school where?
BENNIS: I'm at the University of California in Santa Barbara. And, you know, suddenly I'm joining SDS. I'm part of the new student government. We have an alliance with the Latino student movement and the Black Student Union, and we take over student government.
And suddenly I'm the chair of the Lectures Committee. You know, what the hell is that? I didn't really know. But I had a budget of $10,000, which at that time was really a lot of money, to bring people to campus. So I brought Angela Davis and I brought half the defendants of the Chicago Conspiracy Trial and the lawyers from the trial. And suddenly I was involved with meeting all these people that I had only just heard about.
And school suddenly was not really about going to classes. None of us went to class very much. We were publishing an underground newspaper and we were doing radio. We took over the campus radio station.
JAY: Well, all this time, all the people that you're associating with are supporting the Palestinian cause. It's well known. It's not like this is not a--it's on the margins.
BENNIS: Yes and no.
JAY: Palestine was an important issue then.
BENNIS: At my university there was one Palestinian student who I knew. I'm sure there were more, but I didn't know them. And he was kind of an interesting guy. I didn't know him very well, but he was sort of around our circles, and I learned some things from him.
But I really didn't think about the Middle East at all. I sort of put the whole question of the Middle East away when I got involved in work around the war. I just wasn't thinking about it. I was studying imperialism, I studied the legacy of colonialism, and was completely invested in ending this war in Vietnam, the invasion of Cambodia that led to the explosion on college campuses. We had the National Guard on campus, and a student was killed. And the bank burned down, the Bank of America was burned down. You know, our campus was on the map as a center of all of this.
JAY: But getting to your school, your identity is a big piece of it, is Jewish identity and Israel, and that's, like, on the other side of the barricade.
BENNIS: Right. But I really wasn't thinking about it at that time. There was no activity on my college campus.
So then, you know, everybody on campus who's politically active is focused on Vietnam. Nobody is talking about Palestine, Israel, nothing like that.
Suddenly, about two or three years later--and this is--we're really talking about after I'm out of college now.
JAY: It's what? Seventy-one? Seventy-two?
BENNIS: No, this is now '73, '74. Something happened, and to this day I don't really remember. It might have been the '73 War. I really don't remember what it was. But something--.
JAY: But '67 [crosstalk]
BENNIS: Sixty-seven, I was a kid in high school. Sixty-seven, I was running around, raising money for the war effort. I was at the Hollywood Bowl with a bucket, one of the legion of Jewish kids that were running up and down the steps of Hollywood Bowl collecting the checks from people that were there for this ten hour marathon. But then--.
JAY: But the narrative of a besieged Israel was totally part of what you believed in the world--
JAY: --at that time.
BENNIS: --but not--I didn't really get it. I didn't even really think it was besieged. I just thought it was this was about defending Israel. That was a good thing. That was it. And this was my social life. I was a kid.
And then something happened. Whether it was the war in '73 or something else around that time, something happens that shoves it back in my face and says, you've got to think about this again. And by then I've been studying imperialism, I've been studying colonialism. And I thought to myself, you know, I think I was wrong about this Israel stuff.
And being a good Jewish girl and a good intellectual, I go to my father's library and I read Hertzl, the founder of modern Zionism. A read his diaries. And in his diary, Hertzl writes about his desperate effort that goes on for years to get support for what he calls his colonial project from Cecil Rhodes, for whom Rhodesia was named. And he writes these letters, these desperate letters to Cecil Rhodes, saying, I know that you're interested in Africa and I'm interested in a little sliver of Arabia, but both of these are colonial projects. That's his language. Both of these are colonial projects. You should support my efforts to get the British government to endorse my colonial project the way they have endorsed yours.
JAY: Okay. Very quickly, for younger viewers, who the name Rhodes and maybe even Rhodesia doesn't mean anything, this is the theory of establishing essentially white settler states in Africa, and even in other places.
BENNIS: And, of course, the country that was called Rhodesia for so many years is today Zimbabwe. And Cecil Rhodes was the British colonial officer who led that colonial takeover of half of southern Africa.
So it was in that context, when I read that, because, of course, I had studied African decolonization, you know, I was reading Nyerere, and I read this and said, oh my God, what was I thinking? This guy was a lunatic. I was completely off base here. That's over. And that was that. It was a very--no muss, no fuss. It was very quick.
Now, why didn't I get all emotional and whatever about it? I don't know, but I didn't.
JAY: But it can't be completely no muss, no fuss, 'cause you've got to go back and talk to your parents.
BENNIS: Well, but I didn't talk to my parents about that for a long time. First of all, I didn't start doing any work around it for quite a long time. The fact that I changed my mind didn't change what I was doing. I got out of school. I went and worked for two years with the Indochina Peace Campaign with Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda. I went from there to New York for a year to work as a staff organizer in the National Lawyers Guild office. I was doing all kinds of international work there. I was doing work on Vietnam. I was doing work on the Southern Cone of Latin America, where the military dictatorships were rising and were carrying out these dirty wars. You know. So all of that was underway. I was starting to get involved a little bit in the emerging anti-apartheid movement. But I wasn't doing anything around Palestine.
JAY: But you know that you're detaching from what your father believed in the world.
JAY: Even earlier, even your antiwar activism, you are for McCarthy. He votes for Humphrey.
BENNIS: Exactly. I was a "Clean for Gene McCarthy" kid, and my father was for Humphrey. And the only fight that I really remember was over that question.
I mean, but to their credit, when I think now about my parents, their willingness to accept the legitimacy of my changing ideas and not try to force me into their mold was really rather extraordinary. Now, some of it I know was because my parents never got to go to college. You know, they had to work. My father had scraped by. And his father had had a malt shop and then a candy shop in New Jersey, had barely been able to make it, had, you know, three boys that he had to raise, my father and his twin and then a younger one. The younger one, when he got out of the war, was he able to use the GI Bill and go to university. And he became a major academic figure, who still is a professor emeritus at the University of Southern California. But my father and his twin, they were married by the time they came back for the war. They couldn't go off on the GI Bill. They went to work. They never got to go to school.
JAY: What city are you in at this point?
BENNIS: I'm only 100 miles away. I'm in Santa Barbara, California.
JAY: Still, throughout the '70s.
BENNIS: No, no. This was only college.
JAY: Okay. When do you leave college?
BENNIS: Then I go back to L.A. for two years.
JAY: Well, let me jump to the content, and then give me the narrative in terms of time. When do you get to this position that you would call really anti-Zionist? But, I mean, being anti-Zionist, to me that means if its 1948 and I have a vote, which I wouldn't have, I would have voted no. If you're anti-Zionist, you don't vote to establish an Israeli state.
BENNIS: Right. You--. And what's ironic is that until the Holocaust, one of the things that I think is not very well known is that Jewish public opinion never accepted Zionism as a majority position until after the Holocaust. And if you think about it, it's quite understandable why. You have a scenario of, say, the pogroms in Eastern Europe and in Russia, czarist Russia, and what does that look like? You have these anti-Semitic riders, you know, riding horses into town, burning down buildings, raping women, killing people, and in the name of cleansing Jews from their town, from their city, from their region, from their country. And immediately on their heels, you have Zionist organizers coming and saying, you're not really Jewish--sorry--you have Zionist organizers coming into town and saying you're not really Polish, you're not really Russian, you're really Jews, you're something else, and you should come with us, leave your land where your family has lived for 500 years, leave that and come with us to establish this new state in the desert in Arabia. And people were like, what? Why would we do that? You fight against antisemitism here; we find allies here.
And so in that context Zionism was never the dominant position of how to fight against antisemitism. It was only in the context of the Holocaust and the post-Holocaust reality that antisemitism in the United States and Britain, along with anticommunism, prevented the vast majority of Jews who had either escaped the Holocaust, had survived the camps, and were now in displaced person camps all over Europe and wanted to go to join their families in Brooklyn or in Londons--they didn't mostly want to go to Palestine, but that was the only option.
JAY: And a big part of that was in fact the many leaders of the Zionist movement actually lobbying Congress and the president, Truman, not to let Jews in. There's a quote from Truman where Truman says, I don't understand these Jews; I'm willing to stick my neck out, and I don't even--there's a great quote where he says, I don't even particularly like these people, but I'll stick my neck out, we'll let them in, and then I have Jewish Zionists coming and telling me not to do it.
BENNIS: Right. And there were others on the other side saying, you must let them in. But that was the decision.
JAY: Including, I believe, the publisher of The New York Times at the time. He took that position.
BENNIS: That would be consistent with their editorial position. I don't know about the specific quote from Oakes at the time, but it's--.
JAY: I did some research on this. The publisher of The New York Times was actually very critical of how the Zionists were blocking Jews from getting into the United States.
BENNIS: Right. Right. And, you know, this was a big debate within the Jewish community. But then the debate was over. And when the debate was over, it was on the side of Zionism and support for Israel as the only thing that was going to protect Jews from another Holocaust. So that became the majority opinion.
JAY: So just to again in evolution of your thinking, you go from, well, I wasn't right about Israel to a very strong position.
BENNIS: But that takes some years. It takes a lot of study. I didn't take up the issue until around 1976. I'm in the National Lawyers Guild. I'm an activist in the guild. I'm a legal worker. That's my main political home at the time. And I helped to arrange for a delegation of Lawyers Guild people, lawyers, to go to the West Bank to investigate potential violations of international law that people are starting to hear about. And the delegation goes, and they come back. I work it out with the PLO delegation at the United Nations. And there was at the time a left-wing kibbutz in Israel that we were working with, and they jointly sponsored this delegation.
They go, they see, they come back, and they write a devastating report. Nine out of the ten wrote just a devastating critique of the Israeli violations. And it becomes instantly a huge, quite divisive issue in the Lawyers Guild. And I'm suddenly one of just two or three people that's faced with, oh my God, we've got to figure out how to deal with this so the organization doesn't fall apart.
And my assignment was, go become an expert, go study, so that we can figure out real answers here, because it wasn't enough to say, this is what we saw. Other people were saying, you know, fine, you saw that, but you're not taking into account X, Y, and Z, and etc., etc.
So I did a crash course in the history of Zionism, in the Palestinian national movement and all these things. And it wasn't so easy back then. There weren't as many books as there are now.
JAY: There weren't primers.
BENNIS: There weren't primers that I knew of. They were hard books. You know. I could have used a primer at that point. I was pretty ignorant.
But I did that. I tried to talk to people. I had a couple of Palestinian friends by then. I joined an organization called Jews and Arabs Against Zionism. I don't think I was calling myself an anti-Zionist in any particular way at the time. I was just sort of studying what's this all about.
And in the context of all that, I began seeing the importance of that work relative to U.S. foreign policy and the problems of U.S. foreign policy, and as a national liberation movement like so many, like the Vietnamese, like the decolonization movements in Africa, that the Palestinian movement was very much like that, that the creation of Israel had led to what Palestinians called the Nakba, the catastrophe that had led to the expulsion of 750,000 people from their homes--those people and their descendents are still refugees today--and had led to the dispossession of land and homes and wealth of an entire population.
JAY: So just to jump ahead, you have become one of the most outspoken, as I said, critics of Zionism. How lonely does that get for someone who grew up with Jewish identity? There were a lot of Jews don't like the things you say.
BENNIS: That's true. But it's so different now, Paul. You know, the Jewish Defense League shot into my house back in the '80s, and when I was living in LA.
JAY: Shot with a gun.
BENNIS: Shot with a gun, little--little 22 caliber bullets. They didn't--I wasn't home. It was the night before a big protest, and I was actually out at a meeting. But I came home and I saw holes in the window, and I was on the phone with somebody who was in charge of arranging the security for the demonstration. I said, oh, this is interesting; I'm seeing holes in my window. And oh, look, there's what looks like bullets on the floor. And I picked them up and he said, get in your car, get your dog, and get over to my house. You're staying here tonight. And I did. But, you know, it was one of these--. Really? Twenty-two caliber? You know, it was like they wanted to scare. They didn't. It all seemed very stupid.
But these days it's so different. You have an organization like Jewish Voice for Peace. They've got 140,000 supporters on their lists. They have, I don't know, 35,000 or 40,000 paid members. They've got 30 or so chapters around the country. They've got another 20 or so student chapters. They're amazing. They do fantastic work. And it's taken as a matter of course that Jewish opinion has changed so dramatically that it's no longer a big deal.
I mean, it was difficult for my parents, obviously, once I became a little more public on this issue.
JAY: Okay. We're going to start moving to more contemporary issues. So in the next series of segments with Phyllis, we're going to start talking first of all about Israel and Palestine, and then we're going to talk about some of the current issues in Iran and Syria and elsewhere in the region.
So please join us for the continuation of Reality Asserts Itself with Phyllis Bennis on The Real News Network.
Keiser Report: Bankster Bacteria (E538)
Published on Dec 19, 2013
In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss factory-farmed citizen consumers who live in mom's basement, dragging the economy down with them. They also discuss the monoculture of housing bubbles and high interest rate loans in the workplace. In the second half, Max interviews Bill Still about his conversion to crypto-currencies and what role of the NSA spying scandal played in his decision.
Debt Incest Cult.
Keiser Report: Debt Incest Cult (E536)
Published on Dec 14, 2013
In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the debt incest cult operating on Wall Street in which JP Morgan's Sons and Daughters mate two units of related debt for four generations and thus spawning a deformed and cross-eyed credit market. In the second half, Max interviews Jeff Berwick of DollarVigilante.com about the great Bitcoin divide in the libertarian community and about the great migration from the USA to Mexico and beyond by Americans seeking more liberty and freedom.
US oil-Cold War.
Keiser Report: US oil vigil for price of Cold War (E535)
Published on Dec 12, 2013
All Rights belong to RT. Further videos from Max, Stacy and about topics addressed are available in Recent Activities, Favourites, Play Lists on my channels. In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss Commie-Pus and the $8 trillion wasted by the US taxpayer in protecting the flow of oil out of the Strait of Hormuz where more than 50% heads to Asia. In the second half, Max interviews Liam Halligan of Telegraph.co.uk about the Chancellor's Autumn Statement and mis-statements, about Liam's forecast for Russia to be the largest economy in Europe by 2020 and they ask whether or not the Iran peace deal means Saudi Arabia is just not that important in a post-peak world.
China's New March
CrossTalk: China's New March
Published on Dec 6, 2013
Is the battle of 'overflights' the opening salvo of the growing competition for the Pacific pitting China against the US? Is the American pivot to Asia merely militarizing the region? Can Washington accept that China will eventually become the regional hegemon? And what would an American-Chinese compromise look like? CrossTalking with John Feffer and Martin McCauley.
China's N submarine
First Video: China unveils nuclear submarine fleet
Published on Oct 28, 2013
The first nuclear submarine fleet from PLA North China Sea Fleet carried out a military drill as shown by footage released lately. The drill was aimed at testing the maneuver capability of the fleet in deep-sea navigation, long-distance operation, submarine communication and coordination with other battleships. Other than nuclear-powered submarines, a wide range of destroyers, frigates, depot ships and military helicopters were also engaged in the drill, according to military officers in the drill.
China's territorial challenge
China 'reviews' Okinawa ownership in new territorial challenge to Japan
Published on May 9, 2013
Japan's ownership of an entire archipelago in the East China Sea may be up for review - not by Tokyo, but by Beijing. The Okinawa Islands chain is home to sprawling US military bases, and tens of thousands of American troops. The People's Daily - considered a mouthpiece of China's Communist party - all but laid claim to the archipelago in an article written by academics. Japan quickly hit back, denouncing the paper as a political tool and declaring its ownership of Okinawa beyond doubt. It's the latest territorial dispute marring relations between the two Asian powers - both are also locked into contest over another island chain. READ MORE: http://on.rt.com/7rhvdn
Heroin Capital: Afghan opium sets global drug supply record
Published on Nov 14, 2013
Opium farmers in Afghanistan are expecting a record harvest this year - bringing huge profits for warlords and heroin traffickers. Poppy production continues to spread at a staggering pace, with some growers claiming government officials are taking a cut from the lucrative business. Let's cross live now to Kabul, to talk to Jean-Luc Lemahieu - he's the head of the UN drug control agency in Afghanistan and neighboring countries.
CrossTalk: Afghan Transition?
Published on Oct 14, 2013
With presidential elections looming in 2014, what lies ahead for Afghanistan? To what degree can the US still control events in the war-torn country, and what role can the Taliban be expected to play in the future? And will the US ever really leave Afghanistan? Peter Lavelle CrossTalks with John Glaser, Linh Dinh and Michael Kugelman.
Afghan war legacy.
'Mom tried to sell me for drugs': NATO troops leave deadly Afghan legacy
Published on Oct 1, 2013
The US and its allies are packing their bags, ready to head out of Afghanistan next year - but they'll leave behind a deadly legacy. Since the start of the "War on terror" twelve years ago, the drug industry there has thrived. And it's not only for internal use - Afghan-made narcotics are being steadily appearing the over the world, and have killed at least a million people. RT's Gayane Chichakyan reports.