The editors of World War 3 Report talk to two Palestine Solidarity activists, Steve Quester from Jews Against the Occupation and Zaid Khalil, of Stop US Tax-Funded Aid to Israel Now (SUSTAIN), groups that calls for the full right of return for Palestinian refugees, and an end to all US aid to Israel. Quester and Khalil talk about their entry into solidarity work, their experiences in Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement and the challenges currently facing Palestine activism.
WW3R: Let’s start with your backgrounds. How did you get from point A to point B, where you come from, your folks.
ZK: My name is Zaid Khalil, I’m an American national of Palestinian ethnicity. I describe myself that way because Palestine is not a sovereign state, and I was born in the US, so culturally I’m more American that anything else, whatever that means. I was born in South Jersey, God help me, in a fairly racist town. I’ve been to occupied Palestine six times, I just recently got back Oct. 17 from a two month trip there. I’ve been there twice this year.
WW3R: Six times your whole life?
ZK: Yeah, first time I went there was ’86, went back in ’88, went back in ’92, ’98, Apr. ’02, during operation Defensive Shield, and Aug. 17 to Oct. 17.
WW3R: And your parents?
ZK: My parents were born in a village called Al-Mazra’a Ash-Sharqiya, which is 13 km northeast of Ramallah,. My mother was granted American citizenship from my grandfather, who came to the United States in 1913, fought in the first world war for the United States, gained citizenship, went back there, married. My mom was born, and my mother and father married and emigrated here in 1957.
WW3R: You wouldn’t call yourself a Palestinian-American?
ZK: Well, the reason I identify myself that way is because I really want people to understand that when I go over there, I’m an American. For instance, when I go to a checkpoint, I hand them my American passport, and I’m allowed to pass through. Through the gun sights of a sniper I’m a Palestinian, because of the way I look.
WW3R: What about to the Palestinians?
ZK: To Palestinians, I’m both and neither. On one level I’m American, because just culturally I share characteristics of Americans. But on another level, people do identify me as a Palestinian. So for instance, I notice how quickly I’m able to form relationships with people in the West Bank, like really quickly.
SQ: I remember people always asking you, the minute you started speaking Arabic, even though you have an American accent, “OK, where are you from?”, and what they wanted to know is, Al-Mazra’a Ash-Sharqiya — like they needed to place you in a Palestinian context and localize you. They didn’t care where you were from in the US.
WW3R: So how many times have you been back since the current Intifada began?
ZK: All together, two and half months, but the first period, when I was there in April, can’t be measured in days, because I would say I was awake almost the equivalent of the month in the second trip, because it was so incredibly dangerous, it was so crazy, just awake all the time. Whereas the second period was very, very different. I mean, much more institutionalized, the oppression. Much more depressing, in my opinion.
WW3R: This would be after re-occupation began in June?
ZK: Yeah. I mean the occupation always been there, it’s been occupied for 35 years. What Palestinians call “inside 1948,” has been occupied since 1948. Palestinians still refer to Israel very much as occupied territory too, but they also recognize that it’s Israel at the same time.
WW3R: When you say that they know it’s Israel, what does that mean exactly?
ZK: In the American-Israel lexicon, people talk about recognizing Israel as a state, or recognizing the existence of Israel. [The Palestinians] can’t help to know Israel exists. It’s in their face every day. So Israel exists. They refer to people as Israelis, or actually, they refer to people as Jews. The Palestinians don’t usually use the term “Israelis.” But that’s also because Israelis identify themselves as Jews, too, which is pretty horrific, if you really think about it. Because, number one, Judaism is a religion that has existed for three thousand years. Zionism is not. They’ve co-opted Judaism and put it on the side of tanks, you know, the symbol of Jews, the Star of David on the side of tanks. And F-16’s.
WW3R: Sometimes without the flag, it’s just the star, right?
ZK: Yeah. They’ll graffiti it, they literally graffiti it in a way that you can imagine Nazis graffitiing the swastika.
WW3R: Graffitying on walls and stuff?
ZK: Yeah, so for instance, after they went through and demolished the whole entire social structure, all these NGO’s and ministries, like the health and education, after they defecated on the floors and trashed the whole entire place, looted it, they would put the Star of David on a mirror, in lipstick
WW3R: So they are using they are using the star as a symbol of
ZK: Power, dominance. I mean, that you can’t escape. So when Palestinians say Israel exists, they say it exists as a reality. Only in the mind of a complete narcissist would people constantly question that. But at the same time there is this collective memory of Palestine that has not been erased. And actually, it very much has formed through the Zionist movement. Because during the Turkish period, you know, there was a certain amount of autonomy. When people had allegiances, it was local. The whole idea of the nation state had a devastating effect.
WW3R: Steve, tell me about your background.
SQ: I’m Jewish, I was raised in a not-very-religious Reform household with liberal and Zionist politics, but the Zionist thing was not very strong. I was the one that took that ball and decided to run with it, you know, chose to spend my summers between junior and senior years in high school in Israel. Spent a year of college there, and two years there after college. The story of my political life throughout my adult and teenage years, is trying to reconcile an anti-racist, anti-imperialist world view with what I was supposed to think as a Jew about the Middle East, and it took a long time to work through that. I used to think I was a traitor, for thinking the things I thought about Palestine. I’m way over that now.
WW3R: When did you think that?
SQ: When I was in my 20’s, I started looking around me, really thinking through stuff, and reading, meeting Palestinians and talking to them
WW3R: When you say that you took Zionism and ran with it, what did Zionism meant to you then, how did you define it?
SQ: Well, that Jews owed loyalty to Israel, that Jews automatically have a connection to Israel, that it’s a good thing for Jews to emigrate to Israelthat’s what I mean. I was gonna do it, I was considering the army, the whole nine yards
WW3R: So was there a decisive turning point?
SQ: No, everyone wants to know the big turning point. There was no decisive turning point. It was a gradual process over many years.
WW3R: You’ve said that being gay led you to deal more with the margins when you were in Israel, that you drifted more towards Arab groups when you were a student. Can you talk about that?
SQ, Well, I think that being queer, I think you have a different take on conformity, on what you’re supposed to do and who you are supposed to know, and so it was just very automatic and natural to me to befriend the Palestinian who was on my dorm floor at Hebrew University.
WW3R: Is that unusual?
SQ: Yeah, I think so.
WW3R: When you say Palestinian, you mean Palestinian Israeli?
WW3R: But Hebrew university is supposed to be a pretty tolerant place, no?
SQ: Yeah, sure, it’s tolerant. They tolerate the Arabs. [Laughs]
WW3R: And what happened when the current intifada broke out, where would you say you were politically at that point?
SQ:, Oh, I just, just completely snapped. I ran out and bought a Palestinian lapel pin to wear. That’s when my focus changed from peace and dialogue to solidarity. Y’know? There’s like this horrible thing happening to millions of defenseless people, and people of conscience just have to be in solidarity with them. And Israel is just obviously the enemy here.
WW3R: And when you say solidarity, that means in terms of choosing sides?
SQ: Yeah, I’ve chosen sides, absolutely.
WW3R: Alright, but is solidarity necessarily mutually exclusive with dialogue?
SQ: You know, those two years after college that I lived in Israel, I was all about dialogue, I was a volunteer with Interns for Peace, we did “encounters” between Israeli Palestinians and Israeli Jews, primarily children and youth. And I learned a lot, I acquired a lot of very good skills. But in terms of moving forward an agenda of liberation, it was a fucking waste of time, you know,? Let’s talk about reconciliation after liberation. This is no time to do it, you know?
WW3R: And what would liberation require?
SQ: The complete withdrawal of all Israeli forces from all of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and all of the Gaza Strip, and the unconditional right of return for any Palestinian who wants it. And then it’s time to start talking about reconciliation, because there will still be deep and horrible wounds, and you can never get back the lost half century or more
WW3R: But do you then support just anything that goes on in the Palestinian liberation struggle?
WW3R: Where do you draw the line?
SQ: You know, this struggle for Palestine, since the beginning of Zionism, has always been about targeting civilians. Zionism by its nature targets civilians, its about the removal of a civilian population and its replacement by a militarized colonial population, so I draw the line at targeting civilians, which is a much, much smaller phenomenon among Palestinians than it is among Israelis. With the Palestinians, it’s desperate acts, by desperate people. But in no case is it justified or justifiable, and in no case does it move forward any kind of agenda of liberation. I think the suicide bombers are Sharon’s best friend.
ZK: For me it’s a little bit fuzzy, I mean, my biggest fundamental problem is–what are settlers? Do they constitute civilians? And then, the question is, OK, if they don’t constitute civilians, if we take the view that they are more or less paramilitary–what about their kids? And do you justify indiscriminate killing?
SQ: For me, I don’t. That’s on the wrong side of the line I drew, you know? I don’t support untargeted attacks on settlements, per se. I don’t think that moves forward an agenda of Palestinian liberation.
WW3R: Well, what about what Zaid’s saying? I mean, some of the settlements serve as military bases, they have surveillance up there, they occupy the heights. There’s armed settler militia, right? In the [November] Hebron attack, they were killed along with the soldiers.
SQ: Absolutely. The point is, infiltrating a settlement, walking into a home, and opening fire on anyone you can get your gun trained on, even if they’re all adults in the room–I don’t see that it’s either justifiable or practical, in terms of the end they’re trying to achieve. But, you know what? It’s not my main concern. My main concern is Israeli oppression, Israeli imperialism, and they way the U.S. uses Israel for its interests in the Middle East. I’m not the one whose going to decide how Palestinians are going to liberate themselves. I’m going to decide how I as an American Jew am going to stand with Palestinians. So, I’m not going to strap bombs on myself and walk into a mall in Tel Aviv, alright? But it’s not where my focus needs to be.
WW3R: Zaid, is there somewhere where you disagree with that?
ZK: Well, not necessarily disagree. But, I think, basically there’s two ways of justifying–not necessarily justifying, but understanding–attacks against civilians. If you’re going to do armed struggle, you do it from a moral perspective, or you do it from a tactical perspective, OK? So, now the question is
WW3R: It can be both, no?
ZK: Well, in general, once you go into the realm of armed struggle, morals go out the window. You can take an entirely pacifist stance, and say the killing of anyone is immoral. OK, I can agree with that, to a certain degree, if you take that stance. So now, we should judge it based on tactics. And, one of the things you see, is tactically, attacks on civilians inside of Israel just doesn’t work. I mean, it generates fear, but fear is not necessarily the only thing you want to generate. But on one level, tactically, it acts as a deterrent. And to a certain extent, there needs to be some level of deterrence against settlers who are publicly subsidized to live in these places. Not only publicly subsidized, but fully armed and backed the fourth powerful military in the world. There needs to be some level of deterrent.
WW3R: But this hasn’t been the pattern that’s been followed. There have been attacks in Israel proper as well as the settlements.
ZK: That’s right, and part of the reason is because settlements have been so difficult to penetrate. They are colonial fortresses, they sit on top of mountains, they’re entirely ringed by a perimeter, with sniper towers, soldiers with the best equipment American dollars can pay for. But you don’t have that at settlements like Gilo, the Jerusalem settlements, which are more easily penetrated by going through Jerusalem, which Palestinians can do. It’s not easy, but I’ve done it two or three times myself–gone into Jerusalem without having to travel through a checkpoint.
WW3R: Why did you want to avoid a checkpoint?
ZK: I think I was just going for different cab fares, you know? It’s like, all of a sudden, you’re at Qalandia, someone says, you know, taxi to Jerusalem, and you’re like, well, alright.
SQ: We went around the Qalandia checkpoint to get from Mizra Ash-Sharqiyyah to Ramallah. It was interesting because we had to go through this stone quarry, it was also sweet because we got this ride to Ramallah. You know, the alternative is to travel the way the Israelis want you to travel, which is you get a ride to the checkpoint, wait on line–a rather long time, in the sun–you subject yourself to the authority of the state, you go through, and then you get another car.
WW3R: You put yourself at considerable risk, though.
SQ: You know, whatever. [Laughs] I mean, if I wanted to minimize the risk, I would have stayed here.
I don’t agree, about the minute you chose armed struggle its not about morality. I don’t think there is anything immoral about taking aim at a soldier, at an occupying soldier walking down your street, or an armed settler walking down your street, and shooting him. I don’t think there’s anything immoral about that at all.
ZK If you take the extreme pacifist point of view then all forms of violence against military and settlers is wrong. My point of view is that soldiers are legitimate targets and you would have to have a strong argument for attacking colonists. I feel that there is sufficient justification for attacking adult colonists.
SQ: And I think that it’s telling that principled pacifists, people who live their life that way, people like Quakers, Christian Peacemaker Teams, are extremely active in the Palestinian struggle. You know, it’s like, if you’re a pacifist, you don’t start deciding that other people do not deserve human rights cause they’re not pacifists. That’s not how it works.
WW3R: What if you’re asked, well, here you are going to stand in solidarity with these people, and they’re going in and blowing up civilians in Israel–how do you respond to that?
SQ: Human rights are not a reward for good behavior.
ZK: What I say is this. First thing, not all Palestinians actually support suicide bombings. Many do. Some consider it morally deplorable, and also harmful to the whole struggle. You get a wide spectrum. And on the other side of the spectrum, people say, things like, “Neither ethics nor tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat. First and foremost, terrorism is for us a part of the political battle being conducted under the present circumstances, and it has a great part to play in our war against the occupier.” The quote is from Yitzak Shamir from 1943, who later became an Israeli Prime Minister. The occupier he was referring to was the British, who facilitated the Zionist colonial enterprise from settlements to statehood and after. So you can imagine the level of contempt he had for the indigenous population.
WW3R: He killed a Swedish diplomat
ZK: Yeah, he killed a Swedish diplomat, Bernadotte.
SQ. The interesting thing about the Stern Gang, Shamir’s group, is that they were the last people in history who referred to themselves as “terrorists.” This is a term that had existed since the French Revolution, and up till that point was primarily a term that people applied to themselves, it was only after World War two, decades later that it became a term that one applies to the enemy one wants to delegitimize
JATO AND THE ISM
WW3R: In a nutshell, what is JATO?
SQ: JATO is a group of really smart Jews, who take an uncompromisingly anti-racist anti-imperialist stand towards the struggle for Palestine, and stand in solidarity with freedom for Palestinians.
WW3R: What are their demands, what are their goals?
SQ: Right of return, total withdrawal from the ’67 territories, and restoration of full human and civil rights on both sides of the green line, and end to economic attacks on Palestine, and the end of the muddling and confusion between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
WW3R: And what is the ISM?
SQ: The International Solidarity Movement is a Palestinian-led coalition that invites internationals to come to Palestine to do non-violent direct action alongside Palestinian activists.
WW3R: And when did you become involved in that?
SQ: In April. Someone who had been on the first August and December campaigns came and spoke at the founding meeting of the Palestine Activist Forum of New York. I was thrilled. It sounded like a smart idea, and a very good fit for me.
WW3R : And how long were you there for?
SQ: April I was there a week, in August I was there three weeks. Planning to spend all of next summer there, and I’m going to spend my sabbatical year there in 2004.
WW3R: And what did you come away with from your time there?
SQ: Now I know what occupation looks like. I have no idea what it’s like to live under occupation, but I know what it’s like to visit under occupation, and it’s really scary and horrible. And I’ve gotten a chance to sit and talk with Palestinians under occupation, including people who support attacks on Israeli civilians. I was able to start to understand where people are coming from, and
WW3R: What is their rationale?
SQ: You know, I didn’t really pick away at it with people, I didn’t really interrogate them. There are a lot of people who just talk about it very matter of factly, you know? Wearing a martyr picture around their neck, the pendants, “this is my brother, he was killed in an operation in Netanya,” you know? It’s like, it’s an operation, it’s a war. Someone at an internal JATO report-back this summer, after the nine of us came back, said, “look, whatever you say about these bombings, and whatever your stance is on them, it’s not mysterious why they happen.”
SQ: A military occupation this length of time, and of this severity, is historically unprecedented. And it’s surprising to me that Palestinian civilians aren’t just flinging themselves at the tanks at this point. So how people continue to go on at all, it’s just amazing to me. And that some of them are not going to go on anymore? I get it. I totally get it.
WW3R; So what did you hope you could accomplish by going there? Did you think you could make a difference?
SQ: Yeah, I thought I could. I thought that I would afford protection to Palestinians immediately around me for the time I was there, and that’s true, I did. That’s limited, you know, it’s limited to one’s actual presence, but it’s something. And I felt that I could help make non-violent resistance possible, because non-violent resistance has been so systematically crushed by the Israeli military for decades. And I succeeded in that a little bit, just a little bit.
WW3R: The ISM is helpful in that way, it helps the Palestinians conduct non-violence?
SQ: A little bit. I think the ISM is most helpful for morale. I get these emails saying, they’ve re-occupied Nablus again, please come back. You know, they feel so abandoned, they have been so completely abandoned by the world, I think it’s important for them to see internationals willing to put themselves on the line, at least for a little time.
WW3R: Zaid, what do you think of that?
ZK: It’s kind of interesting. See, we’re coming in from different perspectives. I thought that to a certain degree that I could help out. This last trip really solidified in me the basic fact that I am Palestinian. When it comes down to it, if I’m walking down the street and there’s a tank 200 meters away, I’m Palestinian. The question is, what’s my effectiveness. And in terms of protecting people, I wasn’t effective at all.
WW3R: Because they can tell you’re Palestinian?
ZK: Yeah, it’s right on my face.
WW3R: But what about internationals in general, international activists in Palestine?
ZK: I think there are a lot of things that are good about it, a lot of things that Steve addressed, as far as raising morale. Probably the most important thing that will come out of this is that when people go over there and directly experience it, it kind of changes their relationship with regards to struggle. It makes them an intrinsic part, they’ve seen it with their own eyes, it will be something that they won’t forget. And they come back here, really the place where it matters, and talk about it and work on it and try to build solidarity here. I think that’s one kind of thing that we haven’t worked on well enough. It’s kind of strange that I’ ve met more activists from different parts of the United States in Palestine than I have in the United States. And that’s something that we really need to start working on as we do our activism here.
SQ: I think in terms of moving Palestinian liberation forward, the most important thing about volunteering with ISM is what one can then do, back here. You know, even if we are primarily talking to people who are already sympathetic to the Palestinian struggle. I think that by speaking, and by showing images and relating experiences, we can do a great deal to strengthen the movement, to strengthen people’s resolve to keep struggling, because we have some credibility, from having been there.
WW3R: But in terms of non-violent action on the Palestinian side, do you see internationals as being helpful to that?
ZK: Theoretically, yes. But every demonstration I’ve taken part, where there hasn’t been Israelis, they’ve opened fire on us–internationals, and Palestinians.
WW3R: How many internationals have been hit?
ZK: People have been hit by shrapnel. I’ve been hit by shrapnel, from an M-16 bullet. The thing is, you don’t necessarily need to hit people. You just need to send a message, that, we’re gonna hit you. I mean, tear gas usually is sufficient. Let me tell you, 20,30 cans of tear gas, and you ain’t gonna stand it.
WW3R: So you’ve been in demonstrations where they’ve fired live ammo at internationals?
ZK: Oh yeah. I mean, I’ve been in international-only demonstrations where they fired live ammo.
SQ: It was my impression that after that incident on April 1st, the Israeli soldiers were much more careful when there were internationals around, that they were not hesitant to use sound grenades, smoke bombs and tear gas, but that they held off on the live ammo because it was such bad PR for them when they hit [activist] Sharon and hospitalized her. She was an Australian, was hit in the belly, with the bullet.
ZK: I actually disagree. I think they’ll shoot, they won’t shoot at anyone, but they’ll shoot, and that’s enough, usually, cause the thing is, you have to make it look erratic. So for instance, when I was in Kuffim, and we organized a demonstration, first they threw sound bombs, then they threw the tear gas, and then all of a sudden this soldier came up–[makes a machine gun noise]–and just started shooting. It was over everyone’s head, but everyone’s ducking. Let me tell you, if there’s bullets flying, you’re ducking. I don’t care who you are. And that included Palestinians. People are smart enough to know–you’re getting shot at, you duck, you hit the ground. I hit the ground in a second.
WW3R: And is that the end of the demo?
ZK: After a while, yeah. Non-violence is something you can do only if you’re not going to be met by massive violence. Once you’re met with massive violence, there’s not much you can do. A good example is when the Muqata’a [Palestinian Authroity HQ] was surrounded the last time, and you had demonstrations spark up–they shot people, they shot and killed people in Tul karm,. They shot and killed people in Ramallah
SQ: With the exception of young Baha [Albahsh],who was killed in Nablus, I’m not aware of any Palestinians who have been shot and killed in the presence of internationals.
ZK: No, there haven’t been.
SQ: I think that’s significant.
ZK: I think it is significant.
SQ: I mean, Baha was not at a demonstration, he was walking down the road with an ISM person
ZK: Actually, they were standing still
SQ: And I believe that the Israeli who shot him made a mistake, was going against orders, because it hasn’t happened before, or since. They don’t want to be doing this with international witnesses, they’ve plenty of opportunity to do it when we’re not around.
ZK:I don’t think it was a mistake, and most internationals don’t interpret it that way.
WW3R: How do they interpret it?
ZK: They interpret it as a message, because of the situation of how this kid was killed. He was fourteen years old, he was standing with three clear internationals about 100 to 120 meters from this tank. In Nablus. And the internationals were asking him for directions, they had walked with him, they were asking, where is, he had pointed over in some direction, just like that, you know?
WW3R: I remember reading press accounts. I mean ,there was just so much activity, I don’t know if the internationals noticed what was happening. I think it was an APC, actually,
ZK: Yeah, an APC
WW3R: But is sounded, from the account of Ewa Jasiewics that they thought he’d been deliberately targeted.
WW3R: And that the soldiers knew who Baha was.
ZK: Yes, because they had seen him around, and this particular commanding officer was particularly harsh to internationals, picking them up off the street, and sending them out, as happened to one of the JATO members So basically., they’re a football field away, right? And they shoot this kid, there’s internationals maybe about two of three away on either side, right? The kid’s pointing, they shoot him, entering here, exiting out [points at chest] like, clear, shoot to kill. All the internationals took it as a clear message. A couple of internationals had already been taken away by the army, sent to a police station, and processed. One of them went back to Britain after Baha got killed, because he was so devastated by it.
Yeah, I think it’s obviously not the internationals’ fault for not protecting the kid, but what it does show is that, Israel has cover. They’ve got cover.
SQ: Really, who outside of our activist e-mail circles even knows the story of how Baha got killed.
WW3R: Actually, that ended up in the Guardian, the Telegraph
SQ. Alright, well, outside this suffocating US media vacuum it was reported..
ZK: It’s interesting to see how they first reported it. First they said he was a bomber. Then they said he was throwing a Molotov cocktail. Then they said they would investigate, and that’s when it drops off the radar. I’m actually interested to see when the investigation of the shooting incident of me comes to a close
SQ: Yeah, right.
WW3R: Was Baha’s death a soldier’s decision? Is that an individual soldier’s decision?
ZK: I think that was actually from the regional commander; he’d been seeing us around.
WW3R: I thought that we could talk about JATO’s upcoming campaign.
SQ: The way that our perspective is frozen out in the organized Jewish majority, you know, it’s not like there’s a debate. I phoned my childhood rabbi, someone I have very good memories of. I said, I was in the West Bank, I was thinking I could come talk about what I saw–and he launched into a rant. You know, he just ranted at me for ten minutes, it was unbelievable. There was no way he was going to let me near anybody in that congregation where I had been bar mitzvahed.
WW3R: Zaid, how did you find your way to JATO?
ZK. [Laughs] That’s actually a really interesting question. I didn’t start getting active till a year ago–literally almost a year ago today. There was this Palestine Activist Forum meeting where I walked in being the one person who was not involved in activism at all. It was kind of a blank slate. I was well-read, which helps, and I also had experience, you know, of being there, so
One of the reasons I actually decided to actually go into Palestine activism was because I saw for the first time that Jews were active on the issue. So I saw that there’s clear chance of entering into the American consciousness. Because I’ve always said that Jews in particular in this country have the strongest voice on this issue. A lot of it has to do with the underlying racism in this country. Namely, that you can’t take a Palestinian or an Arab at his word, you know. And as I became more active, and started working more closely with these people, they developed into my friends, which is entirely kind of normal for me.
WW3R: So you’re saying before you met these folks you didn’t have much sense that there were anti-occupation Jews
ZK: I mean, I saw groups like Jews For Justice in Palestine, which published that pamphlet, but outside of a few intellectuals, I didn’t know about it. It’s entirely, entirely squashed. Not only within the overall media, and the way things are framed, but within the context of the way Arabs view this issue–which is really unfortunate. They view it through lenses that are similar to the media lenses. Namely, instead of looking at it from the standpoint of imperialism, they look at it from the standpoint of Jews controlling–you know, controlling these imperial powers. So it was that the Jews controlled Britain, the Jews control the United States.
WW3R: And that’s not what it is?
ZK. [Laughs] I mean, that’s pretty ridiculous. One thing I said to Palestinians, is “Let’s take a look at a state that has had lots of cooperation with Israel, let’s take a look at Saudi Arabia. Now, through this logic, would you extend, and say that King Fahd is a Zionist? To get the technical sense of what Zionism means, it means, Jews from around the world emigrate to Israel. Emigrate to Palestine to create a state for the Jews. I mean do you really think that King Fahd gives a shit? Do you think that George Bush really cares about Jews emigrating to Palestine? I mean, he might [Laughs]
SQ: I really don’t think he does. I think he cares about oil profits.
WW3R: We don’t know, he may be a Christian Zionist.
ZK: He may be. I mean, Bush is kind of on the fringe of religious fanaticism. Let’s look at Clinton, or any other administration that has supported Israel. And what you see is that you just can’t reconcile this vision of the Jews controlling everything and the overall structure of power, and the institutions that it serves ..
WW3R: You talked about seeing these Jews that were involved in this. I assume that meant something to you.
ZK: Well, I want to clarify. A lot of that has to do with restructuring my own internal biases. So for instance when I first entered conversations with people on this issue, the first thing I would do is, you know, give a whole slew of Jewish and Israeli intellectuals who argue this perspective. But I don’t necessarily agree with that, I don’t want to fall into those traps of feeding into this form of racism against Arabs. You know, there are people who are telling the truth, and it shouldn’t matter what their ethnicity was
SQ: I want to support that. I mean part of what helped with moving my own transformation along was a decision to read what people had to say about themselves. So I picked up “The Arabs of Israel” by Sabri Jiryis. And I started reading Palestinian poetry, et cetera. I think it’s really, really crucial to listen to people speak for themselves. That’s something JATO has made a point of. We’ll get invited to a place to speak, because we’re Jewish, and we’re pro-Palestinian, and we’ll use that as leverage, but we’ll show up with Zaid, or we’ll show up with Nihaya. And we’ll be like, OK, “Now it’s time to listen to a Palestinian, helllloooo.” So yeah, I think that’s really important.
THE CAMPAIGN TO END U.S. AID
WW3R: Let’s talk about the upcoming JATO campaign to end US aid to Israel.
SQ: There are a bunch of us in JATO who think that US aid is root of the problem, that without US aid to Israel there would be no occupation, because it would be unsustainable. We don’t have any illusions that we’re going to end US aid to Israel. But we think that in order to illuminate what’s really happening internationally and it’s implications for Palestinian people, it’s important to focus on US aid, and it’s important to focus on the way that the United States aid package for Israel is ultimately a subsidy package for well-placed US corporations, many of them based in Texas.
WW3R: Who are Israel’s defense contractors and so on?
WW3R: Why does JATO want to end all US aid?
SQ: Because ending aid would end the occupation.
WW3R: OK, well, what argument do you use to people who say “Well, you know, if we end all US aid to Israel they wont be able to defend themselves, and they’re under attack.”
SQ: They’re not under attack, they’re attacking, and they are clearly able to defend themselves. The US aid is not going to self-defense, it’s going to oppression of Palestinians. Israel has an extremely large and well-armed army that without another penny of US aid could perfectly well defend from attack.
ZK. I agree with everything you’re saying, but ideologically, I frame it entirely differently. Decision of where aid is going should be based on need. And Israel is the sixteenth wealthiest country in the world. They don’t need aid. They’d have a self-sustainable economy, if they didn’t spend 40% of their budget on their military, which is aggressive, like Steve was saying. People actually say, if you cut US aid, you are being anti-Semitic. There are people on the left who actually argue that. But you have to look at aid from the framework of need. Now, granted, that is not how US aid is distributed. From the PR perspective, that’s how it’s distributed, but it’s nonsense. Obvious places for need are, you know, sub-Saharan Africa. But all of sub-Saharan Africa combined doesn’t get the aid that Israel gets.
SQ: All of sub-Saharan Africa plus all of Latin America minus Colombia combined, does not get the aid that Israel gets. You know, take the three billion and redirect it to the global fund on AIDS–you’ll be doing something good with the money.
ZK: Yeah! I mean, when people say “end us aid to Israel,” the logical corollary to that is, “because they don’t need it.”
WW3R: The BBC ran a story this week that the IMF came out and said that Israel doesn’t need additional aid, “special aid” as it’s put, to get out of this recession, which is how it’s been billed. So, what’s JATO planning to do?
SQ: There’s been talk about doing some high-profiles “zaps” of pro-aid national figures. Disrupt a speech by Hillary Clinton, for instance. There’s been an idea floated of putting together a conference in Washington, of various Palestine activist groups opposed to US aid to Israel, and inviting politicians, seeing who comes, you know? We ought to see who our friends are. We don’t have a lot of them
WW3R: Might hear nothing but the crickets chirping
SQ: You know, there’s one or two congressmen who I think might show
SQ: Maxine Waters, John Conyors., you know? It would be cool if they did, right?
ZK: How about that guy from Texas, Ron Paul.
SQ: Maybe, could happen. You know, a lot of the things JATO’s gonna do are the things that JATO has been doing all along, but just connecting it to US aid. Like we’re having a Hannukah action, we’re gonna teach you about the economic strangulation of Palestine, AND we’re gonna tell you that US aid supports all this.
WW3R: JATO has a different approach from SUSTAIN, right? SUSTAIN’S approach is more incremental.
SQ: JATO has tried to focus itself from going from just Palestine solidarity as a whole, to ,let’s just focus on US aid. SUSTAIN has gone from, the focus on US aid is too big, to let’s go after caterpillar, and when were done with them, let’s go after someone else, because it can raise awareness. But, I also get the impression from being on the No Aid to Israel listserv, which is SUSTAIN”S listserv, for SUSTAIN, ending aid to Israel is a hook on which to hang Palestine activism. And that, as individuals what they’re really about is the same thing as people in JATO and people in PAFNY and the people in Al-Awda, which is Palestine activism, and that, you know, the ending aid thing even though that seems to be in their name their raison d’etre, is a hook.
ZK: Personally, I want to form a SUSTAIN chapter in New York. For the very reason of addressing ending US aid in particular, to particularly non-Jewish activists, because I think there’s a void in NYC that isn’t addressed.
ISRAEL AND U.S. IMPERIALISM
WW3R: Alright, well here’s something which I’ve been trying to figure out which I’d like both of your opinions on. There’s different theories as to why the US is sinking all this money into Israel year after year after year and this you could sort of call the pork-barrel theory, that it’s about defense contractors who are making money off of the weapons sales and so on, and then there’s what you might call the Jewish conspiracy theory, which is that America is controlled by Israel, and that AIPAC is pulling the strings, and then there’s what you might call the Chomsky theory, which I’ve always bought, which is that the US needs a proxy force in the middle east as a counter-balance the Arabs. But it seems to me that since the end of the cold war, and since operation Desert Storm, that’s made a lot less sense. Because during the cold war, when Nasser was in power, and so on, the Arab world was closer to the Soviet Union, at least the radical states in the Arab world were closer to the Soviet Union. And a lot of the other states were sort of equidistant between the two powers, and there was this sense that there was a proxy force that was needed to counterbalance them. Now it’s been more than ten years, there is no more Soviet Union, and since Desert Storm, when the first Bush built this sort of new Pax Americana, and actually wooed a lot of the Arab states over into his camp. I’ve been a little bit stumped actually as to why this relationship persists. And why US imperialism still perceives Israel as a useful proxy.
SQ: I think that the Chomsky theory and that the pork-barrel theory are inseperable, that the ultimately it’s always been about oil profits. And what’s underlying the Chomsky theory is US craving for oil profits for a very small segment of Americans, ultimately, and I think that the end of the Cold War doesn’t impact on that need at all, that the United States and its allies continue to need an unstable, and dependent Middle East in order to continue to extract oil profits from it. A middle east in which Arab self-determination is really consolidated, they way Nasser was trying to do, would put the end to the outflow of capital from that region to this
WW3R: Right, but antagonizing the Arabs with this continued massive support for Israel is only going to hasten the demise of compliant regimes.
SQ: Well, I think the facts on the ground have not borne you out. That even as United States support for Israel has become more and more uncritical, and more and more lavish, the number of illegitmate Arab proxy states for US imperialism has increased. And the extent to which Arab ruling interest kind of kow-tow to the United States have increased. I think the sort of general level of turmoil that exists as long as this irritant is stuck in the side of the Arab nation, it is a very good thing, for, for the United States. I think that, to put it crudely, the Arabs cant get their shit together, as long as they’ve got this monster army doing the US’ bidding on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean.
WW3R: How is it preventing them from getting their shit together?
SQ: Because they’re focused on Palestine, and not on their problems.
WW3R: But that might actually prove a catalyst to them getting their shit together.
SQ: Hasn’t yet. That’s what Nasser tried to do, and he crashed and burned.
ZK. See, I actually disagree with your interpretation of Chomsky’s theory because if I’m correct the Soviet Union was never in the picture in his theory the whole idea was that US support for Israel is to diminish– serve as a proxy– to diminish any form of radical nationalism –the kind of virus –the spreading of the virus of independent states taking on their own initiatives.
WW3R: Wel,l yes, but the Soviets were encouraging that. They supported Nassar and they supported Saddam and Assad
SQ: Yes, but the United States also, would, supported Saddam. The United States also supported. In terms of, like for instance Nassar first went to all western Europe. First they went to the United States to buy arms.
SQ: And this is very similar to
WW3R: But all that changed with ’56
SQ: Nicaragua, you know. Nicaragua went to everywhere but the Soviet Union to defend themselves initially. Initially. And no one would sell them anything. So it wasn’t the Soviet Union in general regard the Middle East as US territory. And they didn’t really put that much focus. Yes they armed Syria as you know, as a deterrent against Israel, but Israel was essentially put in there to be the regional bully. With the help of their local cops on the beat, Iran and Turkey.
ZK: And the Phalangists.
SQ: Well those were the colonial gendarmes of Israel. But like also Pakistan was a part of that. The thing is, is that radical nationalism has been replaced and to a large extent due to US interference with what’s now emerging as a kind of Islamic form of I guess people like to call it fundamentalism. But but it’s more or less an Islamic form of nationalism. Creating an Islamic nation. And so now this is this was fairly clear from the 80s. This kind of transition. From this cold war independent radical nationalism to now focusing on this type of Islamic nation that’s being borne out. So Israel still plays that role. Because it can now move into on one level support on another level crush it
WW3R: Well Israel is not going to crush Islamist uprising in Saudi Arabia or Egypt. And in fact it can serve as a provocation for such uprisings.
SQ: That’s true. I mean This is
WW3R: I mean I’m trying to figure this out myself. I’m frankly confused.
SQ: I don’t know if support for Israel is about maintaining credibility.
WW3R: Credibility of what?
SQ: Namely if the US changes its stance on Israel, well God knows who they’re going to change their stance on next. Israel’s like the love of the American elite. They’ve been so since ’67.
WW3R: Right but why has it persisted so long. That’s what I’m trying to figure out.
ZK: Look at the results. I mean, things are great for the United States and Egypt. You’ve got 50 million people there. Something really independent and anti-imperialist arose there. Like Nassar tried to do. That would be really bad for the US. Things are great there now; we’ve got Mubarak. He’s in firm control. It’s been that way for a couple of decades. That’s all about Israel. That’s all about all this manipulation that happened with Carter around Camp David. It’s what put Saddam, Mubarak in where they are as firmly in power as they are. I think that Israel has played a really, really useful role for the US in the region. Is the US playing a dangerous game? Sure. Could US policy spark an Islamist uprising in Saudi Arabia or Egypt? Sure, but I think that this whole package of alliances, and aid, and rivalries — the whole web the US keeps going around Israel ? is what would probably cause an Islamist rebellion to fail. The power and the strength of tyrants like Mubarak and Fahd have everything to do with the US power in the region that’s centered in Israel.
WW3R: I see that has to do with US power because the US is certainly providing plenty of aid and petro-dollars respectively to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but what does it have to do with Israel?
Zaid: What you’re really hitting on are some really important paradoxes. On one levelm it’s so weird that you’re bringing this up because these are real paradoxes that I’m not exactly sure how to reconcile. On one level you do see this kind of, things do, it can, it’s not that great for the United States and what indication’s that it’s not that great is their current plans. Their current plans of redrawing the Middle East signifies that something needs to be changed in order to further this alliance, this kind of re-alliance towards us , reliance towards us, otherwise known as obedience, more or less. And now the question is how does it fit in with Israel. And so on one level I think I’m trying to make it rational, rationalize it, but then there’s serious irrational segments of this administration that have to be looked at really carefully. So for instance this is what I was talking to you guys about before You have full infiltration of super pro-Israeli Likudnik hawks from specifically the Pentagon. They see it in terms of dual interests. For instance, JINSA– which is where a lot of these guys come from, including Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, the 2002 Henry “Scoop” Jackson award– which is the JINSA award in honor of Henry Jackson who was a US Senator back in the 60s, super pro-Israeli senator –that was given to Wolfowitz. The previous year was given to the secretaries of the three armed forces, the Air Force, the Navy, and the Army. And you know Wolfowitz was part of numerous position papers calling for regime change in Iraq. JINSA’s overall framework is guarding the security interests of the United States and Israel. And what I’m wondering is, is this ideologically driven? Does it extend beyond this rational theme of imperialism to move into this kind of irrational scheme of just, almost sheer racism and domination through racism? I mean, Henry Kissinger, when he formulated his plan of stalemate back in the 1970s, it was almost entirely based upon racism.
WW3R: What kind of stalemate?
SQ: Stalemate being that at that point Sadat was trying to basically negotiate with Israel. Calling for full withdrawal for full peace. And which was actually more than what was eventually “compromised” in the Camp David accords in ’78. But that was blocked by Kissinger . He said let’s do this process called stalemate. No peace, no negotiations, only force. And his whole entire framework was that they had nothing to fear about these Arab armies. These guys don’t know how to operate a gun. This was what the guy was saying. A lot of this actually can be found inside of “Fateful Triangle.” This disgust. I think there are frameworks of racism –there is a system of racism inside this kind of framework of thought that should be addressed that is irrational. I mean I don’t know. I really don’t know
SQ: I think that the US for the most part behaves very rationally in pursuit of its own imperial interests. Yes, Bush is surrounded by millennial Christian fundamentalists. But Clinton wasn’t, and he tried to, at Camp David, to lock the key in the Palestinian jail. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to succeed. So far I think that, you know, the US ruling class has been very successful in pursuing their own interests but, you know, Bismarck was very rational in pursuing German interests and ultimately failed. So yes they could misstep. Yes, there could be a disaster. But I think that at the core of their doing is just rational pursuit of greed.
ZK: It could really just be this same concept of stalemate playing. Yes. It could really be that. I mean, why are we insisting on regime change in Iraq? Why is it that these guys can be so outright in their statements? For instance Perle and Feith. Feith, Douglas Feith is now, he’s director of Middle East policy for the Pentagon. Why is it that they can go to the incumbent Netanyahu administration in 1996 and lay out plans that they’re implementing right now? I mean, this administration is different than the Clinton administration. It’s actually different than the previous Bush administration too. It’s much more like Reagan. And there are marginal differences, namely
SQ: But they’re marginal.
ZK: They’re marginal but the effects are not marginal. Like what they pursue in policy may be marginally different but the overall effects it can have can be fairly dramatic.
SQ: But don’t you think that the suffering that’s happening right now all over Palestine isn’t that, aren’t Palestinians reaping what Clinton and Barak sowed?
ZK: Yes. But this could only be the beginning. And that’s, I think, when you look at what these lunatics are planning, which they spelled out in ’96
WW3R: Which is what, ’96?
ZK: Yeah, ’96 when Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, they were all inside of the administration on one level or another.
WW3R: Abrams, too?
ZK: No, Abrams wasn’t part of that advisory group. Abrams, Rumsfeld, bunch of other guys, Wolfowitz
WW3R: All right, so what did they do in ’96?
ZK: They were giving their advice as to what the Netanyahu administration to do. And the first thing was supporting regime change in iraq. They said, and I’m quoting,this is an important strategic asset to Israel in and of itself, because it neutralizes Syria, Syria’s territorial ambitions, meaning the return of the occupied Golan heights And also, will neutralize Iran. Michael Ledeen, who is also a contributor, came up with the concept, along with this whole entire group, envisions this concept of, what’s called, “total war’ where its not just, we must be in permanent war, and we cant lose sight of just Iraq, but, Iran and Saudi Arabia are to follow. I mean, real lunatics. And, you can just dismiss this as pure nonsense, if you’re a rational person, it does sound like nonsense. The problem is, they’re all running the show, so you have to take it seriously.
SQ: For me, it’s like, imagine that you drop an inkblot on very porous paper, and you watch it spread. That’s American power in the Middle East. You start with the Arabian peninsula, most of it, there were some problems in Yemen, you know, then you had Jordan, but that was kind of unstable, then you had Israel, it’s a good wedge, and over the years, the power has spread and spread and spread so now we’ve got Egypt, we hadn’t before, Syria’s no longer a problem, used to be a problem. Jordan is completely entrenched and stable now. Lebanon used to be a problem, has stopped being a problem. And now we’re gonna take care of Iraq, and just move it out, move it out, you know, we’ve got Afghanistan, so then Iran will be surrounded, so they’re next. To me, it looks to me like a progressive march of power; and it certainly doesn’t’ seem like Israel has impeded that, that US support of Israel has impeded that march at all.
WW3R: How has it helped?
SQ: That’s-I think it’s complex, and its complex in ways that I don’t fully understand. But, I think that there’s something about keeping an irritant in an area you want to control, that is useful to the empire, because as long as there’s an irritant, as long as there’s turmoil, you’re in a better position to play forces against each other.
ZK: also, it’s not just the Middle East region where Israel serves as a strategic client, if the US wants to do anything nefarious, particularly in South and Central America, Israel is the channel to go through. Or South Africa. When congress called for sanctions, the Reagan administration, Reagan and bush, just re-routed it thru Israel.
SQ: And the United States will always have a foothold. Let’s say that the inkblot theory weren’t the case. Let’s say that things go south for US imperial interests; the Saudi royal family is overthrown, Mubarek is overthrown, Abdullah is overthrown.. Israel cannot turn against the United States. A surge of Israeli nationalism only leads to a stronger alliance with the United States, it’s the opposite of every other country in the region. So, there will always, always be this strong military foothold. You know, if these calculations fail, if the attack on Iraq causes this horrible calamity for US imperial interests, well, you can pick up the pieces and start again. Start in Tel Aviv, and move on out again. We can never be shut out of the region.
ZK: I don’t know if this is a worry for US planners, but there’s also another scenario, I’ve forgot what its called, there’s a specific term for it, but it’s basically the madman scenario, the crazy scenario, that the US drops its support for Israel, that Israel might just nuke the world. In 1982, for instance, Saudi Arabia made a proposal, that is almost identical to the proposal they made in 2002, and Israel had a reaction to that. What they did is send a bunch of fighter jets over the Saudi peninsula. And it was a clear signal. It was a signal to specifically to the United States. Don’t-we’re not, you know, we’re running our own agenda here, and you’ve basically built up a Sparta, and it might go out of control, so you’d better stay in line. It’s kind of like the tail wagging the dog. I don’t know how significant it is, but it’s certainly a possibility.
SQ: There’s an interesting parallel from the cold war. That you know, it was never the Soviet Union, that dictated what Cuba did, you know, Castro would figure out something Cuba could do that would be nice for the Soviet Union, and go to Kruschev or whoever and say, now how much more are you going to give us. So, I think there is an element of that, in terms of this is not an obedient client state, but it is a strategic asset.
THE “APARTHEID WALL”
WW3R: I want to talk about the fence, because that’s part of the current ISM campaign, to focus on the fence, right?
ZK: The fence. My God. Alright, what you have right now, it’s just unbelievable. I mean, basically what’s happening is the construction of ghettos, in places like Qalqilya, Tul Karm, and all the adjacent villages. And the fence is not a fence, it’s a wall, it’s a 30 meter wall, with a sniper tower every half-kilometer. Steve, you’ve seen pictures of them.
SQ: Your pictures of that wall freaked me out. I had no fucking idea till you showed those slides at the mosque in Long Island. You need to show those slides to EVERYBODY.
ZK: People try to say it’s like the Berlin Wall. It’s nothing like the Berlin Wall. It’s completely
SQ: It’s much bigger.
ZK: It’s bigger, it’s like, it’s much more, man, it’s much more Nazi-like. I swear to God, I don’t use that term loosely. I mean, they’re constructing ghettos, literal ghettos.
WW3R: How so?
ZK: I mean, so for instance, Qalqilya is surrounded 80% by this wall. And the wall’s not on the Green Line. It’s inside the West Bank. And the way they’re confiscating land, they’re not putting out the whole map of what they’re going to take. What they do is, they issue orders little by little, and simultaneously, in different areas, so all of a sudden, they just see how much they can get away with, and then they take a little more; see how much they can get away with, and then take a little more.
SQ: Did you know that there are American Jewish philanthropists who are financing the building of the wall in the northern West Bank, because Jews in Afula and that area have been complaining, how come they don’t get a wall? “They get a wall in Petah Tikva, how come we don’t get a wall in Afula?”
WW3R: Afula is where?
SQ: In the north, just north of Jenin, near Beit She’an
WW3R: I thought the intention of the wall was to completely encircle the West Bank?
SQ: The intention of the wall is to separate Palestinian population centers in the West Bank from Jewish population centers in Israel.
ZK: That’s one part of it. But it’s also to further integrate the central Samarian settlements into Israel permanently. For instance, Ariel. My uncle is a cartographer that has written a pretty extensive paper on it, and he’s expecting that they’re going to incorporate Ariel inside the wall. Ariel goes all the way past Salfit, which is 20 km inside the Green Line. But the way it’s being done is that it takes more and more. So Alfe Menashe, and Zufin–these are settlements that are around the Qalqilya area. Qalqilya marks the beginning of the central region, the “greater Samaria region”–that’s the settlement-colony term. And so what happens is when you incorporate this through this wall, what you’re essentially doing is disconnecting Palestine from Palestine, disconnecting the West Bank from itself, you’re instituting cantonization. And when you add on the way the wall’s going to be encircling population centers, like TulKarm and Qalqilya, you have the creation of a full ghetto.
WW3R: So this wall is not going to go in a straight line, it’s actually going to make circles around Tul Karm and Qalqilya?
ZK: Oh, yeah. Qalqilya is going to be encircled about 80%, like this [makes a horseshoe shape with his hands]. Jayyous, same thing. Jayyous is more extreme than Qalqilya, because Jayyous lost 70% of it’s land in 1948, so they’ve been farming on the remaining 30%, and they’re losing 90% of that, about 12,000 dunams. What’s going to be left is just the city. Now, to get to Jayyous, what you have to do is stop in a roadblock at a town called Azzoun, which is like 5-10 kilometers away, and grab a taxi. And even that’s going to be cut off. So, in other words, you can’t drive to Jayyous from anywhere in the West Bank. Like, let’s suppose you’re going to take your car starting off from Qalqilya–you wouldn’t be able to get there. You can’t even leave Qalqilya, because there’s a checkpoint. There’s no way to get out. So it’s permanent cantonization of each and every single area. This is South Africa times 20.
WW3R: Now why is the wall circling around it? Are there settlements on each side?
ZK: Yes. It’s entirely surrounded by settlements. It’s also got to do with what land they want to take. That region is the water-rich region of the West Bank. In Jayyous alone– and this is a small village, like 3,000 acres; not much, right?–there are seven water aquifers. So this is like, the water rich basin. The type of crops that grow there are amazing–you have mangoes, you have oranges, you have grapefruits
WW3R: So it’s no accident what they’re grabbing?
ZK: Oh no, it was carefully planned.
SQ: It also seems to increase the benefit of the wall for the Israeli demographic warriors, because you know, on the Israeli side of the wall, you have a bunch of empty land, that was Palestinian West Bank land that was confiscated to build the wall. The wall goes smack up against homes on the Palestinian side. If the wall is constructed in a way to make life in those homes unlivable, you can, to an extent, depopulate the Palestinian side, you can create that empty space on the other side too.
WW3R: The original intent, I think, [former Defense Minister] Ben Eliezer’s intent, was motivated by security concerns, right?
ZK: Yeah, and I think they’re gonna get some results from it.
WW3R: Well, There’s no doubt they’re going to get results from it, because there haven’t been any suicide attacks from Gaza, which is already walled.
ZK: Yes. Yes, that’s correct. That’s exactly what they’re doing, Gazafication of West Bank.
WW3R: But at the same time they’re using this fence to grab stuff.
WW3R: Any closing thoughts?
SQ: What is crystal clear, I think, to an observer from the outside, is that any agreement that does not include full Israeli withdrawal from all territories occupied in 1967 will fail. And so, any Israeli politician who’s walking into talks with an idea that full withdrawal from the 1967 occupation is unacceptable, is going to walk away without an agreement.
ZK: Well, they might have an agreement, they just won’t have peace.
SQ: That’s been crystal clear since 1967.
WW3R: Anything else?
SQ: Everything that distracts from an analysis of imperialism and of corporate manipulation of state policy is ultimately barking up the wrong tree while the dirty work carries on.
ZK: Do you think if the organized Jewish community took an anti-racist stance with regards to US policy in Israel, do you think they could maintain the same level of support that they have now?
SQ: I think that JATO can drive a wedge. What’s stopping a lot of Americans, Jewish and not Jewish from taking an anti-imperialist stance or anti-racist stance is accusations of anti-Semitism. I think that does play a role in public opinion, and I think we can short -circuit that. When we did our report-back at Union Theological Seminary someone said, “You know I get accused of anti-Semitism by my Jewish friend when I want to talk about this.” I turned to him and said, “Use us as cover.” You know? Don’t let them cow you. People need to hear that.
Jews Against the Occupation can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
SUSTAIN NYC can be reached through Zaid Khalil: email@example.com.
The International Solidarity Movement can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.