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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/23/16

The Open Wounds of Mideast Conflicts

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DB: I think you've got a point there. I remember sort of hiding under my desk, and the biggest fear I had when we were doing those air raid drills was, my mom worked and I didn't know where the hell that was. I didn't know how I would ever find her, if the bomb fell. And we all grew up with that kind of fear. And here it is, for another generation of our kids. It's terrifying. Ali, it looked like there was a moment when there was going to be a cease fire, and there was going to be a truce. It lasted for about two seconds and then it exploded into an even worse war. What happened?

AA: Well, I'm not claiming any expertise in this area but what I'm seeing is a cycle where the parties in Syria see this as a battle for... an existential battle. The regime sees a victory as an existential battle, as do many of its supporters. And those who have been under the horrific bombardments of the regime see it as an existential battle. In a situation like that, it's not going to stop, unless those who are arming and financing and supporting these parties say "Enough." Civil wars" this is one of the most horrific civil wars in modern times, if not in history.

And it's not going to end by itself, unless the powers, particularly the United States and Russia, decide they're going to end it. And so far they haven't decided to do that. And there is a push to get the U.S. even more involved. And when we look at the results of U.S. involvement in Iraq, in Libya, throughout the world, for the past half century or more, in Southeast Asia, it's hard to look at that and not just apprehend the prospect of another major U.S. military involvement with real fear and horror.

DB: I want to get deep into Palestine, but just one more question. I have to ask it. My listeners tend to get furious with me when I raise issues this way. But I have to ask you, do you have a preference, do you think Trump or Hillary Clinton is more capable of dealing... I don't mean it to be a farcical question. It's an important question, because they are the ones. Do you think either one is better than the other? ... Long pause.

AA: Long pause. I will not be voting for either of them is what I can say. And I have been through enough cycles to know that the whole "lesser evil" argument is what has got us to this point. If voting for the lesser evil was a strategy then we would not be facing the horrendous choice right now, of Trump who is supported by some of the most nasty, extreme, fascistic and racist and white supremacist elements. Who is himself, very unpredictable. I don't think anyone can know what he would do if he was president. I don't think anything he says can be taken as a reliable indicator of what he'll say or do tomorrow.

And Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, as these leaks show, is going to be the reliable candidate of the war industry, of the financial industry, of... if you just look at the way she makes policy. I mean, what these e-mails reveal on Palestine, for example, on Israel, is that it was all about... it's like, we're going to oppose the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement because that's going to get us money from our donors.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking to the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking to the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016.
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She's saying, in writing, in these e-mails, in memos she's sending her staff, that Saudi Arabia is funding ISIS. And the Clinton Foundation is taking money from Saudi Arabia. And the Obama administration made like the biggest weapons deal in history with Saudi Arabia. They've sold $115 billion dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. Can I say with any conviction that that is the lesser evil? I honestly can't.

DB: Alright, let's turn our attention to the situation in occupied Palestine. That word occupied doesn't often make it into the corporate press. But that's exactly... it's not only occupied, but it's an expanding occupation. Some refer to it as an ethnic cleansing. Take your pick of terms. Apartheid, Israeli-style.

But, Ali, let's take it in two parts. Why don't you give us your sense, give us an update, where you see the situation on the ground now -- is it worse after the last Israeli slaughter? Is it status quo? How would you evaluate the situation on the ground now?

AA: Well, that's the big question. First of all, the word occupied, remember, didn't even make it into the Democratic Party platform. There was a big fight about that, and you had Cornel West, and you had the members who were appointed by Bernie Sanders who were fighting to have the word occupied included in the platform. And Hillary's appointees fought tooth and nail, successfully, to keep it out.

I mean, the population there is overwhelmingly young. More than 51% under the age of 18, and people have no prospects. This is one of the most highly educated populations in the region, and young people go to the university, they do very well, and then there's nothing for them to do. It has the highest unemployment rate in the world. And this is all created deliberately by Israel, endorsed by Barack Obama, endorsed by the European Union, with the complicity of the United Nations.

So, the situation throughout Palestine it is pretty grim. In Gaza, which is only a small part of the territory, but they just marked the population reaching 2 million. You know, it's now been just over two years since the last mass Israeli slaughter in Gaza, and there's been no accountability. The economic situation is a catastrophe. The siege is tighter than ever. And the construction, reconstruction has been more or less blocked to a... just to a trickle by Israel. And the conditions of life are unsustainable. You have the U.N. that keeps saying by 2020 Gaza will be unlivable. I mean, it's already unlivable, if you listen to people who are there, in terms of not just the sustenance that people need to live and breathe, but the prospects.

[...] And, you know, it's been forgotten. There's almost no mention of what's happening in Gaza. In the West Bank, this month marks a year since a major upsurge in confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli occupation forces and settlers, which really was stoked by Israel's increasingly aggressive incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque's compound in Jerusalem. It's repression of the population in East Jerusalem. That's really, along with Hebron, being the epicenter of the upsurge in violence.

More than 250 Palestinians have been killed on the West Bank in the last year. Thirty Israelis have been killed. And many of the Palestinians have been killed without any pretext, without any reason, without any accountability. But certainly a significant number, I think over 100, were killed in the context of carrying out attacks mostly on Israeli occupation forces at checkpoints, in what have been described by all the human rights groups that have looked into it, as extrajudicial executions.

But the key point here is that most of those who have carried out such acts have been very young, unaffiliated. This is not directed by any groups. And I think that's a manifestation of just the sheer hopelessness that many young Palestinians feel. That Israel has decided that they will live under permanent conditions of apartheid, with more and more of their land taken.

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Dennis J Bernstein is the host and executive producer of Flashpoints, a daily news magazine broadcast on Pacifica Radio. He is an award-winning investigative reporter, essayist and poet. His articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, and (more...)

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