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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/23/16

The Open Wounds of Mideast Conflicts

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AA: Absolutely, I mean the Israeli press has articles from time to time about -- proud articles -- about how these racists, repressive, right wing regimes in Europe, like Hungary, are really anti-Semitic regime, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant. How they are now turning to Israel to help them build walls to keep out refugees who are fleeing for their lives. So Israel has become, as Naomi Klein called it, "the world's shopping mall" for these so-called homeland security technologies. And Israel is proud of it. It's big business for them.

And that's certainly true in the U.S. where we see this huge industry of U.S. police departments going over to Israel for training. And that's become a big issue, also, in terms of the struggle against police brutality, and police racisms, police killings in this country. Because their attitude, if not always the exact techniques but certainly the attitude, is not to view citizens in this country, particularly in the big cities, as people who deserve safety and protection, like everyone else, but as a hostile enemy population that has to be controlled.

And that attitude is really being mutually reinforced. I don't want to blame Israel for it because that would be unfair to the United States which really needs no lessons in racism from anyone else.

DB: You know, another parallel structure, that virtual wall that you're talking about at the southern border cuts through a number of Indian tribes, and right through Indian land. And we now see a major battle in North Dakota for land rights, and for rights of sacred territory. I want to ask you, Ali, I have often heard a parallel structure between the plight of the Palestinians, and the plight of the Native Americans. What do you think about that struggle? Is that an inspiration for the Palestinian movement?

AA: Sure. I mean the parallel structure has a name and that's settler colonialism. And this is a settler colonial country, as is Canada, Australia, all of these colonial extensions of Europe, and particularly Britain, of which Israel is one. They operated against the indigenous people in the same way, through treating them as if they were simply a nuisance that is on this land that God had given to the invaders.

I mean, it's incredibly inspiring, and what has been important for me to learn is that we talk, often Native people, Indigenous people in North America are talked about as if they were wiped out, and their struggle is over. And I think it's critical to recognize, and this is something I've had to learn, that they are here, and they are fighting, and they are struggling. And it's not too late for there to be restitution to Native people. It's not too late for their land to be protected, for land to be returned. These should all be live and active demands that we should support. And the struggle in North Dakota is one of many. I mean these struggles are going on all over North America.

I was in New Zealand in April, and friends there took me to visit an important Maori burial ground and sacred site, one of the last major areas of open land near Auckland, near Auckland airport. And, in fact, [it is] a world historic site because it's the last place that humans arrived for permanent settlement about a thousand years ago. And they want to build track housing on it. So people there are fighting to protect that land. So this is a global struggle.

DB: ...For Indigenous rights, for the rights of the people whose land it really is.

AA: Absolutely.

DB: Well, I guess the final question is, and it speaks right to your lecture. Can Israeli apartheid really be defeated? The other side of that question comes out of the right wing, out of Netanyahu, who says, "I don't have a partner for peace." But this isn't about looking for a partner for peace, is it? This is about on the one hand, liberating land, the people's land, and the other part it's about the infringement, the expanding colonialism.

AA: You know, I'm going to say something and maybe talk about this more tomorrow and I'm going to say something right now that might sound a bit nuts, which is, I think it's already been defeated. What could I possibly mean when...

DB: What's been defeated?

AA: Well, the idea, and the legitimacy of it has been defeated.

DB: Of Israel?

AA: Of this system where Israel has a right to perpetually superior rights over the Indigenous people in Palestine. I think that's already gone. No one can defend it anymore. And nobody is really trying except for the hard-core ultra-Zionists, who are trying to make that case. So now I think the struggle is really about shifting the balance of power. Because Israeli apartheid is a reality. It's a discredited idea. But it's a hard reality and so it's really about fighting to shift the balance, to replace it with something that looks like justice. But I think we've already won the war of ideas, in that sense.

DB: So, then what comes next?

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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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