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The Open Wounds of Mideast Conflicts

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Palestinian activist Ali Abunimah in Helsinki on October 14, 2011.
Palestinian activist Ali Abunimah in Helsinki on October 14, 2011.
(Image by (Flickr Veera Vehkasalo))
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Peace in Palestine and Palestinian statehood have barely surfaced in the 2016 Presidential election, although President Barack Obama has just approved a massive military aid package for Israel and Israel is expanding its settlements in Palestinian territory. In part, the silence is because both major party candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have already professed their devotion to Israel.

But the festering wound of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a major source of violence in the Middle East, contributing to hostilities in Iraq and Syria, will not go away by being ignored, as Ali Abunimah, author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli/Palestinian Impasse and co-founder and director of the Electronic Intifada, explained in a Flashpoints interview.

Dennis Bernstein: Ali, welcome back to Flashpoints.

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Ali Abunimah: Thank you Dennis. I'm happy to be back in one of my favorite places, and speaking for one of my favorite organizations, the Middle East Children's Alliance, doing some incredible work. And I hope people are going to come out and support them.

DB: Well, I hope so too. And, again, the work that MECA does is more crucial than ever. Working to bring pure water, to do the significant life-saving work that they continue to do. There's a lot going on in this world, Ali. And there's a lot that you know a lot about. ["] We hear once again the Iraqi army is poised to take back Mosul. They are armed, they are strong, And we're already getting reports that they're winning. You want to give us your initial response to when you hear the Iraqi forces, once again, have massed to take Mosul? How does that sound to you?

AA: Well, it sounds to me like in every one of these situations, the first and foremost victims are going to be defenseless civilians. And that's what worries me, and concerns me the most. This plan to take Mosul has been in the works for a long time. It's been announced a long time ago, and people in Mosul as people throughout Iraq and in Syria, are between a rock and a hard place. They have been given no choice about who they are going to get bombed or killed by.

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DB: And there are a lot of people who are worried that this is just a part of this expanding war, that we see expanding into Syria. Nobody really knows where this is going to go. Do you want to put this in the context of Syria. And just to mention that Gorbachev just released a statement saying that he's terrified that the situation is grave in terms of Syria. And relations between the U.S. and Russia are worse than they have ever been.

AA: Well, you have to kind of step back, and look at the big picture, in a way. I mean in the context of this election campaign, if you can call it that, there are revelations that are really quite shocking that are being completely glossed over because Trump is stealing all the headlines. But it's been revealed that Hillary Clinton in a memo which was only leaked through WikiLeaks said flat-out that ISIS was funded by two of the closest U.S. allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and ISIS and other groups in Syria.

And on the other side you have Russia, which is supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad which has killed vast numbers of civilians, that is besieging eastern Aleppo and raining hell and fire on people there. And you have a war that only seems to be getting bloodier and more horrific.

And it seems to me any sensible person would say that the priority has got to be to stop the war. And the people who can do that, or the powers that can do that, are the United States and Russia who have the power to stop feeding their proxies with weapons, with money, and to bring an end to the bloodshed. And from that point there's got to be some kind of political solution to this mess. Because otherwise the effort to fight until victory is simply going to destroy what's left of Syria, and kill even more people than have already died.

That seems to me a sensible view, but at the same time people's passions are so raised that if you try to say that the priority has to be to stop the war, and stop the bloodshed, that you are accused with siding with the dictator, or siding against the dictator, or supporting the atrocities that are happening, or opposing them.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016.
(Image by (Photo credit: AIPAC))
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What we do know is that the U.S. has been involved in fueling this war. Russia is involved, Iran is involved. And I am among those who are not convinced that more U.S. weapons, or more bombardment by the U.S., by Russia, or by any other country is going to produce better outcomes for people in Syria. So now, when you look at what Gorbachev said, or, indeed, what senior U.S. military officers have said, for the U.S. to take on, to have a more direct involvement in Syria would effectively mean a war with Russia.

And, I think we're old enough to know how that sounds. A lot of people nowadays, a lot of younger folks that I talk to don't have a memory of what it meant to live in the shadow of nuclear war, and so, maybe don't hear that the same way people who lived through that era do.

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http://www.flashpoints.net/

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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