Civil rights lawyer and former president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee Abdeen Jabara joins co-host Michael Smith in the studio. Jabara gives an update and analysis on the current political and economic shifts in Egypt. Meanwhile Israel recently celebrated the day it declared independence on May 15, 1948, what Palestinians call the Nakba. More than 60 years later, Palestinian refugees remain the central issue within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last week a wave of coordinated Arab protests hit Israel on 4 of its borders. Protesters were shot and killed when they clashed with Israeli forces at the borders with Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza.
- There’s been a breakdown of law and order in Egypt, there’s been a rise in the crime rate.
- There’s been a huge drop in income from lack of tourism. There have been various strikes, and even the police went on strike demanding higher wages. People have broken out of various prisons. The situation is very much in flux.
- Two sections of an Egyptian elite maintain control over popular forces.
- There were those that were the nouveau riche, that were being promoted by Gamal Mubarak.
- Many of them have been arrested and are in jail for ill-gotten gains.
- One of the most serious problems in Egypt has been this neoliberal development where they were trying to sell off state-owned business.
- Open door policy, wanting Egypt to become part of the Western camp.
- Will there only be change in a cosmetic fashion where there is no change in the basic relationship with the people? That is the real issue.
- I think a lot depends upon the Army. Egypt is a very poor country and its main sources of income other tourism is the Suez Canal, finished clothes and canned goods.
- Under the Mubarak leadership in order to go on strike you had to get permission from the executive council of the trade union movement. Since the fall of Mubarak, you’ve seen much more labor activism.
- We will be seeing Europe and the United States pouring money into the various formations in the country.
- Israel and Palestine: I think we’re going to see something new now, with all this turmoil.
- We have to understand that the Europeans have been developing some distance on the Middle East issue. The United States and Israel are becoming more isolated in the world. The United States has never been an honest broker in this situation.
- Flotilla will leave in latter part of June, will have ten boats from different European and North American countries.
Guest – Abdeen Jabara, civil rights lawyer and former president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Will the Wisconsin and other state union protests be a catalyst for a general strike? Right now, the Wisconsin demonstrations are aimed at restoring collective bargaining rights for public servants, the road to a middle-class lifestyle. Reject the opiate of middle class idealism, says our next guest. The revolution must be carefully thought out and be modeled on the groundbreaking uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. How could unions prepare their strategy to include a broader support base? Unions could build alliances with single mothers, the poor, immigrants, the elderly and a wide range of groups.
- It bugged me as all these progressives defended the middle class. I’ve been studying the Tea Party lately. Is the middle class really under attack? The core of the Tea Party is middle class, very entrepreneurial, more than management/supervisory.
- There’s a duel movement going on with the Republican attack. Social welfare and public sector jobs.
- In Wisconsin, a population of 5 million, there are 200,000 public sector jobs.
- We should expand our notion of who are defending and what are we fighting for?
- I think Krugman is the most egregious, he says the 1950s was an era without great extremes of wealth and poverty.
- Really? There were no Rockefellers and sharecroppers in Mississippi?
- How do we understand the 1950s? We have to go back to the term corporatism. Corporatism doesn’t mean corporation, its derived from corpus meaning body. The government is a mediator between significant sectors of society.
- American capitalism had needed the domestic market. Corporations don’t need internal consumption anymore.
- Capitalism has unmoored itself from geography. For high speed rail in the US, who will build it? The companies that are the most advanced are in China, Germany and South Korea.
- If Obama wanted to spend billions on high speed rail, the US doesn’t have the base, the human intellectual base to compete with Germany and South Korea. We’d have to put tariffs on their goods then you raise the scenario of a trade war.
- Then we’re back in the 1930s which brought on the war. People are not really thinking about the hidden ideologies of green jobs and defending the middle class.
- I’ve seen hopeful potential, but these movements pop up and recede so quickly. The immigrants rights movements.
- During revolutions, it is something wonderful, people want to become better people.
- What we don’t hear much about are the little Mubaraks in Egypt, in factories, the workplace, dictators all over the place, and they’re being ousted.
- The right likes mass movements like the Tea Party, the Democrats hate mass movements.
Guest – Arun Gupta, founding editor of the The Indypendent. He recently wrote “The American Dream As We Know It Is Obsolete: Why Progressives Need to Think Beyond the Mantra of Creating a ‘Middle Class America.'”