Could the timing of the recent Israel-Palestine peace talks be related to the crisis erupting across the Middle East region? The escalating war in Syria and the massive coup in Egypt have reflected US strategic failures. Now, the U.S.-led effort to restart 22-year-old peace talks with Israel and Palestine has again raised suspicion of benefiting the side of Israel.
Martin Indyk, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and former deputy research director of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, will be acting as the U.S. envoy in the negotiations. These new peace talks, according to our guest Phyllis Bennis, director at the Project Institute for Policy Studies, will not end the occupation, or the siege of Gaza, or the decades of dispossession and exile of Palestinian refugees, but only current tension and dispute.
1947 is when the British really threw up their hands and said, we don’t want to be the official colonial power in historic Palestine anymore, so we’re going to turn it over to the UN.
At the end of November in 1947, the UN decided to divide Palestine and make two states.
It started out incredibly unfair because what they decided to do is designate 55 percent of the land to become a “Jewish state,” but at that time Jews amounted to only 30 percent of the population.
The Palestinians, who were 70 percent of the population, were supposed to get 45 percent of the land.
The war that broke out was as much against the British as it was against the Palestinians, fought by what was to become the Israeli army, but was at the time Zionist militias. The war led to the expulsion, often at gunpoint, of 750,000 Palestinians, who were driven into exile, off their land. At the end of the war, the Palestinians were left with only 22 percent of the land.
The Israelis controlled 78 percent of historic Palestine and all of western Jerusalem. Jerusalem was supposed to be separate under international law; it was called corpus separatum. It was to be governed internationally, not governed by either of these states.
That’s what led up to the period from 1948 to 1967. Jordan took over administering the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Egypt took over administering the Gaza Strip.
In 1967, war breaks out, what became known as the Six Day War. The Egyptian Air Force is the first target of the Israeli military.
The Israeli military was really good, they had gotten their arms mainly from France and Czechoslovakia. It’s interesting because in that period from 1948 and 1967, the U.S. supported Israel but it wasn’t the kind of special relationship we see now.
At the end of 6 days, they now controlled 100 percent of historic Palestine. They now begun occupying what had been left to the Palestinians after 1948, which meant the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
We can look back at this particular peace process; it goes back 22 years to Madrid Conference of 1991.
I was at Madrid. I was really young. Netanyahu was the spokesperson for the delegation. I went head to head with him at a press conference in Madrid.
That led to the Oslo process, and what we have now. We’ve had the “road map,” we’ve had the Annapolis meetings, we had the Wye River Accord.
In 1967, the US was desperate for allies it could rely on against the Soviet Union, against the anti-colonial movements that are springing up across Africa.
Here’s Israel, that just trounced 6 Arab armies. The Pentagon looked at that and said, we could do business with these people.
So the Pentagon starts to build this relationship with Israel that goes beyond joint training. Soon you have the beginning of the interlocking connection between the Israeli military, military producers, war profiteers, military corporations, and that gives rise to the whole new influence, to the long standing pro-Israel lobby.
At the end of the Cold War, Israel begins to be a liability. That’s when you see some changes in US policy.
Then you have 9/11 and the global war on terror and Israel is a great strategic ally again. It’s an asset again, not a liability anymore.
This idea of “land swap” is the code word that the U.S. and Israel have been using for the last 7 or 8 years. That is based on the idea that Israel will keep all its major settlement blocs – about 80 percent of the current 600,000-plus Israeli settlers that are living in illegal Jews-only settlements in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.
About 80 percent of the settlers would stay, all the major settlement blocs. These are cities of 40-50,000 people with shopping centers and swimming pools and colleges and industrial zones, with industrial waste going down the hill into Palestinian villages at the bottom.
Israel will keep all of those, Israel will keep all the major water aquifers of the West Bank, and they will call that “land swap” because in return they will give Palestine a few acres of desert land abutting Gaza, or some other land that’s not developed.
The BDS movement: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, which is aimed at stopping Israel’s violation of international law. If it doesn’t stop, there will be consequences that we as a civil society can bring in–stop buying settlement-produced goods. In Europe, the BDS movement has pressured enough countries that the European Union has now issued new guidelines calling for an end of any European Union funding of any institutions or individuals in the occupied territories.
Guest – Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. She has been a writer, analyst, and activist on Middle East and UN issues for many years. In 2001, she helped found and remains on the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. She works closely with the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition, co-chairs the UN-based International Coordinating Network on Palestine, and since 2002 has played an active role in the growing global peace movement. She continues to serve as an adviser to several top UN officials on Middle East and UN democratization issues.
Long time activist in environmental and labor movements Marie Mason continues to serve out a harsh 22-year prison sentence based on her involvement in two incidents of property damage and arson. Marie Mason is considered an eco-terrorist and is serving the longest sentence of any convicted animal rights or environmental militant. In one of the attacks, Mason and her husband Ambrose set fire to a Michigan State University building, targeting a Monsanto-funded office in charge of a genetically modified crop research program to create moth resistant crops for Africa. Marie Mason was later set up by her husband, who recorded their conversation, which led to her conviction. As we continue to report, since 9/11, environmental radicals have been labeled terrorists, and charged with overly-long sentences. This is part of what’s known as the “Green Scare,” campaigns that seek to put a chill on dissent.
- Marie Mason was an environmental activist from the Detroit area.
- In January 2000, she committed a number of acts the government considered illegal. They were eco-sabotage.
- Frustrated by her lack of ability to mobilize great numbers of people to defend the environment against things like genetically modified organisms, she and her husband at the time entered a research lab at Michigan State University and set fire to some records. Arson under the law. She also damaged logging equipment in an area where they were doing clear-cutting.
- When you get these “Frankenstein” genes into the environment, there’s no longer a debate. When you clear-cut an old growth forest, that’s the end of debate as well.
- She was desperate. She actually escaped apprehension until her husband, who became estranged from her, was caught in another matter and ratted her out in 2007.
- She was brought to trial. He actually wore a wire, taping her and going around the country, making 140 other recordings of environmental activists. He was only able to ensnare her.
- She was tried for these acts in federal court, and found guilty. She pled guilty. The judge gave her 22 years.
- She is now the longest serving prisoner convicted under the Federal Terrorism Enhancement Law. No one was ever injured in any of these attacks.
- There are these Catholic peace activists who regularly go down to Tennessee to protest against nuclear facilities there and previously they were convicted of misdemeanors. They are now facing up to 15 years in prison on federal charges.
- Marie Mason appealed her sentence, saying it was disproportionate to other federal guidelines for sentencing. Unfortunately, the right-wing Bush-appointed judge wrote the sentencing guidelines, so she didn’t get anywhere with the Circuit Court of Appeals.
- She was sent to a federal woman’s facility in Minnesota where she did good work. She was a model prisoner, but one day about two and a half years ago, in the middle of the night she was taken to administrative segregation. The hole. Held there for a couple of months and suddenly in the middle of the night, in chains, taken somewhere in a small plane. She said she thought she was going to Guantanamo or something like that.
- She wound up in the Special Administrative Unit in Carswell Federal Medical Center. Lynne Stewart is in Carswell but she’s in the general population. Women with medical difficulties are sent there, but it’s a horror show.
- She was told she was moved because she was recruiting for the Earth Liberation Front, that she maintained a connection via email that was provided by the prison.
- They don’t want to restrict her communications; they want to see who is writing her.
- She has written extensively for Fifth Estate magazine.
- Marie’s support is worldwide.
Guest – Peter Alexander Werbe, radio talk show host and a progressive political activist. His home is Detroit, where he has become a fixture spinning discs and hosting Night Call Sunday nights on Detroit’s WRIF 101.1 FM. Peter Werbe has been a radio host since 1970, responsible for two popular radio programs: Night Call and The Peter Werbe Show. He is also a staff member of Fifth Estate magazine.
Left Forum 2013: Dr. Harriet Fraad
We hear an excerpt of a presentation from Harriet Fraad, a hypnotherapist and psychotherapist in Manhattan. She writes regularly for Truthout, Tikkun Magazine and The Journal of Psychohistory. Her blog with Richard D. Wolff, Economy and Psychology appears at HarrietFraad.com and RDWolff.com. Her latest book is Bringing It All Back Home, edited by Graham Cussano. Her article on “Emotional and Sexual Life in a Socialist America,” written with Tess Fraad Wolff, will appear in the book Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA (Harper Collins 2013). This panel explores what socialism could look like in the United States.