Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Flynt Leverett. Transcript. Norah Lester Murad. Martin Van Creveld. CrossTalk. 21 Jul 2014.

1.       Lavelle: Hello, and welcome to CrossTalk, where all things are considered. I’m Peter Lavelle. A War without end with no pre-determined exit strategy. Israel’s most recent Invasion of Gaza could last for months. The humanitarian catastrophe for the Gazans are incalculable. How this enhances Israel’s Security is unclear. [break] To cross-talk the situation in Gaza, I’m joined by my guests, Nora Lester Murad in Jerusalem, [] also in Jerusalem, we have Martin van Creveld, [], and in Washington, we cross to Flynt Leverett, []. Martin, if I can first go to you in Jerusalem. Israeli Government says it has open-ended objectives with the most recent Invasion of Gaza. What does it mean to you when they say they don’t have specific objectives?
2.       Van Creveld: This is not a question of objectives. You seem to forget that this particular War was started by Hamas, not by Israel. Israel is defending itself against the rocket attacks. Even as we speak, rockets are pouring down in much of Israel. A couple of days ago, they even fell in my house, which is not far from Jerusalem.
3.       Lavelle: Okay, Nora, it’s all Palestinians’ fault as usual here. What do they want to achieve? I guess the biggest thing is that they destroy Hamas as an organisation, as an organisation against Occupation and Oppression. Go ahead, Nora.
4.       Murad: If you’re asking me what Israel wants to achieve, I tell you honestly that I cannot figure out for the life of me. There are 1.8 million people in Gaza, who at least for seven years lived through three major attacks since 2008, I can’t imagine how Israel expects how those 1.8 million people plus 2.5 million in the West Bank and the rest of the Palestinians in the World to believe that Israel wants Peace. Israel’s going to have to live to the Palestinians in Peace. How these attacks, horrific massacre of human lives, lead towards living together in Peace, I can’t begin to understand myself.
5.       Lavelle: Flynt in Washington, is this a déjà vu all over again. It’s quite clear that Israel has, for a long time, had a plan in the West Bank, but they simply do not know what to do with Gaza.
6.       Leverett: I think that Professor Van Creveld’s statement that this isn’t about objectives as far as Israel is concerned is very revealing. Israel has essentially no strategy when dealing with Palestinian problem. It is committed to an open-ended Occupation. We are already at a point where the number of Arabs living under Israeli control exceeds the population of Israeli Jews, which means that what we call the State of Israel is already a minority regime in the areas that it controls. And as long as it continues its open-ended Occupation of Arab populations, it is going to face Resistance, it is going to face Violence. Hamas is not some foreign Force imposed on Israel. It is a home-grown Resistance movement, and until Israel – and I think this will require utter recasting of the Israeli State – and until Israel is prepared to stop being occupying Power, this is what it is going to suffer, and it is going to increasingly delegitimise itself in the process. [They don’t give a fuck about that.]
7.       Lavelle: Martin, how do you react to that? Because it’s been used in a very grotesque form. How often do Israel have to go mow the grass in Gaza to secure what it defines as its own Security?
8.       Van Creveld: The Occupation of Gaza ended eight years ago. For eight years now.
9.       Leverett: No, it didn’t.
10.   Not a single Israel soldier has been stationed. Yes, it did. The beeper of Van Creveld. Excuse me. For eight years the Occupation of Gaza, no single.
11.   Leverett: Until you stop controlling the Air, Sea, Land access of Gaza by International Law, it is still occupying Gaza.
12.   Van Creveld: Let me finish. Let me, let me, let me finish. Let me finish.
13.   Leverett: Reinvent International Law.
14.   Van Creveld: SHUT UP AND LET ME FINISH, OKAY? Let me finish. I did not interrupt you.
15.   Lavelle: Go ahead, finish up, Martin.
16.   Van Creveld: For eight years now, my grandson, who lives not too far from the Gaza Strip, has been under rocket fire. And the only objective I care about is these attacks finally come to a halt.
17.   Lavelle: Nora, this is the Israeli argument, the rough equivalency all of the time. Explain to our viewers here, What is the average life for a seven-year old in Gaza and a seven-year old in Israel?
18.   Murad: I can’t speak for the average seven-years old any place. I just can what I see from my own.
19.   Van Creveld: Please, let me finish.
20.   Lavelle: No, Martin, we’ve moved on to Nora. Respect everyone, all right? Respect everyone. Let Nora speak now. Please, go to Nora please. Go ahead, Nora.
21.   Van Creveld: Sure.
22.   Murad: I guess what I want to say is this Occupation, which has gone on for 66 years, which has affected different parts of the Palestinian Community in different ways, has been in all cases dehumanising and brutal. And it’s just not normal for a human being to sit back and put up with it forever. I’m not justifying Violence, I’m not justifying Hamas. I’m just saying that if Israel really wants Security, Israel must make Peace with the Palestinians. If Palestinians and Israelis can live together in Peace, then both People will be secure. But as long as Israel wants to have Power over and control every single aspect of Palestinians’ lives, then Palestinians will resist. It’s human nature. And it’s also their legal Right, and it’s their Moral obligation to try to improuve the lives for their own children. So I don’t understand the strategy, and I would really like Martin to explain it. How can you get Security by oppressing another People? How does it makes you more secure? To me, it makes you much, much, much les secure. 
23.   Lavelle: Martin, go ahead.
24.   Van Creveld: I couldn’t agree more. We need Peace with the Palestinians. And there’s a strong part of Israeli public opinion that would favour and withdraw from the West Bank. We can’t withdraw from the Gaza Strip, because we haven’t been there for years. If only we could have firm Peace agreement, but that has so far not happened. And the reason why it has not happened is because Hamas doesn’t even recognise Israel. So what are we talking about here?
25.   Lavelle: Let me go to Flynt here before we end the first part of the programme. Why don’t you describe to us, Flynt, what’s going on in Gaza here? Israel wants Peace, I find it really laughable, I’m sorry. There’s so much disproportionate use of Force here. Go ahead.
26.   Leverett: It’s a travesty of legal argument to say that Israel is no longer occupying Gaza. Israel withdrew settlers and soldiers from inside of Gaza in 2005. But it continues very strictly and very severely to control all Land, Sea, and Air access to Gaza from the rest of the World.
27.   Van Creveld: Oh, this is a waste of time. I’m getting out of this programme, okay? Goodbye.

28.   Leverett: And under International Law, Israel is still occupying Gaza. And they said the Reality is that if you look at all the areas of Israeli control, Green Line Israel, Jerusalem, the rest of the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, the population in that area, they are already more Arabs in it than there are Israeli Jews. That is what Israel has brought on itself, and the two State Solution is, at this point, in my view, effectively dead. And we are on a what is going to turn out, very very bloody, very painful, but ultimately inevitable trajectory towards a one State Solution.
29.   Lavelle: Nora, can you address that? If that’s really the Reality on the ground, and Israeli always like to pitch “Western values”, “Democracy” and all that, but that’s what they can’t really square, because they want to have a State, a Jewish State, which they demand, which under International Law doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, but they always claim to have “Democratic values”. That’s really the problem that they face, and as Flynt just said, it’s only going to get worse and worse until they come to a conclusion.
30.   Murad: There is a way that it could stop, which would be the United States stop paying for it. Actually, there are two ways, that the United States and other Western Governments and their taxpayers are enabling the Occupation and all of the Violence with the Occupaion, all the Violence that is needed to maintain the Occupation. And that’s first of all by the US giving direct military aid and other kinds of economic support to Israel. And secondly, the US’s unconditional political support for Israel, even protecting it from other kinds of accountability that it could face internationally. So I think a US taxpayer like me would say to their Representatives as I’m trying to do, We don’t want any more aid to Israel until there is a Just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, that would help, that would help a lot. The other thing that would help a lot is that unfortunately a lot of the Western Governments are giving the wrong kind of aid to the Palestinians. They’re propping up the Palestinian Authority in a way that relieves the pressure on Israel. And this is something that a lot of people don’t understand, which is that, as a Occupying Power, Israel has a responsibility to maintain the well-being of the occupied population.
31.   Lavelle: All right, Nora, I’m going to jump in right now. We have to go to a short break, and after that short break, we’ll continue our discussion on Gaza. Stay with RT. [break] I’d like to remind our viewers our third guest decided to walk out of the first half of the programme. His choice. Freedom of Speech here. Flynt, if I can go to you, I’d like you to reflect a little on what Nora said at the first half part of the programme. It seems to me that the dynamic here is that no unity Government; Hamas isn’t given any legitimacy to be a part of any kind of Peace process, which Israel refuses adamantly since Oslo, in my opinion. But it’s really Palestinian Authority. That’s the real story right here, because the Israelis and Americans and their friends want to keep the PA the way it is: It’s very subservient, and it likes taking money to pay salaries, it likes all those other perks, it likes actually being a Prison guard.
32.   Leverett: The PA basically earns his money, earns its income by facilitating the Occupation. I think Nora’s points about that is sadly, but exactly correct. I thought her points about the United States were also spot on. I certainly would love to see kind of scenario she described where American taxpayers, American citizens putting up pressure on their Government, on their elected officials, US policy would change in this regard. But the sad Reality is that the United States supports this kind of Israeli Occupation, this kind of Israeli quest for this kind of absolutely unilateral military initiative in its own neighbourhood, because since the 1967 War basically, American administrations have judged that to be strategically useful for the United States. In the Cold War context, it was great from the American perspective to have this US-supplied Israeli Military, and keep in mind, the United States did not provide military assistance to Israeli until after the 1967 War when Israeli showed itself capable of defeating Soviet-supplied Militaries in Arab countries. In the Cold War context, the United States deciding to support this was strategically useful. In a post-Cold War period, American administrations have thought that Military-dominant Israel was useful in subordinating parts of the region in American-lead region order. Until American Elites, policy Elites really get it straight that this quest for Hegemony in the Middle East and using Israel as a part of the way that the United States consolidates and maintains the dominance in the Middle East, it’s just not working. The United States is actually the declining Power in the Middle East. Its relationship with Israel is an important part of why it’s a declining Power, certainly not the only part, but an important part of that story. And for its own interest, the United States needs to reconsider this, but the American political Establishment is still very firmly committed to this quest of dominating the Middle East, it sees Military-dominant Israel as a useful to that. And that sadly is very, very slow to change.
33.   Lavelle: Is it possible, in your opinion, for the Israelis to effectively stamp out Hamas as a Resistance oragnisation? Because that’s what it seems to want to do right now, going on ground and, I don’t know, from house to house. It seems to me that that’s what they wants to do, and that’s what they’re going to declare victory. But is it possible, in your mind, or will there be another Resistance group come about?
34.   Murad: I don’t know if they can stamp out Hamas, but they cannot stamp out the Resistance. Every single thing they’re doing is increasing the Resistance. I’ve lived here for ten years, and I have not seen, I cannot remember a time when so many Palestinians were so united, not behind Hamas, behind the idea of Resistance of too much, way too far. This is a massacre. There are people literally, as we’re debating here on TV, there are bombs shaking houses, there are children screaming, there are thousands of people running through the shelter, there is no shelter, all the UN shelters are full, all the borders are closed. It’s the scale of inhumanity so intolerable, so unacceptable that even if those liberal American Jews who support Israel, who are tricked by that Rhetoric that Israel is somehow forced into massacring other People, they are forced into it, they wish they didn’t have to, but they can’t do anything else, because Evil Palestinians. I mean, even if somebody believes that, they can’t possibly, if they have a heart, if they have a brain, if they have a soul, they can’t possibly think that it is okay to drop bombs on schools and hospitals and to kill people and to think that it is okay. It is not okay. This is a massacre which must stop immediately.
35.   Lavelle: Flynt in Washington, it’s very interesting. A few days ago, ABC ran false, or mistaken they said, clip about the suffering of Israeli People, which they quickly apologised for. I think it’s really quite telling about what the Establishment in the United States thinks about that conflict. There’s one good side, and there’s one bad side, and it’s been that way my entire life.
36.   Leverett: Yes, I think that is true, of the way the Media covers this conflict, has covered it for a long time, and to a great extent, continues. Continues to cover it. Israeli Security Forces horribly brutalised American teenager, but because it was an American teenager of Palestinian origin, who was visiting relatives when he came to the attention of Israeli Security Forces. His brutalisation doesn’t really count, and isn’t presented as something that should outrage Americans and should require accountability from the Israeli Government for this American teenager’s abuse. [Bill Maher.] But that’s right. There is a very well-established narrative about this conflict, and it’s clearly biased against the Palestinians.
37.   Lavelle: Flynt, if I can stay with you. It’s very interesting this time round, Hamas doesn’t allies anymore, especially with Egyptian junta now. It’s really quite alone. This is their opportunity about their missiles which were nothing more than fireworks. It’s really quite nonsense, what the Western Media is covering here. But this is an opportunity with Hamas all alone.
38.   Leverett: I think Israelis are looking at it that way, but I think it’s a mistake. It’s certainly true that before this latest round of fighting, Hamas was arguably at its lowest point in terms of financial resources, and as you say, its regional support, its regional allies. It was arguably at its point since its founding, back in 1980s during the First Palestinian Intifada. Hamas has, to some degree, inflicted the decline on itself. I think it made a real mistake in leaving its base in Syria, it made a real miscalculation in thinking that ** Government, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Government in Egypt was going to be able to provide it with its strong regional partner. Those were the serious mistakes that Hamas made. I think what Israel is doing is renewing Hamas, because Hamas is the only significant Force in the Palestinian Society and Palestinian Politics, as Nora said, as Israeli is carrying on this cause of Resistance. And I think Hamas could actually in some respects politically emerge stronger out of this conflict than it was before the conflict began.
39.   Lavelle: Interesting, Nora. What do you think about what Flynt said right there? You could see Hamas bouncing back. We’re all talking theoretically here. And I want to stress some of the things you’ve said. There is a massacre going on in the Gaza Strip, as we’re talking on Television, just as you said here. Do you think this is a part of Hamas’s calculation?
40.   Murad: You mean they’re doing it on purpose, trying to lose a lot of people so that they gain strength? I don’t know.
41.   Lavelle: No, no. I’m not saying that, I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is, This is a circumstance as a Resistance group where they can find their feet more, let’s put it that way. Because there is a sparring going on right now, and they are all alone.
42.   Murad: Yeah, I think I’d like to point out the Israeli Rhetoric sometimes will point to these horrible things about Israel, and that’s their excuse for saying that we could never talk to Hamas or make Peace with Hamas. But I want to point out for people who don’t know that those same kinds of horrible things are said by the Israelis about the Palestinians within the Israeli Government almost on a daily basis. We hear horrible things that the Israeli in office are saying about the Palestinians. For me, that’s not very important. If we can isolate the extremists in Government, in other words, in 2006, when Hamas agreed to run for Election, and international community including the United States supported it, that was an opportunity for Hamas to be enfranchised and be expressed within the political system. But the outcome of that Election was rejected by the Western international community, the United States and Europe.
43.   Lavelle: You’re absolutely right.
44.   Murad: Therefore, what are these People supposed to do? I’m not supporting or justifying them. I’m saying that.
45.   Lavelle: Nora, I’m afraid I’ll have to jump in here. We’ve run out of time, and many thanks to my guests in Jerusalem and in Washington. And thanks to our viewers for watching RT. See you next time. And remember CrossTalk rules.

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