As Congress heeds Israel lobbyists, press blacks out Abunimah, Munayyer and Blumenthal

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Last Thursday in Washington, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution against Palestinian incitement following a hearing featuring the testimony of three Israel lobbyists on alleged Palestinian bloodthirstiness. The hearing got wide press coverage.

The next day the Palestine Center held a conference near the Capitol featuring analysis of the Palestinian rebellion from Yousef Munayyer, Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal. That conference has gotten no press coverage at all. You’d think that a diverse conference attended by a standing-room-only crowd and seeking to explain the causes of Palestinian violence would get wide attention– you’d be wrong. The Washington Post ran two pieces highly critical of Israel this weekend, but one was by two professed Zionists, the other by an Israeli. The mainstream is not ready for Palestinian and anti-Zionist voices.

Below are videos of Blumenthal’s and Munayyer’s comments. Abunimah’s will be posted in a day or so; and I’ll pass them along then. (There were a dozen other fine speakers on other subjects, including Laila el-Haddad, Andrew Kadi, Radhika Sainath, Bill Corcoran, Omar Shakir, and Fouad Moughrabi; I’ll get to those talks later.)

Munayyer said that “the escalated uprising in Palestine” is important because it signals to the Israelis that the occupation is not cost free. But it also has the potential to damage international solidarity for Palestinians.

His comments are in the last few minutes of the video. Israelis are not absorbing the lesson that the occupation cannot be sustained, Munayyer said; opinion polling shows that overwhelmingly they would prefer an even harsher response to the violence than what Benjamin Netanyahu has delivered. So “the radicalization and rightward drift in the Israeli polity continues.”

Then Munayyer spoke of the possible damage to Palestinian solidarity:

Where the challenge is here is whether or not the current uprising sets back what I think have been very significant advances in global public opinion around this issue, which has viewed Palestinians increasingly as the victims of Israeli occupation and has viewed the Israelis overwhelmingly as the reason why progress on the peace front does not continue. So I think for Palestinians it’s important to keep in mind that to the greatest extent that this uprising against occupation can be coordinated and can keep in mind the sensitivities of international public opinion, which are central to the solidarity necessary for the support for their cause– to the extent that that can be kept in mind in this uprising, if the energy behind this uprising can be channeled toward the kind of efforts that I believe have driven success for that change of public opinion, namely the effort for boycott divestment and sanctions, the more likely that this recent uprising can lead to positive things for Palestinians.

If, however, the rebellion continues as it has, “there are many challenges that one can see, and unfortunately because of the brutality of the Israeli occupation it is Palestinians that will continue to pay the highest price.”

 

Both Blumenthal and Abunimah said that the Obama administration has been the very worst American administration in the treatment of Palestinians. Blumenthal pointed out that even George W. Bush told the Israelis to hold off in its attacks on Palestinians; Obama has been incapable of doing so.

Here’s the second part of Blumenthal’s speech, describing the latest Palestinian attacks as a rebellion against Israeli policies of demoralization and separation, and concluding that the conflict increasingly resembles Algeria rather than South Africa.

Blumenthal said that in the name of “hafrada,” or separation– a policy liberal Zionists heralded as paving the way to a two-state solution under Oslo– Israel has in fact created a one-state reality that is a binational apartheid state, with the huge military Qalandia checkpoint at the center. East Jerusalem has become the center of Palestinian resistance. Israel has acted to remove all institutions of Palestinian life from East Jerusalem, starting with Orient House, to the point that the last symbol of Palestinian life is Al Aqsa mosque, the focus of the rebellion.

“Who is rebelling?” The generation that grew up under hafrada: the Oslo generation, ages 13-28, young people with no real political allegiances.

They are trying to reclaim an agency that’s been denied to them by lashing out against their occupier. They are making a statement that peace without peace that has been Netanyahu’s policy is not possible. They’re puncturing that psychological security that Israelis have been enjoying in Tel Aviv.

But Israel has only becomes more hardened. There’s been a steady rise in racist and belligerent attitudes. Three-quarters of Israeli Jews favor ethnically cleansing Israeli Palestinians, four out of five would boycott Arab businesses. And the vigilantism that marked Jewish-occupied Hebron has now come into Israeli cities. At the same time that settlers have taken over the political structure.

The “snuff films” showing Palestinian killings are “illustrations of Zionism in its terminal phase,” Blumenthal said. Netanyahu is at the hollow center of Israeli politics, and any fanaticism he can muster will rise to the surface because he has to hold off his right.

The result is a “low level and extremely gruesome civil war. I worry that we are moving from a South Africa scenario to an Algeria scenario, and that is the challenge for everyone in this room.”

Here’s part I of Blumenthal’s talk:

As for that House Foreign Affairs hearing, the committee heard testimony from two neoconservatives and a neocon-lite last Thursday: Elliott Abrams, Jonathan Schanzer and David Makovsky. The subject was “Words Have Consequences: Palestinian Authority Incitement to Violence.” The committee then passed a resolution “that would condemn the Palestinian Authority for ‘anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement.’”

Here’s some of Abrams’s testimony:

Nor do poverty or economic problems explain why you pick up a knife a start stabbing and killing this week. So, why now? The most logical explanation is Palestinian lies about the Temple Mount, about how Israel is undermining it and attacking it and defiling it. Those lies are being repeated in Palestinian media and worse yet by the top Palestinian leadership.

Code Pink had a demonstration against the testimony, or as they phrased it: “Activists repping #Palestine in horrible Congressional hearing today.” One of those activists is the former neoconservative Scott McConnell, below.

Scott McConnell at Code Pink demonstration against neoconservative witnesses to House Foreign Affairs Committee, Oct. 22, 2015
Scott McConnell at Code Pink demonstration against neoconservative witnesses to House Foreign Affairs Committee, Oct. 22, 2015
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“Where the challenge is here is whether or not the current uprising sets back what I think have been very significant advances in global public opinion around this issue, which has viewed Palestinians increasingly as the victims of Israeli occupation” Anyone who lets the attacks on Israelis sway them does not understand who or what is causing them and is probably one of those squishy neo-liberal types I have no patience for. They’re more trouble… Read more »

Can anyone elucidate me on why the Foreign Affairs committee felt it had to pass that resolution? I mean to have three right wing nut jobs and NO token Arabs to be browbeaten on camera just seems like gratuitous overkill. At least make the show trial look good! Is this all it takes to make the wealthy Zionist donors happy?

I view the contemporary events as de facto setbacks for Palestinians. Knifing civilians is never good if you want to gather international support. Of course, most victims have been settlers or soldiers, but not all. It doesn’t matter if the underlying reason for this violence is a rebellion against the occupation: most people are not that educated on these issues and only believe the media narrative, which is inherently anti-Arab and Islamophobic and goes to… Read more »

re “The Washington Post ran two pieces highly critical of Israel this weekend, but one was by two professed Zionists, the other by an Israeli. The mainstream is not ready for Palestinian and anti-Zionist voices.” On one hand, it’s good that they ran these pieces, from people who can’t be discounted as easily. On the other hand, it is sad that Palestinian voices are so rarely heard in the MSM. A few have appeared (I… Read more »

Abrams maybe didn’t see R Arik Ascherman’s blog in the Times of Israel – days before his assault – claiming that the status quo *had* indeed been changed on the “Temple Mount” in 2013, when the Jewish religious fanatics were given regular access. I can’t find the link though. Didn’t save it as I was disappointed with his zionist wish for prayers there.