Juan Cole – Informed Comment https://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Thu, 04 Mar 2021 05:58:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.16 Why the Biden Administration is Dead Wrong to oppose Int’l Criminal Court War Crimes inquiry in Occupied Palestine: A Betrayal of the Rule of Law https://www.juancole.com/2021/03/administration-palestine-betrayal.html https://www.juancole.com/2021/03/administration-palestine-betrayal.html#respond Thu, 04 Mar 2021 05:54:00 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196460 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) has decided to look into war crimes committed in the Israeli-Occupied Territories of Palestine. Outgoing chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said that the decision to go forward was reached after a paintstaking 5-year review. The investigation will begin in 2014, suggesting that the court will consider war crimes by both Israeli officials and Hammas ones during the 2014 Gaza conflict.

Ms. Bensouda had announced on February 6 of this year that the Court had found that it had the competency to investigate war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but had not yet decided whether actually to do so.

Now it is clear that there is an appetite on the court to go forward.

The Rome Statute that acts as a charter for the ICC defines Apartheid as a war crime, such that Israel flooding its own citizens onto Palestinian land as grabby squatters may well be part of the court’s brief. Israeli actions contravene the 1949 Geneva Conventions on occupied territories.

Al-Quds al-Arabi [Arab Jerusalem], a pan-Arab London daily, quoted the foreign ministry of the Palestine Authority as welcoming the decision, saying that it demonstrated the court’s principled stand and its independence, and its dedication to the principles of the 2002 Rome Statute.

The state of Palestine brought the motion to the International Criminal Court in 2018 after having tried for three years to get the far right, expansionist government of Binyamin Netanyahu to stop colonizing Palestinian land and resources. The state of Palestine was recognized as a permanent observer state by the UN General Assembly in 2012, giving it the same status that the Vatican enjoys. That status allowed Palestine to join the International Criminal Court in 2015.

The ICC cannot investigate Israel proper, since Tel Aviv is not a signatory to the Rome Statute and the court only has jurisdiction over signatories. The only other way the court can intervene is if the UN Security Council forwards a case to it, as happened when Moammar Gaddafi began shooting down Libyans in February, 2011. Because the US generally wields its veto to protect Israel, the International Criminal Court is unlikely to get a referral regarding Israel.

Since, however, Palestine joined the ICC in 2015, and since Palestine brought a complaint in 2018, the court has decided that it now has jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories. Since those are where most of the war crimes occur, the court now has a wide range of issues to consider.

Al-Quds al-Arabi notes that Bensouda cautioned that this process would take some time. Some work will be delayed because of the pandemic. The first step will be to set priorities for investigation.

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced the court’s decision, saying “The United States firmly opposes and is deeply disappointed by this decision. The ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter. Israel is not a party to the ICC and has not consented to the Court’s jurisdiction, and we have serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel.”

He added that the US ““will continue to uphold our strong commitment to Israel and its security, including by opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly.”

Blinken is flat out wrong on every point he makes. The ICC is not investigating crimes on Israeli soil, but in the Palestinian Occupied territories. Since Palestine as a permanent UN observer state is a member of the ICC and invited the court into its territory, the International Criminal Court has every right to investigate violations of the Rome Statute that took place in those territories. As for Israeli personnel, if they committed their crimes in Palestine, they are liable to prosecution.

The ICC is not treating Israel unfairly. It will also look at Hamas violations. Moreover, it isn’t unfair to investigate a country for committing war crimes when it has actually, like, committed war crimes. Blinken sounds like every convict in prison, who has been unfairly persecuted and never did murder that old lady to get at her purse.

Blinken already let the crown prince of Saudi Arabia off without sanctions for murdering Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Now he is running interference for Netanyahu. He is quickly becoming the face of American hypocrisy, which only wants sanctions on Russians and Iranians who are rivals but never on officials from countries that talk nice about the US.

Although it may itself be under scrutiny, Al Jazeera says, the Hamas party-militia that rules the Palestinian Gaza Strip welcomed the announcement. Spokesman Hazim Qasim said, “Hamas welcomes the decision of the International Criminal Court to investigate the crimes of the Israeli Occupation against our people.” He added, “Our resistance is a legitimate resistance and comes within the framework of defense on our people.”

For his part, Israeli foreign minister Gabriel “Gabi” Ashkenazi rejected the decision of the ICC, calling it “morally and legally bankrupt.” He said, “The decision to open an investigation against Israel is beyond the court’s mandate, and a waste of the international community’s resources by a biased institution that has lost all legitimacy.”

Al-Quds al-Arabi further quoted Ashkenazi as saying, “Israel will take all necessary steps to protect its citizens and its troops from legal persecution.”

I think all criminals view legal prosecution as a form of persecution.

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Bonus Video:

Al Jazeera English: “ICC prosecutor opens war crimes probe in Palestinian territories”

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Reporters without Borders Files German ‘Crimes against Humanity’ Case against Saudi’s Bin Salman for Khashoggi Murder https://www.juancole.com/2021/03/reporters-humanity-khashoggi.html https://www.juancole.com/2021/03/reporters-humanity-khashoggi.html#respond Wed, 03 Mar 2021 06:30:06 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196441 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The France-based Reporters without Borders (RSF) has filed a criminal complaint with the Prosecutor-General of the Federal Court of Justices in Karlsruhe, Germany, against crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman and other Saudi officials for the murder of Washington Post columnist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The filing alleges a series of crimes against humanity committed against journalists in Saudi Arabia. The 500-page complaint, in German, presents the cases of 35 journalists, including Khashoggi. The other 34 are journalists and bloggers imprisoned in the kingdom, including blogger Raif Badawi.

The legal action comes on the heels of last week’s release by the Biden administration of a 4-page CIA memo assessing that Bin Salman was behind the assassination of Khashoggi.

Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Michael Safi at The Guardian note that the complaint was filed in Germany because German courts claim universal jurisdiction. As a result, a Syrian secret police officer was recently convicted in Germany of torture.

Interestingly, the RSF (the French acronym for Reporters without Borders) argued that Saudi Arabia is guilty of “crimes against humanity,” which international law defines as a deliberate, generalized and systematic attack on a civilian population. They identify journalists as the population being targeted by the crown prince and his fellow officials. This definition of crimes against humanity, present in the 2002 Rome Statute, has been incorporated into German law by virtue of a statute that recognizes “crimes against international law.” Reporters without Borders argues that journalists are victims of premeditated murder, torture, violence, sexual coercion, forced disappearance, illegal deprivation of physical liberty, and persecution. All of these are crimes against humanity according to German law.

RSF argues that since journalists are responsible for informing the public and holding officials to account, crimes against them are even more serious than in the case of other classes of people. I think they are saying that when journalists are persecuted the result is not only harm to them but also to the entire public, which is no longer able to find out information essential to the public weal or to hold government officials to account.

The complaint named five principal suspects, Mohammed Bin Salman, Saud al-Qahtani, and three others they charge are responsible for the assassination of Khashoggi.

The complaint quotes the CIA memo, released by the Office of Director of National Intelligence, in its entirety.

According to Reporters without Borders, Saudi Arabia ranks 170 out of 180 countries they surveyed on press freedom.

I think that in American law, RSF would have to prove standing, that is, that one of its members had been injured by these Saudi actions. I’m not sure it would be enough that they represent journalists in general. But given that German legislators have a law against breaking international law, all RSF is doing is asking the prosecutor general to find that Saudi Arabia violated that provision. Since German courts claim university jurisdiction, and since they have already convicted a Syrian for crimes he committed in Syria, it would be theoretically possible for the German justice authorities to rule against Bin Salman.

I don’t know enough about German law to know if it would be a problem that Germany would have to convict the perpetrators in absentia. Moreover, convicting the heir apparent of a fabulously wealthy and influential country is not like convicting a low level Syrian secret policeman and torturer.

Universal jurisdiction claims by a country’s judiciary can be very inconvenient for a country’s foreign policy. Belgium’s courts used to claim universal jurisdiction, but when a case was brought in them against Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, the Belgium legislature passed a law restricting the courts only to crimes committed on Belgian soil.

What the RSF complaint shows is that Bin Salman is likely to remain a pariah internationally because of his role in murdering Khashoggi, and that if King Salman were wise he would do as Abraham did and be willing to sacrifice his son’s political future for the sake of the welfare of Saudi Arabia.

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Bonus video:

France 24 English: “Media watchdog seeks German investigation of Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi death”

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The 7 Deadly Sins of Today’s Conservatives https://www.juancole.com/2021/03/deadly-todays-conservatives.html https://www.juancole.com/2021/03/deadly-todays-conservatives.html#respond Tue, 02 Mar 2021 06:34:00 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196421 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – That someone at the conservative political convention, CPAC, thought it a good idea to put up a gilded statue of the odious Trump says it all. Today’s conservatives are literally worshiping a gold calf, for all the world like straying children of Israel who lapsed from their devotion to God.

Contemporary conservatism has fallen into the seven deadly sins of pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth. This listing of faults originated with Evagrius the Solitary, a fourth-century monk from what is now Turkey. His original list had eight sins, but both pride and vainglory were on it, and subsequent authors collapsed them into seven.

I have never found conservatism an interesting ideology, and it seems to me patently false. Its exponents seem to believe that the rich are rich because they are more capable than others and the poor are poor because they are lazy. They decry the role of government in the economy but no one manipulates the government for the benefit of their social class (typically the owners of businesses) more than they do. They believe that there are social hierarchies and that these are a good thing. I once heard William Buckley on the radio insisting that the lives of the blind are obviously less full than the lives of the sighted. The crass and embarrassingly glib argument seems to me to sum up the conservative obsession with some people being innately better than others.

Even Buckley, however, would be embarrassed by today’s conservatives, who have devolved into glassy-eyed cultists. They dance around denying reality, imputing the Capitol insurrection to “antifa” in contrast to FBI findings and the evidence of our own eyes. They insisted Joe Biden isn’t really the president. Making sure that the rich are not regulated or taxed in the interests of the public good, the old conservative objective personified by Mitch McConnell, is tame stuff by comparison.

Conservatism has become so prideful as to be narcissistic. Refusing to acknowledge that you lost an election fair and square is pride. This sin of pride led dozens of sitting congressmen to vote against certifying Joe Biden’s triumph. They were too full of pride to accept that they had been whupped. In fact, conservatism today cannot accept any criticism, any defeat on any issue at all. If they appear to lose, it is because of a conspiracy. Their increasing loss of touch with reality is driven by pride. They are constructing a fantasyland in which they always prove victorious. Their pride in being white Christians is also to the point of sin. They seem to have lost sight of that charity and humility business, and seem not to realize that the founders of Christianity were not “white” but brown Palestinian Jews.

The notion that people are rich because they are better than others also displays the sin of pride. Obviously, the rich are often capable people. Economist and former labor secretary Robert Reich points out, however, that most billionaires get to be that way through 5 techniques.

1. Exploit a monopoly
2. Insider trading
3. Buy off politicians
4. Extort investors into giving you a golden parachute
5. Inherit a sh*t-load of money

All five of these ways to get super-rich exhibit the sin of greed. Monopoly practices harm the public weal, and entrepreneurs who wield them are taking advantage of people while benefiting enormously themselves. Likewise, insider trading (which even some in Congress engage in) is a form of theft. Corrupting the political system the way Koch does, buying off politicians to lower his taxes, is also nothing but greedy. Greed is the desire to have and hoard a lot of something (in this case, money). The greedy don’t want to consume their gains, necessarily. Nor could they. Having a billion dollars is after all notional. You don’t actually have it. Most of it is directed by other people. The rich can only own so many appliances or eat so many meals. Most of their money is socked away in investments and does them no particular good as persons.

The Trumpist form of contemporary conservatism is all about wrath. Trump wants to punish those Republicans who voted to impeach him. He didn’t get animated at CPAC until he got to his enemies list. Conservatives are angry. Life isn’t fair to them (even though they are the richest and most privileged people on earth). They are angry at minorities for asking for equality under the law and eroding their white privilege. They are angry about polite requests that they help pay for the government services and infrastructure that allow their businesses to turn a profit.

Today’s conservatives are envious of the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left. These movements made it indelicate to express racist ideas publicly. They robbed conservatism of the racial epithets whereby they had kept some populations voiceless. That is why they keep crying reverse racism against whites. They have minority envy. They wish they could have the validation that comes with being oppressed. Hence, they imply, Jewish Americans are making a war on Christmas to the point where you have to say “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas. Christianity, the religion of 85% of the population, is being discriminated against. They don’t understand that activism on the part of the Establishment is not like activism on the part of the truly oppressed.

Conservatives don’t have a monopoly on lust. But the Trumpian brand that has taken over is ostentatious in its claims on white male privilege to sexually harass women. Trump himself is a notorious grabber of pudenda and a philanderer against whom many claims of sexual abuse have been filed. His brand of conservatism entails push-back against women’s desires to be treated like human beings instead of pleasurable objects. It seems clear from Rowan Farrow’s brave reporting that lust of this sort is common in corporate boardrooms, and its practitioners no doubt applaud Trump for parading it and trying to normalize it.

Gluttony is another sin of conservatism. It is the desire to consume as opposed to hoarding. Ted Cruz’s abandonment of Texas for Cancun was gluttony. He wanted to consume some nice weather and some leisure while the Texans he supposedly represents were shivering without heat or electricity in an ice storm. Trump is a notorious glutton, which can easily be seen in his girth. Many of the industries championed by conservatives involve gluttony. Flat top coal mining consumes the natural landscape, leaving only the husk behind. Likewise fracking. Promoting fossil fuels is a way of eating the earth right up. Belch.

The conservative approach to the pandemic last year was slothful. Trump and Republican governors just decided to let half a million people die rather than to take the needed actions. Indeed, Neoliberalism in general is slothful, consisting often in no more than a hope and a prayer that the market will swing into action and solve all problems. The market is, however, merely an artifact of social engineering and not a magic hand. Trump came into office promising to fix all those falling-down bridges and dilapidated airports. He never did. He was too lazy, as was his majority in Congress. They passed a tax cut on billionaires instead. The country is falling down around our ears because deregulating corporations and cutting their taxes are the primary goals of conservatives, not burnishing America’s assets.

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Bonus Video:

The Young Turks: “CPAC Reacts to Gold Trump Statue”

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Morocco beats U.S. in Green Energy Future Index with Massive Saharan Solar Plant https://www.juancole.com/2021/03/morocco-massive-saharan.html https://www.juancole.com/2021/03/morocco-massive-saharan.html#respond Mon, 01 Mar 2021 06:03:31 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196412 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The MIT Technology Review has released its Green Future Index. Among Middle Eastern countries, Morocco ranks number one, and it also leads Africa.

I have a big problem with the index, though. One of its criteria is technological innovation in the area of green energy. These are the bases for the rankings:

• Carbon emissions: Total emissions as well as the degree of change in emissions in transportation, industry, and agriculture

• Energy transition: The contribution and growth rate of renewable energy sources

• Green society: A range of indicators covering net forestation, development of green buildings, recycling, and consumption of animal products

• Clean innovation: The relative number of green patents, investment in cross-border clean energy, investment in food technology

• Climate policy: Policy commitment toward climate targets, carbon finance programs, sustainable agriculture, and the use of covid stimulus for a green recovery

I object to the “clean innovation” criterion. Obviously Morocco won’t file for as many patents as advanced industrial countries.

A lot of these criteria give countries like the United States a pass. The US has no offshore wind, almost no utility scale solar, and isn’t making full use of its massive onshore Midwest wind corridor. We put out over 5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide a year most years, the second worst offender in the world. We’ve been AWOL for four years from the Paris Climate Accord. The United States should be dead last on any green futures index, but here it comes in 40 of 76 countries ranked. Maybe we have some great patents in the area of green energy. It isn’t enough, so far.

Yes, I’m calling the MIT Green Futures Index Orientalist.

President Biden wants to implement an ambitious green energy program, and we’re all rooting for him, but so far it is mostly a hope and a prayer.

Morocco comes in 26 in the Tech Review index. Here’s a poor country that in 13 years has gone from having almost no renewables to having them provide 37 percent of its electricity. It is aiming for 52 percent by 2030, which is admittedly less ambitious than its performance so far warrants. It only puts out on the order of 61 million metric tons of CO2 every year. (Given it only has 11% of the population of the US, that would be like 671 million metric tons in US terms; in other words, a small fraction of our emissions).

I just don’t think the United States is in the same league as Morocco when it comes to its dedication to a green energy future.

Morocco’s Noor Ouarzazate Solar Power Station, on the edge of the Sahara, powers the equivalent of 2 million homes (the country has 7.7 million households).

Safaa Kasraoui writes at Moroccan World News,

    “During the inauguration of Nestle’s solar project in El Jadida on Tuesday, [Morocco’s Minister of Energy Aziz] Rabbah said that the installed capacity of renewable energy sources in Morocco amounts to 3,950 megawatts. The number represents about 37% of the total installed electric power or 20% of the country’s electricity demand.”

The country is putting nearly $6 billion into more renewable projects.

The MIT report did acknowledge all this in a sidebar:

    “Over a decade ago, the King of Morocco began a national debate about the future of energy, resulting in a fundamental policy redesign and a goal that renewables would produce 42% of the country’s power by 2020—a target that has now been raised to 52% by 2030. In addition to developing strong wind and solar sectors, says Said Mouline, CEO of the Morocco Agency for Energy Efficiency (AMEE), Morocco has also successfully driven down cost. “At less than $0.03 per kilowatt hour, renewables are now our cheapest way to produce electricity.”

Coal was once considered the cheapest fuel for electricity, at $0.05 per kilowatt hour. If Morocco can get electricity from wind and solar for about half that, it is way ahead of the game.

The MIT Tech Review report also admits that Morocco has eliminated fossil fuel subsidies, something that the United States has definitely not done. They have put in 40,000 solar-powered water irrigation pumps on farms, retiring those powered by natural gas. They are trying to convert their steel plants to electric arc technology powered by solar panels.

They quote Mr. Mouline again,

    “Mouline envisions Morocco becoming a regional climate advocate within Africa. “Today in Africa we have 600 million people who don’t have electricity, and we have the tools and capabilities to help leverage renewables to bridge that gap.” AMEE created a capacity-building center in Marrakesh to train Africans from other countries in areas like renewable electrification and sustainable pumping for agriculture.”

Morocco’s role here is huge, since getting developing economies to go green now will prevent a further wave of carbon dioxide emissions as they industrialize.

Morocco now has a factory to produce its own wind turbine blades, with 60% of them to be exported to Europe. It is also looking into green hydrogen as a storage mechanism, jointly with European partners, the report says.

I really think Morocco deserves to be much higher on this list. And the US deserves to be number 76.

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Bonus Video:

KiAfrica: The BIGGEST Concentrated Solar Plant in the World is in Africa I Morocco

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The Clearest Example of Israeli Apartheid Yet – Juan Cole Interviewed by Robert Scheer https://www.juancole.com/2021/02/clearest-apartheid-interviewed.html https://www.juancole.com/2021/02/clearest-apartheid-interviewed.html#respond Sun, 28 Feb 2021 05:14:31 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196389 Via ScheerPost — which is always essential reading, I was interviewed by the legendary journalist Robert Scheer. In a storied career, he covered the Vietnam War and southeast Asia, edited Ramparts, interviewed Jimmy Carter for Playboy and the president confessed to him that he sometimes had lust in his heart. Scheer has interviewed or met most people of any importance in the past 55 years. He is one of the sharpest, most knowledgeable authors we have, and don’t pay any attention to his generous claim that I know more about anything than he does.

Robert Scheer: The Middle East scholar joins Robert Scheer on “Scheer Intelligence” [at KCRW/ NPR ] to discuss what the COVID-19 pandemic revealed about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As Israel’s COVID-19 vaccination program got underway in recent months, reports in Western media, including the New York Times, lauded the country’s speedy inoculation efforts to vaccinate every Israeli over the age of 16. What many news reports failed to immediately note in detail, however, was that as the Middle Eastern nation was rapidly vaccinating its citizens against the deadly virus that turned the whole world upside down, it showed no signs of inoculating the approximately 5 million Palestinians whose land Israel occupies in the Gaza strip and the West Bank. After a global outcry ensued over the immorality of this decision, Israel ultimately promised to transfer 5,000 doses to the West Bank for medical staff. However on Monday the Palestinian Authority accused Israel of blocking the 2,000 COVID-19 vaccines Palestinian officials were attempting to send to health care workers in Gaza from entering the blockaded territory.

To Middle East scholar Juan Cole, the term to describe these events is crystal clear: medical apartheid. On this week’s episode of “Scheer Intelligence,” the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor professor joins Robert Scheer to discuss what the coronavirus pandemic has revealed about the decades-long Mideast conflict.

“The fact is that Israel militarily occupies these people,” declared Cole. “It has undermined their economies, and the World Bank and others estimate that the Israeli occupation has cost the Palestinians billions and billions of dollars in the past two decades. And the restrictions on imports into Gaza are such as to have left the hospital system wholly inadequate. And the number of ICUs in both the West Bank and Gaza is very low in world terms. So the Palestinians don’t have the resources to deal with this pandemic themselves.”

Cole explains that Israeli claims that under the Oslo Accords the Palestinian Authority is responsible for the health services on Palestinian territories ring hollow considering that the same treaty implied Israel would no longer occupy Gaza and the West Bank by the year 2000. What’s more, the Middle East scholar continues, due to the propagation of Israeli settlements across the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority only actually has any power over less than half of the territory, and even some of these parts are subjected to “direct Israeli military rule.”

“I heard an Israeli politician interviewed who said, ‘Well, we’re not going to give the Palestinians vaccinations before Israeli citizens,’” Cole tells Scheer. “That just struck me as outright racist [and serves as] another demonstration of how the Israeli contemporary apartheid works.”

Scheer and Cole discuss how Western media, particularly in the U.S., often fails to provide a full picture of the plight of Palestinians when reporting on Israel. Additionally, the two describe a “McCarthyite” targeting of people in the U.S. who speak out against the Israeli occupation in universities, as activists, in media or in other settings. Cole also examines how Donald Trump’s presidency has impacted Israeli-Palestinian politics, and comes to a harrowing conclusion regarding Israel’s far-right political leaders, such as prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the global far right.

“The right wing in Israel has become a symbol for the right wing in Europe and the United States [because] what the far right is really about is racial hierarchy,” Cole says. “And the racial hierarchy that’s established in the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean is very clear. In fact, under Netanyahu in 2018, the Israeli parliament actually passed a law that said that sovereignty in Israel is invested in the Jewish Israelis, [meaning] 20% of [Israeli citizens] who are not Jewish have been denied sovereignty.”

Listen to the full conversation between Cole and Scheer as they discuss the history of the Israeli occupation, how Jewish Americans view the situation, and what connections can be drawn between Israel’s politics and the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Prefer the audio? Click here to listen at KCRW to ‘Scheer Intelligence’

Credits:

Host: Robert Scheer

Producer: Joshua Scheer

Introduction: Natasha Hakimi Zapata

Transcript: Lucy Berbeo

Robert Scheer Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence. And I feel an obligation to say the intelligence comes from my guests. In this case, I know it will be quite sharp–Juan Cole–because I’ve had him on the show before. We talked about one of his more recent books, actually my introduction to the life of Muhammad, and which I found fascinating, recommend it to anyone. And he is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He does a terrific column that I tried to run on my own Scheerpost; we ran it on Truthdig a lot, Informed Comment. I’ll actually just flat out say, I think Juan Cole is the most trustworthy source about all things related to the Mideast. And I say this having had a number of disagreements with him, both in person and in terms of his writing. But there is no single person in this country that I would trust and that I respect more on anything dealing with that region, whether it’s Saudi Arabia, whether it’s Israel, whether it’s Iran, than Juan Cole.

So with those words, I want to put a very simple question to you. We’ve had four years of Donald Trump’s attempt to reorder the region. He promised he was going to have some big breakthrough on relations with the Palestinians. And my own eyeballing of it is the one power circle that got a big payoff from Donald Trump was Netanyahu and the leadership of Israel. And they got their wish list. The Palestinians got, to use Yiddish, gornisht mit gornisht, nothing with nothing. So take it from there.

Juan Cole: Sure. Well, the Trump administration really had no daylight with the far, far right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud party, which leads the government. Sometimes he’s got into a coalition with–in those four years, sometimes he went into coalition with more centrist parties. But Netanyahu and his party are the right of the right, and Trump gave them everything they could possibly ask for. He breached the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and slapped the most severe peacetime sanctions on Iran that we’ve ever seen with regard to any country. And he cut the Palestinians off at the knees, slashed funding for refugee communities who are Palestinian; the United Nations Relief and Works Agency was gutted under Trump. And the Palestinians really stopped having an envoy in Washington, D.C.; there wasn’t any point, because Trump wouldn’t talk to them. He slashed USAID aid to Palestinians in the West Bank, and just really has been so one-sided in this dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians. On the Israeli side he recognized, contrary to international law, the Israeli annexation of Syrian territory in the Golan Heights, and didn’t have a problem with Netanyahu’s plan to annex some of the Palestinian West Bank as well.

So there was no negotiation. There were no talks, there was no attempt at peacemaking, there was no attempt at finding a compromise between the two sides. And when the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip along the Mediterranean–who are completely surrounded and blockaded by the Israelis, and who very carefully, the Israelis very carefully control building materials going in there, and even materials necessary to medical care and hospitals. When the Palestinians of Gaza began a weekly demonstration at the borders with Israel, in which almost none of them were armed or committed any violence on Israeli troops, the Israeli army at the border set up snipers and began just shooting Palestinian demonstrators for being too close to the Israeli border, but still on Palestinian territory in Gaza, and hundreds of innocent demonstrators were killed or maimed for life. High-powered rifles were shot at their knees. I mean, this was a series of war crimes of great gravity, and the Trump administration didn’t so much as bring it up; it wasn’t a talking point. And the U.S. government is so powerful that if they decide to deep-six a human rights campaign and just refuse to speak about it, their very silence can drive it off the front pages of newspapers and make sure it doesn’t appear on cable news and so forth. So this was a period of right-wing Israeli triumphalism, which dismayed, you know, centrist and leftist Israelis no end. But as a result, Trump, you know, has enormous popularity in Israel, something in the 60% range.

RS: So first of all, if you could just get closer to the mic or speak up a little louder. I don’t want to miss what you’re saying. And let me just say, let’s just summarize. Because you know, I read Haaretz every day, I have a subscription–the left Israeli paper, but I think it’s a terrific–well, I think it’s a good, very strong paper. And there you have these twin notes of despair that, you know, thanks to Trump, Netanyahu had free access to American support for anything he wanted, whether it was moving the embassy, anything. It just got–and also there’s been an opening to, you know, very reactionary Arab governments, and an alliance really with the people who, some of them at least looked the other way during 9/11. But you know, 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia; none, no one came from Iran.

And so, you know, the whole pitch really of Netanyahu is dismaying to people in Israel–and Haaretz would be a good source–you know, that want to make peace, but they can’t deny the popularity of this stance of Netanyahu for a majority of Israelis, or at least a very large number. And you know, it’s a very odd thing, because there are people that hold up Israel as this great example of democracy. And yet once again, in a democracy, as with the election of Trump, a lot of people are voting, it would seem to be, to undermine democracy. So I mean, can you sort of unravel this? And even the Biden administration now says they’re not going to really, totally reset the whole thing with the Palestinians; they’re going to do other more minor things. I’m not quite clear where they’re headed. But you probably know a lot about the people who have been appointed. So where do you think it’s going to go now? What do you think is the legacy of Trump? And how difficult would it be to unravel or change it?

JC: Well, Trump played a role in a process that’s been long term, of undermining Israel’s claim to be a democracy. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem came out with a report last month, in January of 2021, in which they concluded regretfully, because they’re Israelis, that there is Israeli sovereignty over the land between Jordan and the Mediterranean, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. And that, in that realm of Israeli sovereignty, Jews predominate in their power, both inside Israel and across the green line into the Palestinian territories. And whereas Israelis have the right to vote in the elections, the Palestinians across the green line–whose lives are controlled by the Israeli government; they’re under military occupation in the West Bank, and they’re under military blockade in Gaza. They have no ability to influence the key decisions that are made about their lives, which are made by the Israeli government. And they have decided, regretfully, B’Tselem has, that this situation has to be characterized as apartheid.

Now, it’s not necessarily exactly the same kind of apartheid that was practiced in South Africa in the age of white supremacy, in the 1950s through the eighties. Apartheid has become a term of art in international law, and the crime of apartheid is enshrined in the Rome Statute, which was adopted initially in 1998 and finalized in 2002. And which is–to which 120-some members of the United Nations are signatories, and which created the International Criminal Court. In the Rome Statute, the crime of apartheid is a war crime. And there isn’t any way to parse what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians except as apartheid.

RS: Well, this is a fundamental issue. Because you know, sometimes there’s this “watch what you wish for,” that you get what you wish for. And I remember I happened to be in Israel, and I had been in Egypt and went over to Israel at the end of the Six-Day War, which is when they occupied Gaza and the West Bank. And I interviewed people like Ya’alon and Moshe Dayan and others, top Israelis. To a person–at least speaking to a journalist, they all said, if you come back here a decade from now–that’s the question I basically put–and you see us as being an occupying force, and we haven’t resolved this and these people don’t have their freedom, it will be the end of Israel as an ideal. I remember that with great clarity. And I’m not the only one who remembers it; it was written about, it was discussed. Whether it was always a sincere expression, there was an understanding that if you end up occupying an even larger group of Palestinians than already existed–because the Palestinians within Israel had certain rights, and in fact, quite a few of them supported Israel with their blood and other donations in support during the Six-Day War, during that brief war.

And now you have a situation, and it’s highlighted in the middle of this pandemic, that you have effective control over these people. And just on a very basic thing of vaccinating them against the virus, you have managed to be the most successful country in the world in vaccinating Israeli citizens, the people that were not occupied in the Six-Day War, a very high percentage; as we go to air, I think it’s probably two-thirds already have had their full shots. And as far as I know, only 5,000 doses of vaccine have been made available to some medical personnel in the occupied area. And when I looked at that statistic, I thought maybe this is the best way to summarize what the real meaning of apartheid is: you’re not even responsible for helping people stay alive, even [though] if they get the virus, they’ll endanger you. You won’t even extend it. I mean, do I have this wrong?

JC: Oh, I think that your description of the situation is correct, and it is extremely dismaying. The fact is that Israel militarily occupies these people. It has undermined their economies, and the World Bank and others estimate that the Israeli occupation has cost the Palestinians billions and billions of dollars in the past two decades. And the restrictions on imports into Gaza are such as to have left the hospital system wholly inadequate. And the number of ICUs in both the West Bank and Gaza is very low in world terms. So the Palestinians don’t have the resources to deal with this pandemic themselves. The Palestine Authority, which was created by the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s, claims to want to be able to vaccinate people, but they were cut off from their funding by Trump. And they haven’t inoculated a single Palestinian to this day. They say that the vials are coming.

Now, in the Oslo Accords, responsibility for health services was given to the Palestine Authority. But the Oslo Accords also assumed and implied that by the year 2000, Israel would be out of the Palestinian territories, and that the Palestine Authority would have its writ run throughout that area. That did not happen. It’s only, the Palestine Authority only has any authority at all in 40% of the West Bank. And there are a large number, there are large territories within the West Bank that are under direct Israeli military rule. And even in that area that the Palestine authority supposedly runs, they are gofers for the Israeli military; they can’t do anything that the Israelis don’t want them to do. And so the Israeli position that the Oslo Accords relieve them of any responsibility for these people that they occupy is disingenuous, and were it to go to any dispassionate tribunal, it would be laughed out of court.

And I heard an Israeli politician interviewed who said, well, we’re not going to give the Palestinians vaccinations before Israeli citizens. And so, you know, that just struck me as outright racist. That, you know, these people are at the bottom of the heap, and we’ll maybe help them a little bit when we get around to it. So this is another, you know, demonstration of how the Israeli contemporary apartheid works.

RS: Well, but–look, first of all, you express these views on a campus, and I guess you got tenure, and you know, you’re attacked and so forth. But I mean, if you use the word “apartheid” you really open yourself up to, you know, maybe being fired. I mean, it’s a pretty intolerant atmosphere. And yet as a matter of logic–and that’s why I brought up the very prominent Israeli generals and leaders that I interviewed, and others have, and they’ve written about it and so forth. That, you know, with power comes responsibility. I don’t care whether you’re Rome or whatever; it has always been acknowledged, you occupy a people and you’re then responsible. And that’s one reason why you probably shouldn’t go around occupying people. But it just gets to the very basic thing here: you’re holding little children, you’re holding their parents, their grandparents or what have you, and responsible for their own health issues and so forth, and you cut them off from supplies. And so I’m just wondering–and this is why I brought up Haaretz; there are plenty of people–the newspaper, and I recommend it to people; it’s very good. But there are plenty of people in Israel who know this is a disaster. I mean, plenty of Jewish people know this is a disaster in Israel. And yet it seems to almost go unobserved by the American media. I don’t quite get it. This is almost a nonstory.

And I want to go back to something you mentioned about siding with the Saudis and everything against Iran. I mean, I don’t know, I have trouble getting people interested, but I thought when Netanyahu came–and this is when Obama was still president–and spoke to the Congress, and attacked a sitting American president on his signature foreign-policy issue and achievement, which was his attempt to, you know, head off Iran from getting nuclear weapons with a regime of inspection and so forth. And this foreign leader comes to the U.S. Congress and attacks the sitting president. I thought it was really a major intrusion into our politics. And, you know, I think if there’s anybody who actually helped Trump get elected, it was probably Netanyahu. You know, you can argue about whether it was legal or illegal or so forth. And it is almost never commented on, just like all the victories he’s had. So what is that? Does it show that we don’t have actually a free space to discuss these issues anymore, that we have an intimidated media or intimidated university community? I know a former colleague of mine was teaching, I think at your school, and he dared make some criticism of Israel or something, and he almost lost his job. And that seems to be a nationwide practice.

JC: Yes, there is a blackout on Israel-Palestine news in the United States; it almost never appears on the major cable news channels. The print media covers it, the papers of record, New York Times, Washington Post. But it’s not on NPR very much. And it’s because the Israel lobbies –- the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and a number of others –- are organized and are determined to stop Americans from talking about this subject if they possibly can. So I talked to actually one of your old colleagues, probably, a long-retired reporter for the Los Angeles Times who had been active in the 1970s. And he said that every time that the paper ran an article about the Palestinians in the West Bank after the Israeli occupation, they got hundreds of letters from people complaining that there’s no such thing as a Palestinian, and why is the newspaper spreading around this false idea. And that the Israeli consul in Los Angeles called up the L.A. Times editor and complained about this coverage of the Palestinians.

And I talked to another reporter for the Boston Globe who said that every time they characterized the Likud party as right-wing–and boy, is it right-wing –- they got this flurry of letters and messages that they’re not being dispassionate as journalists, and why are they using this kind of loaded terminology. And they said that ultimately the editors decided it’s not worth the grief, and they stopped using the adjective. There have been people fired from university positions over Arab-Israeli issues, and the Israeli lobbies are extremely powerful and well-funded. They’re not all powerful; they lose battles. But we have, you know, McCarthyite attempts, like Canary Mission, to put up webpages which smear anyone who speaks publicly about this issue. And they’ve even identified undergraduates at major universities who have spoken out for Palestinian rights, and attempted to damage their future career prospects by, you know, suggesting that they’re anti-Semites. And it’s – – in the U.S. it’s, you know, one of our virtues is that we don’t like public discourse that singles out a group for [opprobrium], and we don’t like public racist discourse. And the Israel lobbies have attempted to associate any criticism of Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories, to characterize it as a form of bigotry towards Jewish Americans.

RS: Yeah, but you know, Juan, the reason I wanted to do this interview today, is I think something big has happened with Trump and Israel. And the story you’re outlining, that’s always been true. And first of all, there was a legitimate reason to be sympathetic to Israel: there was the Holocaust. And one could make an argument, you know, if there was a group of people that deserved a state, and you know, there were arguments about where that state, and the configuration of the state, and should the state be religiously based–I mean, there’s a lot of arguments. But there was a time when you would say, you know, OK, we have a different kind of discussion. And yes, the Israel lobby was, you know, saying never again and so forth. But this is a different time. And actually, I had one of those lobbyists–Tom Dine, you’re familiar with him; he was, you know, head of the major lobbying group, or spokesperson group. And he, on a podcast we had–this was before Trump, actually–was bemoaning what had happened to Israel. That the right-wing had gotten in, that the American right was now supporting Israel, and that people of liberal–he had originally worked for Teddy Kennedy, and he was saying, you know, people that really had a liberal conscious were unhappy. This was before Trump, OK? But you know, Netanyahu was certainly on the scene.

What I want to address now is what seems to me a real sea change. That you have a deliberately imperial government that Netanyahu represents–whatever stance he takes from day to day; sometimes he reaches out to Arab voters in Israel, sometimes he wants everybody eliminated. But you know, the fact of the matter is, something different happened with Trump. The right wing in America was emboldened and got much stronger. And I want to get back to that question of, you know, watch what you wish for. Because now, if you deny it’s an apartheid state–when they were talking about forget about a two-state solution, and forget about representation–so the mask is off. And it seems to me that the people who are endangering a notion–and I’m not saying this for opportunistic reasons, just as a matter of logic, people who want to see a vibrant, and support a vibrant ,democratic Israel, how many people are we talking about now being denied vaccine? How many people live in this occupied area?

JC: About 5 million.

RS: OK. So 5 million people on this planet right now cannot get this vaccine, and the people that are their occupiers–they are their occupiers–are being vaccinated at the fastest rate in the world. OK, you couldn’t have a clearer manifestation of what oppression is. Really, what occupation is, you know. You’re saying, you people can go die, you know, and we’re not going to give you this medicine. And as I say, I’m just thinking back to the conversations I had when this land was first taken over at the time of the Six-Day War. There was great caution. I think– maybe I’m sugarcoating it, but I thought there was great caution among the leadership of Israel, that you better not become a permanent occupier of another people and deny them their human rights. It’s just going against the whole current of the modern world, coming after World War Two; it would just be all the wrong thing. And now it’s done with impunity. There’s no accountability.

And I want to zero in on this, even to the point of embracing some of the most oppressive regimes in the world, like in Saudi Arabia, or impressing the decadence of the Emirates and so forth, as the natural solid ally for the Israelis, as long as they betrayed the Palestinians. Isn’t that what’s really going on, in the name of somehow controlling Iran? And that the–I really wonder whether the Biden administration is going to challenge that. You know, really go back to trying to develop peace with Iran. And I should point out, you’re one of the great experts on Iran and its culture, history, language, that, you know, we have.

JC: Well, thank you, Bob. What you’re saying is correct, that the right wing in Israel has become a symbol for the right wing in Europe and the United States, in the same way that, you know, what the far right is really about is racial hierarchy. And the racial hierarchy that’s established in the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean is very clear. In fact, under Netanyahu in 2018, the Israeli parliament actually passed a law that said that sovereignty in Israel is invested in the Jewish Israelis. So the 20% of Israelis who are not Jewish have been denied sovereignty. I mean, that’s exactly the kind of thing, analogously speaking–

RS: You should explain for listeners, you’re talking about people who are Israeli citizens.

JC: Yes.

RS: We’re not talking about the occupied territory.

JC: No. We’re talking about the 20% of Israelis who are not Jewish. They’re largely Muslim, of Palestinian heritage; there are some Christians amongst them. But they have been denied a share in Israeli sovereignty by law. So this is exactly what the sovereign groups in the United States, the white supremacists, would like to do here, right? They would like a law that sovereignty is invested in the white population, and nonwhites are second-class citizens. And so they look at Netanyahu doing this kind of thing, and even if many of them don’t like Jews, or even hate them, but they make an analogy in their minds that what Netanyahu is doing in Israel is exactly what we need in the United States.

And so in the capitol insurrection, there were people with Israeli flags. And Israel is lionized among some of the far right in Europe as well. And Trump was, you know, he was at least hooked into those far-right, white supremacist networks, and his approach to Israel was very similar. These people love racial hierarchy, and to the extent that Israel now has a, you know, a multilayered racial hierarchy in the law, with Jews on top and Israeli Arabs below them, and then the people in the occupied territories, at bottom of the heap without any real human rights at all. So this is, as you say, a phenomenon of the Trump era, in which this is a shameful situation which has become normative. And then you have large numbers of people who are saying, it’s a good situation, it’s something exemplary that we should aspire to emulate.

RS: Well, you know, this is–maybe we should conclude this. You know, I have a feeling I should just keep checking back with you. Because you know, most of us don’t follow these events. I try to, but I don’t have your language skills. I don’t have your, you know, professional competency, knowledge of history. But–and again, my sourcing these days, you know, on Israel is really kind of this one publication. I don’t know what you make of Haaretz, but I find at least there are dissident voices. They seem to be growing in influence, but not at the polls. What used to be considered the progressive side of Israel seems to be dwindling. Is that true?

JC: Yes. The Israeli left is a shadow of its former self. It’s electorally irrelevant; the major parties are far right and center right, I would say. And labor and Meretz and the old Israeli left, you know, they get hardly any votes. There are big demographic changes in Israel that help to explain this; there are economic changes that help to explain it. You have the influence in Israel, as you do in the United States, of the billionaire class. There’s even, you know, Sheldon Adelson, who is billionaire-class on both sides of the Atlantic, runs-or, until he died–

RS: The late Sheldon Adelson.

JC: He ran a–a casino mogul, he ran a free newspaper, jumping up and down pro-Netanyahu, to take away business from–

RS: Is that the Jerusalem Post?

JC: No, no, no. It’s called Yisrael Hayom, Israel Today. And it’s just given away–it’s a good newspaper–and it’s intended to take away readership from newspapers like Haaretz, and put them in a difficult position. And it just lauds Netanyahu to the skies. So you know, the Israeli information system is becoming dominated by the billionaire class and the far right. And that’s one of the explanations for its rise in electoral politics. And you had all of those Eastern European Jews, and some of them only very distantly Jews, who came in in the 1990s. And many of them, as is true in the Eastern Bloc more generally, are anti-socialist, had a bad experience with communism, and apply that even to democratic socialism, and are hungry to make a new life. They’ve been there only 15 years, many of them. And so the idea that you have these resources in places like the West Bank that are open for exploitation by individuals and groups from Israel, and that you wouldn’t exploit them, strikes these people from Ukraine and Moldavia and so forth as crazy. And so there’s a -– Rashid Khalidi speaks about a settler industrial complex in Israel, where there are people making a lot of money in Israel by their enterprises on the West Bank, and using Palestinian land and other resources to do it. And so those people give money to politicians’ campaigns. And so the pro-settler economic forces are a big force in Israeli politics.

RS: You know, but the one restraint, I think -– first of all, hopefully there’s a great restraint of the whole history of the Jewish people as an oppressed people. And you mentioned before -–- but also the American connection with the American Jewish community, there seems to be growing sentiment in the American Jewish community to speak out more critically and honestly about Israel. It’s come up in electoral campaigns, it’s come up in, you know, organizations like J Street and so forth. And it’s interesting, you mentioned the L.A. Times, where I was for 29 years, both as a correspondent and then as a columnist. And at one point, I actually wrote up the poll stories about the Mideast. And we discovered there was much more support for–we actually tried to get a large sample of Jewish people in polling; usually they’re left out of most national polls, it’s too small a group. But we found much more support for a reasonable settlement of the Palestinian issue among Jews than among non-Jews. And there was a widespread support for, you know, really at least an independent state with rights. I don’t know, it seems to me that’s still alive and very strong, among particularly younger Jewish people. Are you not finding that to be the case? And that’s sort of the community that Haaretz is trying to appeal to, you know, that give peace a chance. Or you think that’s also over? Or am I exaggerating?

JC: Oh, no, the young Jewish Americans are done out with Netanyahu and the Israeli right. That’s very clear from polling. But–and the majority of the American Jewish community has for, you know, 40 years in polls, viewed favorably a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli problem. The issue here, Bob, is that ordinary everyday Jewish Americans have their hearts in the right place, for the most part, and are highly ethical people, but they don’t have much power. So 30% of Jewish Americans vote Republican; they’re very skewed towards the very wealthy in the community. And it’s they who support the Israel lobbies in Washington, and they who have, you know, the kind of clout in U.S. elections. So one of the reasons that our politicians–I mean, I was actually told by a sitting Congressman, one time when I was doing some congressional consulting, and we went for a walk far from prying ears. And he said, Juan, I’m glad you speak out on the Palestine issue, because we can’t.

RS: Well, that’s a cop-out, too, you know. [Laughs]

JC: Well, but it’s just–Bob, you can say it’s a cop-out, but it’s just the case that if you speak out–or at least in a previous generation, because things are changing a little bit now–if you spoke out, they’d just give a ton of money to whoever you ran against. And they’re a one-issue group. They don’t care if all of your other policies are favorable towards their community. If you said once that you felt like Palestinians should have rights, they would come after you. And they did unseat, you know, we know of instances where Israel lobby money was helpful in unseating sitting congressmen. So anyway, the point being that the money interests among the Jewish community–not completely, but to some extent–are very pro-Netanyahu now. And this is a sea change, because that wasn’t true, you know, in the 1990s. And so that’s something that is hard to fight against. And, you know, we in America have become less democratic. Many more things are decided by the very wealthy than used to be, and we’re becoming a more unequal society, so that more and more wealth is in fewer and fewer hands.

RS: Yeah. OK. Let me–I want to wrap this up on kind of, not necessarily an optimistic view, but to see, you know, what are the cracks that can maybe bring some better results, some peace or what have you. And I do want to say, in the last election cycles, the one prominent Jewish candidate, Bernie Sanders, did actually have the most courage and clarity on this issue. And he very openly, you know, said you cannot ignore Palestinian rights. And he was very clear on that, I think, unless you want to challenge that. And I think, as I say, certainly among Jewish people active in the campaign–and I think polling supports that–they want justice. And, you know– one of the contradictions, by the way, the Jewish community in America is more from the reform, you know, and conservative, rather than the deeply orthodox and maybe more traditionally conservative. And there does seem to be a lot of pressure.

But I want to talk about another big crack in the system. And that Israel–if the new alliances–it always was under the table with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates and so forth, and with Egypt. I mean, one of the great contradictions–this is a good point to really end it on–the reason the Palestinians, these 5 million people that you’re talking about, are under Israeli control, is not a war that the Palestinians fought in. They didn’t have an army, they didn’t fight it. It was Egypt was the main army, and it was backed by Saudi Arabia and Syria and Jordan, all of whom have their separate peace with Israel. So the great contradiction here is that, particularly the Sunni part of the Arab world–it’s wealthy; if we’re going to talk about money, let’s talk about, you know, Arab money–there are already deals being made, investment opportunities. And one could look forward in the next few years of an awful lot of normalization and investment–you know, Saudi, and beginning with the Emirates and so forth, in Israel, all aimed at supposedly Iran and the Shiites. You know, who actually the U.S. put, in a sense, in power in Iraq. And so there’s a weird alliance that I don’t think bodes well for Israel’s image. Because if you say you’re living–the whole argument always was, we’re surrounded by hostile nations and people. Right? And now you’re making an alliance with the people that have the money and the power and have the hostility, you know, whether it’s Saudi Arabia, whether it’s the military dictatorship of Egypt, whether it’s the Emirates, and so forth. And so I think Israel’s position is one of apparent contradiction that I think could cause some problems.

JC: Well, maybe for public interest, public image, Bob, you’re right that some of this could be distasteful, especially in Europe. But I don’t think that the fact that Israel has relations with the UAE and does a lot of trade and technology, exchange with them, probably is material to the issue of the Palestinians or to Israel’s standing. After all, all those European countries that might complain about it also have good relations with UAE and accept UAE investment and so forth. So I think that, you know, that deal that Jared Kushner made with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to recognize Israel, and to have economic relations with Israel, is important to Israel. But I don’t think it’s important to the Middle East. They’re those–

RS: No, but when you say public relations–I’m sorry, I don’t mean to cut you off. But what I’m saying is the argument always, the rationalization, the justification for Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, was that they were in this dangerous neighborhood, where everybody wanted to destroy Israel. In fact, if you develop prosperous ties and normalcy–now, of course, you’ve still got Iran, and you can invoke that, and so forth. But you’re able to get along, and there’s mutual investment, and so forth. What then is your excuse for holding these 5 million people hostage? You either–you know, what’s your justification? They don’t have an army, they throw rocks, or they can send up balloons with some weapons. But I mean, you lose, you know, the justification that you’re threatened at all times. If it turns out obviously that Israel is not threatened, that it has the strongest military machine in the area by far, and it can now get along with the fat cats of Saudi Arabia and the big army of Egypt–where is the great danger zone?

JC: Yeah, there isn’t one. Israel hasn’t been credibly militarily challenged in the region since Egypt made peace in the late seventies. But again, I don’t want to be too much of a realist, but I can’t place too much emphasis on this. The Israelis have security challenges; Syria is one, and Iran is another. They don’t have good relations anymore with Turkey. And if they want to go to France or Germany, and say “we feel threatened,” they can still make, you know, a credible enough case that they feel threatened. And people don’t challenge them on that. So I–I’m sorry, but I can’t–

RS: No, no. I think one way to get peace a chance is to, you know, make people feel more secure. Otherwise, you’re in a state of permanent war. And you know, right now, let me just–on an editorial note, I actually thought there would be peace in the region when I visited after the Six Day War. I thought there was a will for it. And I thought it was in everyone’s interest. I guess I’m a believer in modernization and ending tribal disputes and ending regional disputes and so forth. And it’s pretty depressing to have this conversation now, so many years later, you know. And to realize that–you know, I’ll get back to this point of the vaccination, let’s just close on that. I just think whatever you think, if you occupy a people, and you can’t keep them alive in a pandemic, while you’re succeeding incredibly well in keeping your own people alive, that there’s something fundamentally rotten about that. I don’t care, you know, people can challenge it or whatever, you know. But there’s somebody just horribly wrong about it.

JC: Yes. What’s wrong about it is that it’s apartheid. Israelis have much more water than Palestinians do. They have much more money than Palestinians do. They have rights and freedoms the Palestinians don’t. And the vaccination is just, you know, a reaffirmation that -– the lack of vaccination on Palestinians is reaffirmation that they’re the low people on the totem pole, and they have no rights to have rights. And I don’t think this situation is going to change unless -– you know, I’d hoped that Bernie Sanders would get elected and he would change it. I don’t think the Biden administration has it in it to change it. And so it’s just going to go on like this for a good long time.

RS: Well, I hope you’re wrong on that. But unfortunately, in every dispute I’ve ever had with you, you turned out to be right.

JC: [Laughs]

RS: I have to admit. No, that’s actually true. I’ll end the way I began. I just don’t know of anyone who I respect so much in this area, precisely because you don’t tell me what I want to hear. And you know, and we have to recognize the truth. But again, I’m not going to let go of the vaccination thing. I mean, we vaccinate–there isn’t even argument in the United States now about vaccinating people on death row, OK, or in prisons and so forth in general. We actually recognize that we have an obligation, if you’re imprisoning somebody for a crime, you still have to vaccinate them. And these people have not committed a crime, the entire population of Palestinians. And if you can occupy a people, and then you get angry when people call it apartheid, or they say you’re the oppressor there, and you don’t vaccinate them, you don’t take care of their basic health needs–you know, that’s a pretty obvious, pretty obvious failure of your humanity. And for a state that said it was going to build a model–not only to take care of its own people, but to live at peace, and to be a model for the world using values from a religion that had good values–that’s a pretty serious indictment. And so in this respect, I hope your pessimism is disproven. But I’m not leaving this discussion optimistic.

So thank you again, Juan Cole. Again, I would say probably our leading expert on the region that has been the center of most of our, or many of our disputes in the post-war period. Thanks for doing this again. And I want to thank Christopher Ho at KCRW, the producer who puts these shows up on the podcast. And Natasha Hakimi, who writes the brilliant introductions. Lucy Berbeo, who does the transcription. And Joshua Scheer, who is our overall executive producer. And thanks to the JWK Foundation, who in the name of Jean Stein, a brilliant analysts of our society, and writer, helps contribute support to keep this going. Thank you, and thank you, Juan.

JC: Thanks, Bob.

Via ScheerPost

———–

Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

RT: “Dr. Hanan Ashrawi: Exclusion of Palestinians From COVID Vaccine Rollout Shows Israel’s Apartheid!”

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Biden’s Double Standards: Iranian Civilians under severe US Sanctions but not accused Saudi Murderer Bin Salman https://www.juancole.com/2021/02/standards-civilians-sanctions.html Sat, 27 Feb 2021 05:16:31 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196369 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The Biden administration on Friday declassified and released a CIA assessment that Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman bears responsibility for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 3, 2018.

CBC: “U.S. intelligence report blames Saudi crown prince for murder of Jamal Khashoggi”

President Biden will not, however, impose sanctions on Bin Salman. Apparently the only punishment will be that Biden won’t talk to the crown prince, only to his father, King Salman.

But in fact, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin just spoke with Bin Salman earlier this week, because the latter holds the portfolio of minister of defense, and so is the proper counterpart for military relations.

On Feb. 19, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of the Central Command that covers the Middle East, said that the US was seeking more “back up bases” in Saudi Arabia in case of hostilities with Iran.

RFE/RL reported,

    The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East says the U.S. military is looking for so-called “fallback” bases in Saudi Arabia to protect forces in the event of raised tensions with Iran.

    “What we would like to do, without shutting down [current] bases…is to have the ability to go to other bases to operate in a period of heightened risk,” General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the U.S. Army Central Command (Centcom), said on February 18.

    He made the comments while on a tour of the Middle East . . . Referring to Saudi Arabia, McKenzie stressed that the Pentagon was not looking for new permanent bases, but rather sites that could be quickly utilized in time of crisis.

    “These are things that any prudent military planner would want to do to increase their flexibility, to make it more difficult for the adversary to target them,” he added.”

Apparently the US wants the use of the port of Jedda and of two air bases in western Saudi Arabia.

So Bin Salman has Biden over a barrel. The US wants military favors from Saudi Arabia that only he, as minister of defense and de facto ruler of the country, can provide.

So Bin Salman more or less skates on the murder of Khashoggi. Oh, there may be consequences. He shouldn’t travel to any countries that have universal jurisdiction, or he might be arrested the way the Chilean dictator Pinochet was.

What stands out is the impunity for Saudi Arabia and the entirely unjust way both Trump and now Biden have treated Iran. Saudi Arabia is a repressive dictatorship that backed terrorist groups in places like Syria. Iran is a repressive dictatorship accused by the US of backing terrorist groups. The only real difference is that Saudi Arabia says nice things about Washington and Iran talks dirty about the US and its foreign policy.

The whole of Iran’s 85 million people are under a US financial blockade, which has interfered with the country’s pandemic response, harms the ability of people there to afford medicine, and has devastated the lives of ordinary people.

Collective punishment is a crime in international law.

In 2015 Joe Biden was part of the team that successfully negotiated the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. Biden and the others on the American side promised Iran that both UNSC and US sanctions would be lifted if it abided by the terms of the deal.

Iran faithfully kept its part of the bargain, as certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Every three months, for three years. Iran had mothballed 80 percent of its civilian nuclear energy program.

The UN Security Council lifted the economic sanctions it imposed in 2007. However, the Republican-controlled Congress refused to lift US sanctions. And US sanctions are sort of like organized crime– they aren’t just imposed on the victim, in this case, Iran, but also on anyone who deals with the victim. So French companies like Renault could not start back up their auto factory in Iran because the US Treasury Department would impose third party sanctions on it. Banks in Europe have been fined billions for handling Iranian transactions.

So Iran got no actual sanctions relief.

And then in 2018 the odious Trump tore up the JCPOA and used US financial clout to stop Iran from so much as selling its oil in the world market (so much for free enterprise).

Although President Biden now says he wants to revive the JCPOA, I’m not sure why Iran should trust the US to keep its word. It hasn’t before.

And don’t think Iran can’t see the hypocrisy of the US refusing to sanction a leader it considers a murderer but keeping severe sanctions and imposing a financial blockade on all 85 million Iranians.

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Why the US needs to get out of Syria: Biden orders Bombing that kills 17 in Proxy dance with Iran https://www.juancole.com/2021/02/needs-orders-bombing.html Fri, 26 Feb 2021 06:04:59 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196348 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Al-Quds al-`Arabi [Arab Jerusalem]’ reports that at least seventeen fighters were killed in U.S. air strikes on Thursday night on small bases on the Syrian border with Iraq. The bases south of Al-Bu-Kamal belong to the Brigades of the Party of God [Kataeb Hezbollah] and the Brigades of the Prince of Martyrs, Iraqi Shiite militias that are linked to Iran. They are being used in part to prevent ISIL terrorists from going back and forth between eastern Syria and northern Iraq. The paper depended on Rami Abdelrahman, who runs the networked Syrian Observatory from the UK.

The Observatory said that the airstrikes produced “the destruction of 3 trucks carrying materiel that had come up from Iraq.” I.e., they were likely supplying weapons to the Shiite militias in Syria. It added, “There are a large number of dead, and early reports say that at least 17 Iraqis in the People’s Protection Forces were killed.” The PMF are Shiite militias who receive training and support from Iran, and who were recognized in 2018 by the Iraqi parliament as a sort of Iraqi national guard. The PMF played a key role in defeating the so-called ‘Islamic State’ group [ISIL] beginning in 2014 after the Iraqi Army had collapsed.

Washington is describing the airstrike as revenge for the Shiite militia bombardment last week of a base at Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan that has US contractors and troops. One non-American contractor for the US on that base was killed and a US soldier suffered a concussion from a rocket blast. The Brigades of the Party of God denied responsibility for that attack, though in the past it has been happy to assert it undertook a rocket strike on a base with US personnel. Another shadowy group, the Brigades of the Guardians of Blood, said it did the Erbil bombing. The US is saying that this was a “proportionate response,” but “a large number” of dead militiamen don’t seem proportional to the Erbil casualties (mind you, the attack on the base in Erbil was a war crime).

On the other hand, Masrour Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] of northern Iraq, insists that the Brigades of the Party of God is the responsible party. The US should be careful not to be drawn into intra-Iraqi feuds like that between the KRG and the Shiite militias.

The US interprets any action by Iraqi Shiite militias as directed from Tehran, but this assumption is unsafe. Iran does not have command and control over these militias. In fact, their line of command goes up to the PMF top brass, who supposedly report to Iraqi prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. He is said, however, to be unhappy with the lawlessness of the militias and unable to rein them in.

Members of the hoary foreign policy “blob” inside the Beltway told the Washington Post that the strike was intended to let the Iranians know that the US could not be pushed around, in advance of the opening of negotiations over the US return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

That’s the most damn fool thing I’ve ever heard.

The US tore up the nuclear deal in 2018 and never had abided by its part of the bargain, to lift economic sanctions on Iran. President Biden should concentrate on nuclear issues if he wants a nuclear accord, and avoid extraneous distractions like militias.

On Jan. 3, 2020, the odious Trump murdered the head of the Brigades of the Party of God along with Iranian general Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport. Trump tried playing tit-for-tat with the Iraqi Shiite militias last spring, during which two US and one British service personnel were killed. Local US commanders in Iraq begged their higher-ups to knock it off.

The Biden team seems to want to start back up the tit-for-tat low intensity war with the Iraqi Shiite militias. They will lose. The Shiite militias have detractors among 40% of Iraqis, but have the support and loyalty of most of the other 60%.

The Iraqi parliament voted for the US to withdraw from Iraq in February, 2020, which the odious Trump refused to do, turning the US troops in that country into an occupation force over an unwilling country. The US did agree to withdraw all but 2500 US troops from Iraq, and the Trump administration had wanted to be completely out by May, 2021.

As for Syria, the 1,000 US troops in that country are there illegally. The Syrian government doesn’t want them, and they aren’t defending the United States, so their presence is a violation of international law.

NATO is putting 4,000 troops into Iraq to help with mopping up operations against ISIL, which still carries out attacks in northern Iraq. Biden should turn the mission over to our NATO allies and bow out. There is too much bad blood now between the US and the Iraqi Shiite fighters for an American troop presence to be accepted.

Moreover, Biden et al. have some bad karma from the last decade in Syria. Some of the Iraqi Shiite militias went up to Syria to help fight ISIL and al-Qaeda-linked Sunni extremist militias, as well as Muslim Brotherhood units, who were attempting to overthrow the Baathist government of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. These Shiite militias provided troops to the regime, which had lost two thirds of its army to defections of Sunnis tired of the regime’s oppressive dictatorship and favoring of Alawi Shiites. The Shiite militias were given air support by the Russian Aerospace Forces.

The US under the Obama administration ignored the rising threat of ISIL in hopes that the hyper-Sunni terrorist organization would put pressure on the al-Assad regime. Then the Obama administration used Saudi Arabia to transfer billions of dollars to the Sunni militias, most of them Muslim Brotherhood. Although Washington said it vetted the groups receiving funds to make sure they did not have extremist ties, the Saudis likely slipped some of the money to Salafi Jihadi groups like Jaysh al-Islam, which denounced democracy and vowed to ethnically cleanse non-Sunnis (all kinds of non-Sunnis are some 20 percent of Syria’s population). Moreover, US-bought arms certainly made their way to Jabhat al-Nusra, now HTS, which is an al-Qaeda affiliate, and the US-backed groups fought shoulder to shoulder on the battlefield against the Syrian Arab Army and the Shiite militias that came to support it from neighboring countries.

So the Biden team of NSC adviser Jake Sullivan and Antony Blinken, who had supported allies of al-Qaeda and allowed the Saudis to slip US money to extremists, have now bombed the Shiite fighters who defeated the Sunni extremists.

The United States has no vital interests in Syria. Biden should pull out the 1,000 troops there, who may be involved in a war crime if they are helping with the exploitation of small oil wells in the southeast by groups other than the Syrian government.

The US may have vital interests in Iraq, but there is too much bad blood for that relationship to go smoothly. We should get out of there, as well, and leave it to NATO.

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Bonus Video:

Engel: Biden Sending Message To Iran With Airstrikes Against Militia Group | NBC News

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Biden’s New Mideast: In Nadir of US-Saudi Relations, release planned of CIA report Accusing Crown prince of Murder https://www.juancole.com/2021/02/mideast-relations-accusing.html Thu, 25 Feb 2021 06:07:52 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196331 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The Biden administration will release a Central Intelligence Agency report concluding that crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, 35, of Saudi Arabia, masterminded the assassination on October 2, 2018, of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

I’m not sure even an old foreign policy hand like President Biden understands how explosive this move is. Bin Salman is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, and mildly criticizing him is enough to get people thrown in jail and tortured. It is absolutely forbidden inside the kingdom to tie the crown prince to Khashoggi’s murder.

President Biden’s team seems to think that it can sideline Bin Salman, and just deal with King Salman, 85. In my view, this is like a foreign power thinking they could have sidelined Jared Kushner and just dealt with the odious Trump directly.

Bin Salman is enormously popular with Saudi youth and he has concentrated the levers of power in his hands. He will try to tough out the Biden years while continuing his domestic plans.

Biden says he will call King Salman to discuss the issue. US officials are no longer talking to Bin Salman himself.

Saudi Arabia’s modern history took a sharp and dangerous turn on January 23, 2015, when Salman Bin Abdulaziz acceded to the throne of Saudi Arabia. He made his cunning and ambitious young son, Mohammed Bin Salman, the minister of defense, and within two months the Saudi kingdom was at war in Yemen. The Yemen War, which has stretched on for five years without any benefit to anyone, was Bin Salman’s brainchild. Bin Salman went on to sideline rival after rival, and by summer of 2017 he was crown prince.


Saudi Arabia. h/t Wikimedia.

King Salman allegedly has spells of disorientation, and his son is young and vigorous and actually runs things. He kidnapped his cousins in the royal family, imprisoning them in the Ritz Carlton Riyadh, and shook them down for $100 billion. He kidnapped the sitting prime minister of Lebanon and tried to force him to resign (Beirut was outraged and refused to accept the resignation under duress.)

He colluded with the ruler of the United Arab Emirates to overthrow or at least sideline the government of Qatar, trying to make a deep fake of Qatar’s emir speaking on television, so as to smear him to the Americans. He helped impose a blockade on little Qatar aimed at crashing its economy. Likely he was trying to get hold of its natural gas wealth and its sovereign wealth fund, the latter valued at $345 billion. Bin Salman used his friendship with Jared Kushner to inveigle the odious Trump into supporting, at least initially, this Saudi attack on an ally.

So that’s three countries Bin Salman attacked in some way since 2015. Number of countries Saudi Arabia had attacked since it was formed in 1930 and until 2014?

Zero.

Saudi Arabia is a relatively small country by citizen population but extremely wealthy because of petroleum. It had avoided military adventurism, preferring to use its vast wealth as a carrot and a stick. Saudi Arabia was a little timid. If it felt menace, as by the 1979 Shiite Islamic revolution in Iran (which promulgated the idea that there is no place for kings in Islam), it worked through third parties to curb the threat.In the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, Saudi Arabia bankrolled Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, who had invaded Iran.

But invading countries and bombing the bejesus out of them or kidnapping prime ministers. Not so much, before 2015.

On October 2, 2018, Washington Post columnist of Saudi extraction Jamal Khashoggi was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He needed to do the paperwork to finalize his divorce (imposed on him, more or less, when he was forced out of his country by Bin Salman’s increasing authoritarianism). He wanted to marry his Turkish girlfriend. Mohammed Bin Salman’s brother, Khalid Bin Salman, was ambassador to the US, and he assured Khashoggi that he was welcome in the consulate in Turkey. Was he part of the trap?

A hit team of Saudi assassins flew in. They seized him and put a bag over his head and smothered him to death. To sneak the body out of the consulate, they had brought along a medical examiner who used a bone saw to cut up Khashoggi’s corpse. Apparently even the hit team became nauseous at the slaughter. The ME advised them to listen to music.

The CIA assessed that Bin Salman directly ordered the hit on Khashoggi. He was apparently upset that Khashoggi was writing op eds for the Washington Post that criticized the odious Trump, and was afraid these articles might harm Saudi-US relations, since Khashoggi had until recently been part of the Saudi elite. The odious Trump is notoriously thin-skinned.

CNN’s Alex Marquardt has seen top secret Saudi documents that make it clear that the assassins flew to Istanbul on a plane owned by a Saudi company that was bought up by . . . Mohammed Bin Salman. As if any were needed, here is another piece of evidence for his complicity.

The CIA report is set to hit on Thursday. Stay tuned.

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Bonus Video:

Sky News Australia: “Biden to raise murder of US journalist with Saudi King”

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Is Harvard denying Tenure to Cornel West over his views on Palestine? https://www.juancole.com/2021/02/harvard-denying-palestine.html Wed, 24 Feb 2021 06:45:13 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196309 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Maximilien Alvarez writing at The Chronicle of Higher Education interviews eminent Black philosopher Cornel West on the latter being denied tenure at Harvard University. West is convinced that his views on the Palestine issue are the real reason for which Harvard will not give him a permanent job.

Universities have a custom of giving “tenure” to professors whose work they value, which means the individual cannot be fired under most circumstances. Obviously, they can be let go if they do something criminal. But if they teach their classes, they cannot be summarily fired. The tenure system evolved in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century largely because the big businessmen who often served on university boards of regents kept trying to fire professors for doing things like criticizing child labor (as with Scott Nearing, a Wharton school sociologist, who was in fact fired.) The graduate students in the Political Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania had me in to give a lecture on the Iraq War in Nearing’s honor in the Bush era.

West told the Boston Globe that he heard the university views him as “too controversial” and “a risk” and questions whether his work over the past five years has shown “substance.”

Professor West edited The Radical King in 2015, which most people would consider substantial. It is certainly a sign that he continues to produce important scholarship. But anyway, the idea that you would judge a scholar of his stature by his past 5 years is anyway weird.

West left Harvard in 2002 after Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard, called him in and complained about his public intellectual activities, including rap CDs. It seems obvious that Summers was trying to get rid of West, and it worked. He also tried to get rid of Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr. and Kwame Appiah, and Appiah also left. Summers also dissed women science professors as biologically inferior. West called him, in the aftermath, a gangster for the Establishment. He was polite enough not to say “the White Establishment.”

West went to Princeton, and then to Union Theological Seminary, before coming back to Harvard as an untenured “Professor of Practice” five years ago. Harvard has a controversial practice of hiring people as professors of practice, especially language instructors, retired diplomats, etc., when it does not expect them to produce critical scholarship. West has positions in several units and has been offered a prestigious chair, but he wanted it to come with tenure attached, and it didn’t.

This controversy would not be addressed at Informed Comment, perhaps, except for West’s assertion that Palestine is at the heart of it.

Professor West told Alvarez,

    “I was first tenured 37 years ago at Yale University and have served as University Professor — the highest faculty position — at Harvard and Princeton. Therefore, the only grounds I can conceive of Harvard’s refusal to pursue a tenure process for me are age and politics. Like everyone, I grow old. However, the recent invitation extended to me to give the prestigious Gifford Lectures in Edinburgh, Scotland, leads me to conclude that some people believe I have something significant yet to say. In regards to politics, I do not believe that my intense and joyful support of my dear brother Bernie Sanders for president is a cause of any concern on behalf of the powers that be at Harvard. So, I surmise it must be my deep Christian witness based on the idea that an ugly Israeli occupation of precious Palestinians is as wrong as any ugly Palestinian occupation of precious Jews. I would bear any burden or pay any cost in order to stay in contact with the precious humanity of any oppressed people.”

West is saying here that in his youth when his views on the Palestine issue were not so well known (or perhaps had not evolved to where they are today), he had no problem getting tenure at universities like Yale.

It is certainly the case that using language like “an ugly Israeli occupation of precious Palestinians” would be enough to keep someone from being hired at most American universities. This is because many pro-Israel professors and administrators (as well as those hoping for big donations from pro-Israel donors) are corrupt, and are entirely willing to misuse their positions to silence voices that are inconvenient for Israeli propaganda.

We have seen such incidents, such as the denial of tenure at DePaul to Norman Finkelstein (in which pressure from Alan Dershowitz is alleged to have played a role). Then there was Steven Salaita, fired from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign for tweets that seem nice compared to Trump’s. Cary Nelson, the former head of the American Association of University Professors, which is supposed to advocated for professors’ rights, actively connived at Salaita’s dismissal. So did the provost at the time, who engaged in skulduggery like deleting emails. At the University of Michigan, John Cheney-Lippold was disciplined in an unprecedented way for standing for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel’s Occupation policies toward the Palestinians. There is a reason that these things happen to the untenured. They have no real protection from being fired.

It also happens to public intellectuals. Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN for supporting Palestinian rights.

I have no way of knowing if the Palestine issue led Harvard to decline to tenure Professor West. He seems to have some indication that that is the obstacle, though. What can be said is that it is plausible. You can stand up for a lot of oppressed people — Native Americans, Uyghurs, Rohingya, etc.– and keep your job in American universities, but you can’t stand up for Palestinians without being smeared and risking being gotten rid of if you can be gotten rid of.

This is why more tenured professors should educate themselves on the stateless, Occupied Palestinians, the conditions they face, and the international laws that Israel is daily breaking. They can’t be fired, though their career ladder up to the Ivy League can be destroyed. Assuming they like where they teach, they should speak out. There are over a million post-secondary teachers in the United States, and the vast majority know exactly what is going on in the Occupied Territories. They can’t all be silenced.

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Bonus Video:

CORNEL WEST SPEECH AT “CRIMINALIZING DISSENT” PALESTINIAN RIGHTS PANEL AT UMASS

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