Israel's War on Palestine - Ali Abunimah

Israel’s attacks on Gaza stem from its escalating ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem and growing solidarity amongst Palestinians inside Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. Ali Abunimah joins Paul Jay on


Paul Jay

Hi, I’m Paul Jay. Welcome to, please don’t forget the donate button and the subscribe button and the share button and all of those buttons. I’ll be back in a second with our guest, Ali Abunimah. In 2018, Caroline Glick wrote a column in the Jerusalem Post titled “Mowing the Lawn in Gaza”. Glick served as assistant foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from 1997 to 1998. She writes for Israel Hayom, Breitbart News, The Jerusalem Post, and Maariv. She’s the adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Washington, DC based Center for Security Policy and directs the Israeli Security Project at David Horowitz Freedom Center. She was also the deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post. She served as a senior columnist and senior contributing editor until 2019. In 2019 she was a candidate for the Israeli Knesset and in its Israeli Independence Day supplement in 2003, the newspaper Maariv named Glick “the most prominent woman in Israel.” So why do I give her whole bio here? Well, she’s just she’s not just some random writer here. She’s a serious player in this sphere, and here’s what she wrote in 2018 when Palestinian youth were at the Israeli Gaza border demanding their right to return to their homeland and were being indiscriminately shot by Israeli soldiers: “the main strategic takeaway from Gaza and from Judea and Samaria is that there is no solution, military or otherwise to the Palestinians’ never-ending war against the Jewish state. All Israel can do is secure its control over what it already controls by, among other things, applying its law to Area C, and use military force to limit Palestinians’ ability to attack its civilians and its territory. The coming days and weeks may and should see a significant escalation in IDF offensive strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza. But no matter how successful they may or may not be, they shouldn’t be seen as anything more than a military version of mowing the lawn.” Let me repeat that. “The military version of mowing the lawn. And just as grass grows back so Hamas will rebuild its strength. Israel’s challenge is not to uproot the grass, but to maintain its capability to keep it as short as possible. Who knows? Maybe one day the Palestinians will get tired of fighting and there will be peace.”

Now, Glick is far from the only one in Israel making this argument. Professor Efraim Inbar on July 20th, 2014, four years earlier wrote an article titled “Mowing the Grass in Gaza”. Efrem is director of Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and is a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University. The metaphor equating the killing of Palestinian political leadership and civilians, including children in periodic military campaigns. Comparing that to cutting grass is now common parlance among the Israeli political and military leadership. “We’ll hit them like they’ve never dreamed possible,” Netanyahu said as he announced the assassination of senior Hamas commanders earlier on Wednesday. Gaza’s health ministry reported 53 Palestinians killed in Gaza since Monday, including 14 children, and more than 300 injuries.

The recent attacks on Gaza are not just the product of a politically desperate Prime Minister Netanyahu, but a strategic policy of the Israeli state. Western media continues to hide this obvious fact. Now joining us to discuss the recent events in Palestine and within Israel is Ali Abunimah. Ali is a resident of Chicago. He contributes regularly to such publication as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. He’s also served as vice president on the board of directors of the Arab-American Action Network, and he’s a fellow at the Palestine Center and is co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, which I urge you to check out. It has tremendous news on Palestine and he joins us today from Amman, Jordan. Thanks very much for joining us.

Ali Abunimah

Thank you. Paul.

Paul Jay

So, well, first of all, you’re from Chicago. There was a big rally, a protest in Chicago protesting the recent Israeli strikes on Gaza. It was really a remarkable number of people. Maybe you can just mention a little bit of how that took place and then let’s get into what triggered the most recent events.

Ali Abunimah

Sadly, I wasn’t in Chicago for that, but I did speak to friends there who said that they estimated that there was somewhere from eight to ten thousand people, which is pretty impressive for Chicago during a pandemic as well. So that was really heartening to see that outpouring of solidarity. I haven’t been able to attend them, but there have also been major protests in Jordan, including around the Israeli embassy in Amman, making the demand, which is pretty much universal in Jordan, to close the embassy, expel the ambassador, and suspend or cancel the Jordan-Israel peace treaty.

Paul Jay

Well, before we get into that. What triggered the recent events and a whole new attack on Gaza?

Ali Abunimah

Well, the most recent events really stem from Israel’s escalating ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, as you’ll know that under the Trump administration, the U.S. recognized Israel’s illegal claim to sovereignty in Jerusalem. Donald Trump said, we’ve taken it off the table. Various Arab regimes, particularly the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, made so-called peace deals with Israel, and Saudi Arabia, although it didn’t formally do so, is, of course, tacitly approving all of this. So you can also say that Saudi Arabia has, in effect, made peace with Israel. What that meant is that Israel felt emboldened to push ahead with its ethnic cleansing, its Judaization of Jerusalem, believing that there was no one really to stand against it and that the Palestinian cause was dead. I think the Arab regimes that celebrated their marriages to Israel did so over what they thought was the dead body of the Palestinian cause.

Instead, what happened is that there has been tremendous popular resistance in Jerusalem and indeed across Israel from Palestinian citizens of Israel. Tens of thousands came to Jerusalem to support Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in particular and this came to a head over the last week or so when Israel carried out a number of armed raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque. You may have seen videos of Israeli soldiers firing tear gas and stun grenades inside the mosque, which is one of the most revered sites for Muslims all over the world, a scene, which I think would have generated outrage from the West if it had been in a synagogue or a church instead of in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. I think this kind of entrenched Islamophobia means that Muslims are being attacked in the holy places and people are fine with it. A lot of people are fine with it, sadly.

On Monday, last Monday, which would have been – you have to forgive me, I’ve been traveling, so my head’s a little muddled – I think it would have been the 10th of May. In any case, the most recent Monday was what Israel calls Jerusalem Day. This is a sort of a fake holiday, a pseudo-religious holiday, that’s really a nationalistic holiday that celebrates Israel’s 1967 occupation of East Jerusalem. The way it’s celebrated has been celebrated in recent years, is by thousands of Israeli settlers, ultranationalists carrying Israeli flags, forcing their way through the Damascus Gate in the old city of East Jerusalem through the narrow areas of the alleys of the Muslim quarter, chanting slogans like Death to the Arabs and Muhammad is dead and attacking and insulting Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and also making incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

This is something that’s happened year after year. We’ve reported on it the Electronic Intifada. We have horrific videos of this. An analogy that people often make to it, which I think is a fair one, is the orange marches, which used to take place or still take place, but used to take place with much more violence in Northern Ireland and in Belfast, where these chauvinist anti-Catholic loyalist Protestant groups would march through Catholic nationalist areas, just in order to provoke and insult the people that.

Paul Jay

But it’s more than that. Aren’t these kinds of things, and I know people don’t like this analogy, but I don’t know that it’s that far from what the SS used to do in the early days. To terrorize people, to leave. I mean, the objective is to get people to get the hell out, to try to force people out.

Ali Abunimah

Yeah, it is to terrorize people to leave, and it’s in the context of people actually being forced out of their homes. That’s the thing is, is that people are actually being forced out of their homes, families literally being kicked out of their houses and extremist Jewish settlers taking their places. It’s also in the context where many of the groups that organized these racist parades are affiliated with something called the Temple Movement in Israel, which is an ultra nationalist movement, a religious messianic movement that has the open backing of senior Israeli government figures and funding from the Israeli government, who’s openly stated goal is the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and its replacement with a Jewish temple. So that’s why the Palestinian fear is not irrational. I would make another analogy here to the 1992 destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India by Hindu nationalists, which set off, violence that killed thousands of people and decades of deepened political and sectarian strife in India. Its consequences are still going on today. So that’s really the context here, that these things do actually happen, if they’re allowed to happen. It may seem inconceivable that the Al-Aqsa Mosque would be destroyed, but these people would do it if they got the chance. That’s why Palestinians feel it’s so important to defend the Al-Aqsa mosque against the settlers and against the Israeli state. So what happened on this Monday morning is that before dawn and remember, this is also in the context of Ramadan, before dawn, thousands of Palestinians, tens of thousands actually had come to the Al-Aqsa Mosque to protect just by being there, just by their presence.

They had actually, because it had been attacked in recent in the previous days, very violently attacked. They had barricaded doors. They had even collected rocks to use defensively. I mean, we’re talking about rocks against heavily armed soldiers, but in any case, what Israel did early Monday morning is a preemptive military raid on the Al-Aqsa mosque, just attacking people, beating them, beating journalists, beating medics. Hundreds of people were injured. A lot of injuries to the eye with what are called rubber coated bullets, but they’re really steal bullets with a thin coat of plastic on them. The goal was to break the popular resistance in Jerusalem so that the settler march could go through the old city and Israel could show who’s boss, but it failed to do that, and Israel was forced into a humiliating retreat where it had to actually cancel the settler march, which was a real humiliation for Israel. Then what happened is that Hamas and the other resistance factions in Gaza issued Israel an ultimatum. They said, you have one hour to withdraw your military forces from the Al-Aqsa Mosque and from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and to release all the prisoners or we will retaliate. Of course, Israel didn’t do that, and so Hamas and the other groups launched rockets at Israel. Those rockets were a show of force. They were a show of solidarity. They did not kill anyone. Israel then chose to escalate further by launching the bombing campaign in Gaza, which as we speak, is ongoing.

Now, what I want to say about this that’s important is I think the miscalculation Israel made is that they thought that they had fragmented the Palestinian people so much. Hamas and two million Palestinians are caged over there in Gaza. The Palestinians in the West Bank are in little Bantustans. The Palestinians in Jerusalem are isolated from the rest of the West Bank and then the Palestinian citizens of Israel are up in their own cities and they can’t do anything. So Israel miscalculated. They did not think that Hamas and the other resistance groups would dare to open a front with Israel over Jerusalem and what, in fact, happened was what we see now as we speak, is that Palestinians throughout historic Palestine are in common resistance to Israel, the settler colonial occupying state. So they are fighting from Gaza. People are resisting in the West Bank, they’re resisting in Jerusalem, and for the first time in decades, there is a broad uprising among Palestinians citizens of Israel.

What we’ve also seen is Israel unleashing gangs of settlers. Gangs of settlers have actually been coming in from the West Bank settlements and engaging in what really can only be called pogroms against Palestinian citizens of Israel. Some of the videos I’ve seen a horrifying and I had this reaction, but I also saw some Israelis and some Jewish commentators making the comparison to Kristallnacht, where you see gangs of Jewish extremists smashing Arab owned businesses, lynching Palestinian citizens of Israel in the street. One lynching was actually broadcast live on Israeli television where an Israeli mob pulled a guy out of his car in Lydda, they call it Lod in, Israel, and beat him almost to death. Those gangs have been unleashed all over Israel. So that’s the situation we have now. We have one really open confrontation between the apartheid state, the settler colonial state, the occupation state on the one hand, and the indigenous people on the other hand, really throughout every part of the territory.

Paul Jay

 I said in my introduction this “mowing the lawn” is a state policy of Israel’s against Gaza. Periodically, Israel finds reasons to do this,  but what’s going on inside Israel is different, as you’re describing it. How much does it have to do with the domestic politics at this moment? Netanyahu is in trouble. There seem to be some rising strength for, at least in Israeli terms, a little more of a centrist party. How much of this is is being instigated to also, I should add to that, there seem to be the possibility of some actual cooperation between the more centrist and some of the Arab parties. This timing seems awfully suspect.

Ali Abunimah

I don’t think I agree with that analysis, I’ll tell you why. Yeah, well, but it sort of contains a set of premises, which I think are important to discuss and put forward, so but I would challenge them in a certain way because it there really is no center in Israel. There’s no left. I mean, there’s like a vestigial left of a couple dozen people maybe, but there is no center. When it comes to the mowing the lawn policy, which really means massacring men, women and children in order to teach them a lesson there is total support across the Israeli political spectrum. The defense minister who is directing these massacres in Gaza now, including the wholesale destruction of high rise apartment buildings, which serves no purpose except to punish the dozens of families who live in them by destroying their homes is Benny Gantz, who is the head of the so-called centrist Blue and White Coalition who is supposed to be the alternative to Netanyahu? There is no difference, absolutely none. So the idea that the Arab parties were going to play kingmaker in the outcome of whatever umpteenth Israeli election has been was always a mirage because it became clear very quickly that there was no coalition of Zionist Jewish parties that would accept support from Arab parties as the way into government.

So, there is not going to be an Israeli coalition formed and there was never going to be one that relied on Arab support, and that’s certainly not going to happen now either. What is happening across the country is really the accumulation of decades of oppression and deprivation. Palestinian citizens of Israel are, relatively speaking, better off than Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank, but it’s relative. Compared to Israeli Jewish citizens, the one and a half million Palestinian citizens of Israel you could compare their situation to indigenous people in Canada or African Americans. When you look at the bottom line, mortality, poverty, income, discrimination, the gap between Israeli Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel is as vast as the gap between white Canadians and indigenous people in Canada.

So those pressures build up. In a sense, in a perverse way, of course, I would never agree with her repulsive, effectively genocidal ethics, but in a perverse way, Caroline Glick is right. There is no “solution” in which Palestinians accept permanent subjugation and domination by an apartheid regime. So they will always resist. So there are two approaches, really. Ultimately, the bottom line is there is the Caroline Glick approach where every time they rise up, every time they resist, we kill enough of them to quieten them down for a while, which is what she is proposing, or there’s the path of justice where you actually dismantle a system that is built on discrimination and subjugation and colonization and replace it with something democratic, something that gives equality to everyone.

You could call that the South African solution. Of course, Caroline Glick and most Israelis at this point would consider that anathema. They like being in power. They like being the rulers of the land, but Palestinians will never accept it. So they will resist, and what we’ve seen is… Benny Gantz issued a terrifying video, supposedly a message to the people of Gaza where he said “Gaza will burn”. That video is, I think, direct evidence of premeditated war crimes, and should be entered directly as evidence to the International Criminal Court, which is undoubtedly investigating Gantz as part of its investigation into war crimes in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

He did it before. He said in his video, he said, what I did to you. He said the last time we met during Eid al-Fitr, I was the chief of staff of the Israeli army, and you saw the destruction we did to Gaza, and he said the destruction of 2021 will be worse if you don’t stop resisting us. So what you see is every time Israel conducts one of these massacres, they say, we won, we won a victory. Well, look at the situation now. Six-seven years later, Hamas has long range rockets, more effective missiles. Israeli analysts are saying that Israel was strategically surprised by the effectiveness of Hamas’s military capabilities, including the capability to evade the Iron Dome missile defense system. The range that that they have rockets that can reach easily reach Tel Aviv, that within the past few days they’ve had to shut down Ben Gurion Airport twice. As I speak, they’ve had to shut down all incoming flights. All the major U.S. airlines have shut down flights to Tel Aviv. So Hamas and other resistance factions are not able to match the destructive power of Israel by any means, which is a nuclear power, armed, of course, with $4 billion a year of weapons from the United States, but they are able to impose a significant cost on Israel that Israel cannot withstand for a long period of time.

So that’s the result. So no matter how much Israel, “mows the lawn” by murdering men, women and children, any people in this situation, I don’t think Palestinians, especially in this regard, any people, will use the means they have to resist and to defend their existence and defend their lives on their land.

Paul Jay

You said that the Arab population within Israel is rising up in a way they haven’t for decades. Why now? And also, is it organized? Is it sustainable?

Ali Abunimah

Those are good questions, you can never know exactly what the spark will be that will set something off, but the fact is that in recent years…The most recent major uprising, let’s say, was in the year 2000, which coincided with the second intifada in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the Israeli police at that time reacted to Palestinian citizens of Israel exactly the same way they react to Palestinians everywhere else with live fire. You know, Jews in Israel demonstrate all the time. Settlers demonstrate they throw stones at police. They call the police Nazis. They use violence, and the Israeli police never open fire with live fire on Jewish demonstrators. That’s part of the colonial and apartheid setup. They shot dead Israeli citizens of Israel. In the 20 years since the 2000 uprising the gap between Palestinian citizens of Israel hasn’t narrowed. The rhetoric of the Israeli political system has become more extreme, more ultra-nationalist, more exclusive. Remember, in 2018, Israel passed the so-called nation state law, which defines Israel, sort of reaffirms its not like this was new, but reaffirms that Israel is a Jewish state where only the Jewish people constitute a nation. It removed the official status of the Arabic language and endorsed as sort of a national value of settlement throughout the so-called land of Israel.

That includes, by the way, not just the West Bank and Jerusalem, but also the Galilee, the areas where Palestinian citizens of Israel are concentrated and where Israel’s land policies have made it almost impossible for Palestinian towns and villages and cities to grow so that you have an increasing population. People have nowhere to live. Jobs are scarce. There is a growing problem of violence and disorder which is linked to poverty and lack of opportunity and discrimination, the kinds of things you see in societies around the world where if you subject people to enough deprivation there is social breakdown. There have in the last months, and a year or two, been a sustained movement among Palestinian citizens of Israel that is sort of separate from, let’s say, the national question or the Palestinian question, which has simply been asking for public services. For public safety that is not repressive, violent policing. Resources to address social crises that are endemic among youth in Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the Israeli state, of course, doesn’t respond to that.

So you have a situation where people feel there’s nothing to lose and they feel absolutely no identification with this Israeli Zionist state. They feel more and more affinity and identification with their Palestinian brothers and sisters in the West Bank and Gaza and everywhere else in the world. So it’s kind of an entirely predictable development, and you have to wonder how the rulers in this situation don’t see it coming or you know, or aren’t capable of perceiving how this actually works against their interests.

Paul Jay

I mean, it’s kind of a sleeping giant, the Palestinian population in Israel. What’s the number?

Ali Abunimah

Yeah, that’s what I want to get to. The Israeli policy of control is based on fragmentation. So as long as Israel can keep Palestinians divided geographically and politically. So Israel loves the political division between the West Bank and Gaza. It loves having Palestinian citizens of Israel preoccupied with their own problems and their own issues and their own poverty, which is inflicted on them by the state. It’s divide and rule. It’s classic divide and rule. Why? Because when you look at the demographics, OK, if we talk about apartheid South Africa, whites were 10 percent of the population controlling a 90 percent black population, it was always clear what that situation was. Israel is 50/50. Israel-Palestine is 50/50. There’s about six million Jews and six million Palestinians, give or take a few hundred thousand. They’re basically 50/50, and that’s if we’re being generous to Israel, because by most credible estimates, the Palestinians are now a narrow majority. They may be 52 percent of the whole populaton. Classic divide and rule. Why, because when you look at the demographics, OK, if we talk about apartheid South Africa, whites were 10 percent of the population. Controlling a 90 percent black population, it was always clear what that situation was. Israel is 50 50, Israel Palestine is 50 50. There’s about six million Jews and six million Palestinians, give or take, a few hundred thousand there, basically 50/50. And that’s if we’re being generous to Israel, because by most credible estimates, the Palestinians are now a narrow majority. They may be 52 percent.

Paul Jay

But you’re including West Bank and Gaza.

Ali Abunimah

Yes, yes, all the Palestinians because Israel rules everything. It rules Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. So if you take the entire population under Israeli rule, the majority are Palestinian now. So if that Palestinian majority becomes politically unified, begins to perceive its fate as tied together, as we start to see happening in this current situation, then I think the situation can rapidly become ungovernable for Israel in the way that apartheid became ungovernable for the white regime. It’s a situation Israel has brought on itself. If they wanted to be smart apartheid rulers, they would have done everything possible to buy off the Palestinian citizens of Israel by showering them with funding and infrastructure and good schools and good hospitals and good services so that they would maybe feel like or enough of them would feel like we’ve got something to lose. Maybe we’re going to stay out of this. I don’t know if that that would work, but I’m saying if you are an apartheid ruler, that’s what the “rational” way to do it would be, but what Israel has done – and this I think is related to the internal politics – is within the Israeli Zionist Jewish political system there are no rewards for that. The rewards are for being more ultra nationalists, more racist, more anti Arab, who can brag about killing the most Palestinians, who can brag about depriving Palestinian citizens of Israel more funding.

We saw that in the election. I can’t remember if it was the first or second or third of the five Israeli elections that have been in the past two years, but in one of them, Benny Gantz ran a campaign, his campaign ads, and these are still online, people could see them, was bragging to the Israeli Jewish public that in 2014, when he was chief of staff, he sent Gaza back to the Stone Ages. That was his campaign pitch to the Israeli public. He was supposedly the centrist alternative to Netanyahu.

Paul Jay

Wasn’t Lieberman a few years ago? Probably still, and I think it probably reflects a significant body of opinion in the elites openly talking about carving out sections of what’s now Israel and forcing that Arab population into the West Bank, and maybe that’s why they don’t want to follow what you’re saying is a more rational course. They still dream of more ethnic cleansing within Israel.

Ali Abunimah

All the time, you know, Bezalel Smotrich who is a prominent member of parliament, and he said the other day he tweeted that the army should flatten Gaza – “flatten the Strip.” He’s published a plan for the transfer of Palestinians. Transfer is a polite word for ethnic cleansing or expulsion. Daniel Blattman, a prominent Holocaust scholar in Israel, has said is reminiscent of the politics of the Gestapo, which brings back to your earlier observation, and he’s called it potentially genocidal.

Moshe Feiglin, a member of the Likud Party of Netanyahu’s Likud Party in 2014, and he was deputy speaker of the Knesset. He published a plan and he used these words to “concentrate and exterminate” Palestinians in Gaza. Not my words, Moshe Feiglin’s words. So you can find as many statements as you like from senior politicians in Israel that are like that. So, again, that really explains the reward system in Israel is that the more extreme, the more racist, the more anti Arab you are, the more violent you are, the more you are rewarded by this radicalized settler colonial population that is in a state of mass psychosis.

Paul Jay

When I was in the West Bank. This must be more than 15 years ago or so Palestinian activists I were talking to, some of whom were putting forward that the demand should be that one person, one vote. That if you’re under Israeli control, then you have the right to vote, and that and as you say, now it’s 52 percent, so there’s no doubt Israel would hate such a proposition, but in terms of international public opinion, it would be a very clear demand, like a South African style demand. Where is that debate within Palestinians?

Ali Abunimah

I think things are moving in that direction. I think that that the so-called two state solution is a dead letter. I mean, yesterday Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech from Ramallah in the context of the bombardment of Gaza and the Palestinian resistance, which was just a total irrelevance. It was a total irrelevance. The responses I saw on social media from Palestinians were just utter contempt for him if they paid any attention. There is no more constituency for the so-called two state solution and the project of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Things are not necessarily being articulated in the form of, oh, well, we want to one state solution and everyone has equal rights. There are people who talk about that. I talk about that, but people are in a basic anticolonial struggle. They’re in a struggle for survival, and that’s where people’s minds. They see Israel as a colonial state that is bent on their extermination and they see themselves in the battle for survival. I do believe still that the vast majority of Palestinians are and have always been willing to to find an accommodation in which their rights are not compromised.

In other words, Palestinians don’t see the fulfillment of all their rights as dependent on expelling Israelis. That’s nonsense. You know, the idea that Palestinians want to throw Jews into the sea was always a racist myth from Israel and its supporters any more than indigenous people in Canada are calling for all European Canadians to leave the country or black South Africans are calling for all whites to leave the country. They haven’t called for that, but they do struggle and continue to struggle for the fulfillment of all their rights, the recognition of the wrongs that have been done to them and full restitution for those wrongs, and that’s absolutely something that I think would be where Palestinians would go if we can get to the point of that discussion. That discussion really will only happen when the balance of power shifts and what will shift it? Well, certainly an increased military deterrent to Israel’s crimes and aggression will help, but also international solidarity in the form of boycott, divestment, and sanctions that begins to isolate Israel and impose a cost. I do think that is starting to shift more and more with each Israeli spasm of violence in Gaza, you see a decisive shift in international opinion.

The holdouts in the so-called international community are the North Americans and the Europeans and the other settler colonies. So it’s Canada, the United States, the Europeans, Australia. Those are the hard line pro-Israel supporters. Then we’re only talking really about the elites because at the popular level even in North America and Europe, you see a dramatic shift in opinion towards support for justice for Palestinians. Even in North America and Europe, you see a dramatic shift in opinion towards support for justice for Palestinians.

Paul Jay

And you should include the majority of ordinary Jews. Poll after poll shows that.

Ali Abunimah

Absolutley and particularly the younger generation. The crisis, so-called crisis that major Zionist groups in North America and Europe see is that the younger generation of Jews who are really much more inclined to universal values and to justice, either are indifferent to Israel or becoming increasingly hostile to it and rejecting it as any part of their identity and really lining up in solidarity with Palestinians, and that, I think, is an irreversible phenomenon. There is not going to be a new generation of young American or Canadian Jews or young Americans or Canadians of any background who say, yeah, we’re going to sign up for settler colonialism and massacring indigenous people. You look at someone like Justin Trudeau, who is such a smooth talker when it comes to indigenous rights in Canada, and, you know, he’s all apologies and we have to recognize our history. Now, the reality may be different in terms of Canadian government policy, but he talks the talk, right? Well, when it comes to Israel, he’s like a Canadian prime minister from the 1940s and 50s talking about indigenous people in Canada. It’s 100 percent support, 100 percent contempt for Palestinians, but I think ordinary Canadians who begin to understand and accept that Canada is a settler colonial state can then use that framework to understand what’s happening in Palestine and there’s no going back, there’s no putting Humpty Dumpty together again, so to speak. So I think that really is an irreversible trend.

Paul Jay

All right, thanks very much for joining us Ali.

Ali Abunimah

Thank you, Paul.

Paul Jay

And I hope we do this again soon. This is just the beginning of the conversation. And thank you for joining us on Don’t forget the donate button. Don’t forget to go to Electronic Intifada and check out all the reporting there. And thanks for joining us.


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  1. Thank for the interview with Ali Abunimah.

    I wish to add that, to ensure the failure of an alternative coalition being formed between Lapid, Bennet and Ra’am (the Arab party), Netanyahu provoked the civil unrest. This was achieved by assaulting Al Aqsa on the the holiest day of Ramadan and closing Hwy 1 to Jerusalem, stranding thousands of Arab Israeli worshippers on the freeway. These actions were meant to trigger the civil unrest that would make it unthinkable for Ra’am to sit in an Israeli cabinet.

    I do not agree with Mr. Ali Abunimah that Israel underestimated Hamas or the coordinated uprisings of various Arab populations. On the contrary, Netanyahu welcomed the rockets. In fact he has done very little to stop the rocket launchings so far. To date, Israel has killed relatively small number of civilians in Gaza. The reason is because it’s in Netanyahu’s interest that the rockets continue until Bennet declares that he’s forming a coalition with Bib. At that moment, when Bibi knows there’s little chance of jail time for him, that’s when the Israeli military will unleash their fury and end the rocket assault.

  2. A big difference between Apartheid and Israel is the amount of effort put into strategic communication and persuasion. Israel has some of the best minds who can think strategically about social engineering and public opinion guidance. For historical reasons (holocaust), Israel supporters from all side of the social spectrum including the best minds in multiple fields are motivated and loyal to the state of Israel.

    This effort resulted in a policy outcome that was coined “mowing the lawn”. The policy is sinister but it is unfortunately a sophisticated and effective policy. The policy has of course a military component: respond to each unrest by strong military action to deter future unrests. While the military aspect of the policy was well explained in this post, It is not difficult to imagine that it could have a component that is perhaps equally effective: Mowing the lawn could also consist of detecting voices like that of Ali Abunimah and neutralizing them before they become heard. Neutralizing them means assassination or jail but can also consist of simply discrediting these voices. This is a more subtle way of mowing the lawn. One evidence of Israel government’s sophistication pointing to the validity of the assumption of “voice neutralization” is documented in the paper “Attack When the World Is Not Watching? U.S. News and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” (Durante and Zhuravskaya) in the very serious Journal of Political Economy in 2020. I am wondering if there is hard evidence on “voice neutralization” of individuals including that of Jewish voices who oppose Israel government policies toward Palestinians.

    I would like to be optimist by mentioning that the sinister actions of the israeli government cannot be sustained in the long term because they clash against basic human principles. Sooner or later an israeli majority opposing those policies will emerge. This is the best case and unfortunately many innocent people will pay the price for it in the meantime.

  3. The situation that Palestinians are living is totally unacceptable. But the more disturbing fact is that, Israel is not alone and lots of capitalist countries are in this with Israel, That includes USA, UK, Canada and lots of others.
    To think capitalism has answer to racism and discrimination is a dilution.
    Abunima is a very fine and lovable character, to my surprise he did not even say a word about acknowledging of the fact that Palestinian problem is a capitalist mater. Thank you.

  4. World should desire peace and actively pursue that goal which is absolutely achievable using only the one positive result producing option available: the policy to “disarm belligerence” by halting all arms sales and sundry military aid going directly and indirectly to the Middle East. Evidence showing how well this can work will motivate other non National Security States to implement policies to “disarm belligerence” at home in order to embrace peaceful living in a truly civilized society. Problem is — when a National Security State is permitted to refuse to rise above its own psychosis – then all bets are off for meaningful lasting peace and only pain and suffering will prevail in psychotic efforts to assassinate anybody who can even utter the word peace in earnest opposition. Such a National Security State would be either outwardly or internally authoritarian and undemocratic and psychotic by any measure of competent mental health analysis. Society under tyranny of a National Security State can overcome its own predicament by “understanding” — however — not by “appealing to emotions”. Why get yourself killed?

  5. A good interview with Ali Abuminah. You covered a lot of ground in 40 odd
    Have you seen Katie Halper’s interview with Norman Finkelstein? Judge for
    yourself !
    Jeff Halper writes but I think isn’t interviewed very often.
    Then we have Steve Amsel in Jerusalem whose site Desert Peace has
    disappeared more because of technical problems than ones of censorship.
    Pleas for helping him get the site back up on the Internet have gone unheard.
    He has often had Evelyn Galinski-Hecht’s articles on his site.
    What one can say about these individuals is that they are contributing to the
    solution with the intellectual honesty and defense of universal human values
    that we witnessed from Elmer Berger, the Rabbi Outcast, and witness from
    Richard Falk. Thank you Paul Jay and the Analysis News.

  6. A few months ago I bought some Banksy art for my collection. Not expensive stuff just some postcards from a hotel in Bethlehem. I didn’t think much about the postcards, which number about 36 in total, until I realized a lot of the art is from the perspective of the Palestinians. Overall the art shows a critical contempt for an artificial regime imposing its surveillance state powers, its economic hegemony using money to pull levers of change, and an indifferent broader society watching events unfold. Interesting take that Banksy.

  7. Oh for God’s sake this nonsense is truly revolting, and I do not mean the Israelis.

    If the Palestinians wanted peace they could have it in a weekend, but why after decades does the Hamas charter still call, not for peace, not for a Palestinian state, but for the destruction of Palestine.

    Is the purpose of this Left wing political site to make Left wing policies and the people who espouse them so disgusting and repulsive that you chase people away in horror of how stupid you are, and that you can lie right up there with Republicans.

    Israel has never retaliated against Hamas/Palestinians for no reason. Palestinians continue to deliberately provoke Israel and then put their civilians and their children out there to be hurt by Israel’s retaliations. Like storing arms and firing missiles from apartment complexes.

    Do you know how unfair and against human rights it is to make your people and your children – unwitting soldiers in a terrorist war for religious purposes?

    Do you how un-Liberal and un-Progressive it is to raise your children failing to educate them in reality and brainwash them into hate so intense that they think it is OK to kill and die for Islam … the religion of peace?

    Do you now cognitively dissonant it is to call Israelis Nazis when it is a proven fact that the Palestinian religious leader during WWII, Haj Amin Al-Hussyni, was an honorary Nazi and lived in Berlin planning the extermination of Middle Eastern Jews?

    Or how about the cognitive dissonance of calling Israel an ethnic cleanser country when Palestinians can and do live in Israel, but no Jews can live in Palestine.

    Every single statement made during these conflicts by the Palestinians have been refuted, over and over, for decades, and yet they are still showing up, and American Progressives are stupid enough to spew these lies out there.

    This channel and this website should be ashamed of itself!

    1. Sorry, typo, the Palestinian charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Maybe you folks should find it and read it sometime.

      I could cut and paste whole history of why you are wrong, and point out that the only thing to support the Palestinians is the absolutely pathetic horror their poor citizens are born into because of Islam, the Palestinian puppet government, and Israel hating Iran.

      The eternal victimhood inflicted on Palestinians by their government and archaic religion, while their rich leaders fly around the world, attend the best schools and don’t give a damn about their people except for how they can maneuver then in front of Israeli guns.

      And the sad and vicious pictures ( like above ) of hurt babies clawing at decent people’s heart strings to make them feel bad and blame Israel without ever getting close to telling a balanced story of this conflict.

      It is now very apparent where Republicans learned how to tell such heinous lies and distort reality so well.

      1. Doug, thanks for your reply …. such as it is.

        I guess the “look in the mirror” snipe is assuming that I am a Jew, Israeli, Zionist even? Just for the record I am a secular American born near the middle of the last century with Christian, Catholic and Jewish family and relationships and have known and worked with many Muslims in the SFBay area. Never been to the Holy Land, but would like to go someday. I support Israel the same way I would support a Kurdish homeland – because radical Islam is so intolerant they cannot live with other people, and can barely tolerate each other.

        I have listened, but it is true I have not heard much. Look at your comment. There is just not much to hear there, but the Western world must feel shame about every time these violent actions break out … I will exaggerate a bit here … but all I see is Palestinian babies and emotional shaming arguments. I have never once … not one time … seen or read anything that indicated Palestinians hear or understand Israel’s side or are interested in peace or negotiation or compromise – not once. Israel’s side, or what happened before these riots and rockets is rarely if ever reported on, and if it is it is always after the attacks, criticism and hate leveled at Israelis and Jews. OK, so that is one concrete complaint I make.

        Second and third and fourth — are that I mentioned the history of this area as I have read it.

        Haj Amin Al-Husseini? Do you know who he is. Not the claims from either side, but the historical fact of his life? Why is the mention of this history unimportant, but the mention of ancient Islamic history is important? Mohammed conquered this land, destroyed Jewish temples and build mosques on top of them – as was done all over Islamic occupied lands. If you apply the same thinking of Muslims to Israel where does that get anyone?

        Next there is the Hamas Charter calling for only destruction of the state of Israel. I am mystified if just by PR messaging alone that it still stands after all these decades. Hamas’ only aim is the destruction of the state of Israel by any means. Not peace. Not a Palestinian state, not a two state solution. Do you have anything to say about that?

        For here I will just add another thing, that after Camp David where peace was almost and could have been reached, President Clinton totally blamed Yasir Arafat for backing out at the last minute. Yasir Arafat, the nephew of Haj Amin Al-Husseini.

        All of these are historic facts. I’d be interested to hear and respond to anything that is reasonable and logical about how you or anyone else cares to explain or interpret them. All I hear is vicious or blaming comments about Israel or me every time I ask certain questions.

        The fact is that year by year support in the US grows for Israel because over the last two decades of the miserable war on terror the world has seen how this area of the world behaves and the total mess it is in. That said, sympathy for the Palestinian people has also grown. So what can we do about it? Can the problem be narrowed to the Palestinian government?

        I think you supporters of Palestinian believe all you have to do is yell insults, hate and shame, and if possible support terrorism, put innocent civilians in the way of defensive attacks and publish the bloody pictures – and you will win. One sided stories like this seem to support you feeling that way. I wish you would put all that energy and blood into growing up and finding a new way. I know there are Israel programs for peace, I don’t think I have ever heard of a Palestinian bipartisan effort to work with Israel, but I would like to.

    2. WTF??
      Israelis are armed with nuclear weapons and whatever else 3.8 billion can buy that the US flushes away from the American people. Palistinians protest with stones and bottle rockets, which Norman Finkelstein called “S.O.S. signals” to the world. To put it mildly, Israel is an apartheid state.
      YOU should be ashamed for your lack of humanity. This will probably not be posted because of what I think: there is no moral difference between the State of Israel and Nazi Germany; the victim has morphed into the monster. It’s a damn shame Israel exists because of US dollars, I’m deeply ashamed of what our government does in the world. We too are Good Germans and it’s long past time for us to wake up and see the death and destruction throughout the world we are responsible for. The US is evil to the core.

    3. This false version of history, thankfully becoming ever less believed in the USA and among American Jews, inverts the victims and victimizers. The Palestinians and Arab states aren’t saints. Nobody is, but throughout the conflict, Israel has usually been the aggressor, the one rejecting peace, the one that believes violence – unjustifiable violence – will solve its problems. That’s what a neutral look at the history shows.

      Ali Abunimah doesn’t call anybody a Nazi. He noted that right wing Israeli Jews call the Israeli police Nazis. Presumably for restraining them from victimizing Palestinians with robbery and violence with even more impunity than now:

      This is the only place in the article that mentions Nazis.
      Ali Abunimah : “You know, Jews in Israel demonstrate all the time. Settlers demonstrate they throw stones at police. They call the police Nazis.”

  8. The very idea of a religious state is a tribal abomination. Its very nature propels it to exclude and destroy “the other,” the outsider.
    As world population grows and a horrific wars continue to displace people, tribalism leads to the demise of humanity. It is time to grow up.

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