Who created this mess?
(You'd be surprised)
THE ABSURD TIMES
Netenyahu at the UN just recently
As I’m trying to say, this is about all for a while. A few Western Outlets have learned a few things and watching it is tedious. If you want to learn much more about how the state was created by England and also France, and years later accepted by the U.S., Tarik Ali on You Tube is an excellent source. Right now, I have other things to do and I have the sense you are as irritated by this hubris as well. One final observation, Israel did have the advanced information, but assumed that it was Superhuman and deflected much of its military to the West Bank to aid Zionist expansion.
Israel & Palestine
Palestinian physician, activist and politician who serves as general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative.
As Israel prepares to launch a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, we continue our coverage of the escalating conflict in the Middle East. We’re joined from Ramallah by Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian physician, activist, and politician who serves as general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, also known as al-Mubadara, and is a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Central Council. “I don’t want any Palestinian or Israeli civilian to be killed,” says Barghouti, who argues that a ground operation in Gaza would constitute a campaign of ethnic cleansing, and condemns Israeli occupation and settlement under far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as having destroyed any “prospective for a two-state solution.” Barghouti also discusses President Biden’s abnegation of responsibility toward Palestinian Americans, Egypt’s role in the conflict and the relationship within Palestine between the “totally marginalized” Palestinian Authority and groups like Hamas.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Gaza is on the verge of losing all electricity as Israel continues to bombard the territory while imposing a siege blocking the import of all fuel, food and electricity. The death toll from Israel’s massive bombing campaign has topped 1,055 Palestinians, with over 5,000 wounded. Meanwhile, the death toll in Israel has soared to 1,200 following Saturday’s shocking attack by Hamas militants. Another 2,400 Israelis have been wounded. Hamas is believed to be holding as many as 150 hostages. Israel is now preparing to launch a ground invasion of Gaza.
Tension is also growing along the Israel-Lebanon border, where Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters have repeatedly exchanged fire.
Earlier today, a U.S. plane carrying ammunition landed in Israel, a day after President Biden gave a speech at the White House where he reaffirmed U.S. support for Israel but made no reference to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, which has reportedly killed at least 260 children and 230 women since Saturday. According to press freedom groups, at least seven Palestinian journalists have also been killed.
Inside Gaza, residents say there’s no safe place for civilians to go. This is Samah Abo Latifa, who lost her brother in an Israeli airstrike.
SAMAH ABO LATIFA: [translated] We had fled from Abasan, escaping from death. There were continuous airstrikes over our heads. They told us to come to Khan Younis. We came to find death. If we stayed in our houses, we die. If we go on the streets, we die. O my beloved brother, he fled from one place to another. O my beloved brother, may your soul rest in peace. I have no people left, except for two. God bless them for me. I hope to carry their children. O my beloved brother, please, God, don’t take anyone else. This is enough. I can’t handle anymore. I hope I die before them all.
AMY GOODMAN: Samah Abo Latifa went on to describe the scope of Israel’s bombing campaign. She spoke from a nursery, where her family has taken refuge.
SAMAH ABO LATIFA: [translated] I’ve never seen airstrikes like this time, not in 2014, not in 2008. No war was like this time. I’ve never seen anything like this. Every minute and every second there are airstrikes. Every minute there are martyrs, in their houses, young people, children, all. I can’t talk. I swear I’m so tired. We have never witnessed strikes like this time. We thank God when the day is done. But they say it will be worse. We wonder what else could happen to us. The coming days could be harsher. Our hearts will ache more for the loss of our loved ones.
AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, tension is also high in northern Israel near the border with Lebanon. Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for firing an anti-tank at an Israeli military post earlier today. Israel has been shelling towns in southern Lebanon. Residents in northern Israel say they no long feel safe.
RACHEL KANDELL: It doesn’t feel very safe, because if they came into our house and they did anything they wanted, without any way of protecting ourselves, this is a very unsettled grounds. This is not — you know, this is Israel. We are in the 21st century. We should feel secure. We should feel like we have a home to go back to. And many people in Israel, unfortunately, are not in this space. They don’t have a house anymore. They don’t have families. The lines for the funerals are endless. There is so much pain, pain that is beyond explanation in words. This is truly a nightmare.
AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian physician, activist and politician who serves as general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative. He’s been a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council since 2006, also a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Central Council. He’s joining us from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
Dr. Barghouti, welcome back to Democracy Now! If you can give us the context for what’s happening right now, what you’re most concerned about? We’re talking to you in the occupied West Bank as hundreds of thousands of Israeli reservists are moving down to Gaza.
DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: What concerns me most, Amy, is this process of dehumanizing Palestinians, in which Western government leaders, including President Biden, are participating, dehumanizing Palestinians to the level that the Israeli army minister called us animals. And Human Rights Watch was absolutely correct when they came out with a statement saying that this kind of description of Palestinians is nothing but a justification of war crimes on them. And that’s exactly what’s happening now.
The first two crimes that are happening is the Israeli blockade on Gaza, depriving 2.2 million people from water, food, electricity and medical supplies, depriving them from the possibility of normal life. Children are lacking water, are lacking milk. I get calls from our people there in Gaza constantly, patients who have kidney problems, in need for kidney dialysis, who could die in two, three days because they cannot get it, patients with cancer who lost treatment, and other sick people who are in very deep situation.
This is not the only situation. In addition to that, the second crime that is taking place is the bombardment of Gaza with terrible airstrikes. You have just said that it took the lives already of 1,000 innocent civilian Palestinians. It slaughtered no less than 260 children. But the worst thing is that 250,000 people already, quarter of a million people, have lost their homes. Thousands of houses have been destroyed. High-rise buildings have been smashed to earth. And the people don’t have a single space which can be safe for them. I heard an Israeli saying that she wants to be safe, and I want her to be safe, but they also should remember that also Palestinians need to live in peace and security. And that is what’s not there.
More than that, Israel turned back to using what was prohibited, which is white phosphorus. They used it, as you remember, in 2008 campaign on Gaza. Now they’re back to using it. It is a prohibited kind of weapon that is forbidden, but they use it openly and frankly.
The more important thing is that Netanyahu is saying that Palestinians should be evicted from Gaza. He’s preparing for a third war crime, which is ethnic cleansing of the population of Gaza. He said that every Palestinian in Gaza should leave their homes. He didn’t say where to. Maybe to the sea. But his spokesperson of the army made it clear. He said in a statement, which became the top line in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper — he said that all Palestinians in Gaza must evict to Egypt. These people, these criminals who committed ethnic cleansing against 70% of the Palestinian people in 1948, 70% of the population of Gaza were among these people who were evicted from Palestine. Now they are subjected to the possibility of another transfer, another kind of ethnic cleansing, that would empty Gaza so that Netanyahu can annex it.
Now I understand, after all these threats with ethnic cleansing, what Netanyahu meant when he said that he will change the map and the order of the area for 50 years to come. Now I understand what Netanyahu did when he carried a map of Israel in the United Nations, in front of the whole world community, a map of Israel that includes annexing the West Bank, which is occupied territory, annexing Gaza Strip, which is also occupied territory, and annexing East Jerusalem, including also the Golan Heights. Nobody said a single criticism to that, except maybe the German government. This is the reason — this is the background of what’s happening.
But let me also say that what we see now in Gaza is only a result of a protracted problem of 56 years of Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land. How many times on your show, Amy, and on other shows we said that the solution is to end the Israeli illegal occupation of Palestinians, that the solution is to stop what has become the worst system of apartheid ever, much worse apartheid than what revealed in South Africa at one point of time? How many times we said that building settlements in the Occupied Territories will destroy any prospective for two-state solution? How many times we complained about settlers’ violence and settlers’ terror against Palestinian communities?
I find that President Biden, unfortunately, practiced — excuse me for that, but I have to say it — Mr. Biden practiced racial discrimination between Americans who carry Israeli citizenship and Americans who carry Palestinian citizenship. I did not see him say that those who killed Shireen Abu Akleh, a very peaceful journalist who was Palestinian and American, and who was never held to accountability — nobody was indicted for killing her. He didn’t say a word about the American Palestinians in Turmus Ayya whose houses were burned and whose cars were attacked and whose lives were threatened by Israeli illegal settlers, some of whom also carry American citizenship.
I don’t want any Palestinian or any Israeli civilian to be killed. I am against that. I’m against killing children. But today and now Israel is preparing a huge ground operation on Gaza. If that happens, it will be a total disaster. If ethnic cleansing takes place, this will be a terrible, terrible, terrible disaster for everybody. And if the ground operations start, it will definitely lead to the explosion in the north and Hezbollah getting involved, and maybe this will lead to a whole regional war. I think what we need here is balanced, reasonable and responsible reactions, and not continuation of dehumanizing Palestinians, accusing Palestinians of responsibility even when Palestinians are killed.
I think that Netanyahu doesn’t care about his people. I think Netanyahu is the most corrupt, opportunistic politician ever. This man cares only about his position. He doesn’t even care about the 150 or 200 Israeli prisoners now in Gaza. If he cared about them, he would accept immediately a ceasefire. He would accept immediately a prisoners exchange, so that these people can come back home safe, and Palestinian prisoners would be released, some of whom have been in Israeli jails for 44 years. This is the solution, and not to escalate. But Netanyahu knows if any inquiry starts about what happened at the borders of Gaza, they will find him responsible for negligence, irresponsibility, lack of preparation, intelligence failure, military failure, political failure, and he will be sent out of the office, which means he will go to jail because of four cases of corruption against him. He knows that. And that’s why he’s ready to kill anybody to stay in his office. This man doesn’t care about lives of Palestinians or Israelis.
He didn’t care about the fact that he brought to his government fascists, like Smotrich, who doesn’t hide calling himself a fascist homophobe, and who said that “We will fill the West Bank with settlers and settlements so that Palestinians would lose any hope of a state of their own. And then they would have one of three choices: either to emigrate or accept a life of subjugation to Israeli rule or die.” That is the finance minister of Israel. And we didn’t hear any criticism to that, neither from Netanyahu nor from your foreign minister, Mr. Blinken, nor from any other Western leaders, who are now, unfortunately, participating in escalating the situation rather than calming it down.
The big question that Palestinians have — and this is my last point here — the big question that Palestinians have is: Why the double standard? Why the United States and Europe send to Ukraine $224 billion of equipment, of planes, of tanks, to fight what they say is occupation? And why in our case they are sending arsenal and money and support to the occupiers of Palestine? Why we don’t see any sanctions —
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Dr. Barghouti, I want —
DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: — to brutal forces and to stop the occupation?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Dr. Barghouti, I want to ask you — you’re in the West Bank. What’s been the response of the Palestinian Authority to the attacks on Gaza? And also, for our listeners and viewers, if you could talk about the escalation in attacks in the West Bank by both settlers and the Israeli army since this extreme right-wing coalition of Netanyahu came to power?
DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Since the attacks started in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes, there were many, many demonstrations in the West Bank, mostly peaceful — peaceful, all peaceful and nonviolent demonstrations. And the Israeli army responded with gunfire. Up ’til this moment, 23 Palestian young people, mainly, were shot and killed by the Israeli army, without them engaging in any kind of military action.
And that has been our life. You know, one of the main reasons why the attack happened in Gaza by Hamas is the fact that during the last eight months, before this whole thing started, Israeli army and Israeli settlers killed 248 Palestinians, including 40 children. And now in addition to that, most roads in the West Bank are blocked. There is 650 military checkpoints, many of which are totally closed to Palestinians. The only passage to Jordan is almost closed all the time. And Palestinians live in clusters of ghettos separated from each other. And people are extremely worried about what might happen. We’ve just heard that the Israeli army is devoting a whole division with tanks for the possibility of reinvading every corner of the West Bank, as well.
So, the most difficult thing here is not only the army attacks on Palestinians, but also the settlers’ attacks. And these settlers are completely crazy. And they are completely criminal in their attitude towards Palestinians. They’ve already burned so many houses. They’ve already attacked so many villages. They’ve already killed so many Palestinians. And that’s the kind of fear and worry that we have.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And how should Egypt and other Arab countries in the region respond?
DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Well, before I respond to your question, I have one little piece of good news, although it’s painful news. You mentioned the name of the journalist Salam Mima, who was one of the seven journalists who were killed by Israel. Luckily, but painfully, this journalist was found alive after 31 hours with her three children below the rubble of their destroyed house. Unfortunately, her husband died. She is injured, and her three children are injured. And you can imagine the horror that she went through being under the rubble for 31 hours. And only by luck, somebody heard her voice. And this raises the question: How many tens of Palestinians are now below the rubble, and nobody can try even to save them because the places are constantly bombarded?
Regarding Egypt, I would say that the Egyptians have two responsibilities. One is that they should not allow Israel to evict and ethnically cleanse Palestinians towards Egypt. This must not happen. And that, because I warn you: If Israel succeeds in evicting Palestinians from Gaza now and conducting ethnic cleansing, this would be an application of Smotrich, most extreme religious Jewish extreme position in the Israeli government. And it would mean that the next plan will be to ethnically cleanse the West Bank, as well, and throw Palestinians out of the West Bank to Jordan. These are not theoretical concepts. This is exactly what they said, what they speak about about Palestinians, especially now after all this process of dehumanization of Palestinians.
The other thing that Egypt must do is to provide support immediately to Gaza. We are ready to help ourselves, our people. We are ready to collect water, food supply, medications. My organization, in particular, militant Palestinian Medical Relief Society, is already engaging in preparing all these materials. We are ready to send them to Gaza, through Egypt even. But Israel says that they will bombard any supplies that come to Gaza. Here, I think it is the Egyptian and international responsibility to stop Israel and prevent that from taking place.
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Barghouti, we have less than a minute, but I wanted to ask about the relationship between the PLO, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, well known for the tension between the two, to put it mildly.
DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Well, as you know, Hamas, as well as Jihad, are Palestinian political groups, militant groups that are not in the PLO. But there are problems even inside the PLO. I think now the PA feels totally marginalized, not only because of what’s happening on the ground, but also because of Israel, that did everything to humiliate the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli army invades any spot that the Palestinian Authority should be in charge of, including Ramallah. And they cut off our tax revenue. We pay taxes to the Palestinian Authority through Israel, and Israel cuts away a lot of these resources.
So, the solution to this is nothing but unifying all Palestinians without exception. And you know my stand. I said it long time ago. What we need is, after this war ends, is immediate, free, democratic elections for Palestinians. And all polls show that neither Fatah nor Hamas will get a majority. Nobody else will get majority. It will be a pluralistic democratic system, through which groups like us, who are non-Fatah, non-Hamas, can try to do their best to push in the direction of democratic transformation, but also that would allow Palestinians to coexist peacefully in a good political system. At this very moment, this sounds very distant, mainly because not only the PA did not hold elections, but Israel and the United States all the time refused that we should have democratic, free elections. And that does not fit with all these calls everywhere and in other places about democracy. It’s another type, another form of double standard.
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, speaking to us from Ramallah in occupied West Bank, Palestinian physician, activist, politician who serves as general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative.
Next up, to Tel Aviv to speak with the Israeli journalist Gideon Levy of Haaretz. Stay with us.
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Israel & Palestine
columnist for the newspaper Haaretz and a member of its editorial board.
"Israel Can't Imprison Two Million Gazans Without Paying a Cruel Price"
From Tel Aviv, we hear from award-winning Israeli journalist and author Gideon Levy, whose recent column for Haaretz is headlined “Israel Can’t Imprison Two Million Gazans Without Paying a Cruel Price.” Levy discusses the reaction within Israeli society toward Hamas’s unexpected attack and condemns the Netanyahu government for only mobilizing for further warfare rather than providing effective assistance to victims. “Nobody is leading Israel,” declares Levy, who also calls for Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza and accept that its campaign of eradicating Hamas is “impossible.” After decades of Palestinian subjugation under Israeli rule, “you can kill the current top people of Hamas, but you will not kill the ideology of Hamas,” says Levy.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
“Netanyahu Bears Responsibility for This Israel-Gaza War.” That’s the headline of an editorial in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The paper’s editors wrote, quote, “The disaster that befell Israel on the holiday of Simchat Torah is the clear responsibility of one person: Benjamin Netanyahu. The prime minister, who has prided himself on his vast political experience and irreplaceable wisdom in security matters, completely failed to identify the dangers he was consciously leading Israel into when establishing a government of annexation and dispossession, when appointing Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir to key positions, while embracing a foreign policy that openly ignored the existence and rights of Palestinians,” the Haaretz editorial said.
We go now to Tel Aviv, where we’re joined by Gideon Levy, an award-winning Israeli journalist and author, columnist for the newspaper Haaretz, member of its editorial board. His most recent piece is headlined “Israel Can’t Imprison Two Million Gazans Without Paying a Cruel Price.”
Gideon Levy, if you can talk about how Israelis are responding right now, what you feel it’s important for people outside Israel, especially here in the United States, to understand and to do, at this point as 300,000 reservists move along the Gaza border?
GIDEON LEVY: Israel is basically shocked. At least in the first one or two days, you could feel it everywhere. Nobody expected this unprecedented situation. It broke many perceptions, both about Hamas, about the Palestinians, about their capabilities, and about ourselves and our capabilities. But this is now put aside. People are still digesting what happened. The more time passes, the more horrible scenes are exposed, day after day. I’ve been to the south the day before yesterday. And I can tell you — I’ve been so many times in the south in times of war — what I saw there was nothing like it happened in the past. But I must say that side by side with what I mention here, there is also a big sense of taking revenge, a big desire to take revenge. And hatred toward the Palestinians is growing up to very, very dangerous levels.
Same anger is also directed at the government, less than this at the army. But I think that the government, once this war will be over, hopefully soon, this government is going to pay a hell of a price, and it will — must go home. I don’t see the situation in which Netanyahu continues, and all the ministers around him, who are, all of them, no ones, fascists, and they, part of them, would even be defined in Europe as neo-Nazis, those people who called for all kind of terrible things to do and did nothing to make Israel prepared for any danger, and continue now to doing nothing. That’s so astonishing that we are now the fifth day after the war, and you don’t see the government. They are still preoccupied with their own political careers, with all kind of political manipulations. Nobody takes care of the situation. The army is preparing itself for a ground operation. But except of the army — I was in so many homes which were bombed, so many people who lost their beloved one. Nobody came to them. Nobody offers them any assistance.
Israel is really falling apart, from this point of view. And the man who governed Israel for the last 15 years is the one, and the only one, to be blamed, before anyone else. This goes without saying. And I guess at six after the war, as we say, million Israelis will go to the streets, and they will have only one demand: At least, Netanyahu, go home. If not, Netanyahu, go to court and be sentenced for this irresponsible policy that you have been committing.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Gideon Levy, I wanted to ask you — according to press reports, as many as 1,500 Palestinian fighters of Hamas were killed inside of Israel, so the enormous number of militants who were able to get into Israel. Could you talk about the decision of the government to relocate large portions of Israel’s army from the Gaza border to protect far-right settlers on the West Bank?
GIDEON LEVY: Sure. That’s one of the big failures on Saturday, not the only one, because the first failure is obviously the surprise, the strategic surprise. We are so proud about the most sophisticated intelligence in the world, with all kind of those elite units, with all the devices. They know everything. They understand everything. And then, an operation, which was prepared for one year by hundreds of militants, they didn’t hear about it. So that’s the first failure.
The second failure is obviously that the southern front with Gaza was totally abandoned, because we were busy with all the festivals of support of those crazy settlers, guarding them, but not only guarding them, collaborating with them with their pogroms among Palestinians. We have clear evidence that the army saw the pogroms and did nothing. And when the army is busy for years now, not only recently, only with running and chasing after Palestinian children who throw a stone, and after all kind of suspected Palestinians, when the army is overoccupied in standing in illegal checkpoints and penetrating to Palestinian homes in the middle of the night to arrest somebody without any legal basis, then this is the result you get. Instead of a professional, motivated, experienced army, you get a bunch of no ones who don’t know what to do in such a situation, because after the first shock, they were still — it took still hours and hours until the army showed up. And that’s unbelievable.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And this issue of Netanyahu preparing for an invasion of Gaza, could you talk about the immense undertaking that this involves, having to go literally house by house or building by building in Gaza to find any of the hostages being held? The enormity of this project?
GIDEON LEVY: First of all, to go from building to building is impossible already, because there are many buildings still down. And I’m not sure how many buildings were left, for example, in the neighborhood of Rimal. To find the hostages alive, really, it’s nice for all kind of Hollywood films. I don’t see it happening, for sure not with this army with its capabilities, as we were witnessing it only on Saturday.
The invasion into Gaza has some other goals — namely, to put an end to the rule of Hamas. And this is another impossible mission, because you can kill the current top people of Hamas, you cannot kill the ideology of Hamas, and they will always be replaced.
Ground operation now is supported almost by all Israelis, because Israelis understand that we have to do something after this embarrassment, after this catastrophe. But in the same time, I must tell you, I can assure you that if Israel will go now for a ground operation, it will take a few weeks or maybe a few months. It will take so much blood of both Palestinians and Israelis, mainly Palestinians obviously. And by the end of this operation, you will invite me again to Democracy Now!, and you will see that we are standing exactly in the place that we stood one week ago, because as long as Israel continues to believe that Gaza — the problem of Gaza will be solved by the sword, solved by brutal force, by emotions of revenge — justified emotions — then we will get exactly to the same place. This vicious circle will not be solved by power, not be solved by tanks, and not will be — nor will it be solved by troops, only by political agreement and, above all and first of all, lifting this criminal siege, for God’s sake, after 17 years. This siege, what it was about, to guarantee the security of Israel. So, what happened out of the siege except of the suffer of — unbelievable inhuman suffer of 2 million people? What did it contribute to the security of Israel, this siege? You see the outcome.
AMY GOODMAN: We just have less than a minute, Gideon. I wanted to ask you the difference of the cry, the call of the families of the hostages, of older people, of young people, of children, the family members, one after another, talking about being, for example, a peace activist, and saying, “Please use restraint,” and the contrast between that and President Biden as he addressed the nation yesterday, deciding consciously, and in the readout of his conversation with Netanyahu a few minutes before he spoke, saying they did not call for restraint. Your response? How important is the president of United States’ position here? We have less than a minute.
GIDEON LEVY: In less than a minute, I can tell you, Amy, that last night when I was watching President Biden, I really envied you Americans that you have such a leader. I never thought so before last night. But last night, Biden was a real leader, someone that you can trust, because he was extremely sincere, and someone that you can rely on. If Netanyahu would have taken the same speech, he wouldn’t be Netanyahu. Netanyahu is busy with politics. And here comes this Biden and tells Israel what Israel wanted to hear. I would love him also to say some things about the Palestinian suffering, the Palestinian agony. He ignored it totally, and this is very regretful. But by the end of the day, this is what Israel needs now: some kind of leadership. And it totally lacks it. Nobody is around, really, to understand that we have to go for a new way. Nobody is there.
AMY GOODMAN: Gideon Levy, we want to thank you for being with us, award-winning Israeli journalist and author, columnist for the newspaper Haaretz, a member of its editorial board. We’ll link to your most recent piece, “Israel Can’t Imprison Two Million Gazans Without Paying a Cruel Price.” His books include The Punishment of Gaza.
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