NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING
DONATE TODAY



  March 25, 2013

Obama Makes Nice Speeches but One Sided Support for Israel Continues


Phyllis Bennis: President Obama recognizes injustice and need for two states but does nothing to pressure Netanyahu to make concessions to Palestinians
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here
   

Audio

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter



You are an inspiration. Thanks for everything you are doing. - Brenton
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


biography

Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow and the Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C. She is the author of Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer, Before and After: US Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis, Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer and Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer. Her most recent book is Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer.


transcript

Obama Makes Nice Speeches but One Sided Support for Israel ContinuesPAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to this week's edition of The Bennis Report with Phyllis Bennis, who now joins us from Washington, D.C.

Phyllis is a fellow and the director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. She's the author of many books, including Before and After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the War on Terrorism and Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer.

Thanks very much for joining us, Phyllis.

PHYLLIS BENNIS, FELLOW, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: Great to be with you, Paul.

JAY: So what did you make of the president's visit to Israel?

BENNIS: Well, among other things, it proves once again that he's got a Cracker Jack speech writing team. His speech in Jerusalem and even some of the stuff he said to the Palestinians was pretty great. You know, the man can talk. And the speech talked about justice. He talked about the Palestinians' right to self-determination and justice. He called on young Israeli Jews to go beyond or over the heads of their government. He talked about Palestinians having a right to be a free people. And, you know, he said that there should be negotiations.

But the problem was he said all that wonderful stuff but made very clear, quite explicit, that if Israel simply said no, there would be no consequences. The U.S. will continue to pay the $30 billion of our tax money that's going directly to the military of this 23rd wealthiest country in the world. The U.S. will continue to negotiate a new aid agreement that would probably be even more than $30 billion. It will raise the amount of money we're paying to Israel for its Iron Dome anti-missile battalions. It will continue to support Israel in the United Nations so that there is never any actual accountability for potential war crimes. So none of that is going to change. That was the astonishing thing. This great speech about what we would like to happen, and we don't even think that for you, from your vantage point, you Israelis, we don't think what you're doing is very useful, but if you continue doing it, we'll still have your back.

JAY: Yeah. Analysts here when they were talking about it said this was sort of a tactical move, that he was speaking to the Israeli people, he's trying to shift Israeli public opinion, and that it was more meaningful than just rhetoric. What do you make of that?

BENNIS: I wish that were the case. I mean, I wish this were based on his assessment that Israel is such a great democracy that if you can convince all the people that their government would somehow do the right thing--that doesn't happen in this country, and I don't think it happens in Israel. So, you know, I simply don't think that was the case.

There was a bit of a quid pro quo on Iran, but it was essentially saying that we'll let up on any pressure on Israel around Palestine, around oppression of the Palestinians, if Israel will just stop bothering us about Iran. That was the essence of the quid pro quo.

Beyond that, there was really no policy basis, no strategic basis, no actual shift in anything that the U.S. is doing.

JAY: Now, one of the things, of course, that got a lot of attention was President Obama apparently brokered this phone call: Netanyahu phoned Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey, and apologizes for killing Turkish citizens on the Gaza flotilla and agrees that they're going to pay compensation to the families, and then the third point agrees to lift the blockade on Gaza. And then the reports after that are, oh, we don't really have much of a blockade against Gaza anymore; it's just some construction materials. One, my understanding, it's more than construction materials. And two, are they even really serious about that?

BENNIS: Certainly it's much more than just a little bit of building equipment. The siege of Gaza remains intact. A year and a half or so ago, the Israelis did ease a little bit of the restriction on food and some medicines, but the hospitals are still desperately under-equipped. They can't get in new equipment. They can't get in sufficient drugs.

The tunnels are functioning as the lifeline to Gaza. That's the reason that you don't see starvation and people dying from absolute lack of medical equipment and medical supplies in Gaza is because of the tunnels.

But the Israeli claim that somehow they are allowing people to cross their borders doesn't take into account what they're actually keeping out, and it certainly doesn't take into account people. The siege of Gaza is fundamentally a siege of the people of Gaza, who are not allowed to go in, to go out. Family reunification is not allowed. The link between the West Bank and Gaza is completely severed.

So the notion that Israel is somehow not doing very much that's bad is simply a lie, and they're hoping they can get away with it. Unfortunately, in the conversation with Erdogan, there's no indication that he called them on it. That's really--.

JAY: Well, actually, two days later he did make a statement which said he's waiting to see if the Israelis are serious about lifting the siege of Gaza and relations won't be normalized until they do.

BENNIS: Right, and hopefully he'll implement that. That's the kind of diplomatic statement that may be aimed more at his audience at home than it is real. We don't know. We'll have to wait and see how and if and for how long Erdogan holds Israel accountable for these violations.

But it was also important from another vantage point, and that was that it made clear that when the U.S. wants to pressure Israel for something they want, which in this case was a reconciliation between its two crucial allies in the region, Israel and Turkey, the U.S. gets what it wants. So whatever happened in that little trailer on the tarmac, when President Obama took Prime Minister Netanyahu into the room and said, Bibi, you're going to do this, with whatever threats and blandishments he had to dangle, it worked. And that's one of the important lessons. The U.S. has the capacity to pressure Israel.

It doesn't use that capacity on behalf of the Palestinians. It will use it when necessary to gain something vis-a-vis Turkey. But so far we have not seen a commitment to the lovely words that President Obama spoke to justice, to an end of occupation, to equality. We're not seeing that.

JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Phyllis.

BENNIS: Thank you.

JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.



Comments

Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

latest stories

Let's Make Real News!
Will Patriotism and Optimism Defeat Trump?
Danny Glover: Democratic Party Leadership in Damage Control
Donald Trump: The Raw and Naked Face of a System That Showers Speculators with Obscene Riches
Bernie Sanders and Danny Glover Exclusive on The Real News
All Charges Dropped in Freddie Gray Case
Actors and Activists Come to the Defense of Nina Turner
Mosby: 'Inherent Bias' of Justice System Thwarted Prosecution
TRNN Livestream of DNC Day 3
DNC: President Obama Speech
DNC: Joe Biden Speech
DNC: Tim Kaine Speech
Sanders Delegate Portia Boulger Expresses Grief After Call for Unanimous Support of Clinton
National Nurses United: No Decision Yet Whether We'll Support Clinton
Fight Within the Democratic Establishment or Build Third Parties?
Did Sanders Foreclose a Larger Revolt at the DNC?
Bernie Sanders Supporters Debate Backing Clinton
Sanders Delegates: We Can't Walk Away From the Fight Within the Democratic Party
California Delegate: I Won't Work for Clinton
TRNN Livestream of DNC Day 2
Thousands of Black Lives Matter Activists Protest During the DNC
'Lesser of Two Evils' Argument Not Resonating with DNC Protestors
Sanders Delegates Stage Walkout in Protest of Clinton Nomination
Green Party Candidate Jill Stein Draws Crowd of Hundreds After DNC Walkout
What Will Sanders Delegates Do After Bernie's Call for Unity Behind Clinton?
Portia Boulger, Featured in Viral Video Viewed by Millions, Explains her Anger at DNC
Sanders Campaign Manager: Now is the Time to Keep Pushing
Sanders Delegate: Removal of Wasserman-Schultz Not Enough
Sanders Delegate: Political Revolution Can't End with Bernie
The European Revolt Against the Neoliberal EU (2/2)

TheRealNewsNetwork.com, RealNewsNetwork.com, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting