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The policy of a Clinton administration towards the Palestinians would reflect her patronizing and colonialist remarks recently published by the Observer, says TRNN correspondent Shir Hever

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SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries in Baltimore. Back on September 5th of 2006, Hillary Clinton running to be elected for her senate seat in New York was doing the rounds of this particular location she was speaking to the Jewish Press in Brooklyn where she had this to say about their elections in Palestinian territories in 2006. HILLARY CLINTON: I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake. And if we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win. PERIES: This audio recording was recently played by the Observer’s Eli Chomsky who was an editor and staff writer for the Jewish Press back then. Joining us today to talk about this recently published recording of Hillary Clinton is Shir Hever and in the past you’ve heard from Shir Hever at the Real News but today he joins us as a real news correspondent and producer joining us from Heidelberg, Germany. Thanks so much for joining us Shir. SHIR HEVER, TRNN: Great to be here Sharmini. PERIES: So Shir, place this statement by Hillary Clinton in its historical context for us. HEVER: Well she was making this comment in September 2006 at which point it’s very useful to know she’s willing to admit that the US was the one pushing for this election in Palestine where the Palestinians of course they wanted to have an election. They wanted to have an election for a long time, they were not allowed and with this kind of very strange move, US president at the time Bush. They were suddenly pressured to have a n election as if that would somehow make their claim for independence and freedom from occupation more legitimate. Even though these elections were very carefully observed by international actors, by various states that sent their representatives to make sure that there were no tampering, the results were very disappointing for the United States and for the European Union when the Hamas Party won by a landslide, majority. PERIES: They won by a majority of seats in the legislative election and historically Hamas was supported by a very small percentage of the population but in this occasion they won a majority. Why? HEVER: A lot of Palestinians say that the reason that Hamas won this election was because it was a protest vote. Because the Fatah party which was the majority party until that point was accused by the general Palestinian population of not doing enough to end occupation. Not doing enough to protect Palestinians rights and freedoms. So, the Hamas party which was the major position party and promised to be more – they promised to clean hands administration. That means they promised to fight corruption. They got a very large support from people who didn’t necessarily subscribe to all of their political views and the religious views but saw them as an alternative and kind of protest vote against the Fatah party. I think that’s something very interesting, especially now in the context of the US elections because the idea that some people vote as a protest vote to a candidate that they don’t necessarily support is something that’s spoken a lot. The lesson that can be learned from Palestine in 2006 might be relevant for the United States as well. PERIES: Then what was the reaction to all of this by say, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian authority, the Israelis themselves, and the American government about Hamas’s legislative victory here. HEVER: Yea well the Hamas Party even though they’re basic political demand is legitimate. They want an end to the occupation. But they’re also an Islamic party. They’ve also supported resisting occupation by the use of violence. So because of that the major part of the Israeli as well as the US propaganda and narrative about why Palestinians can’t be trusted to have their own state was that Hamas is a terrorist organization. Once Hamas won the election, that created a very serious problem for all the international actors actually. From the point of view of Israel, I think that’s interesting to see that the Israeli government was not so quick to denounce the newly elected government and not so quick to cut all ties with them because they were willing to keep on working with Hamas but the United States was actually the one pushing to completely boycott the elected Hamas government and make it impossible for them to rule. They have basically said any international organization or any bank that does business with Hamas, with the Palestinian government will be charged for assisting terrorism. Interestingly, the first thing that happened is that the biggest Israeli banks lost their biggest costumer. Because their biggest customer was the Palestinian government and they couldn’t do business with them anymore because of the US boycott and the threat of lawsuit. So later there was a series of very authoritative, very arrogant and patronizing moves by the international community headed by the faith with complete support by the European Union as well to force Palestinians to accept a kind of non-elected appointed government which was imposed upon them as the only way that public institutions will continue to function. So, the only way that money will flow, banks will operate, schools will open, is if the Palestinians would renounce their democratically elected government. As a result, there was until today a nonelected government in the West Bank while in Gaza, the western part of the occupied Palestinian territory, the Hamas party has orchestrated a coup and took over the Gaza Strip by force and they’re still controlling it until this day. PERIES: And there’s been horrendous consequences as a result of this kind of attitude that Hillary Clinton had which governed US policy on Israel-Palestine for a long time now. But what does this attitude of Hillary Clinton’s mean for the autonomy and self-determination of the Palestinian people is she becomes the president? HEVER: I think in that moment, Clinton demonstrated that her position on the Palestinians is not very different from the position that was held at the time by President Bush that these people are simply not mature enough or not intelligent enough to know what is good for them. Somebody has to make that decision for them. This kind of patronizing approach, even colonialistic approach I should say, has unfortunately remained legitimate until today in a lot of US policies. If Clinton becomes president and uses that kind of policy then of course the results will continue to be as they have been catastrophic because whenever you tell people that you know what’s good for them better than they themselves, people tend to react with frustration and anger. That’s completely understandable. I think in many ways, what we see now in the United States with responses of people who are frustrated with the defeat of Bernie Sanders for example in the democratic primaries or people who want to support Trump just because that is the way to protest what they see as a rigged and unfair system, in many ways that’s what we saw actually in Palestine in 2006. Because at the time when the election took place in January the Israeli government confiscated signs which were advertising the Hamas party. They were arresting campaigners who were campaigning for Hamas and then Hamas won by a very large majority. I think that’s something that needs to be taken into account. It’s such arrogant polices simply don’t work. PERIES: One final question Shir. Do you think that a Clinton presidency towards Palestine and Israel would be different than that of Obama? HEVER: Well I cannot predict the future but I can see very clearly the voices that are heard from Palestinian actors. Various Palestinian parties and organizations that say that it doesn’t really matter. The United States has a very clear policy in the Middle East where Israel is a very major ally for the United States instigating violence in order to promote and sell US made weapons. That’s something that Palestinians are completely aware of. Palestinians serve as a sort of lab animals. Of course they’re not animals, they’re human beings. But they are treated as ground for experiments for US weaponry by the Israeli military. This has been the policy in the times of Bill Clinton and George Bush and Barack Obama who has increased military aid to Israel. Meaning more US weapons that are going to get to the Israeli army and there is no reason to believe that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will have any change in that kind of policy from their direction. There is going to be a change of policy of course but the change comes form the people on the ground through the protest of the Palestinians who are fighting for their freedom. PERIES: Shir Hever thank you so much for joining us today and we’re looking forward to your weekly reports. HEVER: Thank you very much Sharmini. PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.


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

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Dr. Shir Hever grew up in Israel and now lives in Germany. He has been reporting on Israel/Palestine stories for 16 years, and for the Real News specifically since 2016. He’s the author of two books and many articles, and is a committed member of several Palestine solidarity groups.