Monday, March 29, 2010

As'ad Abukhalil on Obama's Middle East Policies.Q&A.Part1of4

Prof. As'ad Abukhalil ( "Obama's Middle East Policies: the Persistence of the Bush Doctrine" 23-11-2009 @ Harvard Law School. Q&A 1 of 4
The 4 parts are available here;


  1. <span>I was reading his comments on twitter today. Very funny and silly.</span>

  2. I watched all four segments of the video, and although they debated the influence of the Israeli lobby quite thouroughly, I feel they missed the main reasons why the American public mostly supports Israel to varying degrees. But what i will point out does not dispute the fact that the beliefs and attitudes I will discuss are expoited by both Israel and the U.S. government.

    The idea that biblical prophecy may be coming true is very popular in this country. Prophecy is used to explain everything from Katrina to AIDS to 9/11 to the war in Iraq. This tendency to believe in biblical prophecy dovetails very nicely with Zionist and U.S. ambitions in the Mideast. There is a large bloc of people in this country who feel they will incur God's wrath if the U.S. government opposes Israel, no matter what it does. In fact, as tensions rise in the Mideast, that is "evidence" that prophecy is coming true and now is not the time to waver in our allience with Israel.

    Also, most commenters who post here have been annoyed that the  Holocaust keeps coming up in debates about israel. But in many Americans' minds, the establishment of Israel is seen as the final act of World War Two. Just about every war since then has turned into a fiasco or quagmire that we just wanted to get out of and/or we learned we got into the war because of a lie. Because of this, a lot of people are still fighting World War Two in their minds.

    These reasons, easy to understand and familiar, combined with the fact most Americans have zero interest in the history of the Mideast, Imperialism, etc. All this creates an obstacle that is obviously very difficult for Palestinians to overcome. You can talk about the "Lobby" all you want, but until these issues are addressed in a meaningful way, the status quo will not change.

  3. one other thing: Those people who seem to think that the U.S. government always acts wisely and open in the best interests of the people except in the case of Israel-they can't be serious.

  4. "<span>Those people who seem to think that the U.S. government always acts wisely and open in the best interests of the people except in the case of Israel-they can't be serious.</span>"

    Joe, many people act against their own interests on a serial basis. Countries similarly frequently act against their own interests. Reasons for this include inertia, ingnorance, being too lazy to analyze what they should do and why, impulses, and emotions.

    Joe, are you aware of any countries in recorded history that acted in their own interests?

    You are right that most people in the world associate Israel with the holocaust (at least among those who have heard about the holocaust.) If you don't discuss the holocaust frequently and in depth, you cannot change international policy towards Israel and Palestine.

    The Haloucast issue is important for many countries around the world; not just the US.

    "<span>ust about every war since then has turned into a fiasco or quagmire that we just wanted to get out of and/or we learned we got into the war because of a lie.</span>"

    What are you talking about? South Korea is a huge deeply admired and respected international success. The Korean war is percieved as a success because South Korea is a success. Success is an understatement. South Korea was poorer than Bangladesh in 1953. Today it is a rich free democratic high tech center with one of the best quality militaries the world has ever seen. South Korea is the envy of the world.

    The Bosnia and Kosovo wars in 1995 and 1999 are a success.

    Iraq is likely to become the freest, most democratic, and most successful Arab country in recorded history. And there is little Iraq's neihbors can do to stop Iraq. They already tried to destroy Iraq and failed.

    What <span>fiascos, quagmires, or lies are you talking about?</span>

    As far as lies; the lies exist in your own mind. Break free from the illusions you have created for yourself. Seek the truth and let it set you free.

  5. The main point of my post was that the discussion on the video totally ignored the fact that the Israeli lobby has a lot to work with in terms of common attitudes in the U.S., mainly in terms of religion. Without the current popular interpretation of biblical prophecy, support for Israel in the U.S. would not be so widespread. The connection in people's minds between World War Two and Zionism, although important, is secondary. Fighting the "Lobby" without addressing these facts is pretty much a waste of time.

    I'l try to address a few of your points:

    First of all, if people knew that we would still have troops in Korea 60 years after the war ended, I doubt there would have been enough support to have the war.

    Your analysis of the outcome of all our wars, namely that they were successful, is debatable, to say the least. But the sentiment that we must constantly be fighting wars and occupying countries in order to improve them is not as popular as you seem to think. There is support for wars in this country when people believe we will go in somewhere and kick some ass, then come home. When it gets more complicated, the wars rapidly lose popularity. World War Two stands alone in this century as a "good war". Every other one is tainted in large segments of the population's mind. There is a strong isolationist sentiment in this country, although you wouldn't understand from our foreign policy. On the right, they believe America should just look out for itself, and the rest of the world be damned. On the left, they think we should stop being the bullies of the world....and another thing, the lies that get us into the two longest wars are well documented: namely, that the North Vietnamese attacked our navy in the Gulf of Tonkin, and Saddam was behind 9/11. I'm sure V will be happy to explain the more complicated lies that keep our military engaged all over the world.

    One more thing, I reject your comparisan between an individual's self destructive behavior and government policy that only benefits an elite segment of the population. Those who lobby the government to enact certain policies are acting in their own interests. They are not being self destructive. Those who suffer because of these policies do not have the power to act in their own interests. It is not like the USA is one big neurotic person-if there is a psychological analogy to be made, probably it would be that we are a dysfunctional family.

  6. <span>Thanks joe for your comment..Very interesting.. 
    I had always suspected that the American public support for Israel is not only the result of the lobby's works but also a reflection of the public's unfamiliarity if not total ignorance  of the region's history in general and more specifically it's recent developments..The bible and its fairy tales as a sole historical point of reference or source (rather a poisened well) reference had a devastating influence on how the conflict is perceived and "understood"..No doubt that the lobby had  exploited this invaluable mine in addition to a quasi absence of any alternative or contradictory narrative from the Arab/Palestinian side, helped by a complacent media and other major instrument of influence like cinema and later TV.. Uris' 'Exodus' certainly had more devastating impact than any other paper or magazine's story but we know now that this book, a work of fiction, was  commissioned by Israeli body of lobbyists and propagandists....

  7. My comment is gone!! Iwrote a long reply to joe and it vanished!

    I don't feel like rewriting it again but I add that one should remember the devastating impact of a film (and novel) like Exodus by Uris. That novel was not taken as a work of fiction but a historical narrative by the largely naive American public. We know now that this book was commissioned: Here:

    "In The Persuasion Explosion (1985), author Art Stevens reports that Exodus was a public relations ploy launched by Edward Gottlieb who sought a novelist to improve Israel’s image in the U.S. The name Uris originates with Yerushalmi, meaning “man of Jerusalem.” The film rights to Exodus were sold in advance of the book’s publication. Translated into dozens of languages, this masterpiece of mental and emotional manipulation quickly became a global phenomenon as it created favorable impressions of Israel."

  8. "During the 1960 Christmas season, Americans flocked to the theaters to see Exodus, a 3-1/2 hour epic film featuring handsome freedom fighters and a riveting romance amidst the heroic triumph of Jewish Destiny over Arab Evil Doers. Set against a Yuletide backdrop of Biblical prophecy, moviegoers marveled as exiled Jews returned to their fabled promised land, a staple of popular culture to which Americans are first exposed as children in “Sunday school.”
    Many moviegoers failed to realize that Exodus was not fact but fiction. Even now, few Americans realize the storyline was adapted for the screen from a 1958 novel by Leon Uris. The biggest bestseller since Gone with the Wind—a novel set during the Civil War of the 1860s—the film adaptation was directed by Hollywood icon Otto Preminger. The blockbuster’s stars included a young Paul Newman with his leading lady a blond Eva Marie Saint.
    The cast included character actor Lee J. Cobb and Peter Lawford, married to Pat Kennedy, a sister of John F. Kennedy who was elected president the same year. By then, Lawford was a famous member of pop culture’s high profile “Rat Pack” that included singer Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Joey Bishop. Italian crooner Sal Mineo, then a teen heartthrob, received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of a Jewish émigré.
    An Oscar should have been awarded to Israel and its supporters for portraying this extremist enclave as a legitimate nation-state when, in reality, its founding traces to an alluring storyline. Forty-five years after the release of Exodus, American naiveté was again targeted by Jewish storytellers to induce the U.S. to war in the Middle East—only this time for real."