Press TV has conducted an interview with Jennifer Loewenstein, a
professor at the Wisconsin-Madison University, from Madison, to discuss the
situation in Palestine.
What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: What do you think is the overall underlying cause to what
we’re seeing taking place in Gaza today?
Loewenstein: The underlying cause is land. Israel captured the West
Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in 1967. They have been illegally
held since then. Israel has put hundreds of settlements in the West Bank and
600,000 settlers continue to live there illegally.
The peace negotiations go nowhere because the Israeli prime ministers have
no intention of giving that land back.
Press TV: You take, “holding onto it tenaciously” - when we look at
Gaza Strip and we see the missiles falling on this very densely populated
area, does it appear to you that that word, that that’s a correct phrase
that the Israelis are “holding on to the land tenacious” or are they trying
to basically – it appears to punish the Palestinian people even more? –Your
Loewenstein: I think it’s both. They’re holding onto the land much
more than tenaciously. They have no intention of ever giving it back.
There’s also a long tradition of collective punishment.
I disagree with the other speaker about the historical roots of this
conflict. It goes back to the 1880s.
In the First World War when Lord Arthur Balfour declared the Balfour
Declaration, he had no right to do so because the British had not yet even
conquered the Gaza Strip or the area, or Palestine, when they issued this
declaration. The British had no right to do that in the first place. They
were colonialists and occupiers themselves.
There’s something wrong with the interpretation of this conflict even in our
textbooks, in our media and among our government pundits here in the United
States. We don’t understand this conflict in its roots. We don’t understand
that the entire land of Palestine belongs to the Palestinians.
Press TV: You said that in the United States people do not understand
the reality of what has happened and what is going on? Why do you think
that’s the case?
Loewenstein: One, because we’re taught that it’s the case in our
schools, and that teaching is repeated in our newspapers and by our
politicians, and until the American public can learn otherwise, which they
have plenty of opportunities to do given the amazing access they have to
alternative media on the internet, we are going to stay ignorant and, I must
say, complicit in the crimes that the United States is involved in and
responsible for by allowing Israel to continue its criminal policies against
the Palestinian people and many other people in the Middle East, I should
Press TV: We hear this continuously especially in the mainstream
media, that Israel has responded to the aggression from Hamas. Of course
what isn’t talked about is the tight crackdown on Palestinian areas - the
West Bank and also the Gaza Strip - prior to this happening.
What isn’t talked about is if then Hamas is the aggressor, then you would
assume then that the aggressor, that the casualties would be greater on that
other side; but we see as of this broadcast 135 Palestinians have been
killed in Gaza and at least 1,000 injured.
On the other side, the only casualty that we have so far is an Israeli
soldier. Tell me in your perspective, what does it say?
Loewenstein: You know, first of all Hamas did not start this latest
conflict. Hamas never ordered the kidnapping and murder of three Israelis,
and this is what Netanyahu told the Israeli people and this is what we’re
hearing in the United States.
Secondly, I think it is a gross misrepresentation of the facts that somehow
the Israelis and the Palestinians are equal parties in this conflict. The
occupied and the occupier are different people. Those who are slaves and
those who are kept under occupation have the right to resist regimes that
are discriminatory or that occupy them. I think Israel up to now has been
extremely lucky that it has not seen far more resistance among the
Palestinians. I don’t condone violence. I prefer non-violent resistance. I
still, never-the-less, think that Israel has no right what-so-ever to attack
people it is illegally occupying.
I think, once again, it has complete disregard for the lives of civilians.
It is using an excuse. The excuse is Hamas, to continue holding on to
territories it does not own, that it has no right to. We don’t hear about
that in the West.
We don’t understand that these territories have been illegally occupied and
settled. This is a colonial settler state that we are talking about. Israel
is a colonial settler state.
Its crimes against the Palestinians are not sporadic. They go on every day.
This is not much of an escalation of those crimes. We just don’t hear about
the number of deaths of Palestinian civilians on a day-to-day basis, that’s
blocked out of our media.
Just seeing three Israelis in the newspaper after they were kidnapped and
killed is enough to make people indignant and angry against the Palestinians.
Where are the thousands of faces and names and biographies and families in
mourning of the Palestinians? When are we going to see them? When are they
going to have the same value of human life as the Israelis and the Americans?
Press TV: You go ahead, Ms. Loewenstein, I’ll let you answer the
question [posed by the previous guest speaker, Bob Ayers]. Go ahead, ma’am.
Loewenstein: First, I have to comment on your guest’s comments about
colonial settler states. The United States is indeed a colonial settler
state, perhaps the worst one around today. It exterminated 100,000,000
Native Americans in North America from 1500 until the beginning of the 20th
century, and we have never made reparations to those people. That is
absolutely correct and I speak about that often.
As to the second part of your question, would you repeat that again?
Press TV: Well, I am running out of time but I’d like you to address
at this point right now with the situation in Gaza. We hear about these
rockets and we hear about this going on, do you think there is like a
disconnect, as if we don’t understand the personal stories that are behind
it? We say it very easily, that 100 rockets have been fired, but if we look
at the statistics on the ground, and I understand that you have had a
personal experience, please tell me about the situation.
Loewenstein: To compare the rockets being fired by Hamas militants
over the border into Israel with the fourth most powerful military state in
the world, and the second most powerful among NATO nations, I have to say
that that’s criminal.
Your other speaker’s interpretation of the 1973 war is equally full of
propaganda. It’s unfortunate that we hear it because for example the
Egyptians never attacked Israel in that war. They invaded the Sinai desert,
which was occupied Egyptian land, and they had a right to take that land
back. I can’t imagine anyone saying otherwise.
Yes, today a friend of mine in Gaza saw his neighbor’s house blown up while
the residence of that family were inside that house. The people inside that
house were not Hamas militants. In fact, there were no Hamas people in that
house at all. There were people in the streets in fact shouting ‘you’ve hit
the wrong house’.
Because even if hitting a Hamas house were legal, and it is not, there’s
something wrong with an army claiming precision-guided missiles that
accidentally drops a bomb on completely innocent people again and again and
again in every single war. The overall casualties between dead Israelis and
dead Palestinians, Lebanese and other Arabs in the Middle East are so
disproportionate that to talk about Israel as a victim is a crime.
Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:13AM