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Round Table About Gaza With Dr. Finkelstein

“When the Journalism deviates from it’s professionalism and turn into a messenger of lies misleading, attributing truth to ignorance, 000_6951a [1]and when Journalism deviate from it’s ethics, rules and principles, when the journalists are bribed, scared and devolve into note-takers and employees of the Zionists and the governments, when credibility, objectivity and substance is avoided in the journalistic work, when the editors are turned into military censors, into jugglers and clowns of the powerful, then the street peddlers become better professionals than journalists  … Kawther [2]

The Austrian Media: One-Sided, Self-Censored Note-Takers

The scandalous attitude of the Austrian media which a comply determined, without retreating, and the continuous misleading of the Austrian public opinion in the favor of the Jewish community and the criminality of Israel could be seen as a clear threat to the Journalism Ethics and Principles and to the holiness of the freedom of speech.

At 12pm of May 26 2009, Dr. Norman Finkelstein [3], an American-Jewish 000_7251a [4]professor, held a press conference at the Hotel Modul. On May 27, 2009, he gave an excellent speech about the same issue. Some hundreds, most of them Austrian intellectuals, listened to his speech, which continued until about 11pm. The Austrian media, radio, TV and newspapers, journalists and photographers had boycotted the conference in a clear demonstration of ignorance in breach of principles and ethics of neutral Journalism.

The organizers of the speech of Dr. Prof. Finkelstein said that they had sent invitations to the members of the Austrian media. They expressed their astonishment at the absence of the media, at their boycott of the event. I personally see the Austrian media covering in full the boring details every big and small event and pseudo-news related to the Zionist Jews, the pro-Israelis. I 000_7331a [5]see them spreading distorted and unverifiable statements, and generally lacking in credibility and objectivity. They cover the Israeli genocide, crimes against humanity and their violation of the human rights by essentially passing the communiqués of the IDF press office as news, and whoever does not conform to their twisted and crooked standards they defame as “antisemitic”, a silly and stupid smear, which is used to cover up the horrible Israeli terror and which threatens the serious journalism.

It was not clear to me until two days ago how clearly the Austrian media is headed, lead, controlled, and censored by Zionists, who avoid inconvenient truths about the horrible crimes which Israel committed and commits against Palestine in such a blatant way . Hiding their real affiliations is to continue misleading the public opinion in the favor of covering the Israeli crimes in a totally one-sided fashion.

It was very clear that the Austrian media boycotted the press conference of Dr. Norman Finkelstein as well as his speech under the pressure of the pro-zionist elements in Vienna. This is a scandalous and shameful event in history of Journalism and for the Austrian journalists. The great number of educated and very interested attendants to the lecture clearly shows the great gap 000_7235a [6]between how the Austrian media treats freedom of speech, and what the Austrian public thinks. The worldwide reports in sinking revenues of commercial media seem to have a common cause, and that would a media which simply avoids the truths which are inconvenient to a minority which is as weak as it is loud and obstreperous.

What the Austrian media fears to cover, to write or to report to the public opinion, we will post twice. This first report, about the roundtable which Dr. Finkelstein graciously held with the few attendants to his press conference, and in a second report we will post the complete video of his speech, which shows the large attendance of which the Austrian media ignored, as soon as the organizers of the event facilitate it to us.

An Old-Fashioned, European-Style Massacre in Gaza.

Q: What was Israel’s goal with the massacre of Gaza?

It’s announced purpose was to prevent the Hamas rocket attacks. (unclear) 000_7148a [7]because  if Israel wanted to prevent the rocket attacks, they wouldn’t have broken the cease fire, what caused the rocket attacks, so that was obviously not its goal. Also Israel had opportunities until it began the massacre, to renew the cease-fire, which it chose to ignore. Israel announced that its goal was to destroy the centers of terrorism in Gaza, but most of its destruction was aimed at civilian sites in Gaza, so that seems to illustrate that its goal was not Hamas, or to destroy Hamas, so the question is, what was the purpose of the massacre in Gaza?

And my thinking is, there were two main reasons why Israel caused so much death and destruction in Gaza. The first reason was Israel craved restoring its deterrence capacity – that’s just a fancy term for Israel being wary that the Arab 000_7288a [8]world was not sufficiently fearing it. Israel suffered a couple of major defeats at the hands of the Hezbollah: the first major defeat was in May 2000 and after a 17 year long guerrilla war, Israel was forced to withdraw from Lebanon. For Israel that was a humiliation, and it was clear that they intended to go another round with the Hezbollah in order to defeat it and show the Arab world that Israel is still the major military power there. Well, they tried again in July or August 2006, and they suffered another big defeat at the hands of the Hezbollah, probably even a bigger defeat than in May 2000. Israel’s deterrence capacity was failing even more, and let us remember that deterrence capacity just means the capacity to make the Arab world fear Israel.

Then, in 2008, Israel was hoping to recruit the USA to attack Iran, and that too proved unsuccessful.  The US did want to go in with conventional weapons, Israel would go in with unconventional weapons, nuclear weapons. But the US said no, so Israel was humiliated again, and so it needed somewhere in the Arab world to prove its military capacity. And even in Gaza the Hamas was defying Israel, occasionally firing rockets into Israel, so Israel decided they would attack Gaza in order to restore its deterrence capacity.

But there was one obvious problem, and the problem was, Hamas is 77 [9]not a military power. It was obvious that all they had was some home-made rockets which amounted basically to fire-crackers. They weren’t serious. So how do you prove your military power to the Arab world by attacking a place which is not a military power? What Israel decided to do was, it would go in and it would cause as much death and destruction as it could in order to show the Arab world that we, and we meaning Israel, we can behave in a lunatic and crazy fashion and we will destroy everything in our path, regardless of what world opinion Amputation [10]says. And that was their way of trying to restore their deterrence capacity, the Arabs fear of Israel, by demonstrating that if they want to, they are capable of acting like lunatics.

That was their goal: to behave in such a completely barbaric and lunatic fashion, that the Arab world would fear the consequences of defying Israel, not military consequences against their armies, but the civilian consequences.

This was actually the first Israeli attack, a major attack, which had no military gaza1 [11]component. There was no war there, you could say that ’67 was a war, you could say that ’56 was a war, you could say that 82 was a war, you could say that ’93, operation accountability, ’96, operation grapes of wrath, you could say they had military components. But there was no military component like that in Gaza. Israel flew about 3000 combat missions, about 2770. 2770 combat missions. All planes came back. None were damaged, none were down, because Hamas had no anti-aircraft defenses. And when the ground invasion began, there were no battles either. There was not one battle in Gaza because Israel had special night vision equipment to be able to fire at night. Hamas didn’t have any.

So there were no battles, there was no war in Gaza, it was just a pretty old-fashioned, European-style massacre [12] in Africa, what was basically what happened in Gaza.

Q: What strategy does Israel have, what concepts is Israel following, what do you think Israel wants, what is their solution for the conflict? Don’t they want any solution to exist?

Well, I don’t think that right now they are thinking in terms of solutions because 000_7260a [13]there is no solution now for them on the immediate horizon. They don’t want to withdraw from the West Bank, that’s clear, they want to keep it, control it, so they will never accept the solution which the whole international community supports, namely a full withdrawal and a resolution of the refugee question. They are never going to accept it, and right now there is no clear alternative for them, so they are simply going to keep brutalizing the Palestinians to keep them in line, to pacify them, until an opportunity or an occasion arises where they can see a solution, but there is none now, so now it is just brutal military force to pacify the Palestinians. Not just military brutality, but economic deprivations as well.

Israeli Incitement Against the Neighboring Countries

Q: You know that Israel continues inciting against the neighboring countries, for example against Syria, against Iran, against Hezbollah, against Palestinians, against everybody. I don’t understand. Do you think that there is a justification for the Israeli fear, because they talk against Iran while Israel itself has nuclear weapons, and nobody talks about this? All the time talking that the neighboring countries threaten Israeli security. From where did this fear come? Do you think that there is a justification for this fear, or is it paranoia?

One aspect is that it is useful to claim that whatever you do, you do in the name of security, every state does that, so it should not surprise us that Israel would play the same game. Even when the US invaded Grenada under Ronald Reagan 000_7280a [14]they said that it was for security, or when they attacked Nicaragua, they said that it was for security. So every state says that when it carries on its aggressions and it desires to control those around it. But there is also an element where what the Israelis are saying is true, because they do recognize that they will never be accepted in the region so long as they act as a surrogate, as a replacement for American power there. There is a fundamental conflict between how Israel conceives itself in the region, and the people in the region, in that part of the middle east. It wants to join the EU, it doesn’t see itself as part of the middle east, it is simply an agent of the US, to help the US control the region. And to that extent there is a basic conflict with the people there. And there is no point in denying it, because of the role Israel has starred, has played and has chosen to play in the region.

Gaza is Again Under Siege

Q: But why does the international community continue supporting Israel? Israel violates most of the UN resolutions, most of the international laws, the human rights. What Israel did in Gaza is crimes against humanity, it is clear genocide, it is against all the European penal codes, which are ignored when it comes to Israel. And you see, they justify what happened in Gaza, and Gaza is again under siege. Everybody is closing his mouth. For what are they waiting?

Well, the clash in the middle east, most Europeans just do what the Americans 000_7290a [15]tell them, they don’t really care that much. The people care. If you look at public opinion everywhere in Europe, it is very hostile towards Israel even in places like Germany. When you look at the polls, they are not very supportive of Israel, they are very critical of Israel. There are basically two factors: one is the factor that they basically do whatever the Americans tell them to do on the question of the middle east. And the second factor is, there is a certain sympathy in Europe for Israel, not because of the Nazi holocaust, but it’s not really more. Most Europeans know that the Israelis exploit the Nazi holocaust for political reasons. But there is some sympathy for Israel because there is a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe, and so they see themselves as in the same position as Israel: not liking, not wanting these Muslims and Arabs in their societies. So, I think that is the bigger factor, I don’t think that its the Nazi holocaust. It’s the fact that there is a significant increase in anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe.

Q: Israel, or the zionists, are chasing anybody who opens their mouth and speaks the truth. For example, I am not a terrorist, I am a journalist thrown out of my homeland for no reason, because I was writing my honest words. I also see the zionists fighting with you. What is the background about the zionists fighting with you and the truth? You see, no journalists came today to the conference. Who controls them,why didn’t the come? I have to ask this question: who told them not to come, who gives orders to Standard, who gives orders to the ORF, who gives orders to these people ? What they are doing is not justified. Do they scare of the people who think? There is all the time fear, fear, fear. If you look at the psychology of Israel and the Israelis, they are scared of everything. What do you think about that?

They are are well organized, we should be organized too. And we shouldn’t scare people but we should get organized.

Q: Why are they fighting against you?

That’s politics. And they are better organized, but they do not have public 000_7326a [16]support on their side. It’s one of those issues in Europe where there is a very big gap between governmental opinion and public opinion. If you look in Germany for example, the most recent polls show that about 60% of people say “we have no special responsibility towards Israel”, about young Germans it’s about 70%. About 60% of Germans say that Israel is ruthless, is reckless, is brutal in its foreign policy, but then you look at the leader, Angela Merkel. Merkel still thinks that she is fighting World War 2 and next she is going to get Hitler in his bunker. Somebody should tell her that it’s too late, that he is dead. And that is pretty much true throughout Europe: there is a very big gap between public opinion and official government opinion, and so our job is to try to organize public opinion, but we are very weak …

Q: I would like to ask the question I asked before, about the international importance of this conflict, it is not bigger than other conflicts in other regions but it has a large impact on difficult regions of the world.

It’s hard to explain why the Palestine question has become so big in the moral 000_7236a [17]conscience of the world. But that is true always: why was South Africa such a big issue? The south Africans used to say its more oppressive in Eastern Europe, so why are you picking on us? Exactly why at a particular point a conflict catches the human imagination is sometimes hard to say. But the Palestine issue is long lasting, that is one aspect of it. You could say that at a bare minimum it goes back to the 1930s with the first revolts in Palestine, so it is nearly a century old. Secondly, they are particularly defenseless, I think. Not that anywhere else it is much better, but there is an aspect of the defenselessness of the Palestinians and the relentless, the relentless brutality against them, that starts to move people. It’s one of those “David against Goliath” stories. How much it has to do with Israel being Jewish and the Nazi holocaust is hard for me to say, its hard for me to say.

Israel does not like to be the object of so much attention, they (unclear) … should withdraw already. And then we’ll find another cause (unclear).

Q: You spoke about a difference between the popular opinion and the governmental opinion in Europe. Is there a similar situation in the US?

It is getting there, it lags much behind Europe, you know. Europeans almost 000_7344a [18]every year rank Israel as one of the major threats to world peace, who are between Israel and Iran, and this year also Pakistan. The major point is, if you compare the press coverage of Iran and Israel, judging by press coverage, of course you would expect the Europeans to think Iran is a major threat to world peace, but you would never guess it, that Israel would also be it because of press coverage. It means that people are getting their info from sources other than mainstream media when it gets to Israel. In the US you could say that the last two Israeli military adventures, the Lebanon war in 2006, and then the Gaza massacre in 2009, were supported by Americans with about 40%. That is not very high. 40% support of war is hardly legitimate, and that was before everything came out what Israel did in Gaza .

Q: Is there also a gap in the Jewish community?

It’s growing. The main gap is an age gap. The younger generation, 40 years old 000_7239a [19]and younger, was not really raised on the zionist propaganda. That is a lot of the truth. The two characteristics of Jews which are relevant for our purposes are, No. 1, they are very highly educated, 97% have college, and they are also very liberal. 79% of Jews voted for Barack Oobama, which was higher than the number of Latinos who voted for Barack Obama. And that is very indicative because the Jews are economically the wealthiest group in the US, Latinos are among the 2 or 3 poorest groups. So you would expect poor people to vote for Barack Obama, but in fact more Jews voted for him than Latinos, so the two main characteristics of Jews is, they are very well educated and very liberal.

Now, if you study in college the Israel-Palestine conflict, it is no longer the old propaganda. In college you get a reasonable picture of what happens, and so younger Jews more or less, more or less, they know the truth about what Israel is doing. And Jews tend to be liberal. So if you know the truth about what is happening and you’re liberal, it’s very hard to be supportive of Israel. So you see among the younger generation a substantial, you could even say drastic reduction in support for Israel.

Q: As an American citizen, and let us come to Barak Obama, do you think that Barack Obama has something in his pocket for the Middle East, for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? And do you think that he will end the Israeli occupation?

No. And no, I think this is just … its complete silliness to look for solutions from Barack Obama. That’s one of the real negative points about how we try to 000_7274a [20]achieve justice. If you look at any other conflict in the world, serious conflicts, diplomacy is the least significant aspect of trying to achieve a resolution. Did the Vietnamese stop to look whether or not Nixon was better than Johnson or Johnson was better than Nixon? They focused on organizing their people and organizing an international movement of support. And then when you have sufficient power, then the other side may begin to think about negotiating with you. Did South Africa look to see who was the leader or whether there was (unclear) or De-Klerk? No.

You have to organize your people, and you have to organize support. If you look at the history of the British in India, Ghandi, Nehru, they focused on organizing Indians, not on who is in power in Britain. And then, once you have power, once you have organized, then you may be in a position to start negotiating. But the idea that diplomacy and negotiation comes first, or that Barack Obama has a solution in his pocket … why would he care about Palestinians? He doesn’t care about anything except when it comes and it has to do with power. If you have power, you are on the radar screen, and if you have no power, then you are either underneath the radar screen or it is just a circus. With the Palestinians, it is just a circus, it is not serious. No one even cares about what Barack Obama thinks about these issues. Perfectly obvious, you won’t get anything from him, unless you have power, and then you force them to notice that you exist.

Q: How will the Palestinians reach power? You see the many years of negotiation but they get nothing …

This has nothing to do with negotiations, nothing at all to do with negotiations. People have to organize, and they have to make their presence known. Palestinians are not in such a weak position, that is not true. They have a huge amount of international support. They have not done anything with it, but they have it. Same thing in Palestine. There is a lot of things they could do, but there is no leadership now, just quislings, collaborators with the US and Israel. You can’t keep on complaining you have no power. The Palestinian position, they have a lot of potential, I think the struggle can be won, but there is nothing done, there is nothing done. I think it can be won.

Q: But in the 70s and 80s with much more support for the Palestinians …

no, there was no support.

Q: But the solidarity movement was much bigger …

… no, that is not true.

In the 70s and 80s there was the left, the radical left, and the Palestinian cause 000_7276a [21]was one of the radical chic causes, it was glamorous, but mostly in Europe, for sure, there was no support. In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon, I was quite involved at that point. You went to Washington and the maximum number of people you could get was 1500, that was for demonstrations. During the Gaza massacre, the demonstrations in support of Gaza were at least 10 times the size of the demonstrations which supported Israel. The things have radically changed. The only ones who support Israel now in demonstrations are Jews, and only a fraction of the Jewish community. But when it comes to Palestinians, it is a very wide segment of American society: Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Jews … it would be quite representative.

(unclear) there was the non-aligned movement, so obviously they had more support there, and there was the Soviet Block, so they had more support there, but in terms of public opinion no, no. The only one was actually Kreisky, the only head of state in Europe.

Q: If we look at situation in Palestine now, the US is interfering in all the internal affairs of Palestine. You see Keith Dayton is controlling them, heading the Palestinian security … during the last session which  Jack Walles held with Abbas, said “no Fatah elections, no parliamentary elections, no reconciliation with Hamas, no, no, no” … These elections are against the interest of the  Americans. What is the interest of the Americans to tell Abu Mazen that he should not hold elections, that he should not do this or that? What do they want from us? And how do you describe the behavior of the PA when they deal with all the demands from the US ?

They are called quislings, they are called collaborators. That’s a problem.

Q: What do they want to give us? A state with no power? I don’t need a state with no power, after 60 years of Nakba and 42 years of occupation, to have a weak state, that I don’t like …

No, no. You know, I think that the problem is the language we use, “does barack obama have something in his pocket for us” and “what do they want to give us”, you get nothing unless you fight for it, and there is nothing in the pockets for you, that is just the way the world works. I wish it didn’t work that way, but god helps those who help themselves.

Q: How? Tell me how? I am not with violence, I am not for throwing rockets, I am not with Intifada. How will I fight this zionism, how will I fight the state of Israel to get back my homeland and to live like a human being? I want my children to live as human beings. I can’t live with people who build walls between me and them, and then continue building settlements between us. They are scared of me, but they continue occupying my land. How will I manage? It is too much for us.

I think there are ways, I mean it is a matter of opinion and judgement. I think 000_7354a [22]that there are ways in which you could defeat Israel, but people will disagree with me. I think that the tactics that Ghandi and the congress body used in India can work in Palestine, but that requires a lot of organization. People don’t understand Ghandis approach. They thought that his approach was just go out and act non-violently. That was not his approach. The congress party had what was called a “constructive program”, that was the term, and it had like 14 points. The most well-known of the points was making (unintelligible), the spinning wheel. That was about education, advancing the rights of women. It had many aspects to it because you had to create a cohesive body of people who represented a physical force for the bridge. It requires organization. Ghandi was all about organizing, and you cannot defeat them with weapons.

Even Hezbollah, and they are a formidable military power, but that is not from 000_7206a [23]where their real power comes. Their real power came from the dedication, the organization, the intelligence – I don’t mean secret services, I mean using your brain. They managed to stay one step ahead of the Israelis. They cracked … first of all they were able to protect their internal communications. Israel was never able to break into their communications network, but they were able to break into the Israeli communications network during the war. It was intelligence, dedication, it was organization. They are a formidable organization, and I don’t see how you can possibly win if you are completely fragmented. In the case of Palestine , in my opinion, the worst thing that happened to them is when these Europeans came in, these NGOs, and essentially purchased anyone who had talent, and in order to be on the payroll of the NGOs you would have to be with the Europeans, but not what’s good for you. And because Palestine is so small and so poor it was very easy to buy you up, to purchase anyone who had talent, and they ended up working not for the people, but for the NGOs.

Q: You mentioned that the opinion against Islam is getting stronger in Europe, and this is a forgotten topic in Europe, perhaps you could explain this?

I think that there are two aspects to it. Number one, it is so that the Europeans 000_7299a [24]don’t have children anymore, so their culture is changing, there are quite a few countries in Europe where they are not reproducing themselves enough. So they needed people to work, and the Turks, Muslims, came to work. Number two, there is the economic problem that always produces xenophobia everywhere, “the foreigners are taking our jobs”, and, I think that there is always that fear, wondering who is going to assimilate who.

Q: In America there are discussions where people make comparisons between antisemitism in Europe and the new phenomenon of islamophobia in Europe today. Do you see parallels between these phenomena?

Between old anti-semitism and islamophobia now?

(unclear) similar in that a lot of the anti-semitism which arose in the 20th century Europe was not against the internal Jewish population, but it was against the “Ost-Juden”, the eastern Jews, who were seen as backward, primitive, poor. So in terms of the problem being “created” by foreign invaders, the “Ost-Juden” then and the Muslims here, there is some case for comparison.

(Tape ends).