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Posted on Jun 22, 2011
Josh Scheer: No no, but it’s not just that, though; it becomes unspeakable. Like, you can’t talk about this issue, because you have many friends who are on both sides, and then it becomes a big fight, and you don’t speak. And we wanted to ask about your experience; how has your reaction been from American Jews, and then from Israeli Jews as well? Have you experienced a negative reaction, a positive reaction, is there a sentiment that many people are kind of on your side?
Miko Peled: No, not a lot of people are on my side, by any means. [Laughter] This is very interesting, because when you speak particularly about American Jews—you know, American Jews are by and large a very liberal community, until you touch the topic of Israel. Then it’s like a curtain comes down, end of story. Then the bombings of civilians are justified, and the occupation is justified, and the Israeli army is a __ army, and you know, don’t confuse me with the facts; this is the way things are. And why it is like that is probably beyond the scope of this conversation, but I think it’s a big problem. And again, this is kind of the way it is. In Israel it’s even more pronounced; Israelis justify the occupation and justify the bombing all the time, but I mean, their kids are in the army or they’re in the reserves, and they’re the ones that are doing this. And they say well, my kid would never do something that was immoral.
I remember … trying to get into a Palestinian town…one of the small towns where they have protests every Friday, and they’re met with unbelievable violence. It’s a beautiful spot in the West Bank. And as we were approaching, myself and a Palestinian friend, the army roadblock was there and they wouldn’t let us in. So I engaged with the soldiers, and we were talking; and these were reservists, so they were a little bit older. And my Palestinian friend has an older brother who was shot point-blank in the head by an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint. And as the discussion went on and on and on, it got a little bit heated up, and my Palestinian friend said yes, but you guys killed my brother. And the soldiers came right back without even a second of thought, saying well, if we killed him it was justified; he deserved to die. That’s the end of the story. And I came back and said, you know what, one day you’re going to go down on your knees and you’re going to beg forgiveness from this guy. Because this guy is devoted to peace and he’s a peace activist, this particular friend of mine, as are many Palestinians. And the soldiers were kind of taken aback that I would say something like that.
But this is the knee-jerk reaction: If we killed somebody, it must have been justified. How you justify killing somebody just because you disagree with them or just because they have a different political point of view, is again, is something interesting to discuss. But this is how Israelis see it.
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Miko Peled: Yes, Palestinian life is worthless.
Josh Scheer: And … I think it permeates even to American Jews as well.
Peter Scheer: Well, it’s also—if I can just interject a theory—it’s also that certain groups like AIPAC, lobbyist groups, have made it such a nightmare to even raise the issue of Israel doing anything wrong. You get such a negative reaction that as journalists, you have a moment of hesitation at best, and at worst just a self-imposed censorship, to bring these facts to light.
Miko Peled: Yeah. You know, AIPAC is a big bully. I mean, it’s a small bully; as all bullies, they’re smaller and, I think, incompetent, but they’re scaring everybody. And the only way to stand up to a bully is to stand up to a bully, and just stand up to them and that’s it. And I think also the influence is, if it hasn’t started eroding, it will erode, because I think thanks to programs like yours and people like yourself and others that are a little bit more courageous, or actually a lot more courageous, people are beginning to realize that something is wrong. The word is out that there are human rights abuses, that there are political prisoners, that the Israeli … that this nonviolent movement is being met by violence. And I think the Arab Spring, the so-called Arab Spring, has brought that to light a little bit. The Palestinians have been engaging in what happened in the rest of the Arab countries for years. Except it’s not reported. So there’s a little bit more awareness, and I think as this awareness grows, then the power of AIPAC and other groups like AIPAC will have to erode.
Josh Scheer: It goes to, like, violence begets violence, and then you have people—it’s like they did this, we did this…and it kind of is a never-ending situation. And there’s been peace attempts—I mean, we can go through the years: 2007, 2003, 2002, onward and onward back all the way to ’48. So what do you think the ultimate solution is? What’s the road map to peace?
Peter Scheer: To borrow a phrase from George W. Bush.
Miko Peled: Yeah, well … [Laughs] I actually wouldn’t want to use it, because it takes people right back to George Bush. First of all, people have to realize what the reality is. There is no impasse in the peace process. There is an ongoing ethnic cleansing that’s been going on for over six decades, and it hasn’t stopped. Land grabs and forced exile of Palestinians. Israel started it when it was established; it never stopped. So it’s not like there’s an impasse and nothing is happening; there is something very, very clear happening, and it’s the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. It’s an ongoing process. … The Palestinians talk about the catastrophe, but it wasn’t just a one-time thing in 1948; it’s an ongoing thing. So that’s the first thing people have to realize.
The second thing people have to realize: No peaceful solution can ever emerge as long as there is this Zionist entity which is called, you know, the state of Israel as it is right now. Because what happens is—it’s already one state; people say one state, two states; Israel controls the land, Israel controls the people, Israel controls the movement of people, Israel controls the commerce, it controls the military, it controls everything. The problem is that they govern each population with different laws. The Palestinians are governed with one law if they’re in the West Bank, they’re governed under different laws if they’re citizens in Israel; and of course the Jewish Israelis are governed by a completely different set of laws.
And this is what has to change. What has to change is that there has to be a complete democracy where every single person has equal rights, and every single person has the right to vote, and take part in determining their future. The fact that the two people are going to be living there together is a given. The claim that somehow the land can be partitioned into two states is absurd. It may have been possible 40 years ago; that possibility is gone forever. There is no one place that you can cut out and say well, this will be Palestine, because the population, the demographics don’t allow for that, the Jewish settlements and so on and so forth don’t allow for that. But what you can do is you can have a democracy. You can have, or you can allow everybody to have equal rights; you can make sure that everybody’s human rights are protected by law. But to do that, you’re going to have to get rid of this Zionist entity as it exists today.
And whether it happens as a result of boycotting from the outside and pressure like in South Africa, or the protests, or a combination of all these different things, and the fact that people will become more and more aware that Israel is a monster, it’s not this wonderful democracy; I think it’s going to take some time, but I don’t think it’s something that is beyond the near future. So I don’t think this is something that’s going to happen in a hundred years; I think this is something that’s going to happen within a decade. I think that’s a very realistic goal, it’s a very realistic approach. Because when you have half the population are Palestinian Arab and half the population are Israeli Jews, almost, then you can’t have one half controlling the other half by force forever. It’s not going to work. Besides being immoral, illegal and horrific … it just can’t work. So in the long term, within the next 10 years or so, I’m very optimistic; I think the end result, the democracy that will emerge in the end is going to be a very good thing for everybody.
Peter Scheer: Thanks so much for joining us. We have to end it there, unfortunately. But for more, people should go and Google Miko Peled; it’s M-i-k-o P-e-l-e-d. He is an Israeli peace activist and author of the book “The General’s Son,” which will be coming by the end of this year. Thanks for being on our show.
Miko Peled: Sure. Appreciate it, thank you guys.
Josh Scheer: Have a great day.
Peter Scheer: Take care.
Peter Scheer: That’s it for Truthdig Radio. Join us again next week at 2 on 90.7 KPFK or anytime online at Truthdig.com, where you can offer your feedback, praise and complaints, if need be. Thanks to our board-op Tameka, engineer Stan Misraje and Alan Minsky. Thanks also to our guests, Tim DeChristopher, Miko Peled, Tim Karr, and Joan Bertin. For Narda Zacchino, Kasia Anderson and the Scheer brothers, thanks for listening.
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