Robert Scheer addresses reader questions and comments about his most recent column and Israel’s deadly attack on the aid flotilla.
The following is a transcript of a live online chat that took place the morning of Friday, June 4th.
8:54 Comment From Michael Pugliese
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 16:54:12 GMT
Comment: Kudos to Robert. I just read in a new book on Ramparts magazine (“A Bomb In Every Issue!”) how after his article on the ’67 war Ramparts lost a million dollars in promised monetary support. He might recall how Marty Peretz was one of those funders.
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:04:52 GMT
Comment: Hi everyone. We’ll get started in a minute. Feel free to comment until then or ask questions in advance.
9:05 amyparsnews via twitter
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:05:32 GMT
AttackonGazaAidFlotilla, I don’t know how to feel about this—Who is telling the truth. I just want peace.
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:07:03 GMT
Comment: Reader question: What are your thoughts regarding Gaza flotilla and how does mainstream media coverage compare to the truth?
9:08 Robert Scheer
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:08:17 GMT
Comment: There’s almost no connection, and that goes back 43 years, when Gaza was occupied. The media has refused to recognize it as what Jimmy Carter called it, an apartheid, and not just Gaza but the entire area, where people are denied their fundamental rights. Somehow the media looks the other way.
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:09:14 GMT
Reader question: Why does Israel always respond to standard protests by shooting into the crowds?
9:09 celebtown via twitter
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:09:55 GMT
How can Israel block its borders from weapons smugglers, without the use of violence? - AttackonGazaAidFlotilla
9:10 Robert Scheer
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:10:41 GMT
Because Israel has become a state that relies almost exclusively on military force to treat what is basically a problem of self-determination and human rights. The idea is if you use this overwhelming military force that Israel has, that mocks the idea that it needs to do this for defense. If you rely on military force rather than diplomacy, decency, negotiation, you become a militarized nation and you define yourself that way.
9:10 Comment From Guest
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:10:43 GMT
Comment: Mr. Scheer, did you happen to read Mr. Paul Craig Roberts’ article on Counterpunch regarding the latest attack on the flotilla?
9:11 Robert Scheer
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:11:28 GMT
No, but we would be happy to link to it if you send it our way.
9:11 Comment From Guest
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:11:30 GMT
Comment: What are the implications of fmr Prez Bush admiting to waterboarding?
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:12:23 GMT
Reader question: Israeli troops have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships off the coast of the Gaza Strip, killing as many as 19 people on board.
These attacks, along with Israeli attacks on Gaza, harm America’s reputation and credibility. As a result, Americans are more likely to be targeted from extremists and armed groups, especially those who live outside U.S.
America is not Israel, and Israeli policy does not represent, or even go along with, American policy. Therefore, Americans should not pay the price from their safety and reputation.
Of course, there’s no question that Israel has resisted any serious international presence to preserve the peace. The irony here is that Israel didn’t find a single weapon on these ships. So the idea that this was a military threat is not supported by the facts. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that if you deny people their rights, they rebel. You must end the occupation, recognize their right to sovereignty, and that is what Israel has resisted up until today.
9:15 Comment From gerard
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:15:58 GMT
Comment: How do you diagnose the reasons for Israel continuously shooting itself in the foot, policy-wise?
9:18 Robert Scheer
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:18:58 GMT
Because the right-wing ideologists in Israel are in power. This is no longer the Israel of the old Labor Party, which was capable of being rational. Netanyahu is a zealot, believes in a Greater Israel which will control these areas, and they believe that the way to peace is to destroy a viable Palestinian society. For example, Turkey was the best ally that Israel had in the Muslim world, and to kill 8 citizens and to destroy relations with the one country you had joint and close relations with is suicidal.
Comment: What are the implications of fmr Prez Bush admitting to waterboarding?
9:21 Robert Scheer
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:21:43 GMT
His admittance seals his place in American history as a betrayer of the basic ideals of the country. If America’s experiment in democracy means anything, it is that we believe in limited power and that means basic rights in due process for individuals, and Bush’s philosophical argument would be considered obscene by the founders of this country, who argue that the difference between us and the kind was our respect of the rule of law and the opposition to the right to power, and clearly Bush feels that he had that. It has been shown waterboarding did not solicit anything significant, and the biggest problem is that we can’t bring these people to trial in front of the world because Bush has destroyed the necessary legal process.
9:21 Comment From Guest
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:21:46 GMT
Comment: Scheer—having been a backer of Obama in the primary and contemptuous of Nader, have you reassessed your attitude towards third parties? Sorry, but within the two-party system, Israel will always be free to do as they wish, and if you still think the Democratic Party will ever embrace a progressive agenda, you’re being willfully ignorant.
9:23 Robert Scheer
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:23:59 GMT
Well, one irony in the Ralph Nader experience, as much as I respect him on almost every issue, he was hardly outspoken on the Mideast despite being of Lebanese origin. The problem is to suggest to make American policy as rational as European, I think is not true. More people recognize that giving Israel a blank check is disruptive to America’s interest. The real allies of this will be those people, including American politicians who bring pressure on the Israeli way, to open up normal business activity, open up Gaza and be serious to peace negotiations.
9:24 Comment From Michael Pugliese
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:24:18 GMT
Comment: What about proposals to send NATO troops or from armies in the OIC, the Org. of Islamic States, to pressure Israelis (and provide more eyeballs to monitor/alleviate IDF repression)? Would that be open to the objection held by left-liberals/radical leftists/libertarians towards military intervention?
Israel’s deadly attackon a #Gaza-bound #aid#flotilla was “inexcusable”, South Africa’s Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu said on Monday.
9:26 Robert Scheer
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:26:49 GMT
I can’t speak for lefties and libertarians, but I will tell you that I and a few others have favored interventions to prevent genocide and other such anti-human atrocities, as long as they are done internationally and on a principle basis, why wouldn’t one favor it. The problem is that Israel is rejecting an international investigation, let alone international troops, and I feel international help should be brought in play. I favor the democratic way and I feel peace is necessary here.
9:26 Comment From Kent
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:26:58 GMT
Comment: Hi Robert, big fan. I listen to you on “LRC” all the time. Question: How come none of you ever give a forum to discuss the views of economists like John Galbraith and Dean Baker who have an entirely different take on the federal deficit? Specifically, that it is not a problem at all, and that government spending greater than tax receipts simply represents net savings injected into the private sector. You seem to buy into the notion that the deficit is a big problem, but surely you must be aware that there are some heavyweight economists out there who disagree strongly.
9:29 Comment From Michael Pugliese
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:29:07 GMT
Comment: I have read that there was a Mossad plot to kill the Turkish PM . His AKP Party has been under pressure from Islamists in Turkey to realign vs. Bibi’s regime.
9:29 Robert Scheer
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:29:44 GMT
(Answering Kent) Well, I don’t disagree that in a time of deep recession, one has to spend more money to help the people that are suffering. I am all for spending money that would help people get out of their mortgages. I am opposed to them spending money to help Wall Street and increase the deficit. The two positions are not contradictory; debt is bad because it will rob future generations of the ability to spend money on needed programs. It is happening right now with the cut on teachers’ salaries and needed programs. If the debt will help society, that is OK, but unfortunately that is not happening and the money is falling into the wrong hands.
9:29 Comment From mrfreeze
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:29:47 GMT
Comment: Robert—My main concern these days is the way in which the media spends its every waking moment concocting (not practicing journalism) a wide variety of ridiculous narratives. Just look at the way in which the Gulf tragedy is now being framed as a problem with “Obama’s lack of outrage,” or the flotilla affair being treated as the typical “Poor Little Israel vs. the World” story. It is fairly obvious that the media is far more devoted to manufacturing bullshit headlines than actually doing its job. Have we truly succumb to Niel Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death”?
(Answering mrfreeze) Ever since the rise of commercial broadcast news, particularly on a local level, even the old-line newspapers betrayed their obligation to do serious reporting. The Iraq war was certainly an example, with the NY Times. The current situation is not as depressing thanks to the Internet; though there is a lot of garbage out there, there is also a lot of truth, not playing on the title of this website, but it is out there.
9:32 Comment From Michael Pugliese
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:32:21 GMT
Comment: Regarding the Democratic Party ... 140,000 members of the Progressive Democrats of America, and others in orgs. like the Americans for Democratic Action, Democratic Socialists of America, carry on the fight inside the DP far more effectively than third parties like the hapless Green Party.
9:32 Comment From Cris
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:32:31 GMT
Comment: I love how many people are so amazed at Obama’s response to this whole mess. When if people can recall both he and Clinton spoke before AIPAC including McCain. We know and have known for a long time that both parties are strongly influenced by the Jewish lobby. Why do we allow such a strong international lobby to have any influence on American Interest? Are we really that ignorant of various powers within our govt? My bet is a certain YES!
9:33 ColetteCavanagh via twitter
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:33:18 GMT
In his first question time as Britain’s PM, David Cameron said raid onGazaaidflotilla was “completely unacceptable.” http://bit.ly/cehsFh
9:35 Comment From TheJerk
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:35:07 GMT
Comment: Hello Mr. Scheer,
9:35 Robert Scheer
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:35:26 GMT
(Answering Cris) Well, you know there is a Jewish lobby, there’s AIPAC, but there are plenty of Jews in this country, and I happen to be one of them, who want a more sensible policy in the Mideast. I think that any true friend of Isreal, Jewish or not, would recognize that this policy of continuing apartheid is as disastrous as white South Africa, and it will not last. The so-called Israeli lobby is lost. I suspect a majority of American Jews can see that, and I can see that Israel will have to shift course at this time because most Israelis don’t want to live in such hostility. Not only is the Israeli policy immoral, it is bankrupt.
9:35 Comment From Kasia
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 17:35:30 GMT
Comment: Hi Bob—How do you think the Obama administration’s response to the flotilla incident is registering elsewhere in the world?