RevolutionZ

Ep 257 Mazin Qumsiyeh On the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

November 26, 2023 Michael Albert Season 1 Episode 257
RevolutionZ
Ep 257 Mazin Qumsiyeh On the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Episode 257 of RevolutionZ addresses the unfolding conflict in Gaza and beyond to the West Bank, the roles of Israel, Hamas, and the U.S. including not only the civilian and social impact and choices, but also the mindset and motives of different constituencies and actors as well as the role of writers/speakers and protestors about these matters, including ourselves. 

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Michael Albert:

Hello, my name is Michael Albert and I am the host of the podcast that's titled Revolution Z. This will be our 257th consecutive episode and this time our guest is Mazan Komsaya. Mazan previously served at US universities, including Tennessee, duke and Yale. He is founder and volunteer director of the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability at Bethlehem University. He has published over 180 scientific papers, over 30 book chapters, hundreds of articles and several books, including sharing the land of Canaan and popular resistance in Palestine, on topics ranging from cultural heritage to human rights, to biodiversity conservation, to cancer. He oversaw a number of projects, ranging from formulating the national biodiversity strategy and action plan to empowerment projects with farmers, women and children that benefited tens of thousands. He is laureate of the Paul K Faraband Foundation award and the Takrim award, among others, so it's a pleasure and also an honor to welcome you, mazan, to Revolution Z.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Thank, you Michael.

Michael Albert:

Perhaps, to begin, you might briefly tell our audience what you have been focusing on the past few weeks, and then we can proceed from there in more detail, not least to what I and others in the audience might usefully focus on in coming weeks.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

So what have you been up?

Michael Albert:

to.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Well, the past few weeks, as you know, there has been an ongoing massacre and destruction of Gaza. So far, about 1.5 million people are homeless. About half the structure in Gaza residential buildings, hospitals, schools, etc. Have been demolished. There's been killing of about 13,000 civilians, including 5,500 children, and that's not counting the people still under the rubble. Well, obviously this has kept us busy For me personally busy and gathering information, doing interviews, doing writing about the subject, trying to influence people to stop this carnage. That is obviously not going to be good for anybody here, not for Israelis, not for Palestinians, not for Jews, christians or Muslims.

Michael Albert:

Well, what role do you hope your own writing will play in what transpires going forward and, for that matter, how do you assess other writing that is appearing daily?

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Well, I mean I was surprised at how much information is being exchanged, but mostly not through mainstream media. Mainstream media has walked lockstep with their governments. You know the western media, the US, england, you know France, germany. Their mainstream media has basically parroted whatever the government told them and what the government said itself parrots whatever the Israeli talking points that come out of Tel Aviv. Those have been essentially all lies. Most of them, at least, are lies and distortions of facts and reality and trying to pit things as if Israel is a good guy here, defending herself against these quote unquote terrorists who attacked us for no obvious reasons. And I think this is a classic colonial settlers. They say well, the natives are attacking us, we're circling the wagons, we're protecting ourselves. So it's understandable from their perspective that they issue such statements. And now, in terms of what I write, I write about reality and facts and disseminate information that's not seen in the mainstream media.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

There is social media. There's Instagram, telegram, facebook. There's live coverage. Actually, this may be unusual in world history this is the first genocide in world history that's broadcast live. Basically, you can go on Al Jazeera or Al Mayadeen TVs and you can watch live people being butchered, killed, etc. Bombing of residential buildings, even people recording themselves being killed. This is unusual in world history.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

So there's lots of information out there, but the mainstream media in the West tried to isolate it from the public, and what we in the activist communities and the human rights communities around the world have been able to do is get the real stories out and people who judge for themselves what is going on, and they got very angry and so the streets were full with millions and millions of people that are protesting and asking for a ceasefire and for stopping the genocide. I mean, for me it's actually bizarre that it's such a controversial thing to ask for a ceasefire. One children are being killed at the rate of one child every 10 minutes. That's not such an outrageous demand to say stop the killing, stop the hate. So I think that's what we work on and we try to outreach to people and hopefully there will be enough pressure from the public on the governments to stop this carnage and they can stop it anytime. I mean the US alone can end this conflict very quickly if they choose to.

Michael Albert:

I understand you're trying to provide information with which people can then come to their own conclusions, but I want to try and understand some of your conclusions because, after all, you have looked at all that information that you're providing others, and so you have reactions to it also. So I wonder if you could explain for us, perhaps, the Israeli government's choices and, even more so, the support that they get from the Israeli population. What is the government's motive, their goal, what is the supportive population's mindset, and how much resistance is there?

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Yes, I wrote the book, as you mentioned, called Sharing the Land of Canaan, human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle. I wrote it about 20 years ago, published 20 years ago so I worked on it before that in which I kind of explained these things the motive of the Zionist, the history of the Palestinian struggle, the logic, and I even predicted what's going to happen. I predicted the six wars on Gaza that happened in those past 20 years and I predicted that these wars will get more and more intense. I predicted that the Israeli government will get more and more right-wing. So why did I predict those? I'm not a prophet or anything. It's based on simple logic. Here's the logic. It's very, very simple. Really, the conflict here is not very complicated. Any rational human being, even a middle school child, can understand it.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

There was an idea to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Because of history of Jewish persecutions around the world, that we should have our own states, so to speak. The problem for them was that Palestine was not an empty land. It was not a land without the people for a people without a land. Palestine was multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious and even multi-lingual society 44 languages spoken here before 1948. So to make it a Jewish state of course, entailed removing of the local people. Removing them, killing them, putting them in concentration areas, whatever, trying different ways to get rid of the local people. This is rational and logical for any group that wants to transform a country and make it what it is not. This is classic colonialism, and so, indeed you know, for right or wrong, this is precisely what happened 530 Palestinian villages and towns were depopulated and Palestinians were made refugees. There were a lot of massacres in 1948 to drive the Palestinians out and prevent them from coming back, and some of these Palestinians ended up squeezed into ghettos or concentration areas, or whatever you want to call them, like the Gaza ghetto. Gaza is 360 square kilometers, about 250 square miles or so, which has one of the highest concentration of people on earth per square kilometer, and Gaza has 2.3 million Palestinians. Two-thirds of them, close to actually 70%, are refugees from 1948, who could literally look across the Israeli fence that they put around them and see their old villages and towns just across the borders, for example, najd, which became Sderot, or Ascalan, which became Ashkelon, when Israel ethnically cleansed those areas in 1948. So you squeeze that many people in a small, concentrated area. It is logical to expect something expect resistance. And so there were Palestinian resistance and Palestinian resistance.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Historically, I wrote another book called Popular Resistance in Palestine History of Hope and Empowerment. And the reason I wrote that second book, after my sharing the land of Canaan book, is because, while sharing the land of Canaan articulates the problem and articulates a solution, it did not articulate how we get there. So people asked me about resistance and they kept asking about armed resistance and I kept telling them well, there are hundreds of other forms of resistance you need to be aware of. Well, I said well, we don't hear about the mainstream media. And I said well, precisely because mainstream media is not interested in showing you nonviolent or unarmed resistance of Palestinians which is happening daily, hundreds of forms from boycotts, divestments, sanctions, civil disobedience, demonstrations, writing.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

But even just simply living on our land, picking our olives is a form of resistance. Eating even is a form of resistance, because Israel doesn't want us to do any of these things in Palestine. They want to transform the Palestine, you know, for Palestine to become a Jewish state without the local Palestinians. So this is, and they've tried everything to drive us off our land and to a large extent they succeeded, because eight million of us are refugees or displaced people as of the total population of 15 million. So you see, it's logical for me as a scientist, as a biologist, you don't even have to use terms like evil or good or bad or whatever. I mean, it's just logical.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

If you are wanting to transform a country from a shape that it's in, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious, and make it the Jewish state, you have to use certain tools. And you cannot do it nicely. I cannot come to your house and land and say, hey, michael, would you please kindly leave your house? So it doesn't happen this way. So you have to use violence, and so colonizers actually have this one tool only available to them, which is the violence. The native people have many tools available to them. Armed resistance is just one tool of resistance.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

So, as I say, in medicine my background, also on medical genetics you know you make the right diagnosis, which is settler colonialism. You can understand the symptoms of it, like what's happening now in Gaza, with ethnic cleansing and large-scale massacre of civilians. Happened with Native Americans, for example, in the March of Tears from Florida to Oklahoma which just happened in Gaza, the March of Tears from North Gaza to South Gaza, and the next step is going to be to the Sinai. So one understands all these symptoms unlogically and then also come to the prognosis, as we say in medicine what is going to happen and how it can happen. And if you want, I can talk about that. So that's, I see it as logical and I see it as understandable, usable in any way, shape or form for anything. I'm just saying that's like describing nature, that the lion eats a zebra. It's as simple as that. I don't take sides with either lions or zebras.

Michael Albert:

I understand what you're describing and agree that it's. You know, it's the picture, sad as it is. But there is the possibility. When there is a country enmeshed in this kind of settler, colonialist activity, clearing the land, etc. One inclination would be what you described First move them from the north to the south and then move them out of the south. Having said, you know, you go from north to south to survive and then start bombing the south. Having leveled the north, there's no place to go back to, so you keep going. Okay, so that's a picture and I agree with you, it's a logical outcome of the government's desire.

Michael Albert:

But it's also possible for the population to recognize at some point the horror of this and the injustice, etc. And so this is a question that comes up in the United States too. You have the person who is saying Hamas engaged in terrorism, they killed civilians, they came out of the prescribed area basically a jailbreak and they, at least in part, targeted civilians. And because they did that, they are so horrendously evil that we now have to exterminate them and that it's okay. And this is the leap that people there who support the Israeli actions and people here who support the Israeli actions somehow make. It's horrendous for Hamas to attack civilians. It's not horrendous for us to displace, kill, starve, etc. Civilians in vastly higher numbers. And both those views are held simultaneously in many, many heads and it seems to me that there's at least the potential that that falls apart and that an opposition rises.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Yeah, I mean you're right, but again, as a mature historian I look at what happened in history and every group that opposed a government, no matter what, was described as a terrorist organization. Ira, for example, in Northern Ireland, the resistance movement in South Africa against apartheid, like the African National Congress and the Pan-African Congress, were described as terrorist organizations. The Vietnamese were described as savages and terrorists under American occupation, before it the French occupation, the Algerian resistance under French colonization, and I could go on and on. I mean, even now in the Basque region in Spain, and so forth, any opposition is described as a terrorist organization. So I personally don't like such terminologies because they are fluid and they are not very clear.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

And for us, for example, the Israeli army, starving 2.3 million people literally, is starving and preventing food and even water and medicine from getting in there, that's a terrorist act. The US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki technically is also a terrorist act because you're targeting civilians who have nothing to do with the war. So one could argue about government actions also as terrorists. So for me, of course, as a person who have semblance of morality, you are opposed to killing civilians, period. And so if you ask me, for example, a pointed question did Hamas kill civilians in the past? I say yes and so I'm opposed to that.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

The Israel killed civilians. Yes, I'm opposed to that. So we need to have, but we need to have a moral standard and we need to realize not these killings that are symptoms. We need to focus on the underlying problem. For example, in South Africa some blacks used to even burn other people alive who collaborated with the government. Of course we were against that, but we still worked against apartheid because that's the ideology that's underlying cause that brought up the Israel and acts, whether from the Israeli white police, machine gunning demonstrators or by some black movement or black individual that engaged in killing a civilian In North America, for example again, colonizers, some Native Americans killed white women and children. That didn't mean that their cause was unjust.

Michael Albert:

And of course I understand and agree, but I'm asking a slightly different question. I'm saying, when I asked, well, what is the hope for the future, what is the hope for your writing? You said and I agree that there would be enough opposition around the world, and in Israel specifically, so that this policy could not be pursued and would have to be, or would be terminated. Okay, but how does the mindset change? Ordinarily, I think there's something different about what Israel is doing. Honestly, it's more stark. This is social media, whatever it is. The United States in Indochina rarely sort of bragged about what it was doing and it rarely. It did not want people to see what it was doing. And so the rationale we're defending ourselves, we're defending the free world, blah, blah, blah would allow people to put up with it and to sort of ignore their own moral sense.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

But in Israel it's different.

Michael Albert:

I mean, there was an interview that I read recently that was just incredible. It was in Israeli. I think it was a general, maybe it was a government official, so there's pressure on to allow fuel into the hospitals and what the guy said is, yes, probably they won't do it. But the guy said, yes, we're going to do that. And then he gave the reason why. And the reason why he said was because we don't want a pandemic, because a pandemic could affect our troops. I mean, you know, they're so blatant about the thing.

Michael Albert:

And then it comes to the degree that you know Palestinians are vermin, palestinians are like with the American Indians. You get to the point where you have to. You have to justify it on grounds that you're not killing civilians, you're killing animals or you're killing combatants. The seven-year-olds are combatants, and it's so stark. And my real question for you is when you're talking to people this is my personal question I guess when you're talking to people and it's so irrational there's such a large gap between their sense, in other words, how they would objectively evaluate killing civilians, starving people to death, et cetera, and the abstract and their assessment of this situation. That's all right, because Israel's doing it and it's at Palestinians. How do you talk to that person to change their mind, because the facts don't seem to do it.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Yeah, I mean for Zionist. Facts don't matter. They know the facts, I think, and they're familiar with the facts and they have cognitive dissonance.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

what somebody said is they just additional facts won't help change their minds for some Zionists, and that's like talking to a Nazis about, you know, to giving them some facts of what's happening in concentration camps or something like that. It is not the right approach. I think what works for Zionists is different than the Western common person, the common person in New York or Washington DC or something, if they know the facts. For example, let me just take what you mentioned about the blatant statements by Israeli leaders Minister of Defense, who says we're not letting water and food there because we are dealing with human animals. Or Netanyahu, who said we should flatten Gaza. Or the president of the state of Israel, katsap, who said, basically there are no civilians in Gaza. What are you talking about? They're all responsible because they all support Hamas, including children. You know they will grow up to be Hamas people, so might as well kill them all.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

This is the president of a state that purports to be a democracy. You know this is the kind of language that Israeli leaders are using blatantly and openly. There's recordings of these things, so we cannot deny that they said that. So this is an important point to show, and when I mentioned earlier that there is something unique about this genocide or this colonialism, even though colonialism and genocide are common in human history, but there's a few things that are unique about this. One of it, as I said, is broadcast live. A second is this point that you raised and I agree with you there is so blatantly obvious that that's the intent and that's what's happening, by the words of the perpetrators, not by some innuendo or trying to hide it or anything else. And the third kind of unique thing about this is that there are supporters of Israel in Western countries that ensure that the governments of these Western countries and their mainstream media, like CNN, fox News, new York Times, bbc, that they actually regurgitate the talking points of the oppressors, the mild talking points. They won't regurgitate those other talking points, which is about wiping Gaza off the map or driving them into the Sinai or anything else.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

So they are covering up for this genocide. They are doing the covering up, as you pointed out, in Vietnam or other places where the US and Iraq the US said, while they were killing civilians, they said, well, we are protecting civilians, and they end up. You know, one million Iraqis, I think, were lost in the war in Iraq. So, but they tried to cover it up themselves. They didn't rely on some other people to cover it up and they didn't brag about it. They didn't go saying, well, we are killing civilians, no, they are actually persecuting somebody who leaked the videos, and you know Assange and those guys WikiLeaks and you know that leaked private information. So they are trying to cover it up. Israel is not trying to cover up anything.

Michael Albert:

They are bragging about it.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

They are doing it. So, to go back to your question, what is our role? My role, your role, in my humble opinion, is to expose the truth, because I'm sorry is to something that's unclear to expose the truth, to expose what's happening.

Michael Albert:

Oh, I see yeah.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Because, yes, for some people they have cognitive dissonance and they don't care about additional facts or truths or that 22 hospitals have been damaged directly because of Israel deciding to destroy hospitals while killing people so that there's no surgeries.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Now they are having to do four or five hour surgeries on children without anesthesia. I mean, imagine the torture, you know, because Israel says they don't want this, they don't want these hospitals functioning. So imagine, you know that some people, like the Israeli government, they're not going to be convinced, but there are millions of people in the world that are being convinced, that are listening, even some governments. I mean there was a mini rebellion in the State Department that's run by this Zionist Blinken who is, you know, who's probably dual Israeli decision, also cares more about Israel than the United States and there's a mini revolt, 300 people of staff department in the State Department staff, you know, issued the statement that says, you know, supporting Israel with weapons to commit such heinous crimes is not in line with our morality or our principles. And one person, josh Paul, resigned and made a very, very strong statement about this and he says this is the first time that we don't even question what they are using the weapons for, that we provide them.

Michael Albert:

Do you think if Biden had gone to Biden, no exemplar of morals or justice, but President of the United States if he had gone there and if he had basically said enough, stop now, or no more weapons, no more support, and not only that, we'll stop supporting you in the UN and all the other international venues where, where you're buffer If he had said that, would Israel have had to have stopped?

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Yes, and not only.

Michael Albert:

I think so too they would stop immediately.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Yeah, but even if he took a neutral stand, if he didn't just say here is another $14 billion and more white phosphorus and more depleted uranium bombs, if he just said we are giving you $3.8 billion, we're not going to make a position about this issue, you know, and stop there. Even that would have not given them essentially the green light to go and do this genocide, because but he went all the way. I want 100% with them, he and Blinken, you could hear from the. They even told them go into Gaza, go kill that's. They were egging them on. They were not even trying to appear neutral. They wanted Israel to do more, they wanted Israel to kill more and they wanted to appear. So that's why many people are calling him genocide Joe, because he is actually a partner in crime with Israel.

Michael Albert:

It's incredible. You sort of look at this I don't know how you can look at it and not be nauseated but you look at this and you ask for larger possible effects and you get that. One larger effect that they complain about as if it was coming from somewhere else is a growing level of anti-Semitism. And a second possible effect, with Israel being the main impetus for that, and a second positive effect I mean a second effect, not positive is Trump or Trump lookalike winning in the United States? Because the number of youth who are totally outraged rightly at American policy. It's not that they're going to vote for Trump or they're going to vote for somebody who's a stand in for Trump. It's that they're not going to work for Biden and that's probably enough. So Israel is both obliterating a people, propelling anti-Semitism and pushing the United States toward a truly fascistic future. It's quite a combination for this country.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Yes, this is why it's very, very dangerous. I mean, I think Zionism is the most anti-Semitic movement in history and it's hard to choose.

Michael Albert:

I mean, think about it In terms of its effects, right In terms of its, yeah, yeah.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Because they use Jewish symbols. They claim they represent Jews. They want you to. You know any opposition to Israel. They say oh, that's anti-Semitic. So they are conflating anti-Israel or anti-Zionism with anti-Judaism or anti-Semitism, if you want to use that terminology. And they hijacked the Holocaust, they weaponized it when they even the Zionists had collaborated with Hitler in the 1930s and they broke the boycott of Nazi Germany. They signed an agreement with Hitler and the Nazi and the Zionist flags were both flying in Berlin until 1941.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

So for them to hijack, you know, this issue and the Holocaust. I mean, it's almost ridiculous when the Israeli ambassador in the United Nations puts a yellow star of David on his shirt, with all his delegation wearing yellow stars, and starts lecturing the world about the Holocaust while he is committing a Holocaust, you know, while defending his Holocaust of the Palestinians. This is sick, in my humble opinion, and you're right, it actually causes a lot of people to start thinking wait a minute, what is going on here? Is this really true, that these Zionist committing Holocaust represent Jews? If they represent Jews, then I don't want to have anything to do with Jews, you know.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Fortunately for us, by the way, is that there are a lot of Jews, thousands of them, hundreds of thousands, who stand up and say this is genocide and stand up against Israel. I mean, you saw Jews even being arrested in the hundreds when they blocked Congress or when they stopped in Grand Central Station, blocked Grand Central Station, jewish voice for peace. So people start to see. Well, if these Jews who are Jews you know, clearly identifying as Jews, are standing against Israel, against Zionism, against this genocide, that is not about Judaism, and that these guys are falsely, falsely representing that they represent Jews, and we should challenge that and I think this is the right approach and we should all challenge them on this and not accept in any way, shape or form that they represent Jews. They represent neo-Nazis, they represent Zionism, not represent Judaism in any way, shape or form.

Michael Albert:

I wonder if there are. There are, as you say, huge numbers of Jews who are opposing what's going on, who are calling it accurately, etc. But I wonder if there are any actual political currents or organizations or I guess even trends in Israel proper, or whatever you call it, palestine also that give you hope for the future organized.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Well, I'm always seeing points of light around me. Wherever I look, I see points of light. I see people speaking out. I mean, israel has cracked down. Israel has become fascist and dictatorial. They won't allow dissent. If you go out now in a demonstration calling for a ceasefire, you'll be attacked and you'll be arrested. They just passed a law in the implicit that that will even put you in jail for watching what they call enemy videos. And of course they define enemy videos as any videos that show, for example, targeting civilians in Gaza or show that Israeli soldiers are not faring so well against the Hamas underground fighters coming out of the tunnels. So any kind of videos that you watch that Israeli government deems to be not so friendly to it and not propagating the same lies. They consider it as as kind of punishable by law.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Many students were expelled from the universities for speaking out. Many faculty you know losing their jobs at Israeli universities. Israel is really becoming like Nazi Germany in its later years, when they stopped any kind of dissent or any kind of objection to the program. You better get with the program or you're not part of us. They literally tell them this. I mean the minister of defense himself, the same guy who called us human animals. About Palestinians. He said any Israeli who objects to what we are doing, we're happy to ship them to Gaza and we can join the other party if you want. So.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

I'm not sure Kafka could come up with this yeah, it's really.

Michael Albert:

It's just incredible. Change gear a little bit. I wonder if you have thoughts about why Hamas chose to target civilians at all instead of only attacking military bases after the jailbreak, given that they must have understood, at least roughly, what would follow?

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

so the.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Israeli goal is to clear the land and you know, take over what was Hamas's goal let me just say this Hamas targeted civilians in the 1990s when they did some bus bombings and then they abandoned these tactics of targeting civilians in. What happened October 7 is now clearer by Israeli testimonies. It's wrote a very good article on the subject. What happened is Hamas went to attack the areas, the settlements and the military post 22 military posts and Israeli militarized settlements along the borders with Gaza for the purpose of not killing anybody, for the purpose of capturing prisoners so that they can take, so that they can exchange for the thousands upon thousands of Palestinian prisoners that are held in Israeli jails. What happened is, in the first few hours they were successful at this they caught, brought a lot of people out of there, and most of them were soldiers very few, non-uniform like men, even women and children, and the reason they had children captured is because they also know that there's Palestinian children in Israeli prison, so they wanted to exchange with them. This was the goal of Hamas. What happened is that Israel overreacted to this. Six hours later sent helicopters under the Hannibal doctrine in Israel, which says we don't want any prisoners captured, they started shooting at the Hamas people and at any people with Hamas. They are the ones who, for example, strafed those dozens and dozens of cars from that music festival. Hamas didn't even know about the music festival, but the Israeli helicopters thought there were Hamas people etc. Holding hostages and they were willing to kill their own civilians not to allow them to be captured by Hamas, and this is now very well documented, also by testimony of Israelis.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

So most of the civilians that were killed on October 7 were killed by Israeli gunfire, hellfire, missiles from helicopters, from tanks that were bombing houses. You can see the evidence of this is also very clear in the way the houses were damaged, the cars were burned, bodies were burned. Israel even showed burned bodies. They didn't say that whose burnt bodies are these? Many of them were Hamas fighters who were bombed, with their captives burned alive, basically from these helicopters.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Again, this is not, you know, justifying Hamas or anything. This is just saying the facts, because there was documents on this, even video from helicopters as they were shooting at those cars with the civilians in them, with the Hamas fighters nearby, killing both Israeli civilians and Hamas fighters, and and and also from a testimony of people who survived this. So I think there's a lot of lies told about October 7th and I would like to have an independent investigation into what happened on October 7th. But clearly Hamas was not going there just to kill Palestinian civilians, otherwise they would not have had, I mean, israeli civilians. They would have had easy time if that's what they wanted to do. They had light weapons, they had motorcycles, etc. They small vans. They didn't have any large weapons, any kind of that, weapons that could do the kind of damage that you saw in the both the military compounds and in the civilian compounds that were bombed by Israelis just to be clear even if the worst description, the most condemnatory description, we're true we're totally true.

Michael Albert:

It still would have virtually zero relevance to judging what's happening now. It would have relevance to judging what happened on October 7th and it might have relevance to your attitude toward Hamas, but it wouldn't have any bearing on, you know, starving the whole population.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

I am sure Hamas killed some civilians. But even if we take the whole Israeli story as it still doesn't matter whatever, 600, 700 Israeli civilians.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Even if I accept that, as you pointed out, that is not a justification for genocide and ethnic cleansing of civilians, not targeting any Hamas fighters. I mean, logically, if you want to go after Hamas, and Hamas told them, come after us. If you want, we are ready. You know, and they told them, come in together. We were ready for you, but Israel chose not to go after Hamas. They chose sub-arm civilian areas. Not one of the targets they attacked is a Hamas target. They couldn't produce one shred of evidence that the 42,000, 42,000 tons of bombs dropped at over 110,000 targets that include, like residential buildings, hospitals, water storage facilities, bakeries when people are lying that they're bakery to buy their bread or even a flour mill, or clinics or police station, even that civil defense team, over 100 ambulances, journalists they killed over 70 journalists. They killed over 103. Now so far I think it's 103 United Nations people. Where is the Hamas fighters that they were targeting? Show us their bodies Again. Everything is live broadcast. Also, the victim is brought into the hospital. So no Hamas fighters.

Michael Albert:

Even on American television. Right when they displayed on TV, they had some Israeli general ushering a CNN reporter through parts of Gaza and into the hospital where they were going to try and demonstrate the existence of the Hamas military center underground. Okay, so when they set that up, there was nothing. You watch the video and I think there were four machine guns, a helmet, a chair that had something draped over. There was nothing.

Michael Albert:

And meanwhile, it's so different. There is not. Even when American TV was trying to provide the backdrop ideology to justify everything, they couldn't do it and you see the massive destruction.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Yeah, let me tell you. So the whole thing rests on.

Michael Albert:

It really rests on the fact that Palestinians are deemed inhuman, subhuman, and therefore everything is okay.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Yeah, let me address this issue of the hospitals, because it's very important when you take out 22 hospitals now out of service, collapsing medical system in Gaza, that there is no surgery. So what's the justification Israel gave is that Hamas has tunnels under these hospitals and that Hamas was using these hospitals. Let's take this accusation at face value. What did the hospitals say? What did the health ministry say? They said send the. We have World Health Organization people right here. Have them come and look at every corner of the hospital. They want to. We have send the United Nations, send independent journalists. No, israel refused to allow any journalists to come into the hospitals. The only time they allowed them is the point that you made After they occupied the hospital for a few days. Set whatever those few weapons that they set.

Michael Albert:

Yeah, but there's still nothing.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Yes, yes, but they did such a poor job. For example, they put some weapons. Apparently they don't understand the logic. They put some weapons next to what do you call that machine there?

Michael Albert:

The magnet would have an MRI machine.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

The MRI machine. The MRI machine, you can't have any metal. They ask you to take a ring out before you enter the room Because it produces such a huge magnetic force. How could you even think that these guys must not know what this machine is that they put the guns right next to it? This is so ridiculous. And then, in another instance, I pointed at the calendar on the wall and they said this calendar shows the names of the fighters guarding the prisoners, Israeli prisoners. Well, the names are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. That's the Arabic names. I couldn't read Arabic, so that's what they wrote.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

I mean, it's the whole set of their lies are so transparent and so easy to discover and yet, as I said, this is interesting. They lie only towards Western media so that George, whoever somebody you know, Joe Biden, can regurgitate their lies. They don't lie to their own public. In Hebrew media they say we are bombing hospitals, we are punishing the population, this is what we are doing. But in the Western media they want this, at least some veneer of lies, and they don't care if it's obvious lies, Because as long as Biden repeats them.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

For example, when they bombed at an Ahli hospital, Baptist hospital, Christian funded hospital in Gaza, killing 471 civilians taking shelter near the hospital. They dropped a J-DAMN bomb that exploded, they said. When the world stood up and said, wait a minute, that was the first hospital, by the way, they bombed. After that, they didn't care that people videotaped them, Because the world stood up against that, they said well, this must have been an irrant Islamic jihad bomb, Islamic jihad rocket that misfired. Well, all the military experts and all the videos and everything shows this is not true and there was an Israeli bomb that bombed it. And yet Joe Biden himself said well, there is evidence that it probably was a rocket that misfired from Islamic jihad. This is Joe Biden. This was, by the way, this statement was the green light for Israel to bomb the rest of the hospitals the rest of the hospitals, you know. And when they bombed the rest of the hospitals, they didn't try to say there's a rocket or anything, they literally bombed them from.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

F-15s and F-35s.

Michael Albert:

I saw a report I can't remember it exactly. It said that I think it was between 100 and 200 Israeli doctors issued. Maybe it was an open letter or a statement saying go ahead and bomb the hospitals. We support bombing the hospitals. And not only that, you shouldn't warn them, you shouldn't let anybody get out, you should kill them. All Was that true or was that just something?

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Oh no, I have the statement. I have it in Hebrew and in English. They actually did it in English also and, yes, this shows the level of this society and it reminds me of the doctors in the Nazi concentration camps who, you know, abrogated any kind of professional medical ethics or morality by engaging in experiments on humans and torturing people and seeing their reactions and things like that. This is how the horror of what is happening here and you know, I can only say I wish more people would wake up and push their governments to end this nightmare before it destroys international law. It destroys what is called international humanitarian law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all these things that they taught us in school as being important, and whatever. Israel is putting down the sewage of Gaza and doing whatever they want to do with support of Western governments.

Michael Albert:

I want to ask you one last question, if you're willing. I want to try and make a distinction. So we've got the Israeli government and the IDF and so on, the generals and whatnot. So they have a plan empty Gaza. They're pursuing it and they, I guess, have lost touch with any sense of ethical judgment. Either their policies either work or they don't work, and that's called success or failure.

Michael Albert:

But then you have people like the doctors who issued that statement, and they seem to me to be completely gone. That is they are. They too have entered a realm that is so horrific. I mean, you know, for 100 to 200 doctors to say, bomb the hospital and don't get anybody out, let them all burn, is really pretty incredible.

Michael Albert:

But now let's take a much larger sector of Israel's population, I hope, and certainly a substantial number of people in the United States, let's say, who are backing Israel in some sense, who are pro what's going on, who are saying it has to happen, it must continue. And I try to understand in their case good people, often progressive people, often quite morally attuned people most of the time. And then all of a sudden, the Hamas attack happens, there is a face off of I don't know what to call it teams, tribes and it feels like, when you talk to people, that the cost that they see, that they feel the cost to themselves of getting excluded from their team in this case their team supports Israel to be greater than the cost to them of throwing away their ethics. I mean, I'm not saying it's unconsciously, but it seems like that. It seems like we have to somehow learn how to address that. I don't know whether it does any good in Israel, but here it matters, I think.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Yeah, I mean to be honest. I think there are many Zionists, and not just Israel. There are Zionists in America, for example. I lived in the US for 28 years and I used to spend a lot of time talking to them. Sometimes I succeed in bringing them to humanity, sometimes some of them, whereas you pointed out, liberal in many aspects for human rights, gay rights, whatever black rights, black lives matter, et cetera.

Michael Albert:

Even supporting Palestine before these events.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

No, no, I'm talking about people who accept for Palestine. That was progressive. We call it PEPP progressive except for Palestine. They're progressive when everything except for Palestine, because I want a Jewish state. I'm talking about this kind of people, and this group of people was willing to consider a possibility of what's called the two-state solution, provided they can keep their Jewish state on majority of Palestine, they keep military control, et cetera, et cetera. This is the brand of Rabin in Paris and those guys.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

There were other Zionists who were not progressive to begin with on many things including, for example, the current government, including people like Ben Gver and Smotrich, who are also against gay rights and things like that and they were against Palestinians all along and they never thought there is any possibility of a two-state solution or anything like that. These are the two brands of Zionists. I'm not talking about Jews who are genuinely for peace. As I said, there's hundreds of thousands of those like Jewish voice for peace, like you know, bethlehem human rights groups here, israeli human rights groups, et cetera. So there's actually, if you want, three groups, three groupings the progressive except for Palestine group, and there's the non-progressive, which of course means anti-Palestine, and then there's the pro-human rights group of Jews and you write how do we approach? Each group may have to be different approach and it needs to be thought out and it needs to be addressed.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

But we have an issue here, which is that Israel is the fourth strongest army in the world and it has all the weapons and all the money. They even got just this year they got 1.2 billion more from Germany. Every year they get money from Germany for Holocaust reparations Instead of giving them to Holocaust survivors most of them are gone now, but a few years ago, holocaust survivors were protesting in front of the Knesset to get $20 more on their monthly stipend so that they can stay up to date with the cost of living increases, and they're not giving them to. Holocaust survivors are taking this money for militarization, for killing Palestinians, for building settlements we didn't get a chance to talk about here in the West Bank. But the West Bank here where I live in Bethlehem Bethlehem is a ghetto, just like Gaza, and Bethlehem future is just like Gaza. Bethlehem is to be ethnically cleansed. Ramallah is to be ethnically cleansed. The other ghettos that we live in are being attacked. In Jaleen, they went with bulldozers and bulldozing streets and destroying homes. In Nablus and Balata refugee camps. They used the drones to bomb houses. So what is happening in Gaza would also happen in the West Bank because, as I said, it's part of an attack on Palestine and it's by a militarized state.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Who's educational system and current structure? They're not even allowed dissenting voices. Education schools, even they didn't allow people to come talk to students about human rights. They don't allow people to talk to them about human rights. They say you can talk to them about Jewish rights, but you cannot talk to them about human rights in schools, public schools and, of course, religious schools, private schools. So we have an issue that's far greater than Israel has become itself a very large ghetto, if you want, insulated from the world, insulated from human rights, insulated from international law and protected by these great powers.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

This is the challenge that we face Not convincing a few Israelis. I do convince a lot of Israelis and I have friends of mine and I have people who are arrested with me as I stood in front of bulldozers destroying Palestinian homes, israeli Jews. So we have no problem with those who are already convinced. We have problem in a system sort of like the Nazi system, as I said, in which rebellion from inside is no longer possible. No longer possible, I'm sorry to say. You may have rebellion from Jews around the world and that may have an impact, but rebellion from inside of Israel is virtually impossible and Israelis who fight the system. I know many who gave up and left the country. I know many who now live in Europe or in America or other places. They don't want to live in this country because they've given up. They've given up on changing from within.

Michael Albert:

Well, I mean, but the truth is, if they came to the United States and they functioned in the United States and they tried to develop opposition in the United States, that's not irrelevant, that's.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Yes, that's important, absolutely. Some of the leaders of those demonstrations I mentioned, like Grand Central Park or Right the halls of Congress, were actually Israeli Jews, not just American Jews.

Michael Albert:

Right.

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Right, but Israeli Jews who live in the US.

Michael Albert:

Right, Well, I know it's getting late over there and we've gone on for a while. Is there something else you want to add that we haven't I mean. I know there's obviously things to add, but is there something you especially want to?

Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Now we could talk endlessly, but I would say this is a good opportunity for people to take moral stances, to know how they stand on issues, and it's an opportunity for us to reconnect with our humanity and to dispel all the lies and myths we've been told for many years, and I think this is good in the long run. Unfortunately, it's paid for by the blood of the children of Gaza, but if it helps to awaken the world, to revive something called international law and human rights, then we'll all be in a better shape. If we don't succeed, by the way, this will be a horrific, horrific outcome for the world, not just for Palestine, because then every country will say, well, if Israel can get away with this and because they have money and weapons, then we should get weapons. And it's the law of the jungle Whoever has the biggest stick can get away with whatever they want to do. Then we are screwed as a people, as a humanity, I think.

Michael Albert:

It's a very serious situation indeed and, I must admit, as much as I sort of look at Gaza, my eyes are also drifting to the West Bank in fear of what's next there. Anyway, I want to thank you for coming on. I know you're incredibly busy and you know doing what all of us should be doing, and so thank you very much for coming on. And I guess, that said this, is Mike Albert signing off until next time for Revolution Z.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Media Bias
Israel's Actions and Moral Standards
Israel's Crackdown and Hamas's Tactics
Understanding the Complexity of Pro-Israel Views
The Importance of Taking Moral Stances