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WWRL AM New York Drive Time Dialogue with Armstrong Williams and Sam
Mythologies of the Gaza Withdrawal and 1967 War
Armstrong Williams: Now, welcome
to the show. Obviously you are 100% supporter of the Israelis leaving Gaza.
Grant Smith: Absolutely.
Armstrong Williams: Now correct me if I'm wrong: Your organization
believes that Israel should return to the size of its 1967 borders, even though prior to
1967 Palestine was controlled by Great Britain, and the land was divided into Jordan and
Israel, Jordan was designated as the land for the Palestinians, and all the land to the
west of the Jordan River was Israel for the Jews. Let's not forget the only reason that
Israel controls the Gaza Strip and the West Bank is because she was attacked by Egypt,
Jordan and Syria, and confiscated the lands as spoils of the war.
Grant Smith: You've got two major misconceptions there Armstrong....First
of all we have approximately 4.3 million refugees who either fled or left directly as a result of
the 1948 creation of Israel and if we talk about the myth of the 1967 Six Day War...
Armstrong Williams: That IS Israel!
Grant Smith: ...we heard last year from the Office of the Historian at the US
State Department that the Egyptians
were actively trying to wind down the confrontation and even received guarantees by
Nasser that Egypt would not strike.
Nevertheless, we have a preemptive Israeli strike on June 6, 1967 which resulted in all of
this territory being captured.
You've got two fundamental misconceptions Armstrong. Number one, that the people occupying
that region had no right to continue occupying that region, and number two that the '67
war was a "heroic" attempt to respond to a military threat.
We know now that that threat was winding down, and that the true aggressor certainly was
Armstrong Williams: What are you trying to say, that the 1967 war was
Grant Smith: What we can say is this, with a great deal of confidence...
Armstrong Williams:That's what
Grant Smith: ...is that the
Israelis are thought by the US to have intercepted and then thwarted the Egyptian
entreaties because during that time the Egyptians were actively working with the United
States, trying to wind down the conflict. You can say that the June 6, 1967 strikes were
preemptive,but they were preempting an event which was rapidly going to wind down if they
Armstrong Williams: Sam, this is a doozy. I'm going to let you handle
Sam Greenfield: I've heard that for years.
Armstrong Williams: I am shocked!
Sam Greenfield: I've heard that for years that it was a preemptive
strike, the first strike was by was launched by Israel as a preemptive strike, of course!
Grant Smith: We really need to deal in facts...and not mythologies
Armstrong Williams: Egypt attacked! Syria attacked! Jordan attacked! What
are you talking about?!
Sam Greenfield: The first shots were fired by Israel. And they said it
all along, that it was a preemptive strike because they feared attack.
Grant Smith: You know part of the mythology that we're actively dealing
with here is a mythology about suicide terrorism that we also need to confront with facts.
Robert Pape who just wrote a book called "Dying to Win" looked at, analytically, all of the suicide terror
attacks from 1980 to 2003 and concluded one central fact about suicide terrorism: It is a
strategic effort to compel target governments to withdraw forces from land that the
so-called terrorists perceive as their national homeland. We can say that this a
productive minor step in abating terrorism by simply dis-occupying a section considered
legitimately, by many Palestinians, to be their land.
Armstrong Williams: Look! So, most of the Palestinians are
refugees, they're not allowed back in Jordan, they're not allowed back in Syria, they're
not allowed back in Egypt. So they are living in Israel. Israel is the only Jewish
country in the Middle East, but 99% of the Middle East is Arabs!
Grant Smith: What's your point?
Armstrong Williams: The point is they can't even go back to their Arab
lands and live! They don't want them back there! And let's not forget what the Egyptians
did to them!
Grant Smith: As I just said, there are 4.3 million refugees who either
fled, or were expulsed, or left, from territory that we now call Israel. Are you dealing
with that fact? I mean let's look at this, this is a really minor step towards peace in
the Middle East. If we look at what the experts say, in an IRmep.org poll of University
professors, Middle East experts, we found that 96% of professors who are experts in
the Middle East believe the United States don't have any authority to legitimize
annexation of West Bank territory, East Jerusalem, or any territory outside 1967 borders.
We have this myth about the 1967 war which in 2004, again, the office of the Historian of
the US State Department talked about. We have this study of suicide terrorism. We have
continued provocation by the Israeli housing Ministry saying it is going to expand
settlements. We're focusing on Gaza, but what we should really be focusing on right now,
Armstrong, is the encirclement of East Jerusalem, the creation of more settlements in Ma'ale Adumim and other West Bank
settlements that are continuing to provoke conflict.
I mean the US can resume walking in the moral high ground in the Middle East only after it
ensures a complete Israeli withdrawal from all land captured in 1967. Anything less is
going to continue to threaten American interests in the region.
Armstrong Williams: But then what are you suggest in how we, as
Americans, should handle Israel?
Grant Smith: We need to take a look at one thing that is not looked at
usually by the press or any analysis, and that is the $60 billion a large portion of which is flowing completely off the
books, from the United states, from nonprofits to fund Israelis to occupy and build
settlements in the West Bank.
Sam Greenfield: Before we get there, I want to ask you a question.
Weren't there an equal number of Jews expelled from Iraq and Egypt during that time?
Grant Smith: Relatively small numbers, I heard 800 in the case of Iraq
Sam Greenfield: And how about Egypt?
Grant Smith: We know that in places like Morocco, and others they continue along the lines of a very tolerant
attitude toward their Jewish populations...
Sam Greenfield: But how about the countries that are bordering or close
to Israel? How is their expulsion rate?
Grant Smith: I think what we need to talk about, and this is, you're
getting into the homeland issue, is whether the initial reasons for forming the state as a
way to combating anti-Semitism and horrific problems faced by Jews in various countries. A
number of analysts, Jewish analysts, have said that those conditions are no longer in
action, and that we really need to think about whether this whole analysis of expulsion
and populations moving around and anti-Semitism is still relevant enough to be paying
Armstrong Williams: So are you saying that Israel should be dissolved?
Grant Smith: No, absolutely not, absolutely not, I'm not saying that.
Armstrong Williams: Okay, so back to the point, how should we Americans
Grant Smith: Well, I think its best expressed this way: We need to begin
treating this country, like other countries. We need to negotiate with it, we need to make
clear that we have certain policy goals that are embedded in international law. We need to
talk about UN
resolutions and why there isn't any compliance. And we need to shut down the flows
that are able to get this $60 billion of off-the-books expenditures that are flowing into Israel
to create settlements, we need to turn that spigot off, because it's only creating
problems, it is only going to create more terrorism as we've seen from the Pape study.
Sam Greenfield: Why is aid to Israel, are you saying that if there were
no aid to Israel that terrorism would stop?
Grant Smith: No, I'm not talking about the $3 billion that
we spend for defending the country and certain other expenditures. I'm talking about all
of the rest of the expenditures that are flowing.
Let's take a look at Jack
Abramoff, the lobbyist who is now under so much scrutiny. He had taken money from
Indian gaming tribes, passed it through the Capitol
Athletic Foundation to buy arms: sniper scopes and other equipment for settlers in the
West Bank. That's the kind of thing that is causing terrorism, that's the kind of thing
that's provoking conflict in the region, and that's that kind of thing we're not looking
at as Americans. We need to shut off that type of activity. Abramoff might have been
caught, his little use of nonprofits to fund conflict might have finally been
disclosed,but there's an immense universe
of that type of activity which the US is unwilling to confront.
Armstrong Williams: You know what? I'm not in total disagreement with you
about the money, okay? Nonprofit aid though, how do you shut that off?
Grant Smith: Well, I think you need to regulate it so that if there is
going to be any aid to the country that it is flowing to legitimate projects in the
country and that it is not earmarked to displace, or create fungible transactions that are
going to create conflict. We need to monitor it, we need to publish data, we need to start
questioning what money is going for. We need to control it. We need to look at, if this is
a privileged tax-exempt transaction that's done for charitable activity, that it is
actually going toward that...
Armstrong Williams: But how?
Grant Smith: That could be added IRS disclosure, that could be more control and more involvement of the
US State Department, that could be more involvement from the Treasury Department
which is so active in tracking terrorist financing but is not looking at this type of
issue at all.
Armstrong Williams: What is the Roadmap to Peace, if there's any? The
picture you paint is very bleak!
Grant Smith: Well, its not bleak, I think when we finally get back to an
actual roadmap discussion and involvement of all of the players instead of a series of
unilateral moves by each side, with most taking place on the Israeli side, we'll see that
there is actually a plan for disengagement for economic development. There are studies
circulating right now talking about the next steps in the roadmap for economic development
and injecting funds so that the airport can be opened in the Gaza Strip so that people can
begin. I know that you mentioned case of agriculture and greenhouses so that people can
begin having a viable economic future.
Those are steps that have to take place in concert. You can't have, obviously, a
functioning airport in Gaza if the Israelis feel threatened and if there are security
These are all issues which will be delayed, which will be set back if we continue to have
settlements expansion, if we continue so ship money, arms etc. and other under-the-table
payments into occupation, and colonization which will only create added resentment.
Sam Greenfield: There's another part of this. And the other part that we
don't talk about because it's been such a constant is the fanaticism. If the fanaticism,
how does the fanaticism become quelled? How does the fact that Gaza is now going to
be in the hands of the Palestinians and part of the celebration is burning an Israeli
flag, and Hamas announcing that they are not going to stop or lessen their terrorist
activities. Given that, what kind of hope is there for a long-range future?
Grant Smith: Well, that fanaticism , we believe is going to die
down, because it is driven by the occupation...
Armstrong Williams: Oh really?
Grant Smith: Really, if you believe that type of fanaticism will continue
even after incremental transfers of territory, which again are the biggest driver of their
terrorist activities, will continue, it won't. Because it will be it will be completely
debased it will be undercut, because of the fact that they have actually, not succeeded
via terrorism, but succeeded in dampening and quelling some of the motivations for an
occupied people to strike back with the only thing that they have.
Armstrong Williams: Do you agree, Sam Greenfield, that once the Israelis
leave the land, the Israelis once had, that it will fall to the level of the other land
that Palestinians own?
Sam Greenfield: In what regard?
Armstrong Williams: Economic.
Grant Smith: We need to look at whether or not the Palestinians will
be allowed to actually access any of the resources that they'll need for economic
development. One of the great success stories is the installation of a Coca-Cola bottling plant
so that there could actually be jobs and distribution of our signature product here in the
United States and actually have a little bit of wealth development. But if the private
sector can't get in, can't put in infrastructure, if the Palestinians can't tap any
international capital, they're certainly not going to get $60 billion in off-the-books
money, but if they can't even get $10 or $20 [billion] per year, on a regular basis for
economic development, if they're essentially put in a cage of discontiguous parcels, well
maybe it will descend into chaos, but it'll have a reason for it descending into chaos. If
there is no capital flow into the region, it has a bleak future.
Sam Greenfield: Listen, we want to thank you for your time, Grant. Grant
Smith, research director, Institute for Research: Middle Eastern
Policy talking about the Gaza pullout, thank you very much.
Grant Smith: Alright, thank you
for having me.
Armstrong Williams: And I must
say, there is some merit to some of the things that you were saying. Some of them, I even
have to admit, that I didn't first admit.