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8/15/2005 Radio Interview
WWRL AM New York Drive Time Dialogue with Armstrong Williams and Sam Greenfield
Mythologies of the Gaza Withdrawal and 1967 War

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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 not Egypt.

Armstrong Williams: What are you trying to say, that the 1967 war was Israel's fault?

Grant Smith: What we can say is this, with a great deal of confidence...

Armstrong Williams:That's what you're saying!

Grant Smith: 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 hadn't struck.

Armstrong Williams: Sam, this is a doozy. I'm going to let you handle this one.

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 that...

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 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 [in 1967]...

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 these costs.

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 handle Israel?

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 issues outstanding.

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.

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