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You can’t get there from here: the need for ‘collapse with agency’ in Palestine

Jeff Halper

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
18 February 2012

Even as I write this, the bulldozers have been busy throughout that one indivisible country known by the bifurcated term Israel/Palestine. Palestinian homes, community centers, livestock pens and other “structures” (as the Israel authorities dispassionately call them) have been demolished in the Old City, Silwan and various parts of “Area C” in the West Bank, as well among the Bedouin – Israeli citizens – in the Negev/Nakab. This is merely mopping up, herding the last of the Arabs into their prison cells where, forever, they will cease to be heard or heard from, a non-issue in Israel and, eventually, in the wider world distracted from bigger, more pressing matters.

An as-yet confidential report submitted by the European consuls in Jerusalem and Ramallah raises urgent concerns over the “forced expulsion” of Palestinians – a particularly strong term for European diplomats to use –from Area C of the West Bank (the 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli control but which today contains less than 5% of the Palestinian population). Focusing particularly on the rise in house demolitions by the Israeli authorities and the growing economic distress of the Palestinians living in Area C, the report mentions the fertile and strategic Jordan Valley (where the Palestinian population has declined from 250,000 to 50,000 since the start of the Occupation), plans to relocate 3000 Jahalin Bedouins to a barren hilltop above the Jerusalem garbage dump and the ongoing but accelerated demolition of Palestinian homes (500 in 2011).

At the same time the “judaization” of Jerusalem continues apace, a “greater” Israeli Jerusalem steadily isolating the Palestinian parts of the city from the rest of Palestinian society while ghettoizing their inhabitants, more than 100,000 of which now live beyond the Wall. Some 120 homes were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2011; over the same period the Israeli government announced the construction of close to 7000 housing units for Jews in East and “Greater” Jerusalem. “If current trends are not stopped and reversed,” said a previous EU report, “the establishment of a viable Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders seems more remote than ever. The window for a two-state solution is rapidly closing….”

In fact, it closed long ago. In terms of settlers and Palestinians, the Israeli government treats the whole country as one. Last year it demolished three times more homes of Israeli citizens (Arabs, of course) than it did in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The demolition of Bedouin homes in the Negev/Nakab is part of a plan approved by the government to remove 30,000 citizens from their homes and confine them to townships.

None of this concerns “typical” Israelis even if they have heard of it (little appears in the news). For them, the Israeli-Arab conflict was won and forgotten years ago, somewhere around 2004 when Bush informed Sharon that the US does not expect Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders, thus effectively ending the “two-state solution,” and Arafat “mysteriously” died.

Since then, despite occasional protests from Europe, the “situation” has been normalized. Israelis enjoy peace and quiet, personal security and a booming economy (with the usual neoliberal problems of fair allocation). The unshakable, bi-partisan support of the American government and Congress effectively shields it from any kind of international sanctions. Above all, Israeli Jews have faith that those pesky Arabs living somewhere “over there” beyond the Walls and barbed-wire barriers have been pacified and brought under control by the IDF. A recent poll found that “security,” the term Israelis use instead of “occupation” or “peace,” was ranked eleventh among the concerns of the Israeli public, trailing well behind employment, crime, corruption, religious-secular differences, housing and other more pressing issues.

As for the international community, the “Quartet” representing the US, the EU, Russia and the UN in the non-existent “peace process” has gone completely silent. (Israel refused to table its position on borders and other key negotiating issues by the January 26th “deadline” laid down by the Quartet, and no new meetings are scheduled). The US has abandoned any pretense of an “honest broker.” Months ago, when the US entered its interminable election “season,” Israel received a green light from both the Democrats and Republicans to do whatever it sees fit in the Occupied Territory. Last May the Republicans invited Netanyahu to address Congress and send a clear message to Obama: hands off Israel. That same week, Obama, not to be out-done, addressed an AIPAC convention and reaffirmed Bush’s promise that Israel will not have to return to the 1967 borders or relinquish its major settlement blocs in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. He also took the occasion to promise an American veto should the Palestinians request membership in the UN – though that would merely amount to an official acceptance of the two-state treaty that the US claims it has been fostering all these years. No, as far as Israel and Israeli Jews are concerned, the conflict and even the need for pretense is over. The only thing remaining is to divert attention to more “urgent” global matters so that the Palestinian issue completely disappears. Voila Iran.

Oh, but what about the “demographic threat,” that “war of the womb” that will eventually force a solution? Well, as long as Israel has the Palestinian Authority to self-segregate its people, it has nothing to worry about. While the Palestinian Authority plays the “two-state solution” game, Israel can simply herd the Palestinians into the 70 tiny islands of Areas A and B, lock the gates and let the international community feed them – and go about placidly building a Greater Land of Israel with American and European complicity. Indeed, nothing demonstrates self-segregation more than Prime Minister Salem Fayyad’s neoliberal scheme of building a Palestinian …something… “from the ground up.” By building for the well-to-do in new private-sector cities like Rawabi, located safely in Area A, by building new highways (with Japanese and USAID assistance) that respect Israeli “Greater” Jerusalem and channel Palestinian traffic from Ramallah to Bethlehem through far-away Jericho, by expressing a willingness to accept Israeli territorial expansion in exchange for the ability to “do business,” Fayyad has invented yet a new form of neoliberal oppression-by-consent: viable apartheid (viable, at least, for the Palestinian business class). And as in the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa, the Palestinian Authority maintains a repressive internal order through its own American-trained/Israeli-approved militia, a second layer of occupation. (During the 2008 assault on Gaza, one of the few places in the world in which there were no demonstrations was the West Bank, where they were forbidden by the Palestinian Authority. Then-Prime Minister Olmert crowed that this was evidence of how effectively the Palestinians had been pacified.)

Indeed, by clinging to the two-state solution and continuing to participate in “negotiations” years after they have proven themselves a trap, the Palestinian leadership plays a central role in its own people’s warehousing. The reality – even the fact – of occupation gets buried under the diversions set up by the fraudulent yet unending “peace process.” This only enables Israel to imprison the Palestinians in tiny cells; witness today’s mini-ethnic cleansing, just one of thousands of micro-events that have the cumulative effect of displacement, expulsion, segregation and incarceration. It also enables Israel to then blame the victims for causing their own oppression! When a Palestinian leadership assumes the prerogative to negotiate a political resolution yet lacks any genuine authority or leverage to do so, and when, in addition, it fails to abandon negotiations even after they have been exposed as a trap, it comes dangerously close to being collaborationist. For its part, Israel is off the hook. Instead of going through the motions of establishing an apartheid regime, it simply exploits the willingness of the Palestinian Authority to perpetuate the illusion of negotiations as a smokescreen covering its virtual imprisonment of the Palestinian “inmates.” Once the current mopping up operations are completed, the process of incarceration will be complete.

Today the only alternative agency to the Palestinian Authority is segments of the international civil society. The Arab and Muslims peoples for whom Palestinian liberation is an integral part of the Arab Spring, stand alongside thousands of political and human rights groups, critical activists, churches, trade unions and intellectuals throughout the world. Crucial as it is for keeping the issue alive and building grassroots support for the Palestinian cause that will steadily “trickle up” and affect governments’ policies, however, civil society advocacy is a stop-gap form of agency, ultimately unable to achieve a just peace by itself. We, too, are trapped in the dead-end personified by the two-state solution, reference to a “peace process” and their attendant “negotiations.” There is no way forward in the current paradigm. We must break out into a world of new possibilities foreclosed by the present options: a “two-state” apartheid regime or warehousing.

In my view, while advocacy and grassroots mobilization remain relevant, several tasks stand before us. First, we must endeavour to hasten the collapse of the present situation and subsequently, when new paradigms of genuine justice emerge from the chaos, be primed to push forward an entirely different solution that is currently impossible or inconceivable, be that a single democratic state over the entire country, a bi-national state, a regional confederation or some other alternative yet to be formulated. The Palestinians themselves must create a genuine, inclusive agency of their own that, following the collapse, can effectively seize the moment. Formulating a clear program and strategy, they will then be equipped to lead their people to liberation and a just peace, with the support of activists and others the world over.

A necessary and urgent first step towards collapsing the otherwise permanent regime of oppression in Israel/Palestine is that we stop talking about a two-state solution. It’s dead and gone as a political option – if, indeed, it ever really existed. It should be banned from the discourse because reference to an irrelevant “solution” only serves to confuse the discussion. Granted, this will be hard for liberals to do; everyone else, however, has given up on it. Most Palestinians, having once supported it, now realize that Israel will simply not withdraw to a point where a truly viable and sovereign state can emerge. The Israeli government, backed by the Bush-Obama policies on the settlement blocs, doesn’t even make pretence of pursuing it anymore, and the Israeli public is fine with the status quo. Nor does the permanent warehousing of the Palestinians seem to faze the American or European governments, or the Arab League. Even AIPAC has moved on to the “Iranian threat.”

Behind the insistence of the liberal Zionists of J Street, Peace Now, the Peace NGOs Forum run out of the Peres Center for Peace and others to hang on to a two-state solution at any cost is a not-so-hidden agenda. They seek to preserve Israel as a Jewish state even at the cost of enforcing institutional discrimination against Israel’s own Palestinian citizens. The real meaning of a “Jewish democracy” is living with apartheid and warehousing while protesting them. No, the liberals will be the hardest to wean away from the two-state snare. Yet if they don’t abandon it, they run the risk of promoting de facto their own worst nightmare of warehousing while providing the fig-leaf of legitimacy to cover the policies of Israel’s extreme right – all in the name of “peace.” This is what happens when one’s ideology places restrictions on one’s ability to perceive evil or to draw necessary if difficult conclusions. When wishful thinking becomes policy, it not only destroys your effectiveness as a political actor but leads you into positions, policies and alliances that, in the end, are inimical to your own goals and values. Jettisoning all talk of a “two-state solution” removes the major obstacle to clear analysis and the ability to move forward.

The obfuscation created by the “two-state solution” now out of the way, what emerges as clear as day is naked occupation, an apartheid regime extending across all of historic Palestine/Israel and the spectre of warehousing. Since none of these forms of oppression can ever be legitimized or transformed into something just, the task before us becomes clear: to cause their collapse by any means necessary. There are many ways to do this, just as the ANC did. Already Palestinian, Israel and international activists engage in internal resistance, together with international challenges to occupation represented by the Gaza flotillas and attempts to “crash” Israeli borders. Many civil society actors the world over have mobilized, some around campaigns such as Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), others around direct actions, still others engaged in lobbying the UN and governments through such instruments as the Human Rights Council, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and international courts. There have been campaigns to reconvene the Tribunal that, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, has the authority and duty to sanction Israel for its gross violations. Dozens of groups and individuals alike engage in public speaking, mounting Israel Apartheid Weeks on university campuses and working through the media. And much more.

And here is where Palestinian civil society plays a crucial role, a role that cannot be played by non-Palestinians. If it is agreed that the Palestinian Authority must go if we are to get beyond the two-state trap – indeed, the dismantling of the PA being a major part of the collapse of the present system – then this call must originate from within the Palestinian community. Non-Palestinians must join in, of course, but the issue of who represents the Palestinians is their call exclusively. Non-Palestinians can also suggest various end-games. I’ve written, for example, about a Middle East economic confederation, believing that a regional approach is necessary to address the core issues. The Palestinian organization PASSIA published a collection of twelve possible outcomes. It is obvious, though, that it is the sole prerogative of the Palestinian people to decide what solution, or range of solutions, is acceptable. For this, and to organize effectively so as to bring about a desired outcome, the Palestinians need a new truly representative agency, one that replaces the PA and gives leadership and direction to broad-based civil society agency, one that has the authority to negotiate a settlement and actually move on to the implementation of a just peace.

As of now, it appears there is only one agency that possesses that legitimacy and mandate: the Palestinian National Council of the PLO (although Hamas and the other Islamic parties are not (yet) part of the PLO). Reconstituting the PNC through new elections would seem the most urgent item on the Palestinian agenda today – without which, in the absence of effective agency, we are all stuck in rearguard protest actions and Israel prevails. Our current situation, caught in the limbo between seeking the collapse of the oppressive system we have, and having a Palestinian agency that can effectively lead us towards a just resolution, is one of the most perilous we’ve faced. One person’s limbo is another person’s window of opportunity. Say what you will about Israel, it knows how to hustle and exploit even the smallest of opportunities to nail down its control permanently.

“Collapse with agency,” I suggest, could be a title of our refocused efforts to weather the limbo in the political process. Until a reinvigorated PNC or other representative agency can be constituted, a daunting but truly urgent task, Palestinian civil society might coalesce enough to create a kind of interim leadership bureau. This itself might be a daunting task. Most Palestinian leaders have either been killed by Israel or are languishing in Israeli prisons, while Palestinian civil society has been shattered into tiny disconnected and often antagonistic pieces. At home major divisions have been sown between “’48” and “’67” Palestinians; Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank have been effectively severed; and within the West Bank restrictions on movement among a bewildering array of “areas” – A, B, C, C-Restricted, H-1, H-2, nature reserves, closed military areas – have resulted in virtual, largely disconnected Palestinian mini-societies. Political divisions, especially among secular/traditional and Islamic factions, have been nurtured, not least by Israel. Overall, the Palestinian population, exhausted by years of sacrifice and resistance, impoverished and preoccupied with mere survival, has been left largely rudderless as many of its most educated and skilled potential leaders have left or are forbidden by Israel to return.

For its part, the Palestinian leadership has done little to bridge the wider divisions amongst those falling under PA rule, Palestinian citizens of Israel, residents of the refugee camps and the world-wide Diaspora, divisions that have grown even wider since the PLO and the PNC fell moribund. Indeed, major portions of the Palestinian Diaspora (and one may single out especially but not exclusively the large and prosperous communities of Latin America), have disconnected from the national struggle completely. The Palestinian possess some extremely articulate spokespeople and activists, but they tend to be either a collection of individual voices only tenuously tied to grassroots organizations, or grassroots resistance groups such as the Popular Committees that enjoy little political backing or strategic direction.

Ever aware that the struggle for liberation must be led by Palestinians, our collective task at the moment, in my view, is to bring about the collapse of the present situation in Palestine in order to exploit its fundamental unsustainably. The elimination of the Palestinian Authority is one way to precipitate that collapse. It would likely require Israel to physically reoccupy the Palestinian cities and probably Gaza as well (as if they have ever been de-occupied), bringing the reality of raw occupation back to the centre of attention. Such a development would likely inflame Arab and Muslim public opinion, not to mention that of much of the rest of the world, and would create an untenable situation, forcing the hand of the international community. Israel would be put in an indefensible position, thus paving the way for new post-collapse possibilities – this time with an effective and representative Palestinian agency in place and a global movement primed to follow its lead.

But given the underlying unsustainability of the Occupation and the repressive system existing throughout historic Palestine – the massive violations of human rights and international law, the disruptive role the conflict plays in the international system and its overt brutality – collapse could come from a variety of places, some of them unsuspected and unrelated to Israel/Palestine. An attack on Iran could reshuffle the cards in the Middle East, and the Arab Spring is still a work in progress. Major disruptions in the flow of oil to the West due an attack on Iran, internal changes in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, instability in Russia and even the fact that China has no oil of its own could cause major financial crises worldwide. Sino-American tensions, environmental disasters or Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban with unpredictable Indian reactions may all play an indirect yet forceful role. Who knows? Ron Paul, President Gingrich’s newly appointed Secretary of State, might end all military, economic and political support for Israel, in which case the Occupation (and more) would fall within a month.

Whatever the cause of the collapse – and we must play an active role in bring it about – it is incumbent upon us to be ready, mobilized and organized if we are to seize that historic moment, which might be coming sooner than we expect. Effective and broadly representative Palestinian agency will be critical. Collapse with agency is the only way to get “there” from “here.”

Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House
Demolitions (ICAHD).

Original Link:

While at times I can find no end to the number of things that I find distasteful about the colonialist Zionism of the State of Israel, I can’t help but be inspired by an equal number of things that the real traditions of Orthodox Judaism possess, which I believe have influenced secular Jewish thinking, including Zionism. It is in an appeal to these traditions (and recognition of the many diverse journeys of Jewish people) that I find a way, perhaps the only way, to have real dialogue with Jewish supporters of Israel. Christian Zionists could care less!

The following article, by Philip Weiss, help remind us of the influence of the great ethical traditions of the Jewish people. Traditions that many cultures share and hence are are a way for us to move forward together.

The gift of the Jews
Dec 26, 2011 08:48 am | Philip Weiss

The young Lessing

For the last few months I’ve been reading a classic of philosemitism: the “Martha Quest” novels of Doris Lessing. Set in Southern Rhodesia in 1936-1949 and published in England in the 1960s, the first four of these books trace the youth of a fiercely independent child of British colonials born, as Lessing was, in 1919.

Lessing is famous as a “kaffir-lover,” to use the racist slang hurled against her; her hatred of the color bar resulted in her leaving Rhodesia for England in 1949 and culminated in her winning the Nobel Prize four years ago. But there are no major black characters in these novels, and really Martha Quest is a Jew lover. Determined to overcome her parents’ anti-Semitism, she gravitates to the Jews in the provincial capital of Salisbury (now Harare, Zimbabwe).

A fatherly Jewish lawyer gives Martha a job so that she can leave her parents’ farm and move to the city. There Martha  loses her virginity to one Jew (Eastern European “scum,” he says), marries another (German Communist refugee), and has an intense affair with a third (Zionist Communist). A Jewish doctor prescribes contraception and tells her she’s too far along for an abortion. Martha’s Jewish friend Stella sets the bar on fashion and decoration, while Jasmine Cohen sets the bar on politics. Jasmine’s cousin Abraham dies fighting in Spain– and Jews are all over the small Communist party group Martha joins. (In her actual autobiography, Lessing has said that the Jewish mentors in these books were based on real people.)

But my business here is not to count the many Jews in these books. It is to express pride in my inheritance as it was perceived by a non-Jew. The sense pours through these books that were it not for the Jews of that generation and their “ancient culture,” Doris Lessing could never have become Doris Lessing. As brilliant a writer as she is, Lessing needed to break out of the thick racist porridge of the land-based cultures that surrounded her—the British colonials with their “Sports Club” snobbery and the Dutch Afrikaaner men with thighs like “pillars”—and to do so she threw herself on intellectually-sophisticated Jews.

At the beginning of the Martha Quest story, there are the Cohen boys, Joss and Solly, the “brilliant” sons of a shopowner in the small town of Banket, who recognize adolescent Martha’s intelligence and send packages of books to her every week or two. From the books of Communism and psychology, “Martha had gained a clear picture of herself, from the outside.” This becomes her greatest “weapon” in life, literary consciousness:

“She was not only miserable, she would focus a dispassionate eye on that misery. This detached observer, felt perhaps as a clear-lit space situated just behind the forehead, was the gift of the Cohen boys at the station….”

The Cohen boys in their Kosher household–Solly a Trotskyite Zionist, Joss a Marxist–are exact cousins of the Jewish intellectuals at City College in the 1930s.

At the other end of the Rhodesian books is Martha’s tormented lover Thomas Stern, a paranoid refugee from Poland who has lost his sisters in the Holocaust and veers self-destructively from Communism to business, from Jewish terrorism in Palestine to human rights work on behalf of blacks. By scoffing at Martha’s urging that he renounce violence, Stern gives the Martha Quest books their title: The Children of Violence series. But Stern is not only called to violence, he’s called to retail:

“So you see how hard it is to escape one’s fate, Martha? In Poland, middle-men, money-makers—the Stern Brothers. And here? My brother’s a rich man already, and we left Poland with what we had on our backs, eight years ago.”

A lot of my writing on this site is critical of the Jewish political presence in modern America. But I have a chauvinist streak of my own, and Lessing’s non-Jewish eye confirms it in me. The Jewish gift helped to form Doris Lessing as a young writer: the cerebral, text-bound life of persecuted Jews gave her awareness of the world and encouraged her to deliver the savage-sympathetic portrait of white colonial society that would make her name in England in the 1950s. That life is the Jewish culture that I was born into– outsiders, people of the book, harsh critics of the social structure.

[Joss Cohen] fired the following questions at her, in the offhand indifferent manner of the initiate to a breed utterly without the law:

‘You repudiate the colour bar?’

‘But of course.’

‘Of course,’ he said sardonically. And then: ‘You dislike racial prejudice in all its form, including anti-Semitism?’

‘Naturally’—this with a touch of impatience.

‘You are an atheist?’

‘You know quite well that I am.’

‘You believe in socialism?’

‘That goes without saying,’ she concluded fervently; and suddenly began to laugh, from that sense of the absurd which it seemed must be her downfall as a serious person. For Joss was frowning at the laugh, and apparently could see nothing ridiculous in a nineteen-year-old Jewish boy, sprung from an orthodox Jewish family, and an adolescent British girl, if possible even more conventionally bred, agreeing to these simple axioms in the back room of a veld store in a village filled with people to whom every word of this conversation would have the force of a dangerous heresy.

Doris Lessing was an early adopter. Her philosemitism parallels the philosemitism of non-Jewish intellectuals in the States in the 40s and 50s, Edmund Wilson for instance, and anticipates by a generation or two full-blown American philosemitism of the meritocracy– when the White House was loaded with Jewish advisers, when Clinton put two Jews on the Supreme Court, when Jews became university presidents and started google and facebook and craigslist, and neocons guided our foreign policy.

American philosemitism reflects the Jewish contribution to this society. Recently I was told that the world still envies the U.S. because of four industries we have that no one else has (universities/research, film/media, software, and finance), and all these industries are as full of Jews as Doris Lessing’s early novels were. As Scott McConnell, who had something of Doris Lessing’s own Jewish-engendered intellectual awakening when he joined the Commentary neoconservative crowd in the 1980s, has told me, America is thankful to Jews because they are driving the economy. I think this recognition pervades Establishment culture. When I fault Chris Matthews for never talking about the Israel lobby, I must be aware that the network that gives him his salary was built and is now owned by Jewish entrepreneurs in the new global economy. When we try and explain the dismissal of Ron Paul, it is because he above all candidates is representative of an Establishment structure that has no truck with Jews– as opposed to Romney with his neoconservative advisers, Gingrich with his Sheldon Adelson money and Barack Obama with his Axelrods and AIPACs and Crowns. When I marvel that Robert Kagan works for Romney and his wife works for Obama without anyone raising an eyebrow, or that Stuart Levey the former Under Secretary of Treasury worked for Bush and Obama without a hitch—again, this is a measure of the large Jewish presence in the Establishment. Jewish gifts have propelled the new economy, such as it is. And when people accuse Occupy Wall Street of anti-semitism, it is in part because Occupy are critics of the new economy, and much of that economy was built by Jews.

Back when we were outsiders, Hannah Arendt warned Jews about reverence for wealth: liberal Zionists, she wrote, “failed to… attack the role of Jewish finance in the political structure of Jewish life.”

That same warning is sounded in the Martha Quest books, from the restless Communist Zionist Thomas Stern:

“Unlike you, when I work, I think in terms of money. I’m learning that it’s terrifyingly easy to make money.”

She laughed…

“I don’t want you to laugh about money. I’ve got to outwit it. I’ve got to find a way of not becoming Thomas Stern, rich merchant of this city.”

The beauty and tragedy of the Children of Violence series is that Thomas Stern does outwit that fate, at the cost of his own life. But modern American Jews are still stuck with Stern’s contradictions. We’re Zionists, and we’ve been incredibly successful. With the success has come something that none of the provincial Jews in Lessing’s philosemitic saga ever dreamed of having: power, which has eroded our outsiderness and endangered our detachment—that dispassionate eye on misery, that clear-lit space situated just behind the forehead.

It is not that Jews are incapable of that detachment. Many are. But the Cohen boys shared that gift a long time ago, and it is no longer just ours.


Presidential candidate Ron Paul shows how common sense doesn’t rule in the U.S. Congress. The U.S. expects the rest of the world to gleefully accept what the U.S. themselves would consider a work of Satan if it happened to them back home in the good old U.S. of A. The following article was published on the Mondoweiss website on September 13th 2011.

Ron Paul says our unfairness to Palestinians led to 9/11 attacks
Sep 13, 2011 01:26 pm | Philip Weiss

The only presidential candidate to talk about human rights in Palestine is of course, Ron Paul, who said that it helped foster the 9/11 attacks, during last night’s Republican debate, picked up at NBC. (Thanks to

“Most of the danger comes by our lack of wisdom on how we run our foreign policy,” and he repeated a statistic he uses on the campaign trail in Iowa: “We’re under great threat, because we occupy so many countries. We’re in 130 countries. We have 900 bases around the world. We’re going broke. The purpose of al Qaeda was to attack us, invite us over there, where they can target us. And they have been doing it.”

Paul went on to claim that al Qaeda has committed “more attacks against us and the American interests per month than occurred in all the years before 9/11” — because the U.S. is “occupying their land.” …

Paul didn’t retreat from his position. “This whole idea that the whole Muslim world is responsible for this, and they’re attacking us because we’re free and prosperous, that is just not true. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have been explicit… They wrote and said that we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians fair treatment, and you have been bombing…”

At this point, Paul was interrupted by a chorus of boos. He tried to talk over them, pleading with the audience to understand his position.

“I didn’t say that. I’m trying to get you to understand what the motive was behind the bombing, at the same time we had been bombing and killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis for 10 years. Would you be annoyed? If you’re not annoyed, then there’s some problem.”

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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