Mohsen Abdelmoumen: What do you think of recent leaks of Wikileaks which target some States and not others? Would there be a hidden political agenda behind these leaks?
Harry Clark: This charge has been made since Wikileaks became famous around 5 years ago, due to the Chelsea Manning leaks and the dubious pursuit of Julian Assange by Swedish authorities. Any selective leaking by Wikileaks to criticize the US or other governments simply mirrors the selective leaking of classified information by the US and other governments to advance their agendas.
How do you analyze the tapping scandal of the NSA that target Heads of State allies of United States? Is the NSA out of control?
The NSA is somewhat on the defensive because of Edward Snowden’s courageous revelations, but still unaccountable. NSA surveillance of US allies like Germany, the most powerful EU state, bears on European attitudes toward US policies, above all the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine that the US has largely contrived. Sanctions against Russia have cost European business substantially, and German business leaders and senior German politicians have spoken out. Germany and Europe face not only economic damage but the risk of a war with Russian in Eastern Europe because of US aggression. Revelations of NSA surveillance enhance the perception of US arrogance and divergence between US and European interests. Yet European elites (especially in northern Europe and above all in Germany) must unlearn decades of slavish subservience, and still have a long way to go.
What do you think of BDS actions and do you believe that the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza organized by activists is an important action to break the infamous blockade experienced by the people of Gaza?
BDS has played an important role in expanding activism for Palestine, in education, and in imposing costs on Israel, though these are still chiefly moral in my view. The Israeli government’s recent estimate of $1.4 billion in possible annual cost, mainly from loss of trade, is around .45% of the $305 billion Israeli GDP (2014). This figure does not compare with the impact of sanctions on apartheid South Africa. The RAND Corporation’s estimate of $4.7 billion in annual costs is more speculative, based on possible reduced investment. All this is due mostly to activity in Europe, not the US. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called the academic boycott a major threat, but that threat is also a moral one. The most important factor in Israel’s behavior is the support of the United States, and BDS does not address this.
The attempts to break the Gaza blockade with aid vessels are ineffectual. I think the very first such attempt was allowed to reach Gaza. All subsequent attempts have been blocked, the vessels boarded and forced into the Israeli port of Ashdod. Running Israel’s blockade by sea challenges Israel in physical terms, where it has absolute power. The major success was inadvertent and tragic, in 2010, when Israel brutally exploited its absolute power. Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, killed nine activists, seized the remaining vessels of the convoy, and forced them all into Ashdod. This murderous piracy on the high seas wrecked Israel’s relations with Turkey for a time, and blackened its international reputation further, but hasn’t relieved Gaza.
The land-based vehicle convoy organized by British politician George Galloway in 2010 was allowed to enter at the Rafah crossing to Egypt and deliver its supplies. I believe Galloway had connections with Arab politicians which helped. Sea-borne blockade runners cannot count on such connections, which would be of little use in today’s Egypt. The people of Gaza are horribly trapped, by Egypt as well as Israel.
Why nobody can do enforce international law at Israel that behaves like a rogue State out of control? What is the use of international organizations such as the UN if some States are above all laws and resolutions?
The chief problem at the United Nations is the United States, which has used its veto in the Security Council over forty times, to shield Israel from critical resolutions. UN Security Council resolutions are binding in international law, unlike resolutions in the General Assembly. US support for Israel at the UN has since the 1940s is mainly the work of the US « Israel lobby », the title of the celebrated book by Professors Mearsheimer and Walt. West European countries, including Britain and France also have powerful Israel lobbies; so does Germany, whose policy toward Israel is greatly complicated by the Holocaust.
Your Western intellectual commitment in favor of just causes is very important in the global resistance to imperialism. Knowing that committed intellectuals are deprived of expression in the mass media and they only have the alternative media to express themselves, is it easy to be a writer or journalist committed against imperialist domination?
The first problem on the Palestine question is not the mainstream, which is bad enough, but the left itself, its politics, including its media outlets. There is, in effect, an « Israel lobby » of the left, which sets the tone and limit of acceptable criticism. Israel was not an issue for the Jewish members of the American New Left in the early 1960s, who sought to build a Universalist movement. The New Left shattered in the late 1960s over internal differences, including attitudes toward Israel, after the June 1967 war. A “Jewish left” arose, which purported to combine Jewish commitment with social justice, including some criticism of Israel. Today a loose school of Jewish identity politics imposes on the left terms of “anti-occupation”, “law and rights,” “solutions,” “progressive Zionism,” “Israel as US strategic asset,” and “anti-anti-Semitism”. This circumscribed critique conceals the US Israel lobby and Zionism itself, in contrast to the classical liberalism of the Enlightenment and Jewish emancipation, which rejected Zionism categorically.
Noam Chomsky is the leading voice of this left Jewish orthodoxy, and his critique of BDS last summer in The Nation is a leading example. I wrote a long article on it, which was much deeper than the responses in The Nation. http://questionofpalestine.net/2015/02/12/noam-chomsky-and-bds-the-responsibility-of-intellectuals/
Another example is the current vicious attack on Alison Weir, of If Americans Knew, by Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Since becoming involved in the Palestine issue fifteen years ago, Weir has emerged as a national voice has spoken and written widely, build IAK, published pamphlets and leaflets and videos, and published a short book, « Against Our Better Judgment. The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel« , about Zionist influence on US foreign policy since World War I.
Weir and If Americans Knew have been expelled from the US Campaign to End the Occupation on grounds of « anti-racism », an accusation grounded in interviews Weir gave to Clay Douglas, a far-right journalist whose work is full of anti-Semitic tropes. Weir has defended herself energetically, and a petition in support of her earned 1200 signatures in 48 hours, including many prominent figures, 83 members of Jewish Voice for Peace, and many members of US Campaign organizations.
This attack and expulsion took place in the name of the « anti-racist principles » ofEnd the Occupation, drawn up withJVP, which also calls itself an anti-racist group. The « anti-racist principles » mention only Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. The extensive history and literature on Zionism as a form of racism, and on Jewish racism outside Israel, were not mentioned. Islamophobia has no following in Palestine circles. The omission of Zionism and Jewish racism, and the inclusion of anti-Semitism, suggest that the « principles » are conceived not against racism, but as a political weapon against those whom Jews disagree with.(See http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=3403)
This is how Jewish activists dominate the left on Palestine, and it has been going on for nearly 50 years. JVP is the latest incarnation of Jewish identity politics; predecessor groups included New Jewish Agenda, and others, dating to the « Jewish radicalism » movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, the first expression of the Jewish left. NJA strove to prevent cutting US aid to Israel from becoming a political program on the left. Etc.
In front of all these imperialist wars, the rise of Daesh and blood flowing everywhere, are you optimistic about the future of humanity?
It’s very hard to be optimistic. Global warming threatens the most sweeping, concentrated, environmental changes since the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event from a meteor impact 66 million years ago. Our economic systems, instead of reengineering themselves, are largely pursuing business as usual. The US Empire is the chief reason we are unable to face the crisis. It is not reforming its economic neoliberalism and militarism, but declining with extreme violence, to which Zionism has made a powerful, radicalizing contribution.
With the chaotic situation in Libya and the recurring attacks in Tunisia, an immense border, and knowing that Algeria knew a merciless war against terrorism which cost more than 200 000 deaths, do you think that Algeria, even with a strong army and successful intelligence services, can resist to the terrorist danger which watches for it?
I realize that Algeria is very important to you, but I regret that I don’t know enough to say. I wish all the best for the Algerian people.
Interview realized by Mohsen Abdelmoumen
Who is Harry Clark?
Henri Clark is an American independent researcher of the Palestinian cause, based in New York. He published his writings in Counterpunch, Dissident Voice and on his personal blog The Question of Palestine: http://questionofpalestine.net/
Published in Owimity, August 5, 2015: https://www.oximity.com/article/Harry-Clark-Zionism-has-made-a-powerfu-1
In Whatsupic: http://whatsupic.com/special-usa/harry-clark-zionism-126546.html