Marwan Bishara, senior political analyst at Al Jazeera English and host and editor of the television program Empire, talks to Democracy Now! about the desperate need for America to see the world in a way other than through a Zionist frame:
Everyone was caught in the headlights—What is going on? Who are these people?—not realizing that in places like Bahrain, places like Yemen, certainly Egypt, Tunisia and so on and so forth, a pent-up tension has been building up for years. This is not a new thing that’s gone on on Facebook. So, in Saudi Arabia, like in the rest of the Arab world, we’re going to see what has been building up for years. In Bahrain, they used to call it, for the last 30 years, attempts to topple the government, attempts to topple the regime. In fact, they were community organizers. They’re not exactly like Chicago; the risks are far higher in the Arab world. But these are community organizers in Egypt and Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain and other places, trying to live—or trying to root for decent living, but always being called terrorists or always been oppressed under the pretext of terrorism.
AMY GOODMAN: Marwan Bishara, you just came back from Washington, D.C., where you were meeting with think tanks. What is your sense of the Washington consensus understanding versus what you are experiencing in the Middle East?
MARWAN BISHARA: You know, sometimes I forget exactly what are the concepts that are allowed on television or not, but let me just put it this way: they were caught with their pants down, completely. I mean, people in Washington, until today, have not realized exactly what is going on. They’re still trying to play catch-up with what’s going on in the Arab world.
So, for example, I was in one of those brainstorming sessions that tried to talk about what’s next for Palestine and Israel. And what amazes me is that everything that they speak about has an Israel reference to it, because that’s where the correspondents for their main networks are, that’s where their people are, and that’s how they’ve seen the region—Egypt, Palestine and so on—from Israel’s prisms. So, every point of reference is, what did Netanyahu say, or what does Israel think, what would the Israeli lobby consider. Would now, for example, President Obama do this and that, and will the Israeli lobby allow him? What does that mean for our strategic interests in the Middle East? Not understanding that there is a complete sweep that requires not only a change of mindset and, if you allow me here, a change of decision makers, perhaps, or a change of aides in Washington. There’s a complete class of bureaucrats in Washington that are not only not in touch with what’s going on in America, they certainly are not in touch with what’s going on in the Arab world.