Spreading the word

I appeared on LA radio this afternoon to discuss the Israel/Palestine conflict and the Zionist lobby. “Middle East in Focus” is a weekly show on KPFK. The show started in 1980 during the Iranian hostage crisis and is currently hosted by Don Bustany. KPFK is owned by the Pacifica Foundation. They are listener sponsored and of the 140 programmers, 130 are unpaid volunteers.

The first guest on the program was a correspondent in Iran. He discussed the nuclear stand-off between America and the Islamic state.

Next up was Amy Wilentz, a contributing editor of The Nation magazine, author of The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier and a novel, Martyr’s Crossing. Her review of Alan Dershowitz’s “The Case For Israel” appeared in the Los Angeles Times last week:

“Dershowitz is not the only supporter of Israel and of peace who argues in this way. Many Jews in America never really examine how Palestinians might feel about certain Israeli policies, always assuming that Israel tries to be humane (even when it drops a bomb on an apartment complex to eliminate one terrorist and also kills 10 children; even though more than 500 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers since the start of the second intifada). He always assumes that Israel will be the one to set the parameters of what’s an acceptable peace. Sadly, the vicious and self-defeating suicide-bombing strategy of the masterminds of the second intifada has not changed such condescending and intemperate talk, to put it mildly.”

Wilentz suggested that Dershowitz was not unlike her young boys: petulant, always claiming to be right and incapable of seeing fault with the Jewish state.

My segment consisted of a general overview of my forthcoming book on the Middle East conflict, the power of the Zionist lobby in Australia and some possible reasons why honest debate about the Israel/Palestine conflict is next to impossible without resulting in raised tempers.

A number of listeners wanted to engage in the subject. Max from LA called in and asked why the Palestinians “always want to destroy us” and if I was proud to be a Jew with my views. I said that Jews historically always questioned official dogma and they should speak out if they see injustice. Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is one such example.

It was a fascinating 30-minute session and proved that rational discussion is possible on this subject if, unlike Max, contributors don’t start claiming God-given rights to the land.

On a related issue, since the recent publication of my article on Counterpunch, I’ve received nearly one hundred emails from around the world, orders for the (as yet) unfinished book, requests from libraries across the globe and words of support. Thank you all. The strongest message I received is the level of frustration amongst people who want to talk about America’s relationship with Israel, the power of the Zionist lobby or the disgraceful role of Arab countries towards the Palestinians.

Let honest debate begin.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common