C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb interviewed veteran Israel-basher Phyllis Bennis (writer, analyst, fringe activist on Middle East issues) Aug.16, 2015 (8-9 p.m.) on the Q&A program. The first 3/4 of the program dealt mainly with her notions of what drives ISIS (Islamic State) terrorism discussed in her new book (July 1), “Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer.” Bennis, an anti-Zionist Jew who is director of the New Internationalism Project of the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies, has authored other “primers” – “Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer” and “Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer.” Bennis’ faulty “understanding” of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – dealt with in the final part of this broadcast – is consistent with her “understanding” of Islamic terrorism and the Iran problem.
Bennis asserts that the ISIS (and Al-Qaeda) terrorists are driven by one or more of the factors of poverty, powerlessness, American occupation – or despotism and disenfranchisement caused by the West. But indicative that she is either dishonest or uninformed about the subject, nowhere does Bennis list as a factor, Islamist indoctrination or Islamic extremism or any equivalent term widely understood to be at least a significant factor in driving the terrorism. She fails to mention any of these terms: Islamist, fanatic, fanaticism, extremist, indoctrination, mullah and so-forth. In fact, she mentions the word “Islamic” only twice – both times in referring to the “Islamic State” (ISIS). She mentions “Prophet Mohammed” (or any variation of the term) only once – “It [Islam] goes back to the seventh century and the Prophet Mohammed. I am not an expert on all the ins and outs of the ideology.” This admission seems to be an understatement.
Bennis, prompted by Lamb, warms up to a favorite activity, vilifying Israel. Lamb: “I’m going to run a piece of video of a person you know well. He died in 2003. He is a Palestinian by birth. You are a Reform Jew by birth and then became an anti-Zionist. We have to find out why. Here’s Edward Said [pronounced “Sa-heed”]: “… The official Israeli policy … has always been to not recognize the Palestinian people as equals … most Israelis and what seems to be the majority of American Jews have made every effort to deny, avoid or negate a Palestinian reality. That is why there is no peace.”
… in fact, the great majority of Palestinians were not expelled, and that most, like Professor Said and his family, chose to leave. (See for example, Karsh’s Were the Palestinians Expelled in Commentary, July-August 2000; Justus Reid Weiner, My Beautiful Old House and other Fabrications by Edward Said, Commentary, September 1999)
Bennis commenting on Lamb’s Said video clip, said, “He [Said] was a great mentor of mine in the last years of his life … One of the things that I was always most proud of growing up Jewish [and Zionist] was the concern about ideas… My father would challenge me with ideas [but] he never questioned Israel… I [later] read the works of Theodor Herzl [Viennese journalist], the father of modern Zionism. I found that he wrote these letters begging for support from – guess who – Cecil Rhodes, the great British colonialist” (see below). At this point, she says, she started to understand that Israel was a “colonial project” which led her to Edward Said which, in turn, led to a determination to “build a movement that can change the U.S. policy” which “enables Israeli occupation and Israeli apartheid policies.”
Bennis’ false accusation that Israel is a “colonial project” is clearly propagandistic. If other peoples have a right to live securely in their homelands, then the Jewish people certainly have a right to live securely in their homeland. This includes Jewish communities (“settlements”) in the West Bank (see below). The 20th century restoration of the nation of Israel was never intended to be at the expense of anyone. In 1948, the Jews accepted the U.N. partition plan but the Arabs initiated their genocidal campaign aimed at cleansing the land of all Jews. Bennis’ supposed “colonialism” revelation about Herzl/Rhodes is based on an obscure incident (see below).
• A key element of the “occupation” myth is the claim that West Bank Jewish settlements are illegal as well as a hin
drance to peace. A “hindrance to peace”? Yes – for a society brainwashed by a steady stream of antisemitic, anti-Israel incitement from Palestinian media, mosques and schools in violation of Article 26 (2) of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in violation of Israeli-Palestinian agreements. On the other hand, there is nothing in mainstream Jewish society relating to Arabs (or any ethnic/religious/racial group) that is remotely analogous to that found chronically in official Palestinian sources aimed at the destruction of Israel and Jews. Thus it is that Palestinian Arabs (and not surprisingly – their anti-Israel supporters elsewhere) demand a Jew-free apartheid in the West Bank.
• Can the settlements be considered illegal? Basic international law in this case, the League of Nations’ Palestine Mandate, Article 6, calls for “close Jewish settlement” on the land west of the Jordan River. Article 6 is incorporated by Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, sometimes referred to as “the Palestine article.” The United States endorsed the mandate, including Article 6, in the 1924 Anglo-American Convention. The West Bank is not sovereign territory of any country, but rather land disputed by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It was illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967, when Israel took control as a result of successful self-defense in the 1967 Six-Day War. As Eugene Rostow – a co-author of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), the keystone of all subsequent successful Arab-Israeli negotiations pointed out – 242 does not require complete Israeli withdrawal. Rather, the status of the territory, to which Jews as well as Arabs have legitimate claims, is to be resolved in negotiations as called for in the resolution and by U.N. Security Council Resolution 338 (1973). Meanwhile, Jewish villages and towns built in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria, the ancient homeland of the Jewish people) since 1967 are no more deserving of condemnation than are Arab villages built since then in previously existing Arab villages and towns.
Bennis’ delusions include one of grandeur early-on (she was determined to “build a movement that can change the U.S. policy”) and the revelation she received of Israel as a “colonial project” when discovering, as she describes it (above), Herzl’s “letters begging for support from – guess who – Cecil Rhodes, the great British colonialist.”
You, Mr. Rhodes, are a visionary politician or a practical visionary… I want you to … put the stamp of your authority on the Zionist plan and to make the following declaration to a few people who swear by you: I, Rhodes have examined this plan and found it correct and practicable. It is a plan full of culture, excellent for the group of people for whom it is directly designed, not detrimental to the general progress of mankind, and quite good for England, for Greater Britain. If you and your associates supply the requested financial aid for this, you will, in addition to these satisfactions, have the satisfaction of making a good profit. For what is being asked for is money. What is the plan? To settle Palestine with the homecoming Jewish people. (The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, editor-Raphael Patai, translator-Harry Zohn, Volume III, The Herzl Press, page 1194; the diary entry is dated Jan 11, 1902).
Herzl writes on Jan. 20, 1902, “This letter to Rhodes remains in the ink bottle for the time being, because [of being busy with fund-raising activities] …” Apparently the letter didn’t go beyond the diary.
One of Herzl’s friends asked Cecil Rhodes, the great British imperialist, for his advice. Rhodes answered: “Tell Dr. Herzl to put money in his pocket.” Herzl scarcely had any money. “The secret I keep from everybody,” he wrote, “is the fact that I am at the head only of a movement of beggars and fools” (Schnorrer und Narren). The rich, with very few exceptions, opposed his scheme. The early settlers were mostly penniless idealists, social anarchists, Narodniks, practicing a bizarre “religion of hard labor.” Ninety percent of those who arrived in Palestine between 1904 and 1914 returned to Europe or wandered on to America.
Misleading millions of potential viewers, Lamb’s symbiotic interview of Bennis, exhibiting her usual dogmatic commitment to anti-Israel mythology (as well as her usual condemnation of the purpose of U.S. war on terrorism), is in keeping with C-SPAN’s chronic Jewish/Israel problem that CAMERA continues to document.