Thursday, April 14, 2016


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed-upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank, just as Israel did in Gaza, once considered an unthinkable move on Israel's part. And that is why I join much of the international community, including the U.S. State Department and the European Union, in voicing my concern that Israel's recent expropriation of an additional 579 acres of land in the West Bank undermines the peace process and, ultimately, Israeli security, as well. It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians, which it is supposed to collect on their behalf.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Bernie Sanders. Professor Joel Beinin, commenting on both candidates.

JOEL BEININ: So, Hillary Clinton was giving you the standard cant. Nobody says Israel has the most powerful military between Morocco and Pakistan. They really don't need any more armaments. They have 200 nuclear weapons and so on. And moreover, yes, there have been terrorist attacks against Israel. None of them, altogether, represent anything remotely resembling an existential threat to Israel. They're unfortunate. It's a tragic loss of civilian life when that happens. But from a security point of view, it's not a big deal.

On the other hand, Israel has aggressively attacked its neighbors in 1956, in 1967, in 1982. On balance, Israel has been the aggressor for most of its historical existence. Hillary, I don't know if she knows the history, doesn't care about the history. She says what candidates need to say in order to get elected. Bernie Sanders is inching his way towards a more reasonable position. He is pointing out that Israel is expanding settlements. He mentioned in the interview with the New York Daily News that the settlements are actually illegal, although he wasn't clear that every single one of them is illegal according to international law. And that's not a matter of who thinks international law means what. But he's moving along. It's clear that the millennials who support him 85 to 15 are more critical of Israel, and he's getting closer to their views.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Beinin, you urged Sanders in your letter to him to take action against U.S. arms sales to countries in the region, among them Israel, but also Saudi Arabia, which has been enjoying some of the largest arms sales in the—in U.S. history, and, as well, Egypt. Can you talk about why this is so important?

JOEL BEININ: It's important because it's the sale of U.S. arms that often fuels conflicts. If the United States didn't sell any arms to just those three countries, plus the other Gulf Cooperation Councils, the Arab oil monarchies, then all of those countries would have to deal with each other in a more reasonable, diplomatic way. Those arms sales don't, in fact, contribute to anybody's defense. Saudi Arabia is essentially incapable of using the American weaponry that it buys. There's always American advisers to help them do it. And when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the Saudis couldn't repel that invasion on their own, even though they had tons of military hardware. Those sales are a boon to American military industry. So, basically, what's happening is American taxpayers are subsidizing the profits of the Lockheed, Douglas—McDonnell Douglas, Northrop Grumman and so on, and those are the real Israel lobby. They are the ones who want that grant of $3 billion-plus a year to go to Israel.

AMY GOODMAN: So talk about both aid to Israel and to Egypt, some of the largest recipients of aid in the world, and how much of that aid, of those billions of dollars, go to, in the end, U.S. arms manufacturers like Lockheed Martin.

JOEL BEININ: So, Israel gets a little bit over $3 billion officially, grant in aid, military aid. Egypt gets now, let's say, somewhere between $2.1 [billion] and $2.3 billion. That proportion was set up following the 1979 Arab—Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, and it's remained fixed since then. Those are gifts. Israel gets the money every quarter, in advance, not tied to any project. Some proportion of that money can be spent on—inside Israel, some of it for Israeli equipment, some of it for equipment that Israel manufactures for itself and for the United States military. Most of it is spent in the United States. In the case of Egypt, every penny is spent in the United States for equipment supplied by American arms manufacturers.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's relationship with Mubarak, the toppled despot of Egypt?

JOEL BEININ: Her relationship with Mubarak exemplifies her hawkish status quo approach, not only to the Middle East, but yesterday you were talking about Honduras. She had a similar view there. The entire population of Egypt was rising up against Mubarak, and she says that she believes the Mubarak regime is stable. She's tone deaf when it comes to the democratic aspirations not only of the Egyptian people, but certainly also to the Palestinian people.

AMY GOODMAN: Hillary Clinton said in 2009, "I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family."
Excerpt - Democracy Now – PBS - April 14, 2016

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