Alison Weir: Israel has long been a major threat to peace
Interview with Alison Weir by Mohsen Abdelmoumen
Mohsen Abdelmoumen: Can we say that the United States is a sovereign State when we see the historical weight of the Zionist lobby on its policy decision?
Alison Weir: Adherents of political Zionism have influenced U.S. policies for decades and have often played a central role in elections. Despite this, Americans will be able to forge independent policies when enough people become aware of the facts and demand different policies.
You cite the staggering US aid to Israel, either $ 10 million per day or 7,000 times more per capita than other countries. What justifies such help to Israel from the United States?
I personally don’t feel it is rational or justified. It is the result of political lobbying by well-funded organizations and obfuscation by the American media. Most Americans have no idea that our government gives such an enormous amount of money to Israel. For this reason, our organization is placing billboards around the U.S. informing people of this fact.
You are threatened with death, you undergo pressures, because of your commitment to the Palestinian cause. Where are the Western values such as “democracy” and “freedom of speech” in all this?
Zionists have little attachment to principles such as democracy or freedom of speech. However, I believe that the majority of Americans believe in these and are disturbed when they are violated. Again, however, most are unaware of how deeply these principles are being damaged by Israel partisans.
As an intellectual committed to the Palestinian cause, how can you explain that when people like you are disparaged, defamed and threatened, some leaders of the Arab-Muslim world collaborate actively with Israel, including some Palestinians themselves? Is not the Palestinian cause the cause of all the humanity?
A group in Malaysia has a wonderful name: “the Movement for a Just World.” I feel that the Palestinian cause is part of that. All people should work for justice for all people, without exceptions.
You were supported in 2015 by 2000 activists and world-famous personalities, among them the Professor Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied, Hedy Epstein, Ann Wright, Arun Gandhi, Ray McGovern, Cindy Sheehan, and James Abourezk former Senator and founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Can you tell us about this open letter they signed?
Some individuals who say they are “pro-Palestinian” seem to wish to control the discourse on this issue and keep aspects of it, such as the power of the Israel lobby, hidden. A group called “Jewish voice for peace” that was formed about the same time that I began “If Americans Knew” has always contained Zionists among its members and, while its stances have evolved as more people have become involved in the Palestine solidarity movement, it has a history of taking weak stands on some fundamental aspects of this issue and failing to support full justice for Palestinians; it refuses to consider Zionism racist. This group has become quite powerful and currently has a budget of over $2 million. While the organization has done much valuable work and worked to build relationships with many groups and individuals, it has also used its power to try to control the movement and marginalize committed activists who support full justice for Palestinians. When JVP’s actions against me became public, many people opposed them and called for such attacks to end. Some created an Open Letter supporting me and opposing the divisive attacks, and over 2,000 people signed it, including many members of JVP. It appears that the majority of activists support me and If Americans Knew. Some, however, taken in by JVP’s accusations, or who themselves wish to dominate the movement, support what JVP is doing.
Why do the Zionist lobbies persecute Mrs. Alison Weir? Are they afraid of a Righteous bringer of light?
I think that Zionists of all stripes fear exposure of the full facts on this issue. While open Zionists, soft Zionists (people who only oppose the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank but support Israel’s core, discriminatory identity), and many people who say they are no longer Zionists but who still seem to have an emotional attachment to Israel have long opposed If Americans Knew, my book seems to have particularly triggered escalated attacks on me. This book, which is thoroughly cited, exposes the fact that Zionists have worked to manipulate the U.S. since the late 1800s and contains facts that Israel partisans clearly wish to keep hidden. Fortunately, despite their attempts to bury the book and to prevent my speaking engagements, the book is enjoying considerable popularity and we have now sold over 25,000 copies. It is now listed on Amazon as a bestseller in several categories. I expect its success will lead to even more attacks on me of all sorts ; some of the most insidious, sadly, will quite likely continue to be from those who claim to be part of the Palestine solidarity movement.
How is it that we saw Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to terrorist Al Nusra treated in Israeli field hospitals? Do Daesh and Al-Qaeda come from the same terrorist matrix as the State of Israel?
From its earliest beginnings, the Israeli strategy has been one of “divide and conquer.” Israeli leaders feel that any and all actions that cause strife within and among its neighbors benefits Israel, and Israel has often played a role in creating and/or nurturing such strife. This tactic has been discussed in a number of Israeli strategy papers.
You lived with Palestinians in the occupied territories, what is your testimony about their daily life under Israeli occupation?
In some areas they are shelled and invaded frequently, people killed and injured routinely. Even in the areas that are usually free of this outright violence, Palestinians are living in prisons in which Israel controls their lives and prevents their ability to protect their children – Israel decides where and whether they can travel and takes any action against Palestinians it wishes, strip searching women and children; abducting men, women, and children at will; imprisoning them without trial; perpetrating physical and psychological torture against them with impunity; preventing them from free contact with the rest of the world.
Does not Israel constitute a threat for peace in the world notably with its nuclear power?
Israel has long been a major threat to peace. It has caused numerous wars and encouraged still more. Its possession of nuclear weapons threatens the region and beyond and its actions could trigger a global conflagration.
More and more voices in the world are protesting against Israeli domination, as we saw it during the last open-air massacre in Gaza. How do you explain this change in favor of the Palestinian cause?
With the Internet, more and more people are learning the facts. People are increasingly seeing Israeli violence that used to be hidden from the world.
How do you explain that the Zionist state of Israel is called the Jewish state by referring to the Hebrew religion; and why are those who are against the Israeli criminal policy or the Zionist lobbies qualified anti-Semitic?
Israel does not define “Jewish” as a religious designation, it defines it as an ethnic identity. Israel claims that anyone who exposes or opposes its human rights violations is “anti-Semitic” as a tactic to prevent such opposition and to marginalize those whose facts they wish to hide. As a former Israeli Knesset member said a while ago, “It’s a trick; we always use it.”
Is not the Christian fundamentalism the real creator of the Zionist State of Israel, as it is found in some ancient texts either in Britain or the United States?
No, this isn’t what led to the creation of Israel. While there are some passages within Hebrew and Christian texts that some individuals have long interpreted as meaning that all Jews are meant to go to Israel (these interpretations are contested by most respected theologians, including fundamentalist theologians), such groups never brought this about. It was the political Zionist movement largely begun by Theodor Herzl in the late 1800s that Israel and others accurately consider the movement that founded Israel. This movement worked to propagandize every sector of the United States, including both Christians and Jews. There is quite a bit of information about this in my book. Today, while many Christian fundamentalists support Israel because of the manipulation that occurred and still occurs in the U.S., more and more of these individuals are changing their views when they learn the facts. There are now many Christian fundamentalists (and Jews) who are working fervently for justice for Palestinians.
You founded If America Knew and you are President of the Council for the National Interest, can you explain to us what is the role of these two organizations?
I founded If Americans Knew to give Americans the full facts on Palestine and on the role of the United States in this conflict. Most Americans have no idea that the U.S. government gives massive amounts of money to Israel and shields it from deserved international condemnation. Similarly, most Americans have no idea of the history of this issue, and of the ongoing oppression of Palestinians. Finally, most Americans have no idea of the size, history, and significance of the Zionist lobby in the U.S. and the degree to which it influences policies that are immoral, irrational, and that cause great harm to people throughout the world, including Americans.
The Council for the National Interest was founded in 1989 to counter the Israel lobby. Its goal was to work for policies that would be in the interests of all Americans, an extremely diverse population, rather than for one tiny interest group. Its two main founders, former Congressmen Paul Findley and Pete McCloskey were both pushed out of office by Israel partisans when these men began to advocate for justice for Palestinians. Both are deeply principled individuals who had also opposed the Vietnam War and racism.
What can a world scale activist as you are say to all resistants worldwide against Zionism and the fascist State of Israel?
I’m very surprised, but honored, to see you refer to me as a “world scale activist.” I’m just one of a multitude of people who are joining together to work for justice for Palestinians and to oppose violence, racism, and oppression. I have no doubt that we will eventually succeed. The main point is to continue our work, to refuse to be divided from one another, and not to give up. We are an extremely diverse movement and I believe that is part of our strength, along with the worthiness of our cause and the nobility and courage of those who came before us. We are of all different faiths and backgrounds, of all ages and races, and we won’t be stopped.
Who is Alison Weir?
Alison Weir is an American writer and an activist for the Palestinian cause. She is the founder and director of the non-profit organization If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest. In 2001, Alison Weir left her job as editor of a weekly newspaper and traveled alone to the Palestinian territories during the Second Intifada. She visited the West Bank and Gaza and witnessed the scenes of violence, seeing the truth of the conflict on the ground, and from where she wrote about her encounters with Palestinian suffering and with the “incredible arrogance, cruelty, selfishness” of Israelis. She was amazed by what she learned: That the truth of the conflict, on the ground, bore almost no resemblance to the stories told in US media. She returned to the US determined to change that. She began to speak and write on the topic and founded If Americans Knew, a nonprofit dedicated to accurately informing Americans. More recently, she also accepted a position as president of the Council for the National Interest.
Alison Weir was a civil rights activist and Peace Corps volunteer. Alison Weir has spoken all over the United States, including two briefings on Capitol Hill, presentations at the National Press Club in Washington DC (broadcast nationally on C-Span), Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine (one also broadcast on C-Span), at World Affairs Councils, and at numerous universities including Harvard Law School, Columbia, Stanford, Berkeley, Yale, Georgetown, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Vassar, the Naval Postgraduate Institute, Purdue, Northwestern, and the University of Virginia.She has given papers at various international conferences, lectured in Ramallah and at the University of Qatar, presented at the Asia Media Summits in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, and given speaking tours in England, Wales, Iran and Qatar.
Alison Weir has also written widely on Israel-Palestine, the US connection, and media coverage. Her first book, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, was published in February 2014 and has received high praise. Her essays and articles have appeared in a number of books and magazines, among them The New Intifada (Verso), Censored 2005 (Seven Stories Press), Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Rienner), The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, San Francisco Bay View newspaper, CounterPunch, and The Link.
Alison Weir has received various awards and in 2004 was inducted into honorary membership of Phi Alpha Literary Society, founded in 1845 at Illinois College. The award cited her as a “Courageous journalist-lecturer on behalf of human rights, the first woman to receive an honorary membership in Phi Alpha history.”