Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Interview with Ilan Pappe: "Occupiers Cannot Also be Liberal"

Electronic Intifada has a great interview with the anti-Zionist Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, now exiled to Britain because of his support for a boycott of the Israeli academy. I'll post a few choice excerpts:

Q: During his last visit to the region US President George W. Bush described Israel as an example of progress and democracy in the Middle East. How objective do you find his view?

Ilan Pappe: A society that endorses a 40-year occupation of another people cannot be a liberal one. A society that discriminates against 20 percent of its population because they are not Jews cannot be described as progressive. The problem in Israel is not the role of religion or tradition; it is the role of Zionism, a very clear ideology of exclusion, racism and expulsion. This ideology allows the army to play a significant role in most of the domestic and foreign policies, and it is probably right to say that Israel is not a state with an army, but an army with a state.

Q: Can Barack Obama's victory make a difference?

Ilan Pappe: I think people who strive to hold the post of the strongest person in the world are not interested in moral issues, or are really moved by suffering and oppression. Obama is no different, and the morality of the issue or the suffering of the Palestinians would not move him. He would move in a different direction if he and his advisors would feel that showing less support for Israel enhances their political power. So far this is not the case. It is better to be pro-Israeli to win American elections and be re-elected for the second term. If there is any hope, this is from a second term, when the powerful men are brought back to their normal human size again, and may begin to think like you and me about injustice, oppression and occupation.