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University of Haifa
Pappe in "Israeli Professor in Haifa Blasts "Reckless" Assault on Lebanon" July 20th, 2006


ILAN PAPPE: Well, today was a relative quiet day. There were several sirens, but no rockets fell, unlike tomorrow. But I’m aware that what we are going through pales in comparison to what goes on on the other side of the border, where a large number of civilians have been killed.

And I think I can talk also as a spokesperson for the Israeli Committee Against the War, that the citizens of Haifa, Palestinians and Jews alike, there are quite a large number of them who ask probably the same questions that Ralph Nader asked before. Why doesn't our government accept the offer of the United Nations to an immediate ceasefire and the beginning of diplomatic negotiations? And why does the United States, in the most immoral position I have ever recalled since the end of the second World War, tells us and the poor citizens of Lebanon that it doesn't mind the mutual killing of citizens, so that the military operation could go on, where it knows that it has the power to stop today the shelling of both Israelis and Lebanese and to start maybe a more fruitful negotiations, not only over the questions of the prisoners of war, but maybe even over the question of the comprehensive solution.

ILAN PAPPE: Immensely so. I think that, first of all, it has the power, like it never had before, to stop an escalation, which has already claimed the lives of many innocent people. So that’s a very powerful position. Secondly, it’s the only superpower in the area and in the world, and that’s a very great responsibility. And thirdly, without the U.S. support, the aggressive Israeli policies, not only towards Lebanon, but also towards the Gaza Strip and towards the Occupied Territories, would have changed dramatically. So I would say that in fact the Middle East conflict continues, very much because -- not only because, but primarily because -- of the American position.

ILAN PAPPE: Yeah, it is true. It is true that the Jewish society -- as you know, 20% of the Israelis are Palestinians, and I doubt very much whether they support this policy, but it is true that the majority of the Jewish population supports the government, but they do it because (a) they’re misinformed -- nobody in Israel can see what are the results of the Israeli bombing in Lebanon -- and because it is an indoctrinated society that, through the educational system and the media and the political system, gets a very distorted picture of the reality around it.

So you can get the consensus around the government policies, but, you know, from history we know that the majority support for certain policies doesn't vindicate it or doesn’t justify it. And for the first time, I think, this war actually -- and this is my great hope, as well -- is going to bring questions to the fore, because I think more and more Israelis realize that what they were promised a week ago, that in 48 hours or so the mighty Israeli Air Force would settle all the problems of the Middle East for once and for all, this promise was made in vain, and my hope is that the Israelis will start to ask questions that would first lead to the end of this war, but maybe would start an era of pluralism in Israel, which pretends to be a democracy, with some of the more bizarre and dangerous policies of the government would be questioned by its society.

ILAN PAPPE: Well, I think the demand for the return of the soldiers has been a pretext, and, in fact, nobody is talking about that demand any more here in Israel. We all forgot about it. This has long time been forgotten. If you want to return captive soldiers, you don't go and bomb the other side in a way that may harm your chances. So, I don't think this is the issue at all, and I don't think these Israeli demands are going to be accepted unilaterally.

I think the Israelis are facing, both in the case of the Hamas and the case of the Hezbollah, two very weak military powers, but determined enough to show the Israelis that there are two options here. One is the option of a very troubled, but nonetheless constructive, dialogue, or the option of destruction and violence.

And I think that these Israeli demands are not made in good faith, and I don't think that they are really the objective of the Israeli operation either in Lebanon or in Palestine. I think the real target of these operations, which were by the way preplanned and they were not just in a reaction to the abduction of the soldiers, was to try and eliminate the only two resistance movements left in the Middle East that oppose the Israeli decision to unilaterally impose its vision on Palestine, a vision that includes the creation of a greater Israel over most of the West Bank and the enclaving and imprisoning of the Palestinians in two small Bantustans.

And now, the Arab regimes are unable to oppose it. America endorses it. The Europeans seem to be indifferent. And there are only two movements, which are not just guerrilla movements, but also popular social and cultural movements, that oppose these policies. And the Israelis think they have the window of opportunity with the unconditional American support to use force in order to impose their will. And I think that’s the real agenda.

And had the soldiers not been abducted, the Israelis would have chosen another incident, a different incident, to unleash their forces in what they think is a moment of historical opportunity. But I think we all are going to learn that they were wrong, and the price we are all going to pay is going to be very high for this adventurous and reckless policy.


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