Reflections on BDS

Stephen Zunes writes that, although support for BDS has grown dramatically worldwide, “it has shown little in the way of tangible benefits for the Palestinians.”

The United States and Israel: An Alliance or a Protection Racket?

GIVEN THE CENTURIES of persecution against the Jewish people, threats by Arab neighbors to Israel’s very survival in the early days of its independence, and decades of terrorist attacks by Palestinian extremists against Israeli civilians, it has been understandably difficult for many Israelis to recognize the willingness of the Palestine Authority (PA) to make peace. As the principal mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, one would think that the United States would be eager to underscore the Authority’s willingness to accept Israeli control of 78 percent of historic Palestine, allow for Israeli annexation of most of the major settlement blocs in the West Bank in exchange for an equivalent amount of land recognized as part of Israel, and the implantation of strict security guarantees, including the demilitarization of a Palestinian state, the disarming of Hamas and other militias, and the deployment of Israeli monitors and international peacekeeping forces. Unfortunately, the U.S. government and leading American political figures have done just the opposite—engaging in a longstanding and persistent effort to persuade the Israeli people and supporters of Israel in the United States that the Palestinians are not really interested in peace and that a perpetually militarized Israel is therefore necessary. In resolutions passed by unanimous consent or lopsided bipartisan majorities, Congress has repeatedly tried to convince Israelis that—despite repeated calls for peace—the Palestinians’ recognized leadership in the dominant Fatah party, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the Palestine Authority have actually wanted to destroy Israel. For example, Congressional leaders and top administration officials from both parties for many years kept insisting that Palestinian leaders such as Yasir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas were talking about peace in English while rejecting it in Arabic—even though none of them actually understood the language.

Overcoming Bitterness and No Longer Assuming the Worst of Democrats

For decades, I have been obsessed with exposing the Clintons and like-minded Democratic politicians’ dangerous foreign policies, challenging liberal naiveté that ignores or excuses such hawkish proclivities, and underscoring the need to withhold support until they embrace more responsible positions. What I am belatedly discovering, as this campaign season is drawing to a close, is that while such concerns are not without merit, such efforts have ended up contributing to what may be an even bigger problem: the anger, frustration, cynicism, self-righteousness, isolation and other self-defeating tendencies on the left. It was such attitudes that played a decisive role in the narrow election victories of Richard Nixon over Hubert Humphrey and of George W. Bush over Al Gore and over John Kerry, resulting in horrific consequences to millions of people in the United States and the world. Indeed, it could possibly even lead this coming week to the most disastrous outcome of all: the election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. It was twelve years ago, at the 2004 Tikkun conference near Washington, DC and in a subsequent edition of the magazine, when I bitterly attacked Democratic nominee John Kerry—in hindsight, the most progressive candidate the party has nominated since George McGovern—in ways that fed such perspectives.

Steven Zunes on Hillary Clinton’s Record on Foreign Policy

Please know that regardless of the concerns about Hillary’s Clinton’s foreign policy record I have expressed in my writings and I interviews, I recognize that the priority this fall for U.S. voters needs to be preventing Donald Trump from becoming president. And I also recognize the importance of rejecting the many false allegations against Hillary Clinton and categorically condemning any and all sexist attacks and misogynist language in reference to her or her candidacy.

The U.S. and the Rise of Isis

The rise of ISIS (also known as Daesh, ISIL, or the “Islamic State”) is a direct consequence of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. While there are a number of other contributing factors as well, that fateful decision is paramount. Had Congress not authorized President George W. Bush the authority to illegally invade a country on the far side of the world that was no threat to us, and to fund the occupation and bloody counter-insurgency war that followed, the reign of terror ISIS has imposed upon large swathes of Syria and Iraq and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, the Sinai, San Bernardino and elsewhere would never have happened. Among the many scholars, diplomats, and political figures who warned of such consequences was a then-Illinois state senator named Barack Obama, who noted that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would “only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda” and other like-minded extremists. It is ironic, then, that most of those who went ahead and supported the invasion of Iraq anyway are now trying to blame him for the rise of ISIS.