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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  December 18, 2013 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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12/18/13 12/18/13 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is democracy now! which3 was the year in the syrian conflict a terror i did the on all imagination -- deteriorated the on all imagination. takeyrian people cannot another day of brutality and destruction. >> the united nations is warning syria has become the most dangerous crisis for global peace and security since world
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war ii. we will go to the syria-turkish border to speak with doctors without borders and talk to foreign correspondent patrick cockburn. his latest piece is headlined, "starving in syria: the biggest emergency in the u.n.'s history." then the american studies association, an organization of close to 5000 professors, votes to to want to boycott israeli universities. we will host a debate. all of that and more coming up. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. up to 500 people have been killed and 800 wounded in fighting between rival soldiers in south sudan. the violence followed with the south sudanese government called a foiled coup attempt against president salva kiir. thousands of people have taken touge in u.n. facilities escape the fighting. six u.s. troops have died in an air craft hash -- aircraft crash
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in afghanistan. it was the deadliest incident for american forces in afghanistan this year. the military says the crash was an accident, but the taliban said it carried out an attack. the senate, intelligence committee has asked the cia to hand over an internal study said to be highly critical of its own program of secret detentions and torture. the study is said to echo the findings of the intelligence committee's report, which has yet to be declassified but reportedly documents extensive abuses and a cover-up by cia officials to congress. the study is also said to contradict the agency's own formal response to the senate report. --tuesday, senate democrat democratic senator mark udall of colorado said the ca plus withheld study --
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edward stone has published an open letter offering to help the brazilian government investigate nsa surveillance. his leaks revealed the nsa spied on the personal communications of brazilian president dilma rousseff as well as on brazil's state-run oil company, petrobras. in his letter, snowden said he needs political asylum in order to assist countries like brazil targeted by nsa spying, writing -- brazilian officials say they have no plans to grant snowden's request. at the white house, press secretary jay carney rejected snowden's call for asylum abroad. as i said earlier, has not changed. ought toe mr. snowden be returned to, ought to return to the united states where he faces charges for leaking classified information, and
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where he will receive full due process and protections. the broader issues with regards inbrazil and other nations the disclosures are ones that we discussed directly with those nations through diplomatic channels and with our brazilian counterparts, and that will continue. when it comes to mr. snowden, our views have not changed. >> the chair of the house intelligence committee appeared before the european parliament on tuesday to warn against pending testimony by snowden. u.s. opposes the eu's invitation for stone to answer questions about nsa spying on their countries. >> we have had very direct dialogue with our colleagues and compatriots in the european union. i personally do not believe it rises to the dignity of this body to have someone who is wanted for a crime in the united
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states for stealing information that has jeopardized the lives of u.s. soldiers in afghanistan and other places around the world. i do believe this would have a reaction in the united states that would not be helpful to a constructive dialogue as we continue to work out our differences. >> edward snowden is that answer questions from european lawmakers by video next month. president obama held talks of the white house on tuesday with executives from top u.s. tech firms, including apple, twitter, google, and facebook will stop the meeting comes days after the tech firms join together to call for tougher controls over u.s. government surveillance. in a statement, the company said they urged obama to move aggressively on reform. ukraine has secured a $15 billion bailout from russia amidst an economic crisis and political unrest. the ukrainian president has faced weeks of protest for a decision to reject closer integration with the european
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union in favor of strengthening russian ties. he says the russian duo offers better terms because of the tough economic reforms that would have come with the eu. on tuesday, tens of thousands of people rallied to oppose the pact with russia. a gunman opened fire at a reno, nevada medical building on tuesday, killing one person and injuring two others before taking his own life. the attack came four days after a student gunman critically wounded a classmate in a committed suicide at a high school in colorado. between thepened up u.s. and india over the alleged mistreatment of an indian diplomat. india's deputy consul general in new york was arrested last week on charges of underpaying her domestic helper and committing visa fraud to win her entry into the country. the diplomat said she was handcuffed, cavity searched, and kept in a cell with drug addicted prisoners despite asserting her right to diplomatic immunity. indian parliament through affairs minister kamal nath
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demanded an apology. >> in needs to come out of the [indiscernible] states along with all the states must recognize every country has dignity and cannot be dealt with in this manner. [indiscernible] until they give an unconditional apology. >> in response, indian officials have removed security barriers in front of the new -- in front of the u.s. embassy in new delhi. a group of indian politicians also refused to meet with a delegation of visiting u.s. lawmakers. and washington, the state department of the spokeswoman said the u.s. expects india to protect its embassy. we have conveyed our
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expectations is india will continue to fulfill its obligations under the convention -- consular relations. the safety and security of our people as a top 40. >> the washington, d.c. city council has approved one of the nation's largest minimum wage rates for 2016. he would rise in two years from $8.25 an hour to $11.50 an hour. the measure was approved unanimously, meaning it could withstand a veto from the mayor. mayor vincent gray vetoed a living wage requirement large retail stores earlier this year. a senior navy investigator has pleaded guilty to bribery charges as part of widening corruption case involving top officers and a longtime pentagon contractor. john beliveau is the first of six senior officials to be linked to wrongdoing by the firm glenn defense marine asia. the company's executive, leonard glenn francis, is accused of bribing navy officials with money, gives, and sex workers to
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win government contracts. when defense marine asia has won hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to oversee port visits and security during navy stops of foreign harbors. john beliveau faces up to 20 was imprisoned. chrisrsey governor christie is facing a controversy over whether his appointees deliberately caused traffic delays to exact political revenge. democrats say lanes on the new jersey side of the george washington bridge were reduced in september to punish the mayor of fort lee for declining to endorse chris christie's bid for reelection. just one lane was operational over a four-day period, causing massive traffic jams. to christie appointees, one of them high school friend, have resigned since the scandal broke. one of them has claimed the lanes were closed to conduct a traffic study, but it appears no study took place. and the critic senator jay rockefeller has asked the department of transportation to investigate. senator jayitic
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rockefeller has asked the department of transportation to investigate. 16 people have been arrested in oregon after blocking a shipment of equipment bound for the alberta tar sands. the protesters locked themselves to two vehicles in front of the truck's root. organizers say the action marked the sixth against tar sand shipment in the pacific northwest in just over two weeks. archdiocese of philadelphia has placed five more priests only than the continued fallout from allegations of child sex abuse. one of the priests, michael chapman, was found to have terri that molestation while the others were sent -- said to have violated undisclosed enters the behavior and boundaries. a former top ranking clergyman of the roman catholic church in pennsylvania was convicted last year covering up child sex abuse by philadelphia priests. magazine thes advocate has named pope francis its person of the year.
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"pope francis is still not pro- gay by today's standard, but what francis does say but lgbt people as already cause reflection and consternation within his church." "time magazine" named pope francis its person of the year last week. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. now to the latest in syria. doctors without borders is reporting more than 100 people have been killed since the syrian army helicopters began attacking the rubble held city of aleppo four days ago. the dead include at least 28 children. the u n secretary-general has said the situation in syria has "deteriorated beyond all imagination." he insisted that both sides stop fighting before attending a proposed conference to find a political solution to the conflict in january. >> the humanitarian situation continues to worsen. we have started distributing aid
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to help people cope with the harsh conditions that are taking hold. we must also overcome the severe and chronic underfunding of the relief efforts. appear for syria launch today geneva is the biggest of the united nations. meet needsn to inside syria and to help the more than 2 million people who have fled the country. i call for generous support, including at the present conference i will convene ungenerous 15 in kuwait. generalhuman secretary- speaking on monday. head of the human refugee agency has described syria as "the most dangerous crisis for global peace and security since the second world war era cope meanwhile, the reuters news
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agency is reporting western nations have indicated to the syrian opposition that peace talks next month they not lead to the removal of president bashar al-assad and that his minority will remain key in any transitional administration. clocks one senior member of the steering national coalition told reuters -- the united states recently suspended aid to rubble groups after six opposition groups came together last month to form the islamic front which a seeks to establish an islamic state in syria. .e go now to patrick cockburn his latest piece is headlined, "starving in syria: the biggest emergency in the u.n.'s history." he returned earlier this month from iraq. patrick, welcome back to democracy now! talk about this crisis in syria, what you found and what is generating, the latest
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developments. well, it has been getting worse and worse for the last three years and now there are six many people who have been displaced, 2 million out of the -- 2 million are out of the country. people just getting by before are not getting by now. when you walk around damascus, i keep running into people who just have nowhere to go. sleeping in parks, buildings are clouded with -- crowded with refugees. if you're in government held areas, you can get cheap rent. but if you're not, people are living in starvation. they're also being bombed. the government house he seems to depopulate areas they don't hold.
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government policy seems to depopulate areas they don't hold. freezing toiterally death. >> patrick, we want to go for a moment to the border between turkey and syria to aitor zabalgogeazkoa, court later for doctors without borders. just in aleppo last week. can you describe the situation in aleppo? hello? >> can you describe the situation -- i know we don't have a great phone line. can you describe the situation you just came from? >> [indiscernible] this was by far the worst times in aleppo for the last few years.
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[indiscernible] 163 dead, 958 wounded and 244 of them were children. , can youzabalgogeazkoa talk of the shortage and medical supplies not just in aleppo, but throughout the country, and especially the difficulties faced by people -- the millions of people living in rubble-held rebel held areas? the supplies that should the area [indiscernible]
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[indiscernible] >> aitor zabalgogeazkoa, your organization doctors without borders, has rented the governments involved, demanding an end to the syrian government control of age since it limits or bans assistance to opposition areas, particularly medical supplies. can you talk more about that? i'm asking folks to bear with us since the line is so bad. is right onogeazkoa the syrian-turkey border and we felt it was critical to get this perspective with you just out of aleppo. sorry, are you asking
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[indiscernible] basically, everything. [indiscernible] they cannot be treated. to regularo access medical services. >> thank you for being with us. we are sorry the phone line is so bad, but the situation is so difficult. aitor zabalgogeazkoa is the coordinator for doctors without
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borders in syria, talking to us from the turkey-syria border. he has just come out of aleppo. we also speaking with patrick cockburn who is in london right now, middle east correspondent for the independent. if you could take it from there, patrick, and described -- i mean, we are talking about the biggest emergency in the u.n.'s history, the crisis since the world war ii as the u.n. is describing up. do you see this as a proxy war, and between what countries and for what, patrick? it is clearly a proxy war. this may have started off as a popular uprising in syria, but by now, it has four or five different conflicts wrapped into one. you have an opposition, but an opposition which is fragmented ,nd really proxies for foreign notably -- foreign powers.
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what has changed recently since midsummer is the saudi arabia is becoming the main financier for the rubble military groups inside syria. guitarist playing a lesser role. r is playing a lesser role. a sunni force.op a suz even so, this is very much a sectarian force which is already being blamed for sectarian andcks on the christians jews and alla whites. you also have the united states and britain and france. a recent defector from the free syrian army. who joined the al qaeda affiliated islamic state of iraq said he was continually attending meetings. he didn't say where, probably in
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turkey, in which always representatives of foreign intelligence services turned up. one woman, lobbing presided over by the saudi deputy defense minister. >> patrick cockburn, could you explain what exactly happened to the syrian national coalition and the free syrian army, the main opposition group that the u.s. and britain and other countries in the west were backing and hoping would be a legitimate replacement possibly in the future to the al-assad regime? element was always an of pretense and this, pretending the free syrian army and the steering national coalition were represented syrians inside the country. it was very much an outside exile development. they've never really controlled much on the ground. what they did control is now
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very little. their headquarters was overrun by the islamic front, which is a ,ombination of sunni groups appears to be backed by saudi arabia. so basically it has been a disaster. so the so-called moderate elements never had much influence inside syria and now seem to be sort of honest completely marginalized. >> and the significance of going over into turkey from the who idlib is, and his role? >> well, he is the general from to watch -- i used them and wonder how he had so much time to appear on cnn and so many other programs. it did not leave much time to direct but terry action.
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it did reflect the fact he was very much a figure who was useful for restroom governments in western media to promote as the leader of the revolt in syria. but he was always pretty isolated. he got a lot of believers outside the country. now it seems to be on the run between turkey and qatar. but the pretense is being exposed but these movements and individuals not be representative of the opposition within syria, and that opposition being far more sectarian, close to al qaeda then foreign governments are prepared to admit or the media was prepared to admit even a year ago. >> we're talking to patrick cockburn. his latest piece is called, "starving in syria: the biggest emergency in the u.n.'s history." ands also just out of iraq we will find out about the
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terrible violence there as well and talk more about saudi arabia's role, not much discussion of that, at least in the united states and what is going on in syria. we will be back with patrick cockburn in a moment and we will have a debate on the american studies association. 5000 professors have just passed two to one or had a vote to support boycott against israel. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. ,ur guest is patrick cockburn middle east correspondent for "the independent" and his latest piece, "starving in syria: the biggest emergency in the u.n.'s history." you, patrick ask cockburn, about reporters without orders who just released or has just revealed at least 10 journalists and 35 citizen journalist have been killed in syria in 2013.
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the group said 49 journals were abducted in syria, more than the rest of the world combined. in a statement, reporters without borders said -- patrick cockburn, could you talk about the dangers journalists confront in syria and who is behind the increasing strength of these jihad e-groups in syria -- jihadi groups in syria? >> in the last year, i would put it even earlier, it is been becoming more and more dangerous -- in fact, almost impossible these days for foreign ldurnalists to visit rebel-he areas. some are being picked up just one across the border.
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also threatening is some who thought they have protection from local rebel commanders have found when they come to a check went controlled by the two hoti -- jihadis or somebody like that, that it isn't just they who get kidnapped, but some free syrian army commander with them and his men also get kidnapped. the old protectors can't protect themselves, and certainly cannot attacked foreign journalists. why did it happen? underof these groups are different rubrics of free syrian army or maybe islamic front or different -- there really sort of part-time bandits, somewhat say old-time bandits. they change their colors depending on who is supplying them with money. they are prepared to claim strong religious belief or the opposite depending on where they can get supplies.
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but all of -- the fact that is happening is the criminalization of the military forces of the .yrian opposition foreign journalists are the victims. syrian journalist are the victims. an ordinary syrians are the victims. in some sense, these foreign journalists are having the same dangers inflicted on them that apply for anybody within the rebel areas. >> last month secretary of state john kerry held talks in saudi arabia with tina dola. the meeting -- with tina dola. king abdullah. in a news conference, john kerry said they were in agreement. >> there's no difference about our mutually agreed upon objective in syria. as i've said many times before, al-assad has lost all legitimacy
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and must go. nothing that we are doing with respect to this negotiation will alter or upset or get in the way of the relationship between the united states and saudi arabia and the relationship in this region. >> patrick cockburn, you've also written about the growing differences between saudi arabia and the u.s. and you have a piece headlined "mass murder in the middle east is funded by our friends the saudis." can you elaborate on this? >> sure. it is one of the most extraordinary aspects of the turmoil in the middle east that the saudi backing for extreme sunni organizations, jihadi organizations, is unopposed by the u.s. more vigorously. if you look at the official 9/11
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commission report, it said the main backers for al qaeda are private saudi donors and donors in the other gulf states, the sunni gulf states. wikipedia released a memorandum from heller clinton i think in the end of 2009 and years later and what did it say? exactly the the same thing. at the moment in syria, syria has taken over the funding of militant military groups who in -- theyn programs say do not deny their sectarianism. they only seem to differ from al qaeda in that al qaeda is independent of saudi arabia and
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these people are dependent on saudi arabia. so i think there's a whole series of frankenstein monsters both in syria and northern iraq that are being created and supported and hated by private citizens and sometimes the state and saudi arabia, but the u.s. has refused to do anything about this. it really is absurd to focus on hillal qaeda groups in the regions of yemen without looking at these very dangerous development in northern iraq and eastern and northern syria where al qaeda and its affiliates for the first time control a great swath of territory really from the upper reaches of the tigris river to the coast of the mediterranean. this is a very big area. it is in store near development. saudi arabia has played a key development in this role -- has played a key role in this development, but there's been little reaction in the u.s. or western europe or these many
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security agencies that are meant to be focusing on al qaeda. >> i would like to say the statement by hillary clinton was released by wikileaks and not wikipedia. though, whyask you, you think the u.s. has been relatively silent -- >> sorry. >> and saudi arabia's role. one of the things you point out groupssunni jihadist target she is, not only in iraq, but also in pakistan and syria mf and that may in some sense account for u.s. silence. could you talk about some of the ?ther reasons question mar >> i think that is one of the main reasons many of these killings of shias get little notice. and saudi arabia has, through arms contracts,
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through its money, sort of made itself part of the international establishment in which normally foreign leaders visiting saudi these don't bring up delicate topics. and could very little pressure on the saudis to do anything about it. but it enables the saudis to really go on supporting jihadi organizations at the state or private level in the same way they were doing in afghanistan, post afghanistan when they supported the taliban and before iraq,after 9/11 during after iraq. there seems no into it, but it is rather astonishing there is less reaction from governments and the media in the u.s. and western europe. >> what about that? in theue of the media
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united states and how a cover saudi arabia? -- and how it covers a saudi arabia? >> it doesn't really cover saudi arabia. rather delicate coverage. of course, the saudi's don't make it easy for journalist to have access. but many of the facts about saudi arabia's relationships to jihadia and to sunni organizations don't require any investigation. -- they are in plain , and still nothing is done about it. these are sort of attacks on drone attacks or other attacks in north waziristan against al somalia, amen, in really peripheral to the main
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problem which is centered in saudi arabia and the gulf. and the outcome of the support for these extreme organizations is to be seen in northern iraq, western iraq -- which is now substantially under the control of al qaeda-linked organizations -- and across the border in thea, right away from euphrates river right to aleppo and to the mediterranean coast. it is extraordinary that al ofda has been a great sort of theof -- winner conflicts over the last, whatever it is, since 9/11. they have managed to make such tremendous gains without much opposition from washington or london or paris. >> before we conclude, patrick cockburn, i would like to talk
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about some of the effects on activists and people who have been opposed to the al-assad regime from the beginning of the opposition in 2011. in august, you appeared on democracy now! with human rights activist and leader of the antigovernment protest movement. she since has been reported missing in the rubble-control damascus suburb. she disappeared from her apartment along with her husband and two other activists after receiving threats from islamist groups. witnesses say her apartment was found ransacked with laptops and other belongings removed. , shegust on democracy now! described the carnage following the chemical attack. the injured were removed. we cannot believe our eyes. i haven't seen such debt in my whole life. lying on the ground in hallways, on roadsides, in hundreds. there hasn't been enough medical
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assist to treat them. wasatrick cockburn, that from august. she since been reported missing. could you talk about what is been happening to activists in syria and also what you see as the prospect for these geneva two talks in january given the splintering of these groups? course, it is a degrading of the steering revolution which began as a .opular uprising the some of the most eloquent, the most admired advocates of the uprising, of the opposition, should be targeted and kidnapped not by the al-assad government, but by their opponents, by a group that appears to have done it actually so far as i know is
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funded by saudi arabia. but these are the types of groups that have taken over the opposition. they target the people who are the most eloquent of advocates of democracy and human rights areas.rebel-held this is an appalling development. true in government-held areas as well, but human rights activists are also targeted, but i think it shows the opposition is imploding, becoming in some ins becoming more sectarian a very vicious way. talks, ore geneva wherever they take place now, who will be talking that the free syrian army, or the syrian national coalition, the groups
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that of in foster by the u.s. and western europeans now can't visit syria, they're on the run. so if they turn up, then this will be simply a pretense. they don't represent anybody. the al-assad government will turn up, but are they really prepared to share power? well, i doubt it, but i don't think there will be really anybody with whom they can have substantial -- substantive discussions. these new groups for the op-ed- linked affiliates in the saudi- backed groups that are emerging as a powerful force are both opposed to these talks. so i think these talks are dead on their feet, even before they start. >> finally, you just come out of iraq. we just have a minute. almost every day in our headlines, the terrible violence in iraq yesterday, 75 people died in a wave of attacks across iraq -- that was monday, many
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preparing for an annual pilgrimage. wiped iraqas a must off the map -- has almost wiped iraq off the map in terms of coverage. at the violence inside is terrible. can you talk about what you found there? >> yes, i mean, it is getting worse and worse. it is bombs everywhere. the suicide bombing. the iraqis he could he forces incapable of stopping there. but you have to say, how do you stop suicide bombs? the u.s. could not do it. what is happening is this increase in sectarian is him. of course, iraq is being infected by what is happening in syria, which is given a great boost to al qaeda and iraq and extreme fanatical sectarian organizations that are massacring shia. >> patrick cockburn, thank you
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for being with us, correspondent for "the independent,", his latest piece, "starving in syria: the biggest emergency in the u.n.'s history." yourll have a link to articles. when we come back, a debate, the american studies association has just voted on in israel boycott two to one. the organization is made up of about 5000 professors across the united states. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. we turn now to a debate over what is being hailed as a major milestone for the global campaign to boycott and divest from israel over its treatment of palestinians. on sunday, the merrick and studies association, group representing thousands of u.s.
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colors, voted to boycott israeli universities. members backed the boycott by a ratio of more than two to one, "the documented impact of the israeli occupation on palestinian scholars and students" and "the extent to which israeli institutions of higher education are party to state policies that violate human rights." in april, the association for asian american studies also supported an academic boycott of israel. the mob backlash against asa boycott can quickly. william jacobson, a clinical -- a cornell law school clinical professor, says he now plans to challenge the groups tax-exempt status. the largest professors group in the u.s., the american association of university professors, said it oppose the boycott in part because it is largely symbolic. the resolution has no binding
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power and no u.s. colleges have signed on. >> for more we're joined by two guests. from new york, eric cheyfitz, we is one of the members of the american studies association who israeli a boycott of academic institutions. he is a professor at cornell university am aware he teaches american literature, american indian literature, and several federal indian law. also joining us is cary nelson, who oppose the asa plus vote to join the global campaign to boycott and divest from israel. position whenlar he was president of the american association of university professors from 2006-2012. he is author of, "no university is an island: saving academic freedom." we welcome you both to democracy now! let's begin with professor eric cheyfitz. talk about the significance of ,his vote and how it took place
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the american studies association vote. >> thanks for having me. well, the vote came about because the activism brought forward a resolution based on the asian american studies resolution for the support the academic and cultural boycott of israel. that resolution then went to the national council or went to the executive committee who passed it on to the national council which voted unanimously to support it just recently. i think it was december 4. from there it went to the vote of the entire membership, who as you pointed out, for those who came out to vote, supported it i believe 66% in favor. that is the origin. it answers the call, and this is important for from the palestinian academic and cultural boycott of israel, which was announced in 2004 in which asked people around the
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world, organizations around the world, to support this boycott. and that was a call from palestinian civil society. you can go to their website of the palestinian academic and cultural boycott of israel and there are over -- well, there are 171 organizations, unions, farmers, unions and workers, professional organizations that support the boycott. it was in response to a specific call. >> and what does boycott mean? the boycott means, first of all, i would not downplay symbolism invincibility. the palestinian cause, particularly in the united states where does not get a fair representation in the press, needs visibility. it also can have a practical effect on the road. boycotts during the civil rights movement in the u.s. and boycott in south africa had those effects by putting precise material pressure on institutions who were supporting
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various oppressive regimes. >> cary nelson, could i ask you to respond, why is it you are opposed to an academic boycott in this academic boycott in particular? >> sure. they havemany years opposed boycotts basically because we believe what is most desirable is free exchange among academics worldwide and to do everything possible to facilitate all kinds of intellectual and cultural exchanges the between academics. we are well aware saying you consent to boycott university and not have an impact on its faculty members is really a false kind of reasoning. thene university funds travel of six of its members to come to the american studies association meeting and pays the
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registration fees directly, that presumably is unacceptable because it is a relationship between the asa and the israeli university. it simply is false to suggest that interchanges between american and israeli faculty members won't be compromised by this, should it really take any effect. but i think more deeply, the aaup has never opposed economic what cox. i personally and very interested and have been for many years supported the economic boycott of west bank industries. i think israel needs to get out of the west bank. i am interested in targeted economic pressure to encourage, if not beat these governments, at least some future israeli government, to negotiate in good faith with the palestinians. there are both practical reasons theerms of the affects on
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israeli and american academics, but our principal reasons which reflect a desire to maintain academic freedom worldwide which really does have to mean free interchange. and finally, there are political reasons, for me at least, feeling this whole boycott argument is really not an effective strategy but a counterproductive strategy, unfair strategies that might actually help move the middle east to a two state solution, which is what i've long believed in. i think to some degree, i also have to say, i think, that the aaup did a really good job of arguing the case against academic freedom, even though the asa leadership would not put our letter on their website, which they produced a very one- sided website as a way of reaching out to try to persuade
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its members. but i think to some degree, the aaup was boxed into making an argument the members did not care about. >> it is not fundamentally about academics, not even fundamentally about boycotting israeli universities. this effort within the asa is part of a long-term effort to de-legitimate the state of israel, that is, to remove any sense of moral authority or reason to exist for the state of israel amongst at least opinions of american academics. and that is what it is really about. that is something the aaup wasn't prepared to address because we don't officially talk about those kinds of political issues. >> eric cheyfitz, could you respond to what cary nelson said, that a boycott of this kind is first, counterproductive, and second of all, this particular one is just seeking to de-legitimate the state of israel? >> there is no evidence of that
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whatsoever in any statement the asa has put out. nothing about the legitimizing israel. it has to do with road testing the oppression of the israeli oppression of the palestinians and the suspension of their academic rights on the west bank and in gaza. standards, which are the gold standards for academic freedom from have nothing to do with institutions. you can read those standards. they have to do with the rights of individuals within institutions, teachers, scholars, and students, to speak out freely, in particular in relation to the scholarships they are doing. so boycotting institutions is at the academic freedom of individuals who are free to do their research, teach, and travel. the asa has said in their statement they welcome israeli scholars and palestinian scholars of all persuasions to come to asa meetings. i really think if you charge the
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asa with trying to delegitimize the state of israel is an actual readingy, very skewed of anything that the asa has put out. >> professor nelson, would you respond? >> hello, eric. we have been allies on other issues in the past, but apparently not this one. i'm very glad he is an expert on academic freedom. i have co-authored a number of that effectts to and, obviously, i got it wrong and i'm glad to be corrected. if i could be a little sardonic. freedom is also by the collective of academic freedom a faculty, but the majority faculty groups and minority faculty groups. does not just about individual academic freedom. let set that aside to, why do i think this whole argument within the asa was actually about
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something other than academic boycott? yes, none of the statements the made separate i said, that the impulse behind it. what i am my argument on is the writings of many of the proponents of the boycott could talk about david, omar, people -- some of whom i've known rather well for years. and their writings, including those just published this year in the aaup academic journal of freedom where we staged old debate on the boycott. their writing made it quite clear they feel the israeli state has no legitimacy, typically believe in a one state .olution i think americans can be persuaded the one state solution in the middle east will usher in a kind of peaceable kingdom, a wondrous democratic utopia despite the fact we now look at the effects of the arab spring and we don't see a lot of the
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affect of democracy taking shape in the middle east. there's too much sectarian hatred. there's too little historical experience of democratic institutions. egypt will years have a genuine democracy. i'm not holding my breath for iran or syria, for that matter. but looking at the one-state option i think is to look at large numbers of dead arabs and dead jews. and that is been behind the argument that many of the advocates within the asa and elsewhere for eventual political , theion to the crisis ongoing, decades-long crisis in the middle east. if i look at their writings, what i see is long-term progressive effort to de- legitimate the state of israel. this is just one stage in trying to convince people the state of israel has no legitimacy.
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i think that hasn't been what people have been saying about this, but i think we need to say because otherwise, we don't many asad why so members run it tested in the argument that were really focused on the problem of a boycott? the argument the asa leaders made in favor of the boycott, i think, were either absurd or bogus. the president of the essay when challenged by "the new york times," aston, are there other states with much worse human rights records in israel? and in one sense, it was funny, but political rationality, well, if got to start somewhere. i suppose we will soon see in asa resolution urging the negative and boycott of china and i think as soon as syrian civil society it's itself together to make a request to the asa, which of course, what
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happened, what happened from china, either, then the asa will be ready to step up to the front based on its regard -- >> professor, if you could respond, there's a lot to respond to. and just explain what this vote actually voted for. >> they voted to support the palestinian call for an academic and cultural boycott of israel. was the vote as far as the writings of the 5000 members of the american studies association, the very nature of academic freedom is that there are nuances to the israeli-palestinian conflict, some of them support a one-state and some supported a 2-state solution. some talk about both sets of solutions. this is what academic course does. to try to claim the asa therefore represents one set of those writings by some people is, of course, to misrepresent
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what representation is all about. i dismiss that. i dismiss that argument. i think professor elson carried that to extremes that are not warranted by the record in any way shape or form. the boycott is specifically focused on a call by palestinian civil society an overwhelming number of organizations for cultural and academic boycott of israel because diplomacy has failed in the middle east. the united states is not an honest broker in this process. and so we can't hope for success. diplomacy having failed and boycotts being a very legitimate , theof civil resistance palestinians called for such a boycott. the asa responded to that call in a principled way. >> eric cheyfitz, could you respond specifically to what cary nelson said about the targeting of israel as against
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any other countries with equally abusive human rights record? is it only their civil societies haven't asked? >> and we only have 15 seconds. >> the first reason is, yes, there was a specific call for palestinians to civil society. that is important. second of all, the u.s. and israel have a particularly special relationship. israel is a very crucial -- ominously, the palestinian conflict is crucial in the middle east. focusing right now on a particular relationship i think is very, very, important. >> we have to leave it there. we thank both of you, professor eric cheyfitz of cornell and professor cary nelson of university of illinois. that does it for the show. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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