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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  August 13, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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08/13/15 08/13/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] nermeen: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> the government headed by netanyahu not only is disinterested in pursuing a two state solution, but, indeed, sees as its primary mission and goal is to prevent a two state agreement. nermeen: is it time to give up on israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu and go to the united nations?
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today in a democracy now! special, we spend the hour with henry siegman, the former executive director of the american jewish congress, long described as one of the nation's big three jewish organizations . siegman was born in 1930 in frankfurt, germany. s to power, his family fled to the united states. his father was a leader of the european zionist movement, pushing for the creation of a jewish state. >> the kind of zionism that exists today, as a jew rejected completely the one that exemplified by jewishness. that leaves me to reject it, to abandon it, to see it as shameful. and as a betrayal of the very vast and most important values of my religious and at the kennedy. nermeen: we will air amy goodman's interview with henry siegman. all that and more, coming up.
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welcome to democracy now,, the war and peace report. i'm nermeen shaikh, filling in for amy goodman. swedish prosecutors have dropped part of their sexual assault inquiry against wikileaks founder julian assange, but the most serious part of the probe remains in place. the announcement was made as the statute of limitations ran out on three parts of the investigation. assange has been holed up in the ecuadorian embassy in london for three years, where he's received political asylum. he fears he will be extradited to the united states to face prosecution for his role at wikileaks if he leaves the embassy. both ecuador and sweden accuse the other of delaying a possible swedish police interview with assange inside the embassy. sweden has never charged him with any crime. in china, at least 44 people have died following two massive explosions at a warehouse storing toxic chemicals and gas in the northeast port city of tianjin. 500 more people have been
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hospitalized. the explosions were so powerful, they could be seen by satellites in space. the exact cause of wednesday nights blessed are still unknown. in news from greece, doctors without borders says as many as 1000 refugees have been locked in a stadium on a greek island overnight without access to food and with very little water. riot police were deployed across the island of kos on tuesday to round up the refugees and force them into the stadium. the migrants are mostly from syria and iraq. a doctors without borders spokesperson described the scene. >> one day after, still there is no food. givinglidarity groups milk for the babies. some are doing medical insistence -- assistance inside. many have fainted because of the poor situation. there's a lot of tension,
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waiting, misunderstanding of why the people are there. and nobody knows why they're are there, how long it is when you take, when it is going to finish. nermeen: manned u.s. warplanes taking off from a base in turkey have begun attacking sites in syria in the latest escalation of the u.s.-led war against the self-proclaimed islamic state. the u.s. strikes come as the syrian government bombarded areas surrounding damascus on wednesday, killing 31 people, according to the syrian observatory for human rights. another 13 people died from rocket strikes launched into damascus by rebel groups. in news from iraq, officials say more than 50 people have died after a truck bomb exploded in a market in baghdad today. isil claimed responsibility for the attack. in egypt, a militant group linked to the self-proclaimed islamic state published an image wednesday allegedly showing the beheading of a croatian hostage. last week, the group known as the sinai province published a
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video threatening to behead tomislav salopek within 48 hours if muslim women were not released from egyptian prisons. croatian authorities say the death has not yet been confirmed. meanwhile, in yemen, officials say a suspected u.s. drone strike killed five men suspected -- on wednesday. the officials say the men were suspected of being militants with the group al-qaeda in the arabian peninsula. the director of the u.n. peacekeeping mission in the central african republic has resigned under pressure, following a new round of accusations of sexual abuse by peacekeeping forces. earlier this week, amnesty international accused peacekeepers of raping a 12-year-old girl in the capital city of bangui. the organization also accused peacekeepers of telling a child and his father. this comes on the heels of earlier accusations that french soldiers deployed as peacekeepers had been trading sex with young boys for food and money at a displaced persons' camp.
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in news from the campaign trail, black lives matter protesters interrupted republican presidential candidate jeb bush's town hall in las vegas, nevada, wednesday night. the group began chanting "black lives matter" after a woman asked him about the disproportionate number of people of color killed by the police. as bush quickly made his way to the door, some of the town hall attendees also began chanting, "white lives matter." >> white lives matter! white lives matter! nermeen: lawyers for u.s. army whistleblower chelsea manning say she could face punishment of indefinite solitary confinement for having an expired tube of toothpaste, an issue of "vanity fair" in which caitlyn jenner describes her life as a woman, the u.s. senate report on torture, and other "prohibited property" in her cell. she is also accused of "showing disrespect" for asking to see
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her lawyer in a discussion with a prison officer. manning is serving a 35 year sentence for leaking u.s. government cables to wikileaks. three more women have come forward accusing comedian bill cosby of sexual assault, bringing the number of public accusers to nearly 50. he is accused of drugging and raping dozens of women in cases that date back decades. lawyer gloria allred announced the new accusations on wednesday. >> recently, new york magazine had a photograph on their cover of more than 30 women who had come forward publicly to accuse cosby of having victimized them. that cover also featured an empty chair. right here. which in the opinion of many people represented all of the accusers who have not yet come forward.
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today that empty chair is filled by three new women. nermeen: and former u.s. president jimmy carter said that he has an advanced form of cancer that has spread throughout his body. he will undergo treatment in atlanta. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm nermeen shaikh sitting in for amy goodman. an alarming new report shows the infant mortality rate in gaza has risen for the first time in more than 50 years. the united nations relief and works agency for palestine refugees found that until now, the number of babies dying before the age of one has consistently fallen in the past five decades in gaza. meanwhile the family of an , 18-month palestinian baby and father killed in an arson attack by jewish settlers reportedly will not be entitled to the same government compensation granted israeli victims of terror. on tuesday, the israeli newspaper haaretz reported the israeli law governing such compensation applies only to
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israeli citizens and residents as well as west bank settlers. palestinian victims must apply to a special interministerial exceptions committee under the israeli defense ministry. earlier this month, thousands of mourners in the west bank attended the funeral of the palestinian father, saad dawabsheh, who succumbed to severe burn injuries just eight days after trying to save his son, ali, from the arson attack. this is taha dawabsheh, a relative of the family. >> first, we condemn this ugly crime, which happened for the first time in history post up people were sleeping and the bat of the night came upon them to burn them. a tyler was killed a week ago and his father died today. and we hope his mother and brother recover in the hospital. we ask the community and all the free people of the world to help us and stand with us in our people, and we ask for protection for our village
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against the settlers. nermeen: meanwhile, jewish and palestinian women are holding a hunger strike outside prime minister benjamin netanyahu's residence in jerusalem to call for a renewal of peace negotiations. members of the group "women wage peace" have been fasting for the past month in alternating shifts, sitting in an open-air tent and inviting passersby to discuss how best to wage peace. the group has dubbed their mission operation protective fast, a twist on operation protective edge -- israel's military operation that left 2200 palestinians, including 550 children, dead last summer. on the israeli side, 73 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers. the attack destroyed 12,000 homes in gaza. another 100,000 were damaged. none of the destroyed homes have been rebuilt so far, due in part to the ongoing israeli blockade. women wage peace are urging israeli cabinet and knesset members to prioritize peace talks with palestinians. well, our guest for the hour
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suggests the best chance for achieving a lasting peace in israel-palestine lies not in netanyahu, but the united nations security council with the u.s.'s support presenting both parties with clear terms for resumed peace talks. in a democracy now! special, we spend the hour with henry siegman, the former executive director of the american jewish congress, long described as one of the nation's big three jewish organizations along with the american jewish committee and the anti-defamation league. siegman was born in 1930 in frankfurt, germany. three years later, the nazis came to power. after fleeing nazi troops in belgium, his family eventually moved to the united states. his father was a leader of the european zionist movement, pushing for the creation of a jewish state. he later became head of the synagogue council of america. after his time at the american jewish congress, siegman became a senior fellow at the council on foreign relations. he now serves as president of the u.s./middle east project.
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amy goodman spoke to siegman in may, shortly after he published a piece in "the new york times" called, "give up on netanyahu, go to the united nations." amy: so why does he start off talking about just what you are suggesting president obama do. >> well, what i'm suggesting he do, and what many others suggest as well, indeed for some time now, is that he finally act on a understood for quite some time now, mainly, that any government that is headed by netanyahu not only is disinterested in pursuing a two state solution, but, indeed, seems as its primary mission and states to prevent a two --eement will stop
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agreement. he and his various governments have acted on the assumption that there is no occupation, that there may be disputes about how much land israel has a right to next to the state of israel and the west bank, but palestinians do not have any particular right, certainly not a right greater than israel has, to any part of the west bank. and that has been the working assumption of every government headed by netanyahu. reason, we have said for a long time to the president and various communications and meetings with the department of state, the white house mediators, that the peace process, the bilateral talks that have taken place, are all bound to fail unless america's
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diplomacy is based on recognition of this fundamental truth. that left to their own devices, israelis will never agree and israeli government will never agree to a two state solution that is remotely acceptable to the palestinians. consequently, it seems clear the only way to state accord can be if the un security council, a third-party, and of course the most reasonable third-party to take the lead am is the security council, because the various resolutions on a two state solution adopted by the security council are the foundation of any fees office. amy: in march, newly reelected israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu tried to walk back his pre-election vow not to allow a palestinian state.
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a day before the election when asked if he was ruling out establishing a palestinian state under his tenure, netanyahu replied "indeed." he later tried to backtrack in an interview with nbc class andrew mitchell after tremendous international outcry. >> i would say is my policy, and never retracted my speech six years ago, calling for a demilitarized post and instead the recognizes a jewish state. what is changed in the reality, a lot of the palestinian leaders refuse to recognize the jewish date, made a pact with hamas that also the -- calls for the destruction of the jewish state in every territory vacated in the middle east today is taken up by a islamist forces. we want that to change so we can realize a vision of real sustained peace. and i don't want a one state solution will stop i want a sustainable, peaceful two state solution. for that, circumstances have to change. amy: in the final days of the campaign, netanyahu stressed his
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work -- right-wing positions visited a settlement and bowed to ramp up the construction of more settlements in occupied east jerusalem and unequivocally ruled out allowing a palestinian state reneging on his nominal 2009 endorsement of the two state solution. on election day, he also railed against israel's arab voters. >> right-wing will is in danger. the left-wing nonprofit organizations are bringing them and buses. bring your friends to the polling stations, friends and family, in order to close the gap between us and the labour party. we will form a national government protect the state of israel. amy: that was primed mr. netanyahu in his election campaigning. harry siegman, on the issue of election voters and the two state solution? well, one has to be extremely
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naïve to have waited for this admission a declaration, proud declaration by netanyahu, that he never meant it, but when he embraced the two state solution, he was lying. one will have to wait until then to include that he really never with a twooceed state peace accord. for the simple reason that every action taken by his government with respect to palestinians who live past the 67 border, every action that is taken was consistent with israel's ultimate permanent control of all of the territories. course, theth, of
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project -- how is it conceivable the government that is serious about reaching a two state not just for israel, but for the palestinians, one they could conceivably accept, cuts the ground from under that state in the most literal sense by annexing it to the state of israel? so somebody had to wait until he made that statement, for diplomats, that is rather pathetic. what it really suggests is that because they are not stupid, be inept, butay they're not stupid. they understood from the beginning they were dealing with a prime minister who it no intention whatsoever of yielding israel's control. so they had to pretend they believed that in order for their diplomacy to go forward. otherwise, you know, they are unemployed. amy: and his call for jewish
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voters to come out to counter the arab votes? >> yes, will that tells you something about his commitment to a democratic state of israel. amy: and the fact he tried to walk after statement against the two state solution? he referred to as earlier diplomacy, as it were. this has been the strategy from the very beginning, to put -- he had to balance, on the one hand, his determination never to yield control over the west bank with a public posture that enables the united states -- at least to pretend that a two state , as the twopossible parties negotiated successfully -- and this he has done wonderfully. the fact he walked it back is really utterly meaningless.
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'sy: talk about netanyahu information of the new government and who yes chosen to be his ministers. >> just to follow up on your previous question, he had come out with a new ploy, which is him again, so wonderfully good assistant with the totally dishonest approach has had from his very first government that he headed to the issue of a two state agreement, he has now proposed to the palestinians that they sit down and negotiate the borders of the settlements. now, on the one hand, that creates the impression he once to negotiate, once a peace process, and secondly, he is open to some kind of agreement that might ultimately lead to a state without yielding were in any way walking back -- or in
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any way walking back his position that there is no 67 border. and consequently, there is no reason why israel is obliged to withdraw from the territories. now, i would hope the clearlyians -- quite come a they're not going to be taken in by this, but it would be interesting if they were to say, fine, it is a wonderful puzzle, but let's do this in a fair way, let us also discussed what we are permitted to do on your side of the 67 border, what settlements we can have their and what the borders of those settlements will be. and it is unfortunate they have not challenged the netanyahu government in that way. amy: why do you think they haven't? >> i think it is just inept. the whole question of the absence of palestinian leadership is a very sad story.
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atness asay the and palestinian --ineptness a palestinian leadership. the fact they agreed going back to the oslo accords or even going back -- this goes back to 1988. their acceptance of israel as legitimacy. one would have thought, at least said conditionally, we are ready to accept and declare a firm israel's legitimacy if israel is prepared to affirm the legitimacy of the palestinian along the pre-57 borders. the fact they did not do that and did not even raise the issue of settlements was a massive, massive blunder. and i think made it possible for netanyahu's people to play the
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game they're playing. nermeen: former executive director of the american jewish congress, henry siegman. he's now president of the u.s. middle east project. we will air more of amy goodman's interview with him in a minute. ♪ [music break]
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nermeen: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm nermeen shaikh. we continue our conversation with henry siegman, the former executive director of the american jewish congress, long described as one of the nation's big three jewish organizations along with the american jewish committee and the anti-defamation league. his father was a leader of the european zionist movement, pushing for the creation of a jewish state. he now serves as president of the u.s./middle east project. amy goodman sat down with him in late may. amy: i want to go to the issue of the ministers, prime minister
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netanyahu has now chosen working with him. earlier this month, he appointed knesset member as his justice minister. during israel's summer 2014 attack on gaza, she approvingly posted an article on her facebook page that called for the destruction of "the entire palestinian people, including its elderly and its women, it cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure." >> yes. a list of appointees, ministerial and non-ministerial appointees, beginning with her. is now the -- there deputy minister of the foreign ministry.
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but since there is no foreign minister, she, in fact, will be running the foreign ministry. the very first thing she did after her appointment was send out instructions to ambassadors, is really ambassadors across the governments to which they have been assigned specifically quotes god granting all of , andtine to the jews consequently the fate of israel will -- state of israel will retain all of palestine because of follows the word of god. yet the minister of justice, how to deal with the palestinians.
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and then the one appointed million -- minister of culture. the very first public statement in that capacity was that she tot looks forward anxiously -- what is the term she used? the work of the artistic community and to prevent them from creating art that insults the state of israel. that is the minister of culture. then there is the deputy minister of defense. now, all of these appointments, everything the one of them, is opposing a two state solution. lifelong record of opposition to his two state -- to a two state solution. and he felt, along with his
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minister, the full minister of of them thought it was a wonderful idea to have palestinians limited to separate buses, the one to live in the west bank and travel to israel, and not to permit them to travel the same buses that israeli jews travel in. the new headnted of peace new chief negotiations should they resume. again, a person who was on record as bitterly opposed to a two state solution. ,my: let's talk about dora gold former ambassador to the united nations. >> and who is now the new ministryof the foreign
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. and he, too, is a lifelong opposition to a palestinian state. extremely hawkish on iran. >> you look at a government that is made up of people who are , out and out racist, and people who are statey opposed to a two agreement while at the same time, being opposed to granting palestinians in the west bank israeli citizenship. somehow can't avoid this that thisealization state of israel that the jewish people have prayed for, supported, have seen as a
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historic change in the situation of jews worldwide, has a government that is a racist government. here, i recalled that some years ago, i think about 15 years ago, the austrian government formed a new government that included the head of the right-wing political party haidar and the american jewish community as well as every organization in europe, led a global campaign to convince governments to boycott the government because of that one racist and extreme nationalist, xenophobia who was in the government, and in fact, europe, the european union
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decided to boycott him. here we have a government that has at least half a dozen xenophobia and races. amy: we recently spoke to the former u.n. repertoire on human rights and the palestinian territories. his temper fez or emeritus of international law at the university of leiden in the netherlands. he was born in south africa. we spoke to him at the hague many compared israel to apartheid south africa. >> i have lived through apartheid. i'm no hesitation in saying israel's crimes are infinitely worse than those committed by the apartheid regime of south africa. for seven years i visited the palestinian territory twice a year. conducting a fact-finding mission after the operation in gaza 2008-2009.
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i am from a he with the situation and familiar with the apartheid situation, i was a human rights lawyer and apartheid south africa. and i like virtually every sub african who visits the occupied territories has a terrible sense of déjà vu. we've seen it all before, except it is infinitely worse. what has happened in the west bank is the creation of a settlement enterprise has resulted in a situation that closely resembles that of apartheid in which the settlers are the -- they enjoy superior rights over palestinians and they do a press palestinians. one does have a system of apartheid in the occupied palestinian territory and i might mention that apartheid is the a crime within
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international criminal court. amy: those are the words of john of john to guard, originally from south africa. henry siegman? >> even before he made the statement several years ago, these really prime minister said that. amy: who? >> olmert. he said specifically that. he said if we are not prepared to return virtually all, if not all -- and this is a direct qyote, if not all of these territories, beyond the 67 border to the palestinians and to share jerusalem, then we are not serious about wanting peace. and he said the consequence of , whilell be that israel
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we can have disagreements about the border, but if we do not follow through on what is necessary for a peace accord, we will be seen as an apartheid state because we will be an apartheid state. now, he said that and he said, this is the great danger if we delay reaching an agreement with along the 67ans borders. and he said, if we don't do that, then we may lose the support of american jews because apartheid is something that they cannot accept. i recall telling him at the time , you are right about apartheid, but i'm afraid you probably are not write about american jews. because in fact, apartheid -- you don't have to wait until there is a majority of palestinians when you add the
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palestinians who live, air of citizens of israel to the once the west bank and palestine. you don't have to wait until they are a majority. and they're totally disenfranchised or second-class citizens. minority minority, a that has to live under these conditions, you have apartheid today. it exists now. it is not a future danger. and the problem is, if you keep identifying as a future danger recognizing it as a present reality, you will never reach the future. you'll never recognize the truth of the system that you have now. amy: what is then -- what did prime minister olmert respond you? >> he did not disagree very violently. amy: so why didn't something change then? >> well, he said that this is
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with abagotiated ss. he is claimed ever since that if it were not for the war in gaza, which was largely responsible for, if it were not for the war in gaza, those negotiations would have produced a two state accord. and abbas has confirmed this. what said -- he confirmed since,has claimed ever abbay that they had -- never walkeds away from those to negotiation's because he was accused by the israeli right to have turned down the most generous terms ever offered him by prime minister olmert.
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and he has said that this is not mert said he never walked away. what happened in the gaza war erupted the negotiations and there were never able to resume it because at that point he came under, for recall, he came under very severe criticism for some of his dealings with the paper bags filled with gas. amy: henry siegman mckinney talk about what you call the centerleft opposition to ofanyahu, the zionist union sydney litany and herzog? >> well, they can be counted on to spearhead an opposition, specifically on the issue on israel's them aquatic territory, to oppose efforts that will be undertaken on the word go by this new government. ayeleted earlier about
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shaked. she declared one of her main missions will be to underline abilitycourt in its to pass judgment on the constitutional owl he does constitutionality that the private. so i have no doubt the herzog and tzipi livni will put up a good fight and seek to prevent ayelet shaked from achieving her goal, although, there is a creating a support within the israelis today to do that to the supreme court -- israeli supreme court to do that to the supreme court. on the issue of the supreme party and labour those affiliated with other parties affiliated with it, are
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as incapable of reaching a two state agreement with outside -- without outside interference, without the security council or the united states taking a strong position, not very likely. but at least allowing the united states, allowing the security clear --o define very a very clear flying mar framewoa leave it up to the parties themselves. recent election, despite the fact different people -- particularly -- tried to get a clear statement from herzog and livni about a two state accord that is based on the 67 lines. they refuse to commit the party
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to that. there's just no way that will produce an agreement that is conceivably acceptable to even the most moderate palestinian leader without resort to the security council. nermeen: henry siegman, the former executive director of the american jewish congress. we will be back with more in a minute. ♪ [music break]
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nermeen: string quintet number 4 in g minor, composed by wolfgang amadeus mozart. this is democracy now! democracy now, the war and peace report. we continue our conversation with henry siegman, the former executive director of the american jewish congress. over the years, siegman has become a vocal critic of israel's policies in the occupied territories and has urged israel to engage with hamas. he has called the palestinian struggle for a state "the mirror image of the zionist movement" that led to the founding of israel in 1948. amy goodman interviewed siegman
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in may right after he published an op-ed in "the new york times." again, she dide in "the new york times" piece, give up on netanyahu the to the united nations, what you think the steps need to be right now. >> the steps that need to be taken first is for the united framework,evelop a terms of reference for a permanent state agreement based on the 67 lines, the sharing of jewish settlements. if it is not prepared to do that itself, then it should at least ask the security council to do that. for those terms of reference, either american terms of reference war security council terms of reference, are to be presented to the parties and to say, we would like you to reach
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an accord directly in the greatbatch indirect negotiation's without our influence. but here is the timeframe not just does the timeframe from which you must reach an agreement. if you can't, then we the security council will resume the process and we will come up with a formula for the resolution of each of the permanent state issues that will be obligatory and will have to be followed by the parties. in the security council, of course under chapter seven, has the authority to take measures, sanctions, to see that this is implemented. amy: and realistically, d.c. president obama doing this? in a sense, ceding power to the united nations? -- i havet tell you
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great expectations that he will do that. i think he has at least the possibility or there exists the possibility since he himself has called for a reassessment of u.s. policy, of u.s. middle east peace policy. allowing the security council to deal with it. piece" inew york times argue the united states has two commitments that have been made to the state of israel. one commitment is to have israel's back diplomatically. when other countries try through , first -- force israel to go to the u.n., whatever, to take certain measures that the u.s. will support the state of israel. the other commitment is a security commitment. that the united states will
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always do what it takes to prevent israel's existence and terms of supplying it with military hardware, specifically it is existentially threatened with violence from the outside. that is a commitment that i hope the u.s. will always adhere to and never abandon and never compromise. but i pointed out you can do that only if at the same time it does what it needs to do to bring about a two state solution diplomatically. because if it fails to do that, then it's military support when israel is threatened will be seen by the world as the united states collaborating with israel in the oppression and occupation and disenfranchisement of the palestinian people.
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and that is something the u.s. cannot afford. condition fory, a the united states meeting its commitment to israel security is that it must be free to do the right thing diplomatically. amy: i have talked about president obama, but now the presidential election is heating up. do you see any change in policy coming from the potential or already the declared presidential candidates, the democrats or republicans? >> the answer is, no, i do not see it. amy: hillary clinton them a certain involved deeply in the foreign policy, the u.s. push for israel and palestine. quick i wish i could believe she might in fact bring about the kind of a change, but it is unrealistic expectation. in fact, you will recall that
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early in his presidency, when president obama succeeded partially in getting netanyahu to freeze the settlements, as it turned out, produced -- constructed larger and more settlements than they had done before. a it was there was question that the israelis insist that they have a right to continue building for the next generation, kids who were being born, natural growth. it was hillary clinton as foreign minister said at the time, no natural growth, not even a single brick is
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permissible. so that might suggest to some that she is really tough and may in fact adopt a different approach to the israeli-palestinian conflict. i don't believe that to be the case. i don't think she's about to do that. and certainly, during the course of the election campaign, she is likely to say things to satisfy what the party believes it must say in order to retain jewish support. she is likely to say things that would make it even if she were inclined to change their policy, that would make it difficult, if not impossible, to change it once she's in office. amy: henry siegman, you say you don't hold out hope for american jews putting pressure on a two state solution with israel and
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palestine. it hasn't american opinion changed significantly, even since you are head of the american jewish congress, especially among young jews and college students? change,there has been a -- with thisge younger generation, is exacting cost, which is to say that these younger people, many of them are not joining counter lobbies that are in a position to challenge apac in the jewish establishment that is part of the apac operation. but they just -- they leave the scene. they just does affiliate.
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they just go on to other concerns. amy: but when polled, stated a different opinion. >> they do. but it doesn't -- for most of them -- some of them have gone while it has, but done considering the resources at his disposal than i think a isderful job, but jay street in no position and am afraid we will never see it in a position, not in the coming decade, to challenge apaic. aic has a stranglehold on the u.s. congress and will continue to have that struggle hold. amy: you are the head of two major jewish urbanization's, the head of the synagogue council of america as all as the mac and jewish congress. your father was a leader in european zionism. that is the way you grew up. why have you changed your position over time?
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i have changed my position basically for two reasons. first, because the zionism that i was raised with essentially is the zionism of the founders. the zionist movement from the very inception was not a ,ight-wing religious movement not a religious/nationalistic movement. it was essentially a secular movement. the founders of the movement were socialists. they were left-wingers. they were committed to democracy. founders didionist not even think in terms of a jewish state. in fact, as someone pointed out title ofently, the kurt russell's founding -- hert
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sell's sunning docket was not the jewish state, but rather a state for the juice. could livewhich jews and develop their culture. was -- andumption insolently -- incidentally what few people are aware of, overwhelmingly, the religious community, the jewish religious community in europe and, such as it was in the united states, overwhelmingly rejected zionism because of its democratic secular counselor. pardon me, secular calendar. the organization with which i would say 80% to 90% of the orthodox community in europe identified with. and it was bitterly opposed to the zionist movement and saw it as a heresy, as a jewish heresy.
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i recall going to a school were ultimately i received ordination , i went to that school and my teachers regularly referred to the leaders of the zionist whenever -- and whenever they mentioned them, "may their name and memory be wiped out." and that is what they said when they referred to hitler as well. was the orthodox community at the time. the zionism that identified with totally rejected that orthodox jewish sensibility when it comes to the zionist movement. but that zionism has been wiped
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out. memory ofs even the its leaders has been wiped out. any kind of zionism that exists --ay, as a june, a rejected as a jew, i reject it. it is my jewishness that leads me to reject it, to abandon it, to see it does shameful and the betrayal of the very best and most important values of my religious and ethnic identity. amy: and what is it that you reject? >> i reject the racism. i reject the sense of sensibilities that these people whose names you mention in the program who are now all ministers, the anti-democratic --sibilities, the extreme let me give you one example. -- can yougine
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imagine if here in the united states we had two tracks for citizenship. one track would be what our laws are today, but then there would be a fast track run by the white house which would be running the white house under the white house's jurisdiction, would be running a conversion program with priests, catholic priests come or protestant ministers, and who would give citizenship on a fast-track basis to people who convert to catholicism or to christianity? the jewish community would be outraged. that would be just inconceivable. but that is the situation in israel today. there is a conversion office in
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the prime minister's office that works with people who want to fast-track their citizenship, but they can do it only by converting to judaism. had you suggested that to members of the zionist organization when they first met, everyone would have walked out of the doors. who would have accepted that? amy: on the issue of the israeli military assault on gaza, the operation cast lead, the israeli assault on gaza 2008-2009 when president obama was first elected at that time and then this past summer, with a called operation protective edge when you total the number of palestinians killed, we're talking about thousands of them. many of them, children. do you expect to see another such assault? >> it was very difficult for me
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to say that i can't imagine that they would repeat this. it.i can't say i can't say that. imagine thate to whenwill repeat it because this last gaza war was playing out, and as you pointed out, over 2000 palestinians, most of them civilians were killed, and something like 500 palestinian , theren were wiped out i andmajority of israel only supported its, but were critical of netanyahu when he decided finally to bring it to an end. that, to me, was the most appalling thing i had ever heard.
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i thought that there would be a sense of deep relief that this gazaering, this turning of into a human [indiscernible] is coming to an end of by those butfelt it was necessary, they got it was coming to an end. instead, they turned against netanyahu, netanyahu of all people, and the military. so in light of how anyone can ever say, no, it will never happen again. nermeen: henry siegman, the former executive director of the american jewish congress. his father was a leader of the american zionist movement. he now serves as president of u.s. middle east project. him indman sat down with late may. and that does it for the show. amy goodman will be back on the show tomorrow. 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.
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óóóañógñtñxñú >> skid row is a neighborhood of 50 blocks, which does not appear on any map of los angeles. [woman vocalizing]


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