The Interview was conducted in English, and then translated to Farsi. Both versions appear below.
Interview in English
VA: As the first question, I’d like to know your opinion about why Israel started this new attack on Gaza. Some say the last agreement between Hamas and Fatah (which for sure would make Hamas less radical) was a major reason. What do you think about this and other reasons which triggered this new raid against Gaza?
HB: There are a number of reasons for the attack on Gaza at this time. The main ones are:
1 . Breaking up Palestinian Unity – The so-called peace-process, rekindled by John Kerry last year, has obviously miserably failed , as a result of Israel taking the same position it did since 1967 – total refusal to even consider ending its illegal occupation of the 22% of Palestine which was occupied and held ever since, despite many UN resolution. The failure forced Mahmoud Abbas, the now unelected (since 2009) President of the PNA in the West Bank, to unite forces with Hamas, in a demonstration of Palestinian resolve. Israel is afraid, more than anything, of Palestinian unity in action. Such unity may serve the long-term planning of resistance, and of actions needed in the international arena: UN, International Court Criminal, European Court of Justice, European Court of Human Rights, the BDS campaign across the world – all such moves were either shunned by Mahmoud Abbas (like BDS, which he opposed) or delayed indefinitely (like seeking membership of international organisations). The unity government would have a strong Hamas presence, and bearing in mind the fact that Hamas stands for active resistance to the occupation, this was seen as a red line by Israel. The Palestinians divided is Israel’s ultimate goal, as it will make it easier to dislodge them from Palestine. Israel has of course originally supported Hamas against Fatah, and now supports Fatah against Hamas – these are the usual tactics of an occupier – so that the coming together of all Palestinian factions marked a failure of their policy. The attack on Hamas came in order to break this unity government.
2. Breaking Gaza’s resolve – Gaza under Hamas has been the strongest bastion of the resistance against the illegal occupation. With most of its population in refugees camps, and being under illegal and immoral blockade by Israel and Egypt since 2007, the resistance has not weakened in seven years. Israel is starving the Gaza population, making sure no business activity can take place, and allows only bare life, to quote Giorgio Agamben’s terminology. This calculated and inhuman policy is there to break the population’s resolve, and try and break Hamas control, but has until now totally failed in both respects, even though Gaza is being destroyed every couple of years by Israel, its people massacred, and the infrastructure decimated. Israeli policy (the so-called Dahiya doctrine) requires the ramping-up of atrocities every time such an attack is carried out. This is done both to frighten the Palestinians, and to get the outside world used to greater and greater atrocities. Some believe that this is a calculated policy leading to the second Nakba – a future ethnic cleansing of the whole of Palestine – as the gradual culmination of such atrocities will mean that western reactions are blunted. This part of the policy seems to be working, as far as the governments of the west are concerned – they have not intervened to save the Palestinians in any way – while they immediately sprung into action in the case of the Yezidis in Iraq, for example.
3. Securing the fuel reserves off the coast Gaza – Facing the Gaza strip, there are massive oil and gas undersea reserves, which are only in the early stages of exploitation. Israel, which depended in the past on oil and gas imports, is trying to make sure that it, rather than the Palestinians, control and benefit from such reserves, of course. As long as there is no Palestinian state in existence, and as long as Gaza has no status in international law, and its population enjoys no rights whatsoever, Israel can get away with this for many years, if not decades. It used the same policy since 1967.
4. Working with Egypt against Islamic movements – Israel was very concerned when Mubarak was toppled, and searched for an opportunity to replace the Moslem Brotherhood government with one more friendly to Zionism. The opportunity came with the Al Sisi Coup last year. The coup, supported behind the scenes by the USA and Israel, has meant the Egyptian military regime has its own reasons for suppressing and blockading Gaza, so now it was possible for both governments to act against Hamas, with Israel guaranteed the support of Egypt. For Al Sisi, Hamas is an enemy by definition, as it was a partner (of sorts) of the Moslem Brotherhood, and hence need to be defeated, according to their dogma now ruling official Egypt.
5. Uniting Israeli and Jewish society – This is an important task of Netanyahu; the failure of the peace talks, for the nth time, has started deep rifts between Israel, the Jewish population of the west, and liberals in the west. It must now be clear to all, that after five decades of illegal occupation, Israel has no intention of vacating the occupied territories, in which it placed almost 850,000 illegal settlers since 1967, and the Apartheid Wall, with Israel calls the Separation Barrier (Ironically, meaning the same thing – Apartheid in Afrikaans means separation…) is making the stealing of more land from Palestinians possible. As Israel cannot make the choice between being mainly a Jewish society, by withdrawing from the territories, and the continuation of its occupation, the tensions within Israel itself are becoming very dangerous. We could see this in the summer of 2011, when hundreds of thousands joined asocial protests which lasted two months, in the wake of the Arab Uprisings. There is nothing like a war to unite Israeli society, and this one was no exception – over 95% of Jews in Israel supported the war crimes committed in Gaza. So while Netanyahu succeeded in turning the Israeli public from a hostile position against him towards total support, this support may well be fickle and short-lived, as the main problem is still there!
VA: We have seen that people all over the world, particularly in European and in the US have come to the streets to protest against Israeli crimes against defenceless People of Gaza, and we know that anti-semitic feelings have reappeared in western states. Considering these facts, what has Israel gained during from this brutal war (which unfortunately continues)? Do you see Gaza war as a gain or a loss for Israel? Has Israel reached its goals in this war? What are you reasons?
HB: The Gaza war has not yet ended, as negotiations continue. However, it is clear to see that the main aims of the war have clearly failed. Israel is now more isolated in public opinion then it ever was. While governments of the west give it more support than ever before, their citizens are disgusted and angry about this behaviour, both of Israel and their own governments. A strong BDS movement is gaining pace, in the same way it did during the late 1970s about South Africa. In that sense, the South African Moment of the conflict has been reached – from now on, Israel will stay isolated until it gives up the occupation, settlements, and agrees to a just peace in Palestine.
Another important failure is also connected to the first one. Israel has lost the war against Hamas, quite clearly. While speaking about the need to fight terror and defend itself against rockets, the reality was the very opposite: Israel attacked a civilian unarmed population, killing 2100 and wounding more than 10,000. A small minority of the dead were Hamas fighters, who fought very well against the most modern army in the Middle East, armed only with light weapons. The great majority of Israeli casualties were soldiers – 65 out of 68 casualties. These numbers, when compared, show the results: Israel was fighting and killing mainly civilians, while Hamas was fighting and killing mainly the occupation forces, as an act of resistance. This also means that Hamas went on, as did other factions, with its rocket fire despite the enormous force applied by Israel. In the annals of guerrilla warfare, Hamas has achieved an amazing record of resistance against enormous odds. This is clearly understood by the population – support for Hamas is even stronger now than before the war.
It also means that, at least for the moment, the Unity government in Palestine has survived the attack, and may be even reinforced by it. Abroad, the support for Palestine is now moving from the public to the diplomatic and political arenas, with sanctions by the EU against the settlements now applied for the first time. Many governments in Latin America have removed their ambassadors from Tel Aviv, and more will follow. This is proving to be a disaster for Israel, politically.
VA: Do you see a link between what is happening in Ukraine, Iraq and what we see in Gaza? I mean is there anything special about the timing of these events?
Israel is always adept at using conflict elsewhere in order to fight its wars. In 1982, during the Falklands War, it moved into Lebanon and tried to dictate a new order in that country, as well as to finish off the PLO in Beirut. While it succeeded in murdering more than 20,000 civilians in the city and beyond, and controlled South Lebanon for two decades, until 2000, as well as ejecting the PLO out of the country, what looked then like a success turned out to be a deep failure. The rise of Hezbbolah in Lebanon is a direct result of Israel’s brutality and the need to fight it.
Thus, the great nervousness in Israel after the start of the Arab Uprisings at the end of 2010, led it towards more and more aggression, and more desperate means. In 2012 it again attacked Gaza, and now it seized the opportunity to do that again, as other conflict zones are hotting up and getting media coverage. While one can see what they tried to achieve, they failed again, as social media stepped in to fill the gaps left by the official and commercial mainstream media. This may well have been the first conflict in which the international community was kept in the picture mainly by the new social media.
VA: How do you interpret international (I mean world governments) stances on this war, particularly the US and EU? And also states like Egypt?
HB: I think I already related to this question in my earlier answers. Please remember that when most world governments were boycotting and sanctioning South Africa in the 1980s, the two last supporters of Apartheid South Africa were the US and UK. Only towards the very end, they also joined the sanctions. This is likely to be the case also with Israeli apartheid, I reckon.
VA: What do you think about Hamas moves? On the whole what do you think about armed resistance in Palestine? According to your view, Do Palestinians have the right to use weapons to defend themselves against Israeli forces or not?
HB: Not only in my view, but also in the more important view of the UN charter, all peoples have the right to resist by force of arms an illegal occupation of their country and fight for freedom. The fact that this occupation already lasted 47 years, makes this case stronger and more urgent. Of course, the Palestinians have the same rights as any other people under occupation, be it, Algeria, Vietnam or Iraq. The UN Charter protects this right to resist occupation, and I fully support it.
VA: As you know, at the beginning of the attack, Netanyahu said Israel attacks Gaza in revenge of the murder of the three Israeli teens by Hamas forces (which Hamas persistently denied) and last week Israeli police spokesperson confessed that there was no relation between those brutal murders and Hamas. I want to know why the Israeli public doesn’t react to these kinds of overt lies, told by their leaders? Why they lie so easily and no one complains seriously? Does anybody in Israel ask who killed those innocent teens and what happened behind the scenes (because Netanyahu began the war apparently because of their murder)?
HB: This a very good question, I must say. How come Israelis are so prepared to believe any and every lie by their leaders? The answer is complex, but I shall try and be brief.
Israel is a democracy for Jews only, in a way, and not even for all of them, as the Mizrahi Jews, and the Ethiopians, are not really equal. Sociologists call this type of society a herrenevolk democracy – herrenvolk is a term developed in Nazi Germany to indicate that the German Arians were superior to the other nationalities in Europe; It means simply the Master Race, and a Master Race democracy is one like in South Africa under Apartheid – were whites have all the rights, and blacks have none, or very few. Whites in South Africa, most of them, stopped treating black people as equal humans; In racist Israel, it has become acceptable for the army and the society to control almost six million Palestinians, most of them without any human rights or civil rights whatsoever. After 47 years of occupation and oppression, where the population accepted the situation quite happily, because they greatly benefit by it as Jews, they have stopped thinking or treating Palestinians as equal human beings. All this is required in order to keep Israeli Apartheid and the occupation intact. No Israelis under the age of fifty can remember what Israel was like before 1967 – for them the occupation and apartheid are normalised. In such a society, there evolves a form of Orwellian doublespeak – lies become the truth, and the truth is attacked as lies. All Israelis, deep down, know that what they are doing is wrong, and this guilt, and their unwillingness to stop doing it, is what makes them believe in government lies. The deeply need to believe in those lies, in order to go on doing these horrible things. It is much easier to kill those who are not as human as you. The Nazis also understood this, as they made Jews into sub-humans through legal decree, before exterminating millions of them. It is very difficult to kill people in cold blood, if you think they are just like you. You need to dehumanize them first, and this is what Israeli propaganda has been doing for over 70 years.
VA: As the last question, what do you think Israeli leaders have in mind for the future? Recently Mr.Moshe Feiglin, Deputy speaker of the Knesset, wrote about plans for Gaza to be evacuated and destroyed, and then rebuilt as an Israeli city.
HB: It is difficult and repulsive to try and get into Netanyahu’s mind… However, MK Feiglin is not some unknown extremist as you point out in your question, and belongs to the same party as Netanyahu. He is flying a kite for his Prime Minister, in this case. I pointed out that the ultimate goal of Zionism is to vacate Palestine of the Palestinians – this was true even in 1896, when Herzl explained in his intimate journal how the country should be emptied of the majority of the population, and they will not be allowed to return. This is what happened in 1948, and I have no doubt that in the back of their minds, as well as in no-longer-secret plans, the ethnic cleansing of the whole of Palestine is prepared for an opportune time – for example, when the conflict with ISIL/ISIS is becoming a major one for the west. Such opportunities are always used by the leaders of Zionism, and we must prepare and defend against such action by all means possible.
In the shorter term, Netanyahu, like all Premiers in Israel before him – with the possible exception of Rabin during the last few months before he was murdered – will try and hold on to the occupation for as long as he can, and to make Israel the most important military player in Asia, which it already is. This is what guarantees the enormous support by the USA and the EU to Israel and its policies, and they will do all they think is necessary in order for this to continue – there are in a sense no atrocities they will not commit in order for this status to be preserved, as we have seen many times before now.
The interview in Farsi is available on the paper’s website: