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Israel-Palestine Backgrounder

Program #LEVG001-RUEJ001-SCHM001-BLUM002-ABUA001-SALS002.

The Israel-Palestine question is too controversial for most media organizations. But not for Alternative Radio. The following six programs aired on nearly 200 radio stations.

Gideon Levy – The Never Ending Occupation: Palestine

Israeli general and later prime minister Ariel Sharon said of the Palestinians: “We’ll make a pastrami sandwich out of them. We’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlements in between the Palestinians and then another strip of Jewish settlements, right across the West Bank, so that in 25 years’ time neither the United Nations nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart.” Sharon said that in 1973. Today, there are more than 600,000 settlers in the occupied territories. They are facts on the ground, as the Israelis like to say. All of the settlements are outside Israel’s internationally recognized borders, and are unambiguously illegal under international law. Thomas Friedman, in The New York Times, says the settlements constitute “a tacit annexation of the West Bank,” and then he adds, “and is not winning Israel friends in Europe or America.”

Josh Ruebner – Shattered Peace: Israel-Palestine

Outrage follows outrage in Israel and Palestine. Yesterday’s atrocity is quickly forgotten as a new one occurs. There is a dizzying vortex kidnappings, stabbings, killings of teenagers and rabbis, attacks on synagogues and mosques, rockets, invasions, bombings, curfews, collective punishment, and demolition of homes. Meanwhile, Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, contravening international law, continue unabated. Occasionally, Washington says they are “unhelpful.” But there are no consequences. U.S. policy, meek rhetoric aside, enables settlements. The so-called peace process is dead. The Palestinians feel hopeless and desperate. Their prospects for a viable state seem more remote than ever. The prescription for more violence is in place. Can these polarized and deeply divided communities live together or are they destined to be in perpetual conflict? What would constitute a just and lasting peace?

Michael Schwartz - Oil & Gas Wars

Gas prices are falling. The price of oil per barrel is at its lowest level in several years. Why? We’re told the global economy is slowing down again. Europe is sluggish. Japan is in recession. China’s growth rate is weakening. But there may be other factors. The U.S. is producing a huge amount of oil, particularly from shale. Prices are dropping because the market is flooded and production is outstripping demand. Reportedly, the U.S. got the Saudis, still the biggest producer, to quietly agree to increase their output. Who is hurt the most? Washington’s designated enemies: Russia and Iran. Both heavily depend on oil and gas revenues. There is a glut in natural gas too. But the quest for oil and gas never ends as energy corporations are looking to big paydays ahead and states seek to enhance their power.

Max Blumenthal - Palestine: 50 Years of Occupation

Fifty Years have passed since Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War resulting in the longest military occupation in modern times. And on the ground there has been a radical shift in demographics because of the settlements. What began as a few scattered outposts has now mushroomed into vast sub-divisions and cities with Jewish only road networks connecting them make it difficult for Palestinians to travel. About 600,000 Israelis now live beyond the country's 1967 borders. The Palestinians are being squeezed into ever smaller and smaller enclaves, isolated and without sufficient water. The settlements, illegal under international law, are a key obstacle to the resolution of the conflict. But Israel continues to expand them. Each new house makes the possibility of a just peace more remote. And Washington makes it all possible with its ongoing economic, military and diplomatic support for Israel. 

Ali Abunimah – Justice in Palestine

The level of ignorance and lack of knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian issue is quite extensive. Israel is a strategic ally of the U.S. and a military and economic power in its own right. All true. The Palestinians? Well, they are an irritant. Why don’t they just go away, move someplace else? They had their chances for statehood but they botched them. The actual realities on the ground? Uh, can we change the subject? The many so-called peace processes and road maps have led to dead ends for the Palestinians. They watch as more and more of their land and water is seized by Israel. Sixty percent of the West Bank, which is supposed to be part of a Palestine state, is under Israeli control. Most of the settlements are there. Given the situation, what will the future hold?

Steven Salaita – The Limits of Academic Freedom

The groves of academe in Athens where Plato and other Greek scholars gave lectures, has long been idealized as an intellectual oasis, and a model for universities around the world, a place where free thinking without fear or favor would be forever encouraged. But today on college campuses from U.C. Santa Cruz to Yale outspoken professors are learning about trigger warnings, dangerous no-go zones; topics that are off limits. Apart from the stultifying effects of self-censorship among the best and the brightest, that open space beneath a shady grove of trees is becoming a marketplace, a profit center in an increasingly corporatized higher education system. To reverse the trend, a renewed commitment to, free speech, pluralism and a rigorous systemic critique is needed.

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