Thursday, October 22, 2009

Amira Hass interviewed on Democracy Now

Transcript here.

H/T Mondoweiss.

Some notable snippets:

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think it’s most important for people to understand right now about Israel, about Gaza, about the West Bank, where you live?

AMIRA HASS: That we’re not talking about symmetric powers here, Israelis versus Palestinians or Israeli state versus a Palestinian state. We’re talking about a regime of occupation that uses all methods in order to force on Palestinians an arrangement of surrender, which is far away from internationally accepted, or at least in the past or at least proclaimed, internationally proclaimed solutions for the conflict, which is a two-state solution based on the ’67 borders.

And this Israel has been doing for the past twenty years very successfully by economical attrition, by economical temptations, by separation, disconnecting Gaza from the West Bank, by military—vicious military attacks against Palestinians both in the West Bank and Gaza, by all sorts of means, by restrictions on movement which sometimes we feel are far worse than those restriction on movements put on blacks in South Africa, apartheid South Africa.


ANJALI KAMAT: And finally, Amira, can you comment on your vision of the future in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza? And there’s murmurs in the press of a third intifada. What’s your view from living in Ramallah?

AMIRA HASS: You know, Israeli journalists who are connected to the military always talk about the third intifada like the broadcaster, weather broadcaster—you know, like, “OK, there is some clouds. There will be rain. There will be no rain”—completely devoid of any real sociological analysis, not to mention analysis of which—which is based on understanding of what occupation is and what oppression is. This is, I think, almost a natural law, that when you have oppression, sooner or later there will be explosion against this oppression. Will it be successful? Will it be clever? Will it be intelligent? Will it be stupid? We don’t know.

The Second Intifada was a disaster, was a disaster for many reasons, and we don’t have the time, but the main reason is that it was a reflection of people’s anger with this discrepancy, terrible discrepancy, between open—the official language and the reality, the reality of no rights, of no—and, by the way, economically wise, it was good, it was not bad. It was not for strict economical reasons. But it was for this—you are promised liberty. You’re promised freedom. You’re promised a state. You’re promised independence. And what you get are bantustans and growing Israeli settlements and disconnecting Gaza from the West Bank. So there was an explosion. But then, for internal reasons, there was the militarization of this uprising used by Arafat in order to hush criticism against Arafat, escalated by Israeli excessive use of power, lethal power, to disperse demonstrations that were very benign, before the shooting to the air. And then Hamas used this, and others, to show that they are—for their internal Palestinian struggle, a competition over popularity. So they were competing over who can kill more Jews. So this, for me, was a very big failure. But the uprising started for genuine reasons.

And so will the next uprising, because this discrepancy, this Israeli control over every step of Palestinian life, still goes on, and it’s even worse. And the world doesn’t know. People do not associate now the Israeli regime with the terrible restrictions on freedom of movement, like it was in South Africa. Everybody knew during South Africa, during apartheid, that there is pass system. Now people do not know about. I was asked by a very nice Jewish woman, close to Peace Now—she asked me, “Are there any Palestinian journalists doing like what you are doing, living in Israel and reporting about Israel?” I said, “They wish they could, but Israel would not allow them even to go and cover a press conference in Jerusalem, let alone live in Israel.” We mean Palestinians who are residents of the West Bank or Gaza. She was surprised. So people do not grasp the extent of the restrictions of movement, which is the worst of all. I mean, it completely shrinks people’s life, not to mention how Gaza is a huge, how would I say, detention camp for one million and a half people who could not move more than thirty kilometers or forty kilometers in the past ten years or twelve years.


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