Jeffrey Blankfort is an American photojournalist, radio producer and
Middle East analyst. He is a well-known pro-Palestinian activist whose
articles and writings have appeared on Counter Punch, Voltairenet,
Palestine Think Tank, Dissident Voice and many other publications.
He currently hosts radio programs on KZYX in Mendocino, CA and KPOO in
San Francisco. Blankfort was formerly the editor of the Middle East Labor
Bulletin and co-founder of the Labor Committee of the Middle East. In
February 2002, he won a lawsuit against the Zionist organization
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) which was found to have been spying on the
American citizens critical of Israel and its expansionistic policies.
Jeffrey joined me in an exclusive interview to discuss the influence of
Israeli lobby on the decision-makers of the U.S. government, Israel's
illegal, underground nuclear program, the prospect of Israeli –
Palestinian conflict and the imminent threat of an Israeli strike against
Iran's nuclear facilities.
Blankfort is quite outspoken in his criticism of the apartheid regime
of Israel and believes that Israel is the most immediate threat to the
future of our planet.
Kourosh Ziabari: In your article "The
Israel Lobby and the Left: Uneasy Questions", you elaborately explore the
dominance of Israeli lobby over the U.S. administration and cite good
examples of the influence of well-off Zionists on the multinational
companies and mainstream media in America. My question is that, what are
the root causes of this enormous power and immense wealth which the
Zionists have possessed?
How did the Jews take over the vast resources
of power and money that has made them capable of framing, modifying and
overturning the political equations in the United States?
Blankfort: That question requires a long and complicated answer. In short,
an important, well organized segment of the American Jewish community
emerged after World War II that has been dedicated to the establishment
and prospering of a Jewish state in historic Palestine in which the lives
and well being of the indigenous Palestinian Arabs were of no consequence.
That this segment did not and has never represented the majority of
American Jews has been more than been made up for by its concerted
activity on Israel's behalf in every critical sector of U.S. society and
at every level of the nation's political life. Its success would not have
been possible, however, were it not for the fact that within its ranks
have been a sizeable number of wealthy Jewish businessmen who have been
quite willing to expend the funds necessary to either purchase the support
of the U.S. Congress as well as virtually all of the state legislatures or
intimidate Israel's would-be critics into silence.
Well before the
birth of the first Zionists, Jewish bankers and capitalists had
established themselves in Europe and the United States so it was not
surprising that a number of them, beginning with Lord Rothschild in the
early part of the century, became supporters of the Zionist project. Now,
far and away, they make up the largest segment of individual donors to
both political parties.
The media, as could be expected, was one
of its primary targets, and that avowedly pro-Israel interests, although
not exclusively Jewish, such as Rupert Murdoch, now thoroughly dominate it
at every level is, unfortunately proved on a daily basis.
there should be no question that this Israel support network,
euphemistically described as a "lobby," has been a major force in shaping
U.S. Middle East policies overall, and the determinant factor in dealing
with the Israel-Palestine conflict, its power has its limits. While it was
able, through its agents in the White House and the Pentagon, to push the
U.S. into a war on Iraq, it has yet to get Washington to bomb Iran or,
apparently, to sanction an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities. It is
clear that there are important elements within the Pentagon as well as the
intelligence agencies which know that an attack by either the U.S. or
Israel on Iran would more likely than not lead to a global catastrophe.
KZ: In your articles, you've alluded to the conflicts and struggles
between the U.S. and Israel administrations during the past decades in
which the U.S. Presidents, starting from Richard Nixon, tried to curb the
expansionistic policies of Israel and bring about an improved living
condition for the oppressed nation of Palestine. Should you believe that
there have been such efforts on the side of U.S. administration, what has
led to their failure, having in mind that they've repeatedly proclaimed
their commitment to the security of Israel?
JB: There has not been
the slightest interest on the part of any US president, I suspect, in
improving the living conditions for the Palestinians. Halting Israeli
expansion and getting Tel Aviv to withdraw from all the territories it
conquered in 1967 has been seen as being in the U.S. national interest.
All the past efforts have failed because none of the presidents
have been willing to spend the domestic political capital that would be
necessary to force an Israeli withdrawal and particularly so when they
know their efforts will be opposed by the overwhelming majority of both
houses of Congress irrespective of party affiliations as well as by the
Zionist dominated media.
The only one who made a serious effort and
who was willing to confront the Zionist network and Congress was George
Bush Sr., when he denied Israel its request for $10 billion in loan
guarantees in 1991 and again in 1992 but even he was eventually forced to
KZ: Israelis are used to employing the label
anti-Semitism to defame and vilify whoever dares criticize their
belligerent, aggressive policies and actions. They accuse whoever
criticizes them of being anti-Semitist. This makes the politicians and
opinion-makers hesitant and demoralized in talking of Israel negatively.
Is there any solution to reveal the futility of anti-Semitism label and
educate the public that the criticism of Israel is different from
JB: The allegation of "anti-Semitism" leveled
against critics of Israel does not carry the weight it once did but it
still is extremely effective, particularly, when the accused is employed
by the mainstream media as we have seen recently in the case of Helen
Thomas, Octavia Nasr and Rick Sanchez, and in the film industry which has
long been a Zionist bastion and which was brought into existence by Jews
in the last century, although none at the time were Zionists.
power of the accusation of anti-Semitism to bring public figures to their
knees will continue to exist until there is a sufficient number of
prominent Americans who are willing to challenge it. When that will be I
won't begin to speculate.
KZ: Although undeclared, it's confirmed
by the Federation of American Scientists that Israel possesses up to 200
nuclear warheads. Being a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty, Israel has never allowed the IAEA to probe into its nuclear
arsenal. We already know about the destiny of Mordecai Vanunu who swapped
his freedom with the expression of truth. What's your viewpoint about the
destiny of Israel's nuclear program? Will Tel Aviv continue enjoying
immunity from responsibility?
JB: As long as the Zionist support
network controls Congress and as long as no American president as the
courage to even mention the existence of Israel's nuclear weapons, and
while the U.S. continues to hold the purse strings to the UN, Israel will
continue to enjoy both immunity and impunity. Had the leadership of the
now non-existent anti-nuclear movement in the US, like the "peace
movement" not been also Zionist-dominated, there might have been some
debate on the issue but because it was, the subject was considered off
KZ: Let's turn to Iran. Iran's is being portrayed by the
U.S. mainstream media in a distorted and hypocritical way. Many Americans
who even hadn't heard the name of Iran before are now exposed to a
horrifying and dreadful image of the country presented to them by the
Zionist-led media outlets. They aren't aware of the historical
civilization of Iran and its unique cultural, social features. How is it
possible to unveil the concealed realities of Iran for the Americans who
don't find the proper opportunities to get familiarized with the
JB: Most American would have a problem
finding Iran or any other country in the Middle East, or for that matter,
anywhere in the world on a map. They are, for the most part, what can be
called "geographically challenged," as well as historically challenged.
There is no antidote to that on the horizon which is why Washington is
able to get away with making war on countries and peoples that have never
done them harm. If there was a military draft as there was during the
Vietnam War, neither the war in Iraq or Afghanistan would have gone on as
long as they have and there would be opposition to an attack on Iran.
When Nixon cleverly halted the draft of 18-year olds in the early
70s, that took the backbone out of the anti-war movement and that is the
reason that as hard pressed as the U.S. is today to maintain an army large
enough to fight multiple wars, Washington will not bring back the draft.
Hiring private contractors became the alternative. Without the fear of
18-year olds that they will be taken into the army, there is no anti-war
movement and there is none worthy of the name at this moment in the United
KZ: Many people around the world have come to believe that
the media in the United States are unrestrictedly free and can express
whatever they want to, without any impediment or obstruction imposed on
them by the administration. It's almost accurate to say that the U.S.
government does not have any direct involvement in the media-related
affairs; however, there seems to be an implicit pressure on the media not
to cross the red lines and violate the unwritten laws, including the
criticism of Israel. Can you elaborate on this more precisely?
It is not the government that prevents criticism from Israel in the media
but fear of the repercussions that are guaranteed to follow any genuine
criticism be it written or in cartoon form in the U.S. media, even when
that criticism is leveled by a Jewish journalist. There are several
organizations, most prominently the Anti-Defamation League, CAMERA, and
HonestReporting which are able to unleash at a moment's notice a torrent
of emails and letters to the editor, and in certain cases, visits to the
offices of an offending newspaper, to make sure those in the media know
what they can and cannot write. Since there is no corresponding pressure
from Israel's critics in the public, most editors choose to avoid a fight.
There was a time when a number of columnists in the mainstream press
did write critically of Israel and got away with it. But that was 20 years
ago and they are no longer around
KZ: As the final question, what's
your prediction for the future of Israel? Will it continue to determine
the U.S. foreign policy and rule the American politicians? Is it capable
of maintaining the blockade of Gaza? After all, will Israel succeed in
JB: As long as Israel's supporters, or
agents in the U.S., are able to control the U.S. Congress and intimidate
whoever happens to be president and as long as those same forces dominate
the media there will be no change in the U.S. or in the situation in Gaza.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, while slowly growing in
the U.S., does not have the intensity that it has elsewhere and its
targets are limited to what Israel and U.S. companies do in the West Bank
so, realistically, there is unlikely to be any meaningful pressure coming
from the U.S.
What Israel does, however, may produce changes that
are unpredictable at the moment. Having twice been defeated by Hezbollah,
Israeli officials keep threatening another war on Lebanon and since the
U.S., Europe and the UN have let them get away with all their previous
wars on Lebanon, they are likely to try again.
Palestinians, the Lebanese are able and willing to aggressively fight back
as the Israeli soldiers know all too well, from their resistance to
occupation and their halting of the vaunted Israeli wehrmacht in 2006.
Should Israel find a way to attack Iran, the repercussions from that might
be sufficient to send Israel on the road to what will ultimately be viewed
as self-destruction. At the moment, thanks to the unconditional backing by
the U.S. for all it crimes, and given its arsenal of nuclear weapons, I
consider Israel to be the most immediate threat to the future of the