My interview with Mohsen Abdelmoumen of May 15, 2015
Mohsen Abdelmoumen: There was Ferguson, and then Baltimore; the United States live almost daily riots. What is your analysis of these scenes of chaos in the US?
Robert Fantina: Ferguson and Baltimore are just two of the many episodes in the United States where white police officers have killed unarmed black men, usually with complete impunity. This is a continuation of a long, unjust and very ugly tradition within the country. Generations ago, blacks were lynched (hung) in the southern part of the U.S. for no other reason than for being black. These lynchings were attended by large crowds who seemed to see these murders as entertainment. No one was ever convicted for any of these horrendous crimes.
Today it is rare for a police officer to be charged with any crime when killing an unarmed black person, and even more rare for such an officer to be convicted. Several police officers have been indicted in Baltimore, which is extremely unusual, not only for the indictments themselves, but also for the speed in which those indictments were made.
It must be remembered that many U.S. police departments, including some within Ferguson, receive training from the Israeli military, which is one of the most inhuman, brutal military systems in the world. Additionally, the Pentagon provides military equipment to many municipalities in the U.S. for their police departments. This militarization of the police cannot be seen as a method to prevent or solve crimes; it is all part of blatant, and mainly successful, efforts on the part of the U.S. government to stifle dissent, intimate the poor, and maintain the continued oppression of the poor for the benefit of the wealthy.
In front of return of the racist crimes which take us back into the bloody history of the United States, what is your assessment of the first American black president who condones crimes against the American black population?
As the election of 2008 approached, throughout the United States there was excessive and unwarranted optimism about the changes that might be ushered in by the nation’s first black president. Hearing the eloquent rhetoric of then-Senator Obama, many people seemed to see him as the new American savior. People forget that, in order to be elected to any but local municipal offices in the United States, there are countless special-interest groups that must be satisfied. They will donate vast amounts of money, and provide endless volunteers, but they are not doing this for the good of the common man and woman; they have certain specific goals, and they expect that by providing resources for a candidate, that candidate, when elected, will provide it with the expected benefits.
Mr. Obama is no different in needing that support, and being willing to pay his corporate owners appropriately from the Oval Office. He cannot restrict police departments without risking the anger of the military industry, or of any corporate group that relies on cheap labor to produce its good and services.
According to our information, you left the United States to settle near Toronto in Canada following the reelection of George W. Bush and the neocons’ comeback in the US administration. Can you enlighten us about that?
In 2000, in the presidential election in which the major candidates were Republican George Bush and Democrat Al Gore, Mr. Gore won the majority vote. However, due to bizarre provisions in the U.S. electoral system, the Supreme Court appointed Mr. Bush president. Four years later, when Mr. Bush ran for re-election against Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, I did not expect the president to be successful. There were known voting irregularities in 2000 in Florida, and others in Ohio in 2004, but regardless, Mr. Bush was apparently voted in for a second term. I had worked as a volunteer for Mr. Kerry in Florida, and decided then that I could no longer live in the U.S.
I must mention here that while I saw Mr. Kerry as far better than Mr. Bush, I did not expect great statesmanship from him. Since he has been the U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Kerry has done nothing but disappoint, especially in his unfair, unjust and unreasonable support for Israel at the expense of the basic human rights of the Palestinians.
Immediately following that election, I began seeking employment in Canada, and moved there in June of 2005, as soon as I found suitable employment. I lived in the western part of the country for almost three years, and moved to the Toronto area in 2008. In November of 2014, I became a Canadian citizen. I still have U.S. citizenship, and will keep it to expedite travel to the U.S., where I still have extended family.
The United States continues to play a murky role in the Middle East, first by supporting Saudi Arabia in its infamous war against Yemen, on the other hand getting closer to Iran. What do you think of this balancing act of the USA that juggle between the two major powers in the region, one representing Sunni Islam and the other Shiite Islam?
The U.S.’s goal is to continue its world economic domination, and to achieve that it will support any nation that it sees as strategically advantageous, and oppose any that get in its way. Additionally, the importance of lobby groups to U.S. elected officials cannot be overstated. The American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a major tool of the brutal Israeli regime, and one that holds tremendous influence over most U.S. government officials. It is rare for the U.S. to defy it, although it is doing so in Iran, despite the rhetoric of government officials, even those negotiating with that nation remaining hostile in regard to Iran.
U.S. support or opposition for any regime cannot be seen as either agreement or disagreement with the philosophy of that government. The U.S. will, has and does support the most brutal, repressive regimes if those countries’ leaders do as the U.S. instructs. The U.S. government has no interested in supporting or opposing Sunni Islam or Shiite Islam; it looks at where its economic goals are, determines which countries will support those goals, and then provides support accordingly. There is no limit to the barbaric civil rights violations that the U.S. supports, if those perpetrating them follow U.S. economic instructions.
What is the weight of the Zionist lobby, headed by AIPAC, in the designation of the US president, knowing that supports Hillary Clinton?
As I mentioned before, AIPAC is a very powerful lobby in the U.S., and Mrs. Clinton speaks of Israel in the most positive and affectionate of terms. AIPAC will not need to use its considerable influence to elect Mrs. Clinton, because it won’t matter to AIPAC or Israel who wins the election, since each current candidate, Democratic and Republican, worships at the AIPAC altar.
But it’s interesting to note how AIPAC’s influence is felt. Mrs. Clinton, during last summer’s genocidal attack on Palestine by Israel, echoed the standard government words about Israel’s right to defend itself. There are numerous things wrong with this statement:
1) It is illogical to think of an occupying nation ‘defending’ itself from its victim; all it can do is further oppress the victim nation.
2) Israel has the fourth most powerful military system in the world, backed and completely financed by the most powerful. Palestine has no army, no navy and no air force.
3) So-called rocket fire from the Gaza Strip consists of what Dr. Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors and a strong advocate for Palestinian rights, calls ‘enhanced fireworks’. Another journalist said that those rockets could be made with an eighth grade chemistry set. Israel, on the other hand, has the most advanced and deadly weaponry in the world, some if it illegal under international law, all provided by the U.S. Also, during the 51-day slaughter by Israel of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Israel fired more rockets into Gaza than Gaza had fired into Israel in the previous fourteen years.
4) International law states that an occupied nation has the right to resist the occupation.
5) During the 2014 onslaught, Israel bombed schools, mosques, United Nations refugee centers, press vehicles, hospitals and private residences, all in violation of international law.
Mrs. Clinton didn’t consider any of these factors when she blindly defended Israel.
For the first time, we see the US elections without any suspense. Democratic side, Clinton has any competition, and in Republican side, they have difficulty to nominate a candidate. Don’t you think that the games are already made and Hillary Clinton is already president of the United States? The USA can they afford a president who has failed in her mission of Secretary of State by losing her ambassador in Benghazi by negligence?
It is true that there does not seem to be much suspense regarding the next presidential election. Mrs. Clinton has access to vast amounts of money, much of which will obligate her to the wealthy corporations that donate it, and greater name recognition than anyone else who might enter the race. The Republican candidates that have either announced their candidacy, or are expected to do so, all impress the extreme right wing of that party, but really have no chance of being elected in a national election.
The situation in Benghazi, and any responsibility Mrs. Clinton may have for it, is still unclear. However, there are many reasons why the U.S. cannot afford a Hillary Clinton presidency. Her obligations to the wealthy and the military industry; her past actions on foreign affairs, including her vote to authorize the disastrous, immoral and illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq; her statement in 2008 about ‘obliterating’ Iran; her blindness to international law in the context of Israel and Palestine, all make her, as a potential president, a threat to peace and justice throughout the world.
Are you informed that Mrs. Clinton received bribes (money, villa) from the King of Morocco who lobbied her to get her support in its colonialist policy against the people of Western Sahara? Do you think the American public knows the problem of Western Sahara and the support of Hillary Clinton to the king of Morocco in its settlement policy of the territory of Western Sahara? Is it normal that a pretender for the US presidency receive money from another country, in this case the Kingdom of Morocco?
Sadly, this is business as usual in the United States. If the country ever was a democracy, and I doubt that that was ever actually the case, it has long since ceased to be so, and is now definitely an oligarchy. The Clinton foundation’s acceptance of the $1 million donation that you refer to is just one way that the rich control the country. The donation by the office Cherifien des Phosphates is just one of the many foreign businesses or governments that have supported Mrs. Clinton, and will continue to do so.
Neither Mrs. Clinton nor her millions of devoted fans care about the exploitation of the Western Sahara. Most of the U.S. public is probably unaware of this; unfortunately, telling them wouldn’t make a difference. The crimes that the U.S. has committed internationally for generations are hidden, but can be clearly located with minimal research. Yet the government public relations activities are sufficiently successful that the citizenry is happy to accept whatever it is told.
The U.S. citizenry made history in 2008 when it elected a black president, and seems eager to follow that up with the election of the first woman president. There does not seem to be a close scrutiny of her past actions, or her current policy pronouncements.
Israel continues its policy of colonization and extermination openly before the world. Its criminal leaders aren’t worried by any international tribunal, while we see judgments of African leaders and other. These courts, like the ICC, represent they a two-speed justice, and what is the role of the UN and its bodies, unable to give to the Palestinians their most basic rights?
The United Nations is powerless against the United States; the U.S. has shown that it isn’t interested in international law, and that it considers itself the lawmaker, judge, jury and executioner in all circumstances.
The U.S. is the only country that could influence Israel to end the occupation and blockade; after all, the U.S. gives Israel over $3.8 billion in aid every year. Simply by making that aid conditional on adherence to international law would resolve most of the problems. But it is not reasonable to expect one corrupt, lawless regime (the United States) to require changes in another corrupt, lawless regime (Israel).
Yet there are some positive signs. Social media is doing what the corporate-owned media, especially in the U.S., refuses to do, and this is exposing the horrors committed on a daily basis by Israel. Also, as the Israeli government becomes more radical, it is increasingly isolated in the world community. A strong indicator of this is the fact that, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that there would never be an independent Palestine while he was Prime Minister, U.S. President Obama indicated that the U.S. would need to re-evaluate its relationship with Israel. Any criticism of Israel from the U.S. is extremely rare.
The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement has grown in strength over the years, and that is taking a toll on Israel, as more and more entertainers are refusing to appear in Israel, academics are refusing to participate in joint educational ventures, and companies will not do business with Israeli companies operating in the occupied West Bank. The U.S. is currently attempting to outlaw the BDS movement, but it is unlikely that any laws attempting to do so would be upheld under a court challenge.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is now investigating Israel for possible war crimes committed during the bombing and invasion of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. Its findings will not impact Israel directly, since Israel, like the U.S., refused to accept the jurisdiction of the court and never joined it. However, condemnation by the ICC would be a public relations disaster for Israel, which can ill afford any more problems with its very battered image.
Can you tell us if you have new book projects?
I am currently working on a book about growing up under the cruel, savage Israeli occupation. Through Facebook I am in contact with several young people in Palestine, in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. These are people who were born under the occupation, and have lived their entire lives under it. They have known multiple bombings, deprivation, hunger, thirst, terror, gross injustice and untold suffering. They have seen family members, friends and other loved ones die at the hands of Israeli terrorists, with no justice for the innocent victims. They have had homes destroyed repeatedly.
Yet they have a resilience that is almost unfathomable. They continue to work and hope for peace and justice, even in the face of astounding violence and injustice. Their stories are both heartbreaking and inspirational.
I expect the book to be completed by the end of this year, and hopefully available by the end of 2016, or early 2017.