Monday, April 30, 2018

Ali Abunimah - Israel's Massacres of Gaza Protesters Force Liberal Zionists to Face Oppressive Reality

As the Israeli military continues to mow down unarmed protesters in the illegally occupied Gaza Strip on a weekly basis, some of Israel's most high profile supporters have begun to speak out against its brutal oppression of the Palestinians. Early this April, one of Hollywood's biggest actresses, Natalie Portman, ignited a firestorm when she announced that she would not be attending a major awards ceremony in Israel, in protest of its violence in Gaza. 

In response, the Genesis Prize Foundation, which oversees what has been described as the Jewish Nobel Prize, cancelled its prize ceremony in Israel. Natalie Portman has been a longtime vocal supporter of Israel. She was born in Jerusalem, and has dual US and Israeli citizenship. But now, even some of the most prominent liberal Zionists, that is, liberal supporters of the Zionist political movement and the Israeli ethnostate, even they are publicly criticizing Israel's extreme right-wing government.

Since March 30th, Palestinians living in the illegally Israeli besieged Gaza Strip have held weekly peaceful demonstrations, as part of what they call The Great March of Return. The Israeli military has responded by massacring unarmed protesters. At least 40 Palestinians have been killed, including journalists and young teenagers. More than 5,000 Gazans have been injured. Israeli soldiers have shot thousands of unarmed Palestinians with live ammunition.

Joining us to discuss the growing divide between what liberal Zionists say about Israel and what's actually happening on the ground is Ali Abunimah. Ali Abunimah is the director of the Electronic Intifada. He is also the author of several books about Israel/Palestine. Thanks for joining us.

ALI ABUNIMAH: Thank you, Ben,
BEN NORTON: So, Ali what do you think about this whole media scandal with Natalie Portman? We saw that, in fact, a member of Israel's far right ruling party, Likud, in fact called for Portman to be stripped of her Israeli citizenship. What does this say about the Israeli government and some of its liberal supporters?

ALI ABUNIMAH: Yeah, and not just for her to be stripped of her Israeli citizenship, but she's been denounced even as an anti-Semite by people in Israel, and government figures, and so on. The key point here isn't really about Natalie Portman as a person, because I've seen people debating this back and forth, about whether Natalie Portman deserves praise, people noting that Natalie Portman has a long history of supporting Israel. And even after she announced she wouldn't go, she denounced the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, and so on… hear the interview: