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People Understand the Difference between Art and Racist Denigration (Part 2)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Interview with Ralph Schoenman
By: Kourosh Ziabari

The offensive movie "Innocence of Muslims" which has ignited worldwide anger and condemnation by the Muslims in different countries was the main topic of discussion in our detailed interview with American author, journalist and radio host Ralph Schoenman.

In the previous part published on October 11, Mr. Schoenman elaborated on the origins of the abusive movie, talked about his idea regarding the relationship between blasphemy and freedom of speech and explained that how the Zionists are capitalizing on Holocaust as an instrument for suppressing and subjugating the Palestinian people.

In the second part which follows, Ralph Schoenman talks about the plots of the Zionist-run media to demonize Muslims, the War on Terror as a pretext for waging wars against other nations and revitalizing the ideals of colonial era and the strategic similarities and affinities of the Republicans and Democrats in dealing with foreign policy issues.

What follows is the second and final part of Iran Review's interview with Ralph Schoenman.

Q: Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen has argued that the release of the offensive, anti-Islam movie was aimed at creating a crisis with the aim of defeating President Obama in the upcoming presidential elections and helping the neo-conservative, Israeli-allied republican Mitt Romney. He also states that the movie is aimed at provoking Muslims to kill American diplomats abroad so as to portray Muslims as the killers of Americans. What is your assessment?

A: It is by no means clear how the crude film and video could be seen to service the Republican candidate Mitt Romney over Barack Obama. The notion that provoking "Muslims to kill American diplomats abroad" will incite the American people to support Mitt Romney in the Presidential election strikes me as liberal confusion. There are no basic differences between the two political parties on military and imperial policy in the region. They use the same military and intelligence apparatus; their officials and advisors are interchangeable.

U.S. imperialism supported Muammar Qaddafi for fifteen years before U.S. and NATO imperial intervention. Qaddafi had signed an economic pact with Condoleezza Rice under George Bush. He was supported by Richard Cheney, John McCain and Richard Perle. Qaddafi opened up oil fields to European conglomerates and those of the U.S. and received their broad support in consequence.

The CIA actively supported and collaborated with Qaddafi and had specific officials coordinating with him. The CIA rendered kidnapped militants to Qaddafi's prisons for torture facilitated by U.S. functionaries. Christopher Stevens was among them.

This accommodation to imperialism by Qaddafi caused food and staple prices to increase and wages and earnings of workers to plummet.

When the Tunisian masses overthrew Ben Ali, Qaddafi denounced his fall from office. When the mass uprising began in Tahrir Square against the U.S.-Israeli backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, Qaddafi supported Mubarak, denounced the demonstrators and called upon the Israelis to help Mubarak.

It was, however, the response by the Libyan oil workers of Ras Lanuf to the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that precipitated the U.S. and N.A.T.O. decision to seize the opportunity to hijack control of the Arab uprising in Libya. Libya has but six million people compared to eighty million people in Egypt, and, most importantly for the U.S. and N.A.T.O. powers, Libya possesses 74.6 billion barrels of oil reserves.

U.S. and NATO imperial countries sought to head-off a popular uprising by hijacking it: Saudi, Qatari and Egyptian Special Forces were deployed in Libya. One of Christopher Stevens' assignments was to coordinate the influx of Libyans from Virginia - assets of CIA - and to facilitate defections from Qaddafi's bureaucracy.

CIA and MI6 enlisted fundamentalist militia and an array of Western-funded and armed militia.  Backed by the NATO aerial and armed onslaught, they were designed to create an armed imperial presence that would impact the relation of forces in surrounding countries, notably Egypt.

As in Afghanistan, where the CIA had funded and coordinated the fundamentalist destabilization of the country to overthrow its former Marxist government, as soon as these militia armed and funded by CIA had carried out their task, U.S. military and intelligence sought to marginalize them and create a security bureaucracy to facilitate U.S. control of oil, pipelines and a ruling infrastructure.

These mercenary and fundamentalist militias that Christopher Stevens and U.S. intelligence are attempting currently to marginalize in Libya struck back at their U.S. sponsors in Benghazi. Ironically, Christopher Stevens and his three CIA cohorts were killed with the same weapons supplied to the militia through the efforts of Ambassador Stevens and the CIA.

Moreover, unlike the official U.S. claim, Christopher Stevens did not die during the shelling of the U.S. consular offices. He was photographed captured, dragged through the streets and dispatched in the same brutal way that U.S. officials had supervised earlier, while Hillary Clinton celebrated in gloating fashion the parallel brutal torture and murder of Moammar Qaddafi.

The release of the crude anti-Muslim video by marginal right-wing elements within the U.S. may have some connection to police and intelligence circles through the criminal record of Nakoula, but the events in Libya – then and now – have been driven by U.S. rulers and the consequences of current CIA maneuvers to marginalize the very fundamentalist killer militia that they first enlisted and deployed in the destruction of Libyan sovereignty and the rule of Muammar Qaddafi.

A very similar scenario is in its early phase in Syria. Should the U.S. and its Turkish, Saudi and Qatari adjuncts succeed in displacing the Ba'ath regime, imperialism will, no doubt, move shortly thereafter to marginalize the brutal mercenary forces it has deployed to hijack popular disaffection against the government of Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. and its adjunct regimes in the region will seek to put in place a manageable bureaucratic apparatus to service imperialism. These current mercenary forces in Syria include Libyan elements deployed previously by the CIA in Libya and, ironically enough, active now in Benghazi.

In all this, you can't slide a piece of paper between the politics, military and intelligent apparatus of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. They service the identical ruling class, its military-intelligence bureaucracy and its strategic policies and concerns.

Whatever tactical and strategic differences may animate them, theirs is a shared undertaking. The two parties and their candidates deploy the identical people and debate among themselves the same brutal options.

There is little basis for speculation that the attack in Benghazi was contingent upon the release of the video in question; nor did the timing and nature of this attack depend upon popular indignation at the U.S. video's crude denigration of Muslim religious belief, a widespread response that was general to the region.

Q: What do you think about the possible role of Israel in the production of the abusive movie and other sacrilegious acts such as the burning of Holy Quran by the lunatic pastor Terry Jones or the publication of cartoons that ridicule the Prophet Muhammad in a French newspaper? In what ways does Israel benefit from the rise of Islamophobic sentiments in the West?

A: I know of no direct evidence that the Mossad had a hand in the production or release of this video. There is no doubt that the Mossad, like the CIA, creates propaganda provocations at will and that responses of masses of people in oppressed countries are demonized in the capitalist press.

Nonetheless, the Arab Spring and the radicalization in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Yemen have inspired the Occupy movement in the U.S. even as the mass demonstrations against austerity and economic hardship in Israel not only mobilized hundreds of thousands of people but joined Palestinians and Israeli Jews in these protests.

They carried banners in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa saluting the popular movements in Tahrir Square. Equally, the public workers of Wisconsin, in their mass demonstrations, carried banners hailing the Egyptian people and their inspiring revolutionary resistance in Tahrir Square. In Tahrir Square itself, young people carried a large banner that read: "Wisconsin - Egypt we are together; it is the same fight."

The ruling class is well aware of the resonance of struggle by the mass of working people across national frontiers - fighting to survive, defending their livelihoods, resisting police repression and the arrogance of corrupt oligarchs who exploit, enrich themselves, suppress and impose suffering and barbarism in their wake.

Thus do the CIA and Mossad navigate the dangerous waters of provocation. The day is ever closer when the peoples of all our countries will hold them to account.

Q: The release of the blasphemous movie and the dissemination of anti-Islamic sentiments in the West surely creates division between the followers of divine, Abrahamic religions, namely Islam, Christianity and Judaism. How is it possible to counter such threats that undermine inter-faith dialogue and weaken the possibilities of friendship and affinity between Muslims, Christians and Jews?

A: There is no evidence that the crude anti-Muslim propaganda in the video released has had any significant impact on the American people. Liberal pundits in media have blustered about people in the Islamic world not understanding "freedom of speech," as if these media trained-seals show the slightest interest in freedom of speech when criticism of the established order is involved.

The impact on the American and European public at large has been inconsequential. Most people understand the distinction between parody involving intellectual and artistic satire on the one hand and racist denigration on the other.

People perceive, as well, that demeaning people because of their beliefs and a display of contempt based upon this is a hostile act to which people in all cultures take appropriate offense.

It is important to distinguish, however, between gratuitous insult on the one hand and a legacy of literary and artistic satire of systems of thought that has enriched all cultures. This is a precious part of the intellectual and cultural heritage of every people. It often requires both moral courage and intellectual audacity and, although it may be offensive to established authority, it is a legacy inseparable from our collective intellectual advance that we must protect and preserve.

Given the fact that there is great religious diversity in the United States and a significant number of people, notably educated people, have no religious convictions at all, with the exception of pockets of religious fundamentalists in sections of the United States who are more conventional in their social mores, the mass of our population is rooted in the legacy of the American revolution that sought religious freedom, escape from persecution and espoused the virtue of tolerance.

Q: What role did the neo-conservative government of George W. Bush play in fomenting anti-Islamic sentiments and creating a rift between Islam and the West? By pretending that it was the Muslims who masterminded and perpetrated the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the U.S. government effectively turned the tide against Muslims. What's your take on that?

A: The first attack on the World Trade Center took place in 1993 under the administration of Bill Clinton. It was attributed within minutes to the blind Egyptian cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman who had once been affiliated with the CIA in Afghanistan and was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt before coming to the United States.

The Blind Sheikh was elderly and suffered from diabetes – an affliction that did not allow him to read Braille because of lack of sensation in his fingers. Sheikh Omar spoke no English. He was the Imam of a modest second floor mosque in a working class neighborhood in Brooklyn and an even more modest one in New Jersey.

He had few funds and his congregation consisted of young immigrant taxi drivers from Egypt and the Arab world.

He was charged with blowing up the World Trade Center and also with what was called "the landmarks plot." The latter involved plotting to blow up the George Washington Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Holland Tunnel, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Statue of Liberty and the United Nations Building. In addition, he was accused of planning to assassinate the Republican Senator from New York, Alphonse D'Amato, as well as the then-Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros-Boutros Ghali.

All this was supposed to have been organized, financed and planned in the heart of New York City around the most heavily policed and protected landmarks of the largest city in the U.S.

In reality, an Egyptian intelligence agent of Hosni Mubarak, named Emad Ali Salem, was attached to the office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York. Emad Ali Salem was sent into the mosque of the blind Sheikh to entrap the Sheikh and to meet young men at the mosque whom he invited to come to an apartment to discuss.

There he spoke of blowing up things in New York. Most of these young people left quickly and never returned. A few were offered small amounts of money. The apartment lease was in the name of a woman who later proved to be Guzie Hadas, a Mossad operative. Emad Ali Salem provided explosives supplied by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The company that rented a van was operated entirely by the F.B.I.

When explosions were detonated six people were killed and over one thousand were wounded.

When the police found Emad Ali Salem on the scene they arrested him and he advised them he was with the F.B.I. office in New York. He further stated that his superiors had assured him the explosives he deployed would not detonate.

The event was ascribed without evidence to Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman who had no part in it and was targeted as a judas-goat by Egyptian and U.S. intelligence.

I wrote an article in 1993 entitled: "Who Bombed the World Trade Center? Evidence Points to Federal Bureau of Investigation."

The lawyers defending the innocence of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman included the distinguished civil rights and civil liberties attorney Lynne Stewart. Based on her role as defense attorney for the Sheikh, she, as his attorney, was charged with "abetting terrorism" and is now serving ten years in prison.

Nothing indicates so powerfully the destruction of democratic rights in the United States under the pretext of the "war on terror" than the persecution and prosecution of Lynne Stewart. This act destroys the possibility of legal representation for those accused falsely by the government. It means that a lawyer can be charged with the offense for which she or he is defending a client merely by defending him.

It is as if a lawyer defending a person accused of murder becomes themselves guilty of murder by affording them legal counsel.

This assault upon the right to a defense and this persecution of lawyers who provide it is a measure of the use of the events of 9/11 and the "war on terror" to put in place in the United States a reign of terror against the democratic rights of its citizens.

The attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 under George W. Bush follows the same pattern. Massive evidence has been assembled demonstrating the role of U.S. and Israeli intelligence in the events in New York and Washington, D.C.

The collapse of the towers on their footprint virtually instantly – in free-fall time – had all the features of controlled demolition. The brief fires ignited by jet fuel in the Towers were incapable of compromising the integrity of vast steel pillars and reinforced concrete. In the entire history of the collapse of large buildings, none has ever been disintegrated by hydrocarbon fire. It does not remotely reach levels of heat sufficient to convert steel into molten liquid and reinforced concrete into powder.

The multi-filmed, recorded and eye-witness evidence of continuous series of explosions in the twin towers at the time tracks the controlled demolition that brought down the Towers on their footprint in free-fall time - the classic model for controlled demolition. Building Seven collapsed in identical manner without a plane striking it. The official fiction concerning 9/11 is an insult to the intelligence of the peoples of the world, for unless the laws of physics were eliminated by decree on that day, the events of 9/11 are demonstrably a government operation whose purpose was to create the ideological rationale for continuous war - the war on terror - and the vast extension of imperial domination combined with the rapid construction within the United States of the architecture of the fascist State

The accused hijackers were not listed on flight manifests of a single airline. Key figures among them worked at U.S. military bases with security clearances.

The attacks of September 11th mark a qualitative shift in the decomposition of late Capitalism. The resulting "war on terror" heralds the rapid unfolding of a global crisis wherein the peoples of the world, their survival and well-being are threatened as never before by a dying system and its descent into barbarism.

Q: The American and European public is extremely ignorant about Islam and the Muslim world. The picture that they have in mind of Islam and Muslims is a distorted, fallacious image. With the majority of mainstream media outlets in the hands of influential Israelis, how is it possible to inform the Western public of the concealed realities of Islam?

A: The majority of the mainstream media outlets of the world are not "in the hands of influential Israelis." U.S. corporate and financial Capital control the commanding heights of the U.S. economy no less than its linked counterparts in the major media conglomerates of the capitalist and dependent world. Tax Justice Network documented in July 2012 that global corporate and banking capital, in which the U.S. ruling class is hegemonic, have as much as $32 trillion, secured in off-shore banking accounts.

The miniature Israeli State apparatus is its beneficiary and its little extension.
Israel is an attack dog of U.S. imperialism that deploys the Zionist State to destabilize, threaten and disrupt the sovereignty, national integrity and aspirations for self-determination of subject peoples throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa.

What is called the Zionist lobby, or AIPAC, in the United States is supported completely by the U.S. ruling class for whom this lobby is an indispensable tool. The entire ideological fiction of "the only Democracy in the Middle East" and the myth of the Israeli state as the moral legatee of the victims of the Holocaust is the core propaganda device of the U.S. ruling class itself and of all its dependent capitalist regimes.

These myths about the nature of the Zionist state provide a fake moral patina for imperialism in its wars of predation and its policies of breaking up the nations of the region into their ethnic and religious components in order to command their resources, divide their peoples, eradicate their sovereignty and defeat their aspirations to throw off imperial control.

All mass media in the U.S. are dominated by the U.S. ruling class. Counting the number of journalists, editors or editorial board members who are Jews is a reactionary and foolish method for determining who controls mass media. All people who hold power in mass media, support imperialism and support Zionists because of it. The promoters of Israel among the board offices of major newspapers, television and broadcasting networks espouse this dominant political ideology of the system regardless of their own ethnic identity or religious affiliation.

U.S. book and magazine publishing is dominated by two large German conglomerates that were formed by Nazi companies under family control, notably Bertelsmann. Of course, U.S. publishing reflects the values of the ruling class and of corporate capital no less than do other mass media, regardless of the ethnic or national origins of those who work for them.

The claim that the "Zionists" or "Zionist Israelis" dictate US. State policy to the U.S. ruling class requires the political belief that there is a "good" ruling class, a "rational" ruling class that, on its own, would never invade Iraq, install the Shah of Iran, wage genocidal wars, kill millions of people, impose country-selling regimes that betray their people in countries throughout the world. In this irrational perspective, the ruling class conducts its affairs in this manner solely because the Jews make them do it!

This thesis, in fact, provides cover for the U.S. ruling class; it has no basis in fact and it substitutes a racist focus on the ethnicity of people as opposed to what they advocate and whose interests they serve.

This U.S. capitalist ruling class, in conjunction with subordinate capitalist rulers in European and other countries, controls and dominates the global capitalist economy. Israel is its useful instrument. The operation of the Israeli State itself depends upon arms and funds supplied by the U.S. ruling class. That is the defining relation of forces. The struggle against Zionism requires exposing its history and class role and opposing those who promote it regardless of their individual ethnic identity or religious affiliation.

The attitudes of the American and European public toward Islam and Muslim populations are, of course, shaped by imperial propaganda that designates political resistance as "terrorism”; nonetheless, most citizens of the United States and of European nations understand that peoples of the world subscribe to many religions and have a diverse cultural history.

War propaganda does demonize Islam by associating religious fundamentalism with terrorism. This, of course, is a relationship cultivated and maintained by imperialism itself. A central part of the political task before us is to point this out as it has manifested itself in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and wherever imperialism seeks to divide and rule.

Within the United States there are large ethnic minorities from Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East and from all sectors of Europe. There is also a growing Muslim population in the United States today.

In resisting the growing attacks upon the living standards and social services of the mass of American working people, they demonstrate the relationship between exploitation at home and imperial war abroad.

Each day of struggle by the oppressed in every country speaks in this manner to the experience of us all.

In this spirit, we pursue the fight for liberation of peoples of the world from a degenerate economic and political order confident in the conviction that we are the many and our oppressors are, if powerful, very few. By joining together as working people we become together carriers of a future moral and political order – a society of equity, of plenty and of enormous freedom – in which mass exploitation, domination and unspeakable suffering recall the cruelty of a distant past.

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