Israeli ‘toxic influence’ responsible for extreme US policy – Max Blumenthal
Blumenthal, the director of ‘Killing Gaza’ documentary about the 2014 Israeli attack on the Hamas-run Palestinian territory, answered RT.com’s questions and later spoke to RT International in the wake of Monday’s bloodshed, in which over 50 people were killed and almost 3,000 injured on the Israel-Gaza border.
RT: Can you comment on the media coverage focusing on the embassy ceremony rather than the fatalities among protesters?
Max Blumenthal: The overall framing in mainstream American print media of the killings by Israeli soldiers has tended towards language about Israel “responding” or resorting to live fire in order to prevent Palestinians from entering Israel. To have noted that Palestinians were, in fact, responding to a decade-long siege, decades of displacement, or [US President Donald] Trump's opening of an American embassy in Jerusalem would have been off-limits in such forums.
RT: How does the embassy move serve as a win for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu?
MB: With the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem and the American exit from the Iran deal, Netanyahu has achieved two of his biggest priorities under Trump. It is worth noting that Trump was also a beneficiary of donations from the same Likudnik billionaires ‒ Sheldon Adelson, Bernard Marcus, and Paul Singer ‒ that have supported Netanyahu's political empire.
Now, Israel's colonial project in Jerusalem has been consolidated, and Netanyahu has helped set the US back on course for confrontation with Iran. For him, this is a substantial political win that has the added benefit of distracting from the corruption charges that have plagued him all year.
RT: Will this further embolden Netanyahu to conduct another ‘mowing the lawn’ in Gaza?
MB: Since at least 1967, the Israeli military has enjoyed a green light from Washington to carry out an uninterrupted string of attacks on civilian populations in occupied Palestine as well as in the cities of its Arab neighbors. This has not changed under Trump. Indeed, Trump and his inner circle have given Israel all the diplomatic cover it needs to "mow the lawn" down to its roots.
I also expect Israel to begin exporting the teargas drones it has tested on Gaza protesters as well as the deadly tactics it is honing.
RT: Can you speak about the US delegation, with regards to its support for Israel and settlements?
MB: The US delegation to Jerusalem is a perfect portrait of Israel's toxic influence over American politics and foreign policy. The presidential son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is the director of a family foundation that has directed millions to pro-Israel outfits, including illegal settlements in the West Bank where violent attacks on Palestinian civilians have been staged.
David Friedman, the US ambassador, is the chairman of the American Friends of Beit El, a foundation supporting an illegal Jews-only settlement. He has also donated to Jewish extremist groups like Qomemiyut, which are connected to the Kahanist terror network. Sheldon Adelson is the Likudnik warlord who donated close to $40 million to pro-Trump Super PACs in 2016 and just dumped $30 million on the congressional Republicans. These figures are part of a wider lobby that is helping to shape the most extreme US policy towards Israel-Palestine in history, and with the general acquiescence of Democrats also under the sway of that lobby.
RT: On the eve of Nakba, what message does the embassy opening send to Palestinians waiting for their right of return to be granted?
MB: The timing of the US embassy opening for the date of the anniversary of Palestinian mass dispossession and ethnic cleansing was a flagrant provocation. It was the equivalent of pouring salt and tear gas on an open Palestinian wound.
RT: Do you think Israel is using press coverage of the embassy ceremony to go harder on protesters today?
MB: A CNN headline today reported that “Palestinians died” in Gaza. They simply died and who knows how? Maybe they were sick, or they died of old age? The passive voice is practically the American corporate media industry standard whenever Israel kills.
Israel has also demonstrated its ability to influence the mainstream narrative with its own version of events, which hold that Hamas is responsible for the mass killings committed by Israeli snipers by compelling protesters to die. The message at the White House press briefing today was delivered exactly according to the Israeli script.
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