Wednesday May 09, 201205:58 PM GMT
Israel poses threat to Arab world: Analyst
Wed May 9, 2012 5:57PM
Interview with Jennifer Lowenstein, Associate Director of Middle East studies ‎program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. ‎
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You have only to look at popular opinion polls in the Arab world to see that when asked, the vast majority, the overwhelming majority of people in the Arab world consider Israel and the US the biggest threat, not Iran."

The US has gifted another billion dollars of US tax payer funds to Israel to complete its Iron Dome missile system that poses a first strike threat to its neighbors.

Press TV has interviewed Jennifer Lowenstein, Associate Director of Middle East studies program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison about Israel's Iron Dome missile system and the ramifications this has for the Middle East at large. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: A point that has been raised for those who are for this military assistance (from the US to Israel) is that they're saying that systems like the Iron Dome for instance or similar missile systems that they're supporting for Israel, in their words, is 'defensive' and this is actually going to stop wars from happening.

But at the same time we know that Israel has been the regime, at least in the Middle East, that has been constantly engaged in war and in violence in the region at the same time.

So this is kind of contradictory when we look at the facts on the ground, but what do you think is this reason, or rather, how can America continue to support giving weapons to a regime that has been accused for instance by human rights organizations and by the UN of violating international law?

Lowenstein: I think there is only disconnect in the US because we are told from the time we start primary school when we get to the subject of international affairs that the US stands for freedom and democracy; that we want to spread it; that countries like Israel are our allies and they need to defend themselves from a hostile sea of mostly Arab nations.

You know, if you're talking about how American perceive it… unfortunately most Americans don't perceive it the way most Iranians do because we're getting totally different sets of information.

And until the media in this country starts to give more factual details, there is almost no way that we can convince the majority of Americans that Israel for example in Operation Cast Lead wasn't seeking self defense.

I mean, this in itself is so absurd and it's a kind of perverse way of interpreting the events that took place. And yet I read an article today about a ranking house Democrat in the House of Foreign Affairs Committee who repeated the same lies; the same myths, all over again - that most people killed in Cast Lead were militants; that Hamas broke the ceasefire; that Israel was forced to defend itself.

This is what gets broadcast over and over again and until there are voices allowed to say the truth or at least offer another perspective, we're not going to get very far.

Press TV: I think you had some comments to make here about this plan (US missile defense program and US taxpayer funding to Israel) - Do you agree or would you say if you don't agree with this - What is this missile defense program or this funding about?

Lowenstein: First of all I disagree with Mr. Jones (Press TV guest), I don't believe that there is a Zionist lobby that controls Congress. I think that let's the people in the US administration whether they're Senators, Congress people or in Obama's Cabinet; I think it let's them off the hook and they should not be let of the hook. They are responsible for the actions they take.

We also have to look at who gains most from these kinds of systems like the Iron Dome system. The companies profiting most or the people profiting most from Iron Dome are not the pro-Israel lobbies like AIPAC, it is the aerospace industries and the weapons industries; the industries that are selling these high tech state of the art weapons to not just Israel, but many of the Gulf States as well.

The reason is of course I think as the other guest said, because it is a way of expanding US hegemony over the Middle East. And the one country that is not playing the game properly is Iran - the one country that matters; the one country that has real influence in the region.

You have only to look at popular opinion polls in the Arab world to see that when asked, the vast majority, the overwhelming majority of people in the Arab world consider Israel and the US the biggest threat, not Iran.

Also, I think the National Unity government that was just formed today between Lieberman and Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz is, on the contrary, a strengthening of Netanyahu.

Shaul Mofaz was… I hope people have longer term memories; he was the defense minister during the second intifada responsible for Operation Defensive Shield - the whole military operation that devastated and re-devastated the West Bank and that led to the building of the wall and also to the so-called disengagement with Gaza, which brings us to where Gaza is now, under siege.

Shaul Mofaz is a hawk and he and Netanyahu are going to work together very nicely.

Press TV: When we are looking at the US Congressmen saying that it is important for us to safeguard the interests of the Israeli people and Israeli troops; that our priority is the priority of Israel - Would you say then as Richard Becker (Press TV guest) is saying Israel could be described as he says as an extension of the Empire that the US is trying to pursue?

Lowenstein: Yes, well, you know it is a very hot debate in this country among the people who dare to talk about it. I see Israel as a offshore US military base; I see Israel as an extension of US power as practically one in the same as US power. Israel is one of the many military bases in the region, that is, if you look at a map, encircling Iran and trying to make sure that it doesn't get any kind of independent influence in the region.

I don't agree with one of the former speakers that Hezbollah is the reason that the Americans are opposed to Iran. Hezbollah is a much more minor power. If anything, if there were going to be a war against Iran and I think what we could expect - and this is where the Iron Dome system worries me, is that Israel would use the Iron Dome system and some kind of pretext to launch attacks against Lebanon and Gaza so they would knock out any kind of close or regional ally and could then concentrate on Iran.

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