Today Samar talks to Egyptian author Khaled El Guindy author of The Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, from Balfour to Trump. Guindy moved to the US at a very young age and early on was interested in Middle East politics which later evolved into a focus on moved the Palestinian issue.
The blind spot refers to a general inability for American politicians and policy makers to see the issue from a Palestinian stand point which creates blind spots that negatively affects America’s mediations efforts. Guindy wanted to look specifically at the American role in the Palestinian Israeli conflict as it has been the sole mediator for a long time now and wanted to discuss in detail how their close relationship with Israel has affected their ability to mediate fairly, and not surprisingly, this has had a very negative effect towards addressing the core concepts of the Palestinian issue.
Guindy moves on to talk about the two ways the blind spot manifests itself. Israel has the upper hand in terms of power. The idea of coming to negotiation table doesn’t factor in the balance of power between Israel and Palestine. The second manifestation of the blind spot is the sensitivity to internal Israeli politics. (public opinion, political oppositions in USA are always factors when mediating). When it comes to Palestinian politics that sensitivity is absent from US consideration.
Samar then asks Guindy about the reason America has supported Israel for so long to which he states the cultural, religious and historical reasons. Furthermore, the holocaust affected American thinking and from then on, the US felt a historical obligation towards supporting the Zionist movement. Guindy even goes on to explain that even Woodrow Wilson didn’t see the rights of Palestinian even though he was a champion of self-determination in the Middle East. Other priorities overshadowed the concerns of the Palestinians.
Samar then asks Guindy about the hearing in the US congress in 1922 discussing the idea of the creation of the state of Israel. At the time the outcome was relatively balanced where there was a total of 10 witnesses at the hearing in which 5 were in favor and 5 were opposed to the create of a Jewish state. However, most members of congress were already in favor of Zionism by that time. On one hand they saw the Jewish people as pioneers who had significant contributions in the US while on the other hand, they compared the Palestinians to Native Americans who they saw as less civilized, less worthy and less capable people. One of the common threads throughout time has been a strong Jewish lobby and a sympathetic congress.
Samar then discusses with Guindy the strategies of the United States in the region lead by Henry Kissinger. Henry Kissinger hijacked any attempts of the peace process. What was his strategy? He was the architect of the US lead peace process but specifically he was the godfather of American policy towards Palestinians. It was based on Israeli power. He saw the US and Israel as two powerful countries that dominate. His goal is to bring Arabs to the negotiation table one by one and make peace with Israel and at the same time weaken the Palestinian government. According to Kissinger a weak PLO would be beneficial to the peace process and that became a school of thought in American policy making throughout history.
Samar then talks with Guindy about the support the Zionist movement has received and whether a third intifada on the horizon? Guindy talk about how there hasn’t been a partner who is willing to sign all the rights to Israel and how Mahmoud Abbass has been completely accommodating to the demands of the United States and not allowing a third intifada to happen. In the meantime, the US is piling on the pressure including cutting funding to the Palestinians.
They then move on to discuss Trump and the peace process. To which Guindy said that there is no peace process under Trump, which already killed under the Obama administration. What trump has doing however is to satisfy the agenda of the right-wing Israeli extremists by making moves such as annexing the Golan, making Jerusalem the new capital and basically redefining the Palestinian Israeli conflict which was based on a two-state solution to complete domination by Israel.
To listen to all this and more click here