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Mika Brzezinski Hosts Queen Noor

Special thanks to regular commentator ‘Nuts’ for the latest from Mika Brezinski ’89:
(In ‘Nuts’ words)

Mika Brzezinski hosted a discussion on Morning Joe this week with Queen Noor and Richard Haass, Council of Foreign Relations about US policy with regard to the Israeli war on Gaza.

Queen Noor argued,

“There needs to be a new approach by the US that is more balanced that holds both sides accountable for their actions.”

Glenn Greenwald commented on the segment in his post “A real discussion on TV regarding U.S. policy towards Israel,”

The commentary from Jordan’s Queen Noor, in particular, is extremely insightful and articulate, virtually never heard (as the participants note) on American television, and underscores how unbalanced and incomplete is the debate most Americans hear concerning this issue of vital importance to American intersts (i.e.: virtually unquestioning American support for Israeli actions).

Watch the clips. Discuss among yourselves.


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#1 Comment By sophmom On January 19, 2009 @ 12:55 am


I just got a chance to look at these clips. The conversation, interestingly, came alive after this from Mika:

…there’s things that people agree on privately, but publicly? Mmmm…not so much.

After that it was markedly more candid.

I haven’t seen Noor in quite a long time. She came off well, easily holding her ground opposite Haass.

#2 Comment By nuts On January 19, 2009 @ 3:44 am

This debate – not the one on the show but the general topic – is marked by strong polarizing forces, and moral framing that has the effect of limiting dialogue.

It’s a generations old conflict, its brutal and lethal, not just for soldiers but for civilians, not just the war in Gaza but the rocket attacks, the blockade of Gaza, the war in Lebanon, suicide bombers in pizza parlors, the Israeli settlements in Palestinian land, and apartheid policies. Each measure in retribution creates another grievance on a long list of grievances with no end in sight. (Is it like our own race war between whites and blacks dating back to Lincoln’s days?)

US foreign policy as determined by Bush/Rice and the US Congress, and as shaped by AIPAC, includes substantial military aid to Israel, a policy of non-engagement, and unequivocal support for Israel’s military actions; at the same time, unequivocal condemnation of Hamas, and as a result no support for Palestinians who democratically elected Hamas.

Our veto in the UN security council of a near unanimous cease fire resolution (in this war in Gaza and the last war in Lebanon) makes a compelling argument to the world including the Arab street that the USA is a-OK with the Arab and Muslim civilian deaths, perhaps not just OK but in favor of it.

In the Gaza war, which started on our Election Day and will likely conclude on our Inauguration day (yes, it was planned), 3/4 of the 1100 Palestinian dead are civilians, and 1/3 are children. I don’t know if it’s true, but Friedman and others have asserted that part of the IDF strategy is to punish the civilian population for choosing Hamas as a deterrent for them choosing Hamas again as their government in the next election.

It is in this context, Queen Noor’s proposes her thesis that “There needs to be a new approach by the US that is more balanced that holds both sides accountable for their actions.” By all accounts, it is a reasonable requirement she proposes. It is also essential if the US wants to play an effective role as mediator in conflict resolution.

Haass, for his part took the position that Hamas could not be a partner in the peace process (or at least he accepts that Israel will not accept Hamas as a partner in the peace process. Israel’s position and the US position should be considered distinctly. Sometimes, to our detriment, we take shortcuts and consider the two sovereign nations as having identical interests.

Haass, who I acknowledge is far more informed than I, talked about pre-conditions for Palestinians in order for Israel to negotiate and actions that Israel was prepared to take but only after Palestinians had delivered on Israeli demands. I understand the negotiating value of framing it so, I do not understand why public policy experts in the United States would advocate for it in these terms. Our interests are helping two parties come to terms on a resolution, and a sustainable peace, not to dictate the terms of the negotiations or worse, advocate for Israel’s preferred terms of the negotiation. What sounds reasonable to Haass sound like Israel and the US holding Palestinians to account, to a greater extent than the US is willing to hold Israel to account. Maybe I’m naive but I think Haass must wrap his head around the concept of even-handed mediation.

Also in this segment, Mika made reference to a phone conversation she had with Queen Noor prior to the show. I suspect Mika had a hand in securing Queen Noor as a guest. I wonder if her dad has been a resource to help her identify excellent quests for the topic. In my opinion, Queen Noor was an excellent guest because she brought a point of view we rarely hear. She was also quite effective talking about the role of women in society in Jordan and Lebanon, in contrast to some other Arab countries.

You may recall a conversation between Joe Scarborough and Zbigniew Brzezinski about the Israeli Palestinian conflict on recent show which I think Ronit linked to.

Here are some comments posted that were posted by viewers on the videos which have been watched by 20,000 viewers:

“are u arab or just a supporter? i’m asking coz i think that sadly most americans just believe the israeli part. ”

“Hey, how did someone with a reasonable attitude on this matter get on American television? There must have been a schedule mix up.”

“This is one of the best Morning Joe shows I have ever seen. It is so rare, as Queen Noor alludes, that there is any type of open dialogue or discussion about the plight of the Palestinian people by the US media. …
I applaud the producers of Morning Joe for having the courage to let this segment air. Great job! ”

“It’s quite surprising to see the MSM air an opinion on the conflict that isn’t “Rah! Rah! Rah! Go Israel! Destroy the evil terrorists! Rah! Rah! Rah!””

“Noor is hottttt!!!! Yikes!”

“Bill Moyers apparently received among the most intensely angry response that he has ever received as a result of his quite balanced criticism last week of Israel’s war in Gaza — including a written “rebuke” from the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman that … accused Moyers of “anti-Semitism”

“I refuse to resign with “Let God be their judge”. Israel must suffer diplomatic and monetary repercussions. ”

#3 Comment By sophmom On January 19, 2009 @ 7:14 am

Really nice post, ‘Nuts’.

It was in the private conversation between Noor and Mika, that Mika made the reference I mention above, thereby insinuating that a very straightforward conversation took place between the two of them, saying what could not be said, on the air, in public. To be honest, I was pretty surprised to hear Mika make reference to it.

Also, I thought of the clip that Ronit posted while listening to these. I even thought about linking it, but posted so hurriedly. I rarely, (almost never) watch Mika, but this was very good, for all the reasons that you state above.

The loss of civilian life, the thwarted humanitarian aid when they so desperately needed it…is horrible. I predict we will be hearing much more about all that.

#4 Comment By nuts On January 19, 2009 @ 9:44 am

Thanks sophmom.

Happy Martin Luther King Day one and all.

#5 Comment By PTC On January 19, 2009 @ 10:48 am

Nuts- One of the things that strikes me is the very simplistic foreign policy positions of the Bush administration. “For us or against us”…”Democracy leads to freedom”…. there is absolutely no depth to any of it, either as spoken or executed.

With Israel… it has been “well if someone did that to us, we would certainly retaliate”… to which one has to say… huh??!!

No focus on what is good for the United States. Just because we agree that we would respond to attacks like these rockets with overwhelming military force that does not mean it serves American interests to have Israel doing so. We have been foolish, and it has been an utter disaster.

#6 Comment By M. Esa Seegulam ’06 On January 19, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

I am surprised by the lack of discussion about the Israel-Gaza conflict here on Ephblog and I wonder whether there is an equal lack of interest at Williams. I cannot understand how, for all that has happened, there continues to be such silence across the US.

PTC makes a good point about the failed analogies circulating about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One such analogy was Michael Bloomberg’s “If you’re in your apartment, and some emotionally disturbed person is banging on the door and screaming, “I’m going to come through this door and kill you,” do you want us to respond with one police officer, which is proportional, or with all the resources at our command?”

The best response I’ve heard to date was from Jon Stewart, my personal savior, who countered “I guess it depends if I force that guy to live in my hallway and make him go through checkpoints every time he has to take a shit.”

My personal analogy of the Israel-Gaza situation at the moment equates Gaza with a dead dog in the road, stomach ripped open by a passing vehicle, worms and flies buzzing around it. Israel is the neighbor’s dog who mounts the carcass and begins to ram his boner in and out of a hole in the rotting flesh until his body convulses with pleasure and he is relieved of one shot of dog jizz. America is the neighbor who then says, “good boy!” and tosses their canine friend a filet mignon.

I agree with Queen Noor and hope that the Obama administration adopts a more even-handed approach to the problem. I however wouldn’t trust that bitch Hillary Clinton any further than I can throw her old ass, but time will tell. After all, she has to do what Barack says, and not what her deep AIPAC-lined pocket tells her.

#7 Comment By PTC On January 19, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

Esa- What nationality are you? Born there? Speak the language?

#8 Comment By nuts On January 19, 2009 @ 9:53 pm

PTC, Esa is from Trinidad and Tobago. He was co-chair of the Muslim Students Union and a member of the Committee on Diversity and Community. link

#9 Comment By nuts On January 19, 2009 @ 10:03 pm

Esa, Your analogy gives voice to your anger and frustration. Understandably so. Leave it to the post-doctoral biologist to use the “dog fucking a mortally wounded dying dog” analogy. I don’t disagree. At the same time, your analogy is hostile and inflammatory and while it may be satisfying, it is compelling only to people who already agree.

Queen Noor argues that we must hold parties accountable for their actions. How would you hold Hamas accountable for its actions toward Israeli citizens? I’m not sure, I just think that’s part of the problem. What will break the cycle of violence?

#10 Comment By M. Esa Seegulam ’06 On January 20, 2009 @ 10:59 am

PTC: I do not speak Arabic. Why do you ask?

nuts says: “At the same time, your analogy is hostile and inflammatory and while it may be satisfying, it is compelling only to people who already agree.”

This is true, and it reminds me of a funny picture I saw the other day which expresses my sentiments quite well: http://punditkitchen.com/2009/01/14/political-pictures-gestures/

Holding a terrorist group that targets civilians responsible for their actions is almost impossible when that group sees death as the ultimate reward. But to me, breaking the cycle of violence depends on raising a generation that sees life as worth living, as opposed to just a wretched phase along the path to salvation.

Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people has radicalized this generation and the next. They cannot expect safety for their citizens when they turn around and obliterate a thousand Palestinians at one fell swoop.

Israel has moved with the conviction that if they punish the Palestinians for the actions of Hamas, the Palestinians will stop supporting Hamas. We know now, as we have known always, that this is not true. The collective punishment only emboldens the Palestinians to stick with Hamas. It only provides more opportunities for Hamas to recruit from the pool of newly-radicalized civilians. If Israel ever wants to be safe, they must return to their original charter to be a beacon of light to the world. They must end their apartheid policies, uphold the respect for human rights and dignity on which they were founded, withdraw from their illegal settlements, pay reparations to the Palestinians for destruction of their homes and land and cease the collective punishment tactic they have used with miserable consequences for so long.

Until the Palestinians have something to live for, they will continue fighting for something they are willing to die for.

#11 Comment By frank uible On January 20, 2009 @ 11:46 am

It is strongly suspected that if Israel should make all the concessions you suggest, Hamas or perhaps other Palestinians would continue to perpetrate continual violence against Israelis. It is further suspected that also Israel strongly suspects so.

#12 Comment By M. Esa Seegulam ’06 On January 20, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

The man who beats his wife may strongly suspect that if he were to stop, she would begin to misbehave again. This does not stop me from calling on him to stop beating his wife.

#13 Comment By frank uible On January 20, 2009 @ 1:42 pm

But it may very well explain his ignoring your call.

#14 Comment By nuts On January 20, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

There is popular support in Israel to strike a bargain for peace and return Israeli occupied Palestinian land, ’67 boarder. That seems like an opening worth exploring.

#15 Comment By frank uible On January 20, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

Then why hasn’t it been explored significantly and executed after all these years?

#16 Comment By nuts On January 20, 2009 @ 8:56 pm

It has been explored and utilized in the past and it will again, god willing.

“Land for Peace was first used as the basis for Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, which included an Israeli retreat from the Sinai in exchange for economic assistance to both sides from the United States and a peace treaty with Egypt. The international community supports the same principle for the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.”

Israel rejects Hamas as a partner in peace. I don’t know enough about that to comment. It’s been said here and elsewhere that this war was an effort to undermine the elected government of Hamas, and punish Palestinians for democratically choosing Hamas in the hopes of getting a “suitable” peace partner. Instead I think, as Esa mentions, that Israel has further radicalized Palestinians and created a need for hard line leaders.