Paris based Palestinian-American Lawyer Lara Elborno joined Le Breakdown with Yasser Louati to give her comment and analysis on the recent wave of normalization between Arab Nations and israel.
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Paris based Palestinian-American Lawyer Lara Elborno joined Le Breakdown with Yasser Louati to give her comment and analysis on the recent wave of normalization between Arab Nations and israel.
The recent announcement made by Trump in regards to the “deal” between Morocco and israel came as a shock for many in France. Unlike Middle Eastern countries, Morocco is closer to us and its decision “hits differently” for many. “Betrayal” is the term often used to describe these relations with the israel occupier of Palestine but for Lara Elborno’s reaction was cold defiance: “We’ve been struggling for over a century”.
Yet Morocco’s move came at a cheap price (3 billion dollars in investments that would benefit King Mohammed VI’s businesses) but also sets an extremly dangerous precedent. In return of establishing official ties with israel, Donal Trump unilaterally recognized Morocco’s full sovereigntly over the Western Sahara which has been fightigin for independence since the 1970’s and remains the last colony in Africa.
How will this affect support for Palestine in France and will this precedent actually create a unique situation where Morocco finds itself on the side of israel against its own people whom have called out the king’s decision?
Furthermore, as israeli networks have heavily fuelled islamophobia in France and as israel has been a supporter of authoritarian if not fasicst regimes (Bolsonaro in Brazil, Orban in Hungary, the military Junta in Burma, Modi in India etc…), Lara reminds us why it is important to connect struggles and not separate them as is often demanded by governments. The recent wave of Black Lives Matter marches around the world have given an example of international solidarity between marginalized communities and occupied Palestinians. Will this encompass the forgotten Western Sahara?
In this episode, Lara Elborno deciphered legal consequences for such normalization but also what it would mean for her as a Palestinian woman for the future.
Yasser Louati 00:02
Welcome to Le breakdown. This is Yasser Louati speaking to you straight from the Paris south side Banlieue of Paris. Today I will be speaking about a hotly contested topic, Palestine and the recent waves of normalizations or normalisation of connections between various Arab countries and Israel, and myself being of African descent, I will be talking about the recent announcement of the Kingdom of Morocco to normalize its relations, if not officialize them with the occupying entity called the Israel.
Yasser Louati 00:35
And for this show, not being Palestinian myself I have invited a brilliant woman that I have discovered recently, Lara Elborno, who happens to be Palestinian, American, American Palestinian, it depends, you know, in what sense she prefers to use it, American Palestinian, a French Parisian, if I can say, and she’s going to speak with us about how she views these events and speak to us about her vision as a Palestinian woman who’s being living these events intimately and of course, to kind of give us a a deeper analysis between the differences in regards to the relationship with Palestine when it comes to Arabs in America and Arabs in France.
Yasser Louati 01:23
Lara Elborno Welcome to the breakdown.
Lara Elborno 01:27
Thank you so much for having me
Yasser Louati 01:29
Well. It’s an honor and a personal pleasure for me to have you on the show. We spoke about it in the past. I won’t introduce you because your story is actually one of a kind, so please tell us who is Lara Elborno and what brought a girl from Chicago to Paris?
Lara Elborno 01:50
Lara Elborno 01:51
I am, as you said, a lawyer, I am Palestinian, my parents are actually from Gaza. I have never been to Gaza. But I was born in Kuwait, like many Palestinian refugees who ended up in the Gulf. And I eventually grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. When my family went to the US following the Gulf War and the invasion of Kuwait, I studied law in Chicago. And after getting qualified in the United States, I decided to come to Paris to become even more specialized in international law. So I studied European law at (the University of) Assas. And then eventually I started working in Paris. And now it’s been eight years that I’ve been here.
Yasser Louati 02:36
So you came here for your studies, or was it first a personal choice to come to Paris and then continue with your studies?
It was definitely a continuation of my studies, I had already finished my law degree, my JD in America, and I really just wanted to expand my horizons and my specialization a little bit more. And having already studied the French language in college, I thought I would put it to use by coming to Paris and seeing if I could break into the Paris legal scene
Yasser Louati 03:06
Which you did and I congratulate you.
Lara Elborno 03:08
And here we are eight years later.
Yasser Louati 03:10
Well, honestly, I couldn’t be more proud of you to say the least. We crossed paths, you know, given our respective look alike works, even though you are a lot more knowledgeable when it comes to law than me. And I brought you here to kind of speak as a Palestinian woman who has both perspectives as a Palestinian woman in America and in France, and of course, the relationships you can have in North America and in Europe. What ticked me when Morocco announced its officialiasation of interrelations with with the State of Israel, is a four letter word: “Yawn”
Yasser Louati 03:52
Please tell us why you wrote that as a reaction especially to Morocco’s decision to officialize its relations with the zionist entity, and I will tell you why it, to me, it was like it took me off guard.
Lara Elborno 04:07
Yeah, well, you know, I mean, this whole idea with normalizing relations with Israel. It’s definitely not new. So that, you know, it’s already been 26 years since the last normalization, between an Arab state and Israel, which was in that case, Jordan, before that there was Egypt. And then in the last few months, we really seen just like this acceleration of normalization deals, beginning with the United Arab Emirates, and then of course, Bahrain and Sudan. And now, of course, Morocco. And so I think, as a Palestinian, this is in no sense surprising. We know very well that many of these countries have maintained informal, somewhat secret relations with Israel over the years. They’ve cooperated together on security matters, and and so on, and so forth. And so by now, at this point, we’re just expecting more normalization. And we have to remember that Trump was very clear from the beginning of his presidency, he had said that this was going to be a priority for him. He’s been talking about it for years now. And so it’s really no surprise that these countries which in and of themselves, do not represent their own people have now taken these steps, which are wildly unpopular amongst their people, wildly unpopular amongst the local populations, but which has a benefit to themselves, whether economic, whether political, whether strategic, and we can talk about those in more detail.
Yasser Louati 05:44
Well, actually, you’re definitely right, because we see those decisions…Actually, these normalizations, they highlight the nature of Arab regimes, which means they’re undemocratic, and you have a handful of people deciding for the fate of millions of others. And in the case of Morocco, first, the reason why I ticked on that reaction of yours, which was “YAWN”, is because it hits differently for us of African descent, when it happens that, you know, from our country’s from back home, no, of course, we grew up, you got it, you know, we you know, you became adults, and you know, Egypt had normalized, draw the normalizer. I myself lived in Jordan for quite some time, when I was, you know, basis, a pilot over there. And I could see that, yeah, well, it’s a taboo, like, of course, they wouldn’t they are criticizing the authorities. But when these people talk to everyday citizens, so you know, we are against this normalization of these, like, you know, occupying forces, and and you’re definitely right, that they definitely shed light on how these regimes operate, especially in the case of Morocco. It’s that monarchy, foreign policy is literally the absolute monopoly of the king. And to make things look even shady, or in the case of Morocco, and you again, you hit it on the nail by saying, it’s not about peace, it’s about crony capitalism. And on that, I think I have to salute you because of it. You know, it turned out that the next day, the New York Times published a piece informing us that the deal, you know, was, you recognize you normalize relations with Israel, and in return, you get a $3 billion investments. And those investments will be made in companies owned by the king and his immediate, you know, close relations. But there’s another decision, as you said, you know, a strategic one, it was to acknowledge or recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara. And to quote a Western Saharan woman based in Northern Europe, she said where they addressed, legitimizing one occupation with another. And in a conversation last night at the CGL, we had this debate and it became clear to us that today we no longer have Palestine alone is going to be Palestine and the Western Sahara. And these two questions will have to be dealt with as absolute priorities because the Western Sahara for so long has been a taboo, especially among Moroccans, and the Western Sahara was actually part of Moroccan identity. And that’s why many Moroccans get hysterical about it. Having said that, the accords were named are being named the Abraham accords. And we see the UAE, you know, being, you know, the locomotive of these normalization initiatives. What makes what do you think of the term Abraham accords, on the one hand where it began with, you know, Bahrain, normalizing, etc. And when you see that Palestine has been sorted out, I say, for cheap, and it has been sorted out to legitimize the occupation of the Western Sahara. So to question in one, the Abraham accords term, in what it means for you to see one occupation being victimized by another.
Lara Elborno 09:10
Yeah, so just to clarify, the Abraham accords refers to the collection of agreements that were signed by the United States, with the United Arab Emirates in Israel, but then also, the it includes as well, the the agreements that were signed between Israel and beheading. And, you know, I think the framing is very intentional. By calling them the Abraham accords, we’re setting the stage for being able to represent this as a religious conflict as an ancient conflict, which goes back all the way to the time of our beloved Prophet Abraham peace be upon him, and that somehow magically, it’s only today that this conflict has been resolved and all thanks to President Trump for orchestrating all of this. Now, of course, The reality is not at all equivalent to this discourse, which is being propagated. In fact, none of these countries have been at war with Israel. There is no religious conflict between Bahrain and the UAE and Morocco, and Sudan and Israel on religious, you know, matters. They’re not arguing about anything, you know, spiritual or theological. There’s no debate about these issues. So why frame these agreements as sort of religious conflict resolution agreements, and that is simply to hide the reality of the situation. The reality of the situation is that there is a conflict here, but it’s not with these States and Israel, it is with the Palestinians it is with Palestine and Israel. And what is the nature of this conflict? This conflict if I borrow the words of the American University Professor Rashid halevi, he speaks about the struggle of colonized people against a colonizing state, that is stealing resources stealing land without giving any of those people who are on this land, and you rights, and so it’s a settler colonial state, Israel engages in the transfer of its population to Palestinian land in violation of international law. This is outlined by the Fourth Geneva Conventions and numerous Security Council resolutions, but Israel continues to do it. There’s now over 700,000 settlers in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, which has been occupied now for over 50 years occupation under international law is supposed to be a temporary status. I think we can all agree that a 50 year long occupation is not a temporary status. And so the question becomes, well, what about these people? And why don’t they have rights, the millions of Palestinians who live on this land, who have now seen their land reduced to tiny little Bantu stands while the colonies continue to grow and grow. And while Israeli law is applied to the colonies, and the Jewish Israelis that live on Palestinian land, while at the same time military law applies to the Palestinians. So this is a situation of apartheid, Noam Chomsky has referred to it as worse than apartheid. This is a situation that we are dealing with on the ground. And this is the situation that we’re not talking about, at the expense of pretending that we have made peace in a religious conflict between some countries that were never even at war.
Yasser Louati 12:38
When you see this series of shameful episodes, again, for the Arab world, when you have, again, a legitimate artist on the on the popular side, illegitimate, you know, rulers, deciding because they are immediate, private specific interests lie with the interests of the occupation of Palestine, when you see that this has been accelerating. I’m not Palestinian, but I grew up in a household where Palestine was central, and it was as a child, and people always asked me, where do you trace back your activism? To me, it’s the first Intifada, because I was living in Tunisia. And we saw the first Intifada on an Arab television, which means no censorship. So as a child, this kind of you are discovering the horror of this world. And to me, there is no minimizing it or trying to, but again, it will never hit me as much as it would it would hit, you know, a Palestinian person like yourself. I’m not going to speak of the previous wave of normalizations. But I’m talking we’re going to talk about this one. How does it feel beyond Of course, the sarcastic Yon, I’m not surprised. These people are illegitimate, the people are angry, how does it feel, you know, just witnessing it? And you’re like, how do you ask yourself? Is it going to get any worse? How do we how do we limit as a person? Well, you
Lara Elborno 14:13
know, I think it’s really important to keep in mind that the Palestinian people have been struggling for their rights and just for their mere existence. For some 100 years now, I mean, this really goes back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the beginning of British colonialism in Palestine, the British Mandate of Palestine and eventually the creation of the State of Israel on a land where 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their land and what constituted the Nakba. I mean, this is really the source of this conflict. When I think about this, you know, it’s difficult for me because we have always been resisting and we will always continue to resist we have never relied on anyone else to to vindicate or to support us. In, in our struggle, because Palestinians on the ground are doing it, they’re living it every day, even as a Palestinian in the diaspora, you know, just me even saying I’m Palestinian, when I was in the US even just the fact to say I’m a Palestinian American, you know, people will say, Oh, we don’t want to talk about politics. And it’s like, it’s not political. It’s just who I am. That I would often hear that as a response. So I think, yes, I’m disappointed, we are disappointed, but we also didn’t have any false hope in these regimes. And we have not. And we’ve been organizing ourselves as a people also in the face of pretty incompetent leadership. And, and, and really the struggle is with the people. And it’s always been and it always will be.
Yasser Louati 15:51
How would you underlies that? failures of the Palestinian leadership, not only the official one on the macro database, but all the leaders of the No, Palestinian are going to say, apparatus? If I can say, yeah, it’s been divisions, rivalries, and the results of today, you know, how do you What’s your your view on that? How are you critical on how it’s being, you know, dealt with and multiple reconciliations and split again? How do you, given what’s happening today?
Lara Elborno 16:23
I mean, I think there’s a lot that can be said about this issue, there’s no doubt that we need to be united and that we need to have a united voice. Because if we’re divided, it’s you know, the most classic situation in all of, you know, Political Sciences divide and conquer, as Palestinians are divided is going to be easier for us to remain in this situation. And it’s going to be more difficult for us to assert our rights. So obviously, there needs to be a united front, in, you know, on the international stage, there also needs to be new leadership, there needs to be leadership that really represents the grass roots. Because, you know, for example, the Palestinian grass roots has been organizing for years now on this subject of BDS, and has been calling for the boycott of Israel, as inspired by the the boycotts that took place during apartheid South Africa. And so this is a form of nonviolent resistance, which Palestinian civil society has put an open call to the world to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, in order to try to create some change on the ground for Palestinian rights, the Palestinian leadership has not endorsed BDS, for example, that’s something that they should consider because this is where the people’s resistance. This is one of the forums of the People’s resistance. So there needs to be less of a discrepancy between the people. And again, the leadership. And I mean, we can talk about the specific failures of the Palestinian Authority. And honestly, it’s a subject all on its own, because at some point over the summer, the Palestinian Authority said they were going to stop their security cooperation with Israel. And then eventually they restarted because now, Joe Biden is set to take office. And apparently he was involved in reinstating this, you know, this cooperation between now. I think that the old the old framework, the Oslo framework, this whole Let’s stay stuck in peace talks for years and years and years, while the settlements continue to be built. While nothing changes on the ground. Well, Gaza is still under blockade, Gaza is still under a blockade, which has deprived it from over $16 billion in funds in commerce. Since the beginning of this blockade, this blockade is intentionally subjecting these people to collective punishment. This is something which has been noted by, you know, human rights organizations, the United Nations came out with a report verifying this figure of $16 billion, and yet is real still subject Gaza to this blockade. Why there’s no reason for it. It’s collected punishment under international law, it’s illegal. There are concrete things that the Palestinian leadership could be doing, to call for an end to, you know, to, to to the things like the blockade in Gaza, but they’re not doing it. And and I think it’s a subject on its own, but there’s certainly a failure in leadership, that that needs to be addressed. But like I said, the grassroots has always been where the heart of the struggle is, and that’s where it will, it will remain.
Yasser Louati 19:36
What you know, it’s like you mentioned the fate of Gaza, and you’re still being under a brutal blockade one of the most inhumane around the world is literally at you know, a jail cell with no open Skype. But this again, highlights the conditions in which this normalization drive is happening. Israel made no concession. Absolutely none. So What make what would make someone sane? come later down the line and say, we will ask Israel to compromise. I mean, I can without compromising anything under a far right government. They obtained all these normalizations from, you know, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan. And now Morocco, you know, and that’s basically, you know, ends the peace process based on compromise between between both sides. So how do you mean, of course, it isn’t. I’m just asking how do you see things evolving when Israel was given up almost not yet given a free rider, or these normalizations? And they had nothing to do about it? As you know, in terms of possession?
Lara Elborno 20:42
Yeah, I mean, I think that’s a really important point, the idea that, you know, these agreements are being framed as some sort of peace agreements that will secure some concessions for Palestinians. These agreements have secured absolutely no concessions whatsoever, and have not improved the lives of Palestinians in any way. So let’s be very clear about that. When the agreement with the United Arab Emirates and Israel was announced, one of the Emirati ministers went on CNN, and she spoke about how the Palestinian question would remain, front and center. And that, you know, the Mrs. supports the right to a dignified life for Palestinians. Well, it didn’t take but a few weeks before it was announced that part of the investments that are going to take place in Israel, are going to be investments by the Emirates to upgrade and modernize the entire checkpoint regime in the West Bank. So let’s be very clear about that $3 billion of investment investments as part of a fund, which is called the Abraham fund, part of that fund is going to be used to modernize the checkpoints that are in the occupied West Bank. Okay, so now the immoralities are actually physically contributing to the physical structures of the occupation. And for your listeners, if they’re not aware, Israel operates a system of 700 checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian west bank that prevent Palestinians from moving in their own land. Why do these checkpoints exist, they exist to protect the now 707 100,000 illegal Jewish settlers that are on Palestinian land in contravention with international law. So basically, this idea that the Emirates, you know, signing this agreement with Israel is somehow going to accord Palestinians rights is not only false, but actually the opposite is happening, they are now participating. They’re not participating very clearly, in the in the occupation,
Yasser Louati 22:54
what do you send as a message to the people being ruled by those people who are normalizing with Israel? I know, the governments that they don’t we know, they don’t listen, I happen to be lucky enough to live in, you know, five countries in Middle East. But again, the fear is that this idea becomes normal for the next generations. And that in and of itself, we fight is the Israeli occupation that has always been like, this way. What do you send as a message to the broader part? I’m not talking about the Arab world, I’m talking about this, the people in those countries because they’re not always Arabs, they’re not always Muslims. There are people being ruled by despotic regimes. We don’t see any problem with doing what they’re doing. So if you’re to speak to Moroccans, Sudanese bahrainis, in the righties, probably Saudis, you know, with the way things are going, what do you send us a message?
Lara Elborno 23:52
I mean, first and foremost, I would tell them that, that we know, Palestinians know that they don’t support this. I mean, in large part, the majority of these people don’t support the decisions that have been taken to normalize relations with Israel. I would also tell them that there is an opportunity now to actually really participate in the nonviolent resistance. That in the form of boycott, because now as a result of this normalization, what you’re going to see is you’re going to see the markets in, you know, Morocco and the UAE and Bahrain and so on and so forth, be flooded with Israeli products, it’s now their opportunity to participate in the boycott of Israeli products to say that, no, we’re not going to purchase products from an apartheid regime. And here I’m quoting the former president, Jimmy Carter, who says this. It has called Israel an apartheid regime, or Noam Chomsky, who said it’s worse than apartheid. On your point that you know, why should we care? It’s always been like this. I’m a firm believer that injustice is not a sustainable state of affairs, okay? Especially colonialism. Especially colonialism. Because even if it takes 130 years like it did in the case of Algeria, it always comes to an end. It’s a state of affairs, which is so profoundly unjust, that it is simply not sustainable. And so eventually a day will come, when Israel will have to make a choice, it will either have to integrate all of the Palestinians that live in the West Bank and Gaza as a part of its population and accord them equal rights. Or it will have to finally dismantle the checkpoints, dismantle the colonies, and allow for the creation of the two state solution, which is the solution which has been supported under by the international community for the last few decades. But this whole idea of there being now a greater Israel with Palestinians subject to Bantu stands in the West Bank, or living in the world’s largest open air prison in Gaza, this state of affairs which we have today is completely unsustainable. So I encourage people to be hopeful as well. Because we know that, you know, just based on historical precedent, colonizers have always lost. They don’t they don’t ever maintain their regimes indefinitely.
Yasser Louati 26:15
While actually speaking of hope, you know, there was a decision taken by the European Court of Human Rights for human rights, the East pchr, that actually went after France and condemned France, for criminalizing BDS in France, there was a collective 11 activists of the BDS movement in France, they were tried and the ECA, the European Court of Human Rights, actually deemed their prosecution, completely illegal. But now France is still trying to bypass this court ruling, because we have had a minister circular, circular ministry, if I forgot who it was under Michelle, or your money under Nicola Sarkozy, that actually, you know, deemed illegal, the boycott of Israel. Now, in France, the situation is extremely complex, when it comes to supporting the Palestinian struggle. And it’s actually worse than in the US, you know, if we take a look at how public opinion is evolving in the US on the question of Palestine, and how things are getting worse in France, first, we have, of course, the hegemony of the far right organization called the cliff that poses as the absolute representative of, of Jewish organizations and French Jewish communities. And this organization called Luke cave, which poses as France as a pack that, you know, you know, pretty well, in the US, has been lobbying for so many years to the point of intimidating policymakers in order to oblige France to follow the to protect the interests of not Israel, but Zionism and the ideology, per se. And that’s why the court’s ruling that happened, you know, just in a few days ago, mean is that even the European Court of Human Rights acknowledges that boycotting is right is completely legal. Now, of course, there is the criminalization of the idea, they may not win in court. But because a minister of interior Michelle and humanity, some years ago, issued this declaration, it is still used as a legal document to kind of prohibit BDS organized collectives around France. And that it is true that we have also been honestly impressed by the success of BDS. And the father influence it is criminalized, is no surprise. And now I’m gonna move to a slightly parallel question is the criminalization of BDS came through the efforts of the cave in France, which has been making sure that the question of Palestine is completely delegitimize, and that policymakers in France openly, you know, stand with Israel, even when it’s bombed being, you know, Gaza, or any other area of you know, occupied by this time, we have seen people that first of all, are the supporting that and refusing to condone it, we have seen in a staunch Zionist from the left and the right, for whatever reason, it makes them believe that, you know, Zionism will serve the interests. We have seen those people being outspoken now, but that’s not the only How can I say front of the keeping fronts. There is also the front of Islamophobia in the way that the same people who promote vigorously Israel’s right for annexation to be above the law, and that is already is above any sort of accountability, even harassing policymakers. I mean, I’ve seen how, for example, the American Jewish Committee and their counterparts in Europe called Ah, yeah, it’s AJC Europe. And the way they literally bully, you know, diplomats and policymakers in the European Union. And I’ve dealt with them, for example, in the, you know, the European Commission in Brussels, and you will definitely see how the opera is between about intimidation. Now, having said that,
Yasser Louati 30:24
do you think it’s going to take you back a bit into some history? The Palestinian question itself, has also divided the grassroots in France, for organizations of the descendants of you know, the colonies, especially from North Africa, there was a Shazam in the 1960s and 70s. Right, as we are struggling for our rights, against police brutality, racism, and, you know, various, you know, types of discriminations as working class people from the colonies. Where do we stand on the Palestinian issue, and many thought that there needs to be a separation between the interests of the Arabs who work and live in France and Palestine. And that Shiism, that light of separation still exists today. People think that, because speaking of Palestine, would add more challenges to the question of Islamophobia, racism, police brutality, that, you know, Palestine should not be mentioned, and that Palestine should be left for those dealing with it. How do you react when you see people privately supporting Palestine as activists, but in their daily activities, whether they are fighting against police brutality, against Islamophobia against anti black racism, etc. When you bring in the question of Palestine, they don’t see the connection between the occupation of Palestine and their struggles in France, of course, it’s easy for anyone to say, Well, you know, you know, Israel has been training police officers, but nevertheless, they will tell you, you know, what, if you speak about Palestine, you’re just making things worse. What’s your reaction to that?
Lara Elborno 32:09
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, there, there have been so many efforts, over the years to censor Palestinian activists to completely make it taboo to speak about Palestine, even if you’re just using the language of international law, which, you know, how can how can that be taboo, like, this is what we have all agreed on, as a consensus as an international community. This is this is, you know, whether it’s customary international law or other regimes of international law, I mean, you cannot make taboo something of this nature. So I think, you know, this attempt to separate all of us and separate struggles, into the sensor, certain struggles, these are common tactics, and that are used by oppressors. For me, it’s clear that all these struggles are connected with one another. And activists have been making these connections. Globally, for decades, this is nothing new to connect the struggles with one another. For example, if I if you’re speaking to somebody who says that, Okay, I’m going to be in Islamophobia, activists in France, but I’m not going to speak about Palestine. Well, it’s very clear that the Israeli right wing engages in a language of Islamophobia to justify its occupation of Palestine to justify its siege on Gaza to justify the actions that it takes. It regularly refers to Palestinians as terrorists, and it plays on these sort of Islamophobic stereotypes to try to, again, shield or hide or, you know, sort of distract from the reality of the situation. So, I think that, you know, the connection, the issues are definitely connected. I mean, especially when you look at, for example, in the United States, with the global civil rights movement that we saw this summer that that was born out of the murder of George Floyd. Earlier this year, there was again a reawakening of the black Palestinian Solidarity Movement, which was, you know, born again in 2014, following the murder of
Yasser Louati 34:25
Mike Brown, Mike Brown.
Lara Elborno 34:27
And now again, we’re seeing the connections being made, you know, again, and again, between the oppression of black people in the United States, and the militarization of the State of Israel and the oppression of Palestinians in the West Bank. Again, the histories are completely different. And the scope of of the oppression is also different, but there are clear connections that exist between the oppressors United States and Israel in this case, and we should be aware of those things and we should should extend our solidarity to all, all oppressed peoples across the world. I mean, I think for me, this is obvious, I obviously can’t tell anybody how to, you know, do their activism because people have to do what works for them and what they feel, you know, they’re willing to, you know, deal with because you know, these, they will try to silence you if you do have something, you know, a value to say, and of principle to say there’s always somebody who’s interested is to silence you. So it’s, it’s a tough issue, but personally, I feel it’s beneficial to connect these struggles and to form alliances across all oppressed peoples globally,
Yasser Louati 35:41
especially that and this time, I’m speaking as an activist with you know, these issues for years is that this supposedly strategic choice of disconnecting our struggles in the volume from Palestine because it would be too problematic and we’ll be up against, you know, a bigger foes as clearly failed, because we see the, or anywhere you see Islamophobia, both in the US, France, the UK, for Israelis are never far. Yeah, for example, I know we, at the cjl the Justice celebrities for our committee that that I happen to, to work to, to to head or preside whatever, you know, fits best is we made the connecting points in every single time it will take a look, for example, at Natasha pallone, who is like a staunch no right wing you know, so you know, pro friend sovereignty, idea, Naga. And it turns out that the hurt web channel is funded by the same for Israeli, who’s financing another web channel by another Zionist. And having remained quiet on these connections, did not protect the proponents of this strategy. Of course, it’s not the time to speak about that, because, you know, there’s a lot of repression going on here in France today as we speak, but having and, and I told many people, I was like, I’m gonna second. So you’re so you want to call out some islamophobes, but not others, you’re not making any sense. They are all working together. They may disagree on some issues, but they are definitely bending against you. Why would you remain quiet on this one, and not the other one. And I’m going to give you, for example, why it works this way. And this is an example diet that I personally encountered. There is this, you know, journalist in front that one day because I don’t want to get sued for libel and you know, but you know, he knows who he is. And if you find this video even know I’m talking about him, you know, who poses as this friend of Muslims, he wrote a book about our dear poor Muslims that nobody likes. Even now we know what I’m talking about. And several times I would see him on television trying to bring in a platform to some Muslims. Okay, well, okay, why not? Okay, can I change my mind? Islamophobia is evil. And this is wrong. What we’re doing in the Muslim is our, our neighbors, etc. And I dealt with him personally, because one day I shared the Shlomo son’s article called Islamophobia, as has replaced anti semitism in France. Especially Mossad is a nice functional critic of you know, Israel, you know, how, you know, fluent in French, etc. And he explains how these ideologues a banner or lady Alfie effing can code and all of these supposedly pro Israel that never live in Israel, but they’re constantly defending it. He said, These people are feeling Islamophobia. And today, anti semitism may be perceived as evil because it is politically dangerous to religion to mosque in France, at least officially, but Islamophobia now is what Islam what anti semitism was in the 1930s and 40s, in France, and I just shared them like, I think it was quick. And the guy calls and literally, like, you know, starts like, you know, I mean, the conversation did not go well, to sit down. And what I had found out is that he had these relations with all the other activists he had dealt with, but he did not know me, we met once or twice, and he thought he could have this, you know, condescending, like relationship telling you what could be said, and it was absurd that I would compare anti semitism and Islamophobia. Well, listen, historically, they have their, you know, they there are different dynamics, but nevertheless, Islamophobia is the acceptable form of racism that gets your promotion on the political ladder the same way anti semitism allow the promotion of some intellectuals.
Yasser Louati 39:46
Well, after the conversation, it turns out because I made a few calls that he does, what many Israelis do even in the us is that we will support you against Islamophobia. But you we may on the audition, you don’t see a word on Israel. And unfortunately, people have come across, you know, in the activism, you know, you know, Nebula, they have accepted this deal, as long as I’m given a platform, but this dude, or this other person, okay, then I’m getting something out of it. But at the end of the day, all of them get burnt. And this is a word I say, for the sport guys that don’t buy into this. If you stand against Islamophobia, against any form of oppression, you definitely stand against the occupation of Palestine. And this is something that I went through myself and I and it was, let’s say, some years ago, when I wasn’t very knowledgeable on how these things work, it was shocking for me that he would openly say it, you know, I’m going to have two more questions. But the first one being, you’re a lawyer, you specialize in international law, and you spoke about international law. I’m going to be provocative, you have to forgive me. What Wait, does international law have in these conditions, when an illegal occupation goes on for decades, when a blockade goes on for decades, where the people are going to get caught and get out, are treated as rogue states, or the macro level, and are criminalized at the individual level? When does international law play? How can I say, its role to bring about justice? Well, I
Yasser Louati 41:33
you know, in in responding to this, I’m inspired by the Palestinian lawyer and legal scholar neurotic at who wrote a book called justice for some law and the question of Palestine. And, you know, the idea is, is that international law is only as good as the political will that there is to enforce it. If I were to summarize, basically, the, the the idea in her book, it can be used, it’s a tool, but it’s always used with some sort of a strategic game. And if you completely ignore it, that can happen if there’s no political will to enforce it. That can happen. But it can also be something that can be used as a tool to actually affirm people’s rights. So I think what you what you’ve highlighted is very, it’s very important, it’s that there is a body of international law that supports Palestinian rights. The problem is, however, it hasn’t really been enforced. Now, that being said, there is also numerous situations where some resolution would have been passed, if it were not, for example, for the interference by the United States by casting the sole veto so that no resolution is passed, condemning Israel for its violation of international law. But even having said that, disregarding all the instances where the US has exercises veto power, there is still there are still numerous resolutions, on the books, whether they come from the General Assembly or the Security Council that call out Israel for its violations of international law and affirm some scope of Palestinian rights. And the the question, however, is whether or not there’s a political will to enforce these resolutions or to enforce international law in general. And so far, what we have seen is that there just has not been, and and the reason for that is because of the very critical us role in maintaining the status quo, the US role, the US role in supporting Israel cannot be understated. The US gives Israel $3 billion each year in military and economic aid. During the Obama administration, Obama actually approved a $38 billion aid package over 10 years to Israel, which is the largest aid package in US history. And Israel is the world’s largest recipient of US foreign aid. So I think, you know, as an American, whenever I speak with Americans, I constantly call on them to question this idea of, you know, where do your taxpayer you know, where do your tax dollars go? And do you want your tax dollars to be funding these injustices? And I think most Americans would rather have that money stay at home and fund things like education and health care. I mean, this is a no brainer, this is obvious. So you know, this is really the I think one of the most important issues is to focus on the US role in perpetuating these in justices and in funding them essentially. And to try to in some way or another condition eight Israel reduce eight Israel and eight Israel. I mean, these are all things that we should be discussing. And by the way, This isn’t really a radical opinion, because there is US law on the books. The Leahy law, for example, I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but it basically prevents an outlaws the US giving military aid to any foreign army that that carries out systematic abuses of human rights. And so there is no question that this is the Israeli army and Noam Chomsky, Professor Noam Chomsky has spoken about the potential use of the Leahy law in ending or conditioning, or reducing Israel. But nobody’s talking about these things, you know, just the notion that we would even comply with US law. I mean, I’m not speaking about anything radical. I’m not speaking about changing legislation. I’m not speaking even about international law, which, you know, depending on who you are, you can just say, Oh, well, let’s ignore it. I’m speaking just about simple compliance with US law that already exists on the book. So the question of law is complicated to resume, it really depends on political will, it depends on who’s willing to make the argument that it should be enforced a lot that just exists in the books, but that doesn’t have someone behind it that is pushing for its enforcement may as well not exist.
Yasser Louati 46:15
Well, actually, that’s what you’re basically saying is that it will be on the people living in the US, France, all across Europe, where those countries have their say, on international relations, that it’s their responsibility to pressure their respective governments. And that’s why nothing, there is not a single effort we can dismiss. Everything is welcome to put pressure on our respective governments. And this is how democracy works. And of course, people tend to criminalize when blacks, Arabs, Muslims, Roma, and even Jews band together against, you know, a specific oppression, if not most of all oppressions. But today is about people realizing that it is not in their interest to see their governments supporting Israel in what in what it’s doing in occupied Palestine, is it in the best interest of Americans to see billions of dollars sent in military aid economics, no stimulus packages, etc. When you have, I think it was about 300,000 people who died from COVID-19. In the US, over 304,000 people died from COVID-19 26 billion people in the US don’t even have health coverage. And we’re talking about the number one economy in the world yet, it’s as if a foreign country is should be better served than the very people who compose this country, or that country called America. The same thing for France, you know, is it is protecting, you know, Israeli interests in the best interest of France? Absolutely not. But again, you know, the rule of the law is always political. It depends on who’s going to give teeth to the law. And these, this international body of law of laws. It’s got no teeth, because people don’t question their governments. And their governments are pressured by specific lobbies. When funded. Yes, extremely organized. Yes. But I tend to be I’m not going to say cynical, but I often say if they can do it, is because they think they can do it and get away with it. The question is, how come they are doing it, and nobody is stopping them. And I don’t see any incentive as for either APAC, or the case in France to stop doing what they’re doing. My last question alera is what do you tell Americans? As a Palestinian woman, legal scholar, who’s very versed in these on these topics? Who’s living the Palestinian question, day in day out, you know, in your skin, as you say, in French? What do you tell Americans? And what do you tell French people? And more specifically, minorities in those countries? Who naturally are the natural allies to the Palestinian struggle?
Lara Elborno 48:56
Yeah, I think I would just highlight the importance of standing up against injustice anywhere, because the fact of the matter is, is once an injustice is perpetuated anywhere in the world, it becomes precedent, it becomes something which then says to somebody else, hey, it’s possible to do this and get away with it. And you know, I’ve been following what’s been happening in France, and I’ve been following a lot of your work. And you know, when you said that police brutality in the banja has been the status quo for decades and decades and decades. But all of a sudden, the French people woke up during the protests of the division, because it was now all of a sudden in downtown Paris. I think this is a really great illustration of this point. The idea is that, you know, we’ve all heard the phrase that injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere. And I really do believe that so I encourage Americans, I encourage French people, I encourage Arab citizens living under nonvenomous kradic repressive regimes to, to the extent possible, continue to, to resist and to speak out. I know that it’s easier in some places than others. And I don’t make any. You know, I don’t want to make any mistake about about that some some people do live under really repressive systems where they don’t have the freedom of speech and where they can’t speak out against politicians. We’ve seen, for example, in bahauddin, like the anti governmental activists that were protesting in Bahrain, many of them were arrested. There were there are some on death row now. So you know, these are things that do come with a cost. So I encourage people to to do it to the extent that they are able to, but to make no mistake about compromising your ethics as a strategy. Because that will never be a strategy. If you have a chance if to say something, to speak out, to participate in an action to boycott, to educate your friends and family to speak about the issue, then do it. Because ultimately, it’s our rights that are going to be at stake globally.
Yasser Louati 51:13
Lara, thank you very much for this time, it was a pleasure speaking with you. And I know it has answered or addressed many questions people have on this topic. And you promised me to be will be or the French version of the podcast called the lazy did evil.
Lara Elborno 51:32
Actually I thought we were doing a French one tonight? Well, actually,
Yasser Louati 51:36
I forgot myself because, you know, I think this is no, this illustrates that. The but for the past three months, I’ve been giving all these no interviews and all this work in English alone. Because in France, there is no platform for what I do. So out of habits, I actually do it in English, but you know, we definitely have to do it in French, that the language that you master as well, I really appreciate your honesty and your sincerity in answering these questions without beating around the bush. For those who want to follow. You’re available on the Instagram on get guys on girl something on Twitter,
Lara Elborno 52:14
Yasser Louati 52:17
Actually yes, the guys and girls in Paris, not, not the guys and girls. So for all of you, listening and watching, please remember that Palestine is today for any person fighting for human rights and civil liberties. This symbol of the what it looks like to have militarism, racism, you know, imperialism, you know, an old kind of oppression is being applied by an entity. Without absolute almost no scrutiny from the the so called international community. Of course, we may feel more concerned what happens near to us, but Israel has been exploiting its know how, for repression all over the world, it has expressed it has exported is know how to the American police to the French police. It participated in the torture of Algerian freedom fighters during their struggle against the French colonial power. The Burma the the the agenda in power in Burma, has been supported by Israel in its, you know, horrendous crime against crimes excuse me against the Rohingya people. Israel is also supporting the fascist regime of Modi in India, which is persecuting its millions of Muslims there. So again, you know, if you really want to be pragmatic and realistic, you have to look at the world as it is, and not through the lenses of ideology, and where is the shortcut if you want to reach freedom. Thanks again for listening. alera I will let you go. I hope to have you soon again on this podcast.
Lara Elborno 53:53
Yasser Louati 53:54
Thank you very much. As for you and your listeners. Thank you for spending this near hour with us speaking about Palestine. I will see you on the next episode. In the meantime, in the meantime, excuse me, please stay safe, wear a mask, sort of distancing and if you don’t speak in the meantime, have a series of Happy Holidays whatever your religion if you have one or not speak to you soon. Hey there, this is Yasser Louati host of your podcasts for breakdown thanks again for listening. If you think this podcast does deserve your support, please don’t hesitate to make a donation on CJ l dot o n g slash donation that’s Charlie Juliet Lima dot Oscar November golf slash the nation. whatever amount you think is fair, please do it. That would allow us to pay our base pay the white people and of course make this podcast sustainable on the long run. Stay safe and Dottie soon.