Dr. Milena Rampoldi, MintPress News, June 2, 2016
Israeli soldiers and relatives of new Jewish immigrants from the U.S. and Canada, wave Israeli flags to welcome them as they arrive at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, July 23, 2013. (AP)
I interviewed Jennifer Loewenstein, a journalist with years of experience in the Middle East.
About her work, she wrote me:
This year I’ve been working on Iraq and Syria more than anything else. I’ve never stopped following the crises in Gaza and the West Bank, however. There are some ties between the two — not obvious or ‘conspiracy’ oriented.
As you may know, I’ve lived in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Beirut. I’ve traveled in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Israel. I’ve also worked a lot on refugee issues. (I lived in the refugee camp of Bourj al-Barajneh in Lebanon for 3 summers, though that was a while back now — 1999-2002 — but return almost every year to visit friends.)
I haven’t been able to get into Gaza since 2010, but I follow events there closely and keep up with my contacts there. I think an important issue is how the media focus has been taken off Palestine as the Syrian Civil War continues. Both deserve a lot of attention, however. U.S. foreign policy in the region continues to trouble me, to say the least. It deserves a lot of attention and clarification.
Jennifer Loewenstein was Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Last August she moved to Penn State University. She is politically active, and writes as a freelance journalist. Her work has been featured in scholarly publications such as The Journal of Palestine Studies, and she is a regular contributor to CounterPunch.
Loewenstein is a member of the USA board of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and founder of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.
Jennifer Loewenstein: The ProMosaik interview
Dr. Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik: You have been a lot in the Middle East. Which is the main peace obstacle there?
Jennifer Loewenstein, journalist: Unrestrained U.S. military involvement in the Middle East and the U.S.’ simultaneous refusal to put pressure on its client states to seek non-military resolutions to their conflicts poses, in my view, the greatest obstacle to regional stability to say nothing of real peace. It is impossible to single out one of the many wars and conflicts raging across the Middle East today as being the ‘worst’ situation in the region (now or in the past). Each is related to the Middle East order created by the colonial powers, Britain and France, at the end of the First World War and, subsequently, exploited by them.
After the end of the Second World War, as the British and French empires receded, the United States filled the void left by these powers with its own imperial influence, economic interests and political objectives, strengthened, I should point out, by the Soviet Union’s equally genuine competition for regional influence.
Cold War politics should not be uncritically deferred to as the guiding framework for superpower competition, however. The fear and propaganda generated domestically in the U.S. against “communism” and an “evil” Soviet empire proved a powerful tool for recruiting people to fight in U.S. wars in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe. Much of what we were taught about the designs and power of the Soviet Union, however, was overstated or simply false. Much was omitted with regard to our own alleged allies. It is crucial to understand this in the context of Vietnam and U.S. military involvement in southeast Asia as well.
The Middle East was of particular importance, and has been ever since, because of its strategic location, its oil and natural gas reserves, and because of regional instability deliberately cultivated by those powers that had sought to control parts of it in the past. Until 1967, when the U.S.’ “special relationship” with Israel began seriously to be cultivated, no single Middle Eastern nation was allowed to dominate the region — least of all one with close ties to Moscow.
MR: How to deal with Zionism? What does Zionism mean to you?
JL: Modern Zionism may end up dealing with itself if it continues along what has become an increasingly self-destructive and globally alienating path. It is widely understood by most people (outside the U.S.) that the only thing keeping Israel from becoming a global pariah state is the unconditional support it receives from the United States and, to a lesser extent, the EU. This is one reason why mobilizing world public opinion is so important where Israel and Zionism are concerned.