essays on palestine fantina
In the first half of today's show we're joined by author Robert Fantina to discuss the latest developments in Palestine and Israel, as well as the wider Middle East. Robert's latest book, published last month by Red Pill Press, is Essays on Palestine, a collection of his articles on Israeli apartheid, assaults on Gaza, international law, and how Israeli policies intersect with U.S. foreign policy and wider conflicts in the region. You can check out his work on his website:

In the second half of the show, we'll be discussing the floods left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the illegal seizure of Russian diplomatic property in the U.S., and the strange series of U.S. destroyers hit by tankers, among other news.

Join us for Behind the Headlines on the SOTT Radio Network, 12-2pm EST (4-6pm UTC / 6-8pm CET) this Sunday 3 September 2017.

Running Time: 01:37:32

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Here's the transcript of the show:

Harrison: Welcome back to Behind the Headlines everyone. It is September 3. I am Harrison Koehli and joining me as usual is Elan Martin,

Elan: Hello everyone.

Harrison: Joe Quinn,

Joe: Hi there.

Harrison: And Niall Bradley.

Niall: Hi everyone.

Harrison: Today we are pleased to be speaking with activist and journalist Robert Fantina. Robert is a US citizen and moved to Canada shortly after the 2004 Presidential election and now holds dual citizenship. He is currently active in supporting the Palestinian people and is the Canadian coordinator of the NGO World Beyond War, that's

Robert is also the author of several books including Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776 to 2006 and the novel Look Not Unto the Morrow (A novel of the Vietnam-era). He's also the author of Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy published by Red Pill Press and a new book just published by Red Pill Press last month in August, Essays on Palestine. Essays on Palestine is a compilation of Bob's writing on the so-called land without a people culled from his works published with various outlets such as Mondoweiss, MintPress News, Counterpunch and various others. Bob has a website at So Robert, welcome to the show we're glad to be speaking with you today.

Robert: Thank you very much. I'm very pleased to be here.

Harrison: It looks like we've got a little bit of a connection problem but we're just going to have to bear with it so I think we can all understand what's being said. So everyone just bear with us. We'll deal with it. To start out with Bob, maybe you can tell us a bit about your new book, Essays on Palestine.

Robert: Yes, thank you. Essays on Palestine, as you mentioned, is a compilation of my articles from the last few years about Palestine. It covers such topics as the suffering of the people in Palestine, a lot of information about the occupation, the illegality of the occupation and the brutality of it and also US support of that occupation. It is only allowed to continue because of US support financially and within the United Nations. I detail that in the articles in this book.

Harrison: It looks like the connection cleared up so that's good to hear too.

Robert: Glad to hear it.

Joe: I just wanted to ask a question. In Harrison's introduction of you Robert, he said that in 2004 - and I think he said just after the Presidential election in the US - that you moved to Canada. Was that because you just couldn't handle another four years of George W. Bush?

Robert: Yes, that was exactly the reason.

Joe: Okay.

Robert: I was a volunteer on the Kerry campaign - not that I think Kerry is the saviour of the world, but I certainly thought he would be better than Bush - and when Kerry lost the following day my wife and I said "We have to go. We can't be here anymore." If the American voter is going to put Bush in for another four years, then we were through.
It took a few months but I was able to make the arrangements and we did move to Canada.

Joe: Excellent. And are you glad you made that move?

Robert: Yes, very glad, especially now. I've said more than once that if I hadn't moved then I'd have to be moving now.

Joe: Right.

Harrison: Well let's get into the - Joe did you want to say anything else?

Joe: No, go ahead.

Harrison: Okay, let's get into the book a bit. We're going to be talking about some current events but I want to just ask a couple of questions on the book. The articles are divided kind of by topic so first can you tell us how you divided the articles and what some of the main thrusts of the sections are?

Robert: Yes. I'd be happy to do that. I wanted people to understand what the occupation means. We hear on the news that Palestine is occupied or occupation forces, that sort of thing. What exactly does that mean for the people in Palestine? How much are they suffering? Occupation just sounds benign but when you look at actually what's happening there, how it's impacting the people there it's a horrible situation. So I have one section on understanding the occupation.

As I mentioned in my introduction, I wanted to talk about how the US enables it. So there's a section on US bias towards Israel, not only how the US continuously supports Israel which is mainly through financing - the US gives Israel $4 billion a year and that is every increasing, and also almost every time any United Nations resolution is presented that is critical of Israel, the US vetoes it. There was one that passed last January just before Trump was inaugurated. The US congress was horrified that that would happen and the reason that is, is because pro-Israeli lobbies spend millions of dollars getting support of candidates elected. So I talk about that quite a bit in one section.

I also go into the general conditions in Palestine. There's a section titled 2014. In the summer of 2014 Israel carpet-bombed the Gaza Strip. This killed over 1,000 Palestinians including over 500 children, some as young as infancy and people need to understand that this is not a conflict between two basically equal countries. Israel has a very powerful military as a result of the money and equipment that it gets from the United States. Palestine has no army, navy or air force, has no military to speak of. We hear sometimes on the news about rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. Norman Finkelstein who is the son of holocaust survivors and is an ardent proponent for Palestinian rights, has referred to those rockets as enhanced fireworks. that's about as much power that they have, to do very little damage. They seldom hit their targets.

But Israel justifies its carpet-bombing of Gaza based on those rockets. It's also interesting to note - and I talk about this in the book - that in about 55 days in the summer of 2014 Israel dropped more bombs on Gaza than Gaza had fired rockets into Israel in the previous 14 years.
There's another section of the book called Changing Attitudes. For so long, anybody who criticized Israel was called anti-Semitic. Israel was seen as sacred in US political circles and there could be no criticism whatever. That has changed and it's continuing to change, mainly I think due to the Boycott Divest and Sanctions movement, BDS, so I talk about that in another section. The final section concerns international law and Israeli violations of it. So that's basically the book.

Harrison: Having read the book, I'd like to just say that it is a great primer for getting a handle on what the situation actually is and some of the things that go on that aren't publicized or made very well known to the general public. So I think it's a great service to provide that window into what's actually happening. Even though I follow the news, even though I've been following the conflict for over a decade of my relatively short life, there were still things in here that outraged me and things that I learned that I didn't know before, so I'd recommend checking out the book and reading it.

And also next we're going to get into some current events and the depressing thing about any book on Israel/Palestine is that it seems like no matter what period you're writing about, it's still current because the same things have been going on for decades and decades. It seems like nothing much changes. One of the things that had changed, like you said, is public opinion about what's going on. We see more criticism of Israel these days than we did even 10 years ago. So that's a good thing.

Robert: A couple of things you mentioned; one, that you found some information in the book that you didn't know, which is good. I want to inform people. You also said that some things enraged you. I hope I enrage a lot of people by this book!

Harrison: Yeah.

Robert: Regarding the changing attitudes, there are some changes that we're seeing but that isn't translated to any change on the ground for the suffering Palestinians as of this point.

Harrison: That's the depressing thing, for me at least.

Robert: Yes.

Niall: That leads into a question I have. In between the major onslaughts, by the Israeli forces say, on the Gaza Strip, is there at least some lessening of the degree to which the terrible conditions are on the ground for them? Can they grow or at least find some kind of release from suffering in between each barrage?

Robert: It's minimal. The only advantage is that there's not running from bombs and they're not picking up bodies of loved ones that have been killed. But because of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, most reconstruction equipment cannot get in so tens of thousands of people who were rendered homeless in 2014 remain homeless today. Unemployment is the highest in the world. Youth unemployment is the highest in the world. This leads to a sense of despair or it can lead to a sense of despair, which is what Israel wants. It wants the Palestinians to just roll over and die.

So between these genocidal onslaughts there is little relief. They have electricity now in most parts of Gaza perhaps three hours a day, not always but sometimes, and that's not even enough to recharge some of the battery operated devices that they have there. They are not allowed to import a wide variety of products that we take for granted, not only electronics but many kinds of toys, different types of pasta, has been banned from the Gaza Strip. So the suffering that they undergo on a regular basis is unlike anything we experience.

Normally when there's a bombing in some country, once it ends, somebody comes in with foreign aid to rebuild, to bring medical supplies and so on. This doesn't happen with Gaza because Israel prevents it. In fact just a few weeks ago the European Union built a couple of schools for children and Israeli soldiers and others promptly demolished them, saying they were built without permits. Now the reason they were built without permits is because over 90% of the permit applications that people in Gaza make to Israel are denied. Now why Israel has to approve Palestinians' construction, I don't know, but that's the situation that we're in now.
That's kind of a long answer to your question, but there is some relief, but the only relief really between bombings is that they're actually not being bombed.

Joe: You mentioned that the Palestinians are experiencing hardships and are denied things that we all take for granted. I think that's obviously very true but there's always been something about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that bothered me and that set it apart from any other conflict, let's say in the modern era because there have been territorial conflicts between different nations or different groups throughout the 20th century and going back hundreds of years and they may have provoked a war of some description or some kind of ethnic cleansing or something like that but it usually ended quite quickly.

Robert: Right.

Joe: And a solution was mediated by the international community or the UN or whatever, or they came to a ...

Niall: As if naturally, some way or another.

Joe: Yeah. They came to a conclusion and there was force of either the warring parties themselves wanted to come up with a solution after being tired of war or tired of conflict or an international body came in and sorted it out and it was done, but that's not the case with Palestine. It's been wilfully allowed to continue.

Robert: Yes.

Joe: And I presume at the behest of the Israelis and we know about the Israelis' lobby in the west and the US and in Europe and I suppose that's a big factor in forcing or getting those countries to just turn a blind eye to what's going on in Palestine. I suppose my point is that there's something sadistic about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in terms of what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians.

It's not just a war or a territorial conflict, in a certain sense an honest territorial conflict. There's something that has always struck me as being bordering on or really being sadism on the part of the Israelis, where they're actually enjoying torturing effectively, a few million people. Every time I think of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict I think of those stories being in the press of some guy who abducts some child or a girl and then keep them in his basement or something for 20 years.

Robert: Yes.

Joe: And rapes and tortures her. For me, that what I think of when I think of the Israelis' approach towards Palestinians, that they're actually doing it because they enjoy it for some reason. I can't think of any other reason that they wouldn't come to some conclusion because most other countries in the world have eventually come to some reasonable conclusion to their conflicts but the Israelis don't seem inclined to do that at all.

Robert: Yes, that's an excellent point. If you remember during the 2014 slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza there were pictures of Israelis setting up lawn furniture and watching the Palestinians...

Niall: Yeah!

Robert: ...and watching the bombing and they were enjoying it very much. Also when you consider what's going on in the West Bank, there are dozens and dozens and dozens of checkpoints that are arbitrarily opened and closed that are manned by Israelis. So in order for someone to get to school or to work or to visit a friend or family member, they may have to go through a number of checkpoints. They may wait hours in line at one checkpoint and then it'll arbitrarily be closed. They'll have to go somewhere else, miles away, to another checkpoint and maybe that will be open, maybe it won't be. It might be open for half an hour, it might be open for three hours, it just depends on the whim of the people there.

That's cruelty certainly, sadistic cruelty. Also Palestinians are not allowed to ride on Israeli only roads in the West Bank and if there's a road that Palestinians are allowed to ride on and a new Israeli road bisects it, Palestinians can't cross over that intersection. They have to find some other way around.

These are means to demoralize and humiliate people. You mentioned sadism. I can't give any other method that would allow someone to do that. I could understand a cruel government saying "We're going to do this to these people" but why do the soldiers do this? How can they live with themselves doing these awful things.

Now today, a lot of soldiers are reporting, they've started a new group, an organization a few years old now, and they're exposing the crimes that they themselves committed against Palestinians and that other soldiers committed. So that's one of the things that is changing as far as attitudes are concerned.

Elan: Well on that subject - go ahead Robert.

Robert: No, I was just going to say that the occupation is unlike any other because it's been going on for decades and decades and decades and it's also unlike any other in that Israelis - Zionists anyway - say that God promised them this property in the bible and they had it a thousand years ago or whatever it was. Well the bible is not a document, it's not a book to govern nations by and also if the people who had the land a thousand years ago or longer are to be given it back, the entire planet would be in disarray because all of North America would have to surrender their property. It just doesn't make logical sense and yet that's what they hide behind.

Joe: Yeah, the other thing that just occurred to me that also stands out for me or a big problem I have with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is that sure there have been other regions of the world where that kind of persecution has gone on, although as I said, it's usually fairly quickly resolved, but the problem for me with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is that the Israelis lay claim to being a civilized nation whereas in other parts of the world where that kind of stuff has gone on the countries involved or the people involved would have been warlords or temporary governments or there might have been a revolution or some kind of a civil war of some description. But the Israelis make a claim to being part of the "civilized west" and they're recognized as that by the west, but they're acting in a way, as people have said, the way the Apartheid regime in Africa acted and was condemned by the west. That's what stick in my craw as well, that they're given a free pass.

Robert: The US refers to it as the only democracy in the Middle East which is a complete myth and Israel says it has the most moral army in the world and it has one of the most brutal armies in the world.

Joe: That's very often the case where the army that is the least moral in the world will be the one who will most vocally claim to be the most moral. It's the complete inversion of the truth that is usually the domain of pretty evil people.

Robert: It is. Several United Nations bodies have wanted to investigate alleged war crimes that Israelis have committed in Gaza and in the West Bank and Israel does not allow them to come in to investigate. Now my thought is, if they have nothing to hide, why not welcome the investigation? They could then exonerate themselves in front of the world. But obviously they have very much to hide and that's why they don't allow it.

Harrison: And they talk out of both sides of their mouths too. On the one hand they'll say they're the most moral army and they have nothing to hide but on the other hand they will justify whatever they do and kind of half admit it. They'll say "Oh there are always civilian casualties and we don't deliberately target them but yeah, we admit that lots of civilians died." So it's like they want to have it both ways and it just seems to be whatever criticism they get, whatever angle a critic takes against Israeli policy, they've got an answer ready for it.

Robert: Right.

Harrison: I think it was in the '80s where the Israelis finally really put a lot of money and effort into their PR strategy...

Robert: Yes.

Harrison: ...because with what happened in Lebanon in the '80s there was a wave of anti-Israel coverage of what was going on, so bad publicity. So they basically hired a whole bunch of PR teams to figure out how to frame things in the public so that they could get away with it and they've been totally successful for the last 30 years.

Joe: Right.

Robert: They have been but that success is beginning to fade, partly as a result of social media because people now have access to news and information that doesn't come to them sanitized through a corporate owned or government sponsored media.

Elan: On that subject...

Joe: I was just going to say Elan, another thing that really is galling to me, I think you mentioned in 2014, the last time that the Israelis carpet-bombed the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu came out at that time and actually had the temerity to condemn the Palestinians for, I think as he said, forcing him to kill them!

Robert: Right.

Joe: Civilians. Not combatants, but actually most of them were civilians, but he had the unmitigated gall to actually say something like that, and for me that's just pure pathology. There's something seriously wrong with someone who says that. I mean even western military leaders would never come out and accuse the people that they are bombing of forcing them to do it.

Robert: And that's no unprecedented in Israel. I believe it was Golda Meir who said that Israelis don't want to kill Palestinian children but Palestinians force them to. So people say this and why the world doesn't drop their jaw in astonishment is beyond me.

Elan: You mentioned social media and now you have Israeli soldiers who are coming out in public and stating that they're in deep conflict with their conscience with the types of acts that they were encouraged to do in Gaza and elsewhere. Particularly in the past year or two we've seen an explosion in the amount of attention that the Boycott/Divest/Sanctions movement has reached and you have people like Roger Waters coming out and being really outspoken on the subject. So I guess my question is Robert, is, Israeli belligerence is huge.

Robert: Yes.

Elan: Resistance to criticism is incredible. At the same time we've heard about talks that various Israeli officials have given in New York, in the States, trying to reframe or respond to this new level of awareness and criticism towards Israel. So in some sense there is this greater amount of awareness and criticism that's being levelled towards policies of Israel, but do you think ultimately that this new growing awareness can make any net difference in Israel's policies or in the world's criticism of Israel and pressure that it can put on it to change its ways?

Robert: I think it can. There are a variety of responses to that. What I want to mention is that BDS is growing and its importance is seen in the fact that several states are attempting to outlaw it. They're trying to make it illegal to boycott Israel. Now why anybody in government thinks such a law would stand up in court, I don't know. I also think it's interesting that people who condemned any kind of violent resistance to the occupation are now also condemning peaceful resistance to the occupation.

According to international law, any country that's occupied has a right to resist that occupation in any way possible, including by violent means. But here now is a peaceful means that the US and other countries are attempting to outlaw.

As far as how it can change Israeli policies, we're seeing already that a number of academics, a number of entertainers and businesses are refusing to appear in or participate in Israeli projects. Right now any financial toll that's taken on Israel is compensated for by US aid but that toll is growing. There are some things that can't be compensated for. When entertainers such as Bruce Springsteen or the Killers refuse to give concerts in Israel, then it's not a matter of money. This is something that is damaging the reputation of the country.

So I think when enough of that happens, when enough people and academic organizations are boycotting and the businesses will not partner with Israeli businesses, then yes there will have to be a change. I don't think it's possible under Benjamin Netanyahu's rule, however he is definitely under investigation, may be indicted shortly, at which point he would probably resign. I don't see anybody much better replacing him but there couldn't be anybody worse. So I think that may be a small turning point also. But in answer to your question, I do think that the Boycott/Divest/Sanction movement and boycotts in general can be effective because they will hurt Israel's international reputation.

Niall: On a moral level if nothing else.

Robert: Right. Fans of these rock groups for example, will see that they're refusing to appear in concerts in Israel and will wonder why and that damages their reputation. It is one of the most immoral nations in the world so people will begin to see that and recognize that, as I think they are to an ever-increasing degree.

Harrison: Well Bob you mentioned the Netanyahu investigation currently going on. I don't think we've actually discussed it on this show yet in any previous weeks. Could you give us a little background on what's going on just so we have an idea of what he's actually being investigated for?

Robert: He's being investigated for corruption involving bribery, stemming from an earlier term. Both he and his wife are also under investigation. About a week or so ago there was a major breakthrough when one of his associates agreed to testify against him in order to escape a prison term. So from what all the analysis I've read indicates, once this individual has made this deal with the government to testify against Netanyahu - and this was someone who's fairly high up, I don't remember their exact role - but fairly high up and who they could have successfully indicted, charged and convicted. The investigation, the court, was willing to forego that conviction because they felt that Netanyahu was guilty and that they should go after him.

So the indictment could be handed down at any time, if it happens, but I do want to mention that that does make Netanyahu all the more dangerous. Any world leader who is under such a cloud as he is, can distract the attention from himself by having a war. So this might be another time that he decides to do that. I think Palestine is at great risk. I think possibly Iran might be at risk, although I think to a lesser degree because Iran is a very powerful country. But I think that Netanyahu is in some regards, a cornered, wounded animal and is going to lash out. We just don't know where yet.

Harrison: And he recently met with Vladimir Putin and it was kind of an interesting talk. I've read various interpretations of the interaction, ranging from just run-of-the-mill two leaders talking, to Netanyahu being almost hysterical and losing his wits to an extent. He was reading from notes whereas apparently he rarely reads from notes, and he almost sounded nervous and didn't know what he wanted to say, which seems pretty out of character for Netanyahu. Netanyahu strikes me as a kind of gregarious, totally full of himself, can handle himself in any situation, because he'll just lie his pants off. I don't know, what's your interpretation of the recent meeting with Putin?

Robert: Yes, I have read similar things to what you have read and I've also read that Putin has simply told him "I can't help you with this" as far as Israel's perceived problem with Iran because he doesn't believe it. He has said that he feels that Netanyahu is exaggerating the situation, that it's not an issue and there's nothing he can do for him. So that is a very good sign and a very good step when another major world leader, Putin, has basically told Netanyahu that "You're talking nonsense and I'm not going to get involved". So I was very happy to see that happen and hopefully he will stick to that. I think he will. He has no reason not to. Russia also is allied with Iran and those two countries have worked to help stabilize Syria against US and Israeli rebels - supported rebels anyway.

Joe: Terrorists.

Robert: So I don't think - terrorists, exactly - so I don't think Netanyahu has a friend in Putin at all, although he has a very good friend in Trump.

Joe: Like every US President effectively is. Every US President has really no choice but to be a friend of Israel, right?

Robert: Well they always have the choice and it's interesting, some of them when they leave office, such as Jimmy Carter who has in a recent book called Israel an Apartheid regime, has been very outspoken. But that was not the case when he was President. Barack Obama and Netanyahu had a very, very strained relationship to the point that Obama did the almost unheard of thing by abstaining from a vote that criticized Israel in the UN.

So while they're in, Congress is bought by the pro-Israeli lobbies there is not much they can do although they certainly can do far, far more than they do. The US is always talking about how it supports human rights struggles of people around the world, except for Palestinians, and how they support democracy for everyone, except for Palestinians. So this doesn't make any sense.

Joe: Right. In terms of your saying the situation may be changing because of social media, I'd just like to bring that down to practicalities I suppose. It kind of struck me for quite a long time that given what the Israelis are doing in the West Bank and Palestine effectively, essentially colonizing it, that they're creating a situation where it's not possible to ever create a Palestinian state because you would have to ethnically cleanse Israelis from all of those towns.

Every year that goes by that the Israelis are on those settlements, it becomes harder and harder for anybody to even envision the idea of that land being given back to Palestinians. So it seems to me that the idea of a two state solution, of the Palestinian state ever happening at this point is just not there. There is no possibility of that happening.

But at the same time I can't imagine Palestinians ever really living in an Israeli state peaceably or being able or allowed to live peaceably in an Israeli state as equal citizens, so it's almost looks to me like a situation that's set up to go nowhere.

Robert: It's not going to be an easy solution but there certainly is a solution. There are about half a million settlers now living in the West Bank. They're all living there illegally. That land, by international standards, belongs to Palestine. According to international law, an occupying nation cannot move its citizens permanently onto the occupied territories.

So what needs to happen is the international community has to fulfil its responsibilities and create 1967 borders which means if settlers have to leave, they have to leave. They are there illegally. If someone were camping in my back yard it didn't really matter how long they were in there; it's still my backyard. They have to get out. And it's the same situation here.

Netanyahu has said during his latest election a year-and-a-half ago, that he has no intention of relocating one single settler which shows how amenable he is to any kind of a solution to this issue. I think it's obvious that Israel's goal is to just keep establishing facts on the ground, encroaching more and more on Palestinian territory until there is nothing left of it.

Harrison: Right. And Netanyahu just said the same thing this week around the same time that he met with Putin. He said that the colonies in the West Bank would be Israel forever. This is Israeli land forever. So he just doubled down on that.

Robert: Right. And the international community has to do more than say "We disagree with that." The international community has to take action. It hasn't yet and I don't believe under the current UN I don't think the Secretary General - although he has spoken very favourably of Palestine and has criticized Israel - I don't think he's going to take any major, significant action as none of his predecessors have.

Elan: Just getting back to Iran for a moment, there's been a drive over the past 20 years on behalf of Israel, and particularly Netanyahu to say that Iran is just on the verge, a few months away from getting nuclear bombs online and then when that happens, boom! it's going to wipe Israel off the face of the map. So we've been hearing this rhetoric...

Robert: Yes.

Elan: ...for years and years and there's nothing in Iran's history it seems, to suggest that it's going to act aggressively. It just seems to be resisting Israel's hegemonic goals in the Middle East.

Robert: Yes.

Elan: Not to mention the fact that Israel is the only established acknowledged nuclear power in the Middle East. And if Iran were to act aggressively, they would basically be committing suicide, which is insane.

Robert: Right.

Elan: But no one seems to be saying that in the news. Why do you think Israel finds Iran to be such a threat that it has for so many years tried to vilify it? It's killed its scientists. It has been a participant in cyber warfare. Why do you think that is?

Robert: Okay, I think you've actually addressed the reason yourself in that Israel wants to be the dominant nation in the Middle East and that's why it is and has decades been inventing threats from another dominant nation in the Middle East. As you mentioned, Iran does not seem aggressive. Iran has not invaded another country in over 200 years. It has certainly worked with other countries, worked with Russia to help the Syrian government and when it's been invaded as it was in the '80s by Iraq it certainly fights.

But it has not been the aggressor ever. Netanyahu has been saying since the early '90s, as you mentioned, that Iran is just a few years away, a few years away, then two years, then three years, then five years, then two months, over a period of over 20 years. Also Israel has never acknowledged that it has nuclear weapons although everyone knows that it does but it has certainly never allowed weapons inspectors to come in and inspect their facilities.

I feel that the fewer nuclear weapons the better, but if Israel is allowed to have them I don't see why Iran isn't allowed to have them. As you said, Israel has assassinated Iranian scientists. When I visited Iran in July I saw the tomb of two of those scientists I was able to visit, which is highly aggressive and is terrorist activity but it isn't condemned for that.

But in answer to your question, Israel wants to be the only powerful country in the Middle East and because of the support it gets from the US it is certainly one of the most powerful in the Middle East. But any competition from Iran is seen as threatening to Israel.

Joe: Yeah - go ahead.

Robert: I was just going to mention - no, you go. You go.

Joe: I was just going to add to that briefly by saying that Israel is in kind of a ridiculous situation where we have this westernized country created 60 or 70 years ago in the Middle East that was antagonistic to all of the Arab Muslim nations around it and it expected to survive and against all the odds it did because it was supported by the west and the west had effectively after WWI co-opted many of the major countries in the Middle East by drawing the map of the Middle East and infiltrating governments in the Middle East and effectively controlling them so that those nominally Arab or Middle Eastern countries are effectively very much western aligned. I'm speaking here primarily of Saudi Arabia...

Robert: Yes.

Joe: And smaller countries like Qatar and Kuwait and even at a certain time Iraq but then they turned on Iraq. So the US has obviously been interfering in the Middle East. A lot of people make that claim that they've been doing that for Israel and that's maybe to some extent true but they have their own agenda as well. But Israel has survived against all the odds in that position that it's in, surrounded by technically people that it is enemies with, because of western influence and western interference in the Middle East.

Now after Syria and Russian intervention in the Middle East and this alliance being made between Russia and Iran and now Syria having been saved from the jaws of destruction, this is a major threat to Israel because there's a potential there for a new status quo to manifest itself and a more natural order to manifest in the Middle East, which would be that the Middle East would be dominated by the biggest, genuinely Arab or Muslim countries in that region and they would not be favourable towards Israel. So Israel really has an existential problem but it's an existential problem of its own creation by deciding to set themselves up in the Middle East surrounded by Muslims and then more or less declare that these people are enemies.

Robert: Yes. And that's something that keeps I think, Zionist society going. They're always saying that everything is an existential threat. And yes, there is hostility among the Arab world towards Israel mainly because of what it has done and continues to do to Palestine. As you mentioned the west has made a lot of alliances and provided a lot of support to a lot of Arab countries so they are more amenable maybe to having Israel there. Israel could exist where it is peacefully with its neighbours if it made peace with Palestine and granted Palestine the borders that the international community recognizes. Israel has a very powerful army, military overall, has nuclear weapons. No country, regardless of the hostility in the countries around it, it isn't threatened by anyone. There is no existential threat. Honestly, it may implode due to the corruption and the apartheid system that it operates under, but as far as any real threat from any of its neighbours, some of which are extremely hostile to it, it doesn't exist.

Harrison: Right.

Joe: It doesn't have to exist, let's say, except that the Israelis insist that it does.

Robert: Right.

Joe: And then create that reality in a certain sense.

Robert: If Israel wanted to be a reasonable international partner on the global stage, then it would end the occupation and the blockade, withdraw to the pre-1967 borders. There is trade that goes on between Israel and some of the Arab countries now. It could establish more trade, various kinds of alliances, but there is so much hostility right now that that's not going to happen. As you said, it's a self-created problem.

Harrison: Bob, we're going to wrap up in a few minutes but I wanted to come back to the Palestinians for a moment.

Robert: Yes.

Harrison: Recently in the past weeks and months there's been a conflict going on in and around the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. I was wondering if you could give us a rundown on what's been happening and what the Israeli provocations have been and what the Palestinian responses have been; just give our listeners an idea of what's going on at the moment.

Robert: Okay, I could discuss this for quite a long time so I'm going to make it short. Al-Aqsa mosque is one of the most sacred sites all of Islam and Muslims are supposed to have free access to it. Now there was some violence several weeks ago which caused the Israeli government to install checkpoints there. The Palestinians had a huge, peaceful protest that lasted days and days and days and finally those checkpoints were removed. However that does not prevent settlers from coming in for the sole purpose of destroying, disrupting people in prayer. They're guarded by Israeli soldiers. Israel allows this to happen, will not protect the victims, only protects the perpetrators.

So this is a flashpoint in the conflict as far as ownership of this land. It was under Jordanian administration prior to the 1967 war but since then it's been mainly under Israeli control as all of Palestine is. But there has been provocation on the Israeli side which has led to reasonable responses from Palestinians. When someone is hitting you and harassing you in a variety of ways and arresting you for charges, certainly people are going to respond to that. And they may respond with violence, which is acceptable under international law.

So when that happens then of course Israel clamps down very harshly but in this case they did withdraw at least partly because of pressure from the peaceful protestors. There was also a lot of international pressure on Israel to remove those checkpoints. We're going to see more from this site I'm sure and it won't all be good.

Harrison: Well alright, thanks Bob for joining us today. It's been a pleasure talking to you. I just want to again relate the title of your book. It's Essays on Palestine. You can get it on Amazon or at It's available on Kindle as well. You can also check out Bob's website at Thanks for having us on Bob. Did you have any final thought?

Robert: I just want to say thank you. It's been a pleasure. I always enjoy conversations with you and thank you very much.

Harrison: Alright, great. Thanks Bob.

Niall: Thanks to you.

Joe: Thanks Robert.

Niall: And thanks for your hard work. Bye-bye.

Robert: Thank you.

Harrison: Take care. Bye.

Robert: Bye.

Harrison: Alright.

Joe: That's that one done. Done and dusted.

Harrison: Yeah. As a launching point for further discussion, Bob had briefly mentioned Syria and Iran. Just to give a bit of an update on what's going on there, last time we talked about Syria the Syrian army had been taking back lots of territory. Basically it's more of the same. So the Syrians are getting closer and closer to Deir ez-Zor and they've fully closed one of those pockets of ISIS in Hama north of Palmyra and the other one is shrinking daily. So it's pretty much been the same as last week when we talked about it, statements from the Russians basically saying that ISIS is on its last legs.

Joe: Last eggs?

Harrison: Last eggs! No more eggs for ISIS.

Joe: That's the end of them you know. No more eggs.

Harrison: No. Can't survive without eggs.

Joe: Allahy-Eggbar.

Harrison: So that's been going on. Who knows what will come of it if it's just more wartime news, but Syrian Girl and even Maria Zakharova have come out and said that the still-existing rebels in the western part of the country are preparing chemical attacks, a repeat of what's happened several times; planning chemical attacks to then blame on the Syrian government. I believe it was Nikki Haley again who had said that - how did she put it? She said that "If there was a chemical attack we will assume the Syrian government is responsible and retaliate against them and that's it."

Joe: And that's it!

Harrison: "We wouldn't investigate. If that happens then it's going to be the government."

Joe: If! If! If the Syrian government, which is along with Russia on the verge of complete victory and a complete rout of the western-sponsored jihadies, if it decides for some bizarre reason to fire chemical weapons at its own people and kill them all, civilians, well then we will automatically assume that they did it and we will bomb them" and that makes sense! Go away! I want a job at the UN, but not to say anything. I just want a boxing glove on the end of a long stick. So when she's there and she says stuff like that, that's where I would just come out and do my job and I'd want a lot of money for it because I'd be happy to get quite close to her.

Harrison: That would probably be...

Joe: That's dangerous!

Harrison: It would be a boon for the UN because their televised events and speeches, the viewership would go up through the roof.

Niall: Yeah!

Harrison: They'd probably get more funding because they'd be more popular. That's what they need. They need some truthful entertainment where we get to see Nikki Haley hit with a boxing glove on the end of a stick. Or that British guy. I hate that British guy, whatever his name is.

Joe: Yeah. One question I was going to propose for consideration was that you have Syria seeming to kind of wrap up. Is that just a natural result of the almost two years of Russian involvement? So you had a big player come in that could actually help the Syrian army to effectively defeat the jihadis or does it have anything to do with Trump? The two seem to have coincided so it's hard to know one way or the other.

Harrison: And it has been strange. It's almost like there was a switch a month or two ago and coincidentally that was around the time the US announced that it was ending its CIA train and equip mission for rebels in Syria. So it does seem very coincidental. I would say my first instinct is that it's a bit of both. I think that the Russians played a large role but then I could see things just continuing on as they were, kind of like a lower level Israel/Palestine conflict, even like Afghanistan in the '80s, this long slog where the rebels just keep getting weapons and it's a very slow progression in what's going on. But along with Trump, I'd say I think that that has something to do with it.

Elan: Well the flip side to all of this is that Trump hasn't said to Nikki Haley "You're fired" yet. Considering that he's had the screws put to him by the military and other interests in the military industrial complex in the US, it really is worrisome that she would be priming the public to believe that the US would instantaneously react and respond to a so-called chemical attack on the part of Assad. If we do see something like that, which seems quite probable especially since Israel is gunning for some kind of way back in to destabilize the situation...

Niall: That situation has happened.

Elan: And it has happened, right!

Niall: Yeah!

Elan: And it has the potential I think, to happen again in an even bigger and more destructive way quite possibly. I don't know. What do you guys think of that?

Niall: Or not. It would be another pew, pew.

Joe: I don't think they can, to be honest. I don't think they can do anything because there's nothing they can do that would really be that effective at this point, especially with the Russian missile defence capabilities in Syria. I don't think they could actually engage in Syria in any effective way that would achieve what they wanted. I think they're smart enough to realize "there's no point in doing this if we look at it and say "We can't do it. It wouldn't work."
But there's a few things that have happened over the past few years. You have to give a lot of credit to Russia. Obviously Russia intervening almost two years ago now, in September 2015 and then nine months later you had the coup...

Niall: In Turkey, yeah.

Joe: Turkey in July of 2016 which basically put Erdogan on notice that he needed to pick a side type of thing and that there were people out to get him, that he wasn't playing ball the way he should have been. So that seems to have had an effect in terms of Turkish involvement in allowing an open border. Then what consolidated that change in Turkish allegiance towards Russia and Iran was the Plan B which was again, provoked by Russian interference in Syria and spoiling their Plan A of just having jihadis overrun the country. The Americans, the Saudis and the Israelis went for Plan B which was to have a Kurdistan in Syria and that really sealed the deal effectively, for Turkey in terms of which side it was on because the Turks are very unhappy about the idea of the Kurds getting their own country.

And this has all happened before Trump could really have had any significant influence, before he was even President. So it seems that they just messed it up, the Americans and their western partners and their Middle Eastern partners just messed up Syria completely because someone stood up to them basically; because Russia stood up to them. Sure it's a cake walk when you can just go into any country you want, blow the crap out of it, say "He's killing his own people. Let's bomb it. Let's have a bunch of rebels or jihadis run into it and then let the country go to ruin and see what happens afterwards but at least we'll take it out of commission."
It's dead easy when there's no opposition. But as soon as there's opposition, it all goes wrong for them. They mess it up completely, which is understandable that that would happen. When somebody stands up to a bully well then his plans don't work anymore and it might drive him to take action, to change plans, to then just make things worse in a certain sense.

The idea that you shouldn't be doing this to begin with obviously never comes into the equation.
But it's hard to know but that gets back to the Palestine. I can't remember who it was, but some bigwig in America, I don't know if it was Kissinger, was cautioning not too long ago, maybe a couple of months ago, cautioning the US military and Trump about taking any decisive action against ISIS because if you get rid of ISIS well then you're going to leave the way open for what this person called an Iranian empire or something along those lines, an arc of influence where Iran would just come into Syria. That's their big problem, that Iran has been playing a big part in fighting the western terrorists in Syria so Iran now has a big stake in any new Syria.

Part of the reason they ignited this civil war in Syria was to try and effectively deal a blow to Iran, but the result is that Iran is going to actually get what it wants. It's just fecklessness. It's all coming apart at the seams for them and that's what they're afraid of. Iran is the biggest country, 80 million people, big country, massive amount of resources and natural resources. Iran's gearing up to replace Saudi Arabia as the main petrol station in the Middle East and that's what they're pooing their pants about and that's why Israel is crapping themselves.

But as Robert Fantina was saying, Israel could, if it had some sense and saw the way the wind was blowing, it could do a lot to build a future where it could live peaceably in the region, but that's not what they're about. It's not why they're there. Look at the basis on which Israel actually exists. "God gave us this land 2,000 years ago!" You're not talking about rational people! You're not talking about people who actually have their heads grounded in a practical reality in the future and working together and what's good for everybody. It's "We're the chosen people. We own this! Everybody bow down to us!" Well I'm sorry but you might get away with that for a while but eventually you're going down dude!

Harrison: Maybe we can move onto another topic.

Joe: No, you don't agree?

Harrison: No, I agree.

Joe: He's laughing at me here for saying they're going down.

Harrison: Oh, Niall's laughing?

Joe: Yeah.

Harrison: Going down. Well we'll see

Niall: I just couldn't have said it better so I'm laughing in agreement.

Harrison: Well Joe you obliquely referenced American plans just making things worse and we've had another example of that in the last week. The US decided to close down some Russian diplomatic facilities. I believe it was the consulate in San Francisco and the trade mission building that they had there. So this is apparently a response to the Russians deciding to cut back the diplomatic staff and supporting staff in Russia down to the level so that the US and Russia have the same number of diplomats and staff in each country.

So they decided to close down this consulate and gave them an 18 or 36-hour notice that "You have to be out". Then just yesterday the Russians were hanging around these facilities with cameras and live streaming of the FBI doing their - what would you call it - scoping out the place. So they're going through the hallways, looking in the closets, looking up in the attic making sure nothing nefarious is there. I don't know what they thought they were looking for. But this again, is one of those bizarro world moments where even with Obama's decision at the end of his term last year to evict however many diplomats and seize the property that they were living on...

Elan: I think it was 35.

Harrison: Thirty-five. It's illegal! It's against international law. It goes against every international norm of international diplomacy and how you treat other countries' diplomats. We just put up an article today. Even I think it was Saudi Arabia and Iran treat each other's' diplomats better than the US treats Russia's diplomats. The US even said that these current diplomats that were in the facilities that were just closed, lost their diplomatic immunity. That too is just blatantly wrong and not true. According to the international standards, the diplomats have their immunity until they leave the country, even if there's a closure of property or something like that.
I don't know what...

Elan: It's actually the Vienna Conventions.

Harrison: The Vienna Conventions, yeah.

Elan: That were established in 1961. So what we're basically seeing is a patently illegal act on the part of the US government to evict these Russian consulate members. If it were up to Trump of course I don't think any of this would be occurring. So as we were saying before, there are some pressures being brought to bear on him to retaliate for the 400 or so some-odd Americans that have been asked to leave the US consulate in Russian.

Harrison: And it wasn't even that. It was 455 staff members and that includes Russian staff members because at any consulate or embassy the people of that country who own the embassy will hire locals, essentially. So it wasn't even 450 US members. It's up to the US to choose. It could be as many as 400 of those are Russians. We don't know. But go on.

Elan: Just as a kind of side note, a congressman, Brad Sherman - I think he's a democrat from California - recently came out to state that he and others are suffering from a kind of Trump derangement syndrome. His point was that they are absolutely compelled or forced to say exactly the opposite of whatever it is that Trump wants to do on either domestic or foreign policy. So he said "Thank god Trump hasn't said anything about Mother's Day because then he would be forced to put in some legislation outlawing Mother's Day."

So the point is that Trump meets with Putin and it's a highly successful meeting in France a couple of months ago. Now there is this kind of counterbalancing deep state pressure and acts of aggression towards Russia. There seems to be very little that's in his power to do anything about this at the moment. So I think that's what we're seeing here.

Joe: Yeah. Let's move on to boats.

Harrison: Boats. Ships. What's up with all the boats recently?

Joe: Niall's got the scoop. He knows what went down.

Niall: This is about the two US ships that were hit by giant cargo ships.

Joe: Russia hacked them.

Niall: Ha-ha. Let's see. Most recent incident, August 20th, 10 US sailors killed, five injured. That's the USS John S. McCain.

Harrison: Yo!

Niall: Which is incredible. I think it happened the day McCain got out of hospital.

Joe: Symbolic.

Niall: It collides with a tanker three times its size just east of Singapore, basically on its way out of the Straits of Malacca to the South China Sea. The McCain is of course named after - get this - John McCain's father is John S. McCain, Jr. John McCain's grandfather is John S. McCain, Sr. These people are like robots. They just sort of reproduce kind of like they're manufactured somewhere.

Harrison: I will have a clone.

Niall: I think he's John S. McCain, III which is an American military tradition to go "I'm the third".

Joe: Senior, junior, diminutive, I don't know.

Niall: Thank god our McCain didn't have a son. Anyway, the McCain is not named after the senator, it's named after the father and grandfather who were both admirals in the navy. So in this incident it was smacked by the Alnic, massive 600-foot-long oil tanker. That incident on August 20th happened three days after the top three commanders of the USS Fitzgerald were officially relieved of command for the incident that happened just outside of Tokyo in June. Seven US sailors were killed that time.

So that's 17 dead sailors. The US hasn't lost 17 sailors since I think WWII, certainly not in such a short time period. Incredible! It just strongly suggests an attack because that doesn't just happen, right? There are two other smaller incidents. One, another destroyer ran aground in Korea. That commander was fired for incompetence. That ran aground I think in Japan. A fourth case was in Korea earlier this year, May I think, in this case a small fishing vessel collided with another ship. In that case it wasn't so bad and no one was killed.

But the two recent incidents are crazy. They're both the same class of ship, US destroyers. Both have the same size crew. They're both rammed by a 30,000-plus tonne tankers. One on the portside, one starboard but both slam into compartments where a lot of sailors were asleep.

Joe: Middle of the night.

Niall: That's been the issue for them as missing. "Well we don't know where they are." Well it's not that they're missing. These places flooded instantaneously. They have to shut down compartments below or the ships are going to sink. That's why they could never find them until a week later.

Joe: Right. It was the middle of the night for the most recent one, four or five o'clock in the morning.

Niall: I think they were both night time. Both fine weather, nothing wrong.

Joe: The explanation that I've heard about this, which would kind of fit, is that the US is so desperate to get stuff out there over in Asia on the South China Sea and patrol, they're so eager to get ships and people on ships over there that they're cutting short the sea trials for new ships that they build and primarily in terms of training for the people who man those ships. There's more and more of them. They're putting a lot more of them over there into an area that has a high density of shipping lanes and commerce shipping and these people haven't had the training, haven't spent long enough in training to know how to navigate in these areas and therefore they're screwing up.

It's almost like people who don't really know how to drive in a big city, they've just passed their test; stick them into the middle of a major city and say "There you go" and they end up crashing the car. Sure they're an admiral or whatever. They have years under their belt but there's a lot more than being put in this area over in the waters around Asia, in the Malacca Straits near China because of the "Chinese threat". They want to project power and project their military prowess and whatever. So that's one explanation.

Niall: That is basically the official Pentagon line, they're overstretched and they've got new staff who - they don't put it in these terms but they're basically saying they don't know how to sail.

Harrison: Right. It's complicated.

Niall: It's incredible when you think about it.

Joe: Well it's one thing...

Niall: They're so stretched.

Joe: It's not necessarily that they don't know how to sail. There's a map I saw the other day, a 24-hour of the shipping lanes, the boats going, and particularly if you look at that area, it's just full! Especially when you get closer to the land, there's boats going past all the time, coming to and from China to the west. It's chock-a-block. So these guys are coming in and it's like an intersection, a bunch of boats all going in one direction and they have to go through, steam along and take into consideration the speed.

Niall: People ask though how it's possible. Yes it's extremely busy but still, there's enough space and time even in busy shipping lanes for US destroyers to direct across them. They obviously did because they both got smacked clean on the side, almost head-on.

Joe: Right.

Niall: There's so much high tech out there these days that just like we're going to have self-driving cars, there are self-driving ships. They can put these tankers on autopilot. That was rumoured to be the case with the one off Japan. And then vice-versa, how on earth does a sophisticated US destroyer not detect or see what's ahead of it. The destroyers will typically fly dark. You don't fly on the seas. What do you do? You swim. They'll typically sail incognito to avoid detection. You cannot track the ships because they don't want to be seen where they're going. They'll announce maybe before or after a mission's complete. In both these cases, both had been in the South China Sea. In fact the USS McCain was smacked just three days after returning from a patrol in the South China Sea which the Chinese have said in the strongest terms, they condemned the provocative actions of the USS McCain passing through and close to the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

That naturally invited people to wonder if it had been some kind of attack or hacking or something like that. There's a mundane explanation for it and it's something to do with how busy the seas are and how overburdened or, as you said Joe, unprepared some of the newer staff are on the ships. But we do live in a time where the technology exists to remotely hijack cars, airplanes, boats. People are wondering "Can that happen?" I think it can. I think you could remotely hijack anything in this day and age and make it look like...

Joe: I'm not sure about hijacking but I'd say for a ship, possibly a more plausible idea would be that navigation systems were interfered with by some kind of tech. That's a possibility, where your navigation systems go offline for a period of time and you can't get them back, or your navigation is messed with in some way. So it's I suppose a kind of hacking. That's possible. We don't know but someone on the chat room was saying that an admiral from the 7th fleet said that they had information that had pretty much gone classified indicating there's possibly more to this story than the mainstream is saying. Of course there might be more to the story, yeah and we won't be told about it.

It just fits pretty well with me the idea of an empire being overstretched and it's a bit of a cliché almost; what happens when you overstretch your empire? Things start to go wrong. And overstretched can mean many different things but it just means that you're not operating in a very efficient way and then accidents happen because you need to go home.

Elan: Well one of the speculations about this was that there is a certain amount of cohesiveness and competence that is accompanied by a sense of purpose and that the navy and other armed forces in not feeling the kind of moral purpose of their mission, the things that they were being tasked to work on, that this in some way could be in part a manifestation of the armed forces just not having a real impetus to do what they're doing. I don't know how much it plays into this but I thought it was an interesting theory and I got to thinking a little bit about Russian forces in Syria and elsewhere and how they are incredibly efficient and competent at fulfilling their missions and this is because they know it's a life and death situation for Russia and for other nations they're aligned with.

So you just have to wonder if the US armed forces in some part don't feel bogged down in all of this grey area of "What the hell are we doing?!" There's been no coherent, cohesive foreign policy in the US for so long, the armed forces have to be understanding that on some level. We've read about people leaving the air force. They're low on personnel as well. So who knows if maybe this isn't an influence.

Niall: I count about 10 or 15 incidences of US fighter jets crashing inside the US, on the coast or in one of its island bases like Hawaii, just in the last couple of years. It's insane. And they're all put down to accident; pilot error or technical malfunction.

Harrison: There was one thing about the Japan collision. For tanker that ran into the destroyer, there are images of the course it had taken in the hours before the collision. I'm trying to remember exactly how it looked. It was pretty jagged, but it was going on course and then it did a few loops in a certain direction.

Niall: No it didn't. That's been explained. The reason for that confusion is because the US navy insists that the time of accident was one hour ahead of what the Japanese coast guard is saying it was.

Harrison: Okay.

Niall: There's a 50-minute discrepancy and so depending on where you put the exact time of the accident, it means that that loop comes before or after the crash.

Harrison: Okay.

Niall: So I think that's actually explained by the fact that it happens and this ship is going in a straight line from...

Joe: A to B.

Niall: Some city not far away actually, but it's travelling overnight, it's about to hit Tokyo Bay and then it starts to take that strange right turn I think, starboard turn south, then it starts to loop as supposedly the ship's crew wakes up because it's on autopilot perhaps. Then they loop back round to find what they may have hit. There's some questions there as well. I think you should know right away what you've hit. But anyway, that strange loop is them coming back to the scene of the incident after.

Harrison: Okay.

Joe: I think there's two possible explanations that are the most plausible. One is that it was transported into another dimension temporarily and then appeared right in front of the ship and they were like "Holy F! Where did that come from?!" And the other one which is maybe more plausible is that Donald Trump actually had taken control of the ship. He was on the line and he was actually giving it directions. He was giving directions as to what should be done, so when in doubt, blame Trump. Because earlier this year there was a ship that he had ordered to go to the South China Sea and for some reason it actually went to Australia!

Niall: Yeah!

Joe: Which happens to be in the opposite direction.

Niall: No, he ordered it to go for the Korean Peninsula.

Joe: Right, but it went to Australia.

Niall: Right.

Joe: That's an example of his navigational skills right there, so it's possible that he was interfering with these ships as well in terms of their mission.

Niall: The other problem I have with suspecting China is that it doesn't follow their MO. It's one thing to sneakily incapacitate the US in some way or another, but actually murdering US sailors in an unprovoked attack, I highly doubt it. And anyway the Pentagon would be screaming bloody murder if they caught even the slightest whiff that that was what actually happened.

Joe: They don't need to do that. As Russia has demonstrated as well, you don't need to do that to America. At this point the American empire is so full of its own hubris.

Niall: It's taking itself apart piece by piece by itself.

Joe: It's its own worst enemy. That kind of stuff's going to happen increasingly as it continues to defy reality and push against it and try and create their own reality and then reality will intercede and things will go wrong much more quickly and much more often.
So was there anything else?

Harrison: There was another water story we wanted to cover.

Joe: Water?

Niall: The Houston event.

Joe: The hurricane.

Harrison: Yeah.

Joe: Hurricane. A lot of water fell. People's' houses got flooded.

Harrison: Alligators moved in.

Niall: That's the worst flood ever.

Joe: Ever.

Niall: For Texas.

Joe: Houston's prone to flooding though.

Niall: Yeah, but not like that. It was pretty bad.

Joe: It was pretty bad Houston was going to get it. They had pretty serious flooding the last two years in a row, particularly in 2015 a series of storms came in and dumped a massive amount of water and Houston got seriously flooded. But yeah this was bigger. You notice that they're only focusing on Houston. Houston's a couple of hours inland but there's not much talk about any of the decent sized towns on the coast or closer to the coast that Harvey kind of barrelled over. It's all folks in Houston. Why? Because Houston is very prone to flooding. There's a couple of different reasons. One of them was the type of soil in the area and where it's situated and the way it's laid out. It's a catchment area, very flat.

Niall: Well there's 50 dead and rising. But that doesn't compare to what's going on in south Asia. I'm pretty sure that's record flooding too but then it's hard to tell in a place that's flood-prone. It's monsoon season.

Joe: Right.

Niall: However, a death toll of 1,400 and rising.

Joe: Yeah.

Elan: Millions displaced.

Niall: Millions.

Joe: And that's just from rain mostly. It's monsoon but it's unprecedented or a pretty serious monsoon season. This is a place that gets a monsoon every year but why is it so bad? Well the weather's gone pretty crazy everywhere.

Harrison: Cuckoo.

Joe: Cuckoo, yeah, pretty much everywhere around the world so nobody should be surprised if they're paying attention. There's the worst wildfires ever in LA right now.

Niall: And again, they get wildfires every year but...

Joe: But these are the worst ever. And you're having crazy weather all over Europe, particularly inland and in Europe, Turkey.

Niall: Oh in Turkey, Istanbul.

Joe: Getting repeatedly hit with serious hail storms and flooding as well.

Niall: In mid-summer.

Joe: And not just them but plenty of other places as well. Italy. Italy seems to be really getting hit bad for whatever reason. Maybe because it's surrounded by two seas there mostly.

Niall: In both winter and summer.

Joe: Yeah, but there's a real upswing in crazy weather hitting pretty much everywhere on the planet. Who are these men that make it?

Elan: Trump!

Joe: Is it Trump?

Harrison: It's man made global warming. It's the patriarchy.

Niall: Don't blame the republicans. It's the democrats!

Joe: It's white privileged men. White privilege is at the source of the global warming. I wouldn't be surprised if they actually go there but probably have already. I like weather too. It's pretty good. There's another storm coming.

Elan: Irma.

Joe: Irma, not very offensive name, doesn't sound very dangerous but could be quite dangerous.

Niall: I looked it up. It means world in old high German.

Joe: World. So it's a world hurricane.

Niall: It's a world hurricane.

Joe: A world hurricane is chugging across the Atlantic right now. Don't know where it'll go necessarily.

Niall: Make a prediction! Make prediction!

Joe: The latest prediction is that it's going up the coast kind of like hurricane Sandy. Who knows what shape it'll be in by that stage. It might hit the Carolinas where you guys are, but you're well inland. But there's also tantalizing promise/potential given the timescale that it could end up in New York on...

Elan: September 11th.

Joe: Anybody? 911.

Niall: Oh!

Joe: 911, 911, 911, 911.

Niall: 9/11, 2017. Sixteen years. My god!

Joe: So crazy weather. Just keep an eye on the crazy weather people and take note of it because it is absolutely crazy; not weather but fires, volcanoes, quite a few lightning strikes happening very close to people. There's more lightning strikes because obviously if you increase the number of lightning strikes eventually you're going to start hitting more populated areas whereas now most of the lightning strikes tend to not be right beside people. Historically lightning strikes tend to not hit your back yard or hit the tree in your backyard. You see them over in the distance far away and you think "I wonder if that's hitting somebody's back yard" but over there. It's not hitting anybody's back yard.

But I've been watching them over the past few weeks and there's one in Quebec, you should look it up on the web. Somewhere in Quebec in Canada, this guys' at a lodge, and the guys are filming outside and it just the sound if it, a massive crack and it hits this giant pine tree and cuts it in half. The whole top half just falls over. Crazy! Literally.

Harrison: It explodes?

Joe: It exploded the tree basically. So that's pretty crazy. You should keep an eye on all those things because they're entertaining in a certain sense, explosions and stuff. Nature doing explosions.

Harrison: Alright, did we have any other stories we wanted to cover today? I think that's it.

Joe: Yeah, pretty much. The Burma/Myanmar thing, it's hard to tell. It's like a bunch of rebels in Myanmar. They want independence and their leader was born in Saudi Arabia. They claim they're not getting any help. They're Muslims. They're pretending they're not getting any help from outside but they're fighting against the Myanmar Buddhists. Most people in Myanmar are Buddhists and the government is and supposedly they're being persecuted. It's probably a lot more complicated than that. They want independence.

They're having a guerrilla war against Myanmar. They're Muslims, their leader was born in Saudi Arabia. They're being supported, at least tacitly, given moral support from Saudi Arabia and even, to some extent, ISIS or what is left of them, have talked about their struggle. This could be something too because obviously Myanmar has a border with China and it could be the beginning of an attempt to transplant the Syria situation over to the border with China, although China's a lot bigger country than Syria. They'd have to do a lot more there to trouble China but who knows? It's hard to tell at this point.

Niall: I've read that this latest eruption of violence began in 2012 in a big way. And it's flared up every now and then. This latest one began when police stations were attacked. This isn't well-armed refugees we're talking about here. And then the Buddhist Myanmar population, the indigenous one if you like, reacted. There are people paying attention to the situation who have written extensive reports saying while yes there are atrocities being committed against the Muslim population, completely airbrushed from western NGOs and the western mainstream narrative are the equivalent atrocities being committed against the Buddhist majority population who are now a minority in this state of Rakhine.

Joe: But it's not necessarily a state. It's under the government control. It's part of the same country.

Niall: It's like a province.

Joe: You're saying the Buddhist locals, the Burmese...

Niall: Have now become a minority and they're being attacked by well-armed groups.

Joe: Yeah, possibly. It's hard to tell. And of course they've got Bangladesh and India right next door, Bangladesh being predominantly Muslim and India being predominantly Hindu. But then the Bangladeshi government was actually supportive of the Myanmar government in fighting against these rebels so it doesn't seem like it's coming from there. But there is a Saudi link and when you hear Saudi and jihadi Muslim, you've got to be concerned. Anyway, that's about it.

Harrison: Alright. Well thank you everyone for tuning in. Thanks of course to Robert Fantina for joining us on the show today. Again, his new book is Essays on Palestine available on Amazon, and thank you to Elan, Joe and Niall.

Elan: Thank you Harrison.

Niall: Thank you Harrison.

Joe: Thank you to Harrison.

Niall: Good show guys!

Harrison: Alright. Thank again everyone for tuning in and we'll see you next week.