How Syria Divided Palestine Solidarity

Nora Barrows-Friedman and Asa Winstanley interview Rania Khalek for Electronic Intifada Podcast, April 23,2021

This is a very important topic that people are more likely to argue about than discuss, although the hard line has somewhat softened recently.   It is especially important because the propaganda and lies are once again being ramped up in the press. Rania Khalek, an Arab American currently living in Lebanon, speaks to the topic very clearly.  [jb]

How Syria Divided Palestine Solidarity

Electronic Intifada Podcast: Nora Barrows Friedman and Asa Winstanley interview Rania Khalek.

The Embedded video and transcript start at 35 min, 11 seconds.   You can watch the full video on Youtube.


Nora:  I wanted to turn to another country in the region and have you talk about what’s happening right now in Syria, and how it relates to what we’ve been talking about, Israel and Western hegemony in the region, imperialism, and how you see it. Obviously, at the Grayzone and in your work, in that of many other independent anti-imperialist journalists that have been writing a lot over the last few years about what has happened in Syria and how, really, a wedge was driven by people who were very, very intent on backing the imperialist movement and getting regime change started in their country. And it really split the movement, the Palestine solidarity movement. And we’re still dealing with that ramification years later. But even in progressive media, this has been happening.  On the radio station I used to work for I’ve heard people several times now, from Bellingcat and these U.S. State Department funded think tanks that can promote themselves as human rights investigative outfits but are taking State Department money and are working to promote and prop up these absolute lies in order to justify regime change in Syria in order to bolster Israel’s designs on that country, and the U.S.’s desires for continued imperialism in the region. It’s such a huge question, but talk about what you see right now in terms of the Syria discourse and how that relates to what we’ve been talking about.

Rania:  Syria is an interesting case because,obviously, it did fracture Palestine Solidarity in the U.S., and I think it actually also fractured the issue of Palestine in the Middle East.  I can get back to that in a little bit. But I mean, if you look at what the U.S. did to Syria, I think the reason it was so easy for that issue to fracture the left is because it wasn’t cut and dried in the sense of [the Iraq war]. The U.S. invaded Iraq with its army. Right? And unless you were a right winger or centrist Democrat, you didn’t support it. It was a very explicit, in your face war. Whereas [the war on] Syria was this covert program to arm and fund a collection of extremist groups to overthrow the Syrian government by using the Arab Spring. Right? They were using these protests that had [occurred] across the region and had inspired a lot of people. You know, we watched it happen in Tunisia. We watched it happen in Egypt. And they did the same thing in Libya. You know, you watch some protests erupt in Libya and then in Syria, and very, very quickly, those things were used as opportunities to pursue Imperial goals, in other words, state collapse. That’s what happened in Libya. [They] turned Libya into a power vacuum of competing militias. And till this day, it’s a very unsafe, unstable country; one of the most stable, formerly stable countries in north Africa. And in the case of Syria you had the U.S., you had all these Gulf countries and Turkey and in some cases Israel, basically allied together to fund this covert operation that wasn’t so covert, to arm and fund these extremist groups across the country. And it almost worked. Had it not been for Russian and Iranian intervention, it would have worked, particularly Russian intervention. You know, you could have seen a scenario where Syria had fallen under, Damascus has fallen under the control of Al-Qaeda.

Asa: Let me stop you there. I mean, in my view, it worked to a large extent because, as you know, the U.S. now occupies, what is it a third?

Rania: So, yeah. So there are three areas of Syria. So, that’s the base. I think at this point, a lot of people recognize that that happened. Even people who are still pro regime change will recognize that, okay, yeah, our weapons and fundings got into the hands of some bad group, but that was an accident. How did that happen? But then you have Joe Biden on camera saying that the UAE or saying that our Gulf state allies and Turkey basically funded ISIS.

Clip: My constant cry was that our biggest problem was our allies. Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends, and I have a great relationship with our Erdogan, who I’ve just spent a lot of time with, the Saudis, the Emiratis, et cetera. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni Shia war. What did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being, who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al-Qaeda, and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world. Now, you think I’m exaggerating. Take a look. Where did all of this go? So now what’s happening? All of a sudden everybody’s awakened because this outfit called ISIL, which was Al Qaeda in Iraq, which when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space and territory in Western, excuse me, in Eastern Syria, work with Al Nusra, who we declared a terrorist group early on, and we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them.  ~Joe Biden

Rania: So at this point it’s recognized that that happened. That part of the war on Syria has largely ended. Right? The U.S. and all of these other countries have stopped funding and arming this collection of Al-Qaeda clones. That said, now you have a situation in Syria where a large portion of the country is being occupied by other countries as a result of this whole war. And there’s three areas. Turkey is kind of occupying two areas, I would say. There’s the Euphrates shield zone, which is Afrin. You might remember a couple of years ago, Turkey did this operation to take this Kurdish area and they did. And then [there are] some other areas in the Aleppo countryside. And that’s where the Turkish military actually is pretty much in charge.

And then you have Idlib, which is under the administration of the Salvation Government, which is under the control of Hyat-Tahrir al-Sham, which is the former Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. But you know, there’s also, I think, 13,000 Turkish soldiers there. This is a huge chunk of Northern Syria that’s basically no longer in Syrian hands. And it’s a direct result of this war. In Idlib you have all these former Al Qaeda members that we [the U.S. government] now don’t call a Qaeda anymore, that have this huge base of operations there now, and you could see that being a global security threat, not too far in the future, much the way that Afghanistan became a global security threat after the U S armed and funded the mujaheddin in the eighties. And then you have this other area of Syria that’s under the control of a U.S. proxy, which is called the Syrian Democratic Forces or the SDF, which is really just the YPG.

I’m sorry to get into all these acronyms. The YPG is the Syrian PKK. Right? It’s the Kurdish group that is Kurdish nationalists who wants their own country. So that’s what the SDF is. The U.S. had to rename it because, technically, the PKK is a [Turkish] terrorist group and Turkey’s our ally. But anyways, this area where the SDF is in charge, overseen by a couple thousand American troops, this area is the most fertile area of Syria. That’s its bread basket. That’s where food is grown. That’s where, you know, oil is in Syria.   And so it’s not a coincidence that the SDF, under the U.S., funded and armed by the U.S., is occupying this area. And on top of this, you have [U.S.] sanctions on Syria, crippling, sorry, I would call them almost starvation sanctions.

No, one’s starving quite yet, though they could in the future. But these are crippling sanctions. People don’t have electricity. There’s a fuel shortage. The currency has no value anymore. People have no economic future whatsoever in this country because of these sanctions. It’s basically like a medieval siege, but these sanctions have made it so that the Syrian government, their currency has no value anymore. And so, because of where the SDF is occupying [the oil and grain producing areas], the Syrian government has had to buy back its own oil from the SDF and buy wheat from the SDF from its own territory. But because of the sanctions, they can’t even afford to do that. So Syria, which is located in the most oil rich part of the world has a fuel shortage, which is completely man-made. So that’s a situation serious facing right now. I mean, you don’t hear it covered like that in the media, because there’s still this deliberate effort to make everything about demonizing the Syrian government.

And, look, the Middle East has a bunch of really bad governments. Syria is not the only one. That’s not really the reason this is happening. It’s not happening to Syria because their government is bad. If that was the case, then all of these policies would apply to Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the UAE and Jordan and all of these other countries that have monarchies and dictatorships. And they all torture. I mean, that’s not new. This is how all these countries function. The reason this is happening to Syria is because Syria wasn’t playing ball. Syria was hosting Palestinian resistance organizations. Syria is allied with Iran, you know. Syria plays a role in what’s called the resistance axis, and that is a challenge to Israeli, American and Saudi hegemony in the region. And at the end of the day, Saudi Arabia and Israel are really just arms of America.

So that’s why this is happening to Syria. And that’s why all of these Syrians are needlessly suffering and dying as punishment because the U.S. failed to overthrow the government. And so now it’s just sanctions, you know, trying to use sanctions to not just to do it [accomplish regime change], but also to punish. I mean, these sanctions are so severe that they prevent Syria from rebuilding anything. Syria can’t import the raw material it needs to just rebuild people’s homes. That’s not to punish the government. That is to collectively punish the entire population. And that’s what you’re seeing happen in that country right now. And so it’s a real shame that there’s still all this disinformation about Syria and all of these progressive and left outlets are still getting it so wrong, because, you know, in the nineties this wasn’t happening. I don’t think there was controversy over opposing sanctions on Iraq.

And that’s what’s happening in Syria right now. You’re having a generation of people who don’t get it. I don’t think people understand. Sanctions is such a cold word and it’s so emotionless. So I understand, I get why people don’t understand what it means. The level of devastation and suffering that the sanctions cause, I mean, not just to your basic daily life, but also the way it really shatters the fabric of your society. It results in this brain drain where all of the professional class leaves like doctors and engineers and teachers. The people that you need for a functioning society have all left Syria, are all leaving Syria. And this is going to have a long-term impact on the ability of this country to be normal and to function. It’s from big things like that to small things. Like, the last time I visited Syria, I couldn’t open the [phone] app Slack, which at the time I had to use to communicate with my work. When I opened, it would say ‘you can’t open this in this location because of U.S. sanctions’. So there are little things like that. You can’t watch Netflix. Right? You can’t use Tinder (a dating app). If you have a Syrian telephone number in Lebanon, you can’t use Tinder on your Syrian telephone number because of U.S. sanctions. So, it goes from the big to the little [constraints] that just make it impossible for Syrians to be a part of the rest of the world.

Nora: How do you think that people who consider themselves on the left or progressives, how did they get this so wrong and continue to get it so wrong on Syria?

Rania: I  think there was a deliberate well-funded effort to confuse people on Syria, to justify humanitarian intervention as they call it; to justify this kind of like covert program of a billion dollars to arm and fund people they called freedom fighters, but who were actually the kinds of people that none of us would want to live under because they would forced us to live under really draconian, misogynistic, racist laws. In order to cover that up, you need propaganda. So that’s one. But I think the other thing, the other part of it was just the lack of ability for people to actually visit and see for themselves. And it’s funny because the reason people couldn’t visit  the opposition held areas of Syria was because they might get kidnapped and ransomed off to ISIS.

So actual journalists, at one point, weren’t going to these places anymore. So they were relying on this media infrastructure inside of opposition held areas that was  a hundred percent funded by the Gulf states and America to lie about what was happening in these areas. So east Aleppo wasn’t under the control of Ahrar al-Sham, which is basically just like Al-Qaeda, it was under the control of really brave, moderate rebels. Right? So I think that was a part of it. And then the other part was that it was very difficult for people to get into Syrian government areas. The Syrian government didn’t really care about getting its narrative out to the West. They were more concerned with domestic concerns about how people domestically saw the fight. So it wasn’t always easy. But that said, I’ve been to Syria on more than one occasion with other Western correspondents, and we see the same things and what they write isn’t accurate.

So it’s also that the people who are covering the conflict have really adopted the side of the opposition. They really did, you know, they were mostly covering it from like Beirut and Istanbul and Gaziantep. But when they did get a chance to go, they sympathized so much with the opposition people that they met, that they… It’s kind of like when people cover Israel…  they spend time in these Israeli cities and they start to sympathize and really have the same viewpoint as the Israelis do. That’s what started to happen with the issue of Syria. But then you also have this think tank industrial complex. Right? You have these think tanks that are funded by the State Department, by weapons companies, by NATO, by Saudi Arabia and Turkey and their foreign ministries. They give us these people who call themselves experts who talk like experts, but really they have a nasty agenda, and they get to go around, you know, portraying themselves as the experts on this issue and lying like you see with Bellingcat. But they’re just state and weapons company funded entities, and that’s their agenda.

And that did a lot to confuse the left. And then I also think this goes back to the issue of Palestine. I also think it’s a mix of all of these things. And so I don’t want to blame it on just this. But on the left, because of the war on terror, because of the issue of Palestine, the left became aligned with various Muslim groups, for example, that were anti war on terror,  the Arab and Muslim Americans who were impacted by what was happening during the Arab spring. The Arab spring really gave rise to this. I would call it like a, almost a Sunni victimization complex. This is what the media was feeding, Assad is committing genocide against Sunnis. Right? It’s like Alawites and Shia against Sunnis. And I think that really impacted the way the Arab community, Arab Americans saw themselves.

I mean, I saw friends of mine for the first time identifying by their sect in America. And I’d never seen that before. And then you also have the fact that like a lot of Arabs and Muslims who were involved in the anti war on terror stuff had these very strong opinions about Syria, and in some cases [opinions] that were very pro opposition and [they] wanted regime change. And so I think that the leftists involved in these groups were a little bit confused about who they should listen to. Like, on the one hand, I want to be opposed to intervention. On the other hand, all of these Arabs, you know, these Arabic, Muslim activists I’m allied with are telling me the opposite. And, you know, I think the other thing we forget about too is that just because somebody has good politics on Palestine doesn’t mean they’re going to have good politics on the entire region.

And there is this Syrian exile community in America. Not all of them, but some of them, are from these elite families whose land was taken away, you know, during redistribution under the Ba’athists, and they have these old vendettas. So there’s a reason they hate the re the government in Syria. And that’s their view. You also have this history of Muslim Brotherhood versus the Syrian government. And then there are the descendants of some of those people who were part of those wars who still have that anger and vengeful stance against the Syrian government. And so I think that played into all the confusion on the left, because you had people who were really good on the war on terror, who then, because of, maybe, their personal experience or because of their family lineage had really bad opinions on Libya and Syria, and that ended up being like a huge contradiction that exploded inside the Palestine Solidarity Movement

Nora: Yeah. And we’re still picking up the pieces. Let’s bring it back to Palestine. You know, and you alluded to this earlier, Palestine tends to be decontextualized as an isolated issue in the region. Can you talk about how Israel’s settler colonialism is contextualized in a wider region torn by U.S. imperialism? How do people in Beirut, where you are, talk about Palestine as opposed to people in DC or New York?

Rania: Palestine used to be, even 10, 15 years ago, a very uniting issue across the Middle East. A lot of people were United in their support for Palestinians and, and their antagonism towards Israel because they saw Israel as this imposed colonial entity that was an arm of the Europeans and the Americans and the region, which is absolutely accurate. And that was imposing its will on the region in a really violent way. I think that really all changed after the Arab spring because the U.S. used the Arab spring as an opportunity to basically destroy Israel’s remaining enemies, or to try to destroy Israel’s remaining enemies. That’s what the war on Syria was about. And you know, I think that in the U S there’s been this, and I can only speak to the U.S.. I don’t know what it’s like in the UK, but there may be  a parallel there. But in the U.S., it is the issue of Palestine which developed so much support in a really great way.

People organized around it so much. But I think a mistake that was made was that it was always, it became an issue that is isolated from the rest of the region. So Palestine has nothing to do with Iran. It has nothing to do with Syria, nothing to do with Lebanon. We just talk about Palestine and only Palestine. But the problem with that is that, not only are there Palestinians living as refugees in all of these Middle Eastern countries, but Israel’s violence impacts more than just the West Bank and Gaza. You know, Israel is still occupying a part of Lebanon. Israel still occupying a piece of Syria and the Golan Heights, and these countries are all interconnected. By disconnecting these places as though they’re separate, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, you’re actually abiding by the colonial borders that were drawn on them.

You know, people have families and all these places, I have family in both Syria and Lebanon because these borders used to be very fluid. People used to move up and down. My dad tells me, my dad’s pretty old – he was born in 1941. He tells me how he can remember when he was a kid, his dad would take a train from Beirut to Jaffa to get oranges. That’s the region. It was like, if you think about the United States and how you have states, and you just drive across state lines. That’s what the Middle East used to be like. So all these places are completely connected. And the places that, you know, the U.S. is punishing are any country that acts independently of its interests, and that rejects Israel’s violent existence in the region, Israel’s violent colonialism in the region. Any country that does that, is punished.

So you cannot separate the issue of Syria from Palestine. Like I mentioned earlier, Syria was playing host to Hamas leaders, Islamic jihad leaders, these groups that fight Israel.  Hezbollah, Syria had a very close Alliance with Hezbollah and Iran. So that’s why Syria was targeted. Those are the reasons it was targeted, because of its antagonism to Israel. And so, when you separate these things, like you have to, you have to understand Israel’s colonial project reaches far beyond the West Bank and Gaza. And if you don’t see it like that, then you’re not going to understand. The only reason Palestinian resistance exists is because of the countries that continue to support it. But the U.S. is trying to destroy it. So you can bend over backwards and try and formulate weird ways to pretend that’s not the case, but it is. It is the case that Iran is connected to the issue of Palestine.

You can’t disconnect. You can dislike Iran all you want, but if you call for a regime change in Iran and you get your way, Palestinians lose, lose a sponsor. And so there’s also this kind of liberal NGO discourse that’s taken over the issue of Palestine, where in the U.S., at least by the most dominant voices, it gets broken down as nothing more than an issue of like human rights. It’s just an issue of human rights. Palestinians are treated very poorly. That’s it. And that’s another way that you end up papering over the way that Israel and Saudi Arabia and America and their allies are ruining the region. The issue of Palestine is completely wrapped up in American imperialism.

And until you get that, not only are you not going to get to the right kind of solution, but the solution you might end up with one day, which you’re already getting close to, is a Palestine that is just a bunch of U.S. backed Palestinian leadership, which is kind of what you have in the West Bank now. That’s the sort of format of governments that the U.S. imposes on the region, not just in the West Bank, but also in other places like Jordan, and other places, like all of these Gulf states. They’re just extensions of America and Israel at this point. And so, I think one of the reasons that you have that happening in the U.S. is not just the human rights rhetoric.

I think it’s also true that a lot of the Palestine Solidarity Movement in the U.S. has, and this isn’t a bad thing, but there are a lot of liberal Jews [involved[ who are very, very upset with the behavior of Israel, as they should be, because they’re speaking in the name of Judaism. And this isn’t what Judaism is. And I oppose this.

And that’s really great. But when you have mostly this kind of liberal mentality, that’s kind of wrapped up in identity, becoming the most prominent voice on the issue of Palestine, then it takes on a liberal veneer to it where it papers over imperialism because liberals don’t really get imperialism. They just don’t. So there are all of these problems taking place. As for the way  it gets covered in the region, increasingly the region is in such a state of disaster, especially in the countries that were kind of basis of support for Palestine, people have so many other issues, like because of sanctions, and because of like financial collapse, that it’s not an issue that’s on their mind.

Israel could start bombing Palestine tomorrow and a lot of these people probably wouldn’t blink. And the other issue too, is that these normalization campaigns across the region have done a really good job, especially with the propaganda arms of the Gulf states, of pushing this line that if you just make peace in normalize with Israel, your country can be rich and prosper. And you look at these models, like the Emirates and like Saudi Arabia and like those who have normalized [relations with Israel], well, I don’t know if that Arabia hasn’t officially normalized, but they might as well have. But you look at Bahrain and these countries, these are seemingly stable countries because no one’s trying to regime change them, and no one’s trying to push them into civil war because they play ball with American imperialism. And so, as a result, you hear this new theme in places like Lebanon. I hear this all the time from people I’m surprised to hear it from: if we just,… why don’t we just… why do we fight Israel? If we just make peace with them, we can be like the Emirates. Saudi Arabia will come save us. And it’s not true, but that’s the mentality now.

Nora: Right, incredible. Yeah.

Asa: Yeah. There is a parallel in the UK. We have very, very similar circumstances. In the UK too, in the Palestine Solidarity Movement. You know, there was this dynamic after 9/11, after the invasion of Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq, there was a coalition built between, coalition is probably the wrong word, but between Muslims, politically engaged Muslims and the left. So, people were very active on the issue of Islamophobia and on the issue of Palestine. In the February, 2003 demonstration against the war in Iraq, when Iraq was just about to be invaded and there was about 2 million people marching against the war in, in Britain, in London and different cities. One of the slogans, one of the other slogans of the demonstration apart from ‘Don’t Attack Iraq’, was ‘Freedom for Palestine’.

So there was this big coalition being built and it meant that we had similar dynamics. We had people who were, you know, people who were from Syrian families, for example, who live in this country, in exile communities. And there’s a lot of talk,frankly rubbish, said about ‘agency’. You know, we’ve got to listen to Syrians, and stuff like that. Well, yeah, of course, but, which Syrians? So, do we have to listen to, does that mean we should have listened to Ahmad Chalabi, America’s preferred collaborator in Iraq?

Again, there were a lot of the same dynamics and I think it absolutely was, and I think it still is a weakness of the Palestine Solidarity Movement in this country, that it is increasingly viewed as kind of an isolated thing, especially by the more NGO kind of end of the Solidarity Movement. I don’t want to name names…

Well, I don’t want to name the names of NGO type groups that are involved in Solidarity with Palestine, because they’re so few and far between. But maybe we’ll save that for a future podcast, as it does lead to problems. A huge section of Southwest Syria has been occupied by Israel. The population of the Golan Heights, we’re talking about, the population that was driven out by Israel in 1967. Now there was a Nakba of the population, basically of the Syrians there. They’re still not being allowed to return in the same way, but we never talk about it as a solidarity movement, you know, the occupation of the Golan Heights. You might get a passing mention of it, occasionally. This is a big strategic problem, that we don’t talk about it because that’s not Palestine, it’s Syria. And I don’t think it’s necessarily because, oh, you’ll be viewed as pro Assad, although probably, that is a tie now. I think that is certainly a factor, especially in recent years, but I think this lack of internationalism is a strategic weakness that we have. So here you (ref Rania) have got this view of the region, reporting from these different countries and having family there, that we need to emphasize more.

Rania: What I wanted to say about the issue of Palestine in Syria is also on top of the Golan issue, which people forget, the Israelis armed or sent weapons to, and then gave medical treatment to some of the extremist groups that were operating in the Golan. In fact…

Asa: Al Qaeda, Israel armed Al Qaeda.

Rania: Yes, Al-Qaeda, or one of its affiliates, but yeah. I actually interviewed a Syrian guy from the Golan who had initially joined the armed opposition groups. He was pretty young and just didn’t like Assad. But, it’s the Golan. It was a red line for him, that they were accepting aid from Israel. And so he switched sides. Stories like that, of course, like never made it into the mainstream media, but that’s fascinating. There are people who literally left these opposition groups to go fight with the government because of the opposition groups aligning with Israel. But also there’s the issue of Palestinians in Israel. And this was weaponized too, by pro regime change types when it was much more complicated. Palestinians, we know, are not a monolith. And the Palestinian community, even inside Syria, which, was one of the countries that typically treated Palestinian refugees much better than, you know, its neighbors did.

But the Palestinian community inside Syria was not united on this issue. There were groups of Palestinians who fought alongside the government, alongside the Syrian government to oust what they saw as Al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliated groups in places like Yarmouk, which were at that time portrayed in Western media as being freedom fighters. It was just completely batshit. Even in Yarmouk, there was a split initially where the Hamas affiliate in Yarmouk fought with the PFLP affiliate in Yarmouk. They actually opposed each other in the beginning. Hamas aligned with the opposition, and then when the opposition turned into ISIS, the people, the Hamas aligned Palestinians actually switched sides and fought in the campaign alongside the Syrian army to liberate Yarmouk from ISIS.

And this was completely left out of the mainstream media coverage on this issue, which really tried to use the cause of Palestine in support of regime change. I’ve never seen the cause of Palestine and any other scenario used to support destroying another Arab country, but that’s what was done here by a lot of actors.  We don’t need to name names, but it does need to be looked back on and analyzed, because of how detrimental that was to Palestine Solidarity. There are people who don’t talk to each other anymore. There are people who like have been expunged from Palestine Solidarity. You know, I had a few of my talks canceled, that were not even about Syria. They were just talks about Palestine, talks about Palestine and Palestinian rights that had nothing to do with Syria were canceled because of pressure campaigns by pro regime change professors and academics.

So this did real significant damage and you can still feel the damage now. You can still feel the fracture now in the way that Palestine is organized around and discussed, and about who gets to discuss Palestine, who gets the platform, the biggest platform to discuss Palestine. It’s typically people who’ve never said a word about Syria, or if they have it’s the imperialist position. That’s what it’s like now, and I hope that changes, but I’m glad that we can have a little bit of that conversation. Because if you can’t look back and recognize what went wrong, you can’t fix it. And then you leave this movement open to being fractured in the future. And we know the Israelis saw that opportunity even before it happened, and deliberately [pursued it]. I think Ali [Abunimah] covered it. Ali’s always reading these like stupid white papers that these pro Israel organizations put out.  And they actually stated before that we should use the issue of Syria to fracture this movement. So we know it’s a goal of theirs to do this as well.

Nora: Rania Khalek, It is so good to hear from you. And thank you so much for being with us on the Electronic Intifada Podcast. We’re going to link to your work on The Grazone. also Breakthrough News and your podcast, Unauthorized Disclosure. It’s been a pleasure and an honor. Thank you so much for all that you do, and for being with us.

Rania: Thank you for having me. This is great.

Rania Khalek is an independent journalist living in Beirut, Lebanon. She is the co-host of the Unauthorized Disclosure podcast and on staff at Breakthrough News.

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a journalist, staff editor at The Electronic Intifada and the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine.

Asa Winstanley is an associate editor at the Electronic Intifada and an investigative journalist. He lives in London.

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