Following are excerpts from an interview with former U.S. senator James Abourezk, which aired on Al-Manar TV on August 30, 2007.
Interviewer: Mr. Abourezk, welcome to Al-Manar TV.
James Abourezk: Thank you very much.
Interviewer: It's good to have you.
James Abourezk: Yes, I watch Al-Manar on one of the cable channels in America.
Interviewer: Good, that's excellent. Especially [considering] the fact that Al-Manar TV was banned in the U.S. Does that really show something which is like shooting the freedom of expression?
James Abourezk: Well, freedom of expression is free for those whom the government likes. If they don't like them, freedom of expression goes out the window, apparently.
James Abourezk: ... you heard in the press.
Interviewer: Now look what's happened in the case of Dr. Norman Finkelstein. It's something which is, you know...
James Abourezk: It's disastrous, disastrous. They've...
Interviewer: What happened to him?
James Abourezk: He lost his tenure bid. So he therefore is going to have to go somewhere else, and find a job teaching.
James Abourezk: Well, because they shot down his tenure. Even though his department was all for it, and the department heads were all for it, the president of that university shot it down.
Interviewer: It's just because he was not an advocate of Israel?
James Abourezk: No, because the lobby put pressure on him - specifically, Alan Dershowitz. He's a real snake, I have to say that.
Interviewer: You also called Hizbullah and Hamas "resistance fighters."
James Abourezk: They are.
Interviewer: While the U.S. administration brands them as "terrorist organizations"...
James Abourezk: That was done at the request of Israel. That name was done at the request of Israel – that the United States calls them terrorist organizations.
Interviewer: On the other hand, you also declared that the original terrorist groups in the Middle East were the Jewish terrorist groups. What is this based on?
James Abourezk: It's based on fact. In fact, the original terrorists were headed by Begin, who was the head of the Irgun, and by Shamir, another prime minister, who was the head of... one of the three members of the Stern gang's leadership. I used to know Natan Yellin-Mor, by the way, one of the three leaders of the Stern gang, and he became a peacenik. He wanted peace in the Middle East, and he would...
Interviewer: Stern being one of the gangs of... Israeli gangs...
James Abourezk: One of the terrorist groups, vicious terrorist groups. Natan Yellin-Mor became... He was one of the heads of the Stern gang. They had a three-part head, and he was one of them. But he became a peacenik. He wanted peace between the Arabs and the Israelis, a nd so, they boycotted him, the Israelis. When he would come to Washington, nobody would talk to him. So he used to come to me, and I would make appointments for him.
Interviewer: But what made him change his mind?
James Abourezk: I don't really know. I think he saw the folly in what was going on. But you know... I mean... Look, anybody who knows anything about the history of Israel knows that Israel, by force of arms, stole all the territory in Palestine. There's no question about it. There's a new historian, Ilan Pappé, an Israeli historian, who's written an excellent book called The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Yes, it's an excellent book, and it's history, and it's true history. But it tells how they had a plan to go in and kill and terrorize the Palestinians, to make them empty out Palestine, so they could take it over. That was a very vicious thing they did, and the more vicious thing is that now they call the Palestinians "terrorists."
Interviewer: Who are homeless in their own land...
James Abourezk: Absolutely, yes.
Interviewer: Here I need to ask you something, which is growing and escalating in the Western world, and particularly in the U.S., which is this immense wave of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim sentiment, lumping all Arabs together as "terrorists." This was clearly manifest in movies and TV series, like "24." Why? Why now? Is it just after 9/11?
James Abourezk: No, it's after the Soviet Union collapsed. The Zionists were looking around for another enemy to have, because to them the Soviet Union was an enemy because they wouldn't allow Jewish emigration. So they used that as an organizing tool, basically, and when the Soviet Union collapsed, there was no more organizing about the Soviet Union. So they looked around, and they said: Well, the Muslims. Let's find the Arabs and the Muslims, and make them the boogeyman. And that's what they did.
Interviewer: But why did this sentiment of hatred increase after 9/11?
James Abourezk: Well, because the Arabs who were involved in 9/11 cooperated with the Zionists, actually. It was a cooperation. They gave them the perfect excuse to denounce all Arabs. It's a racist sort of thing, really racist – you know, picking out these 19 or 20 terrorists – they were terrorists – and saying all the Arabs are like them. So, you know, people in America don't really look at it that deeply, and they accept what the government and the press are saying.
Interviewer: Since we are here now in Damascus, the capital of Syria – how did you face this Syria Accountability Act, which most think is unfair? But as a former senator – where does the injustice here, particularly in this act, lie?
James Abourezk: Well, the injustice is that because Israel... I'm telling you, Israel is behind this move, because they wanted Syria weakened somehow, and to be made an enemy of the United States, so they got their people in Congress to pass the act. You see, the members of Congress are afraid to vote against anything the lobby wants. So, this is something the lobby wants...
Interviewer: So who is controlling who?
James Abourezk: The lobby is controlling the Congress.
Interviewer: But you said that the U.S. is not in need of Israel, but rather, Israel needs the U.S.
James Abourezk: Yes, that's right. But how they...
Interviewer: It's very paradoxical.
James Abourezk: Well, how they fulfill that need is by pressuring Congress to support Israel. The chief objective of the Israeli lobby is to keep the American taxpayers' money flowing to Israel. That's the chief objective. They stop anybody who criticizes Israel, so that may stop the money from flowing. That's why they attack people who attack Israel.
Interviewer: Sir, in 2001, you came all the way from the U.S. to Lebanon to congratulate Lebanon, the Lebanese, and the resistance for the Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon. Now what do you say during this time, which is in remembrance a year of the Israeli aggression against Lebanon and the earthshaking victory of the resistance, supported by the people of Lebanon. What do you say to them?
James Abourezk: That was quite an extraordinary thing, I thought. I actually marveled at the Hizbullah resistance to Israel, how they did it. It was a marvel of organization, of courage and bravery. I thought it was quite something.
Interviewer: Do you think it's only the courage and organization that made them do this?
James Abourezk: Yes, absolutely. They were highly organized, the resistance, and they were very brave. They didn't turn and run, like some Arabs armies have done. They were defeated because of that. But this is something new for the Arab world. I said at the time: The Lebanese army should ask Hizbullah to come and organize it, to train them, you know. And all the Arab armies should have the Hizbullah come and do that.