Saving Israel and Palestine

It's the Ralph Nader Radio Hour.
Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour.
My name is Steve Skrovan, along with my co-host Hannah Feldman.
David is a little under the weather today, but we've got Hannah.
Hello, Hannah.
Hello, Steve.
And the man of the hour, Ralph Nader.
Hello, Ralph.
Hello, everybody.
We have Professor Jeffrey Sachs, who's got a lot to say about the Middle East.
That's right, Ralph.
Our guest today, Professor Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University, has some very strong opinions about what's motivating Israel's ongoing violence in Gaza, about U.S. complicity in this genocide, and about the U.N.'s inability to stop what he very clearly calls war crimes.
Professor Sachs has visited Israel numerous times since the early 70s over the course of his long academic career.
Today, we're going to talk about what he sees are the real aims of this extreme right-wing Netanyahu coalition and how President Joe Biden does not seem up to the task of reining in those ambitions.
As always, somewhere along the line, we'll check in with our relentless corporate crime reporter, Russell Mokhyver.
But first, are we letting Netanyahu drag us into a wider war?
Jeffrey Sachs is the director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he holds the rank of university professor, the university's highest academic rank.
And he served as the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University from 2002 to 2016.
Mr. Sachs has also served in numerous positions at the United Nations, including as president of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Jeffrey Sachs.
Great to be with you.
Thank you so much.
Welcome indeed, Jeffrey.
Let's start with your own experience at Columbia University and the recent article in the New York Times by two New York University professors on the suppression of speech when the speech tries to argue for Palestinian rights in the current and past conflicts with Israel.
The important thing here is that the biggest coverage has been alleged anti-Semitism against Jews on campus, but the vast majority of people who have been fired have been people who have tried to defend Palestinian rights.
What's your take on this extraordinary suppression and punishment?
Of course, it's very disturbing and very much against not only our principles of free speech, but against the law, I suspect, after some of these cases are adjudicated.
But more than that, it's a tremendous failure of imagination.
of the universities, in fact, because the universities, like Columbia University, have a wonderfully diverse faculty that knows a lot about these issues, and faculty that comes from a lot of different perspectives, Palestinian faculty, pro-Zionist Jewish faculty,
And you would think that this would be viewed, this tragedy, this upheaval, and these high stakes for the world would be also viewed as an opportunity for learning, discussion, debate.
We're not having that, actually.
We're having showdowns.
We're having suspensions.
We're having cancellations of events.
It's very, very unsatisfactory and very disappointing.
And why is this happening?
Why is this?
Is it fear of the large donors of alumni to Columbia, NYU?
I don't recall this kind of suppression in past imperial conflicts the US has around the world.
Well, I think campuses, you know, naturally are places where young people should and need to express their views and where there should be a diversity of views, including views against the U.S.
government and official positions.
And during the Vietnam War era, of course, campuses were places of upheaval, even, you know, disaster at Kent State with shootings of
students by the National Guard as the students were protesting the Vietnam War.
So it's not exactly new that we have this kind of tension, but it's absolutely the case now that some of the major and
I think it's overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, pro-Israel donors are leaning very hard on the universities.
And of course, members of Congress famously bullied and badgered three university presidents, and they seem not to be done with that campaign, to try to push the universities specifically to back Israel in the current disastrous war that is underway.
I'm proud of our students for protesting, for speaking out, for expressing views that a lot of the big university backers and members of Congress don't want to hear.
We live in a society that until the Gaza war was overwhelmingly conservative.
pro-Israel, and not very aware of Israel's terrible and ongoing abuses of the Palestinian people.
And a lot of those abuses have now been seen across America, and American public opinion has shifted dramatically, and I think rightly so, to be aghast at what Israel is doing
But in terms of the power structures in America, that shift lags woefully behind.
And it means that in terms of big donors and pressures on the university, it's still very much a pro-Israel environment.
at a time when i feel of course what israel is doing is rampant war crimes violations of the 1948 genocide convention and absolutely in need of these protests and being called out for what is absolutely unacceptable actions and moreover unacceptable actions backed by the u.s government
Let's talk about the vast undercount, which is one of the things I've been talking about and writing about, the vast undercount of Palestinian casualties, fatalities, injuries, bombing-induced ailments.
Given all this, we're led to believe that only 33,500 Gazans have been killed.
Now, this is the Palestinian Hamas health ministry figure, which has a conflict of interest.
Hamas doesn't want to admit to higher estimates because they'll be criticized even more sharply by Palestinians for not being able to protect its own people, have shelters and other precautions.
And of course, Netanyahu likes the low count for obvious reasons.
We have tried to contact people at Yale and Johns Hopkins.
They're doing preliminary work here.
But although their work at Yale in estimating Ukrainian casualties is funded publicly, the work they want to do on Gaza-Palestine casualty rate can receive no funding.
So what is your take here?
Because the casualty count is critically related to the level of pressure behind diplomatic, political, and civic actions all over the world to stop the killing, the permanent ceasefire, the full humanitarian aid, and other aspects.
that have been recommended by UN National Security Councils, which you have pointed out, Resolution 242, by the Arab League, peace offering starting in 2002 to Israel, which was ignored, and so forth.
What is your explanation of this lethally improbable low fatality and injury toll estimate?
Let me make a number of points about this.
First, if the number is 33,000, as is reported, is true, in my view, it still constitutes an ongoing genocide.
So I can't call 33,000, of whom 70% are women and children, anything less than
massive war crimes massacre and a violation of the 1948 genocide convention so i don't think that it's a small number in any way it's a absolutely horrific number it's worth saying that the israelis routinely say it's an inflated number this i think for all the reasons you stated is absolutely false but it's a very high number and a shocking number
Now, what does it count?
It counts, I believe, bodies that have been found, basically, and that are deaths that are the result of the direct warfare.
It does not count, as far as I know, the vast numbers missing under the rubble.
because Gaza has been turned to rubble.
And so there isn't even a full body count by any means of those who have perished in the bombing itself.
It certainly does not count in any satisfactory way.
All of the collateral deaths to the destruction of the health care system, infrastructure, water supply, food supply,
power, all of the things that we need to stay alive day by day.
And typically in natural disasters or even much, much lesser embargoes, such as against Iraq or against Venezuela,
when expert demographers go in after the fact, they find very high deaths, excess mortality attributed to the particular events, whether it's a natural phenomenon like a hurricane or whether it is a human catastrophe like a war or, by the way, even sanctions during peacetime.
But sanctions, which are a form of economic war,
typically produce massive excess deaths.
So the idea that we're not counting even the vast majority of deaths is highly plausible.
It can be verified, but it has to be verified on the ground.
And that is both extremely dangerous since Israel is actively targeting
anyone doing anything for humanitarian grounds and for the very practical reasons of fielding teams and doing that in the midst of a full-blown war is also very difficult.
But we also know, and you referred to it, and I think it absolutely bears emphasis, we know that hundreds of thousands
Perhaps more than a million people are on the edge of starvation.
Being on the edge of starvation can mean eventually succumbing to insufficient caloric intake, being literally starved to death.
It typically means being carried away by some minor infection.
that the body can't fight because it's in an emaciated state we see children coming in as if they were coming out of the concentration camps of the holocaust emaciated children coming to hospitals but we hardly see what's really happening because the hospitals themselves have been blown up by the israelis so we don't even see that because there's no place
to turn to.
There is, even by our government, which is complicit in all of this, almost daily statement that what is happening in terms of starvation, lack of food, lack of water, lack of power is threatening the deaths of vast, vast numbers of people.
And so I don't think there's any doubt, first of all, of the magnitude, the shocking, horrific criminality of what Israel is doing.
As I say, I think the International Court of Justice is very likely to conclude that this is indeed a genocide, according to
the legal standards of the 1948 Genocide Convention.
The numbers of deaths will surely be vastly larger than 33,000.
Your observation that they already perhaps are six or eight times larger than that, very plausible.
But there's also little doubt that the numbers are going to soar because Israel has brought a population to the brink of starvation.
And that's not an observation made by Hamas or an observation made by a few people.
That's an observation made by the United Nations on the ground.
And it's been making that observation for many, many weeks.
And even the president of the United States, who I call President Mumbles, because he's
He does nothing but mumble about this, solves no issues.
Even he and Blinken, who just brings tears to your eyes to see how sad he is as he is complicit in this genocide, they acknowledge as well how an entire population is now at the brink of death.
As you said in other interviews, these are just words.
They're actually shipping, as we speak, more weapons of mass destruction by ship and air.
And they're about to pass a $14 billion genocide tax on Americans to provide even more weaponry through Congress.
You're a big picture scholar, Jeffrey Sachs, and you've gone into the history of this in great depth.
Tell us about this extreme Netanyahu coalition that really wants
a greater Israel from literally the sea to the river.
And this has been espoused by Israeli leaders going back to David Ben-Gurion's comment in 1937.
They want the entire Palestinian former mandate to become Israel.
And there are 16 or so courageous Israeli human rights groups who on December 13th put an open letter to Biden on the human catastrophe in Gaza as a paid notice.
which got very little press, led by Bess Salem, but including rabbis for human rights, the refuseniks, and others.
And they're trying to point out that part of the move on Gaza is basically fulfilling the greater Israel concept.
Can you comment on that?
You know, of course, the current crisis starts basically 100 years ago with Britain.
Many things in this world start with Britain because Britain was the
cynical, dominant empire of the world during the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century until America took the baton to become the dominant empire after World War II.
But Britain, in its inimitable way, of course, promised Palestine, which wasn't British, during World War I to at least three different claimants to the French in the Sykes-Picot
treaty or agreement to the Arabs in the promise made famous by Lawrence of Arabia and to the Jews in the Balfour Declaration.
This is a typical British cynicism and imperial arrogance.
giving away what is not theirs because it was a part of the Ottoman Empire and giving it away three times in a completely opportunistic manner.
Of course, nothing was settled because Britain claimed the mandate in the League of Nations and the new League of Nations after
the Treaty of Versailles, but it had established as part of that a so-called Jewish homeland in the Balfour Declaration.
Completely undefined what that meant, but acknowledging that there were residents in the mandatory land and that their rights would not be infringed.
Well, this created nothing but confusion and tensions all along.
And whoever saw what up to the time of the post-World War II acceleration of the end of the mandate and the proposals for a partition of the land in 1947, and then Israel's declaration of
independence and the first war in 1948, we ended up, of course, with a complete and predictable mess that has lasted from 1948 till now, where there is a state of Israel.
There is no state of Palestine with the comparable status.
I should make clear, by the way, there is a state of Palestine.
It is recognized, in fact, by 140 UN member states, but it's not a member of the United Nations.
It's only an observer of the United Nations, and it obviously has no practical control over its own territory.
Now, between 1948 and 1967, there was a complex period in which there were mass refugees of Palestinians continuing to live in camps, as has remained true for vast numbers until today.
There were various proposals of
what to do to move beyond an unacceptable status quo.
Nothing was solved.
And when the Six-Day War came, largely also with complexity, with Israel launching this war and capturing what we call the West Bank and Gaza, this greatly amplified
the completely unsatisfactory stalemate that had been true beforehand, but now much worse, because now Israel occupied all of the Palestinian lands and dominated the Palestinian people politically and militarily and in security terms since 1967.
Immediately after the war came the first UN Security Council Resolution 242, which said that Israel basically would not be
allowed to keep these conquered territories.
And the idea that we had to go back at least to the pre-1967 borders became part of the basic notions of how to get out of this terrible and ongoing
mess and tragedy now at a personal level i arrived for the first visit in israel in 1972 just after my high school graduation so 52 years ago and one of the first things that was explained to me was that israel was going to make settlements in these newly captured territories
And I learned an expression for the first time then, which was that Israel was going to, quote, put facts on the ground.
In other words, irrespective of international law and what might happen at the United Nations, Israel was going to put facts on the ground that it was going to maintain its
control over parts of what it had captured.
And this at the time was called the alone plan after one of the generals of the day.
But the idea was expressed as a security idea that Israel could never give back particular territory because national security demanded it.
But the idea that Israel would just go ahead
And contrary to a UN Security Council resolution, which prevailed, just make facts on the ground became a meme of Israeli politics.
Now, I visited Israel many, many, many times since then, but rather intensively during the 1970s when I was in graduate school working with colleagues and advisors at Hebrew University and elsewhere.
So I saw the scene quite close up.
And this idea of facts on the ground accelerated.
But also what developed, and I think this is really important sociologically to understand, is that something new developed.
Most of the early Zionists, like Ben-Gurion himself, certainly Herzl, were not religious Jews.
Herzl knew almost nothing about Judaism.
He was a completely assimilated Viennese writer and reporter who knew nothing.
especially about the religion.
Ben-Gurion himself was very secular.
And the original leaders of Israel were mainly socialist, leftist, secularists.
And that maybe they wanted everything or didn't want everything, but they want
it from the point of view of Jewish settlement and Jewish security.
But during the 20th century, gradually at first with a few rabbis, notably Rabbi Cook, the elder, and then his son, Rabbi Cook, the younger, a movement began to reframe this in religious terms.
And this is really something I saw with my own eyes because suddenly in the late 1970s and early 1980s, you'd see young people dancing in the streets of Jerusalem with their yarmulkes on and in a kind of fervent frenzy.
And these were the new settlers.
This was a new movement.
It was a movement led by rabbis, importantly, that said that the Jews now were not only making a homeland or making a new state, but they were redeeming God's promise.
This became a much more of a religious movement starting in the 1970s than it had been before.
And the old guard that people at least my age remember, the Golda Meirs or Abba Evans and so forth of that day who were secular and whatever, hard-nosed or hardliners or not, viewed things in a secular way, increasingly started to fade away in Israeli politics.
And these religious nationalist fervor rose alongside the hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers living illegally against international law in the occupied territories, both of Gaza and the West Bank.
And this movement, for example, Gush Amonim, a movement of these religious zealots, not only rose in number,
and one would see them, you know, demonstrating around Israel something new, a new phenomenon, it became increasingly the dominant part of Israeli politics.
And so cut to the chase, and sorry to go on for so long, but my point is, if you look at today's government, who's really running things?
Well, the two most powerful members of this coalition, actually, it's not Netanyahu, who's a terribly...
awful, cynical, corrupt, horrible politician, but Bezalel Smotrich, who is a leader of the settler movement, and Ben-Gavir, who is another religious nationalist extremist.
Now, they lead parties that are not shy about saying, what is our goal?
What is the plan?
It's not about Hamas.
It's not about security.
It's about what you said, greater Israel.
God gave us this land, gave us all the land, and it's ours, and there's nothing else to say about it.
So they can leave.
They can stay under our authority or they can be dead under our bombs.
It's going to be one way or another, but this is Jewish land.
Now, this kind of messianism, this kind of religious extremism is deadly.
And it is, I think, the core motivating force of the politics right now of the genocidal behavior.
Well, the other argument that Israeli government gives is security.
How do you explain the complete collapse on October 7th of a multi-tiered, highly vaunted Israeli border security system that was advanced technologically, unsurpassed in terms of surveillance, machinery, human intelligence, spies, informants in Gaza, personal spotters by Israeli soldiers 24-7 on the border?
And to top it off, the disclosure that Netanyahu had Hamas's plans a year in advance as to what they would try to do.
Now, Netanyahu refuses to have an official investigation, quote, until the war against Hamas is over, end quote.
This leads to the suspicion that the collapse of border security, which if it was in place, we wouldn't be having this conversation and it wouldn't be what everybody's focusing on in Gaza now.
The Hamas couldn't have gone 10 feet into the border with small arms weapons.
Do you think it's credible that all these multi-tiered systems of border security between Gaza and Israel collapsed for several hours, not just an hour, but for several hours before the Israeli army started moving in on the Hamas fighters?
Let me try to answer this in a slightly different way, because I don't know the answer to the question, but I want to give a little bit of context.
Hamas, it is said, has 25,000 or 30,000 fighters.
They have some rockets and anti-tank weapons and so forth.
They have no tanks, no air force, no missiles of significance that pose a mortal threat to Israel.
Between 2007 and
And October 7, 2023, 91 Israeli civilians died, 91 at the hands of Palestinian violence, including from Hamas.
So up to October 6, the number was about six per year.
The reason I mention this is that I believe
Then and today, Hamas is no mortal threat to Israel at all.
But on October 7, Israel did something.
Well, let's say it let the guard down and many hundreds of Israelis died at Hamas hands.
That border guard could be reestablished.
should be re-established, could have been re-established on October 8, by the way, without killing tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent people, because Hamas did not pose any mortal threat to Israeli security.
Now, what happened on October 7 with the incursion by Hamas raises two big questions.
How did they do it with all of the lines of security that you've mentioned?
And second, what really happened on October 7th?
In terms of how they did it, it could be, by the way, I think not outlandishly,
arrogance and incompetence and disbelief and failure to process even intelligence staring one in the face, because I don't think we should ever overestimate the competence of government officials.
And they also hear a lot and see a lot and cues can be missed.
And so I think it's perfectly possible that Israel just failed miserably.
We know that it reduced the number of border guards.
They were lowered ostensibly because of Jewish holidays and other things.
It could have been that.
It could have been that they knew an attack was coming and they were going to use it for these purposes, these ulterior motives of ethnic cleansing.
I really don't know the answer.
But the second part of October 7 is that hundreds of people died from the attack, but hundreds of people most likely died by the Israeli counterattack, because it is quite likely, to my mind, and of course, we've had Max Blumenthal and others report on this, that the Israeli helicopter counterattack killed massive numbers of Israelis.
And we see this in the scorched vehicles, for example, at that concert site that seems to have been not from anything that Hamas fighters could do or were doing on the ground, but from a counterattack from the air.
None of this, of course, has been investigated.
Whether ever it will be investigated is another matter also, because this is something that the Israelis will try to cover up, what really happened on October 7.
My point, Ralph, is that on October 8, the border could have been sealed again, and the
idea that this was an imminent existential threat to Israel was false the day after this attack.
Everything about this war, in my view, is unnecessary.
The claim that this is an existential threat to Israel is false.
The claim that this is the only way by the way to disarm Hamas is completely false because even
Issues like disarming Hamas could vastly more effectively be addressed in a diplomatic settlement that established the state of Palestine as a UN member state, something that I urge every day.
So even questions of basic security.
are so much better addressed not by massacres of civilian populations not by genocidal acts but through diplomacy but the reason that diplomacy is not happening is perfectly obvious which is that the core of this government does not want diplomacy even if it were to deliver security
Their aim is not security through diplomacy.
Their aim is greater Israel.
And because of that, they can't even allow a moment of discussion that says, you know, the Arab and Islamic countries are ready for peace.
They're ready for Israel's security.
That has been what you mentioned earlier, the Arab peace initiative since 2002.
Actually, a month after this started,
There was a meeting in Riyadh of the Arab and Islamic leaders, and people should look at the declaration of that because it said, even then, with this massacre going on, we will normalize relations, we will make peace, but in the context of a two-state solution based on the borders of the 4th of June, 1967.
This is the real solution for security for Israel, but it's a solution completely contrary to this religious extremist nationalist messianic movement that dominates Israeli politics today.
You mentioned U.S.
Actually, it's more than that.
Under international law, we are co-belligerents.
We are
arming to the teeth the israeli military we're providing diplomatic political cover vetoes on the national security council of the u.n pushing our allies to tow the u.s party line etc and this provides of course a potential for netanyahu to say to biden privately
or to Blinken, look who's talking.
You've done worse than we have.
You violated laws.
You invaded Iraq.
You're bombing Syria.
You've got soldiers in Syria.
You're everywhere around the world.
And I don't know what Blinken and Biden say in response to that, but the fear now is that Israeli government strategies to drag the U.S.
into a larger regional war ending up against Iran and achieve
the final domination of the Israeli regional empire in convergence with the U.S.
Do you think that's what Netanyahu's coalition really wants?
Oh, absolutely.
They want a wider war.
You don't bomb the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, unless you want a wider war.
They're doing everything they can to provoke a war with Iran in which the United States will join them.
This is not unusual of smaller states trying to drag larger state, larger protector states into their bidding.
It's actually typical throughout history.
And it's not just happening, by the way, in the case of Israel.
It's the same behavior in the case of Ukraine.
Ukraine is a radical, I would say, right wing, extremely nationalist state that wants the United States to be in outright war with Russia, the two largest nuclear superpowers.
And Ukraine makes many, many provocations.
And it basically begs for the U.S.
to get directly into a war with Russia.
Now, if we had a president who knew his job, the president would cut this off in a moment.
This is actually the job of a U.S.
president to say to Netanyahu,
Don't even think of this one more moment.
We cut you off if you do anything like this.
And the same to Ukraine.
But we have a very weak president, a president who is not really up to his job, in my view, and who's been part of the military industrial state
for decades and who doesn't even have this language or understanding of what his job is, in my view.
So he mumbles and he may have even momentary anguish about it.
But Netanyahu is running the show rather than Biden running the show.
And incidentally, Ralph, there's a comparable moment in the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was a crisis that almost brought the United States and the Soviet Union to nuclear war that would have ended the world.
One of the events that
ended the Cuban Missile Crisis peacefully was when Fidel Castro appealed to Khrushchev to launch a nuclear strike against the United States.
Castro was interested in protecting Cuba from a U.S.
invasion, so he called on Khrushchev to escalate, and Khrushchev was aghast.
You know, this is his client.
And all of a sudden he's hearing insanity from his client state.
And this is the moment that he turns to Gromyko and to others and says, we got to end this thing.
This is getting completely out of hand.
And that's what Biden's job is right now.
Stop this.
That is the basic job of a president.
And this one doesn't understand that.
There's another equation here.
Netanyahu can listen to a stronger Biden complaining in private and say to him, Joe, I heard your complaints.
Why don't you take it up with our Congress?
Our Congress.
So a few quick words before we have to conclude.
Jeffrey Sachs, we're talking with Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University.
You think Congress is beginning to change?
Given peaceful protesters going into one office after another on Capitol Hill and protests all over the country, the gap between Congress, the White House, let's call it the suites, and what's going on peacefully in the streets is huge.
Do you see any change?
Or is it just window dressing, like Schumer's statement, Senator Schumer's statement?
Well, it's more than window dressing, because even for Schumer to say what he said was, let me say, a surprise to me.
And we heard Elizabeth Warren in the last couple of days say that she thinks this is a genocide.
We've heard Bernie Sanders make similar statements, and there have been others.
There's a huge gap between public opinion and Washington.
on this issue.
The American people are aghast.
The American people see before their eyes a massacre.
They see a genocide underway, and they don't like it.
It's like the students that we talked about at the beginning.
Yet the entire political structure for decades has been large Israel lobby funding and an unquestioned
unconditional support of Israel by the Congress.
So I don't want to have sympathy for these politicians.
I just want to say what they are confronting is the need to change their standard operating procedure.
And these are not the cleverest people in the world.
And what entices them more than anything, especially during an election year, is campaign funding.
And they are scared also of the Israel lobby, that it will not only cut off the funding, but go up against them.
So there's a lot of money at stake here.
There is a deep tradition of completely lining with the Israel lobby.
And these events are moving much faster than our normal politics moves.
So there is movement, but not fast enough.
As you pointed out, this Congress is still pursuing
and authorizing unconditional weapon systems to Israel, violating five federal statutes, including the Leahy human rights condition that Congress itself passed.
They're violating the laws that they've passed by being unconditional.
We know in Roman history that the Republic morphed into the Empire over a period of years where the Senate stopped functioning.
We're at that state in America.
It's not something sudden.
doesn't enforce any of its laws on foreign policy.
We've become a security state.
We've become a CIA-dominated state.
We've become a military-industrial complex-dominated state.
So it's not a surprise, and it's not just on the case of Israel.
On civilian casualties, important just to fill a gap in what you just said earlier, Jeffrey.
Over the last 50, 60 years, the number of innocent Palestinians
who've been killed and injured 400 times, at least, the number of innocent Israeli civilians in the various conflicts that have occurred.
Let's turn it over to Steve before we conclude, and Hannah.
Professor Sachs, you have outlined a path to a two-state solution.
Most of what we've been hearing on this show is that that ship has sailed.
We've heard it from Palestinian sympathizers.
We obviously hear it from Netanyahu.
But you have a different path to a two-state solution.
Can you elaborate on that?
Well, very basically, I think it's the way to stop the killing.
And it's a way, at least for the coming generation, to live.
And I believe that it should be imposed by the UN, by the UN Security Council, by the UN General Assembly.
I have no hope, realistically, that anything would be negotiated between Palestine and Israel.
I think that's hopeless right now on many different levels and for many distinct reasons.
But I believe that we could take essentially what the Arab and Islamic states have said, which is here's a basis for peace, and put it into motion and basically put in peacekeepers, make that border security work.
These two states will not love each other at all, but there will be peace.
People will not be slaughtered, and the Palestinian people will have a chance to get on with their lives.
You have a kind of an interesting perspective that I haven't read before, which is that Israelis shouldn't count on the U.S.
in the long run, that we're a fickle friend, essentially, as soon as we are embarrassed to be seen in public with a country, we abandon them.
I think that's a really interesting point in the dynamic between America and Israel.
Could you expand on that?
Well, it's not only that we get embarrassed because we're pretty hard to embarrass, but we do lose interest.
And also, in the case of Israel, public opinion is not on Israel's side.
And young people are not on Israel's side.
They're aghast at what they see.
It's taking time for Americans to understand what Smotrich and Ben-Gavir and Gallant and others represent.
It's not what they think.
This is not the world of Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin and others.
Whatever one thinks of them, we're in a very different, very radicalized world that young people in America do not want to have any part of.
Now, Israelis also lag in understanding.
They think, well, at the end of the day, we have the Israel lobby, and I have lived through
abandoning so many U.S.
projects or watching the U.S.
government abandon so many projects, I should say precisely, from Southeast Asia through the Americas.
I mean, these have been terrible projects often, but the U.S.
loses interest.
It moves on.
And Israel needs actually to live in its neighborhood if it's going to survive.
And counting on military might to do that is a
profound mistake.
It's eating away at its own fundamental capacity to act as a society.
The idea that you can stand alone in the world community and have no one support you, this is a huge mistake.
So I've tried to say to my counterparts in Israel, I would say my friends, but they're just so unhappy with things I've been saying that I don't want to put words in their mouth.
But I've been trying to explain to them that this path is
not only wrong and immoral, but doomed to fail as well.
Before we conclude, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, any article or book you'd like our listeners to...
resort to to get a further elaboration of your views?
Well, I've been posting lots of things on Common Dreams about this, more detailed ideas, explanations about how to implement this.
I wrote a book several years ago called A New Foreign Policy Beyond American Exceptionalism,
It needs an extra chapter or two at this point, but it's basically the argument that this imperial hegemonic model of U.S.
foreign policy is all wrong.
And so people could take a look at that.
But I will try to keep the brief columns coming because events are moving fast and we're in a very dangerous time.
And it's worth reflecting on those dangers day by day to try to help steer away from the cliff.
That's on, listeners.
Thank you very much, Jeffrey Sachs, on that note.
And of course, this will be continued, as you say, events unfold.
We've been talking with Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University.
Thank you again, Jeffrey.
So great to be with you, Ralph.
Really appreciate it.
We've been speaking with Jeffrey Sachs.
We have a link to his work at
Now let's check in with our corporate crime reporter, Russell Mokhyber.
From the National Press Building in Washington, D.C., this is your Corporate Crime Reporter Morning Minute for Friday, April 12, 2024.
I'm Russell Mokhyber.
General Mills, the maker of Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms cereals, has launched a multi-pronged campaign.
that capitalizes on the teachings of the anti-diet movement.
That's according to an investigation by the Washington Post and the Examination.
General Mills has toured the country touting anti-diet research it claims proves the harms of, quote, food shaming, unquote.
It has showered giveaways on registered dietitians who promoted cereals online with the hashtag derail the shame and sponsored influencers who promote its sugary snacks.
The company has also enlisted a team of lobbyists and pushed back against federal policies that would add health information to food labels.
For the Corporate Crime Reporter, I'm Russell Mokhyber.
Thank you, Russell.
Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio.
I'm Steve Skrovan, along with Hannah Feldman and Ralph.
Now, to close the show and supplement this interview with Jeffrey Sachs, Ralph has written a column.
He wrote it on March 15th, a few weeks ago, and we're going to read it aloud to you.
It's called Israeli Leaders' Objective All Along Has Been the Expulsion of Occupied Palestinians and Seizure of Their Remaining Land.
And Hannah is going to do the honors and close out the show with Ralph's column.
The Israeli government's quote-unquote solution, the Palestinian problem, eviction or destruction and colonization of what's left of Palestinian land, did not begin after the October 7th Hamas raid.
A November 22nd, 2023 article in the Israeli newspaper Ha'arez headline reads,
Quote, Netanyahu ignored all the warnings and looming threats.
He is primarily responsible for the calamity.
Instead of dealing with the clear warnings he was given, the Israeli prime minister focused on crushing democracy, establishing his status as the supreme ruler, and transferring resources to the ultra-Orthodox and the settlements, end quote.
The article notes, quote, there's no better proof of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's responsibility for the disaster suffered by Israel on October 7th than the letters of warning sent to him by the head of the Military Intelligence Research Division, Brigadier General Amit Saar, in March and July, end quote.
For many decades, Israeli politicians have been working toward the goal of establishing what they call Eretz Israel, or the Greater Land of Israel, a greater Israel composed of all of the Palestine mandate from the sea to the River Jordan, their words.
After the partition of Palestine under UN auspices in 1948, Israel has expanded its territory by military and non-military means, and now comprises 78% of what was once Palestine, plus Syria's Golan Heights.
There was a clear historical record of deliberate displacement documented by many scholars, including the book Plowshares and Disords, From Zionism to Israel, Verso Books, 2008, by Princeton professor Arno Mayer.
Coming off the horrors of Russian pogroms and Nazi genocide, the early founders of the Israeli state were in no mood to respect the rights of the indigenous Palestinians.
It took an American-born Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir, 1969 to 1974, to speak the ultimate anti-Semitism against the Arabs of Palestine, declaring, quote, there is no such thing as a Palestinian people.
It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country.
They didn't exist, end quote.
Other Israeli leaders before and after Golda Meir were brutally frank about what they were making happen on the ground.
Israel's lead founder, David Ben-Gurion, in 1937, wrote in a letter to his son, quote, we must expel the Arabs and take their places, end quote.
A year later, he said in a speech, quote, Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves.
The country is theirs because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view, we want to take away from them their country, end quote.
Many years later, in the 1980s, Ben-Gurion renewed his candor.
Quote, there has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was it their fault?
They see but one thing.
We have come and we have stolen their country.
Why would they accept that?
End quote.
In 1979, Israeli war hero, Top General Moshe Dayan, recognized that, quote, Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages.
End quote.
After naming a number of them, he added, quote, there is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population, end quote.
Speaking to Jewish settlers, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in 1988 warned resistors, meaning Palestinians would be crushed, quote, like grasshoppers, end quote, and their, quote, head smashed against the boulders and walls, end quote.
Other Israeli prime ministers, Menachem Begin, 1977 to 1983, Ariel Sharon, 2001 to 2006, and the incumbent, Benjamin Netanyahu, have expressed similar assertions of the need to expel the Palestinians as they have repressed and impoverished them in the occupied territories.
Now, Netanyahu wants to push Palestinians out of Gaza entirely, if he can, into Egypt and Jordan.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak, 1999 to 2001, responding to a columnist asking what he would have done if he had been born a Palestinian, frankly replied, quote, I would have joined a terrorist organization, end quote.
When it comes to quote-unquote terrorism, defined as violence against civilians for political purposes, Palestinians have lost over 400 times more innocent lives than have innocent Israelis over the decades.
Israeli state terror against Gaza's starving, sick, and dying civilians, mostly children and women, is manifesting itself daily with vast supplies of American weaponry and diplomatic cover.
To Israeli hardliners, countered by numerous courageous Israeli human rights organizations, Palestinian lives are valued beneath cockroaches and snakes.
Anti-Semitic rants against Arabs flow through the Israeli media.
One rabbi, who eulogized American-born Baruch Goldstein's 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinians killed and 150 others injured, who were praying in Hebron's Al-Ibrahimi Mosque,
declared, quote, one million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail, end quote.
Israeli politicians have an encompassing reason why they believe they can get away with all kinds of violations of international law and their oppression of Palestinians.
And in recent years, routine bombings and incursions into neighboring countries too weak to respond.
That reason is the U.S.
The U.S.
is a lawless empire, bombing and invading where it wants, without congressional declarations of war, and in violation of federal and international laws.
In 2001, the BBC reported that Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, said that, quote, Israel may have the rights to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the state of Israel on trial, end quote.
That same year, PM Sharon declared what Israel's prime ministers before and since have striven for regarding Congress and the White House when he told former PM Shimon Peres, 1984 to 1986, as reported on Kol Yisrael Radio, quote, Every time we do something, you tell me Americans will do this and we'll do that.
I want to tell you something very clear.
Don't worry about American pressure on Israel.
We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it."
Such imperiousness and violent racist remarks against Palestinians are reflected in Israeli leaders and opinion shapers who call Palestinians beasts, animals, subhuman, crocodiles, vermin, and worse.
With such vile pejoratives, it was easy for Elie Yishai, Israeli Interior Minister, to say in 2012, quote, the goal of the operation, Operation Pillar of Defense, is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages, end quote.
Actually, the Palestinians have one of the highest literacy rates, 97%, in the world.
Under dire conditions, they have accomplished farmers, physicians, scientists, engineers, poets, musicians, novelists, artists, and a deep entrepreneurial tradition carried on by the Palestinian diaspora around the world.
It is no accident that Israeli bombers directly target Palestinian cultural and educational institutions in their recurrent assaults on Gaza.
Israeli militarists have to degrade all Palestinians, 3.2 million in the West Bank and 2.3 million in the Gaza Strip, to expel them from their ancestral lands and in so doing, violently reveal the, quote, other anti-Semitism, end quote, that most of the media has ignored.
See the anti-Semitism against Arab and Jewish Americans speech by Jim Zogby and
Degrading rhetoric makes it easier for Israel to reject outright a 2002 peace proposal for a two-state solution by the 22 countries of the Arab League that is still on the table.
For documented sources and more similar declarations by Israeli politicians, see the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October 2018 issue.
This has been Israeli leaders objective all along has been the expulsion of occupied Palestinians and seizure of their remaining land by Ralph Nader.
Thank you, Hannah.
That's our show.
I want to thank our guests again, Professor Jeffrey Sachs.
For those of you listening on the radio, we're going to cut out now.
For you podcast listeners, stay tuned for bonus material we call The Wrap-Up featuring Francesco DeSantis with In Case You Haven't Heard.
A transcript of this program will appear on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour Substack site soon after the episode is posted.
Subscribe to us on our Ralph Nader Radio Hour YouTube channel.
And for Ralph's weekly column, it's free, go to
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Go to to explore the exhibits, take a virtual tour, and learn about iconic tort cases from history.
There's a new issue of the Capitol Hill Citizen out now.
To order your copy of the Capitol Hill Citizen, Democracy Dies in Broad Daylight, go to
And remember to continue the conversation after each show, go to the comments section at and post a comment or question on this week's episode.
We read them all.
The producers of the Ralph Nader Radio Hour are Jimmy Lee Wirt and Matthew Marin.
Our executive producer is Alan Minsky.
Our theme music, Stand Up, Rise Up, was written and performed by Kemp Harris, our proofreaders, Elizabeth Solomon, our associate producers, Hannah Feldman, our social media managers, Stephen Wendt.
Join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour.
We'll be discussing the incarceration of Mumia Abu-Jamal with prison radio director Noel Hanrahan and Professor Joy James.
We'll also get to hear from Mumia himself.
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Thank you, everybody.
And ask your local radio stations to carry this radio hour.
After all, they're using your public airways for free.
Hi, this is Jimmy Lee Wirt, and welcome to The Wrap-Up.
Here's the rest of Ralph's conversation with Professor Jeffrey Sachs on how college campuses are stifling debate on the issue of Israel and Palestine.
Just to finish on the campus issue, Jeffrey Sachs, the longtime former president of Columbia, Lee Bollinger, is a foremost expert on the First Amendment, and he's going to be teaching at Columbia Law School starting in the fall, returning to his original post.
Has he spoken out about what's going on here, the suppression of free speech?
I don't know for a fact.
I've basically been traveling since the beginning of the year to Asia, Africa, Europe.
So I haven't been directly seeing day to day.
Of course, I'm hearing from a lot of unhappy people on the campus, from student groups, from other faculty.
From, by the way, Jewish faculty, Palestinian faculty, there's lots of unhappiness.
I haven't seen specifically what Lee Bollinger has said or not said about this, but what I do really feel is that we're missing an opportunity for exactly where a university in particular should start.
Some of our listeners are probably saying, well, it's not just universities.
They're seeing pressure at the workplace, businesses, seeing pressure on canceling job offers to law students who are protesting this issue.
So it is throughout the society.
No, it is, Ralph.
Just to say to the listeners, though, there's one thing that is, for me, of course, as a denizen of a university in particular, some of my colleagues are world-leading authorities on this issue.
For example, Rashid Khalidi, who's a Palestinian and a dear colleague of mine, and I'd say the world's leading historian of Palestine and his remarkable book, The Hundred Years' War on Palestine.
We should be hearing from him.
I mean, of course, he speaks, but in an organized way, in something proactive by the university to say, let us understand this.
My view is, since I think I do know a lot about this and have seen it firsthand for more than 50 years, actually, I think the more one understands, the more
one sees the illegality and injustice of what Israel is doing.
And therefore, that actually leads to different conclusions, of course, from the mainstream of our politics.
Well, we've invited Professor Khalidi on the show, and we hope to have him soon.
And now, here's Francesco DeSantis with In Case You Haven't Heard.
An unsettling story in Business Insider recounts how the Israeli military uses an AI system chillingly called Where's Daddy to track Hamas militants to their homes.
As one IDF officer put it, quote, we're not interested in killing Hamas operatives only when they are engaged in military activity.
On the contrary, the IDF bombs them in homes without hesitation as a first option.
It's much easier to bomb a family's home, end quote.
This policy of bombing family homes as a first option is a major factor in why so many Palestinian families have lost unimaginable numbers of relatives in Israeli strikes.
IDF officers added, quote, human input in the target identification process is essentially to rubber stamp the machine's picks after little more than 20 seconds of consideration, which is largely to double check the target is male.
As we know from recent polling on the issue, only 22.5% of Democrats now support military aid to Israel, while 83% want a permanent ceasefire.
More surprising is that only 41% of Republicans want the US to send military aid to Israel, and 58% want a permanent ceasefire.
This poll is now joined by a similar poll from the United Kingdom, showing 56% of the British public, including 74% of Labour Party voters, support their government refusing to sell more weapons to Israel, with only 17% in support of continuing such sales.
Pressing on this issue, progressive members of Congress Mark Pocan and Jan Schakowsky have penned a letter to President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken, quote,
strongly urging them to reconsider their recent decision to authorize the transfer of new arms package to israel and to withhold this and any future offensive arms transfers until a full investigation into the world central kitchen airstrike gets completed to continue withholding these transfers until those responsible are held accountable under u s or international law
and to withhold these transfers if Israel fails to sufficiently mitigate harmed innocent civilians in Gaza, including aid workers, and if it fails to facilitate or arbitrarily denies or restricts the transport and delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza."
This letter was signed by 37 additional Democratic members of Congress, mostly the typical progressives, though with one extremely notable addition, Nancy Pelosi, signifying how mainstream this position has become.
And yet another sign of the shifting political winds, Delaware Senator Chris Coons, a consummate moderate and perhaps President Biden's closest ally in the Senate, has come out in favor of conditioning military aid to Israel, Axios reports.
Coons added, quote, I've never said that before.
I've never been here before.
Yet, even as the Democratic Party shifts, Biden has continued his blind support for Israel, resulting in continued success for the uncommitted electoral protest movement.
In Wisconsin, the uninstructed delegation option won nearly 50,000 votes statewide, over 8% of the vote, and over 30% of votes in the precincts representing the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
and it hasn't stopped with Wisconsin.
In Connecticut, uncommitted won over 11%.
In New York, blank ballots accounted for 12%.
And in Rhode Island, uncommitted won a whopping 14.5% of primary voters statewide.
John Nichols at The Nation tabulates that as of now, over half a million Democratic primary voters have given Biden a clear message.
Save Gaza.
The controversy surrounding Oscar-winning Zone of Interest director Jonathan Glazer's acceptance speech continues to drag on.
This week, over 150 major Jewish creatives signed an open letter supporting Glazer, per Variety.
These signatories include many household names, such as Joaquin Phoenix, Elliot Gould, Joel Cohen, David Cross, Amy Berg, Boots Riley, Hari Neff, Ilana Glazer, Wallace Shawn, and many, many more.
This letter states, quote, We are Jewish artists, filmmakers, writers and creative professionals who support Jonathan Glazer's statement from the 2024 Oscars.
We were alarmed to see some of our colleagues in the industry mischaracterize and denounce his remarks.
Their attacks on Glazer are a dangerous distraction from Israel's escalating military campaign, which has already killed over 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza and brought hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation.
We grieve for all those who have been killed in Palestine and Israel over too many decades.
We honor the Holocaust by saying, never again for anyone.
In some positive news, the National Labor Relations Board reports union election petitions are up 35% in the first half of fiscal year 2024, with unfair labor practice charges up 7%.
The NLRB is quick to note that this increased caseload coincides with a long-term funding crunch that has seen their offices shrink by 50% over the past 20 years.
NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo writes, quote, Congress needs to fully fund the NLRB to effectively and efficiently comply with our congressional mandate when providing quality services to the public and conducting hearings and elections, investigating charges, settling and litigating meritorious cases, and obtaining full and prompt remedies for workers whose rights are violated.
In Ecuador, a diplomatic crisis is unfolding with Mexico after Ecuadorian forces stormed Mexican embassy to arrest former Ecuadorian Vice President Jorge Glass, who had sought, and been granted, asylum at the Mexican embassy.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO, decried this as a, quote, "...flagrant violation of international law and the sovereignty of Mexico," end quote.
CNN reports this provocation prompted AMLO to suspend diplomatic relations with Ecuador and pursue a case against Ecuador at the International Court of Justice.
For its part, the U.S.
State Department issued a statement saying, quote, the United States condemns any violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and takes very seriously the obligation of host countries under international law to respect the inviolability of diplomatic missions.
NBC4 Washington is out with a blockbuster report on gun running within the D.C.
Metro Police Department.
Put simply, quote, for at least seven months in 2020 and 2021, the D.C.
area's largest police department was the only place D.C.
residents could legally get a handgun, end quote.
Incredible as that may seem, that much was already public knowledge.
Now, federal documents have been uncovered showing that a remarkable number of these guns ended up at crime scenes.
In fact, " many guns were recovered at crime scenes in such a brief period that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives placed D.C.
police into a program designed to give extra scrutiny to dealers with higher levels of so-called crime guns."
In other words, D.C.
cops, far from getting guns off the street, were in fact releasing so many guns onto the street that federal firearms regulators had to step in.
So much for police improving safety.
According to CNBC, quote, End quote.
This comes as part of a larger investigation into, quote, so-called digital militias, a term applied to people accused of spreading misinformation online to attack democratic institutions in Brazil, end quote.
While the list of accounts flagged by the Brazilian government is not public, Wired reports that this list includes, quote, the fugitive far-right influencer Alan Dos Santos, the supporter of President Jair Bolsonaro – Dos Santos fled the country in 2020 to avoid investigation for disseminating disinformation –
and right-wing YouTuber Bruno Ayub, known as Monarch, who has over a million followers on X and has argued that Brazil should recognize the Nazi Party, as well as Brazilian billionaire and Bolsonaro supporter Luciano Hong.
Finally, you might have heard that Amazon is shutting down the quote-unquote just-walk-out technology at its grocery stores.
This technology supposedly relied on an entirely automated system of cameras and sensors to track what people picked up at the stores and charge that to their Amazon accounts.
Yet Gizmodo reports, quote, though it seemed completely automated, Just Walk Out relied on more than a thousand people in India watching and labeling videos to ensure accurate checkouts.
The cashiers were simply moved off site and they watched you as you shopped, end quote.
This genre of story has become all too common, companies trumpeting automation when in fact all they're doing is outsourcing with extra steps.
Just another reminder to remain skeptical of claims by big corporations.
Often flashy new tech is just a smokescreen for regular old labor exploitation.
This has been Francesco DeSantis with In Case You Haven't Heard.
And that's a wrap.
Join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour.

Until next time.