Glenn Greenwald Clobbers Eliot Spitzer in Debate on the Gaza Flotilla


[youtube expand=1]

You don’t often get a piece of cable TV this good, so it’s worth transcribing and posting in its entirety.

Yesterday, two Netanyahu propagandists appeared on MSNBC prior to Glenn Greenwald, painting a picture of the flotilla raid that was so grossly distorted it was unrecognizable as the incident that is being rightfully condemned around the world.  Host Eliot Spitzer vigorously agreed with them, and then brought them back once again to counter Glenn after his appearance.

Spitzer was not nearly so conciliatory with Glenn, and during the interview, clips of the selectively edited IDF propaganda videos and their helpful English subtitles played continuously.  In a rare and contentious eight minute cable news segment, Glenn decided to set the record straight:

ELIOT SPITZER: Now let’s bring in Glenn Greenwald from who calls Israel’s actions quote, “heinous and repugnant” and, well let me just ask you, you have ships approaching Gaza, controlled by Hamas; Hamas is a terrorist organization, Israel did (I don’t think this is disputed) offer to have the ships inspected, if there was no contraband on board, let the ships continue on to Gaza.  Why was that not a reasonable offer, why should Israel not intercede to stop the flow of contraband?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, first of all, international waters, which is where this ship was, is not owned by Israel.  It is a crime, a war crime, to attack a ship in international waters that has not engaged in any aggression, and no one claims that these ships were.  I mean, what you’re describing is absolute anarchy, that any country can just say, “no ships can go here, and if you disobey our order, we’re going to attack you, board your ship forcefully, and kill anybody who does resist.”

SPITZER: Well, let me interr…

GREENWALD:  No, let me just finish because you just had on 10 minutes of uninterrupted pro-Israeli propaganda filled with falsehoods.  The blockade is one of the most brutal and inhumane blockades that we’ve seen in the last generation.  Look at UN reports that are objective, not Netanyahu aides, that say that 60% of the babies in Palestine have anemia, 65% of the population is food insecure; the entire Palestinian economy has collapsed as a result of this blockade.  Israel routinely refuses to permit all sorts of imports including food, chocolate, french fries, anything but the barest necessities to keep those prisoners — which is what they are — alive…

SPITZER: Glenn, I hear you.  Hold on one second.  Let’s go back to Ruth Wedgewood, who is really a top-flight intellect and scholar of international law, said that nations that are a war are permitted in international water to enforce a blockade and to check to see if contraband is on board.  Now, nobody has said that Israel has prevented humanitarian materials to flow through to Gaza.  You may be saying there’s not enough…

GREENWALD: I just said that, the UN has said that, everybody says that.  Israel constantly prevents humanitarian aid from going through to Gaza, and that’s why the claim, “oh, you just give us the cargo and we’ll take care of it for you,” is an absolute absurd joke.

For the last three years, the Israeli prime minister’s aide –  top aide, when the blockade was first imposed  — said, “The purpose is to put the Palestinians on a diet.”  That’s what the Israeli prime minister’s top aide said about the reason this blockade was instituted. It is a completely inhumane blockade; that is that it starves the people of Palestine, as the UN says, not as I say, or as Hamas says, or as you say, or as Netanyahu aides say.  Look at the objective reporting about what’s happening to that population.

SPITZER:  OK, can we…let’s step back for one second.  Let’s see if we can agree on one thing.  Is Hamas, in your view, a terrorist organization?

GREENWALD: Hamas is the democratically-elected leadership of the people in Gaza and they’re recognized in fair and free elections as having been elected by everybody across the world, so that’s what they are.  Have they engaged in terrorism?  Yes.  Have the Israelis, who founded the Israeli government and the Israeli state, engaged in terrorism?  Yes, they have. Turkey says that what Israel just did is an act of terrorism itself.  But Hamas is the democratically-elected government of the Gaza Strip and is the chosen government and is to be represented.  Has Israel been brutally occupying the Palestinian people for the last 40 years?  Have they or haven’t they?

SPITZER: Does it affect your analysis Hamas has as its stated policy the destruction of the State of Israel? And, in fact, Egypt as well is blockading Gaza and Hamas because Egypt as well views Hamas as a terrorist organization. So, both Israel and Egypt here are agreeing that only humanitarian materials can go through and both have as a stated objective to prevent more material from going through over this border by land or by sea. And so it would have…

GREENWALD: What you’re referring to is the Egyptian dictator that is the leading recipient of US aid, several billion dollars, billions of dollars a year, right after the Israelis.  So, yes, the Egyptian dictatorship, along with the Israeli government under the patronage of the United States, all agree that the people of Gaza should be suffocated and closed off into a prison. And if you’re going to cite actions of the Egyptian dictatorship, as though that lent moral authority to this horrendous blockade. That’s pretty bizarre.  Now yet…

SPITZER: Wait.  In all fairness, I think, Glenn, I think what you also need to acknowledge is that Egypt is in form a democratic government as well, as is Israel, of course. And so when you say that that alone…

GREENWALD: As is Hamas. As are the Gazans.

SPITZER: Hamas has — again, let’s get agreement where we can – Hamas has stated very clearly that it wants…that the destruction of Israel is what it seeks, and therefore it is rational for people to say they are trying to get armaments, they have been shelling into Israel for many, many years, so Israel has a legitimate reason, in terms of self defense, to check to make sure that armaments are not flowing through with humanitarian resources. I assume agree with that.

GREENWALD: Nobody ever claimed or thought until today that those ships had arms, and they didn’t have arms. Not even the Israeli government claims they have arms. Everybody knew that the purpose of that flotilla was to try and deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, which is not being allowed to pass through by the Israeli government as a means of dramatizing what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians. That was the entire purpose of that flotilla, and nobody ever claimed, “oh, this is a terrorist organization trying to deliver arms.”  That’s an absolute, after-the-fact lie and the entire world knows it.


GREENWALD: So I was just saying, you could have as many Netanyahu aides on your show as you want, but the entire world outside of the United States is condemning Israel. Democracies all over the world…

SPITZER: Glenn. I appreciate your participating. I think there are startling, divergent views here about both the morality and the legality of what we’re seeing. I think, to a certain extent, you assume your conclusion when you say there are only humanitarian materials…only humanitarian materials are on those ships. That is precisely what the Israeli government said it wanted to verify.

Kudos to Barney Frank, too, who — unlike Anthony Weiner, Jerry Nadler and Kirsten Gillibrand — had strong words for Israel and is demanding an independent inquiry.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ }}
@2022 - AlterNet Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. - "Poynter" fonts provided by