An interview with Robert Fantina: Islamophobia, Palestine, Zionism, Militarism and more

Robert Fantina

by Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik e.V. Our interview with Robert Fantina about a lot of matters we wanted to hear from a US-critical perspective. Robert Fantina
is an activist and journalist, working for peace and social justice. He writes
extensively about U.S. militarism, and the Israeli oppression of the
Palestinians. He is the author of two
works of non-fiction:
Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776 – 2006,
and Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy.
Additionally, he is the author of a Vietnam-era, anti-war novel entitled Look Not Unto the Morrow
A U.S. citizen, Mr. Fantina  moved to
Canada following the 2004 U.S. presidential election, and now resides near
Toronto, Ontario. Visit his web page at

Milena Rampoldi: Which are the most problematic aspects of Islamophobia in the USA?
Robert Fantina: There are many
problems with this ugly issue, but the most significant is the physical threats
to Muslims. Although not endemic, it seems to be growing. And as government
officials, and those seeking election, such as Donald Trump, along with the
corporate-owned media, continue to equate terrorism with Islam, this danger
will only grow. 
We see this in the
wide acceptance of armed picketing of mosques. In the U.S., if an armed group
of Muslims were to surround a Christian church or Jewish synagogue during
services, all government officials would be outraged. When the reverse occurs,
it is reported as news, but the perpetrators are seen as brave Americans standing
up for the U.S.
MR: I think that pro-Palestinian activism is special in the USA, because
of the huge support the USA offers to Israel. How can we write against it?

RF: The U.S. supports
Israel unquestioningly, mainly, if not exclusively, because of the power of the
American Israel Political Affairs Committee. This lobby group funnels millions
of dollars into the campaigns of government officials, all who agree to
overlook Israeli violations of human rights and international law.

But there has been a
shift, starting mainly with reaction to Israel’s genocidal bombing of the Gaza
Strip during the summer of 2014. Previously, citizens of the U.S. only received
information about Israeli oppression of the Palestinians from the news,
presented by the corporate-owned media. But social media has provided an
entirely new outlet for news. Anyone with a camera and access to the Internet
is able to widely distribute information. Twitter, Facebook and other social
media sites have grown tremendously in the last few years, and this is now
where people can see what is actually happening in the world. People suffering
in Gaza were able to broadcast pictures of dead and mangled children, whose
only crime was playing on a beach. They could show scenes of anguished parents,
bombed hospitals and murdered journalists, all information previously available
only on a few, small, alternative news programs, but now widely seen on social
media. In the West Bank, pictures of checkpoints, sounding benign when there is
no photo of them, become real, along with the untold suffering they cause.
The use of social
media has been and continues to be a vital tool in the struggle of the
Palestinian people for human rights and justice. 
MR: What does Zionism and Anti-Zionism mean to you personally?
RF: Zionism is the
belief, partly religious but mostly political, that the land of Palestine
should be the homeland of the Jewish people. Those who hide behind any
religious aspect of Zionism demonstrate an incredibly hypocrisy, since there
can be no justice is killing and ethnically-cleansing people.
Anti-Zionism is the
knowledge, and related activities, that recognize that ethnic cleansing is
wrong; that all people are entitled to basic human rights and dignity; that
Biblical statements are open to wide interpretation and cannot be used to
justify destroying one country to create another. It involves a commitment to
assist suffering people, and opposing those who are causing the suffering.
MR: Which are the most important subjects you treat in your articles and
RF: All of my work can
be seen as supporting human rights. I write extensively on the oppression of
the Palestinian people by Israel, and about U.S. militarism. Both of these
issues involve the gross violation of human rights. I have already mentioned
some few factions of the Israeli occupation. U.S. militarism brings death,
destruction and unspeakable suffering throughout the world. In additional,
Israel’s brutal, decades-long oppression of the Palestinian people is financed
and fully supported by the United States.
On April 4, 1967,
civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King said that the U.S. was “the
greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” In the nearly fifty years since
that statement was made, it remains true. The only change is the technology now
available that makes killing so much easier. Soldiers can sit in an office
thousands of miles away and kill targeted people. Countless innocent people die
with every drone strike. The current so-called ‘war’ against Daesh (still
commonly referred to as ISIS or ISIL) is killing and displacing hundreds of
thousands of innocent men, women and children.

MR: For ProMosaik militarism is a general problem in civil society. How
can we explain to people that we have to struggle against militarism in all day
RF: There are many
factors to this answer. The U.S., and much of the world, glorifies soldiers and
war. In the United States, soldiers are seen as heroes, men and women who
risked their lives for cherished freedoms. This myth must be destroyed.
Soldiers are pawns in games played by politicians and others who profit from
war. What the U.S. calls the defence industry, which is really just the
manufacture of weaponry to sell to other countries, or use on them, makes huge
profits, and defence contractors donate millions of dollars to the campaigns of
officials who will continue to wage war, so their profits will continue
Secondly, the
various ‘enemies’ that the U.S.  is
forever fighting must be seen as creations of the U.S, excuses to buy and use
the weapons of the ‘defence’ industry. Sometimes, as in the case of Iraq under
Saddam Hussein or Afghanistan under the Taliban, the U.S. has put these
governments into power and then, when these governments refused to follow the
dictates of the U.S., the U.S. called them the ‘enemy’ and when to war against
them. In other cases, the U.S. focuses on some perversion of a belief or
philosophy, and sees that as the enemy. During the Cold War era, this was
Communism, with the U.S. looking at repressive Communist governments and saying
that they, and Communism itself, threatened the U.S. way of life. Today, the
government sees some people who pervert Islam, and says that Islam is the
Finally, people in
the U.S. need to understand that the people being bombed are no different from
themselves. These innocent victims only want to live quiet lives, going to
school and work, raising families, etc. They bleed the same way U.S. citizens
bleed; they love their children as much as U.S. citizens love theirs. Their
language may be different; their style of clothing not what U.S. citizens are
accustomed to seeing, and their houses of worship may not have steeples, but
these are superficial differences. Yet the government fosters xenophobia, and
an ignorant populace accepts it.
MR: Human rights, justice, and peace, seem to be gone these days… what
gives you hope?
RF: Yes, it is true; human
rights, justice and peace seem to be absent in much of the world today. But I
gain hope from the strength and resilience I see in the Palestinians I know.
When I am able to talk to my friends who live in either the Gaza Strip or the
West Bank, using social media, and I hear of their bravery in all the little
things of life, I have hope. For example, they continue to attend school,
despite the sporadic availability of electricity. They marry, have children and
strive to teach them just principles. They work when they can, despite the
destruction, by Israeli bombs provided by the U.S., of homes, business, schools
and hospitals.
I also gain hope
from the many, many people who are working for peace and social justice
throughout the world. People who want war may, at present, be more powerful
than those who want peace, but they are not more numerous. Increasingly, people
who believe in peace and human rights are making their voices heard.
I am among that
number, and will continue to write and speak, so my voice, and the voices of
suffering people around the world, will be heard.