Friday, February 19, 2016
Medea Benjamin at Howard University
Image design by Len Webb Yesterday I had the honor to host Medea Benjamin at Howard University to talk about U.S.-Saudi relations. I learned three important lessons from her talk. One, that the U.S. government have been supporting a monarchy in Saudi Arabia with weapons that is very repressive and, along with Israel, supports the destabilization of surrounding countries by arming and funding very repressive military dictatorships in these surrounding countries. Two, the dwindling support that U.S. oil oligarchs such as Rockefeller and Murchison (whom Hansberry named a fictional character after in her play "A Raisin in the Sun") will cause the Saudi monarchy to go to new lengths to try compete with other Arab nations for Western attention in the form of money and weapons. This was revealed in the WikiLeaks cables where the head of Saudi intelligence said that he hoped the US president can "straighten them out." Three, that international pressure WORKS when directed at the Saudi monarchy whose repressive government beheads dissidents. Medea mentions the case of one in this important video. Medea mentioned that the EU is voting on February 25th on whether to stop the sale of US weapons to EU countries. Her organization's Saudi Summit is March 5th and 6th at the David A. Clarke UDC School of Law. In my opening remarks, I mentioned Malcolm X's 1964 speech in Egypt that he did not get to deliver but thanks to the query of one Milton Henry, we have his important words at that speech in the book "The Diary of Malcolm X" published by Third World Press and edited by Herb Boyd and Ilyasah Al-Shabazz whom I was able to meet in person on February 11th (https://www.instagram.com/p/BBqk_LaKq_B/?taken-by=rhonefraser). I highly recommend that book. In part of that speech, Malcolm X warned Africa not to end European colonialism only to be enslaved by American dollarism. Earlier in the speech he mentions "Zionist dollarism." It is clear that Saudi Arabia is still influenced by "Zionist dollarism" and Medea Benjamin highlights that in this speech. In the comments section of my talk, I mention the importance of teaching about Zionism in higher education and the importance of academics like Steven Salaita and Tony Martin who fought against Zionist censorship in higher education. These issues underlie the uncritical support of the U.S. for Saudi Arabia. -RF.