"I am appalled at the Zionists' war on Islam; it is much like the Wahhabis’ in Saudi Arabia,” Michael Springmann, the former head of the American visa bureau in Saudi Arabia, said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
J. Michael Springmann served in the US government as a diplomat with the State Department's Foreign Service, with postings in Germany, India, and Saudi Arabia. He left federal service and currently practices law in the Washington, DC, area. Springmann’s works and interviews have been published in numerous foreign policy publications, including Covert Action Quarterly, Unclassified, Global Outlook, the Public Record, OpEdNews, Global Research and Foreign Policy Journal.
The following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: As you know, millions of Muslims and anti-Israeli activists on Friday held worldwide demonstrations to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemn the Israeli regime’s continued inhumane acts against the defenseless people. In your opinion, why is the Quds Day important to the Palestinians and other oppressed nations?
Springmann: Its importance stems from the regrettable fact that Palestinians, those under Israeli oppression in Occupied Palestine, as well as the millions exiled abroad as the result of Zionist "ethnic cleansing, along with other oppressed nations, do not exist in the tiny minds of the Western media and politicians. Ramadan is especially fitting in as much as one of the goals of the holy month is to make Muslims reflect on the poor and disadvantaged and those without enough to eat. Certainly, this concept is most appropriate when applied to the poor, the ill-fed, the politically powerless in what is left of Palestine.
Calling attention to Zionist excesses and their brutal, inhumane acts against the Palestinians, just some of which are blocking necessary supplies to Gaza, preventing medicines and drugs from reaching the sick and injured, and reserving roads only for Jews, is necessary. In the United States, in particular, Israel and its Zionists are held in high regard, in large part because real, hard information about the Palestinians' plight never reaches the mass of the American people.
Tasnim: The day is also seen as the legacy of the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini, who officially declared the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as International Quds Day back in 1979. What do you think about Imam Khomeini’s initiative and his role in preventing the Palestinian issue from sliding into oblivion?
Springmann: The Imam's initiative is a great one, both from its timing and from its being an Iranian action. Coming just about the time of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the Lebanese civil war, all of which involved the Palestinians in one way or another, the Imam's action brought the Palestinian side of Israel's wrong-doing to the forefront of world consciousness. Besides, since Iranians are not Arab and the Palestinians are, it was a grand gesture, one crossing two very different cultures, yet with an international human rights purpose behind it.
Saudi Arabia and its lackeys among the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council countries despise Iran, in part for religious purposes and in part for political purposes (Iran being a regional power that might oppose grandiose Saudi ideas of Arab world leadership). Yet, these very same countries do little except talk about the Zionists' oppression of the Palestinian people. But Iran, the supposed enemy of Arabs, is the one country calling for an international day of remembrance for the Palestinians.
Quds Day is a great and genuine effort to pressure the believers and supporters of Israel around the world to face reality and deal with Zionists oppression. While the changes in viewpoint may yet be minimal, the fact that the attempt is made is highly significant.
Tasnim: The Israeli military forces attack Palestinians in occupied territories almost on a daily basis. Recently, Muslim worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East al-Quds, attacked by Israeli forces, were left suffocating and injured after tear gas grenades and rubber bullets were fired. Why has the international community, particularly the Western mainstream media, made a muted response to the Tel Aviv regime’s human rights violations against Palestinians so far?
Springmann: There are several reasons for this. First, Israel has worked long and hard to place its supporters in the Western media. They do Israel's will, which is to demonize and denigrate Arabs, Muslims, and, especially, Palestinian Arabs and Muslims. And it is done in a very subtle fashion. For example, in Roman Holiday, the 1950s movie that made Audrey Hepburn a star, there is a scene at the very end of the film where various journalists are presented to her in the role of European princess. Reporters and their papers all ask questions of Miss Hepburn. There are European ones, American ones, but the only journalist and newspaper from the Middle East is an Israeli one.
Second, Zionists, especially those in the United States and Canada, work very hard at preventing an alternative viewpoint to Palestine or the Arab and Muslim worlds being heard. As an example, Zionist fanatics such as Spencer Sunshine in New York City, got the Left Forum to cancel several panels at its annual convention, June 2-4, 2017. The Forum's theme was: The Resistance. The group's raison d'etre and self-description on its website was: The Left Forum brings together national and international politics, people, ideas, and activism for a just, equitable, free, sustainable world beyond capitalism.
Yet Sunshine asserted without proof that the speakers were "Holocaust Deniers" and "Anti-Semites". These were similar to lies spread by B'Nai Brith of Canada about Dr. Anthony Hall, a tenured professor at Lethbridge University. Hall, despite law and tradition, has been suspended from teaching because of these fabrications.
Tasnim: What do you think about the Zionist-led war on Islam and what is the role of Quds Day in the struggle for Palestine?
Springmann: I am appalled at the Zionists' war on Islam. It is much like the Wahhabis’ in Saudi Arabia. They believe that their religion is the only true one and that all others are heresies. And the heretics must be rooted out, no matter the cost, no matter the suffering caused. Look at what has been done to Yemen or Qatar. And the Israelis want improved relations with Saudi Arabia, likely because these actions help split the Arab and Muslim Worlds. While Israel and Saudi Arabia have worked hard to drive Arabs and Muslims out of their homes in the Middle East, neither country has taken in the millions uprooted from their destroyed countries.
Quds day brings new emphasis to this and ties the human rights struggle in Palestine to human rights around the world. It demonstrates the truth of a concept about injustice that the civil rights leader Martin Luther King wrote about from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”