Ayatollah Khomeini was undoubtedly “a champion of the Palestinian cause, but beyond that he understood how and why Palestine mattered so very much,” said Catherine Shakdam, the author of Arabia’s Rising – Under The Banner Of The First Imam.

“He recognized the seed of oppression in the Zionist agenda, and how this agenda would seek to expand its reach across the Greater Middle East,” she told Shia Followers in an exclusive interview.

Following is the full transcript of the interview:

What is the significance of Al Quds Day rallies and the movement Imam Khomeini helped build? How are these rallies met across the world?

Catherine Shakdam: I would say that the event is rather significant as it speaks of the ongoing fight against oppression and injustice. The Palestinian cause has become a flashpoint of the Resistance in that it epitomizes our collective struggle against military interventionism, imperialism, and religious repression.

Al Quds Day is a reminder that no length of time will weaken our resolve in seeing Justice done. Of course this has meant that Al Quds Day and what it represents has been misrepresented in mainstream media. The Israeli lobby has been relentless in its attack of Al Quds Day arguing that such rallies are violent and promote terrorism.

Some people within the Islamic and Arab world have too conspired against Al Quds Day, hoping to criminalize the idea of resistance, and force communities to accept oppression.

I think there is something to say about Ayatollah Khomeini and his foresight over the issue of Palestine. He was undoubtedly a champion of the Palestinian cause, but beyond that he understood how and why Palestine mattered so very much. He recognized the seed of oppression in the Zionist agenda, and how this agenda would seek to expand its reach across the Greater Middle East.

If not for Ayatollah Khomeini and those who remained true to his legacy I’m not sure there would be any voices left to speak freedom and liberation in the face of Zionism.

Al Quds Day has become a symbol of resistance and resilience in the face of implacable odds.

Also and we seldom talk about this. Al Quds Day is a statement of Freedom.

Freedom is a state of mind! Freedom is a choice that needs to be made and a choice that requires courage, as it is in the nature of certain men to enslave others.

I believe Ayatollah Khomeini wanted to remind the world and Palestinians of that Freedom.

How do you feel and think about the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Is there any path towards peace?

Catherine Shakdam: Peace? There can be no peace without justice and unless Israel owns up to the heinous crimes it committed I don’t see how we can have a suitable resolution. Peace would also require for negotiations to be unbiased … and I don’t see how that’s possible when the Zionists still level a claim on Palestine on account they are the ‘chosen people of God’.

The whole narrative surrounding Palestine and the issue of peace is flawed. Palestinians are called criminals and terrorists for demanding their land back. They are called unreasonable for asking for reparations in the face of the horrors Tel Aviv committed against them.

Peace requires the courage to tell the truth about the nature of the Zionist regime.

What is your take on the Palestinian Authority’s role in defending the Palestinians’ rights?

Catherine Shakdam: I don’t think the Palestinian Authority has done anything towards defending the rights of their people. Officials seem to be more preoccupied with preserving some form of a status quo than truly push for a meaningful resolution.

I will admit that the world of politics can be tricky and that often one needs to learn to compromise, but there is compromise and there is betrayal.

What have officials achieved other than play directly in the hand of Tel Aviv? What have officials done that is quantifiable on the ground?

Have they helped rally the world opinion by exposing the suffering Palestinians endure on a daily basis? Have they challenged the international community on its apathy? Have they fought so that Palestine would be given its rightful place on the world scene?

I’m afraid not, and for that they will have to answer to history.

What role does the UN play in the conflict?

Catherine Shakdam: I don’t personally think that the United Nations is a relevant body anymore. The day the UN sold out to Zionism and Saudi Arabia it lost all standing. Why expect anything from an entity that cannot even bring itself to acknowledge the perversity of Zionism?

Again what has the UN done to alleviate Palestinians’ suffering? Not much except maybe a few tons of humanitarian aid here and there.

To put an end to Israel’s criminal attacks on Palestine would be more useful. But of course the UN will never dare oppose Israel.

Some governments in the Middle East have been developing ties with Israel. Are they betraying the Palestinian cause?

Catherine Shakdam: If only betrayal was their only crimes …. To side with Israel is to condone the crimes it commits. To side with Israel is to legitimize the murder of children and innocent, unarmed civilians. To side with Israel is to rationalize genocide.

To side with Israel is to tell the world that ‘might is always right’ and disregard humanity.

To side with Israel is to join in the crimes against humanity it has committed, all the while calling itself holy.

To side with Israel is to support fascism and everything that is vile and dishonest. There can never be any excuse for that!

Our history is littered with such acts of cowardice, but for every tyrant the world has known, a few have stood in denunciation … there are still many voices today who still dare to oppose Israel and its legions.


Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. A regular pundit on RT and other networks, her work has appeared in major publications such as MintPress, RT, Press TV, the Foreign Policy Journal, Mehr News, the Guardian, Middle East Eye, the Middle East Monitor and many others. The Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting. In 2015 her research on Yemen was quoted and used by the UNSC in a resolution on Yemen Looted Funds. She is the author of Arabia’s Rising – Under The Banner Of The First Imam.