Born in Lebanon, Rania Masri moved to the United States as a young girl in 1986. She holds a master's degree in environmental management from Duke University, and a Ph.D. in forestry from North Carolina State University. Over the years, Masri has worked as an assistant professor of environmental science at the University of Balamand; she also has taught at the American University of Beirut. Best known as an outspoken political commentator who holds both the United States and Israel in contempt, Masri has contributed numerous writings and interviews to leftist media outlets like Indymedia, the International Socialist Review, the Progressive Media Project, Swans.com, and “Democracy Now!”
At various times during her career as an educator and activist, Masri has served as: the director of the Southern Peace Research & Education Center at the Institute for Southern Studies (ISS); the director of ISS's Economic and Environmental Justice Program; the founder and coordinator of the Iraq Action Coalition; a steering committee member of the United for Peace and Justice coalition; a national board member of Peace Action; a board of directors member of the the Education for Peace in Iraq Center; an Arab Women's Solidarity Association representative to the United Nations; and a steering committee member of the ACLU's New York chapter. She is also a longtime ally of the Palestine Right to Return Committee (a.k.a. Al-Awda).
In 2003 Masri strongly opposed the American invasion of Iraq, characterizing it as an imperialistic, greed-driven attempt to take control of Iraq’s oil reserves. “A handful of Bush-connected corporations,” said Masri, “are poised to make billions in profits while U.S. troops are killed almost daily, and Iraq plunges deeper into a colonial nightmare…. Halliburton, Bechtel, MCI and other war profiteers are part of a larger invasion by outside corporate interests hoping to control the wealth and resources of Iraq—wealth and resources that belong to the Iraqi people.” And in the Summer 2003 edition of the International Socialist Review, Masri denounced “U.S. occupying forces in Iraq” for “behaving like the Israeli occupying forces in the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza.”
In February 2004, Masri lamented that “Iraqis and others” around the world were “living under Western military occupation and corporate coercion.” “In the Orwellian doublespeak of the neo-conservatives,” she added, “‘liberation’ means conquest,” and “‘freedom for Iraq’ means freedom for the colonizer to dominate, to exploit, to control.”
From 2006-09, Masri authored and co-authored a number of articles that were published by Electronic Intifada, a fiercely anti-Israel website with a pro-Hamas orientation.
In August 2014, Masri gave a speech that accused Israel of inflicting “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” on the Palestinians of Gaza, and of having instituted a system of “apartheid” that was “worse than Apartheid South Africa.” She also condemned Operation Protective Edge, an Israeli military incursion designed to: (a) thwart the relentless barrage of rocket attacks that Gazan terrorists had been launching against Israel, and (b) dismantle Hamas's Gaza-based stockpiles of armaments and its vast network of secret subterranean tunnels. Asserting that the Palestinians were “an occupied population,” Masri characterized their rocket attacks not as acts of aggression, but rather, as a legitimate form of “retaliation” against an oppressor. Depicting Hamas and Hezbollah alike as members of a noble “resistance network,” she stated defiantly: “I will not apologize for the rockets or the tunnels.”
In the same speech, Masri demanded the imposition of “an arms embargo on the State of Israel”; the prosecution of Israel by “the International Criminal Court and the International [Court of] Justice”; and an expansion of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, a Hamas-inspired initiative that aims to use various forms of public protest, economic pressure, and court rulings to advance the Hamas agenda of permanently destroying Israel as a Jewish nation-state.
Also in August 2014, Masri condemned Israel as a “barbaric,” genocidal “terrorist state,” and claimed that “it has been the Zionist policy to destroy the economy in Gaza.”
In February 2017, Masri impugned the U.S. for its “exploitation of migrant farmworkers.” “The same market economy that compels the intensification and consolidation of agricultural land in the United States,” she wrote, “has also pushed farmers off their land, depressed local economies, and driven mass migration across Latin America.”
In December 2017, Masri described America as “a nation that claims its right to exist on stolen land,” a country that was “founded by liars,” and a place where “the sacred text of the democracy—the Constitution—is a bible of lies.”
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