Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Noam Chomsky

For a century, the Zionist colonization of Palestine has proceeded primarily on the pragmatic principle of the quiet establishment of facts on the ground, which the world was to ultimately come to accept. It has been a highly successful policy. There is every reason to expect it to persist as long as the United States provides the necessary military, economic, diplomatic and ideological support.

Amid all the horrors unfolding in the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza, Israel’s goal is simple: quiet-for-quiet, a return to the norm. For the West Bank, the norm is that Israel continues its illegal construction of settlements and infrastructure so that it can integrate into Israel whatever might be of value, meanwhile consigning Palestinians to unviable cantons and subjecting them to repression and violence. For Gaza, the norm is a miserable existence under a cruel and destructive siege that Israel administers to permit bare survival but nothing more.

Noam Chomsky: Israel’s Actions in Palestine are “Much Worse Than Apartheid” in South Africa.

Noam Chomsky’s interview on Democracy-Now (7 Aug 2014). A detailed discussion covering Israel’s attack on Gaza, the role of the US, changing public opinion in the US, BDS and the South Africa comparison, Palestinian violent vs. non-violent response to the Occupation, global reactions, and more.

There are two parts of the Arab world that remain effectively colonies: Western Sahara … and of course Palestine, where negotiations are underway conforming to the two essential US-Israeli preconditions: that there be no barrier to expansion of the illegal settlements, and that the negotiations be run by the US, which is a participant in the conflict (on the side of Israel) and has been blocking the overwhelming international consensus on a diplomatic settlement since 1976, when it vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for its basic terms, with rare and temporary exceptions.

[I]t is assumed almost universally that there are two options for cis-Jordan: either two states — Palestinian and Jewish-democratic — or one state “from the sea to the river.” Israeli commentators express concern about the “demographic problem”: too many Palestinians in a Jewish state. Many Palestinians and their advocates support the “one state solution,” anticipating a civil rights, anti-Apartheid struggle that will lead to secular democracy… The analysis is almost universal, but crucially flawed. There is a third option, namely, the option that Israel is pursuing with constant US support. And this third option is the only realistic alternative to the two-state settlement that is backed by an overwhelming international consensus.

At the fringes, some observers reject the shared [US] assumptions, bringing up the historical record: for example, the fact that “for nearly seven decades” the United States has led the world in aggression and subversion — overthrowing elected governments and imposing vicious dictatorships, supporting horrendous crimes, undermining international agreements and leaving trails of blood, destruction and misery.

The negotiations provide a cover for Israel’s takeover of the territories it wishes to control and should spare the United States some further embarrassment at the UN.

“As international support for Obama’s decision to attack Syria has collapsed, along with the credibility of government claims, the administration has fallen back on a standard pretext for war crimes when all else fails: the credibility of the threats of the self-designated policeman of the world,” Chomsky said.

One prevailing assumption is that there are two options: either a two-state settlement will be reached, or there will be a “shift to a nearly inevitable outcome of the one remaining reality — a state ‘from the sea to the river’.” … There is a third option, the most realistic one: Israel will carry forward its current policies with full U.S. economic, military, and diplomatic support, sprinkled with some mild phrases of disapproval.

Noam Chomsky covers the upcoming Israel-Palestine ‘peace talks’ and the history of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; settlements, the Occupation and the ‘One-State’ and ‘Two-State’ solutions; US strategic control of the Middle East; Syria and Egypt; the ‘Iran threat'; Edward Snowden, and much more.

It is hard to make progress in the real world without making various compromises. I have no advice other than to say don’t let your wishes whip away the facts entirely. Be aware of the facts. We live in an actual world, with all its horror and ugliness, and we have to deal with it and make our decisions within it.

If Palestine ever does gain independence in something like the terms of the overwhelming international consensus, it is likely that its borders with Israel will erode through normal processes of commercial and cultural interchange, as had begun to happen in the past during periods of relative calm. Anyone familiar with Mandatory Palestine knows well how artificial and disruptive any partition must be.

Noam Chomsky on the Turkish protests around Taksim Square: The very brave people in Taksim Square are trying to protect the very last remnants of the commons from the wrecking block… That’s important for Turkey but it’s more than that. It’s the commons which globally we’re destroying; the environment and the atmosphere, by the same wrecking ball.

If Palestine ever does gain independence in something like the terms of the overwhelming international consensus, it is likely that its borders with Israel will erode through normal processes of commercial and cultural interchange, as had begun to happen in the past during periods of relative calm. Anyone familiar with Mandatory Palestine knows well how artificial and disruptive any partition must be.

Noam Chomsky: I think the Sykes-Picot agreement is falling apart, which is an interesting phenomenon… But, the Sykes-Picot agreement was just an imperial imposition that has no legitimacy; there is no reason for any of these borders – except the interests of the imperial powers.

Professor Noam Chomsky’s 2013 Edward Said Memorial Lecture: Violence and Dignity – Reflections on the Middle East at Friends House in London on 18 March 2013 (text).

Professor Noam Chomsky, delivering the 2013 Edward Said Memorial Lecture: Violence and Dignity – Reflections on the Middle East at Friends House in London on 18 March 2013 (video).

The major energy-producing countries are still firmly under the control of the Western-backed dictatorships. So, actually, the progress made by the Arab Spring is limited, but it’s not insignificant. The Western-controlled dictatorial system is eroding. In fact, it’s been eroding for some time.

An old man in Gaza held a placard that reads: “You take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my father, kill my mother, bombard my country, starve us all, humiliate us all but I am to blame: I shot a rocket back.”

I have always admired the work of Gisha, and therefore read its response to my “Impressions of Gaza” with much interest — and comparable disappointment. The response refers to exactly one statement of mine: ‘heavy equipment in Gaza is not “lying idle”, as Chomsky describes.’ My statement is quite accurate.

Even a single night in jail is enough to give a taste of what it means to be under the total control of some external force. And it hardly takes more than a day in Gaza to begin to appreciate what it must be like to try to survive in the world’s largest open-air prison, where a million and a half people, in the most densely populated area of the world, are constantly subject to random and often savage terror and arbitrary punishment

The eight signatories of this letter are members of the group that traveled with Noam Chomsky to Gaza. We have spent three and a half days here in Gaza with Chomsky, who departed yesterday. We would like to clarify the circumstances surrounding Chomsky’s visit.

Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky reportedly called for an end to Israel’s siege of Gaza, on his first ever visit to the Hamas-ruled enclave on Thursday. Chomsky, who was in the Gaza Strip for a conference at the Islamic University, called “to end the Israeli siege on Gaza.”

Like its patron, Israel resorts to violence at will. It persists in illegal settlement in occupied territory, some annexed, all in brazen defiance of international law and the U.N. Security Council. It has repeatedly carried out brutal attacks against Lebanon and the imprisoned people of Gaza, killing tens of thousands without credible pretext.

Mouin Rabbani: Many of those who favor a one-state solution see it as the antithesis of the two-state solution, yet you seem to be suggesting a continuum.

Noam Chomsky: I don’t know of any other sensible way that has been proposed to move towards a binational, or one-state, solution other than accepting the world as it is and then taking the next step, which has been pretty clear for thirty years. There’s an overwhelming international consensus behind the two-state settlement essentially along the internationally recognized borders. I think it’s a rotten solution but I think it’s a stage towards a better solution, and I don’t know of any other approach.

Noam Chomsky remembers Howard Zinn, the great American activist and historian, and his close friend of 45 years. A moving political and personal history of the leading activists of a generation — people who are nearly gone but will always remain for generations to follow.

A presentation at SUNY New Paltz entitled “Honoring Howard Zinn: An Historian Who Made History,” given on 4 December 2011.

Noam Chomsky has been awarded this year’s Sydney Peace Prize, Australia’s only international peace prize. In his City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture, “Revolutionary Pacifism: Choices and Prospects,” Chomsky covers activist A.J. Muste’s concept of “revolutionary pacifism,” the principle of universality, and the long history of violent US behavior around the world, including the Middle East.

Noam Chomsky delivers a rare lecture on the US and Israel-Palestine (video).

Noam Chomsky: “If the Palestinians do bring the issue to the Security Council and the US vetoes it, it will be just another indication of the real unwillingness to permit a settlement of this issue in terms of what has been for a long time an overwhelming international consensus.”

Ten years after 9/11, Noam Chomsky has just released an updated version of his book titled, “9-11: Was There An Alternative?,” which refers to the US assassination of Osama bin Laden and the continuity Chomsky sees between the Bush administration’s foreign policy and President Obama’s. “The policies change, but they are hostile. We should understand where atrocities come from. They do not come from nowhere. If we’re serious, we should try to do something about what is the basis for them.”

We are approaching the 10th anniversary of the horrendous atrocities of September 11, 2001, which, it is commonly held, changed the world. On May 1st, the presumed mastermind of the crime, Osama bin Laden, was assassinated in Pakistan by a team of elite US commandos, Navy SEALs, after he was captured, unarmed and undefended, in Operation Geronimo…

The 19th century … 2001 … today. Noam Chomsky sees hegemonic powers showing extreme contempt for democracy – and acting in ways they know will increase terrorism.

The [Washington] spectacle is even coming to frighten the sponsors of the charade. Corporate power is now concerned that the extremists they helped put in office may in fact bring down the edifice on which their own wealth and privilege relies, the powerful nanny state that caters to their interests.

In May, in a closed meeting of many of Israel’s business leaders, Idan Ofer, a holding-company magnate, warned, “We are quickly turning into South Africa. The economic blow of sanctions will be felt by every family in Israel.”

Both Bush and Obama are terrified of the Arab spring. And there is a very sensible reason for that. They don’t want democracies in the Arab world. If Arab public opinion had any influence on policy, the US and Britain had been tossed out of the Middle East. That’s why they are terrified of democracies in the region.

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