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.
“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.
The greatest illusion about the cataclysmic events shaking Egypt is that, during the truncated one-year presidency of Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian military had been forced to accept civilian rule and then vacate the political stage. How much did we get from the New York Times (and other mainstream papers) to think otherwise? What information, or misinformation, did the Times pass on to its readers, so that the events since late June of this year would not hit them like a freak summer storm?
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.
Assuming the Arab League makes good on its commitment … the fund will serve only to highlight the very problems it seeks to alleviate… The reality is that Mr Abbas and the Arab League are at least a decade too late to protect East Jerusalem. In the current circumstances, such a cash fund will do little more than salve consciences.
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.
All the problems in this region stem from the way that the imperial powers France and Britain divided the region after the First World War, to serve their purposes… Syria, Lebanon, and a country called Palestine were created or refashioned. This new country, Palestine, was an invention of British imperialism following World War I; and it was designed explicitly as a domain for Zionist colonization. A whole complex of problems, including the Israeli–Palestinian conflict are a fallout from the fragmentation and parcelization of the Ottoman Empire.
Israel has been only too happy to perform a pointless tango with the Palestinians on the diplomatic front while it encouraged its settlers to entrench their hold on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, gutting any chance of the Palestinian state that was ostensibly being negotiated.
A split has developed between Israeli security establishment and Netanyahu. November saw endless speculation about a potential Israeli attack on Iran. At the end of October an Israeli journalist published at article revealing that, against the advice of all Israeli security and intelligence agency heads, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak were deliberating attacking Iran. Perhaps as early as this winter.
US Likudniks, who had remained relatively restrained on [book talks] until now, could not stand it any longer. They launched a massive attack against me in the form of a smear article … written by two Campus Watch vigilantes and first published on FrontPageMag… From there, the article was reproduced by countless websites and blogs belonging to the same ideological swarm, and distributed by them to their extensive email lists.
Gilbert Achcar is Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London; his latest work is The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives. Achcar discusses what he calls the “Nazification” of the Arabs, what implications this narrative has had on the past and present political situation in the Middle East, and some of the context from which anti-Semitism and Holocaust-denial has taken root in a segment of Arab society.
WikiLeaks documents now reveal that one of the options secretly discussed was to relocate the residents of Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon to the West Bank, possibly to the newly constructed Rawabi urban complex.
We liked military juntas in the Arab world, and in Chile, Argentina and Ethiopia. Military juntas speak a similar language. They understand one another; their interests are narrow and specific; they are scornful of civilians, certain that without them their countries will fall into chaos, and that civilian politics – democracy – is a recipe for the country’s collapse. Juntas operate in the name of a desired value that is supreme to all other values: security.
The rules of the game in the new Middle East changed… From now on, the people are speaking; they will not stand for violent or colonialist behavior toward Arabs, and their leaders will have to take this into consideration. The occupation, and Israel’s exaggerated shows of force in response to terror attacks, are now being put to the test of the peoples, not just their rulers.
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.
RELATED Repression in Bahrain
Up until a few months ago, Hezbollah could reasonably claim pride of place in the Arab anti-imperialist camp. Hezbollah was the only Arab force that repeatedly stymied the powerful Israeli military and never caved in. It weathered repeated attempts by the Arab reactionary camp – the US-allied governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt under Mubarak, and several lesser regional states – to disarm it and marginalize it. Over a period of nearly two decades, Hezbollah was perhaps the most stubborn (and visible in the West) obstacle to imperialist domination of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Noam Chomsky: “Across the [Middle East], an overwhelming majority of the population regards the United States as the main threat to their interests… The reason is very simple… Plainly, the US and its allies are not going to want governments which are responsive to the will of the people. If that happens, not only will the US not control the region, but it will be thrown out.”
We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic.
Hamas did not die when the Israeli air force killed Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the paralyzed founder, ideologue and symbol of Hamas. As a martyr he was far more effective than as a living leader. His martyrdom attracted many new fighters to the cause. Killing a person does not kill an idea.
More worrying still to Israeli officials are reported plans by Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing into Gaza, closed for the past four years as part of a Western-backed blockade of the enclave designed to weaken Hamas, the ruling Islamist group there. Egypt is working out details to permanently open the border, an Egyptian foreign ministry official told the Reuters news agency on Sunday. The blockade would effectively come to an end as a result.
On May 2, 2011, the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University held a program on “Gaza: Israel’s War and the Goldstone Report.” The speakers included Norman Finkelstein, Peter Weiss, and Rashid Khalidi. The program was moderated by Bashir Abu-Manneh.
But Obama may have done Abbas a favour: by revealing in the starkest terms the unconditional nature of US support for Israel – and how slender the rewards are for being America’s man in Ramallah – he has forced Abbas to do something that, for once, may win him some Palestinian goodwill. And he may just be able to sell the agreement – in other words, the inclusion of a party that has not renounced violence or recognised Israel – to the EU, which has become increasingly exasperated with Obama’s timidity on Palestine.
The US and its Western allies are sure to do whatever they can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world. To understand why, it is only necessary to look at the studies of Arab opinion conducted by U.S. polling agencies. [Most] Arabs regard the US and Israel as the major threats they face… Opposition to US policy is so strong that a majority believes that security would be improved if Iran had nuclear weapons… If public opinion were to influence policy, the US not only would not control the region, but would be expelled from it, along with its allies, undermining fundamental principles of global dominance.
There is a genuine problem, and it would be unfortunate to appear callous and uncaring about the fate of those in Benghazi who were penned in and faced the terrible prospect of being massacred… There is world public opinion – civil society – which has real humanitarian concerns, and then there is the so-called ‘international community’, which is the nom de guerre of the US and its followers.
Frank Barat asks Noam Chomsky six questions sent to him by Alice Walker, John Berger, Ken Loach, Paul Laverty, Amira Hass and Chris Hedges.
Francis Boyle: Basically, the resolution as currently drafted authorizes a war across the board against Libya — air-strikes, naval blockade, even a land invasion. The only exception in there is against a foreign military occupation force. But under the laws of war, there is a distinction between a land invasion and an occupation force.
Now there are not enough safeguards in the wording of the resolution to bar its use for imperialist purposes. Although the purpose of any action is supposed to be the protection of civilians, and not “regime change,” the determination of whether an action meets this purpose or not is left up to the intervening powers and not to the uprising, or even the Security Council. The resolution is amazingly confused. But given the urgency of preventing the massacre that would have inevitably resulted from an assault on Benghazi by Gaddafi’s forces, and the absence of any alternative means of achieving the protection goal, no one can reasonably oppose it.
Q: How old are you now?
Q: Why haven’t you mellowed?
A: Because I look at the world… and there’re things happening in the world which should lead anyone to become indignant, outraged, active, and simply engaged.
Leila Farsakh discusses the implications of the protest movements in the Arab world on Palestinian politics and the Arab-Israeli conflict in a video interview with The Journal of Palestine Studies.
Noam Chomsky speaks about Cairo and Wisconsin – social struggles in both Egypt and the US, including the history of union activism.
The author is reminded that the Palestinians are under occupation when almost all Egyptians refuse to meet with her because she writes for an Israeli newspaper.
Suddenly, to be an Arab has become a good thing. People all over the Arab world feel a sense of pride in shaking off decades of cowed passivity under dictatorships that ruled with no deference to popular wishes. And it has become respectable in the West as well. Egypt is now thought of as an exciting and progressive place; its people’s expressions of solidarity are welcomed by demonstrators in Madison, Wisconsin; and its bright young activists are seen as models for a new kind of twenty-first-century mobilization.
In Israel there is ethnic democracy: democracy for 80 percent of the public and exclusion and discrimination for 20 percent, and a regime of oppression and dictatorship in the occupied territories. I and my colleagues, my fellow Arab Knesset members, are sitting just a few meters away in the plenum hall from Israelis who have killed members of our people and are imposing a regime of occupation. Will anyone say this testifies to support for their deeds?
The consequences are already tangible across the Middle East, which has suffered disproportionately under the oppressive rule of empire. The upheavals as Arab publics struggle to shake off their tyrants are also stripping bare some of the illusions the western media have peddled to us. Empire, we have been told, wants democracy and freedom around the globe. And yet it is caught mute and impassive as the henchmen of empire unleash US-made weapons against their peoples who are demanding western-style freedoms.
The sigh of relief in Israel after it turned out that for the time being the Egyptian people are making do with military rule could be heard all the way to Cairo’s Tahrir square. The democratic threat had been removed from the agenda for the time being.