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

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky interviewed by a raving Israeli Channel 2 News reporter.

Please consider adding your name to the protest of Israel’s barring Noam Chomsky from entering the West Bank in order to deliver a speech at Birzeit University.

[N]either Chomsky nor I are have any illusions about the limits of the aforementioned initiatives or their possible (if not probable) failure in the face of Israel’s hubris and the power disparity between the parties. But Chomsky also alluded to the lesson of a movement that succeeded, not by waiting for favorable political conditions to hand it the vision it sought, but by moving ahead with building its project and waiting for the right political conditions to incrementally achieve what it did.

Gush Shalom wrote to the Minister of the Interior – and considers a Supreme Court appeal – demanding clear and transparent criteria for who shall be denied entry into the country and for what arguments. “Such decisions cannot be left to anonymous officials and security operatives, who become a thought police and censor political opinions.”

Gideon Levy on Israeli-style democracy, one that is run by a military elite: “After we sent Prof. Noam Chomsky away, and there was no sharp rebuke by Israeli academics (who in their silence support a boycott of Bir Zeit University), we will be left with a narrow and frightening intellectual world.”

“Israel,” Chomsky was informed, “doesn’t like what you say.” Is this a reasonable pretext for a democratic state to detain someone for questioning or hold him up at the border? And who is this “Israel” that doesn’t like what Chomsky says? The general public? The Interior Ministry? The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories? The government?

Chomsky spoke yesterday to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, whom he was supposed to meet in Ramallah. Fayyad’s office released a statement saying the two men “discussed the political situation and developments in Palestine.” Fayyad said he “strongly condemns the decision of the occupation forces to prevent Chomsky from entering Palestinian land.”

Noam Chomsky: “The first point was that they don’t like my opinions about Israeli policies, which is true of every other country but has never stopped me coming and giving lectures before. The second, most crucial point was that they didn’t like the fact that I was visiting the West Bank but then not going on to speak in Israel. The issue was going to Birzeit, just as I would any other university, without specific Israeli approval. I would say that is very unusual, perhaps unique, outside totalitarian states.”

I have never heard of a democratic state denying entry to thinkers… who neither call for violence or break local or international law. So what on earth is happening to Israel? … If anything, barring Chomsky gives ammunition to those who say that Israel is infringing on academic freedom in the Palestinian Authority, and that a boycott against its universities is therefore justified.

Amira Hass: Chomsky told Haaretz that he supports a two-state solution, but not the solution proposed by Jerusalem, “pieces of land that will be called a state.” He said that Israel’s behavior today reminds him of that of South Africa in the 1960s, when it realized that it was already considered a pariah, but thought that it would resolve the problem with better public relations.

IOA Editor: See also Al-Jazeera: Chomsky ban – “An end to freedom”?

Noam Chomsky… has been barred from entering the West Bank… across the Allenby Bridge from Jordan on Sunday. The linguistics professor, who frequently speaks out against Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories, had been scheduled to give a lecture at Birzeit University in the West Bank. (Video interview with Noam Chomsky)

Noam Chomsky: “The government did not like the kinds of things I say and they did not like that I was only talking at Bir Zeit and not at an Israeli university too,” he said… I asked them if they could find any government in the world that likes the things I say.”

Amira Hass: Left-wing American linguist Professor Noam Chomsky was denied entry into Israel on Sunday, for reasons that were not immediately clear. Chomsky, who was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Bir Zeit University near Jerusalem, told the Right to Enter activist group by telephone that inspectors had stamped the words “denied entry” onto his passport when he tried to cross from Jordan over Allenby Bridge.

IOA Editor:
The original language of this story referred to “entry into Israel;” it was subsequently revised to read “entry into Israel and West Bank.” In reality, the Israeli authorities denied Chomsky the right of entry into the West Bank — he did not seek entry into Israel — a territory Israel controls by military force, for nearly 43 years, against the wishes of its Palestinian inhabitants and in violation of numerous international laws, conventions, and UN resolutions. It is interesting that the Israeli media (both Haaretz and Ynet) misrepresent this story by referring to it as a denial of entry to “Israel.”

“Iran is perceived as a threat because they did not obey the orders of the United States. Militarily this threat is irrelevant. This country has not behaved aggressively beyond its borders for centuries. Israel invaded Lebanon with the blessing and help of the US five times in thirty years. Iran has not done anything like this.”

Many of Israel’s critics blame an “Israel lobby” for the near-total complicity of the US in Israeli annexation, colonization and cleansing programs in the occupied West Bank… Years after Noam Chomsky, Stephen Zunes, Walter Russell Mead published their critiques of the Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer “Israel lobby” thesis, many of the sharpest critics of Israel continue to attribute US foreign policy in the Middle East to the influence of the lobby. Given the prevalence of the Israel lobby argument, and the latest diplomatic confrontation between the US and Israel, it is important to revisit the flaws in the thesis, and properly attribute US behavior to the large concentrations of domestic political and economic power that truly drive US policy.

IOA Editor: The question: Noam Chomsky or Stephen Walt/John Mearsheimer? Very important!

MORE:
Noam Chomsky: A Middle East Peace That Could Happen (But Won’t)
John Mearsheimer: “The Future of Palestine – Righteous Jews vs. the New Afrikaners”

The fact that the Israel-Palestine conflict grinds on without resolution might appear to be rather strange. For many of the world’s conflicts, it is difficult even to conjure up a feasible settlement. In this case, it is not only possible, but there is near universal agreement on its basic contours: a two-state settlement along the internationally recognized (pre-June 1967) borders — with “minor and mutual modifications,” to adopt official U.S. terminology before Washington departed from the international community in the mid-1970s.

Noam Chomsky: “I don’t bother writing about Fox News, it is too easy. What I talk about are the liberal intellectuals, the ones who portray themselves and perceive themselves as challenging power, as courageous, as standing up for truth and justice. They are basically the guardians of the faith. They set the limits. They tell us how far we can go. They say, ‘Look how courageous I am.’ But do not go one millimeter beyond that. At least for the educated sectors, they are the most dangerous in supporting power.”

Havens Center for the Study of Social Structures and Social Change , Orpheum Theater, Madison WI – 8 April 2010 (Video)

It was beautiful in Boston… as about 250 invited guests gathered at the Arlington Street Church to celebrate the life of Howard Zinn, who died on January 27. The crowd was full of scholars, writers, editors, actors, poets, activists, neighbors—friends all… [Zinn’s daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn,] told the story of The New York Times calling him up several months before he died and explaining that the paper had a custom of preparing obituaries for people while they were still alive. Without skipping a beat, Howard said: “What’s your deadline?”

Netanyahu’s 1996 government was the first in Israel to use the phrase “Palestinian state.” The government agreed that Palestinians can call whatever fragments of Palestine are left to them “a state” if they like—or they can call them “fried chicken.” … By omission, Obama indicated that he accepts Bush’s “vision”: The vast existing Israeli settlement and infrastructure projects on the West Bank are implicitly “legitimate,” thus ensuring that the phrase “Palestinian state,” referring to the scattered remnants in between, means “fried chicken.”

Noam Chomsky: “The evil scourge of terrorism”: reality, construction, remedy – Erich Fromm Lecture 2010 by Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky: I don’t think that the notion of legitimacy of a state means very much. Is the United States a legitimate state? It’s based on genocide; it conquered half of Mexico. What makes it legitimate? The way the international system is set up, states have certain rights; that has nothing to do with their legitimacy. Every state you can think of is based on violence, repression, expulsion, and all sorts of crimes. And the state system itself has no inherent legitimacy. It’s just an institutional form that developed and that was imposed with plenty of violence. The question of legitimacy just doesn’t arise. There is an international order in which it is essentially agreed that states have certain rights, but that provides them with no legitimacy, Israel or anyone else.

IOA Editor: An illuminating exchange between Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar on the important question of the legitimacy of the state, and how it applies to Israel and other nation-states. Presented in the context of the current wave of accusations that critics of the Israeli occupation, and of Israel’s systematic and ongoing violations of international law, are “delegitimizers” — a recently coined term created by Israeli propaganda experts to “delegitimize the delegitimizers.”

Noam Chomsky: Howard Zinn

14 February 2010

Historian Howard Zinn’s remarkable work, including his most famous book, A People’s History of the United States, is summarized best in his own words. His primary concern, he once explained, was “the countless small actions of unknown people” that lie at the roots of the great moments of history–a record that would be profoundly misleading, and seriously disempowering, if torn from such roots. Howard, who died Jan. 27 at 87, was devoted to the empowerment of these unknowns.

It has been a wonderful privilege to have been able to join Howard on his “moving train” on many occasions over these years of challenge, inspiration, torment, and persistent concern over impending catastrophe. Like everyone who knows him, I too have been struck by his enduring optimism… Howard’s life and work are a persistent reminder that our own subjective judgments of the likelihood of success in engaging human problems are of little interest, to ourselves or others. What matters is to take part, as best we can, in the small actions of unknown people that can stave off disaster and bring about a better world, to honor them for their achievements, to do what we can to ensure that these achievements are understood and carried forward. In brief, to follow the model provided for us by the subject of this welcome biography.

Noam Chomsky: ME Questions

20 November 2009

Noam Chomsky in BBC interview:The war in Afghanistan is “immoral.” He spoke to Stephen Sackur and answered viewer questions, among them several on the Middle East.

Chomsky on the US’s unwavering support for Israel and “rejectionism” of the two-state solution, effectively on offer for 30 years: That’s not because of the overweening power of the Israel lobby in the US, but because Israel is a strategic and commercial asset which underpins rather than undermines US domination of the Middle East… America’s one-sided role in the Middle East isn’t harming their interests, whatever risks it might bring for anyone else.

IOA Editor: Noam Chomsky has just concluded a speaking tour in the UK and Ireland. For coverage of his tour, see:

   Israel’s worst enemies are those who support its policies
   Hundreds flock to hear Noam Chomsky in Dublin
   Discussion with Workers Solidarity Movement

Obama has made clear that the United States intends to retain a long-term major presence in the [ME] region. That much is signaled by the huge city-within-a city called “the Baghdad Embassy,” unlike any embassy in the world.

Of all of the crises that afflict us, the growing democratic deficit may be the most severe. Unless it is reversed, [Arundhati] Roy’s forecast may prove accurate. The conversion of democracy to a performance with the public as mere spectators-hardly a distant possibility-might have truly dire consequences.

Obama has praised the [Arab Peace] Initiative and called on the Arab states to proceed to normalize relations with Israel. But he has so far scrupulously evaded the core of the proposal, thus implicitly maintaining the US rejectionist stand that has blocked a diplomatic settlement since the 1970s along with its Israeli client, in virtual isolation. There are no signs that Obama is willing even to consider the Arab Initiative, let alone “promote” it. That was underscored in Obama’s much heralded address to the Muslim world in Cairo on June 4, [2009].

[T]orture has been routine practice from the early days of the conquest of the national territory, and then beyond… Small wonder that the President advises us to look forward, not backward – a convenient doctrine for those who hold the clubs. Those who are beaten by them tend to see the world differently, much to our annoyance.

Chomsky: “They try to label any criticism as anti-Semitic, but they never respond to the criticism itself, because they can’t… Decades ago, the ADL was an authentic and serious organization that defended civic rights, but in the last 40 years it’s become a Stalinist-style organization dedicated to supporting anything Israel does and to destroying all opposition to Israeli policies.”

On Saturday December 27, 2008, the latest US-Israeli attack on helpless Palestinians was launched. The attack had been meticulously planned, for over 6 months according to the Israeli press. The planning had two components: military and propaganda. It was based on the lessons of Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which was considered to be poorly planned and badly advertised. We may, therefore, be fairly confident that most of what has been done and said was pre-planned and intended.

Barack Obama is recognized to be a person of acute intelligence, a legal scholar, careful with his choice of words. He deserves to be taken seriously – both what he says, and what he omits. Particularly significant is his first substantive statement on foreign affairs, on January 22, at the State Department, when introducing George Mitchell to serve as his special envoy for Middle East peace.

A good question is why the margin of victory for the opposition party was so small, given the circumstances. One possibility is that neither party reflected public opinion at a time when 80% think the country is going in the wrong direction and that the government is run by “a few big interests looking out for themselves,” not for the people, and a stunning 94% object that government does not attend to public opinion. As many studies show, both parties are well to the right of the population on many major issues, domestic and international.

Tanya Reinhart, linguist, writer and political activist: born Kyriat Haim, Palestine 23 July 1943; married 1997 Aharon Shabtai; died New York 17 March 2007.

Tanya Reinhart was a distinguished academic linguist and a political commentator and activist. She was known internationally as an ardent critic of Israel’s policies and of the Zionist ideology. Reinhart was married to the Israeli poet and translator Aharon Shabtai.

May 11, Sabra-Shatila camp

There is a plot of land of perhaps less than a half acre, surrounded by a wall with a large iron gate, where the victims of the 1982 massacre are buried. The land is mostly flat and covered by grass, with a few mounds here and there, the locations of mass graves which we can see through the gate’s vertical bars. On the outside wall there are large, slightly fading, poster photos of those found dead after the rampage of Phalangist militiamen that were sent in by the Israeli army that had surrounded the camp in 1982. The gate-keeper is an old Palestinian, with half of his teeth missing, sitting under the shade of the tree near the gate and selling flowers. We ask him to open the gate and let us enter the ground. The old man says that if the visitors are American he will not let them enter. “Yes, the visitors are American, but they are good Americans,” I explain. Then pointing to Noam a few steps away, I say that he, in particular, is the most indefatigable defender of Palestinian rights in America. The old man stares at me with a skeptical look for a few seconds, as if to gauge the truth of what I just said, then gets up and opens the gate.

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