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

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky on the illusion of US democracy, liberal-conservative politics, the economy, unions and much more in a Paul Jay (the Real News Network) interview.

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, not only is it possible, but there is near-universal agreement on its basic contours: a two-state settlement along the internationally recognised (pre-June 1967) borders – with “minor and mutual modifications”, to adopt official US terminology before Washington departed from the international community in the mid-1970s.

“This is clearly a serious criminal attack,” he said. “It is hijacking in international waters and there were quite brutal murders.” But, although this case is more extreme than others, he said, Israel’s “hijacking ships in international waters, kidnapping people, killing them sometimes, bringing them to Israel, keeping them hostages in prisons for long periods” have been going on for at least 30 years, and Israel can continue those actions because it is tolerated by the United States.

A conversation with Noam Chomsky on Palestine/Israel, covering Zionism, the nature of statehood, bi-national / one-state / two-state solutions, the right of return, and the BDS movement – its actions, and their impacts on the Palestinian people. Filmed September 2nd, 2010.

Henning Mankell, aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla: “We have been attacked while in international waters. That means the Israelis have behaved like pirates … The moment they start to steer this ship towards Israel, we have also been kidnapped. The whole action is illegal.”

It is not our right or responsibility to lecture the Palestinian leadership on what they should do. That is up to the Palestinians to decide. But it is very definitely our responsibility to focus attention on what we should be doing. Of prime importance is to educate and organize the American public and to develop popular forces that can overcome the dominant propaganda images that sustain the US policies that have been undermining Palestinian rights.

IOA Editor: And much more from Noam Chomsky on the US and Israeli dynamics of the Occupation, and on approaches available to the anti-Occupation movement, including detailed comments on BDS.

[Israel’s] refusal to negotiate in 1971 led to the grimmest moment in [its] history, and preference for expansion over security and diplomacy has had dire consequences since, with perhaps worse to come. Israel often speaks of an “existential threat.” The most immediate and severe “existential threat” is its unwillingness to pursue diplomatic options that are open.

Noam Chomsky talks about US and Israeli aggression in Lebanon and the Middle East, criticizing Obama’s right-wing policies, war making, medical care, coziness with commercial interests. He warns of the coming war in Kandahar and Israel’s possible attack on Iran that could go nuclear.

Like other states, Israel has the right of self-defense. But did Israel have the right to use force in Gaza in the name of self-defense? International law, including the U.N. Charter, is unambiguous: A nation has such a right only if it has exhausted peaceful means. In this case such means were not even tried, although—or perhaps because—there was every reason to suppose that they would succeed. Thus the invasion was sheer criminal aggression, and the same is true of Israel’s resorting to force against the flotilla.

Hijacking boats in international waters and killing passengers is, of course, a serious crime… For decades, Israel has been hijacking boats in international waters between Cyprus and Lebanon, killing or kidnapping passengers, sometimes bringing them to prisons in Israel including secret prison/torture chambers, sometimes holding them as hostages for many years. Israel assumes that it can carry out such crimes with impunity because the US tolerates them and Europe generally follows the US lead.

IOA Editor: UPDATED to correct an omission from Noam Chomsky’s statement on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Citing the US and Israeli refusal of the Arab Peace Initiative since 1976 until this day, Chomsky countered the mainstream argument that it is Palestinian rejectionism that is blocking a settlement. “These facts are not part of general discourse because they lead to the wrong conclusion. The most crucial facts are invisible if they do not conform to the interests of power,” he said. “If the US changes its policy, Israel has no option but to go along – the parameters agreed upon at Taba would be a start.”

“Denying my entry to the West Bank was a minor event, but significant because it indicates irrational behavior on the part of Israel,” the linguist Noam Chomsky said at the start of his lecture last Tuesday to a few dozen students and faculty members of Bir Zeit University. He delivered his lecture, “Americans and the World,” by video conference, of course: He in Amman, his audience in one of the university’s lecture halls.

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.”