By Richard Hall, The Daily Star – Beirut, 27 May 2010
BEIRUT — There is little prospect for peace between Israel and the Palestinians until a drastic change in the United States’ foreign policy occurs, said Noam Chomsky on Tuesday, during a lecture at UNESCO Palace entitled “US foreign policy in the Middle East.”
The world-renowned linguist, political analyst and author noted that the times the two sides had come closest to peace was when the US accepted the internationally recognized conditions for a two-state solution and pressured Israel into accepting an agreement.
“Clinton recognized that the terms at Camp David were unacceptable, so he introduced what became known as the ‘Clinton Parameters,’ which both sides accepted.” “What this tells us is if a US President decides to join the world in permitting a settlement, a lot can happen.”
Chomsky also spoke of how crucial facts about the conflict are often ignored by the media. 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.”
When asked about what citizens could do to influence US policy toward Israel, Chomsky proposed that the best place to start would be to target the forces that influence policy in the US namely: big businesses.
“The main forces that shape US policy in the Middle East are the same that shape its policy everywhere else – concentrations of private capital … If these forces were to shift their capital, the Israeli lobby would collapse in two minutes,” he said.
Chomsky also discussed the latest crisis in the Middle East over Iran’s nuclear program, saying that if Iran was indeed seeking nuclear weapons they would be doing so to deter aggression against them rather than to use them against Israel.
The 81-year-old professor ended by urging people to focus their activism on achievable aims, rather than on the ideal outcome, because this would play into the hands of those whom they oppose.
“Put the perfect outcome off until you reach a point where it is achievable, otherwise it’s just words … If you want to feel good about yourself, fine. If you want to help Palestinians, think carefully about what each action will achieve.”