Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Just for the record: Alan Dershowitz said in the debate "
In fact, I do what he recommends, regularly: I google and read the sources, read them in English as much as possible and as far as I know, they are always true, and never selective.
I think a proper transcript of this talk will come up on the MIT World website later. The talk begins at 1:16. I’m responsible for the punctuation.
Chomsky: Thanks. Well, I see you managed to find your way through the maze of room changes, so that’s a help. We almost were assigned to the Lockheed Martin room, but escaped by a miracle, although in a way it would have been appropriate for what I’m going to talk about. The title that was announced was “The Current Crisis in the Middle East,” singular, which is a mistake, it’s my fault. It should have been “crises” plural, because there are quite a few of them.
There are at least four major ones. The first is
It’s commonly recognized and rightly to be the core of the good deal of the turmoil and conflict in the region. In much of the world, that conflict,
The basic outlines of solution were formally presented at the UN Security Council 30 years ago in January 1976. It was the resolution backed by the major Arab states, the most of the world, supported by the PLO: the Palestine Liberation Organization. It incorporated the wording, the basic central wording of what are recognized on all sides to be the core diplomatic document, UN 242 of November, 1967. It incorporated that wording including recognition of the rights of all states in the region to live in peace and security within recognized borders, but it added something to UN 242; 242 said nothing about the Palestinians except the refugees and something ought to be done for them. But by the mid-70s, the Palestinian issue had entered the international agenda. The January 1976 resolution called for two-states, side-by-side, both recognized, both living in peace and security within recognized borders, with some variations. These have been basic outlines of settlement right up to the present, there are a few changes but not much.
Nabatea was reduced to ruins. Last July, once again, there was another act of wanton savagery. It’s actually vivid for several of us here, because we just visited at-- it was a couple of weeks ago, a flourishing hopeful town. Walk to the streets, they were welcomed into homes; now, all heaps of rubble, even burial grounds for people we met.
The 1976 resolution was not only supported by the major Arab states, their confrontation states as they’re called, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, but as I mentioned, they were also supported by the PLO, which denounced what it called “the tyranny of veto” after the United States vetoed it.
In fact 1976, which I mentioned, was not the first case. The first case, and a very important one, was 1971. In 1971, President Sadat of
In fact 1976, which I mentioned, was not the first case. The first case, and a very important one, was 1971. In 1971, President Sadat of
A real question was how the
That led directly to the 1973 war, which turned out to be a very close thing for
Actually the terms that the US and
Well, the 1971 decision, which unfortunately is rarely discussed, I think was one of the most fateful ones in
So take, what happened this summer is the destruction of, the on-going destruction of
The most dramatic recent example is invasion of
But there were other priorities and increasing the risk of terror, maybe nuclear terror, maybe a nuclear war is just not a high priority for state managers. Many examples in history, where were replete with examples.
This threat of peace has arisen-- that Avnery’s talks about--has arisen constantly. Take 1982. That was the year of the worst US-Israeli invasion of
And we understand the reasons. There’s pretty good record. Immediately after the invasion, Israel’s leading scholar on Palestinians, a Hebrew university professor Yehoshua Porath, who is incidentally no dove, explained in Israel’s leading newspaper that Israel was facing what the government regarded as “a veritable catastrophe,” in his words, “a veritable catastrophe” was embarrassing PLO offers for negotiations, which were becoming harder and harder to evade. That would be a catastrophe, said from their point of view, of Israeli government, it’s much better to drive the PLO back to terrorism and avoid this dread threat of political settlement. It was pretty openly described that the highest political and military echelons as a war for the
Thomas Friedman is a typical example. According to him and many others, the invasion was undertaken to protect northern
The first act of invasion was to bomb the Sabra/Shatila refugee camp, later the site of a famous or infamous massacre. That bombing which opened the war killed 200 Palestinians in the camps, according to an American Middle East specialist Cheryl Rubenberg, who was there at that time. The invasion went on to kill maybe 15-20,000 more people. We really never know the numbers of our victims; they are not counted. The only numbers that are counted where we have detailed forensic analysis to try to pick up every piece of bomb and so on as somebody else’s crimes. But rough estimate is in 15-20,000 range, destroyed much of
The pretexts for the other invasions, including the latest one in July, collapse on the slightest examination. I won’t run through them, there’s plenty in print.
They largely reduce when you look at them to the same motives, the same concerns. One concern is maintaining the rejectionist stance, not with respect to Palestinian rights, rejecting it unilaterally in the world. And the second is maintaining regional dominance for what has become predictably since 1971 a US client state, by now virtually an offshore military base and high tech center.
The invasion in July(2006) is not much difference, the same basic reasons except there was another one plausible reason--we don’t have internal documents obviously, so anything you say is speculation--but another likely reason was to eliminate a Lebanese-based deterrent to an eventual attack on Iran if the US and Israel decide to undertake it.
Well, US-Israel rejectionism is not rhetoric, it also goes on to deeds which is a lot more important. It means regular projects of settlement in the
The settlement and infrastructure development continued steadily, steady pace all along, the
Today there’s a euphemism for it: it’s called “convergence,” and we’re supposed to praise it as courageous withdrawal. Actually the convergence program, announced a couple of months ago, is a program of annexation and dismemberment and imprisonment explicitly: Israel annexes valuable lands and major resources particularly water, the rest of the shrinking territories assigned to the Palestinians are broken up, dismembered to virtually separated cantons, all of them are virtually separated from whatever sliver of Jerusalem is to be left to Palestinians--it’s the center of commercial, educational, cultural, political life. And it’s all imprisoned, because
They were described to the Cabinet, for example, by Moshe Dayan, who was, one of among the Israeli leaders, one of the most sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians. His advice to the Cabinet was that
The background reasoning was given by Chaim Herzog, later, the president, as I mentioned, in 1972, he said, “I do not deny the Palestinians a place or stand or opinion on every matter. But certainly I am not prepared to consider them as partners in any respect in a land that has been consecrated in the hands of our nation for thousands of years. For the Jews of this land,” that means everything to the west of
Well, it was not unanimous, not everyone agreed. One of those who didn’t agree was the hawkish, military governor of the
The Israeli government had no interest at all, it didn’t even respond. It rejected all such proposals, their intent was full Israeli control: what Dayan called “permanent rule” over the territories and expansion into Sinai at that time. Pretty much the same policies are carried out within
So just two days ago, one of
The rejectionism is quite consistent. To just to mention one or another striking moment, in 1988, the Palestinian National Council formally accepted a two-state settlement on the international border, before that, they implicitly accepted it.
In fact, to be precise, there has been one break. One week in Taba, in
But that’s the one real break in 30 years of US-Israeli rejectionism. After that, negotiations continued, what are called track 2 negotiations, non-official negotiations with high-level negotiators, that continued, finally led to the Geneva Accord, which was released in December 2002, was welcomed by almost the entire world, the Arab states, the PLO.
Among the relevant actors today, this kind of political settlement, it’s like details changing, this general form of this settlement is accepted with near unanimity. It’s formally accepted by the Arab League--that’s the plan that Uri Avnery was referring to--the 2002 Arab League Plan, which called for normalization of relations with
Actually there are only two significant opponents of what Hillel called “George Bush’s vision,” of a two-state settlement. The two opponents are George Bush and his administration and Prime Minister Olmert of
Well, from the start, it’s now almost 37 years, the occupation has been harsh and brutal, there has been no credible security pretext, today there’s mounting savagery.
There is a policy that was called “
In order to make it look dramatic, they staged what was ridiculed by some Israeli commentators correctly “They staged a national trauma,” to make it look just extremely painful to withdraw from this area. So in fact, (….) remembers, too, there was a huge media extravaganza, pictures of a little Jewish boy trying to hold back the soldiers destroying his house and so on. All-stage, it was, a lot of settlers were allowed in, so that could be pretense of violence; there wasn’t any. But then you can say “never again, never again, we shall abandon our land, the Jewish should not suffer” and so on. The withdrawal could have been done perfectly quietly. All that was necessary was for
It became worse in January (2006). What happened in January is that the Palestinians committed a major crime: they voted the wrong way in a free election. And that has to be punished. The
In fact, it’s a standard operating procedure; there are many examples in recent American history. Famous one, it should be famous is
It’s another sign of many other examples. Another sign is the almost visceral hatred for democracy, functioning democracy on the part of the Bush administration but in fact elite opinion pretty generally, this goes back a long time.
Democracy is fine under a particular definition. Democracy is fine if it comes down to do what we say or else. And “or else” can be pretty brutal. The record is voluminous, but it’s very well contained, it’s one of the major successes of containment doctrine.
In June, this year 2006, the Israeli attacks on
What was the reason for the June escalation? Well, there’s an official story, again we can go to the Boston Globe. The Globe explained as follows. It said: “The attack on military targets inside
Well, it’s useful to bear in mind that all of this is pure cynical farce. That was demonstrated conclusively the day before the capture of corporal Gilad Shalit. The day before, Israeli forces, June 24, kidnapped and abducted two Gaza civilians, a doctor and his brother, Muamar brothers, kidnapped, taken join thousands of others somewhere in the Israeli prisons who were also kidnapped--it’s called “the administrative detention” held without charges-- there are about 8,000 others who were technically sentenced and put on trial that are mockery, many of them were transported from the Occupied Territories to Israel, which is another violation of international law, the Geneva Conventions. But with impunity, it goes under the umbrella of the outlaw superpower and the reining intellectual and moral culture which permits all this in clients.
The kidnapping of the Muamar brothers was certainly known but it wasn’t reported in the Boston Globe. It was reported a little bit elsewhere, there were scattered reports, pretty marginal, quickly dismissed. The Washington Post had 87 words on it; it was quickly forgotten. Kidnapping civilians is a far more serous crime than capture of a soldier. But crimes don’t matter when they’re committed by our side, just as elections don’t count if they come out the wrong way. Recall that I’m not quoting the redneck barbarians, I’m quoting the voice of the educated liberal elite, in the essence of
Well, Olmert explains soulfully that he just has to do it. The reason is that there is no Palestinian partner. Hamas, the governing party, doesn’t qualify, nor did its predecessor. It’s true that Hamas observed a year-and-a-half truce, despite regular Israeli atrocities, and it called for a semi-permanent truce during negotiations for a two-state settlement. But that’s not enough.
Hamas has first to satisfy three interesting conditions: First, it has to recognize
The second crisis is
There is now a ceasefire, the
Either that’s incredibly in bad quality control or the intention is to render areas uninhabitable. The death toll right now is reported about four a day. A little child picks one of these things up, he thinks it’s a ball, his head’s blown off. Patrick Cockburn in the British press, an excellent reporter, reports that “
Israeli artillery officers who are now being quoted pretty extensively in the Hebrew press estimated that the IDF fired 160,000 shells during the recent war. By comparison in the 1973 war with
On July 13, Israeli rockets hit a fuel storage tank at the main power station in
Many of you, I’m sure, read science magazine, the Triple S journal, its latest issue says that 15,000 tons have washed the shore, small proportion of it. They revealed high concentration of cancer-causing aromatic hydro carbons, much has sunk below the surface, causing further risks to the food chain and difficulties for clean up. The Environment Minister of Lebanon stated that “a highly poisonous cloud has spread over a third of the country, an area that’s home to half of its people from the fire that burned for 12 days, it has high levels of poisonous lead and mercury, highly dangerous PCBs,” continue with him, “not only have we been breathing this for a month but all the agricultural produce has been subjected to it. Even worse, all these poisons will come down with the rain, and some will seep through the soil, and give us a polluted water table. Then in a couple of years every single citizen in
He expected more Lebanese to die from the pollution than the 1200-1300 overwhelmingly civilians who were killed in the war. It’s bigger disaster even than the war itself. Notice all of this is purposeful, you don’t miss targets like that. Well, what’s the reason for the savagery of the US-Israeli assault? You should make no doubt about it, the blood is in our hands.
There’s a standard explanation like the Globe’s. Hezbollah committed an intolerable act of aggression by capturing the soldiers. And again, this is pure cynical farce. For decades,
What about the Israeli withdrawal from
Well, if the world were ruled by justice, not force, the expanded UNIFIL force--they were all ruling about--would be not in the southern
Let’s turn to the third crisis,
Well, there are some principles. One principle is that invading armies have no rights whatsoever: they have only obligations and responsibilities. The first obligation is to pay massive reparations for the crime of aggression: the supreme international crime, according to the
The second major obligation is to observe the will of the victims. That’s a primary obligation of an invading force. We know pretty well what that will is. There are regular US-run polls taken in
There’s a great deal of discussion going on about the withdrawal plans, almost invariably--I’ve yet found an exception--evading the main issue. For the
Europe is intimidated when the
There are already major organizations. Shanghai Cooperation Council includes Central Asian states. Asian Energy Security Grid based primarily in
Let’s talk about the forth crisis briefly,
And threats are very real, they’re not just words. The last couple of years, the
The first effect is to harm Iranian reformers, democratic reformers who are complaining bitterly about it.
The most well known of them, Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Prize laureate, has written that “the threat of regime change by military force, while reserved as an option by some in the western world,” polite reference to the United States, and that threat “endangers nearly all the efforts democracy-minded Iranians have made in these recent years. The threat of military force gives the system a pretext to crack down on its legitimate opposition and undermines the nascent civil society that is slowly taking shape here. It means Iranians overlook their resentment of the regime and move behind their unpopular leaders out of defensive nationalism. I can think of no scenario more alarming, no internal shift more dangerous than that endangered by the West,” the
The second consequence of the