noam chomsky

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Noam Chomsky has to be one of the most brilliant minds of this generation, and his commitment to justice for the Palestinian people is beyond question. Even so, I must confess that I find his pessimism debilitating at times!

Perhaps Chomsky is just a realist and it is me who lives in unrealistic hope for a Palestinian state. Certainly, as he points out in this article, there is nothing going on at present that would suggest that any viable ‘two-state solution’ is around the corner. Even so, I am a man of faith, and believe, to quote Martin Luther King Jr., that while the arc of history is long, “it bends towards justice!”

Father Dave

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

source: www.info…

Israel’s West Bank Plans Will Leave Palestinians Very Little

By Noam Chomsky

August 17, 2013 “Information Clearing House –   The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks beginning in Jerusalem proceed within a framework of assumptions that merit careful thought.

One prevailing assumption is that there are two options: either a two-state settlement will be reached, or there will be a “shift to a nearly inevitable outcome of the one remaining reality — a state ‘from the sea to the river’,” an outcome posing “an immediate existential threat of the erasure of the identity of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” because of what is termed “the demographic problem,” a future Palestinian majority in the single state.

This particular formulation is by former Israeli Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin, but the basic assumptions are near universal in political commentary and scholarship. They are, however, crucially incomplete. There is a third option, the most realistic one: Israel will carry forward its current policies with full U.S. economic, military, and diplomatic support, sprinkled with some mild phrases of disapproval.

The policies are quite clear. Their roots go back to the 1967 war and they have been pursued with particular dedication since the Oslo Accords of September 1993.

The Accords determined that Gaza and the West Bank are an indivisible territorial entity. Israel and the U.S. moved at once to separate them, which means that any autonomy Palestinians might gain in the West Bank will have no direct access to the outside world.

A second step was to carry forward the creation of a vastly expanded Greater Jerusalem, incorporating it within Israel, as its capital. This is in direct violation of Security Council orders and is a serious blow to any hope for a viable Palestinian entity. A corridor to the east of the new Greater Jerusalem incorporates the settler town of Ma’aleh Adumim, established in the 1970s but built primarily after the Oslo Accords, virtually bisecting the West Bank.

Corridors to the north including other settler towns divide what is to remain under some degree of Palestinian control — “Bantustans,” as they were called by one of the main architects of the policy, Ariel Sharon, in a reference to the territory set aside for black South Africans during the apartheid era.

Meanwhile Israel is incorporating the territory on the Israeli side of the “separation wall” cutting through the West Bank, taking arable land and water resources and Palestinian villages.

Included are the settlement blocs that “will remain part of Israel in any possible future peace agreement,” as stated by Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev as the current negotiations were announced.

The International Court of Justice ruled that all of this is illegal, and the Security Council had already ruled that all of the settlements are illegal. The U.S. joined the world in accepting that conclusion in the early years of the occupation. But under Ronald Reagan, the position was changed to “harmful to peace,” and Barack Obama has weakened it further to “not helpful to peace.”

Israel has also been clearing the Jordan Valley of Palestinians while establishing Jewish settlements, sinking wells, and otherwise preparing for eventual integration of the region within Israel.

That will complete the isolation of any West Bank Palestinian entity. Meanwhile huge infrastructure projects throughout the West Bank, from which Palestinians are barred, carry forward the integration to Israel, and presumably eventual annexation.

The areas that Israel is taking over will be virtually free of Arabs. There will be no new “demographic problem” or civil rights or anti-apartheid struggle, contrary to what many advocates of Palestinian rights anticipate in a single state.

There remain open questions. Notably, pre-Obama, U.S. presidents have prevented Israel from building settlements on the E1 site — a controversial area in the West Bank that Israel hopes to develop — which would complete the separation of Greater Jerusalem from Palestinian-controlled area. What will happen here is uncertain.

As the negotiations opened, Israel made its intentions clear by announcing new construction in East Jerusalem and scattered settlements, while also extending its “national priority list” of settlements that receive special subsidies to encourage building and inducements for Jewish settlers.

Obama made his intentions clear by appointing as chief negotiator Martin Indyk, whose background is in the Israeli lobby, a close associate of negotiator and presidential adviser Dennis Ross, whose guiding principle has been that Israel has “needs,” which plainly overcome mere Palestinian wants.

These developments bring to the fore a second common assumption: that Palestinians have been hindering the peace process by imposing preconditions. In reality, the U.S. and Israel impose crucial preconditions. One is that the process must be in the hands of the United States, which is an active participant in the conflict on Israel’s side, not an “honest broker.” A second is that the illegal Israel settlement activities must be allowed to continue.

There is an overwhelming international consensus in support of a two-state settlement on the internationally recognized border, perhaps with “minor and mutual adjustments” of this 1949 cease-fire line, in the wording of much earlier U.S. policy. The consensus includes the Arab states and the Organization of Islamic States (including Iran). It has been blocked by the U.S. and Israel since 1976, when the U.S. vetoed a resolution to this effect brought by Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

The rejectionist record continues to the present. Washington’s most recent veto of a Security Council resolution on Palestinian territory was in February 2011, a resolution calling for implementation of official U.S. policy — an end to expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements. And the rejectionist record goes far beyond the Security Council.

Also misleading is the question whether the hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would accept a “Palestinian state.” In fact, his administration was the first to countenance this possibility when it came into office in 1996, following Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, who rejected this outcome. Netanyahu’s associate David bar-Illan explained that some areas would be left to Palestinians, and if they wanted to call them “a state,” Israel would not object — or they could call them “fried chicken.”

His response reflects the operative attitude of the U.S.-Israel coalition to Palestinian rights.

In the region, there is great skepticism about Washington’s current revival of the “peace process.” It is not hard to see why.

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It is a great encouragement to see Uncle Noam still out there on the front lines, taking his stand alongside so many voiceless Palestinians! He gains nothing but ire and accusations for his tireless work of exposing hypocrisy in high places.

Chomsky is a Jew, of course, which adds to the sting of his critique so far as the Zionist establishment is concerned. Moreover, he is an American Jew, whose harshest criticisms are generally reserved for the leaders of his own country.

At 84 years old one has to wonder how much longer the great man can maintain his global prophetic role. Certainly we will all be a great deal poorer when he leaves the world stage.

Father Dave

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

source: www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/07/27/315745/us-not-a-neutral-party-in-mideast-talks/…

US not a neutral party in Mideast talks: Noam Chomsky

Renowned American academician Noam Chomsky says the United States cannot act as a mediator in the talks between Israel and Palestine because it is not neutral.

He told reporters Friday in Geneva the US-brokered resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians likely will not amount to much, but Europe could change that if it were willing to break from American policies supporting Israel.

Preliminary talks are scheduled to begin in Washington on July 30.

“It’s hard to be optimistic, but Europe could play a role,” said Chomsky. “By and large, Europe has not developed an independent Middle East policy.”

Europe “consistently follows the US stand,” which punishes Palestinians whose land is settled by Israelis, and “there’s no reason why Europe should support illegal settlements,” he noted.

The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts made to establish peace in the Middle East.

A report released in May revealed that the Israeli regime confiscated 1,977 acres of the Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank for its settlement activity during 2012.

The settlements, which cover an area roughly equal to 1,035 soccer fields and twice as big as New York’s Central Park, were approved by “military order,” according to the report by the Israeli daily Haaretz on May 27.

The report said most of the new settlements were located deep in the Palestinian-inhabited West Bank.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.

The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in the war of 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

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More direct and prophetic words from Noam Chomsky!

I must say that I’m not used to Chomsky speaking in such an unqualified way. It seems that he’s tired of maintaining an appearance of academic impartiality. And why should he? The human cost of this tragedy is far too high to worry about professional protocols. This violence should make us angry – angry enough to pray with passion and to commit ourselves to non-violent activism for justice.

Father Dave

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

November 8, 2012

Even a single night in jail is enough to give a taste of what it means to be under the total control of some external force.

And it hardly takes more than a day in Gaza to appreciate what it must be like to try to survive in the world’s largest open-air prison, where some 1.5 million people on a roughly 140-square-mile strip of land are subject to random terror and arbitrary punishment, with no purpose other than to humiliate and degrade.

Such cruelty is to ensure that Palestinian hopes for a decent future will be crushed, and that the overwhelming global support for a diplomatic settlement granting basic human rights will be nullified. The Israeli political leadership has dramatically illustrated this commitment in the past few days, warning that they will “go crazy” if Palestinian rights are given even limited recognition by the U.N.

This threat to “go crazy” (“nishtagea”) – that is, launch a tough response – is deeply rooted, stretching back to the Labor governments of the 1950s, along with the related “Samson Complex”: If crossed, we will bring down the Temple walls around us.

Thirty years ago, Israeli political leaders, including some noted hawks, submitted to Prime Minister Menachem Begin a shocking report on how settlers on the West Bank regularly committed “terrorist acts” against Arabs there, with total impunity.

Disgusted, the prominent military-political analyst Yoram Peri wrote that the Israeli army’s task, it seemed, was not to defend the state, but “to demolish the rights of innocent people just because they are Araboushim (a harsh racial epithet) living in territories that God promised to us.”

Gazans have been singled out for particularly cruel punishment. Thirty years ago, in his memoir “The Third Way,” Raja Shehadeh, a lawyer, described the hopeless task of trying to protect fundamental human rights within a legal system designed to ensure failure, and his personal experience as a Samid, “a steadfast one,” who watched his home turned into a prison by brutal occupiers and could do nothing but somehow “endure.”

Since then, the situation has become much worse. The Oslo Accords, celebrated with much pomp in 1993, determined that Gaza and the West Bank are a single territorial entity. By that time, the U.S. and Israel had already initiated their program to separate Gaza and the West Bank, so as to block a diplomatic settlement and punish the Araboushim in both territories.

Punishment of Gazans became still more severe in January 2006, when they committed a major crime: They voted the “wrong way” in the first free election in the Arab world, electing Hamas.

Displaying their “yearning for democracy,” the U.S. and Israel, backed by the timid European Union, immediately imposed a brutal siege, along with military attacks. The U.S. turned at once to its standard operating procedure when a disobedient population elects the wrong government: Prepare a military coup to restore order.

Gazans committed a still greater crime a year later by blocking the coup attempt, leading to a sharp escalation of the siege and attacks. These culminated in winter 2008-09, with Operation Cast Lead, one of the most cowardly and vicious exercises of military force in recent memory: A defenseless civilian population, trapped, was subjected to relentless attack by one of the world’s most advanced military systems, reliant on U.S. arms and protected by U.S. diplomacy.

Of course, there were pretexts – there always are. The usual one, trotted out when needed, is “security”: in this case, against homemade rockets from Gaza.

In 2008, a truce was established between Israel and Hamas. Not a single Hamas rocket was fired until Israel broke the truce under cover of the U.S. election on Nov. 4, invading Gaza for no good reason and killing half a dozen Hamas members.

The Israeli government was advised by its highest intelligence officials that the truce could be renewed by easing the criminal blockade and ending military attacks. But the government of Ehud Olmert – himself reputedly a dove – rejected these options, resorting to its huge advantage in violence: Operation Cast Lead.

The internationally respected Gazan human-rights advocate Raji Sourani analyzed the pattern of attack under Cast Lead. The bombing was concentrated in the north, targeting defenseless civilians in the most densely populated areas, with no possible military basis. The goal, Sourani suggests, may have been to drive the intimidated population to the south, near the Egyptian border. But the Samidin stayed put.

A further goal might have been to drive them beyond the border. From the earliest days of the Zionist colonization it was argued that Arabs have no real reason to be in Palestine: They can be just as happy somewhere else, and should leave – politely “transferred,” the doves suggested.

This is surely no small concern in Egypt, and perhaps a reason why Egypt doesn’t open the border freely to civilians or even to desperately needed supplies.

Sourani and other knowledgeable sources have observed that the discipline of the Samidin conceals a powder keg that might explode at any time, unexpectedly, like the first Intifada in Gaza in 1987, after years of repression.

A necessarily superficial impression after spending several days in Gaza is amazement, not only at Gazans’ ability to go on with life but also at the vibrancy and vitality among young people, particularly at the university, where I attended an international conference.

But one can detect signs that the pressure may become too hard to bear. Reports indicate that there is simmering frustration among young people – a recognition that under the U.S.-Israeli occupation the future holds nothing for them.

Gaza has the look of a Third World country, with pockets of wealth surrounded by hideous poverty. It is not, however, undeveloped. Rather it is “de-developed,” and very systematically so, to borrow the term from Sara Roy, the leading academic specialist on Gaza.

The Gaza Strip could have become a prosperous Mediterranean region, with rich agriculture and a flourishing fishing industry, marvelous beaches and, as discovered a decade ago, good prospects for extensive natural gas supplies within its territorial waters. By coincidence or not, that’s when Israel intensified its naval blockade. The favorable prospects were aborted in 1948, when the Strip had to absorb a flood of Palestinian refugees who fled in terror or were forcefully expelled from what became Israel – in some cases months after the formal cease-fire Israel’s 1967 conquests and their aftermath administered further blows, with terrible crimes continuing to the present day.

The signs are easy to see, even on a brief visit. Sitting in a hotel near the shore, one can hear the machine-gun fire of Israeli gunboats driving fishermen out of Gaza’s territorial waters and toward land, forcing them to fish in waters that are heavily polluted because of U.S.-Israeli refusal to allow reconstruction of the sewage and power systems they destroyed.

The Oslo Accords laid plans for two desalination plants, a necessity in this arid region. One, an advanced facility, was built: in Israel. The second one is in Khan Yunis, in the south of Gaza. The engineer in charge at Khan Yunis explained that this plant was designed so that it can’t use seawater, but must rely on underground water, a cheaper process that further degrades the meager aquifer, guaranteeing severe problems in the future.

The water supply is still severely limited. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which cares for refugees but not other Gazans, recently released a report warning that damage to the aquifer may soon become “irreversible,” and that without quick remedial action, Gaza may cease to be a “livable place” by 2020.

Israel permits concrete to enter for UNRWA projects, but not for Gazans engaged in the huge reconstruction efforts. The limited heavy equipment mostly lies idle, since Israel does not permit materials for repair.

All this is part of the general program that Dov Weisglass, an adviser to Prime Minister Olmert, described after Palestinians failed to follow orders in the 2006 elections: “The idea,” he said, “is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

Recently, after several years of effort, the Israeli human rights organization Gisha succeeded in obtaining a court order for the government to release its records detailing plans for the “diet.” Jonathan Cook, a journalist based in Israel, summarizes them: “Health officials provided calculations of the minimum number of calories needed by Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants to avoid malnutrition. Those figures were then translated into truckloads of food Israel was supposed to allow in each day … an average of only 67 trucks – much less than half of the minimum requirement – entered Gaza daily. This compared to more than 400 trucks before the blockade began.”

The result of imposing the diet, Middle East scholar Juan Cole observes, is that “about 10 percent of Palestinian children in Gaza under age 5 have had their growth stunted by malnutrition. … In addition, anemia is widespread, affecting over two-thirds of infants, 58.6 percent of schoolchildren, and over a third of pregnant mothers.”

Sourani, the human-rights advocate, observes that “what has to be kept in mind is that the occupation and the absolute closure is an ongoing attack on the human dignity of the people in Gaza in particular and all Palestinians generally. It is systematic degradation, humiliation, isolation and fragmentation of the Palestinian people.”

This conclusion has been confirmed by many other sources. In The Lancet, a leading medical journal, Rajaie Batniji, a visiting Stanford physician, describes Gaza as “something of a laboratory for observing an absence of dignity,” a condition that has “devastating” effects on physical, mental and social well-being.

“The constant surveillance from the sky, collective punishment through blockade and isolation, the intrusion into homes and communications, and restrictions on those trying to travel, or marry, or work make it difficult to live a dignified life in Gaza,” Batniji writes. The Araboushim must be taught not to raise their heads.

There were hopes that Mohammed Morsi’s new government in Egypt, which is less in thrall to Israel than the western-backed Hosni Mubarak dictatorship was, might open the Rafah Crossing, Gaza’s sole access to the outside that is not subject to direct Israeli control. There has been a slight opening, but not much.

The journalist Laila el-Haddad writes that the reopening under Morsi “is simply a return to status quo of years past: Only Palestinians carrying an Israeli-approved Gaza ID card can use Rafah Crossing.” This excludes a great many Palestinians, including el-Haddad’s own family, where only one spouse has a card.

Furthermore, she continues, “the crossing does not lead to the West Bank, nor does it allow for the passage of goods, which are restricted to the Israeli-controlled crossings and subject to prohibitions on construction materials and export.”

The restricted Rafah Crossing doesn’t change the fact that “Gaza remains under tight maritime and aerial siege, and continues to be closed off to the Palestinians’ cultural, economic and academic capitals in the rest of the (Israeli-occupied territories), in violation of U.S.-Israeli obligations under the Oslo Accords.”

The effects are painfully evident. The director of the Khan Yunis hospital, who is also chief of surgery, describes with anger and passion how even medicines are lacking, which leaves doctors helpless and patients in agony.

One young woman reports on her late father’s illness. Though he would have been proud that she was the first woman in the refugee camp to gain an advanced degree, she says, he “passed away after six months of fighting cancer, aged 60 years.

“Israeli occupation denied him a permit to go to Israeli hospitals for treatment. I had to suspend my study, work and life and go to sit next to his bed. We all sat, including my brother the physician and my sister the pharmacist, all powerless and hopeless, watching his suffering. He died during the inhumane blockade of Gaza in summer 2006 with very little access to health service.

“I think feeling powerless and hopeless is the most killing feeling that a human can ever have. It kills the spirit and breaks the heart. You can fight occupation but you cannot fight your feeling of being powerless. You can’t even ever dissolve that feeling.”

A visitor to Gaza can’t help feeling disgust at the obscenity of the occupation, compounded with guilt, because it is within our power to bring the suffering to an end and allow the Samidin to enjoy the lives of peace and dignity that they deserve.

Noam Chomsky’s most recent collection of columns is “Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance.” Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

Source URL: www.alternet.org…

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A courageous and unambiguous statement from one of the greatest minds of this generation!

source: www.salem-news.com…

Noam Chomsky

Professor Noam Chomsky

Chomsky Statement on Israel’s War on Gaza 

It is not a war, it is murder.

The incursion and bombardment of Gaza is not about destroying Hamas. It is not about stopping rocket fire into Israel, it is not about achieving peace.

The Israeli decision to rain death and destruction on Gaza, to use lethal weapons of the modern battlefield on a largely defenseless civilian population, is the final phase in a decades-long campaign to ethnically-cleanse Palestinians.

Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely-crowded refugee camps, schools, apartment blocks, mosques, and slums to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armor, no command in control, no army… and calls it a war. It is not a war, it is murder.

When Israelis in the occupied territories now claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing. You can’t defend yourself when you’re militarily occupying someone else’s land. That’s not defense. Call it what you like, it’s not defense.

Noam Chomsky

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If Chomsky can find a visit to Gaza encouraging then we all have grounds for hope!

Father Dave

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

source: Israel Hayom

The outspoken intellectual was a guest in the coastal area of Rafah for two days. Speaking after the conference, Chomsky told Reuters he was stirred by how Palestinians continued to conduct themselves.

“[My] main impression is how inspiring it is to see people living under extreme duress but nevertheless remain vibrant, vigorous, active, hopeful, resilient and continuing the struggle,” he said.

Chomsky was denied entry to the West Bank in May 2010 by Israeli immigration officials. His intention was to visit Birzeit University and the Institute for Palestine Studies in Ramallah in the West Bank.

An Israeli Interior Ministry spokeswoman said immigration officials at the border crossing had misunderstood Chomsky’s intentions, thinking initially he was also due to visit Israel.

Chomsky, a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has frequently and outspokenly criticized Israel’s policies toward Palestinians and has openly slammed U.S. regional policy.

Later on Saturday he visited Gaza port and voiced anger over Israeli naval actions in seizing an international pro-Palestinian activist ship in the Mediterranean Sea to prevent it breaching Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

“I should say that every time Israel stops a boat, that’s another blow to its diminishing legitimacy and another element of support, both to the those who are resisting internally and to those who are opposing the policies outside, and sooner or later the wave will sweep over the barriers,” Chomsky told a news conference, standing in front of posters saying “Freedom Flotilla.”

The ship Estelle was carrying 30 activists from Europe, Canada and Israel, humanitarian cargo such as cement, and goodwill items such as children’s books, a mission spokesman said earlier on Saturday.

Palestinians describe the curbs as collective punishment for the Gaza Strip’s 1.6 million residents, and supporters abroad have mounted several attempts to break the blockade by sea.

Most were stopped by Israel, and in an incident in May 2010, Israeli naval commandos killed nine Turkish activists in clashes aboard their ship after they attacked the Israeli soldiers.

An inquiry into that incident commissioned by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon found that Israel’s Gaza blockade was legal but faulted the Israel Navy for using excessive force.

Chomsky last visited Israel and the West Bank in 1997, when he lectured at Ben-Gurion University and also at Birzeit.