Politics Magazine

Chomsky On The Failure To Solve Israeli/Palestinian Crisis

Posted on the 23 October 2014 by Jobsanger
Chomsky On The Failure To Solve Israeli/Palestinian Crisis The picture at left is of Professor Noam Chomsky (Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). The photo is by Duncan Rawlinson, and was found on Wikipedia.
Last Tuesday, Professor Chomsky gave a speech to 800 people in the United Nations General Assembly hall. That speech was about the Israeli-Palestinian situation -- and it was the best explanation of what has been happening over there that I have ever read or seen. If you really want to know what is happening there, and why peace seems impossible, then I urge you to go over to Democracy Now and read or listen to the whole thing.
Here is some of what Professor Chomsky had to say:
Many of the world’s problems are so intractable that it’s hard to think of ways even to take steps towards mitigating them. The Israel-Palestine conflict is not one of these. On the contrary, the general outlines of a diplomatic solution have been clear for at least 40 years. Not the end of the road—nothing ever is—but a significant step forward. And the obstacles to a resolution are also quite clear.
The basic outlines were presented here in a resolution brought to the U.N. Security Council in January 1976. It called for a two-state settlement on the internationally recognized border—and now I’m quoting—"with guarantees for the rights of both states to exist in peace and security within secure and recognized borders." The resolution was brought by the three major Arab states: Egypt, Jordan, Syria—sometimes called the "confrontation states." Israel refused to attend the session. The resolution was vetoed by the United States. A U.S. veto typically is a double veto: The veto, the resolution is not implemented, and the event is vetoed from history, so you have to look hard to find the record, but it is there. That has set the pattern that has continued since. The most recent U.S. veto was in February 2011—that’s President Obama—when his administration vetoed a resolution calling for implementation of official U.S. policy opposition to expansion of settlements. And it’s worth bearing in mind that expansion of settlements is not really the issue; it’s the settlements, unquestionably illegal, along with the infrastructure projects supporting them.
For a long time, there has been an overwhelming international consensus in support of a settlement along these general lines. The pattern that was set in January 1976 continues to the present. Israel rejects a settlement of these terms and for many years has been devoting extensive resources to ensuring that it will not be implemented, with the unremitting and decisive support of the United States—military, economic, diplomatic and indeed ideological—by establishing how the conflict is viewed and interpreted in the United States and within its broad sphere of influence.
There’s no time here to review the record, but its general character is revealed by a look at what has happened in Gaza in the past decade, carrying forward a long history of earlier crimes. Last August, August 26th, a ceasefire was reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. And the question on all our minds is: What are the prospects for the future? Well, one reasonable way to try to answer that question is to look at the record. And here, too, there is a definite pattern: A ceasefire is reached; Israel disregards it and continues its steady assault on Gaza, including continued siege, intermittent acts of violence, more settlement and development projects, often violence in the West Bank; Hamas observes the ceasefire, as Israel officially recognizes, until some Israeli escalation elicits a Hamas response, which leads to another exercise of "mowing the lawn," in Israeli parlance, each episode more fierce and destructive than the last. . .
The pattern is very clear. And so far, at least, it appears to be continuing. The latest ceasefire was reached on August 26th. It was followed at once by Israel’s greatest land grab in 30 years, almost a thousand acres in the Gush Etzion area near what’s called Jerusalem, Greater Jerusalem, about five times the size of anything that Jerusalem ever was, taken over by Israel, annexed in violation of Security Council orders. The U.S. State Department informed the Israeli Embassy that Israeli—I’m quoting it now—"Israeli activity in Gush Etzion undermines American efforts to protect Israel at the United Nations," and urged that Israel shouldn’t provide ammunition for "those at the [United Nations] who would interpret [Israel’s] position as hardening." Actually, that warning was given 47 years ago, in September 1967, at the time of Israel’s first colonization, illegal colonization, of Gush Etzion. Israeli historian Gershom Gorenberg recently reminded us of this. Little has changed since, in the last 47 years, apart from the scale of the crimes, which continue, without a break, with constant U.S. support.
Well, as for the prospects, there is a conventional picture. It’s repeated constantly on all sides—Israel, Palestine, independent commentators, diplomats. The picture that’s presented is that there are two alternatives: either the two-state settlement, which represents an overwhelming international consensus, virtually everyone, and if that fails, there will have to be one state—Israel will take over the West Bank, the Palestinians will hand over the keys, as it’s sometimes said. Palestinians often have favored that. They say then they will be able to carry out a civil rights struggle, maybe modeled on the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, fight for civil rights within the whole one state controlled by Israel. Now, Israelis criticize that on the grounds of what is called "the demographic problem," the fact that there will be too many non-Jews in a Jewish state—in fact, pretty soon a majority. Those are the alternatives that are presented, overwhelmingly, hardly an exception.
My own opinion, which I’ve written about repeatedly—without convincing many people, apparently, but I’ll try to convince you—is that this is a total illusion. Those are not the two alternatives. There are two alternatives, but they’re different ones. One alternative is the international consensus on a two-state settlement, basically the terms of January 1976. By now, it’s virtually everyone—the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic States, includes Iran, Europe, Latin America—informally, at least, about everyone. That’s one option. The other option, the realistic one, is that Israel will continue doing exactly what it is doing right now, before our eyes, visible, with U.S. support, which is also visible. And what’s happening is not a secret. You can open the newspapers and read it.
Israel is taking over what they call Jerusalem, as I mentioned, a huge area, maybe five times the area of historic Jerusalem, Greater Jerusalem, big area in the West Bank, includes many Arab villages being dispossessed, destroyed, bringing settlers in. All of this is doubly illegal. All the settlements are illegal, as determined by the Security Council, advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. But the Jerusalem settlements are doubly illegal, because they’re also in violation of explicit Security Council orders going back to 1968, with the U.S. actually voting for them at that time, barring any change in the status of Jerusalem. But it continues. That’s Greater Jerusalem. There are then corridors extending to the east. One major corridor extending from Jerusalem almost to Jericho, virtually bisecting the West Bank, includes the Israeli town of Ma’ale Adumim, which was built largely during the Clinton administration, Clinton years, with the obvious purpose of bisecting the West Bank—still a little contested territory, but that’s the goal. There’s another corridor further to the north including the town of Ariel, partially bisecting what remains. Another one further to the north including the town of Kedumim. If you look at the map, these essentially break up the West Bank into pretty much cantons. It looks, from a map, as though a large territory is left, but that’s misleading. Most of that is uninhabitable desert. And that’s separate from what I mentioned before, the slow, steady takeover of the Jordan Valley to the east—again, about a third of the arable land, the country.
Israel has no official policy of taking it over, but they’re pursuing the policy in the way that has been carried out now for a hundred years, literally—small steps so nobody notices, or at least people pretend not to notice, establish a military zone. The Palestinians who live there have to be displaced because it’s a military zone, no settlement allowed, and pretty soon there’s a military settlement, Nahal settlement, and another, then, sooner or later, it becomes an actual settlement. Meanwhile, dig wells, dispossess the population, set up green zones—a large variety of techniques which have, by now, reduced the Arab population from about 300,000 in 1967 to roughly 60,000 today. As I mentioned, that essentially imprisons what’s left.
I don’t think Israel has any intention of taking over the Palestinian population concentrations, which are left out of this, these plans. There are analogies often made to South Africa, but they’re quite misleading. South Africa relied on its black population. That was 85 percent of the population. It was its workforce. And they had to sustain them, just like slaveowners have to maintain their capital. They tried to sustain the population. They even tried to gain international support for the bantustans. Israel has no such attitude toward the Palestinians. They don’t want to have anything to do with them. If they leave, that’s fine. If they die, that’s fine. In standard neocolonial pattern, Israel is establishing—permitting the establishment of a center for Palestinian elites in Ramallah, where you have nice restaurants and theaters and so on. Every Third World country under the colonial system had something like that.
Now, that’s the picture that’s emerging. It’s taking shape before our eyes. It has so far worked very well. If it continues, Israel will not face a demographic problem. When these regions are integrated slowly into Israel, actually, the proportion of Jews in Greater Israel will increase. There are very few Palestinians there. Those who are there are being dispossessed, kicked out. That’s what’s taking shape before our eyes. I think that’s the realistic alternative to a two-state settlement. And there’s every reason to expect it to continue as long as the United States supports it.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

Magazines