[OPE-L:6899] Chomsky

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Thu Apr 04 2002 - 22:38:41 EST

Nicky recently wrote:

>Thanks Rakesh, for all these posts:

Don't encourage me.

>  INTERVIEW: Chomsky (ZNet)..
>  Interview with Chomsky
>  April 2, 2002
>  Z: Is there a qualitative change in what's happening now?
>  I think there is a qualitative change. The goal of the Oslo process was
>  accurately described in 1998 by Israeli academic Shlomo Ben-Ami just
>  before he joined the Barak government, going on to become Barak's chief
>  negotiator at Camp David in summer 2000. Ben-Ami observed that "in
>  practice, the Oslo agreements were founded on a neo-colonialist basis,
>  on a life of dependence of one on the other forever." With these goals,
>  the Clinton-Rabin-Peres agreements were designed to impose on the
>  Palestinians "almost total dependence on Israel," creating "an extended
>  colonial situation," which is expected to be the "permanent basis" for
>  "a situation of dependence." The function of the Palestinian Authority
>  (PA) was to control the domestic population of the Israeli-run
>  neocolonial dependency. That is the way the process unfolded, step by
>  step, including the Camp David suggestions. The Clinton-Barak stand
>  (left vague and unambiguous) was hailed here as "remarkable" and
>  "magnanimous," but a look at the facts made it clear that it was -- as
>  commonly described in Israel -- a Bantustan proposal; that is presumably
>  the reason why maps were carefully avoided in the US mainstream. It is
>  true that Clinton-Barak advanced a few steps towards a Bantustan-style
>  settlement of the kind that South Africa instituted in the darkest days
>  of Apartheid. Just prior to Camp David, West Bank Palestinians were
>  confined to over 200 scattered areas, and Clinton-Barak did propose an
>  improvement: consolidation to three cantons, under Israeli control,
>  virtually separated from one another and from the fourth canton, a small
>  area of East Jerusalem, the center of Palestinian life and of
>  communications in the region. And of course separated from Gaza, where
>  the outcome was left unclear.
>  But now that plan has apparently been shelved in favor of demolition of
>  the PA. That means destruction of the institutions of the potential
>  Bantustan that was planned by Clinton and his Israeli partners; in the
>  last few days, even a human rights center. The Palestinian figures who
>  were designated to be the counterpart of the Black leaders of the
>  Bantustans are also under attack, though not killed, presumably because
>  of the international consequences. The prominent Israeli scholar Ze'ev
>  Sternhell writes that the government "is no longer ashamed to speak of
>  war when what they are really engaged in is colonial policing, which
>  recalls the takeover by the white police of the poor neighborhoods of
>  the blacks in South Africa during the apartheid era." This new policy is
>  a regression below the Bantustan model of South Africa 40 years ago to
>  which Clinton-Rabin-Peres-Barak and their associates aspired in the Oslo
>  "peace process."
>  None of this will come as a surprise to those who have been reading
>  critical analyses for the past 10 years, including plenty of material
>  posted regularly on Znet, reviewing developments as they proceeded.
>  Exactly how the Israeli leadership intends to implement these programs
>  is unclear -- to them too, I presume.
>  It is convenient in the US, and the West, to blame Israel and
>  particularly Sharon, but that is unfair and hardly honest. Many of
>  Sharon's worst atrocities were carried out under Labor governments.
>  Peres comes close to Sharon as a war criminal. Furthermore, the prime
>  responsibility lies in Washington, and has for 30 years. That is true of
>  the general diplomatic framework, and also of particular actions. Israel
>  can act within the limits established by the master in Washington,
>  rarely beyond.
>  Z: What's the meaning of Friday's Security Council Resolution?
>  The primary issue was whether there would be a demand for immediate
>  Israeli withdrawal from Ramallah and other Palestinian areas that the
>  Israeli army had entered in the current offensive, or at least a
>  deadline for such withdrawal. The US position evidently prevailed: there
>  is only a vague call for "withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian
>  cities," no time frame specified. The Resolution therefore accords with
>  the official US stand, largely reiterated in the press: Israel is under
>  attack and has the right of self-defense, but shouldn't go too far in
>  punishing Palestinians, at least too visibly. The facts -- hardly
>  controversial -- are quite different. Palestinians have been trying to
>  survive under Israeli military occupation, now in its 35th year. It has
>  been harsh and brutal throughout, thanks to decisive US military and
>  economic support, and diplomatic protection, including the barring of
>  the long-standing international consensus on a peaceful political
>  settlement. There is no symmetry in this confrontation, not the
>  slightest, and to frame it in terms of Israeli self-defense goes beyond
>  even standard forms of distortion in the interests of power. The
>  harshest condemnations of Palestinian terror, which are proper and have
>  been for over 30 years, leave these basic facts unchanged.
>  In scrupulously evading the central immediate issues, the Friday
>  Resolution is similar to the Security Council Resolution of March 12,
>  which elicited much surprise and favorable notice because it not only
>  was not vetoed by the US, in the usual pattern, but was actually
>  initiated by Washington. The Resolution called for a "vision" of a
>  Palestinian state. It therefore did not rise to the level of South
>  Africa 40 years ago when the Apartheid regime did not merely announce a
>  "vision" but actually established Black-run states that were at least as
>  viable and legitimate as what the US and Israel had been planning for
>  the occupied territories.
>  Z: What is the U.S. up to now? What U.S. interests are at stake at this
>  juncture?
>  The US is a global power. What happens in Israel-Palestine is a
>  sidelight. There are many factors entering into US policies. Chief among
>  them in this region of the world is control over the world's major
>  energy resources. The US-Israel alliance took shape in that context. By
>  1958, the National Security Council concluded that a "logical corollary"
>  of opposition to growing Arab nationalism "would be to support Israel as
>  the only strong pro-Western power left in the Middle East." That is an
>  exaggeration, but an affirmation of the general strategic analysis,
>  which identified indigenous nationalism as the primary threat (as
>  elsewhere in the Third World); typically called "Communist," though it
>  is commonly recognized in the internal record that this is a term of
>  propaganda and that Cold War issues were often marginal, as in the
>  crucial year of 1958. The alliance became firm in 1967, when Israel
>  performed an important service for US power by destroying the main
>  forces of secular Arab nationalism, considered a very serious threat to
>  US domination of the Gulf region. So matters continued, after the
>  collapse of the USSR as well. By now the US-Israel-Turkey alliance is a
>  centerpiece of US strategy, and Israel is virtually a US military base,
>  also closely integrated with the militarized US high-tech economy.
>  Within that persistent framework, the US naturally supports Israeli
>  repression of the Palestinians and integration of the occupied
>  territories, including the neocolonial project outlined by Ben-Ami,
>  though specific policy choices have to be made depending on
>  circumstances. Right now, Bush planners continue to block steps towards
>  diplomatic settlement, or even reduction of violence; that is the
>  meaning, for example, of their veto of the Dec. 15 2001 Security Council
>  Resolution calling for steps towards implementing the US Mitchell plan
>  and introduction of international monitors to supervise the reduction of
>  violence. For similar reasons, the US boycotted the Dec. 5 international
>  meetings in Geneva (including the EU, even Britain) which reaffirmed
>  that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the occupied territories,
>  so that critically important US-Israeli actions there are "grave
>  breaches" of the Convention - war crimes, in simple terms - as the
>  Geneva declaration elaborated. That merely reaffirmed the Security
>  Council Resolution of October 2000 (US abstaining), which held once
>  again that the Convention applied to the occupied territories. That had
>  been the official US position as well, stated formally, for example, by
>  George Bush I when he was UN Ambassador. The US regularly abstains or
>  boycotts in such cases, not wanting to take a public stand in opposition
>  to core principles of international law, particularly in the light of
>  the circumstances under which the Conventions were enacted: to
>  criminalize formally the atrocities of the Nazis, including their
>  actions in the territories they occupied. The media and intellectual
>  culture generally cooperate by their own "boycott" of these unwelcome
>  facts: in particular, the fact that as a High Contracting Party, the US
>  government is legally obligated by solemn treaty to punish violators of
>  the Conventions, including its own political leadership.
>  That's only a small sample. Meanwhile the flow of arms and economic
>  support for maintaining the occupation by force and terror and extending
>  settlements continues without any pause.
>  Z: What's your opinion of the Arab summit?
>  The Arab summit led to general acceptance of the Saudi Arabian plan,
>  which reiterated the basic principles of the long-standing international
>  consensus: Israel should withdraw from the occupied territories in the
>  context of a general peace agreement that would guarantee the right of
>  every state in the region, including Israel and a new Palestinian State,
>  to peace and security within recognized borders (the basic wording of UN
>  242, amplified to include a Palestinian state). There is nothing new
>  about this. These are the basic terms of the Security Council resolution
>  of January 1976 backed by virtually the entire world, including the
>  leading Arab states, the PLO, Europe, the Soviet bloc, the non-aligned
>  countries -- in fact, everyone who mattered. It was opposed by Israel
>  and vetoed by the US, thereby vetoed from history. Subsequent and
>  similar initiatives from the Arab states, the PLO, and Western Europe
>  were blocked by the US, continuing to the present. That includes the
>  1981 Fahd plan. That record too has been effectively vetoed from
>  history, for the usual reasons.
>  US rejectionism in fact goes back 5 years earlier, to February 1971,
>  when President Sadat of Egypt offered Israel a full peace treaty in
>  return for Israeli withdrawal from Egyptian territory, not even bringing
>  up Palestinian national rights or the fate of the other occupied
>  territories. Israel's Labor government recognized this as a genuine
>  peace offer, but decided to reject it, intending to extend its
>  settlements to northeastern Sinai; that it soon did, with extreme
>  brutality, the immediate cause for the 1973 war. The plan for the
>  Palestinians under military occupation was described frankly to his
>  Cabinet colleagues by Moshe Dayan, one of the Labor leaders more
>  sympathetic to the Palestinian plight. Israel should make it clear that
>  "we have no solution, you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever
>  wishes may leave, and we will see where this process leads." Following
>  that recommendation, the guiding principle of the occupation has been
>  incessant and degrading humiliation, along with torture, terror,
>  destruction of property, displacement and settlement, and takeover of
>  basic resources, crucially water.
>  Sadat's 1971offer conformed to official US policy, but Kissinger
>  succeeded in instituting his preference for what he called "stalemate":
>  no negotiations, only force. Jordanian peace offers were also dismissed.
>  Since that time, official US policy has kept to the international
>  consensus on withdrawal (until Clinton, who effectively rescinded UN
>  resolutions and considerations of international law); but in practice,
>  policy has followed the Kissinger guidelines, accepting negotiations
>  only when compelled to do so, as Kissinger was after the near-debacle of
>  the 1973 war for which he shares major responsibility, and under the
>  conditions that Ben-Ami articulated.
>  Official doctrine instructs us to focus attention on the Arab summit, as
>  if the Arab states and the PLO are the problem, in particular, their
>  intention to drive Israel into the sea. Coverage presents the basic
>  problem as vacillation, reservations, and qualifications in the Arab
>  world. There is little that one can say in favor of the Arab states and
>  the PLO, but these claims are simply untrue, as a look at the record
>  quickly reveals.
>  The more serious press recognized that the Saudi plan largely reiterated
>  the Saudi Fahd Plan of 1981, claiming that that initiative was
>  undermined by Arab refusal to accept the existence of Israel. The facts
>  are again quite different. The 1981 plan was undermined by an Israeli
>  reaction that even its mainstream press condemned as "hysterical,"
>  backed by the US. That includes Shimon Peres and other alleged doves,
>  who warned that acceptance of the Fahd plan would "threaten Israel's
>  very existence." An indication of the hysteria is the reaction of
>  Israel's President Haim Herzog, also considered a dove. He charged that
>  the "real author" of the Fahd plan was the PLO, and that it was even
>  more extreme than the January 1976 Security Council resolution that was
>  "prepared by" the PLO, at the time when he was Israel's UN Ambassador.
>  These claims can hardly be true, but they are an indication of the
>  desperate fear of a political settlement on the part of Israeli doves,
>  backed throughout by the US. The basic problem then, as now, traces back
>  to Washington, which has persistently backed Israel's rejection of a
>  political settlement in terms of the broad international consensus,
>  reiterated in essentials in the current Saudi proposals.
>  Until such elementary facts as these are permitted to enter into
>  discussion, displacing the standard misrepresentation and deceit,
>  discussion is mostly beside the point. And we should not be drawn into
>  it -- for example, by implicitly accepting the assumption that
>  developments at the Arab summit are a critical problem. They have
>  significance, of course, but it is secondary. The primary problems are
>  right here, and it is our responsibility to face them and deal with
>  them, not to displace them to others.

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