[dehai-news] Undermining Gaza

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From: wolda002@umn.edu
Date: Tue Jan 20 2009 - 01:03:04 EST

Chomsky: Undermining Gaza

Sameer Dossani | January 16, 2009

Editor: Emily Schwartz Greco

Noam Chomsky is a noted linguist, author, and foreign policy expert. Sameer
Dossani interviewed him about the conflict between Israel and Gaza.

DOSSANI: The Israeli government and many Israeli and U.S. officials claim
that the current assault on Gaza is to put an end to the flow of Qassam
rockets from Gaza into Israel. But many observers claim that if that were
really the case, Israel would have made much more of an effort to renew the
ceasefire agreement that expired in December, which had all but stopped the
rocket fire. In your opinion, what are the real motivations behind the
current Israeli action?

CHOMSKY: There's a theme that goes way back to the origins of Zionism. And
it's a very rational theme: "Let's delay negotiations and diplomacy as long
as possible, and meanwhile we'll 'build facts on the ground.'" So Israel
will create the basis for what some eventual agreement will ratify, but the
more they create, the more they construct, the better the agreement will be
for their purposes. Those purposes are essentially to take over everything
of value in the former Palestine and to undermine what's left of the
indigenous population.

I think one of the reasons for popular support for this in the United
States is that it resonates very well with American history. How did the
United States get established? The themes are similar.

There are many examples of this theme being played out throughout Israel's
history, and the current situation is another case. They have a very clear
program. Rational hawks like Ariel Sharon realized that it's crazy to keep
8,000 settlers using one-third of the land and much of the scarce supplies
in Gaza, protected by a large part of the Israeli army while the rest of
the society around them is just rotting. So it's best to take them out and
send them to the West Bank. That's the place that they really care about
and want.

What was called a "disengagement" in September 2005 was actually a
transfer. They were perfectly frank and open about it. In fact, they
extended settlement building programs in the West Bank at the very same
time that they were withdrawing a few thousand people from Gaza. So Gaza
should be turned into a cage, a prison basically, with Israel attacking it
at will, and meanwhile in the West Bank we'll take what we want. There was
nothing secret about it.

Ehud Olmert was in the United States in May 2006 a couple of months after
the withdrawal. He simply announced to a joint session of Congress and to
rousing applause, that the historic right of Jews to the entire land of
Israel is beyond question. He announced what he called his convergence
program, which is just a version of the traditional program; it goes back
to the Allon plan of 1967. Israel would essentially annex valuable land and
resources near the green line (the 1967 border). That land is now behind
the wall that Israel built in the West Bank, which is an annexation wall.
That means the arable land, the main water resources, the pleasant suburbs
around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and the hills and so on. They'll take over
the Jordan valley, which is about a third of the West Bank, where they've
been settling since the late 60s. Then they'll drive a couple of super
highways through the whole territory — there's one to the east of
Jerusalem to the town of Ma'aleh Adumim which was built mostly in the
1990s, during the Oslo years. It was built essentially to bisect the West
Bank and are two others up north that includes Ariel and Kedumim and other
towns which pretty much bisect what's left. They'll set up check points and
all sorts of means of harassment in the other areas and the population
that's left will be essentially cantonized and unable to live a decent life
and if they want to leave, great. Or else they will be picturesque figures
for tourists — you know somebody leading a goat up a hill in the distance
— and meanwhile Israelis, including settlers, will drive around on
"Israeli only" super highways. Palestinians can make do with some little
road somewhere where you're falling into a ditch if it's raining. That's
the goal. And it's explicit. You can't accuse them of deception because
it's explicit. And it's cheered here.

DOSSANI: In terms of U.S. support, last week the UN Security Council
adopted a resolution calling for a cease fire. Is this a change,
particularly in light of the fact that the U.S. did not veto the
resolution, but rather abstained, allowing it to be passed?

CHOMSKY: Right after the 1967 war, the Security Council had strong
resolutions condemning Israel's move to expand and take over Jerusalem.
Israel just ignored them. Because the U.S. pats them on the head and says
"go ahead and violate them." There's a whole series of resolutions from
then up until today, condemning the settlements, which as Israel knew and
as everyone agreed were in violation of the Geneva conventions. The United
States either vetoes the resolutions or sometimes votes for them, but with
a wink saying, "go ahead anyway, and we'll pay for it and give you the
military support for it." It's a consistent pattern. During the Oslo years,
for example, settlement construction increased steadily, in violation of
what the Oslo agreement was theoretically supposed to lead to. In fact the
peak year of settlement was Clinton's last year, 2000. And it continued
again afterward. It's open and explicit.

To get back to the question of motivation, they have sufficient military
control over the West Bank to terrorize the population into passivity. Now
that control is enhanced by the collaborationist forces that the U.S.,
Jordan, and Egypt have trained in order to subdue the population. In fact
if you take a look at the press the last couple of weeks, if there's a
demonstration in the West Bank in support of Gaza, the Fatah security
forces crush it. That's what they're there for. Fatah by now is more or
less functioning as Israel's police force in the West Bank. But the West
Bank is only part of the occupied Palestinian territories. The other part
is Gaza, and no one doubts that they form a unit. And there still is
resistance in Gaza, those rockets. So yes, they want to stamp that out too,
then there will be no resistance at all and they can continue to do what
they want to do without interference, meanwhile delaying diplomacy as much
as possible and "building the facts" the way they want to. Again this goes
back to the origins of Zionism. It varies of course depending on
circumstances, but the fundamental policy is the same and perfectly
understandable. If you want to take over a country where the population
doesn't want you, I mean, how else can you do it? How was this country

DOSSANI: What you describe is a tragedy.

CHOMSKY: It's a tragedy which is made right here. The press won't talk
about it and even scholarship, for the most part, won't talk about it but
the fact of the matter is that there has been a political settlement on the
table, on the agenda for 30 years. Namely a two-state settlement on the
international borders with maybe some mutual modification of the border.
That's been there officially since 1976 when there was a Security Council
resolution proposed by the major Arab states and supported by the
(Palestinan Liberation Organization) PLO, pretty much in those terms. The
United States vetoed it so it's therefore out of history and it's continued
almost without change since then.

There was in fact one significant modification. In the last month of
Clinton's term, January 2001 there were negotiations, which the U.S.
authorized, but didn't participate in, between Israel and the Palestinians
and they came very close to agreement.

DOSSANI: The Taba negotiations?

Yes, the Taba negotiations. The two sides came very close to agreement.
They were called off by Israel. But that was the one week in over 30 years
when the United States and Israel abandoned their rejectionist position.
It's a real tribute to the media and other commentators that they can keep
this quiet. The U.S. and Israel are alone in this. The international
consensus includes virtually everyone. It includes the Arab League which
has gone beyond that position and called for the normalization of
relations, it includes Hamas. Every time you see Hamas in the newspapers,
it says "Iranian-backed Hamas which wants to destroy Israel." Try to find a
phrase that says "democratically elected Hamas which is calling for a
two-state settlement" and has been for years. Well, yeah, that's a good
propaganda system. Even in the U.S. press they've occasionally allowed
op-eds by Hamas leaders, Ismail Haniya and others saying, yes we want a
two-state settlement on the international border like everyone else.

DOSSANI: When did Hamas adopt that position?

CHOMSKY That's their official position taken by Haniya, the elected leader,
and Khalid Mesh'al, their political leader who's in exile in Syria, he's
written the same thing. And it's over and over again. There's no question
about it but the West doesn't want to hear it. So therefore it's Hamas
which is committed to the destruction of Israel.

In a sense they are, but if you went to a Native American reservation in
the United States, I'm sure many would like to see the destruction of the
United States. If you went to Mexico and took a poll, I'm sure they don't
recognize the right of the United States to exist sitting on half of
Mexico, land conquered in war. And that's true all over the world. But
they're willing to accept a political settlement. Israel isn't willing to
accept it and the United States isn't willing to accept it. And they're the
lone hold-outs. Since it's the United States that pretty much runs the
world, it's blocked.

Here it's always presented as though the United States must become more
engaged; it's an honest broker; Bush's problem was that he neglected the
issue. That's not the problem. The problem is that the United States has
been very much engaged, and engaged in blocking a political settlement and
giving the material and ideological and diplomatic support for the
expansion programs, which are just criminal programs. The world court
unanimously, including the American justice, agreed that any transfer of
population into the Occupied Territories is a violation of a fundamental
international law, the Geneva Conventions. And Israel agrees. In fact even
their courts agree, they just sort of sneak around it in various devious
ways. So there's no question about this. It's just sort of accepted in the
United States that we're an outlaw state. Law doesn't apply to us. That's
why it's never discussed.

Sameer Dossani, a Foreign Policy In Focus contributor, is the director of
50 Years is Enough and blogs at shirinandsameer.blogspot.com.

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