Amy Goodman and Noam Chomsky / Democracy Now! – 2018-08-01 23:28:53
Survival of Organized Human Life Is At Risk
Due to Climate Change & Nuclear Weapons
Amy Goodman and Noam Chomsky / Democracy Now!
(July 30, 2018) — At least eight people have died in California as climate change-fueled wildfires rage statewide. In total, firefighters are battling 17 wildfires blazing across California, engulfing more than 200,000 acres and forcing mass evacuations, including in Yosemite National Park. The fires come amid a surge of deadly extreme weather worldwide, including in India, where more than 500 people have died as a result of flooding and heavy rains in recent weeks. Scientists have linked increased flooding and rainfall to climate change.
For more, we speak with world-renowned political dissident, author and linguist Noam Chomsky. He is a laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught for more than 50 years.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We return to our conversation with the world-renowned political dissident, professor, linguist, Noam Chomsky
NOAM CHOMSKY: We can’t overemphasize the fact that we’re in a unique moment of human history. In fact, we have been, ever since 1945. In 1945, human history changed dramatically. In August 1945, humans demonstrated that their vaunted intelligence had created a means to destroy life on Earth. Didn’t quite have it yet at that point, but it was obvious that it was going to extend and expand, as it in fact did.
A couple of years later, 1947, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists established its famous Doomsday Clock. How far are we from midnight, terminal disaster? It was set at seven minutes to midnight. It once reached two minutes to midnight, 1953, when the US and then the Soviet Union detonated thermonuclear weapons, which do have the capacity to essentially destroy life. Then it’s oscillated variously. It’s now back at two minutes to midnight — with an addition.
It was not known in 1945 that we were not only entering the nuclear age, but entering a new geological epoch, what geologists call the Anthropocene, an epoch in which human activity is having severe and deleterious effects on the environment in which human and other life can survive.
We also entered into what’s now called the sixth extinction, a rapid extinction of species, which is comparable to the fifth extinction 65 million years ago when an asteroid, huge asteroid, hit the Earth, we know.
The World Geological Society finally settled on the end of World War II as the onset of the Anthropocene — sharp escalation and destruction of the environment, not only global warming, carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases, but also such things as plastics in the ocean, which are predicted to be greater than the weight of fish in the ocean not far in the future.
So we’re destroying the environment for organized human life. We’re threatening a terminal disaster with regular nuclear confrontations. Anybody who’s looked at the record, which is shocking, would have to conclude that it’s a miracle that we’ve survived this long.
Humans beings, right now, this generation, for the first time in history, have to ask, “Will human life survive?” And not in the far future will organized societies — those are the issues we should be concerned with. These are — everything else pales in significance in comparison with this.
And going back to NATO, well, what is it doing? It expanded to the Russian border. If you take a look at Trump’s policies from a geostrategic point of view, they’re totally incoherent. I mean, on the one hand, he’s making nice to Vladimir Putin.
On the other hand, he’s escalating the threats against Russia, and hence to ourselves, as well. Arms to Ukraine, serious threat to Russia. Increasing forces at the Russian border, the Russians are doing the same on the other side. Military maneuvers, the new nuclear program which he’s instituted, which is a severe threat to Russia, and indeed the world.
Already under Obama, the modernization programs had reached the level where they were posing a literal first-strike threat to Russia. Important work on that has appeared in the scientific journals, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Trump is escalating it, even more modernization of extremely dangerous forces, also significantly lowering the threshold for nuclear war, also new weapons, which are supposedly tactical nuclear weapons, which, as any nuclear strategist can tell you, are just incentives for escalation to final disaster.
These are enormous threats against Russia, ourselves, as well, combined with being polite to Putin at a press conference. Geostrategically, this makes no sense.
AMY GOODMAN: So, I mean —
NOAM CHOMSKY: It all makes perfect sense —
AMY GOODMAN: Trump has gone —
NOAM CHOMSKY: — only on a different assumption.
AMY GOODMAN: Trump has gone after NATO allies, from, you know, Britain to Germany, and, before that, Macron in France, as well as Trudeau in Canada. But he also, while questioning NATO, says he’s questioning it because he simply wants them to spend more money, and actually named the weapons manufacturers in the United States that he wants them to spend more money on, saying they should spend 4 percent of their budgets on weapons. If you could comment on this?
NOAM CHOMSKY: In other words — my view is that none of this makes — if you’re looking for a serious strategy behind this, you’re looking in the wrong place. That’s not what lies behind it. None of this makes sense from a strategic point of view. None. It’s all contradictory, incoherent and so on. That should tell us something: Let’s look somewhere else. And it all makes perfect sense on the assumption that he’s driven by one overwhelming concern: himself. All of this makes sense for a megalomaniac who wants to make sure that he has power, he has wealth, has to appeal to a number of constituencies to make sure he’s supported.
One constituency is the overwhelmingly hawkish establishment — you know, expand NATO, build up the military system, modernize nuclear weapons and so on. OK, he’s got them in his pocket. The crucial constituency is — and his actual one — are the corporate sector and the super-rich. And he’s just lavishing gifts on them.
While he’s prancing in front of the media, and the media are helping him out by focusing on him, his minions in Congress are carrying out sheer robbery. I mean, it’s unbelievable, if you take a look at it point by point. I’ve mentioned a couple of examples before.
Then he has to maintain a voting base; otherwise, he’s out. And he does that by posturing. “I’m going to — I’m going to confront NATO, make them pay more, so they won’t be robbing us anymore.” Great. “I’m going to confront China. Stop stealing our intellectual property.” Great. “I’m going to put tariffs on everybody. I’m defending you guys, workers’ rights.”
Point by point, it all falls into place. And I think that’s pretty much what’s going on. This searching for some coherent geostrategic strategy behind this is almost hopeless. There are a few things, of course. The effort to construct an alliance of the most reactionary Middle Eastern states against Iran — Saudi Arabia, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Egypt under the dictatorship — that’s a crazy, but coherent, strategy.
I should say that one corollary to the “me first” doctrine, which has been observed over and over, is that if Obama did something, I’ve got to do the opposite, no matter what it is. Doesn’t matter what the consequences are. Otherwise, I’m not, you know, a transformative president, a significant president.
The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
US Must Improve Relations with Russia
And Challenge the Expansion of NATO
Amy Goodman and Noam Chomsky / Democracy Now
(July 30, 2018) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited President Trump to Moscow. . . . For more about US-Russian relations, we speak with world-renowned political dissident, author and linguist Noam Chomsky.
AMY GOODMAN: Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited President Trump to Moscow, just days after the White House postponed a planned summit between the two leaders in Washington until after the midterm elections. Well, to talk more about US-Russian relations and much more, we’re spending the hour with the world-renowned political dissident, author and linguist Noam Chomsky. He is now laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught for more than 50 years.
His recent books include Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy and Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power. He joined us from Tucson, Arizona, last week. I asked him about the recent Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki and played for him a short pinwheel of US media coverage of the summit.
ANDERSON COOPER: You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader, certainly that I’ve ever seen.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: All of you who are watching today will be able to tell your friends, family, your children, your grandchildren you were watching a moment of history. It may not be for the right reasons.
NORAH O’DONNELL: This Helsinki summit was one for the history books. President Trump’s refusal to challenge the Russian strongman drew widespread condemnation from members of his own party and administration. This summit, that might have been about US condemnation, instead ended with President Putin giving President Trump a soccer ball from the World Cup, and Mr. Trump handing Putin a gift of absolution.
AMY GOODMAN: So that was CBS‘s Norah O’Donnell, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News and CNN‘s Anderson Cooper, reporting after the July 16 joint press conference with Trump and Putin. I asked Noam Chomsky for his response to the Helsinki summit.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Trump has basically one principle: me first. That’s almost all of his policies, and wild statements and so on are perfectly well explicable within — under the assumption that that’s what’s driving him. Now, that — crucially, for him, he has to ensure that the Mueller investigation is discredited. Whatever they come up with, if it implicates him in any way, the way the media and political culture function, that will be considered of enormous significance, much more significance than his pursuing policies on the environment — which may destroy human civilization.
But given that, those highly skewed circumstances, he has to make sure that the Mueller investigation is discredited. And that was the main core part of his interview with Trump. Putting aside the way he behaved, you know, the soccer ball, which apparently had a listening device embedded in it and so on, yes, that was strange and unpleasant and so on.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, actually, that World — that soccer ball, that particular ball has that little device in it, and that’s how it’s sold. It was a World Cup soccer ball, and that’s what it — that’s one of its attributes that people like, that they can put their iPhone next to it and get information.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah, well, Putin was plainly treating Trump, more or less, with contempt. So, whatever you think about that, nevertheless his — the main concern — his main concern was pretty obvious. And that was the center part — central part of the Putin-Trump interviews. And so, yeah, I think — I just don’t see the great significance of his acting in a silly and childish way in an interview. OK, let’s — he did. Now let’s go to the important issues which are not being discussed.
The issue of improving relations with Russia is of overwhelming significance as compared with the remarks saying, “Well, I don’t know whether to trust my own intelligence agencies,” for — saying that for perfectly obvious reasons: to discredit the Mueller investigation and to ensure that his fervently loyal base stays supportive. That’s not an attractive policy, but we can understand very easily what he’s doing.
AMY GOODMAN: Those intelligence agencies — former CIA Director John Brennan tweeted:
“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
Again, the former CIA Director John Brennan’s tweet. Noam?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, his remarks were certainly incorrect. Whatever you think of Trump’s behavior, it has nothing to do with high crimes and misdemeanors or treason. That’s just not true.
But again, the same point I’ve been trying to make throughout, we are focusing on issues of minor significance and putting aside problems of enormous importance and significance, whether we’re thinking of how to deal with immigration or whether we’re dealing with the question of survival of organized human life on Earth. Those are the topics we should be thinking about, not whether Trump misbehaved in a press conference.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about NATO. President Trump has questioned a key provision of the NATO military alliance: the mutual defense of NATO member countries. He made this remark during an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson just a week ago.
TUCKER CARLSON: Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack? Why is that —
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I understand what you’re saying. I’ve asked the same question. You know, Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people.
TUCKER CARLSON: Yeah, I’m not against Montenegro.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Right.
TUCKER CARLSON: Or Albania.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, by the way, they’re very strong people. They have very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and, congratulations, you’re in World War III.
AMY GOODMAN: There’s President Trump, questioning the whole idea of NATO. Well, if you could specifically address this? Interesting he chose Montenegro, where, well, many months ago, when he was with the G7, the G8, he pushed aside the prime minister of Montenegro. But the bigger point about — well, he wasn’t making this point, but I’d like to ask you about whether you feel NATO should exist.
NOAM CHOMSKY: That’s the crucial question, not whether Trump made an ugly and demeaning comment about a tiny country. But what is NATO for? For from the beginning, from its origins, we had drilled into our heads that the purpose of NATO was to defend us from the Russian hordes. We can put aside for the moment the question whether that was accurate. But let’s — in any event, that was the dominant theme, overwhelming, in fact, unique theme. OK, 1991, no more Russian hordes. So, the question is: Why NATO?
Well, what happened was very interesting. There were negotiations, between George Bush, the first; James Baker, secretary of state; Mikhail Gorbachev; Genscher and Kohl, the Germans, on how to deal with the — this was after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev made an astonishing concession. Astonishing. He agreed to allow Germany, now unified, to join NATO — a hostile military alliance.
Just look at the history of the preceding years. Germany alone had practically destroyed Russia, at an extraordinary cost, several times during the preceding century. But he agreed to allow Germany to — a rearmed Germany to join NATO, a military alliance that was set up to counter Russia.
There was a quid pro quo, namely that NATO not — meaning NATO means basically US forces — not expand to East Berlin, to East Germany. Nobody talked about anything beyond that. Baker and Bush verbally agreed to that. They didn’t put it in writing, but they essentially said, “Yeah, we will” — in fact, the phrase that was used was “not one inch to the east.”
Well, what happened? NATO immediately moved to East Germany. Under Clinton, other countries, former Russian satellites, were introduced into NATO. Finally, NATO went so far — as I mentioned before, 2008, again in 2013 — to suggest that even Ukraine, right at the heartland of Russian strategic concerns — any Russian president, no matter who it was, any Russian leader — that they join NATO.
So, what’s NATO doing altogether? Well, actually, its mission was changed. The official mission of NATO was changed to become to be — to control and safeguard the global energy system, sea lanes, pipelines and so on. And, of course, on the side, it’s acting as an intervention force for the United States.
Is that a legitimate reason for us to maintain NATO, to be an instrument for US global domination? I think that’s a rather serious question. That’s not the question that’s asked. The question that’s asked is whether NATO made — whether Trump made some demeaning comment about Montenegro.
It’s another example of what I was talking about before: the focus of the media and the political class, and the intellectual community in general, on marginalia, overlooking critical and crucial issues, issues which do literally have to do with human survival.
AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, now linguistics professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Coming up, we’ll talk to him about climate change, nuclear weapons, Israel, Gaza and more.
Noam Chomsky Condemns Israel’s Shift to
Far Right & New “Jewish Nation-State” Law
Amy Goodman and Noam Chomsky / Democracy Now!
(July 30, 2018) — Israel has passed a widely condemned law that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and gives Jews the sole right to self-determination. It also declares Hebrew the country’s only official language and encourages the building of Jewish-only settlements on occupied territory as a “national value.” The law has drawn international condemnation and accusations that Israel has legalized apartheid. For more, we speak with author and linguist Noam Chomsky.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you about Israel right now, Israel’s passage of the new law that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and gives them the sole right to self-determination. The law also declares Hebrew the country’s only official language and encourages the building of Jewish-only settlements in the occupied territory as a “national value.” This is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel. We will keep ensuring civil rights in Israel’s democracy. These rights will not be harmed. But the majority also has rights, and the majority decides. An absolute majority wants to ensure our state’s Jewish character for generations to come.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about this new law, Noam Chomsky?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah. First of all, a slight correction: the all-Jewish settlements that are authorized are within Israel proper. It’s not even a question on the Occupied Territories. They’re all like that. But this is within Israel proper.
So, yes, the new law does change the existing situation, but not by as much as is being claimed. What the new law describes has pretty much been in place for a long time. Basic law back in — land laws back in 1960 established what the Israeli high court called, concluded is — their statement was “Israel is the sovereign state of the Jewish people” — all Jewish people, but not its citizens, just the Jews.
That was 60 years ago. The land laws were set up in such a way that, as was recognized at the time, in fact, that — internally in Israel, not outside — that the state lands would be effectively under the administration of the Jewish National Fund. An array of legal and administrative practices were set up to ensure that.
If you’re interested in details, I wrote about them in detail 30 years ago in a book called Towards a New Cold War, sort of went through the documents. But, basically, a complex array was set up to ensure that the Jewish National Fund would be in control of state lands. That amounts to over 90 percent of the country’s lands.
What’s the mission of the Jewish National Fund? Well, it has a contract with the state of Israel, which determines that its mission is to work for the benefit — I’m quoting now — of people “of Jewish race, religion or origin.” OK, what do you expect to follow from this? What you expect to follow is that 92, 93 percent of the land of the country is effectively reserved for people of Jewish race, religion and origin. And that’s the way it played out.
This finally came to the court, the Israeli courts, high court, in the year 2000. Civil liberties association in Israel brought a case. The plaintiffs were an Arab couple, professional Arab couple, who wanted to buy a home in a Jewish settlement, settlement of Katzir, which was, like most of the country, restricted to Jews. The court finally ruled in their favor, in a very narrow decision.
Almost immediately, efforts began to try to figure out a way around it, by various devices. And the new law simply authorizes it, straight. It authorizes all Jewish settlements in Israel proper, which means about 90 percent of the country. If you look at the development of settlements over the years — it’s discussed in an important article by Israeli writer Yitzhak Laor in a recent issue of Haaretz — I wrote about it in a post here in Truthout — he points out that, I think, about 700 all-Jewish settlements were set up, no Arab settlements. Arab Palestinians are restricted to about 2 percent of the land, a lot of them being kicked out of that.
So, all of this, it formalizes what has been practiced, in complex ways. It does demote Arabic from being an official language, to not having that status. It enhances the past practices by introducing them into the — what’s called the Basic Law, which is effectively the constitution. So, yes, these are changes, but less dramatic than the way it’s portrayed, not because these are proper moves, but because it’s always been like that in one way or another.
Incidentally, this should not be too strange to Americans. You look at the housing — this has recently been discussed by [Richard] Rothstein, an interesting book. If you look at the New Deal housing programs, they were legally and explicitly directed to ensuring white-only projects, white-only towns. That’s why the towns that sprang up in the 1950s, like Levittown, were 100 percent white. Various legal requirements were introduced to ensure that. This is the New Deal. We’re not talking about the Deep South, although, of course, they influenced it.
This didn’t change until the late ’60s. And by then, it was too late to benefit African Americans. The reason was because of general economic changes in the ’50s — ’50s and the ’60s were a great growth period in the United States, offered the first time in hundreds of years of history, 400 years of history, for African Americans to have some sort of a chance of entering the mainstream society. But they were blocked from housing, by legal means. By the time the legal means were dismantled, we were moving into the onset of the neoliberal period of stagnation and decline, so it didn’t do them any good. That’s another chapter in the ugly history of American racism.
So, we shouldn’t be all too startled to see what’s going on in Israel, which is quite ugly and is part of the shift of the country far to the right, which was predicted in 1967, predicted right off, that a consequence of the occupation would be to turn the country to the right. When you have your jackboot on someone’s neck, it’s not good for your psyche. And I think we’ve been watching this happen.
Israel is quite aware of it, incidentally. Israeli political analysts have been pointing out for a couple of years that Israel should be preparing itself for a period in which it loses the support of sectors of the world that have some concern for human rights and international law, and should be returning towards alliances with the countries that just don’t care about this. Say, India, under the recent ultranationalist Modi government, shares with Israel the move towards ultranationalism, repression, a hatred of Islam; China doesn’t pay attention to these things; Singapore; Saudi Arabia; United Arab Emirates.
And we can see it happening in the United States, as well. So, not too long ago, Israel was the absolute darling of liberal America. That’s changed. By now, among self-identified Democrats, they have considerably more support for Palestinians than for Israel.
Support for Israel in the United States has shifted to the ultranationalist right and evangelicals, who, for the wrong reasons, support Israeli actions, with some passion, in fact, while at the same time many of them hold to doctrines which claim that the second coming of Christ, which is imminent, will lead to a series of events which will end up with the Jews being sent to eternal perdition. That combines with the support for Israeli actions. And that’s the — that’s why the base of Israeli support in the United States has shifted to the right wing of the Republican Party. So, these things are happening all over the world.
AMY GOODMAN: NOAM CHOMSKY, now linguistics professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Coming up, he’ll talk about the crisis in Gaza.
Amid Deadly Israeli Crackdown on Gaza Protests, Chomsky Says US Must End Support for “Murderers”
Amy Goodman and Noam Chomsky / Democracy Now!
The Israeli stranglehold on Gaza has reduced the life to bare survival. The United Nations predict that, by the year 2020, Gaza will literally be uninhabitable. That’s two million people, half of them children, being caged in a prison, carefully controlled, savage restrictions on food, on anything that comes to them.
(July 30, 2018) — In Gaza, thousands gathered Saturday for the funeral of 11-year-old Majdi al-Satari, who died after he was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper Friday at protests near the separation fence with Israel. 17-year-old Moumin al-Hams and 43-year-old Ghazi Abu Mustafa were also shot and killed by Israeli snipers at the protests. In total, Israeli soldiers have killed at least 150 Palestinians since the Palestinians’ nonviolent Great March of Return protests began on March 30. For more we speak with world-renowned political dissident, author, and linguist Noam Chomsky.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s turn to the situation in Gaza. Israel’s Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Thursday Israel could launch another wide-scale military operation against the Gaza Strip. This comes after Israel’s violent crackdown on peaceful protests in Gaza from March to May, when Israeli forces killed over 136 Palestinians, injured over 14,000 Palestinians.
I want to turn to the Canadian doctor, the Palestinian-Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani, who was shot by Israeli forces in both legs while he was helping treat Palestinians injured by Israeli forces during the nonviolent Great March of Return. It was May 14th, a Monday. I asked Dr. Loubani — this is right after he was shot — if he felt he was targeted.
DR. TAREK LOUBANI: I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know what orders they received or what was in their heads, so I can’t tell you if we were deliberately targeted. What I can tell you is the things that I do know.
In the six weeks of the March, there were no paramedic casualties. And in one day, 19 paramedics — 18 wounded plus one killed — and myself were all injured, so — or were all shot with live ammunition. We were all — Musa was actually in a rescue at the time, but everybody else I’ve talked to was like me.
We were away during a lull, without smoke, without any chaos at all, and we were targeted — and we were, rather, hit by live ammunition, most of us in the lower limbs. So, it’s very, very hard to believe that the Israelis who shot me and the Israelis who shot my other colleagues — just from our medical crew, four of us were shot, including Musa Abuhassanin, who passed away — It’s very hard to believe that they didn’t know who we were, they didn’t know what we were doing, and that they were aiming at anything else.
AMY GOODMAN: So, later that same day, May 14th, the man that Tarek was just talking about, Dr. Loubani was talking about, paramedic Musa Abuhassanin, was shot and killed by Israeli forces. He was shot in the chest. Dr. Loubani tweeted a photo captioned, “A haunting photo, Friday, May 11. Left: Mohammed Migdad, shot in the right ankle. Hassan Abusaada. Tarek Loubani, shot in left leg and right knee. Moumin Silmi. Youssef Almamlouk. Musa Abuhassanin, shot in the thorax and killed. Volunteer unknown. Photographer: shot and wounded.”
And he showed this photograph that he had, that he thought he was just going to have for a scrapbook, and then realized these were some of the last days of their lives. What’s going on in Gaza right now, from your perspective, Noam?
NOAM CHOMSKY: We can add to that list the young Palestinian woman, a medic, who was murdered by a sniper, far from the so-called border, when she was tending to a wounded patient. Yes, it’s hideously ugly.
But there’s a background, as always. The crucial background is that Israeli — this Israeli stranglehold on Gaza, which has reduced the life to bare survival, has reached the point where the United Nations, other analysts predict that by the year 2020, Gaza will literally be uninhabitable. That’s two million people, half of them children, being caged in a prison, carefully controlled, savage restrictions on food, on anything that comes to them, to the extent that the fishermen are kept close to shore so they can’t fish, the sewage plants have been destroyed, the power plants have been attacked.
The official program — official — was to keep Gaza on what was called a diet, barely enough to survive. Doesn’t look good if they all starve to death. Notice that this is occupied territory, as recognized by — even by the United States, everyone but Israel.
So, here’s a population kept in a prison, in an occupied territory, fed a diet to keep them at bare survival, constantly used as a punching bag for what’s called — what calls itself the most moral army in the world, now reaching a point where within a couple years it will be uninhabitable, yes, and in addition to that you have sadistic acts like highly trained snipers killing a young Palestinian woman medic when she’s tending a patient, and what the doctor just described.
What do we do with it? We actually react to that. The United States has reacted. It has reacted by very sharply cutting its funding to the one organization, UNRWA, UN organization, that keeps the population barely alive. That’s our response, along with, of course, overwhelming support for Israel, providing with the arms, diplomatic support and so on. One of the most extraordinary scandals, if that’s the right word, in the modern world.
Can we do something about it? Sure, of course we can. Gaza should be a thriving Mediterranean paradise. It has a wonderful location, has agricultural resources, could be marvelous beaches, fishing, sea resources, even has natural gas offshore, which it’s not being allowed to use. So there’s plenty that can be done. But we’ve — the US has preferred, under repeated administrations, but much worse now, to, as usual, support the murderers.
AMY GOODMAN: Noam, Israel is threatening another strike on Gaza like what they called Operation Protective Edge in 2014 when they killed well over 2,000 people — about, oh, around a quarter of that number children.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Yes, they are threatening. If you look over the record — there’s no time to talk about it now — there’s a marvelous book that just came out, incidentally. Norman Finkelstein’s book Gaza, which is about Gaza’s martyrdom, is a definitive study of this. But what’s happened since 2005 is pretty straightforward. I mean, the previous history is ugly enough.
But in 2005, Ariel Sharon, other Israeli hawks, recognized that it didn’t make any sense to keep a couple of thousand Jewish settlers illegally settling in Gaza, using up most of its resources and devoting a large part of the Israeli army to protecting them. That was totally senseless. So they decided to move them from their illegal, subsidized settlements in Gaza to illegal, subsidized settlements in areas that Israel wanted to keep, in the West Bank, in the Golan Heights.
It was framed as a traumatic event, but that was a play for world opinion. It was basically a joke. They could have done it quite easily. And they pulled out, and that was called a withdrawal. But they remained under total Israeli occupation, just that the army wasn’t inside Gaza; it was controlling it from the outside.
There was an agreement reached in November 2005 between the Palestinians and Israel on a ceasefire, no violence, opening Gaza’s seaport, rebuilding the airport that Israel had destroyed, opening the border so that there could be free flow between Israel and Egypt and so on. That agreement lasted a couple of weeks, in — that was November.
In January, the Palestinians committed a major crime: They ran a free election, recognized to be free and fair, only one in the Arab world. But it came out the wrong way. The wrong people won: Hamas. Israel, at once, escalated violence, tightened the siege, increased the repression against Gaza, imposed the diet.
The US reacted by standard operating procedure: started to organize a military coup. Hamas preempted the military coup, which was an even greater crime. Violence, the US-Israeli violence, increased. The savagery of the siege increased, and so on.
Then it goes on like that. Repeatedly, there’s an episode of what Israel calls mowing the lawn. Smash them up. They’re defenseless, of course. Then there’s an agreement reached, which Hamas accepts and lives up to. Israel violates it constantly.
Finally, an Israeli escalation of the violation leads to some Hamas response, which Israel uses as a pretext for the next episode of mowing the lawn. I’ve reviewed this. Norman Finkelstein reviews it in his book. Others have. That’s been the history since 2005.
So, yes, there might be another one. But now we’re reaching a point where it’s almost terminal. Repeat, it’s expected that the Gaza Strip, having been devastated so savagely over the years, will literally become uninhabitable. Now, there are ways to deal with this. It’s not a — doesn’t take a brilliant scientist to figure it out. It’s quite obvious.
AMY GOODMAN: And Noam, the solution that you say that is straightforward and simple?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Very straightforward. Live up to the terms of the November 2005 agreement. Allow Gaza to reconstruct. Open the entry points to Israel and Egypt. Rebuild the seaport that was smashed. Rebuild the airport that Israel destroyed. Allow them to reconstruct the power plants.
Let them become a flourishing Mediterranean site. And, of course, permit — remember that the famous Oslo Agreements required, explicitly, that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank be a unified territory and that its territorial integrity must be maintained. Israel and the United States reacted at once by separating them. OK? That’s not a law of nature, either. Palestinian national rights can be achieved, if the US, Israel are willing to accept that.
AMY GOODMAN: . . . In the coming week, you’ll hear Noam Chomsky on North Korea, Yemen, Iran and more. And that does it for our broadcast. I’m Amy Goodman. Our website, Democracynow.org. Thanks for joining us.
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