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Noam Chomsky: The Real Reasons the U.S. Enables Israeli Crimes and Atrocities

One of America's most critically engaged public intellectuals talks about Israel and its relationship to the U.S.

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KW: What do you say to the fact that Hamas is listed on the United States State Department terrorist list? So they're characterized as terrorist?  

NC: Yeah, they are. Because they do things we don't like. The terrorist list has been a historic joke, in fact, a sick joke. So take a look at the history of the terrorist list. Up until 1982, Iraq -- Saddam Hussein's Iraq -- was on the terrorist list. 

In 1982, the Reagan administration removed Iraq from the terrorist list. Why? Because they were moving to support Iraq, and, in fact, the Reagan administration and, in fact, the first Bush administration strongly supported Iraq right through its worst – Saddam, right through his worst atrocities. In fact, they tried to ... they succeeded, in fact, in preventing even criticism of condemnation of the worst atrocities, like the Halabja massacre -- and others. So they removed Iraq from the terrorist list because they wanted to support one of the worst monsters and terrorists in the region, namely Saddam Hussein.

And since there was an empty position on the terrorist list, they had to fill it, so they added Cuba. Cuba's probably the target of more terrorism than any country in the world, back from the Kennedy years. Right? In fact, just at that time, there had been a rash of major terrorist acts against Cuba. So Cuba was added to the terrorist list to replace Saddam Hussein, who was removed because the U.S. wanted to support him.  Now, you take a look through the terrorist list, yeah, that's the way it is. So, for example, Hezbollah is on the terrorist list. Well, you know, probably it's carried out terrorist acts, but by the standards of the U.S. and Israel, they're barely visible. The main reason why Hezbollah is on the terrorist list is because it resisted Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon and, in fact, drove Israel out of Southern Lebanon after 22 years of occupation -- that's called terrorism. In fact, Lebanon has a national holiday, May 25th, which is called Liberation Day. That's the national holiday in Lebanon commemorating, celebrating the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in year 2000, and largely under Hezbollah attack.  

KW: How would you characterize Hezbollah and Hamas?

NC: Hezbollah happens to be the major political grouping in Lebanon. It's the Hezbollah-based coalition, handily won the last election in the year 2009. Now you know it's not a perfect election, but it's one of the ... by the standards of U.S.-backed dictatorships it was an amazing election, and they won it. They didn't happen to win the largest number of representatives because of the way the confessional system works, but they won the popular vote by about the same amount that Obama had won.   So they're the main political grouping in the country. They largely -- almost completely -- control southern Lebanon. They're a national Lebanese organization. They've ... they're charged with some terrorist acts outside of Lebanon, maybe correctly. But again, if the charges ... we take all the charges and weigh them against U.S./Israeli violence, aggression, and terror, they don't even count. But that's basically what they are.  As far as Israel's concerned, Hezbollah‘s position is they don't recognize Israel. 

They don't ... they... but they say their position is, well, they'll accept any agreement with Israel that the Palestinians accept; we're a Lebanese organization. What about Hamas? Hamas is a ... its background is it's an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization, which would be a major competitor in Egypt's elections, if Egypt permitted democratic elections, which it won't.  The Egyptian dictatorship -- which the U.S. strongly backs, Obama personally strongly backs -- doesn't permit anything remotely like elections and is very brutal and harsh. But they don't ... they hate the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas is an offshoot. In its early days, Israel supported Hamas as a weapon against the secular PLO. Later, when Hamas really crystallized, became a significant organization, Israel turned against them, and it became bitterly opposed to them in January 2006, as the U.S. did, when they won a free election.

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