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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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Noam Chomsky is internationally recognized as one of America’s most critically engaged public intellectuals today. He spoke with Kathleen Wells, a political correspondent for Race-Talk,about Israel and its interplay with the United States.  

Kathleen Wells: I’m speaking with Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and renowned political activist and writer. He has written over 100 books on linguistics, human rights, economics, and politics. Thank you, Professor Chomsky, for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon.  

Noam Chomsky: Very pleased to be with you. 

KW: Speak to me about the relation between the United States and Israel. Specifically, address, as you have previously stated, how every crime, violation of international law, that Israel commits is done through the direct participation and authorization of the United States.

NC: That’s a ... as a descriptive statement, that is pretty close to accurate. I mean "all" is a very strong word but it is certainly generally true. And, in fact, the United States has overwhelmingly vetoed Security Council resolutions condemning Israeli crimes and atrocities, prevented the Security Council from calling on Israel to terminate aggression, and so on and so forth. The descriptive comment is not really controversial. There are interesting questions about why it’s true. There were also interesting questions about the sources of support for this position in the United States, which helps us explain why it is true. 

The history is reasonably clear. This was not the case up until 1967. In fact, before 1967, the relationships were not very different from relationships among other powers. There was sympathy and support for Israel, which has many, many sources, including the Christian Zionism, which is a very powerful force that precedes and is numerically far stronger than Jewish Zionism. But for somebody like, say, Harry Truman, raised in a deeply Christian tradition, it was just taken for granted that the Bible instructs us that God gave the land of Palestine to the Jews. So it is kind of like in his bones. And that’s true for a very large part of the American population, much more so than -- far more than any other country.  So that is one factor, and there are other factors. 

But the major change in relationships took place in 1967. Just take a look at USA aid to Israel. You can tell that right off. And in many other respects, it’s true, too. Similarly, the attitude towards Israel on the part of the intellectual community -- you know, media, commentary, journals, and so on -- that changed very sharply in 1967, from either lack of interest or sometimes even disdain, to almost passionate support. So what happened in 1967? 

Well, in 1967, Israel destroyed the source of secular Arab nationalism -- Nasser's Egypt -- which was considered a major threat and enemy by the West. It is worth remembering that there was a serious conflict at that time between the forces of radical Islamic fundamentalism, centered in Saudi Arabia -- where all the oil is -- and secular Arab nationalism, centered in Nasser's Egypt; in fact, the two countries were at war. They were fighting a kind of a proxy war in Yemen at that time. The United States and Britain were supporting the radical Islamic fundamentalism; in fact, they’ve rather consistently done that – supporting Saudi Arabia.  And Nasserite secular nationalism was considered a serious threat, because it was recognized that it might seek to take control of the immense resources of the region and use them for regional interest, rather than allow them to be centrally controlled and exploited by the United States and its allies. So that was a major issue.

 
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