Noam Chomsky on the future of US-Israeli relations
Noam Chomsky, famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor, is one of the most prominent and outspoken figures in the Israeli-Palestinian debate and he continues to voice his criticisms against the unfathomable relationship between Israel and the US.
Chomsky was born in Philadelphia in 1928 to Ashkenazi Jewish parents. At the age of 16 and fluent in Hebrew, Chomsky attended the University of Pennsylvania where he pursued his interest in learning the Arabic language. Throughout the years, Chomsky has become outspoken on his criticisms of US foreign policies, gaining international attention for his opposition of the Vietnam and Iraq wars, among others. In a 2005 poll, Chomsky was voted the “world’s top public intellectual.”
Chomsky strongly argues that when it comes to the US there is a contrast in principles, in that the US will advocate for democracy and freedom while aligning itself with suppressive and non-democratic states, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, Chomsky argues that the US, in and of itself, fits the classic description of “terrorism”, especially when one considers its intercessions in regions throughout Central and South America. In the 2014 article Only One Thing Will Make Israel Change Course, written by Chomsky, he stated:”As the most powerful state, the US makes its own laws, using force and conducting economic warfare at will.”Chomsky’s latest book “On Palestine” is now on sale.
I interviewed Professor Chomsky in his MIT office back in 2008 and discussed a wide range of topics, such as US foreign policies and flaws in the US education system.This time, via email, he answered questions in regards to increasing US sentiment and strain on Israeli relations, as well as the growing BDS movement.
Rasha Abousalem: Considering the growing Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel (as well as Israeli products), do you see a long-term impact that will actually affect any US policies with Israel?
Noam Chomsky: If BDS tactics are sensibly pursued, they could affect US policies – e.g., the
Presbyterian Church decision to include US multinationals that are involved with the occupation. The major achievement so far is the European Union directive to break contact with entities involved in the occupation. I’ve long argued that other tactics should be pursued more vigorously, such as demanding that the US live up to its own laws and stop arms exports to Israel.
RA: What role do you think the US will play or how much of an effect will the US have in regards to the push for Palestine to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) in April?
NC: My guess is that US pressure and other factors will prevent anything very much from happening.
RA: What impact do you think the growing US sentiment/criticisms towards Israel will have on future US foreign policies? How do you think this will affect Palestinian-Americans?
NC: Depends on whether activists within the US can organize the kinds of popular movements that have had an impact on policy in many cases.
RA: In your opinion, what will it take to wear down the Zionist stronghold in US politics? Do you think that would actually impact policies within the Israeli government?
NC: Parts of that stronghold are pretty much impervious to pressure, like the Christian evangelical base of the Republican Party. Other sectors are changing, and could change more, as in other cases.
RA: Why do you think so many world officials are silent on Israeli atrocities and the endless human rights violations, i.e. the apartheid wall? Do you think if the US did not back-up Israel so strongly there would be more international outcry?
NC: Why are world officials silent on vastly worse US atrocities, or other atrocities by the powerful?
RA: In what way(s) do you think Palestinian-Americans can play a role in improving the image of Palestinians to the American public? In what way(s) do you think Palestinian-Americans can influence a political shift away from supporting Zionists? Would it be possible to be done on their own (as a group), or do you find it not only beneficial, but necessary for them to join forces with groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)?
NC: Palestinian-Americans have been quite effective in recent years in contributing to the growing condemnation of Israeli crimes and US backing for them, particularly among students. As in all other cases that I know of, I think they can be more effective in cooperation with others.