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Topic: Chomsky answer about mideast (1 of 1), Read 19 times
Conf: ChomskyChat
From: Michael Albert
Date: Sunday, October 15, 2000 04:02 PM

Reply from NC,

A few comments interspersed.

Noam Chomsky

At 10:29 PM 10/13/00 +0100, you wrote:
>Dear Professor Chomsky,
>I was reading the reports today regarding the brutal murders
>of the IDF guys
>in Ramallah and the resulting reprisals and felt compelled
>to share the
>following thoughts with you.
>1. Can any form of non-violent resistance be successful in
>the current
>environment? It strikes me that in recent decades two
>effective counters to
>non-violence have been developed, namely increasingly
>propaganda techniques and sufficiently brutal use of power.
>In the present
>situation, for example, the U.S. population been thoroughly
>snowed by the
>media with respect to the facts of the disturbances, and the
>peace movement
>in Israel seems (at least from what I've read) to have been
>Similarly, should the Palestinians experience significant
>success with
>non-violence, I am confident in the IDF's ability to simply
>murder all of
>the protesters with no meaningful consequences.

There are forms of nonviolent resistance that
could be very effective: by Israelis, by us.
That's the usual story. Nonviolence by the
victims is a prescription for disaster, unless it
enlists the very active engagement of those who
have the power. That's our choice. Not much
point lecturing Palestinians about it, or others
at the wrong ends of the guns. That's been
understood and emphasized forever by people
committed to nonviolence.

>2. Why would any sane Palestinian negotiate with either
>Israel or the U.S.
>for any reason whatsoever? It seems clear that Israel is not
>negotiating in
>good faith and is merely using the negotiations to gain time
>to expand the
>settlements and establish the "truth on the ground" while
>continuing to
>block Palestinian civil liberties and economic expansion.

Because they have no choice. No one negotiates
"in good faith." They seek to pursue their
objectives. Whether the US policy succeeds
depends on us: as always, we should be looking at
ourselves, not lecturing Israelis or Palestinians.
The easiest course is always to tell others how to
be nice guys; the most important thing to do is to
look into the mirror, honestly, and do something
about what we see.

>3. Efforts to mobilize U.S. support for the Palesinian
>cause have failed.
>I see no reason why any future efforts could succeed in the
>face of the
>effective propaganda campaign currently being waged.

That's up to us, as is commonly the case; here
quite significantly, and for a long time.

>4. If somebody bulldozed my home without justification, I
>would consider it
>my civic and moral duty to make a very messy example of
>them. Doubly so if
>the bulldozer was backed by the government -- any such
>government would have
>lost its legitimacy and would need to be destroyed as
>quickly as possible.
>If somebody had manipulated the government into bulldozing
>my house so that
>they could live there, I'd want to make an example of them
>too. The logical
>application of this line of reasoning to Palestine would
>involve killing
>basically every Jewish settler on the West Bank and all IDF,
>Shin Bet, and
>Mossad operatives there. It seems to me that rolling over
>and allowing the
>occupying force to "get away with" the land theft doesn't
>just cause much
>suffering to the Palestinians, but might be immoral in a
>broader sense -- it
>sends a message to other rotten people that taking what you
>can get from
>others is ok if you have enough firepower. My conclusion is
>that it might
>be preferable for the Palestinians in the occupied
>territories to die to
>the last man violently resisting the occupation rather than
>allowing the
>present situation to continue.

I doubt that Palestinians will welcome your advice
that they should "die to the last man." If you
think it's good advice, why not adopt it: for
example, by organizing your friends and neighbors
to storm the White House, and "die to the last
man." I don't think we should so quickly give
people advice that will lead to their destruction
-- and, incidentally, is likely to be very much
welcomed by their oppressors; the record shows
pretty persuasively that the US-Israel have
preferred terror to diplomatic initiatives, and
that in fact goes back well before the
establishment of the State of Israel (and is
hardly unique to them).

>5. I am disturbed by the above conclusion and don't want it
>to be true.
>When waging a war of annihilation seems to be the most
>sensible course of
>action, things have gone very wrong. Maybe I can be
>convinced that the
>reasoning in 4. above is wrong, but can the Palestinians?

I doubt very much that Palestinians would be much
impressed by the reasoning in 4. I wonder,
frankly, how impressed you are. Are you
following the advice here, e.g., in the manner
just indicated?

>If things get
>really bad what would stop Hamas from hitting the
>settlements (or Tel-Aviv)
>with anthrax or ebolapox? Even scarier, why shouldn't I
>cheer when that

If you enjoy horrendous disasters -- like blowing
up the world, which could be the consequence, or
even less extreme catastrophes -- then you should
cheer (assuming that you are still alive).
Otherwise not.

>I'm sorry to be posting such a depressing message. I'd
>really like to know
>if there is any meaningful hope of breaking these people out
>of this trap.

Sure there's a meaningful hope. There's plenty
that we can do about it here. But urging others
to destroy themselves doesn't seem to me a very
constructive approach, to say the least.

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