By Noam Chomsky, written following his trip to the Gaza Strip on October 25-30, 2012.
(Ashraf Amra / APA Images)
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006
A letter from Chomsky and others on the recent events in the Middle East (July 19, 2006):
The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza. An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press. The following day the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner - and proposed a negotiated exchange against prisoners taken by the Israelis - there are approximately 10,000 in Israeli jails. That this "kidnapping" was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources - most particularly that of water - by the Israeli Defence (!) Forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land alloted to them by international agreements, during the last seventy years. Today outrage follows outrage; makeshift missiles cross sophisticated ones. The latter usually find their target situated where the disinherited and crowded poor live, waiting for what was once called Justice. Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly - who but field commanders can forget this for a moment? Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over. But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation. This has to be said loud and clear for the practice, only half declared and often covert, is advancing fast these days, and, in our opinion, it must be unceasingly and eternally recognised for what it is and resisted. Tariq Ali Russell Banks John Berger Noam Chomsky Richard Falk Eduardo Galeano Charles Glass Naomi Klein W.J.T. Mitchell Harold Pinter Arundhati Roy Jose Saramago Giiuliana Sgrena Gore Vidal Howard ZinnUPDATE: More names added.
Slaves, Cotton, Oil and Freedom, interview with Pete McCormack, www.PeteMcCormack.com (October 18, 2005). An excerpt:
We don't know anything much about human nature except that it's rich and complex and common to the entire species and determines everything we do. Beyond that, it's mostly speculation. But a look at history and perception of what we see, does, I think, lend some credibility to a traditional view coming out of the Enlightenment--it is at the core of liberalism, the ideals we are supposed to honour but disregard--which says that fundamental to human nature is a kind of instinct for freedom, which shows up in creative activities. This is actually the core of Cartesian philosophy, the core of enlightenment political thought. And I think we see plenty of examples of it: people struggling all over the world for freedom. They don't like to be oppressed.
Human Nature: Justice versus Power, video version of the debate with Michel Foucault (1971). An excerpt:
And I think that, at least in the technologically advanced societies of the West we are now certainly in a position where meaningless drudgery can very largely be eliminated, and to the marginal extent that it's necessary, can be shared among the population; where centralised autocratic control of, in the first place, economic institutions, by which I mean either private capitalism or state totalitarianism or the various mixed forms of state capitalism that exist here and there, has become a destructive vestige of history.A transcript of the debate is also available.
Language and Freedom, an essay presented as a lecture at the University Freedom and the Human Sciences Symposium, Loyola University, Chicago on January 8-9, 1970 and published in For Reasons of State (Pantheon, 1970). An excerpt:
When I was invited to speak on the topic "Language and freedom", I was puzzled and intrigued. Most of my professional life has been devoted to the study of language. There would be no great difficulty in finding a topic to discuss in that domain. And there is much to say about the problems of freedom and liberation as they pose themselves to us and to others in the mid-twentieth century. What is troublesome in the title of this lecture is the conjunction. In what way are language and freedom to be interconnected?
A few weeks ago The New York Times published a review of Failed States. This newspaper has now selected Chomsky's book as an Editors' Choice for the nonfiction category.
U.S.-Backed Israeli Policies Pursuing "End of Palestine", audio/video interview with Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now (July 14, 2006). An excerpt:
What's happening in Gaza, to start with that, begins with the Hamas election, back the end of January. Israel and the United States at once announced that they were going to punish the people of Palestine for voting the wrong way in a free election. And the punishment has been severe.A transcript is also available.
Readers Speak: Gore, Chomsky and Ivins Are Winners, by Don Hazen, AlterNet (July 13, 2006). An excerpt:
The Most Valuable Progressive designation went to Noam Chomsky, chosen by 21 percent of the voters, followed by Michael Moore at 15 percent and Amy Goodman at 13 percent. Howard Zinn had the votes of 13 percent and Cornell West 9 percent.
Noam Chomsky in Beirut, by Assaf Kfoury, ZNet (July 12, 2006). An excerpt:
Noam and Carol Chomsky arrived in Beirut on May 8, 2006, for an eight-day visit, their first ever to Lebanon. Many of Noam's friends had wanted this visit to happen for a long time. The Palestinians, the south of Lebanon, and the wider Middle East and its peoples have all been central among Noam's many concerns. He has written about them and defended them, publicly and tirelessly, for nearly four decades, and will continue "as long as I'm ambulatory." Beirut would give Noam Chomsky a hero's welcome, and it did with relish.
Elsie Chomsky: A Life in Jewish Education, working paper by Harriet Feinberg, Hasassah-Brandeis Institute (February 1999). An excerpt:
By this time Noam had already demonstrated the remarkable intellectual prowess that would later make him a world-renowned linguistics scholar and public intellectual. At eighteen, his views about a Jewish state were already different from those of most of his peers, but he was still expressing them within the context of Gratz and his Hebraist upbringing. An article he wrote in Hebrew for the spring 1947 issue of the Gratz student publication, HaMitorer [The Awakener] prefigures the later direction of his thought. He argues on economic and political grounds against accepting the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, as was currently being proposed by the UN Commission, and for a single bi-national state.
Just released: a new, fully updated edition of the Anti-Chomsky Reader!
The U.S. Government, the Media, and the Middle East, video version of an exchange between Chomsky, Hani Faris and students at The University of British Columbia (November 15, 2005). An excerpt:
If you want to take a look, I urge you to read the work of the head of the Law and Democracy Project of the Carnegie Endowment, a good scholar named Thomas Carothers, who describes himself as a neo-Reaganite. He very much admires Reagan's profound dedication to democracy. In fact, he was part of the State Department in the Reagan years, in what were called "democracy enhancement" programs. He just came out with a book, I think it's about a year ago, on democracy promotion since 1990 [Critical Mission: Essays on Democracy Promotion (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2004)], which he thinks is a wonderful thing--you know, the best thing since apple pie. So it's a marvellous project, this is great, and then he goes through the details, and he's quite frank. He says, You know, the strange thing about US programs of democracy promotion, is that there's a "strong line of continuity" that runs through every administration. The strong line of continuity is that the US supports democracy if and only if that's favourable to US economic and strategic interests. He says, Every administration is "schizophrenic" in this regard, there's a kind of a paradox: on the one hand, they promote democracy, but if and only if it's in their interests; if it's not in their interests, they oppose it.
Chomsky Publisher Charged in Turkey, The New York Times (July 5, 2006):
Fatih Tas, the Turkish publisher of a book by the American intellectual Noam Chomsky, said yesterday that he and two of his colleagues were facing prison sentences as long as six years on charges of "denigrating national identity" and "inciting hatred," Agence France-Presse reported. Mr. Tas, owner of the Aram Publishing House, said that he and his colleagues Omer Faruk Kurhan and Taylan Tosun had been charged over the book "Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media," written by Mr. Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, which argues that corporate and government pressures distort news coverage. Mr. Tas said that Ender Abadoglu, the translator of the book, published in Turkey in March, was also likely to be indicted. Mr. Tas was tried and acquitted in 2002 for publishing "American Interventionism," a collection of essays by Mr. Chomsky that included criticism of the Turkish government's treatment of its Kurdish minority and of American arms sales to Turkey. The European Union has warned Turkey that prosecution of intellectuals and writers is harmful to its bid for membership.
On Failed States, video version of the Charlie Rose interview (June 6, 2006). An excerpt:
Let's just compare the United States with the last country in the Western Hemisphere that had an election, which happens to be the poorest country in South America: Bolivia. In Bolivia there was an election last December. The population was deeply engaged, there were serious issues--everyone knew what the issues where--, and people didn't just show up to push a leaver: they had been involved in popular organizations--serious ones--involved in struggles over these issues for years. They elected someone from their own ranks. OK, that's a functioning democracy. Let's take our last election. You had a choice: two mean born to wealth, power and privilege, both of whom went to the same elite university, they both joined the same secret society were you're trained to be a member of the ruling class, they were able to run because they were funded by somewhat different but pretty similar concentrations of corporate power. [interview begins at 1:54]
On Pirates and Emperors, video version of the BBC interview with Francine Stock (December, 2002). An excerpt, from the introductory remarks by Harold Pinter:
He will not be bullied; he will not be intimidated. He is a fearless, formidable, totally independent voice. He does something which is really quite simple, but highly unusual: he tells the truth.