Playing with Middle East

Noam Chomsky talking:

Syria is a horrible catastrophe. The Assad regime is a moral disgrace. They’re carrying out horrendous acts, the Russians with them.

Syria is their one ally in the whole region. Not a close ally, but they do have—their one Mediterranean base is in Syria. It’s the one country that’s more or less cooperated with them. And they don’t want to lose their one ally. It’s very ugly, but that’s what’s happening.

Meanwhile, there have been—it’s kind of like the North Korean case we were discussing. There have been possible opportunities to terminate the horrors. In 2012, there was an initiative from the Russians, which was not pursued, so we don’t know how serious it was, but it was a proposal to—for a negotiated settlement, in which Assad would be phased out, not immediately. You know, you can’t tell them, “We’re going to murder you. Please negotiate.” That’s not going to work. But some system in which, in the course of negotiations, he would be removed, and some kind of settlement would be made. The West would not accept it, not just the United States. France, England, the United States simply refused to even consider it. At the time, they believed they could overthrow Assad, so they didn’t want to do this, so the war went on. Could it have worked? You never know for sure. But it could have been pursued. Meanwhile, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are supporting jihadi groups, which are not all that different from ISIS. So you have a horror story on all sides. The Syrian people are being decimated.

– President Trump met with Sisi on Monday, meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan on Wednesday at the White House, saying they’re not raising the issue of human rights anymore.

raising the issue of human rights is—it means something, but not very much, because—take, say, Saudi Arabia, one of the worst human rights violators in the world. It’s our darling. You know, they pour weapons in. Obama sold them more weapons than, I think, any predecessor. Sisi is particularly disgraceful. His dictatorship has driven Egypt into some of its worst days. The United States kind of supported him, but not openly and vigorously the way Trump is doing. Trump is—it’s a little bit like what you said about the Cabinet. It’s kind of like a parody of what goes on all the time. Usual thing is to support brutal dictators, but not with enthusiasm, and with some tapping on the wrist, saying, “Look, what you’re doing is not very nice,” and so on. Here, it’s saying, “You’re great. We love you. You know, go ahead and torture and murder people.” That’s—it’s a terrible blow to the people of Egypt. But Jordan is sort of a mixed story. But these steps are very regressive.

With regard to Israel-Palestine, actually, Trump has pulled back from his original position. But his original position that—he and his administration—was that there’s nothing wrong with the settlements. They’re not an obstacle to peace. If you look at the way the settlements have been treated over the years—of course, they’re totally illegal. They’re destroying any hope for Palestinian rights. There’s a systematic Israeli program, very systematic. It’s been going on since 1967. It’s to try to quietly take over every part of the West Bank that is of any value to them, while excluding the areas of Palestinian population concentration. So they’re not going to take over Nablus or Tulkarm, but take over everything that’s of significance and value, leave dozens, maybe even hundreds, of isolated enclaves and Palestinian population concentrations, which can kind of rot on the vine. Maybe the people will leave. Whatever happens, we don’t care. That’s been going on consistently. Now, if you go back to about 1980, the U.S. joined the world not only in calling them illegal, but in demanding that they be dismantled. Go back to the U.N. Security Council resolutions, I think 465, approximately. So, you have to dismantle the illegal settlements. That has been weakened over the years.

Reagan weakened it. Clinton weakened it. Obama cut it back to not help—obstacles to peace. Trump, it’s not helpful to peace. Meanwhile, we fund—Jared—the Kushner Foundation and, of course, this new ambassador are strong supporters of the ultra-right far right, way to the right of Netanyahu. The Beit El, the community that they’re pouring their money into, is run by an Orthodox rabbi whose position is that the army shouldn’t follow orders, has to follow the rabbi’s orders. This is way at the right end of the Israeli spectrum. Originally, they said they were going to move the embassy to Jerusalem. They’re kind of backing off on that. At first, their position was there’s nothing wrong with settlements. Now there’s a mild “they’re not helpful to peace.” But, meanwhile, the U.S. continues to pour money and support into fulfilling this project of constructing a Greater Israel.

I should say that the general discussions about this, I think, are extremely misleading. What’s said on all sides, actually—Israel, Palestinians, international commentary—is that there are two options: either a two-state settlement, in accord with the long-standing international consensus, or else one state, which would be an apartheid state, in which Palestinians wouldn’t have rights, and you could have an anti-apartheid struggle, and Israel would face what’s called the demographic problem—too many non-Jews in a Jewish state. But those are not the two options.

There’s a third option, the one that is actually being implemented—namely, construction of a Greater Israel, which will not have a demographic problem, because they’re excluding the areas of dense Palestinian population, and they’re removing Palestinians slowly from the areas they expect to take over. So you’ll get a—what’s called Jerusalem as maybe five times as big as it ever has been, goes all the way into the West Bank. There are corridors going to the east, which break up the remaining territory, one to Ma’ale Adumim, a town which was built mostly during the Clinton years, which pretty much bifurcates the West Bank. There’s others to the north. The so-called Area C, where Israel has total control, about 60 percent of the West Bank, is slowly being incorporated into Israel with big infrastructure programs and so on. And this program is just taking place right before our eyes. The United States is providing diplomatic, economic and military support for it. It will leave the Palestinians with essentially nothing. There will be a Greater Israel, which will have—which will not face the dread demographic problem.
____

Noam Chomsky
world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author. He is institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught for more than 50 years. His new book comes out today, titled Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power.

— source democracynow.org

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