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Forum Post: chomsky on boycotting israel part 2

Posted 3 years ago on July 6, 2014, 7:31 p.m. EST by flip (7101)
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this is excerpted from a longer piece - - "The opening call of the BDS movement, by a group of Palestinian intellectuals in 2005, demanded that Israel fully comply with international law by “(1) Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall; (2) Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and (3) Respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”

This call received considerable attention, and deservedly so. But if we’re concerned about the fate of the victims, BD and other tactics have to be carefully thought through and evaluated in terms of their likely consequences. The pursuit of (1) in the above list makes good sense: it has a clear objective and is readily understood by its target audience in the West, which is why the many initiatives guided by (1) have been quite successful—not only in “punishing” Israel, but also in stimulating other forms of opposition to the occupation and US support for it.

However, this is not the case for (3). While there is near-universal international support for (1), there is virtually no meaningful support for (3) beyond the BDS movement itself. Nor is (3) dictated by international law. The text of UN General Assembly Resolution 194 is conditional, and in any event it is a recommendation, without the legal force of the Security Council resolutions that Israel regularly violates. Insistence on (3) is a virtual guarantee of failure.

The only slim hope for realizing (3) in more than token numbers is if longer-term developments lead to the erosion of the imperial borders imposed by France and Britain after World War I, which, like similar borders, have no legitimacy. This could lead to a “no-state solution”—the optimal one, in my view, and in the real world no less plausible than the “one-state solution” that is commonly, but mistakenly, discussed as an alternative to the international consensus.

The case for (2) is more ambiguous. There are “prohibitions against discrimination” in international law, as HRW observes. But pursuit of (2) at once opens the door to the standard “glass house” reaction: for example, if we boycott Tel Aviv University because Israel violates human rights at home, then why not boycott Harvard because of far greater violations by the United States? Predictably, initiatives focusing on (2) have been a near-uniform failure, and will continue to be unless educational efforts reach the point of laying much more groundwork in the public understanding for them, as was done in the case of South Africa.

Failed initiatives harm the victims doubly—by shifting attention from their plight to irrelevant issues (anti-Semitism at Harvard, academic freedom, etc.), and by wasting current opportunities to do something meaningful.

Concern for the victims dictates that in assessing tactics, we should be scrupulous in recognizing what has succeeded or failed, and why. This has not always been the case (Michael Neumann discusses one of many examples of this failure in the Winter 2014 issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies). The same concern dictates that we must be scrupulous about facts. Take the South African analogy, constantly cited in this context. It is a very dubious one. There’s a reason why BDS tactics were used for decades against South Africa while the current campaign against Israel is restricted to BD: in the former case, activism had created such overwhelming international opposition to apartheid that individual states and the UN had imposed sanctions decades before the 1980s, when BD tactics began to be used extensively in the United States. By then, Congress was legislating sanctions and overriding Reagan’s vetoes on the issue.

Years earlier—by 1960—global investors had already abandoned South Africa to such an extent that its financial reserves were halved; although there was some recovery, the handwriting was on the wall. In contrast, US investment is flowing into Israel. When Warren Buffett bought an Israeli tool-making firm for $2 billion last year, he described Israel as the most promising country for investors outside the United States itself.

While there is, finally, a growing domestic opposition in the United States to Israeli crimes, it does not remotely compare with the South African case. The necessary educational work has not been done. Spokespeople for the BDS movement may believe they have attained their “South African moment,” but that is far from accurate. And if tactics are to be effective, they must be based on a realistic assessment of actual circumstances.

Much the same is true of the invocation of apartheid. Within Israel, discrimination against non-Jews is severe; the land laws are just the most extreme example. But it is not South African–style apartheid. In the occupied territories, the situation is far worse than it was in South Africa, where the white nationalists needed the black population: it was the country’s workforce, and as grotesque as the bantustans were, the nationalist government devoted resources to sustaining and seeking international recognition for them. In sharp contrast, Israel wants to rid itself of the Palestinian burden. The road ahead is not toward South Africa, as commonly alleged, but toward something much worse.

Where that road leads is unfolding before our eyes. As Sternhell observes, Israel will continue its current policies. It will maintain a vicious siege of Gaza, separating it from the West Bank, as the United States and Israel have been doing ever since they accepted the Oslo Accords in 1993. Although Oslo declared Palestine to be “a single territorial unit,” in official Israeli parlance the West Bank and Gaza have become “two separate and different areas.” As usual, there are security pretexts, which collapse quickly upon examination.

In the West Bank, Israel will continue to take whatever it finds valuable—land, water, resources—dispersing the limited Palestinian population while integrating these acquisitions within a Greater Israel. This includes the vastly expanded “Jerusalem” that Israel annexed in violation of Security Council orders; everything on the Israeli side of the illegal separation wall; corridors to the east creating unviable Palestinian cantons; the Jordan Valley, where Palestinians are being systematically expelled and Jewish settlements established; and huge infrastructure projects linking all these acquisitions to Israel proper.

The road ahead leads not to South Africa, but rather to an increase in the proportion of Jews in the Greater Israel that is being constructed. This is the realistic alternative to a two-state settlement. There is no reason to expect Israel to accept a Palestinian population it does not want.

John Kerry was bitterly condemned when he repeated the lament—common inside Israel—that unless the Israelis accept some kind of two-state solution, their country will become an apartheid state, ruling over a territory with an oppressed Palestinian majority and facing the dreaded “demographic problem”: too many non-Jews in a Jewish state. The proper criticism is that this common belief is a mirage. As long as the United States supports Israel’s expansionist policies, there is no reason to expect them to cease. Tactics have to be designed accordingly.

However, there is one comparison to South Africa that is realistic—and significant. In 1958, South Africa’s foreign minister informed the US ambassador that it didn’t much matter if South Africa became a pariah state. The UN may harshly condemn South Africa, he said, but, as the ambassador put it, “what mattered perhaps more than all other votes put together was that of [the] U.S. in view of its predominant position of leadership in [the] Western world.” For forty years, ever since it chose expansion over security, Israel has made essentially the same judgment.

For South Africa, the calculation was fairly successful for a long time. In 1970, casting its first-ever veto of a Security Council resolution, the United States joined Britain to block action against the racist regime of Southern Rhodesia, a move that was repeated in 1973. Eventually, Washington became the UN veto champion by a wide margin, primarily in defense of Israeli crimes. But by the 1980s, South Africa’s strategy was losing its efficacy. In 1987, even Israel—perhaps the only country then violating the arms embargo against South Africa—agreed to “reduce its ties to avoid endangering relations with the U.S. Congress,” the director general of the Israeli foreign ministry reported. The concern was that Congress might punish Israel for its violation of recent US law. In private, Israeli officials assured their South African friends that the new sanctions would be mere “window dressing.” A few years later, South Africa’s last supporters in Washington joined the world consensus, and the apartheid regime soon collapsed.

In South Africa, a compromise was reached that was satisfactory to the country’s elites and to US business interests: apartheid was ended, but the socioeconomic regime remained. In effect, there would be some black faces in the limousines, but privilege and profit would not be much affected. In Palestine, there is no similar compromise in prospect.



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[-] 1 points by grapes (5127) 3 years ago

The U.S. has been sabotaging its own Middle-East peace initiatives with its actual policies for decades. It is impossible to reach peace with the contradiction in place but even with it removed, the Middle-East will STILL have the chasms among the Jewish state, the Islamic state, the Christian state, the Sunni state, the Shiite state, the Kurdish state, etc. There is NO chance that the Pentacle state of America can function at all as the God/Allah state for the Middle East - it will just be the infidel state to all in the Middle East. The U.S. leverage over Israel is greatly exaggerated as evidenced by Israel's repeated and defiant support of Jewish settlements' construction.

It is best to keep the explosive elements apart with walls wherever necessary and let them defuse themselves slowly over time. Perhaps the EU can teach a lesson here. After all, France and Germany were repeatedly killing each other for decades but it has been quite a while since the last bloodshed.

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

same story everywhere - we hated the japs and now?? we hated the germans....... have you read orwell - i think that explains everything - no? i do not agree with your idea of exaggerated influence. have you read part 1? france and germany are perfect examples - and what created peace there? certainly not a wall. most people want peace and can live with neighbors of another religion or ethnicity - it is the rulers who create the divisions. take a look at sunni shia - see if you can find articles on how they hate each other before the iraq war. then google u.s. ethnic cleansing during the iraqi occupation.

[-] 1 points by grapes (5127) 3 years ago

The U.S. learnt from its post-WWI hands-off approach to international affairs having led to WWII. It was the U.S. determination NOT to repeat the same mistake that the post-WWII Western world gel-ed under the threat of the Cold War as well as the domination of Pax Americana.

The Middle East is very different from Europe and Japan. There is no Pax Americana coverage there. Besides, the enmity goes back a long time and a long way due to religions, customs, etc., not to mention the arbitrary state borders left there from European colonialism. You really have some peoples there who hate each others' guts from centuries if not millennia ago. Which country will function as the Soviet Union bogeyman which threatens to enslave them all if they do not unite with each other? It is not accidental that the holy cities of Jerusalem, Mecca, and Medina are all located in the Middle East. I vote for walls as necessary to stop the defilement of the holiest City by wanton bloodsheds.

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

i think you have seriously misread history if you think u.s. intervention in international affairs is what prevented ww3. did you google ethnic cleansing during the u.s. occupation - before we continue you should. here is a bit of (secret??) history The Campaign of Hatred Against Us Noam Chomsky interviewed by Ticky Fullerton Four Corners, January 26, 2002 QUESTION: Professor Chomsky, the dust has now settled on Ground Zero. What is your assessment of what September 11th has done to the American psyche? CHOMSKY: Well, it has been regarded, correctly, as a horrendous terrorist atrocity. It caused anguish, fear, concern -- all of that's completely understandable and absolutely correct. I share it as well. It has also opened up the society a lot so ... there is much more discussion, debate, concern, dissidence, protest -- in fact, beyond anything in my experience -- and new questions have opened in people's minds that they weren't asking before -- good questions. I even find that in the press to an extent. So, for example, The Wall Street Journal, to its credit, immediately after September 11th, began raising questions about what are actually the attitudes of people in the part of the world to which this terrorist act was traced. Everyone assumed it, rightly, to be somehow connected to networks like the al Qaeda and others who were organized by the CIA and the British for their own purposes. In fact, the people who are now chasing them in caves in Afghanistan were the same ones who were training them fifteen years ago -- trained by the US Special Forces... So "What are the attitudes of people in that region towards the United States?" and these questions were explored with some minimal care, really, for the first time. I mean, it wasn't really done seriously. If you would do it seriously, you would not just ask the way The Wall Street Journal did: what are the opinions [of] what they called "moneyed Muslims"? Rich, rich guys -- bankers, professionals, partners in US multinationals -- people who were right inside the US system. I mean, it's interesting to know what they think, too, but that's not everything. And it's to their credit that they even looked that far.

And what they found, and if someone went a little bit further with minimal effort, they would discover that this question -- you know: "Why do they hate us when we're so good?" -- George Bush's poignant question -- it's a very old question, for it was asked by President Eisenhower in 1958 -- actually, in secret at that time. But now it's a pretty free country, we have a lot of documentary evidence so we know what's been going on. Back in 1958 -- which turned out to be a very crucial year in world history -- that was the year, in particular, in which the US fought a major clandestine war to try to break up Indonesia, and a number of other things. ... The US at that time had three major crisis areas, according to the internal discussions, all in Islamic countries, all in oil-producers. One was Indonesia, one was Algeria, one was basically Iraq -- the Iraqi region. Those were the three crises. It was made explicit in the internal meetings. In fact, Eisenhower, vociferously, according to the minutes, insisted on this: there was no Russian involvement. The enemy is indigenous nationalism. In fact, that's true throughout the Cold War, but very explicit then, and Eisenhower did discuss it with his staff, said there is a campaign of hatred against us -- not on the part of governments but on the part of the people, and we wanna know why that's true. And he got some answers. John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, said the problem is that the communist -- "communist" just means anybody who's a nationalist, and the CIA was telling them strongly that their main enemy wasn't communist but it didn't matter, "communist" just means the ones we don't like -- and they said the communists have an advantage over us, an unfair advantage. He said they can appeal to the masses of the population. That's an appeal that we can't counter. And the reason is they appeal to the poor and the poor have always wanted to plunder the rich. That's the big problem with world history. And we somehow find it hard to sell our message that the rich can -- should -- plunder the poor. That sentence I added -- the rest was his.

But there was a more serious and considered answer given by the National Security Council, the highest planning agency. They pointed out that there's a perception in the Arab world that the United States supports status quo regimes which, of course, are brutal and oppressive, and does so in order to secure its own interests in obtaining oil, and then they said, well, it's hard to counter this perception because it's correct. They said it's natural for the United States to link itself up with the status quo regimes and try to sustain them and to pursue its interest in obtaining oil. So the end result is that there's a campaign of hatred against us among the people who we're basically robbing and on whom we're imposing harsh, brutal, repressive and corrupt regimes, and it's pretty difficult to counter that campaign. You know, that's exactly what The Wall Street Journal is finding after September 11th.

[-] 1 points by grapes (5127) 3 years ago

What prevented WWIII was the Soviet Politburo's selection of Mikhail Gorbachov and the Icelandic Summit. There are people such as Gorbachov who achieved (or misachieved if you prefer) great things by losing peacefully. Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch Mayor of New Amsterdam (now New York City) pops into my mind. New York has enjoyed religious liberty ever since and grown into a worldly openness and tolerance. Its wealth and power did not come from its leaders. It is the people's attitudes as well as the infrastructures (such as the Erie Canal) and strategic geographical location that allow the wealth to grow. Much wealth grew from making the worthless into the worthwhile, not through plundering but by trading. The same thing happened for China's, Japan's, and Germany's rise to economic prominence, under the economic "plundering" of the U.S.

You ARE out of luck if you happened to be in the wrong place when the economic takeoffs started. Hence, I say that there is a big dose of luck involved in becoming rich.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

now avoiding ww3 has probably more to do with luck or maybe vasili - - here is noam on the subject- There are several candidates for “the most dangerous moment.” One is October 27th, when U.S. destroyers enforcing a quarantine around Cuba were dropping depth charges on Soviet submarines. According to Soviet accounts, reported by the National Security Archive, submarine commanders were “rattled enough to talk about firing nuclear torpedoes, whose 15 kiloton explosive yields approximated the bomb that devastated Hiroshima in August 1945.”

In one case, a reported decision to assemble a nuclear torpedo for battle readiness was aborted at the last minute by Second Captain Vasili Arkhipov, who may have saved the world from nuclear disaster. There is little doubt what the U.S. reaction would have been had the torpedo been fired, or how the Russians would have responded as their country was going up in smoke.

Kennedy had already declared the highest nuclear alert short of launch (DEFCON 2), which authorized “NATO aircraft with Turkish pilots ... [or others] ... to take off, fly to Moscow, and drop a bomb,” according to the well-informed Harvard University strategic analyst Graham Allison, writing in the major establishment journal Foreign Affairs.

Another candidate is October 26th. That day has been selected as “the most dangerous moment” by B-52 pilot Major Don Clawson, who piloted one of those NATO aircraft and provides a hair-raising description of details of the Chrome Dome (CD) missions during the crisis -- “B-52s on airborne alert” with nuclear weapons “on board and ready to use.”

October 26th was the day when “the nation was closest to nuclear war,” he writes in his “irreverent anecdotes of an Air Force pilot,” Is That Something the Crew Should Know? On that day, Clawson himself was in a good position to set off a likely terminal cataclysm. He concludes, “We were damned lucky we didn’t blow up the world -- and no thanks to the political or military leadership of this country.”

The errors, confusions, near-accidents, and miscomprehension of the leadership that Clawson reports are startling enough, but nothing like the operative command-and-control rules -- or lack of them. As Clawson recounts his experiences during the 15 24-hour CD missions he flew, the maximum possible, the official commanders “did not possess the capability to prevent a rogue-crew or crew-member from arming and releasing their thermonuclear weapons,” or even from broadcasting a mission that would have sent off “the entire Airborne Alert force without possibility of recall.” Once the crew was airborne carrying thermonuclear weapons, he writes, “it would have been possible to arm and drop them all with no further input from the ground. There was no inhibitor on any of the systems.”

[-] 1 points by grapes (5127) 3 years ago

Strategically placed individuals with real sense can and did save the world. Likewise, they can lead the world to destruction. JFK had his Bay of Pigs fiasco advised by the "fruit-salad-"wearing generals and the C.I.A. George W. Bush had his Iraq adventure advised by Dick Cheney and the C.I.A. Failure of advisors can be detrimental. Do we see a pattern here?

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

i see this pattern - mlk said that the the United States is "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" and note that "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." and fredrick douglas said - "Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

[-] 1 points by grapes (5127) 3 years ago

There is much truth in what they had said but hypocrisy is inherent in any noble venture. We never measure up to our noble ideals because if we have already reached them there is no need for our striving. If we have become cynics and no longer believe in our noble ideals, we would not make ourselves Fools again by uttering our noble ideals.

Ronald Reagan, the C.I.A., and the Mossad taught me the importance of "deniability" or "dental flossibility." Hillary and Bill Clinton are also mistress and master of the art, introducing "domestic citizenship" and perfecting double dealing. Hey, these are all admired idols of many people so it speaks volumes about the craving for hypocrisy by humanity. If Mikey loves it, we make more of it. He likes it! He likes it!

[-] -1 points by 99nproud (2697) 3 years ago

Thanks to Chomsky and OWS (as well as all progressive groups/individuals) who have fought this obscenity.

We WILL change the direction of this MIC and the violence America perpetrates.

Stay sharp, on point & the walls will fall.

Thanks for all your good efforts

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33475) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

WWIII has not been averted - nope - it is in full swing right now - the very few ( extremely wealthy ) waging a war of annihilation on the rest of the planet.

ooops - forgot - it's not on the rest of the planet - it is on the whole planet - including themselves - kind of a murder suicide war.

[-] 1 points by grapes (5127) 3 years ago

Well, you are of-course correct because you are 3-D conscious when you talk about the "planet." Most people on our planet are still 0-D, 1-D, or 2-D conscious. We need at least most people to be 4-D conscious to have a chance for a sustainable planet. Therein lies the challenge so I am rather pessimistic. Hey, I have my one-way ticket reserved for a seat on the Heaven's Gate spaceship to catch the Comet's tail so I am well prepared for the Rapture.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33475) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

4-D ? Fourth ( or forth? - go forth and prosper - hmmmmm - or - go fourth "now hold on there, why do I have to go fourth?" ) Dimensional? Ummmm didn't wall street get us into trouble there?

[-] 1 points by grapes (5127) 3 years ago

The 4-D refers to the 3-D space plus the 1-D time. That is geography plus history.

Many people view their countries largely as 2-D surfaces without any significant height component. They cannot think about the planet as a whole. Nor do they know how and why things came to be in their countries. They know 2-D geography but nearly nothing about history.

Some people are 1-D conscious. Their lives happen on the 1-D line linking work and home. Nothing else enters their consciousness - the idunno and iduncare crowd.

Then there are those whose work and home are entangled as one. They are the 0-D crowd.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33475) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

Hey, I have my one-way ticket reserved for a seat on the Heaven's Gate spaceship to catch the Comet's tail so I am well prepared for the Rapture.

LOL - you must be a patient sort as well as a long term planner:

The comet likely made its last perihelion 4,200 years ago.[29] Its orbit is almost perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic, which ensures that close approaches to planets are rare. However, in April 1996 the comet passed within 0.77 AU of Jupiter, close enough for its orbit to be affected by the planet's gravity.[29] The comet's orbit was shortened considerably to a period of roughly 2,533 years,[1] and it will next return to the inner Solar System around the year 4385.[

[-] 1 points by grapes (5127) 3 years ago

Oh yes, you have just reminded me that I need to work on a time machine and/or suspended animation apparatus in addition to my holding on to my ticket. Either of which may help with the situation in the Middle East, too.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33475) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

Ahhhh - what about cryogenics? Though I don't see how putting the middle east into a deep freeze would be helpful in improving their outlook on life.

[-] 1 points by grapes (5127) 3 years ago

Deep freeze prevents fuel and oxidant from reaching the ignition temperature so it will prevent an explosion. You must have heard of the powder keg of Europe. The U.S. must preserve the powder keg of Asia safely for the Day to power our Rendezvous with Destiny. It does not help improve their outlook on life but it helps with their inlook on life so that fermions may become bosons.

Bosons (NOT bozons) are the only viable solution for peace that I can see.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33475) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

do Do do do

do DO do do


gauge bosons - acting as force carriers?

[-] 1 points by grapes (5127) 3 years ago

Correct. They do not obey Pauli's Exclusion Principle when they are mushed together. Any number of them can occupy the same state. It is not so for fermions. Kibbutzim are fermionic.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33475) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

An agricultural collective is fermionic?

[-] 1 points by grapes (5127) 3 years ago

Each kibbutz requires its own exclusionary zone which irks the Palestinians. Ariel Sharon (an extreme condition) changed some kibbutzim to bosons.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33475) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

but but but . . . . Fermions are usually associated with matter, whereas bosons are generally force carrier particles; although in the current state of particle physics the distinction between the two concepts is unclear.

Composite fermions, such as protons and neutrons, are key building blocks of everyday matter. Weakly interacting[clarification needed] fermions can also display bosonic behavior under extreme conditions, such as in ..................

Ah yeah it's all getting clearer now ( no it's not )

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33475) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

Bah dum Bah ( rim shot )