Anarchist theorist Avram Noam Chomsky spoke on Wednesday, May 8, at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California, on the subject of “Palestinian Hopes, Regional Turmoils.” The eighty-four year old philosopher’s address, presented to a packed audience, marked the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance (MECA), with which Chomsky has long been associated–among other roles, he has served as a founding advisor for the organization.
Focusing, as the title of his talk would suggest, on the present situation for Palestine and the Palestinians, Chomsky drew parallels between Palestinians’ rejection of Israel’s legitimacy and Mexicans’ refusals to recognize U.S. territorial claims to its southwestern states, which of course were acquired by force during the Mexican-American War of 1846-8–this being a war that Ulysses S. Grant claimed to have been “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.”
The professor pointed centrally to the role the U.S. government (as a Mafia Godfather, or “master”) has played in preventing the implementation of the international consensus in former Palestine: that is, a two-state solution, with Israel withdrawing to its pre-1967 borders. Of course, Chomsky himself questioned whether any state can be considered legitimate ipso facto, but he insisted that a two-state solution would be an important step forward toward a more final, binational solution, a stateless resolution, or even the development of an anarcho-socialist federation in the region, based on solidarity among working-class Arabs and Jews (as his own youthful interpretation of Zionism advocated). “Nothing need ever be an end,” he insisted.
Noting that the situation in Palestine would be one of the easiest contemporary global conflicts to resolve, Chomsky envisioned a sudden withdrawal of support for Israel on the part of the U.S. government, followed by a withdrawal of IDF/IOF forces from the West Bank and the voluntary forfeiting of territorial claims presently being made by the nearly half million Jewish settlers who now occupy a great deal of Cisjordan, in violation of the Geneva Conventions. In closing, Chomsky observed that societal support for Israel comes overwhelmingly from settler-colonial societies (the U.S., Canada, Australia), both in terms of state policy as well as public opinion–this is likely the case as regards the latter, claimed Chomsky, particularly because Israel’s behavior mimics that undertaken historically by these genocidal colonial entities (“felling trees and Indians”).
Against all these trends, this rights-advocate stipulated that the oppression of the Palestinians proceeds with our complicity–“we let it happen.” However, in his view, there is no reason for observers to accept this state of affairs as given, just as there is no reason to accept the putative legitimacy of prevailing power arrangements. Prospects for hope can be found in the chance for the U.S. populace to force its state radically to alter its orientation to Israel.
In passing, Chomsky also observed that it was “not at all obvious” that there will shortly exist a future in which humans can continue considering these types of questions.