The United States is complicit in human rights violations committed by Israel against Gaza, said linguist and political scientist Noam Chomsky.
Chomsky told Democracy Now that U.S. coverage of the shelling reflected Israeli propaganda, and he dismissed a widely quoted remark by Israel’s former prime minister, Golda Meir, as dishonest and cruel.
Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’ “Face the Nation,” repeated the quote — “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children, but we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill their children” – on a recent broadcast, and Chomsky said U.S. media coverage has been “shameful.”
“I guess maybe the best comment about that was made by the great Israeli journalist Amira Hass, who just described (Meir’s remark) as ‘sadism masked as compassion,’” Chomsky said. “That’s about the right characterization.”
He said the U.S. had violated its own laws by providing military and monetary support to Israel in its campaign against Gaza.
“You look at U.S. foreign assistance law, it bars any military assistance to any one country, unit, whatever, engaged in consistent human rights violations,” Chomsky said. “Well, you know, Israel’s violation of human rights violations is so extreme and consistent that you hardly have to argue about it. That means that U.S. aid to Israel is in — military aid, is in direct violation of U.S. law.”
Chomsky noted that President Barack Obama had expressed continued support for Israel and tried to block a United Nations investigation into possible human rights violations.
“The United States continues to provide, as (the U.N. high commissioner or human rights) pointed out, the critical, the decisive support for the atrocities,” Chomsky said. “When what’s called Israeli jet planes bomb defenseless targets in Gaza, that’s U.S. jet planes with Israeli pilots, and the same with the high-tech munition and so on and so forth. So this is, again, sadism masked as compassion. Those are the actions.”
But he said public opinion on Israel’s policies had changed drastically in the U.S. in recent years, particularly among young people.
“You can see it on college campuses — I mean, I see it personally,” Chomsky said. “I’ve been giving talks on these things for almost 50 years. I used to have police protection, literally, even at my own university. The meetings were broken up violently, you know, enormous protest. Within the past, roughly, decade, that’s changed substantially by now that Palestinian solidarity is maybe the biggest issue on campus. Huge audiences. There isn’t even—hardly get a hostile question. That’s a tremendous change.”
However, he’s not sure how much that opinion shift will matter.
“There’s something we have to remember about the United States: It’s not a democracy; it’s a plutocracy,” Chomsky said. “There’s study after study that comes out in mainstream academic political science which shows what we all know or ought to know – that political decisions are made by a very small sector of extreme privilege and wealth, concentrated capital. For most of the population, their opinions simply don’t matter in the political system. They’re essentially disenfranchised.”
Still, he remained optimistic that public opinion would eventually change U.S. policies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Even in dictatorships, the public can’t be ignored, and in a partially democratic society like this, even less so,” Chomsky said. “So ultimately, this will make a difference — and how long ‘ultimately’ is, well, that’s up to us.”
Chomsky pointed to the shift in U.S. policy toward apartheid-era South Africa as a possible model for change.
“In the Occupied Territories, what Israel is doing is much worse than apartheid,” he said. “To call it apartheid is a gift to Israel, at least if by ‘apartheid’ you mean South African-style apartheid. What’s happening in the Occupied Territories is much worse.”
Chomsky said South African Nationalists needed black people, which was about 85 percent of the population, to fill its workforce and sustain the economy.
“The Israeli relationship to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories is totally different,” he said. “They just don’t want them. They want them out, or at least in prison. And they’re acting that way. That’s a very striking difference, which means that the apartheid analogy, South African apartheid, to the Occupied Territories is just a gift to Israeli violence. It’s much worse than that.”
Watch the interview posted online by Democracy Now: