Noam Chomsky on Israel

Internationally recognized as one of America's most critically-engaged public intellectuals today, Noam Chomsky spoke with me about Israel and its interplay with the United States.

Kathleen Wells: Hi, I'm Kathleen Wells, political correspondent for Race-Talk. I'm speaking with Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and renowned political activist and writer. He has written over a hundred books on linguistics, human rights, economics, and politics. Thank you, Professor Chomsky, for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon.

Noam Chomsky: Very pleased to be with you.

Kathleen Wells: : Speak to me about the relation between the United States and Israel. Specifically, address, as you have previously stated, how every crime, violation of international law, that Israel commits is done through the direct participation and authorization of the United States.

Noam Chomsky: That's a ... As a descriptive statement, that is pretty close to accurate. I mean "all" is a very strong word but it is certainly generally true. And, in fact, the United States has overwhelmingly vetoed Security Council resolutions condemning Israeli crimes and atrocities, prevented the Security Council from calling on Israel to terminate aggression, and so on and so forth. The descriptive comment is not really controversial. There are interesting questions about why it's true. There were also interesting questions about the sources of support for this position in the United States, which helps us explain why it is true.

The history is reasonably clear. This was not the case up until 1967. In fact, before 1967, the relationships were not very different from relationships among other powers. There was sympathy and support for Israel, which has many, many sources, including the Christian Zionism, which is a very powerful force that precedes and is numerically far stronger than Jewish Zionism. But for somebody like, say, Harry Truman, raised in a deeply Christian tradition, it was just taken for granted that the Bible instructs us that God gave the land of Palestine to the Jews. So it is kind of like in his bones. And that's true for a very large part of the American population, much more so than -- far more than any other country. So that is one factor, and there are other factors.

But the major change in relationships took place in 1967. Just take a look at USA aid to Israel. You can tell that right off. And in many other respects, it's true, too. Similarly, the attitude towards Israel on the part of the intellectual community -- you know, media, commentary, journals, and so on -- that changed very sharply in 1967, from either lack of interest or sometimes even disdain, to almost passionate support. So what happened in 1967?

Read or listen to the entire interview.

Crossposted from Race-Talk.