Noam Chomsky (2): On the Lesser of Two Evils

Noam Chomsky: “So let’s go to the Bible. That’s–you can find the model that Trump is following in the Bible. It’s King Ahab, the evil king, the epitome of evil in the Bible; he called the prophet Elijah to him, and condemned the prophet Elijah because he doesn’t love Israel enough. In fact, he’s a hater of Israel, the proof he was condemning the acts of the evil king. So loving a country, from Trump’s point of view, is follow its policies; whatever its policies are, you got to support them. That’s loving a country. So Trump and Ahab, the evil king, agree on that. The prophet Elijah and the ones who Linfield is attacking, they agree, no, you don’t support the policies. What you do is if you care about a country, it’s like caring about a friend. If you have a friend who’s doing something to harm himself, and to severely harm others, you don’t say, Great! I support you all the way. You try to change what the friend is doing.

“And in the case of a state, you first have to dismantle the cloud of propaganda and myth that every state constructs to justify what it’s doing. And when you do that, then what do you find? You go back to the early seventies, which actually is the point she emphasizes. At that point, Israel had a fateful decision. Namely, is it going to pursue expansion or security? That was very clear. On the table, there were very clear options for negotiation and political settlement.

“Linfield, incidentally, lies about this like a trooper. I actually described it with exact precision, and she claims I made it up by the clever technique of avoiding every single thing I said about it, OK, which happened to be exactly accurate. What happens is this. First of all, in 1971, Gunnar Jarring, international mediator, presented proposals to Egypt and Israel for a political settlement, pretty much in line with the international consensus. Egypt accepted it; Israel rejected it. In 1976 the Security Council debated a resolution calling for a political settlement, two-state settlement, on the international border with guarantees for the rights of each state, Israel and a Palestinian state, to live in peace and security within secure and recognized borders.

“It was vetoed by the United States; Israel was hysterical. The Israeli ambassador Chaim Herzog, later president, claimed that the PLO had written this as a device to destroy Israel, which of course was complete nonsense. The PLO kind of tacitly supported it, but certainly didn’t write it. The resolution, crucially, was supported by the three Arab confrontation states: Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. That was ’76. That’s a tough one for people like Linfield who support Israeli policies, so what she does is just lie about it, OK, in the way that I mentioned. But it was real, and there were other options, and it continues like this.

“Now, if you care about Israel, what you tell them is you’re sacrificing security for expansion. And it’s going to have a consequence. It’s going to lead to moral deterioration internally, and decline in status internationally, which is exactly what happened. You mentioned that people who used to be one or another form of Zionist are now very critical of Israel. It’s much more general than that. You go back to the 1970s, Israel was one of the most admired states in the world. Young people from Sweden were going to Israel to see the wonderful social democracy, and so on. Now it’s a pariah state. What’s happened? It’s not–the same that’s happened in the United States. Support for Israel used to be based in basically liberal democrats; that was support for Israel. No longer. Most of them support the Palestinians. Support for Israel now is in the Christian evangelical community and ultranationalists.

“That reflects the changes that have taken place. Is this good for Israel? I don’t think so. It’s turned Israel into, as I said, a pariah state which is declining–internally, morally–and it’s horrible for the Palestinians. So I think the ones who were following the path of Elijah were correct. You don’t love a state and follow its policies. You criticize what’s wrong, try to change the policies, expose them; criticize it, change it. And exactly what was predicted in the seventies has happened.”

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