by Shira Hadad | Council On The National Interest | November 11, 2005
Noam Chomsky, recently voted the most important public intellectual in the world today (based on a poll conducted jointly by the British monthly Prospect and the Washington-based Foreign Policy) was interviewed at length by Shira Hadad for Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper. In it he remarks on the current state of affairs in Israel, on the disengagement from Gaza and prospects for peace. For the full interview, follow this link
Here are some excerpts:
On the Disengagement
Question: Did you believe that the disengagement (from Gaza) would happen?
Chomsky: "Sure. Any rational hawk in Israel knew that it was totally insane for Israel to leave 8,000 settlers in the middle of over a million Palestinians ... What's the point of that? So if you're a rational hawk, after having turned the Gaza Strip into a complete disaster area, the best thing to do is to leave it, let the people rot, and lock them up in what I think B'Tselem or someone called the world's largest prison, and take over the West Bank."
Question: So you don't believe that the process will happen in the West Bank?
Question: No, I mean the disengagement.
Chomsky: "It's happening. What is called `the disengagement plan' was an expansion plan. And it was not hidden. An expansion plan. It was perfectly overt. I can't say it was deluding anyone. And I think the day that [Ariel] Sharon announced the plan to leave Gaza, I think it was that very same day that [Benjamin] Netanyahu announced the number of tens of millions of dollars that they were spending in the West Bank. And a couple of days later, Sharon met with [Shaul] Mofaz to discuss plans for further expansion. He announced new developments in this E-1 area, they extended the settlement, the separation wall, which was of course intended to be some kind of border. The building has continued, the road system is expanding, in fact by now it's public, they don't even conceal it anymore, to make an entire separation of the populations, with a Jewish road system of nice highways and a Palestinian road system.
"I don't have much time to spend in the West Bank, but if you have, you know what it's like. You take the road from Ramallah to Bethlehem, and you're lucky if you make it alive. And so there'll be little Palestinian roads, and maybe some dirt roads and, you know, all the highways that bring all the Jewish parts together, and we know what the plan is. It's an old one and it's now being formalized. The separation wall is probably a pretty good picture of what they intend to do. It's going well to the east of Ma'aleh Adumim, meaning almost to Jericho, which splits the West Bank in half. Now the salient that includes Ariel and others is another virtual separation. It's not quite as bad as some of the earlier plans, but it essentially leaves the West Bank and the Palestinians in three virtually separated cantons."
`Peace by force'
Question: Will be a wider-scale disengagement in the future?
Chomsky: "Some of the isolated outposts, which again any rational hawk wants to get rid of - they'll be eliminated, probably; it doesn't make any sense to keep them. But the parts of the West Bank, the important parts which Israel wants, it's incorporating, just as it has already. And the Palestinians in the so-called seam, they don't have a future. Is anybody going to live in Qalqilyah in 20 years, or in the other villages that are being cut in half right near Jerusalem? They'll either rot or they'll leave. And whatever Palestinians remain will be scattered in the unviable cantons. The plan is perfectly overt, there's nothing secretive about it, and it's expanded along with the leaving of Gaza, which was totally pointless."
Question: So that has nothing to do with peace?
Chomsky: "Oh yeah, it has something to do with peace, the position of peace by force. I mean, there are all kinds of peaces now; it's such a wonderful thing. I mean, Russia was maintaining peace in Eastern Europe after World War II. It should be applauded. It was quite a peaceful time - on occasion there was an outbreak [of unrest], but mostly it was peaceful. Other countries were run by their security forces and their own governments. You know, there were Russian troops in the background, but it was very peaceful. Actually occupied Europe under the Germans would have been peaceful if it weren't for the fact that Germany was at war. Countries were again run by collaborators, by the Germans, by the security forces, and so on. In fact the United States is having a lot more trouble in Iraq than Germany ever had in occupied Europe, or than Russia had in Eastern Europe, which is kind of remarkable. But usually peace isn't forced by violence. Peace is nice, but it's not the highest way. And yes, that's the kind of peace that Israel wants. Again, it's not a secret."
On the Israeli and the American publics
Question: What do you think of the public in Israel?
Chomsky: "It's split. As far as I can see, it's very split. I think a majority would accept peacefully the international consensus - some settlement exit, or like the Geneva Accords, or like Taba. The polls seem to indicate that this would probably get a fair majority, 70 percent. Let's [compare] this to the American public. The American public we know very well, except they don't print it here. The press refuses to publish public opinion studies that give you the wrong answers. It's systematic.
"On Israel you'd be amazed what the results are. And these are by the best polling institutions in the world. About two-thirds of the [American] public is in favor of the Saudi plan - that's full normalization with full withdrawal. That's beyond Taba. About the same majority thinks the United States ought to cut off funding entirely to either Israel or the Palestinians, [if they are] not negotiating in good faith for a settlement. What that would mean in practice is cutting off funding to Israel. When people were asked, suppose both sides were negotiating in good faith, the same majority said the United States should equalize funding to Israel and the Palestinians. I mean this is so remote from policy that they can't even dream about it, so of course there's not a single newspaper in the world or the country that will publish it ..."