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Israel's worst enemies are those who support its policies, claims Chomsky

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


ISRAEL'S GREATEST enemies are those who support its decline into moral degeneration and destruction, philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky has told an audience in Dublin.

Chomsky, who is retired professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Israel was once a civilised society similar to those found in Scandinavia. Now, however, that has changed. There is high inequality just as in the US, and the social security system has collapsed, he said.

In the 1970s, he said, Israel had a choice between security within its existing borders and expansion into settlements and it chose expansion.

It was not possible to carry out the military occupation this required and at the same time maintain elementary moral values. "The worst enemies of Israel were those supporting it. What they were in fact supporting was its moral degeneration and ultimate destruction," said Chomsky.

Chomsky, the son of Jewish parents from Pennsylvania, said that at one stage he considered going to live in Israel but "now I prefer to come to Dublin".

He was speaking at the College Historical Society, or Hist, in TCD, which yesterday awarded him a gold medal for outstanding contribution to public discourse.

Last night, the 80-year-old philosopher and author also addressed UCD's Law Society, which awarded him honorary life membership.

Answering questions from journalist Robert Fisk and a packed student audience at the Hist, Chomsky maintained there were grounds for hope in the conduct of world affairs. Countries such as Britain and the US had become much more civilised, a trend he attributed to the active engagement of citizens, especially young people, in politics. Disillusionment with the policies of John F Kennedy in the 1960s had prompted people to become involved in civil rights campaigns and, later, the feminist movement, he pointed out.

Drawing a distinction between "stories" and "non-stories" in the media and academia, Chomsky pointed out that the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago was followed six days later by the "end of Christianity" through the defeat of liberation theology. This occurred when elite units of the army in El Salvador, trained by the US, murdered six leading Catholic intellectuals. Yet, in contrast to events in eastern Europe, few people knew about this event.

Warning against the pitfalls of humanitarian intervention, he pointed out that British colonists came to the New World with the express intention of helping natives in this manner. "In the process, they helped exterminate them."

Most of these colonists were religious fanatics, Chomsky said, and this streak in American society has lasted almost up to the present day.

He described the conflict in eastern Congo as the worst catastrophe currently going on in the world and asked why Darfur, which was a much smaller conflict, received so much more attention. "In Darfur, you can blame it on enemies the Arabs whereas in the Congo it's a lot harder."

The multinationals were "all over" eastern Congo, using local militias to gain control of its rich resources, he said.


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