Monday, May 31, 2010

Chomsky Memorial Day

NOAM CHOMSKY: One month ago, Joseph Andrew Stack crashed his small plane into an office building in Austin, Texas, hitting an IRS office, committing suicide. He left a manifesto explaining his actions. It was mostly ridiculed, but I think it deserves a lot better than that.

Stack.s manifesto traces the life history that led him to this final desperate act. The story begins when he was a teenage student living on a pittance in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, right near the heart of what was once a great industrial area. His neighbor.I.m mostly quoting now.his neighbor was a woman in her eighties, surviving on cat food, the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for the thirty years of his service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing, because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union, not to mention the government, raided the pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was Social Security to live on. And Stack could have added that are concerted and continuing efforts by the super-rich and their political allies to take even that away on spurious grounds.

Stack decided then that he couldn.t trust big business and would strike out on his own, only to discover that he couldn.t trust a government that cared nothing about people like him, but only about the rich and privileged. And he couldn.t trust a legal system, his words, in which "there are two 'interpretations' for every law, one for the very rich and one for the rest of us," a government that leaves us with "the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies [that] are murdering tens of thousands of people a year," with care rationed by wealth, not need, all in a social order in which "a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities...and when it.s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours." And much more, which I won.t repeat.

Stack tells us that his desperate final act was an effort to join those who are willing to die for their freedom, in the hope of awakening others from their torpor. It wouldn.t surprise me if he had in mind the woman eating cat food, who taught him about the real world when he was a teenager, and her husband.s premature death. Her husband didn.t literally commit suicide after having been discarded to the trash heap, but it.s far from an isolated case, which we can add to the colossal toll of the institutional crimes of state capitalism.

There are poignant studies of the indignation and the rage of those who have been cast aside as the state-corporate programs of financialization and deindustrialization have closed plants and destroyed families and communities. These studies reveal the sense of acute betrayal on the part of working people who believed they had a fulfilled their duty to society in what they regard as a moral compact with business and government, only to discover that they had only been instruments for profit and power, truisms from which they had been carefully shielded by doctrinal institutions.

There are striking similarities in the world.s second-largest economy. This has been investigated in a very penetrating study by Ching Kwan Lee into Chinese labor. Lee draws the close comparison between working-class outrage and desperation in the decaying industrial sectors of the United States and the fury among workers in what she calls China.s rustbelt, the state socialist industrial center in the Northeast now abandoned by the state in favor of state capitalist development of the Southeast sunbelt, as she calls it. In both regions, Lee finds massive labor protests, but different in character. In the rustbelt, workers express the same sense of betrayal as their counterparts here, but in their case betrayal of the Maoist principles of solidarity and dedication to development of the society that they had thought had been a moral compact, only to discover that, whatever it was, it.s now bitter fraud. In the sunbelt, workers who lack that cultural tradition still rely on their home villages for support and family life. They denounce the failure of authorities to live up even to the minimal legal requirements of barely livable workplace conditions and payment of the pittance called salaries.

According to official statistics, there were 58,000 .mass incidents. of protest in 2003 in just one province of the rustbelt, with three million people participating. Some 30 to 40 million workers who were dropped from work units.quoting Lee..are plagued by a profound sense of insecurity,. arousing .rage and desperation. around the country. And she expects that there.s worse to come, as a looming crisis of landlessness in the countryside undermines the base for survival of the sunbelt workers, who don.t even have a semblance of independent unions, while in the rustbelt, there.s nothing like civil society support that exists, to some extent, here. Both Lee and the studies of the US rustbelt make it clear that we should not underestimate the depth of moral indignation that lies behind the bitterness about what is perceived to be the treachery of government and business power acting exactly as we should expect them to, unfortunately.

Something similar can be found in rural India. There, food consumption has sharply declined for the great majority since the neoliberal reforms were partially implemented, all of this amidst accolades for India.s fabulous growth, and indeed it is fabulous growth for some, though not for the rural areas, where peasant suicides are increasing at about the same rate as the number of billionaires, not far away. And in fact not so attractive for the workers, American workers, who are transferred to India to reduce labor costs by IBM, which now has three-quarters of its work force abroad. BusinessWeek calls IBM the .quintessential American company,. which is quite appropriate: it became the global giant in computing thanks to the unwitting munificence of the US taxpayer, who also substantially funded the whole IT revolution on which IBM relies, along with most of the rest of the high-tech economy, mostly on the pretext that the Russians are coming. Now IBM is paying them back.

There.s much excited talk these days about a great global shift of power, with speculation about whether, or when, China might displace the US as the dominant global power, along with India, which, if it happened, would mean that the global system would be returning to something like what it was before the European conquests. And indeed their recent GDP growth has been spectacular. But there.s a lot more to say about it. So if you take a look at the UN human development index, basic measure of the health of the society, it turns out that India retains its place near the bottom. It.s now 134th, slightly above Cambodia, below Laos and Tajikistan. Actually, it.s dropped since the reforms began. China ranks ninety-second, a bit above Jordan, below the Dominican Republic and Iran. By comparison, Cuba, been under harsh US attack for fifty years, is ranked fifty-second. It.s the highest in Central America and the Caribbean, barely below the richest societies in South America. India and China also suffer from extremely high inequality, so well over a billion of their inhabitants fall far lower in the scale. Furthermore, an accurate accounting would go beyond conventional measures to include serious costs that China and India can.t ignore for long: ecological, resource depletion, many others.

These common speculations about a global shift of power, which you can read all over the front pages, disregard a crucial factor that.s familiar to all of us: nations divorced from the internal distribution of power are not the real actors in international affairs. That truism was brought to public attention by that incorrigible radical Adam Smith, who recognized that the principal architects of power in England were the owners of the his day, the merchants and manufacturers.and they made sure that policy would attend scrupulously to their interests, however grievous the impact on the people of England and, of course, much worse, the victims of what he called .the savage injustice of the Europeans. abroad. British crimes in India were the main concern of an old-fashioned conservative with moral values.

To his modern worshippers, Smith.s truisms are ridiculed as, quote, .elaborate theories of how world history was being manipulated by shadowy corporatist/imperialist networks.. I.m quoting New York Times thinker David Brooks. It.s one of the many illustrations of the intellectual and moral decline of what.s called .conservatism. from the understanding of its heroes.

Actually, in the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that I.m identified as the villain who adopts Adam Smith.s heresy, as in fact I do.

Well, bearing Smith.s radical truism in mind, we can see that there is indeed a global shift of power, though not the one that occupies center stage. It.s a shift from the global work force to transnational capital, and it.s been sharply escalating during the neoliberal years. The cost is substantial, including the Joe Stacks of the US, starving peasants in India, and millions of protesting workers in China, where the labor share in income is declining even more rapidly than in most of the world.

Martin Hart-Landsberg has done quite important work on this, and he reviews how China is playing a leading role in the real global shift of power, not the one you read about in the newspapers. It.s become kind of an assembly plant for a regional production system. Japan, Taiwan, other Asian economies export parts and components to China and provide China with most of the advanced technology that.s used. There.s been a lot of concern about the growing US trade deficit with China, but less noticed is the fact that the trade deficit with Japan and the rest of Asia has sharply declined as this new regional production system takes place. US manufacturers are following the same course, providing parts and components for China to assemble and export, mostly back to the US. For the financial institutions, the retail giants like, say, Wal-Mart, ownership and management of manufacturing industries, and sectors closely related to this nexus of power, all of this is heavenly. Not for Joe Stack and many others like him.

To understand the public mood, it.s worthwhile to recall that the conventional use of GDP, gross domestic product, to measure economic growth is highly misleading. It.s a highly ideological measure. There have been efforts to devise more realistic measures. One of them is called the General Progress Indicator. It subtracts from GDP expenditures that harm the public, and it adds that value of authentic benefits. Well, in the US, the General Progress Indicator has stagnated since the 1970s, although GDP has increased, the growth going into very few pockets. That result correlates with others.for example, the studies of social indicators, the standard measure of health of a society. Social indicators tracked economic growth until the mid-.70s. Then they began to decline, and they reached the level of 1960 by the year 2000. That.s the latest figures available. The United States is one of the very few countries that has no government inquiry into social indicators. The correlation with financialization of the economy and neoliberal socio-economic measures is pretty hard to miss, and it.s not unique to the United States, by any means.

Now, it.s true that there.s nothing essentially new in the process of deindustrialization. Owners and managers naturally seek the lowest labor costs. Occasionally there are efforts to do otherwise. Henry Ford is the famous example, but his efforts were struck down by the courts long ago. So, in fact, it.s a legal obligation for corporate owners and managers to maximize profit. One means of doing this is shifting production. In earlier years, the shift was mostly internal, especially to the Southern states. There, labor could be more harshly repressed. And major corporations, like the first billion-dollar corporation, the US Steel Corporation of the sainted philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, could also profit from the new slave labor force that was created by the criminalization of black life in the South after the end of Reconstruction in 1877. That.s a core part of the American industrial revolution, which continued until the Second World War. That.s actually being reproduced in part right now, during the recent neoliberal period. The drug war is used as a pretext to drive the superfluous population, mostly black, back to the prisons, also providing a new supply of prison labor in state and private prisons, much of it in violation of international labor conventions. In fact, for many African Americans, since they were exported to the colonies, life has scarcely escaped the bonds of slavery, or sometimes worse.

AMY GOODMAN: MIT professor, author, activist, Noam Chomsky. This is Democracy Now!,, the War and Peace Report. We.ll come back to his speech given at the Left Forum just a few weeks ago in New York City at Pace University in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: Today it.s Noam Chomsky for the hour, as we return to a major address he gave on the weekend of the seventh anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. It was a gathering of more than a thousand people at the Left Forum at Pace University in New York. Again, MIT professor, author, activist, Noam Chomsky.

NOAM CHOMSKY: In the ultra-respectable Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, we can read.I.m quoting.that .The prison system in America has grown into a leviathan unmatched in human history,. making the US .the home to the largest custodial infrastructure for the mass depredation of liberty to be found on the planet,. mostly black, increasingly Hispanic. It.s a product of the past thirty years, the neoliberal years, as is the fact that the United States.quoting again..leads the world not only in incarceration rates but in executive compensation.. I.m quoting a Harvard Business School professor who points out that this correlation.this is .increasingly recognized to be linked," as is the fact that the United States is lagging far behind much of the world, particularly China, but also Europe, in developing green technologies.

Well, it.s easy to ridicule the ways in which Joe Stack and others like him articulate their concerns, which are very genuine and real. But it.s far more appropriate to understand what lies behind their perceptions and actions, and particularly, to ask ourselves why the radical imagination is failing to offer them a constructive path, while the center is very visibly not holding. And those who have real grievances are indeed being mobilized, but mobilized in ways that pose no slight danger, to themselves and to the rest of us and to the world.

Joe Stack.s manifesto ends with two evocative sentences, which I.ll read. .The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.. Stack minces no words about the capitalist creed. We can only speculate about what he meant by the communist creed that he counterposed to it. I think it.s not unlikely that he saw it as an ideal with a genuine moral force. If that.s so, it wouldn.t be very surprising. Some of you may be old enough to recall a poll taken in 1976, on the year of the bicentennial, in which people were given a list of statements and asked which ones they thought were in the Constitution. Well, at that time, no one had a clue what was in the Constitution, so the answer .in the Constitution. presumably meant: .so obviously correct that it must be in the Constitution.. One statement that received a solid majority was Joe Stack.s .communist creed..

Well, I qualified that comment with the phrase .at that time.. Today, a segment of the population memorizes and worships the Constitution, at least the words, if not the meaning. There was a Tea Party convention a week ago which produced a catechism for candidates. One requirement is that they must agree to scrap the tax code and replace it with one no longer than 4,543 words long. That.s to match the length of the Constitution, unamended. Only some amendments share this holy status, one of them the Second, under the recent interpretation by the reactionaries of the Supreme Court. Now, the First Amendment is suspect, because of what it might be taken to imply about separation of Church and state. According to the current version of conservatism, the US is to be a Christian state, kind of like the Islamic Republic of Iran or the Jewish State of Israel. In that connection, incidentally, Golda Meir is listed in the catechism as required learning for children, but no Hispanics. Well, along with normal racism, that reflects the very curious amalgam of extreme anti-Semitism and support for Israel among right-wing religious sectors. And such matters should not be lightly dismissed when we try to look ahead.

Encouraging, this anti-tax extremism that you see in the Tea Party movement is not as immediately suicidal as Joe Stack.s desperate action, but it.s suicidal nonetheless, and for reasons that I don.t have to elaborate. What.s happening right now in California is a dramatic illustration. Right there, maybe one of the richest parts of the world, the world.s greatest public education system is being systematically dismantled. And the governor, Governor Schwarzenegger, says he.ll have to eliminate state health and welfare programs unless the federal government forks over some $7 billion. And other governors are joining in. At the same time, a very powerful states. rights movement is taking shape, demanding that the federal government not intrude into our affairs. That.s a nice illustration of what Orwell called .doublethink..the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in mind while believing both of them, which is practically a motto for the times. California.s plight results in large part from anti-tax fanaticism. And that extends over much of the country.

Well, encouraging anti-tax sentiment has long been a staple of the business propaganda that dominates the doctrinal system. So people must be indoctrinated to hate and fear the government, for very good reasons: of the existing power systems, the government is the only one that, in principle, and sometimes in fact, is answerable to the public and can impose some constraints on the depredations of private power; the corollary to .getting government off our back. is groaning beneath the even greater weight of unaccountable private tyranny. So-called libertarians don.t seem to see that that.s what calling for. But business anti-government propaganda has to be nuanced: business of course favors a very powerful state which serves Adam Smith.s principal architects, the owners of the society today, not merchants and manufacturers, but multinationals and financial institutions. Now, constructing this internally contradictory propaganda message is no easy task. So people have to be trained to hate and fear the deficit, which is a necessary means to stimulate the economy after its destruction at the hands of the dominant financial institutions and their cohorts in Washington. But at the same time, the population must favor the deficits. Almost half of them are attributable to the military budget, which is breaking records under Obama, and the rest of the deficit is predicted.what.s predicted to overwhelm the budget is the cruel and hopelessly inefficient privatized healthcare system, which is a gift to insurance companies and Big Pharma.

Well, that.s a tricky propaganda task, but it.s been.we can see it all the time. It.s been carried with pretty impressive success. One illustration is the public attitude towards April 15th, when tax returns are due. Well, let.s put aside the thought of a much more free and just society and just have a look at this one. In a functioning democracy of the kind that formally exists, April 15th would be a day of celebration: coming together to implement programs that chosen. Now, here, it.s a day of mourning: some alien force is descending upon us to steal our hard-earned money. Well, that.s one graphic indication of the success of the intense efforts of the highly class-conscious business community to win what its own publications call .the everlasting battle for the minds of men..

Another stunning illustration of the success of propaganda, which has considerable import for the future, is the cult of the great killer and torturer Ronald Reagan, one of the grand criminals of the modern era, who also.he also had an unerring instinct for favoring the most brutal terrorists and murderers around the world, from Zia-ul-Haq and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in what.s now called AfPak to the most dedicated killers in Central America to the South African racists who killed an estimated 1.5 million people in the Reagan years and had to be supported because they were under attack by Nelson Mandela.s African National Congress, one of .more notorious terrorist groups. in the world, the Reaganites determined in 1988. And on and on, with remarkable consistency. Now, his grisly record was quickly expunged in favor of mythic constructions that would have impressed Kim Il-sung. Among other feats, he was anointed as the apostle of free markets, while raising protectionist barriers more than probably all other postwar presidents combined and implementing massive government intervention in the economy. He was a great exponent of law and order, while he informed the business world that labor laws would not be enforced, so that illegal firing of union organizers tripled under his supervision. His hatred of working people was exceeded perhaps only by his contempt for the rich black women driving their limousines to collect their welfare checks.

Well, there should be no need to continue with the record, but the outcome tells us quite a lot about the intellectual and moral culture in which we live. For President Obama, this monstrous creature was a .transformative figure.. If you go over to Stanford University.s prestigious Hoover Institute, he.s a colossus.I.m quoting.whose .spirit seems to stride the country, watching us like a warm and friendly ghost.. Well, painfully to record, many of the Joe Stacks, whose lives he was ruining, join in the adulation and hasten to shelter under the umbrella of the power and the violence that he symbolized.

Now, all of this evokes memories of other days, when the center did not hold, and worth thinking about. One example that should not be forgotten is the Weimar Republic. That was the peak of Western civilization in the sciences and the arts, also regarded as a model of democracy. Through the 1920s, the traditional liberal and conservative parties that had always governed the Reich entered into inexorable decline. That was well before the process was intensified by the Great Depression. The coalition that elected General Hindenburg in 1925 was not very different from the mass base that swept Hitler into office eight years later, compelling Hindenburg, who was an aristocrat, to select as chancellor the .little corporal,. as he called him, that he detested. As late as 1928, the Nazis had less than three percent of the vote. Two years later, the most respectable Berlin press was lamenting the sight.I.m quoting.of the many millions in this .highly civilized country. who had .given their vote to the commonest, hollowest and crudest charlatanism.. The center was collapsing. The public was coming to despise the incessant wrangling of Weimar politics, the service of the traditional parties to powerful interests and their failure to deal with popular grievances. They were being drawn to the forces that were upholding the grandeur of the nation and defending it against perceived threats in a revitalized, armed, unified state, which is going to march to a glorious future, led by the charismatic figure who, in his words, was carrying out .the will of eternal Providence, the Creator of the universe.. By May 1933, the Nazis had largely destroyed not only the traditional ruling parties, but even the large working-class parties, the Social Democrats and the Communists, which were quite strong, along with their very powerful associations. The Nazis declared May Day 1933 to be a workers. holiday. That was something the left parties had never been able to achieve. In fact, many working people took part in the enormous patriotic demonstrations, more than a million people in what was called Red Berlin that were joining farmers, artisans, shopkeepers, paramilitary forces, Christian organizations, athletic and riflery clubs, and the rest of the coalition that was taking shape as the center collapsed. By the onset of the war, perhaps 90 percent of Germans were marching with the brownshirts.

Well, the world is too complex for history to repeat, but there are nevertheless lessons to keep in mind, and even memories. I.m just old enough to remember those chilling and ominous days of Germany.s descent from decency to Nazi barbarism, quoting the distinguished scholar of German history Fritz Stern, who tells us that he has the future of the United States in mind when he reviews what he calls .a historic process in which resentment against a disenchanted secular world found deliverance in the ecstatic escape of unreason." If that sounds familiar, it is. This is one possible outcome of collapse of the center when the radical imagination, which in fact was quite powerful at that time, nonetheless fell short.

Well, the popular mood today here is complex in ways that are both hopeful and troubling. One illustration is the attitudes toward social spending on the part of people who identify themselves in polls as .anti-government.. There.s a recent scholarly study which is kind of illuminating. It finds that, by large majorities, they support.I.m quoting it.they support .maintaining or expanding spending on Social Security, child care, and aid to poor people. and other social welfare measures, though support falls off significantly when it comes to "aid to blacks and welfare recipients.. Half of these anti-government extremists believe .that spending is too little [on] assistance to the poor.. In the population as a whole, majorities, in most cases substantial majorities, feel the government is spending too little to improve and protect the nation.s health, and on Social Security, drug addiction, and child care programs and so on, though again there.s an exception on aid for welfare and black.welfare recipients and blacks. That.s probably a tribute to Reaganite thuggery, I suppose.

Well, these results give some indication of what might be achieved by commitments that are even far short of the radical imagination, and also of some of the impediments that are going to have to be overcome for these and much more far-reaching purposes.

AMY GOODMAN: MIT professor, author, activist, Noam Chomsky. This is Democracy Now!,, the War and Peace Report. We.ll come back to his speech given at the Left Forum just a few weeks ago in New York City at Pace University in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: Today it.s Noam Chomsky for the hour, as we return to a major address he gave on the weekend of the seventh anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. It was a gathering of more than a thousand people at the Left Forum at Pace University in New York. Again, MIT professor, author, activist, Noam Chomsky.

NOAM CHOMSKY: The Massachusetts election last January, which undermined majority rule in the Senate, that gives some further insight into what can happen when the center does not hold and those who believe in even limited measures of reform fail to reach the population. In the election.the elections, as you know, were to fill the seat of the Senate.s so-called .liberal lion,. Ted Kennedy. In that election, Scott Brown ran as the forty-first vote against healthcare, which Kennedy had fought for throughout his political life. A majority, it turned out, opposed Obama.s proposals, but primarily because they gave away too much to the insurance industry. And much the same is true nationally, if you look at the polls on which the headlines are based.

One interesting feature was the voting pattern among union members. That.s Obama.s natural constituency, you.d think. Most of them didn.t bother to vote. But of those who did, a majority chose Brown. And union leaders and activists explained why. They said workers are angered at Obama.s record generally, but particularly incensed over his stand on healthcare. One of them reported, .He didn.t insist on a public option nor a strong employer mandate to provide insurance. It was hard not to notice that the only issue on which he took a firm stand was taxing benefits. for the healthcare that had been won by union struggles, retracting his campaign pledge.

There was a massive infusion of funds from financial executives in the final days of the campaign. Now, that.s one part of a broader phenomenon, which reveals dramatically why Joe Stack and others have every reason to be disgusted at the farce that they were taught to honor as democracy.

Obama.s primary constituency all along was financial institutions. Their power has increased enormously. Their share of corporate profits rose from a few percent in the 1970s to almost a third today. They preferred Obama to McCain, and they largely bought the election for him. And they expected to be rewarded. And they were. I don.t have to go through the details. But a few months ago, responding to the rising anger of the Joe Stacks, Obama began to criticize the .greedy bankers. who had been rescued by the public and even proposed some measures to constrain their excesses. Punishment for this deviation was swift. The major banks immediately announced very prominently.front page of the New York Times.that they would shift funding to Republicans if Obama persisted with his offensive rhetoric.

And Obama heard the message. Within days, he informed the business press that bankers are fine .guys,. in his words, singling out the chairs of the two biggest banks, two biggest crooks, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. They got specific praise. And he assured the business world that.quoting him..I, like most of the American people, don.t begrudge people success or wealth,. such as the huge bonuses and profits that are infuriating the public. .That.s part of the free market system,. Obama continued.not inaccurately, as .free markets. are interpreted in state capitalist doctrine. His retreat, however, was not in time to curb the flow of cash that gained the forty-first seat.

Well, in fairness, we should concede that the greedy bankers had a point. Their task is to maximize profit and market share. In fact, as I mentioned, that.s their legal obligation. If they don.t do it, they.ll be replaced by somebody who will. These are institutional facts, as are the inherent market inefficiencies that require them to ignore what.s called systemic risk. They know full well that that.s likely to tank the economy, but such externalities, as called, are not their business. It.s also unfair to accuse them of .irrational exuberance..that.s Alan Greenspan.s phrase in his extremely brief departure from orthodoxy during the tech boom of the '90s. Their exuberance was not at all irrational: it was quite rational, in the knowledge that when it all collapses, they can flee to the shelter of the nanny state, clutching their copies of Hayek and Friedman and Ayn Rand. The same is true of the Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute and the rest of the business leaders, who are running a massive propaganda campaign now to convince the public to dismiss concerns about anthropogenic global warming.and with great success. There's been a sharp decline in people who take it seriously. Those who believe in this liberal hoax, as it.s called, have declined to about a third of the population. The executives who are dedicating themselves to this task know perfectly well that the hoax is very real and the prospects very grim. But they are fulfilling their institutional role. If they don.t do it, somebody else will replace them who will. The fate of the species is another externality that they must ignore, insofar as market systems prevail. So you can.t criticize them.

Returning.let.s go back to the very instructive Massachusetts election. It turns out that the major factor in Brown.s victory was voting patterns. In the affluent suburbs, voting was high and enthusiastic. In the urban areas, which are heavily Democratic, voting was low and apathetic. So the headlines were right to report that voters were sending Obama a message. The message was very clear. From the rich, the message was we want even more than what doing for us. And from the rest, the message was Joe Stack.s: in his words, the politicians are not in .the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say,. though very much interested in the voices of the masters. Well, there was no doubt some impact of the populist image that was crafted by the PR know, .I.m Scott Brown, this is my truck,. you know, .regular guy,. all that stuff. But that appears to have been a secondary role. The popular anger is very real, and it.s entirely understandable, with the banks thriving, thanks not only to the bailouts but to all sorts of other benefits that getting from the nanny state, while the population remains in deep recession. Even official unemployment is at ten percent.actual, much higher.and in manufacturing industry, official unemployment is at the level of the Great Depression, one out of six unemployed, and very few prospects for recovering the kinds of jobs that are lost as the economy is being reshaped, in the manner that.with the global shift of power that I described.

Well, national polls reveal much the same phenomenon. The latest one seen was just a couple of days ago, Wall Street Journal. It shows what they call a 21 percent enthusiasm gap between the parties, with 67 percent of Republicans saying very interested in the coming November elections, as compared with 46 percent of Democrats. There.s also a major shift from the norm, in that there.s a ten-point margin by which registered voters say they believe that Republicans are better at dealing with the economy. That.s a combination of a solid Republican, mostly quite affluent sector and disillusioned Democrats, who see what.s happening, the Joe Stacks. Half of Americans would like to see every member of Congress defeated in the election, including their own representative. Very remarkable picture a remarkable picture of how the center is not holding. And it evokes memories, which we shouldn.t forget, some of which I mentioned. Now, the public conception of democracy is almost as negative as the aspirations of the business world. Of course, they hate democracy, naturally. But now lobbying very fiercely. One of their highest objectives is to ensure that even shareholders should have no say in choice of managers, let alone what are called stakeholders, workers and the community. That.s out of the question. But to quote the Wall Street Journal, some liberals are seeking to find .`a fair position. that straddles the divide between companies and shareholders.. That.s a very interesting phrase, the divide between companies and the people who own the companies, the shareholders. But right. recognizing the decision of the courts a century ago that the corporation should be identified with the management; the shareholders are irrelevant, just like the rest of the public.

Well, it.s true that there was a federal stimulus, and even though it was much too small, did have an effect. It.s estimated it saved about two million jobs, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But the perception of the Joe Stacks that it was a bust has a basis. Over a third of government spending is by states, and the decline in state spending approximated the federal stimulus. So the aggregate fiscal expenditure stimulus was flat. There was no stimulus. That.s according to a study, recent study, by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the standard source of economic information.

Well, the center is clearly not holding, and those who are harmed are once again shooting themselves in the foot. The immediate consequence in Massachusetts was to provide another vote to block the appointment of a pro-union voice at the National Labor Relations Board, which has been virtually defunct since Reagan.s successful war against working people. Well, that.s what can be expected in the absence of constructive alternatives.

Well, are there constructive alternatives? Take a look at the industrial heartland, in Ohio, where General Motors, among others, continues to close plants. There.s one of the few journalists in the United States who pays any attention to labor issues, Louis Uchitelle of the New York Times. He reported recently from the scene of one recently closed plant. He writes that President Obama .never sought to reopen the factory even after the federal government became controlling shareholder in GM during the auto bailout," so they could do what they wanted. What Obama has done instead is to "try to ease some of the pain by sending an ambassador as a salve for the community.s wounds, offer[ing] hope".remember that."and aid.. The aid is suggestions which can.t be implemented. Meanwhile, there.s another ambassador, who he doesn.t mention, the Secretary of Transportation Roy LaHood, and that other ambassador is in Spain. He.s offering federal stimulus money to Spanish firms to produce the high-speed rail facilities that the US badly needs and that could surely be produced by the highly skilled work force that.s reduced to penury in Ohio, while Obama shuts down the factories. That.s Joe Stack.s experience in Harrisburg again.

In 1999, LaHood, who was then a Republican congressman, introduced a bill that would have provided federal funding for transportation infrastructure. It would have authorized the Treasury to provide $72 billion a year in interest-free loans to state and local governments for capital investments. That includes investments in transportation, in transportation infrastructure. And interestingly, his bill called for, not borrowing the money, but using US notes. That.s much as Abraham Lincoln did to finance the Civil War and as FDR did during the Great Depression. Well, that was 1999. Today LaHood is using federal stimulus money to obtain contracts in Spain for the same purpose. It.s another sign of how the center has been disappearing in recent years, the past thirty years.

Well, the radical imagination should suggest an answer. The factory in question, and many others, could be taken over by the workforce with the support of.that would, of course, require the support of the communities that are left desolate, and in fact the rest of us. And they could be converted to production of high-speed rail facilities and other badly needed goods. Now, I said "radical imagination," but the idea is not particularly radical. In the nineteenth century, it was intuitively obvious to New England workers.quoting them, quoting their papers.that .those who work in the mills should own them,. and the idea that wage labor differed from slavery only in that it was temporary was so common that it was even a slogan of Lincoln.s Republican Party. Well, during the recent years of financialization and deindustrialization, there have been repeated efforts to implement worker and community takeover of closing plants. A few have succeeded, but not most. The ideas have immediate moral appeal to the affected workforce and the communities, and they should be quite feasible with sufficient public support. And they would be very far-reaching in their implications.

Well, for the radical imagination to be rekindled and to lead the way out of this desert, what is needed is people who will work to sweep away the mists of carefully contrived illusion, reveal the stark reality, and also to be directly engaged in popular struggles that they sometimes help galvanize. So what is needed, in short, is the late Howard Zinn. Terrible loss. Well, there won.t be another Howard Zinn, but we can take to heart his praise for .the countless small actions of unknown people. that lie at the roots of the great moments of history, the countless Joe Stacks who are destroying themselves, and maybe the world, when they could be leading the way to a better future.

AMY GOODMAN: MIT professor, author, activist, Noam Chomsky, world-renowned linguist and political dissident, speaking at Pace University in New York on March 21st, addressing more than a thousand people at the Left Forum.

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 11:23 PM 1 comments

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Holy Land Travel Advisory

Tourists forced to choose: Bethlehem or Nazareth? Jericho or the Sea of Galilee?

28 August 2009

Israeli authorities are enacting new measures which restrict the ability of visitors to reach holy sites. The new measures mean that the sites of Jesus. birth, death and resurrection may now require separate entry permits. Israeli border officials have begun using a new entry permit stamp with the words "Palestinian Authority only." In addition, some foreign nationals have been issued "Israel only" permits or have been required to sign a statement which commits them not to enter the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled areas of the West Bank under penalty of legal action, thus making Bethlehem and Jericho off limits.

The US State Department advises that .Travelers should be alert, and pay attention to which stamp they receive upon entry.. Palestinian and Israeli tour operators are concerned that the new Israeli measures are likely to significantly reduce the number of tourists (some 3 million in 2008), considering the new risk of being denied access to prime holy sites.

With these new measures, pilgrims who tell Israeli passport control officials that they are heading to Bethlehem in order to reach the Church of the Nativity may receive the new permit, restricting movement to PA-controlled areas and consequently be barred from reaching Nazareth or other sites in Israel. Visitors receiving "Israel Only" permits or signing the statement that they will not enter PA-controlled areas will find Nazareth accessible but Bethlehem and Jericho off limits. Until now, Israeli officials appear to disagree on whether East Jerusalem, including the Old City, is accessible with the "Palestinian Authority only" stamp.

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism, which has been critical of the new measures, issued a circular on 20 August asserting that: "A tourist stating at the border that his entrance is to areas under the control of the .Palestinian Authority only. will have his passport stamped with this stipulation. A tourist stating that he wishes to enter Israel and the Palestinian Authority will have his passport stamped as a regular tourist, which is a B2 Visa." The Ministry misleadingly claims that "there are no limitations on tourism travel and tourists receive the visa type according to what they state." However, the circular does not cancel the use of a visa restricting access to PA-controlled areas. Nor does it address the introduction of the "Israel only" visa and the statement which commits travelers not to enter PA areas, or risk facing legal action, "including deportation and refusal of entry into Israel for a period of up to ten years" - a robust deterrent for pilgrims who might otherwise have visited Bethlehem and Jericho.

In reality, these new restrictions on movement (no matter how they are packaged) are just one more step in a long line of unlawful measures pursued by Israel -- including construction of the 700 km (400 miles) wall, 600 checkpoints, home demolitions, the sealing off of Gaza and the withdrawal of Jerusalem residency rights from Palestinian Christians and Muslims -- in the process of transforming Palestinian cities into Bantustans.

The Campaign for the Right to Enter maintains that Israel.s restrictions on entry comprise another example of its numerous policies and practices that aim to further entrench the unlawful fragmentation and annexation of parts of the oPt, are in violation of international law and undermine the prospects for peace and a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, as noted by the US State Department, the restrictions "unfairly impact Palestinian and Arab American travelers and are not acceptable." The Campaign urges tourists and tour operators to contact their diplomatic representatives and elected officials to protest Israeli movement and access restrictions and to demand that ALL citizens of their country be treated with fairness and dignity and without discrimination by Israeli border officials. The Campaign further urges all foreign nationals wishing to visit the oPt to insist on a .regular. B2 tourist permit of three months duration when entering the country.

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 5:42 AM 1 comments

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Film ReGENERATION with Chomsky and ZINN

Directed by Phillip Montgomery

During the last presidential election, young people seemed galvanized, responding to a call for action with a level of fervor we hadn't seen since the activism of the 1960s and early 1970s. And then Obama got elected, and everyone largely went back to their jobs and video games and real life, hanging the mantle of responsibility on one man rather than contining to take up the yoke themselves.

What's happened to that energy, that sense of belief that each of us can make a difference in the world? Why are people today -- not just 18-24 year olds, but people generally, so apathetic and cynical? What's the role of technology in all this? And, more importantly, what can we do about it?

These are just some of the questions raised in director Phillip Montgomery's ReGeneration, a documentary that's as much a call to action as it is an exploration of the reasons why such a call is needed.

Montgomery was driven to seek out answers to these questions, so he turned to a wide array of people in exploring the issues raised in the film, including philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky, historian and activist Howard Zinn (through archival footage), hip-hop artists Talib Kweli and Mos Def, and a slew of average folks ranging from teachers to high school students to a middle-class married couple expecting their second child. And what he uncovers here is both deeply fascinating and deeply depressing.

Montgomery covers a lot of topics in the film's roughly two-hour running time. He touches on everything from whether parents are a part of the problem, enabling their kids by not expecting (or outright interfering in) consequences for their behavior; to Chomsky's thesis that, from a socio-political standpoint, the pairing of one person with one television is the ideal means by which to control a population without use of force; to whether the time constraints imposed by a consumer-heavy, debt-ridden society that promotes indentured servitude to a "secure" job promotes apathy simply by sucking away so much time that people don't have energy to take action on the issues about what they care; to whether the fact that people today spend less time out in nature contributes to an overall sense of apathy, not just toward environmental problems and stewardship, but to caring genuinely about what happens to other people.

It's an overwhelming amount of information to take in and fully absorb, and the one big issue I have with the film is that it's not about the content of the material, or the decidedly leftist slant it takes (which I happen to agree with), but with the sheer enormity of the problem as it's presented here.

Montgomery sees the primary target audience for ReGeneration as youth, but I have to wonder whether giving a generation of kids so accustomed to getting its information in sound bytes so much to get a handle on might be overwhelming to the extent that, ironically, they leave the film feeling less able to do anything about it all rather than more or tune out altogether. Problem is, I'm also not sure I have a better suggestion for how to handle it.

I think if I were making a film like this, I might be inclined to try to make it more entertaining, to attempt to harness the ways in which kids are accustomed to getting their information and make it a little more fun, perhaps with animated interstitials or music videos from artists like Kweli and Mos Def that speak to those issues or something -- a little spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, as it were. And perhaps breaking it down a bit more into digestible chunks of problems -- in other words, asking kids "what issue do you care most about" and "what are some ways you could make a difference on this one issue?" rather than hitting them with so many at once.

On the other hand, I think ReGeneration would lend itself very well to an educational setting, particularly of, say, a hands-on workshop nature. Show the film, and then put diverse kids into small groups and have them pick a problem, brainstorm in a positive way not just abstract solutions, but practical ways in which they and other youth could make a real impact by addressing a particular problem, and then setting them to task as a group creating a project together and implementing it. Get kids debating and discussing issues, even if they don't agree with the film's take on them, and you've made a start in getting past the apathy that says it doesn't matter.

The filmmaking team behind ReGeneration, without a doubt, has their hearts in the right place. They've made a film here -- a solid documentary, for all that I think it's better suited to educational settings rather than a theatrical run -- that has heart and soul and addresses issues of real importance.

You could almost create an entire curricula around the ideas in this film: ReGeneration: The War in Iraq; ReGeneration: How Corporations Censor and Control Your Access to Information by Controlling the Meda; ReGeneration: How Disconnect from Nature Affects Empathy; and etc. All these issues tie in together -- you can't really separate one from the other -- but there are so many to address that it almost feels as if we're getting the broad strokes of an outline here rather than an in-depth spelunking down into the depths of any one issue at hand.

The greater problem is that getting this film into the hallowed halls of our public school system, particularly in more conservative parts of the country, might in and of itself be a problem. It might work better for the filmmakers (or a distributor, should they land the right one who knows what to do with it) to target, say, progressive private schools, or groups like the socially active Unitarian church's middle and high school youth groups, as a place to start. Get the film seen, and they'll tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 3:11 PM 0 comments

Sunday, May 23, 2010

ISRAEL Chomsky Hizbollah - Wednesday War?

Hezbollah on high alert ahead of IDF drill

Shiite group's representative in southern Lebanon meets with Jewish American intellectual Noam Chomsky at his home in Tyre, says 'thousands of fighters ready for anything.' In case of attack against Lebanon, he adds, 'Israelis will find no place to hide'

News agencies - Published: 05.21.10, 12:36 / Israel News

Thousands of Hezbollah fighters have been ordered to maintain a heightened state of alert ahead of a large-scale Israel Defense Forces exercise which begins Sunday, the Shiite group's representatives in southern Lebanon, Nabil Qaouk, told the AFP news agency on Friday.

According to Qaouk, "A few thousands of our fighters will not go to the polls on Sunday (to participate in municipal elections in southern Lebanon) and are ready (for anything) today."

Israeli officials have stressed that the drill was planned in advance, but the Hezbollah man clarified that "in the event of a new aggression against Lebanon, the Israelis will not find a place to hide in Palestine."

Qaouk made the remarks during a meeting at his home in Tyre with Jewish American intellectual Noam Chomsky, who was denied entry to Israel and the West Bank earlier this week.

Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai held a press briefing this week on the "Turning Point 4" exercise, which is aimed at preparing the home front for a possible military conflict.

"The scenario we are referring to includes the firing of hundreds of missiles at Israel from different places and targets," Vilnai said. he stressed that the drill was preplanned and would include an air raid siren across the country on Wednesday.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah is expected to deliver a speech on Friday afternoon on the backdrop of the recent tensions in the region. He is expected to address the internal situation in Lebanon, but will likely refer to regional issues as well.

French and German Foreign Ministers Bernard Kouchner and Guido Westerwelle are currently visiting Syria and Lebanon. The German Foreign Ministry reported that Westerwelle plans to "discuss regional aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict" and that the peace process "will be in the heart of the talks in an efforts to come up with constructive solutions for the regional conflict."


The Germans need to be punished for daring to push for a TOBIN TAX,

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 12:02 AM 0 comments

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Boston Globe - Israel's fear

The Boston Globe

What does Israel have to fear? May 22, 2010

Why is Israel, with one of the most powerful militaries in
the world, so afraid of 81-year-old professor Noam Chomsky
visiting Gaza?

I have heard him speak on occasion and always found him to be
mild-mannered, even if condemning murderous policies. He does
not wave his fists or issue a call to arms to his audiences.
Chomsky.s criticisms did not bring down past US
administrations, even when the United States dropped more
than 7 million tons of bombs on Vietnam . a war he vigorously

In recent months, Israel has also refused entry to Princeton
professor Richard Falk and South African Archbishop Desmond
Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Both were going to visit
Gaza or the West Bank to investigate conditions there.

This is not a one-time flap, but a consistent and expanding

If Israel.s policies are indeed justified, why do they fear
eminent international figures traveling to Gaza and the West
Bank, and what are the conditions in these places?

Thea Paneth, Arlington

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 1:24 AM 0 comments

Thursday, May 20, 2010

TWO VIEWS: Was Israel right in banning Chomsky?


Thursday, May 20, 2010

by Boaz Okon

The decision to expel Noam Chomsky from the
West Bank border crossing in order to prevent
him from delivering a lecture at Birzeit
University in the West Bank was a foolish act
in a frequent series of recent follies.

Put together, they may mark the end of Israel
as a law-abiding and freedom-loving state, or
at least place a large question mark over
this notion.

The decision to ban Chomsky is first and
foremost blatantly illegal, as it blatantly
contradicts the Supreme Court.s most
important verdict in the Kol case,
where it ruled that restraining the freedom
of speech is legal only in respect to
statements that may create clear and
immediate danger to public safety.

The truth is not dictated from above, and
views and ideas cannot be monitored, the
court ruled. The best "truth test" is the
ability of a certain notion to be accepted
within the competitive conditions of the free
market of ideas.

However, in Israel our government has already
started to threaten the freedom, or at least
the freedom of those perceived as "others."
We are no longer interested in what "others"
have to say, let alone in their right to live
here normally. We want them to get out of
here. We persecute "others" based on
generalizations, suspicions, bias or just
because they annoy us.

The police detain protesters in east
Jerusalem.s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on
false pretenses. The custody court expels a
pregnant foreign worker so she won.t give
birth to a foreign child in Israel. The
family court prevents babies in India from
being brought into Israel based on unfounded
excuses, which may serve as a veneer for the
disapproval of the sexual orientation of
their father (although this week Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked that the
father and his twins be allowed to return to

Meanwhile, our courts issue gag orders
routinely and without much thought, possibly
in order to cover the shame. We even expelled
a clown who wished to arrive at a festival in
Ramallah because we are scared.

What we have here is a worrisome common
denominator. When freedom disappears, it
comes first and foremost at the expense of
the weak, marginal groups, or minorities. Yet
this does not end there. Now it.s also being
directed toward globally recognized

For that reason, it would not be an
exaggeration to say that the decision to
silence Chomsky is an attempt to put an end
to freedom in the State of Israel.

I am not referring to the foolishness
inherent in providing ammunition for those
who argue that Israel is fascist, but rather,
to the fear that we may indeed be in the
process of becoming that way.

Boaz Okon is a retired judge in Israel and
legal affairs editor of the Israeli daily
Yediot Achronot. This piece appeared on


Thursday, May 20, 2010 | return to: views,

TWO VIEWS: Was Israel right in banning
Chomsky? 2

by Aryeh Eldad

Quite a few freedom of speech fans, champions
of democracy, and other people detached from
the realities of our life -- and convinced
that Birzeit University is located in
Switzerland -- stood up to fight on behalf of
professor Noam Chomsky, who was prevented
from entering Israel.

Many times in history did intellectuals
stand up to fight the battles of their
state.s enemies. Lenin, who led the communist
revolution in Russia, was once asked about
his opinion on the west European and American
intellectuals who battled on his behalf, and
characterized them as "useful idiots."

Chomsky is certainly no idiot, yet there is
no doubt that this is how our enemies
characterize him behind closed doors, while
they rub their hands with glee when they see
and hear a Jewish Israel-hater enlisting for
their cause.

Chomsky is known as one whose venomous
criticism of the State of Israel is being
uttered from many platforms worldwide, so
those who play dumb wonder: Why does it
matter if he also speaks in Israel?

Yet apparently there is one common
denominator to soccer goalkeepers, real
estate agents and professional cursers -- all
of them know that the most important thing is

There is no doubt that freedom of speech is a
basic democratic right. Hence, anyone who so
wishes can bring a stool from home, place it
at Speakers. Corner in London.s Hyde Park,
and deliver any speech they want. One is even
allowed to support Israel there, imagine
that. However, even Britain.s democracy does
not believe that the BBC should air speeches
in favor of the Taliban and al Qaida.s right
to kill soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It.s not only what you say that is important;
no less important, and possibly even more so,
is where you utter your curses.

Before World War II, British national William
Joyce established a fascist party in the U.K.
On the eve of the war, when it was clear to
him that he would not be allowed to operate
in Britain, he traveled to Germany and
started working on behalf of German
propaganda. His broadcasts, which were
uttered in a British accent and were premised
on intimate familiarity with British society,
caused real demoralization in England and in
its colonies. The British referred to him as
Lord Haw Haw, and at the end of the war
nabbed him, tried him on high treason charges
and hanged him.

Britain did not cease being a democracy even
when it fought for survival, yet nonetheless,
nobody even imagined the possibility of
allowing Lord Haw Haw to bark from London
during the war.

Why then do democracy lovers want Lord
Chomsky to bark curses against the State of
Israel from our own backyard? Where is the
borderline between democracy and suicidal
tendencies? Between freedom of speech and
reckless abandon?

There is no doubt that Chomsky.s hate for
Israel will continue to be distributed, as a
free service granted to all our enemies.

Chomsky is a famed linguist, yet most of his
fame (and possibly his livelihood) in recent
years stemmed from him becoming a
professional Israel curser. Whoever invited
him to deliver a speech at Birzeit knew that
location is the most important thing,
because, after all, his words are published
even when he curses us from Boston.

Had Israel allowed him to enter, this would
have been interpreted in Ramallah, Gaza,
Damascus and Tehran as yet another sign that
Israel is no longer able to produce
antibodies against the internal erosion
wrought upon us by the left and threatening
to rot the center as well.

The "entry denied" stamped in his passport is
a badge of honor for Israel. It.s proof that
there are some people among us who still hold
on to their survival instincts.

Aryeh Eldad of Israel is a member of the
Knesset representing the National Union
party. This piece appeared on

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 4:01 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Zionist attack on New York Times article on Chomsky

Zionist attack on New York Times article on Chomsky


May 18, 2010

NYT Correspondent Turns Into Cheerleader For Rabid Anti-Israel Propagandists

Leo Rennert

In a May 18 dispatch by Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner,
the New York Times reports on a "fierce debate" in Israel
over a decision to bar Noam Chomsky from entering the West
Bank to speak at a Palestinian university ("Israel Bars Noam
Chomsky From West Bank, Setting Off a Debate on Free Speech"
page A4")

I have no problem with the Times reporting that Chomsky was
turned back when he sought admission to the West Bank from
Jordan at the Allenby Bridge, nor about the pros and cons in
Israel about whether or not he should have been allowed to
gain entry.

Where I do have a big problem with the Times is in the
lengths to which Bronner goes to hide from readers Chomsky's
long record of delegitimizing the Jewish state, defaming the
memory of the Holocaust, and likening Israel to the horrors
of Nazi Germany.






In his lead, Bronner describes Chomsky as a "linguist, an
icon of the American left." In the next paragraph, Chomsky
is further described as an "81-year-old professor emeritus at
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."


The third paragraph provides a few more details: "Chomsky is
Jewish and spent time living on a kibbutz in Israel in the
1950s -- an outspoken critic of both American and Israeli
policy" (Bronner doesn't say what "policy.").


Also, Chomsky
"has objected to Israel's foundation as a Jewish state, but
he has supported a two -state solution and has not condemned
Israel's existence in the terms of the country's sharpest
critics" (Bronner doesn't elaborate about the invectives of
these "sharpest" critics or explain why Chomsky's attacks on
Israel are somehow more benign.)


What Bronner fails to tell Times readers is that Chomsky
consistently has attacked Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish


and has accused Israel of "consciously manipulating"
the Holocaust to "oppress" Arabs.



In Chomsky's view,
Palestinians are the real "indigenous" population, while
Israelis are latter-day "immigrants from Europe and other
parts of the Middle East" -- recent vintage "settlers." No
big secret then about whose claims trump the other's.


In the 1970s, Chomsky actively propagandized about replacing
Israel with a "binational state."


In the 1980s, he called Israel a "terrorist state with points
of similarity to Nazi Germany."


THE WORLDS BIGGEST SEARCH ENGINE CANNOT LOCATE IT:"terrorist+state+with+points+of+similarity+to+Nazi+Germany







While he grudgingly has come around to a two-state solution,
Chomsky simply has been unable to digest the notion that Jews
have sovereign and political rights to a Jewish state in the
Holy Land that date back 3,000 years -- that they, in fact,
have far greater "indigenous" claims than anyone else.


Chomsky also has come to the defense of Holocaust deniers,
writing that there are "no anti-Semitic implications in
denial of the existence of gas chambers" or in the claim that
the "Holocaust is being exploited viciously by apologists for
Israeli repression and violence."


Reading Bronner's profile of Chomsky, Times readers would
never guess the full depth and fierce animus of Chomsky"s
hostile sentiments about Israel. Just the opposite.


In Bronner's perfumed version, Chomsky comes across as a
perfectly fine academic Jew, who just happens to be a critic
of Israel and the U.S. With regard to the latter, Times
readers would have no inkling from Bronner's writing that in
Chomsky's view ,"anti-Arab racism is rampant in the U.S."
America the Big Satan, Israel the Little Satan.


While presenting a falsely benign image of Chomsky, Bronner
does a similar sanitizing job in behalf of Richard Falk and
Norman Finkelstein, two other anti-Israel propagandists who
have spewed vicious slanders about the Jewish state, and who
also have been barred from entry by Israel.


Falk, according to Bronner, is an "American who is a United
Nations investigator of human rights in the Palestinian
areas." Why was he kept out? The authorities merely said he
was "hostile to Israel."

That doesn't begin to do justice to Falk, who has accused
Israel of "slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust" -- a
country with "genocidal tendencies" that "criminalizes the
Nazi record of selective atrocity."


As far as Finkelstein is concerned, in Bronner's eyes, he's
merely a "scholar who is a critic of Israel and its
policies," barred from entering Israel after spending time in
Lebanon conversing with Hezbollah officials, who refused to
describe the nature of these talks."

No mention by Bronner that the Anti-Defamation League has
described Finkelstein as a Holocaust denier, or that he has
described Elie Wiesel as a "resident clown of the Holocaust
circus." No mention either that this "scholar" was denied
tenure by De Paul University because he lacked sufficient
academic credentials and output, since he was too busy
spreading vicious slanders about Israel, embracing Hezbollah,
and defending Holocaust deniers.

The New Republic wrote that "he's poison, a disgusting
self-hating Jew, something you find under a rock."

Again, I have no problem with defending the right of these
reprehensible individuals to air their views, but I do have a
problem -- and so should the New York Times -- with Bronner
acting as their cheerleader and hiding their real resumes.



Israel: Chomsky ban 'big mistake'

The Israeli government has said it made a "big mistake'' by
barring Noam Chomsky, an American academic and political
activist, from entering the occupied West Bank earlier this

The interior ministry said on Tuesday that a low-level border
clerk had wrongfully denied him entry, and that he was now
free to enter.

"He should have been allowed in, it was a big mistake,"
Sabine Haddad, a spokeswoman for the ministry, told the
Associated Press news agency.

"The clerk for some reason thought there was an issue of
letting him in so denied him access. If he wants to come to
the border he will be allowed in."

Chomsky was barred by Israeli immigration officials as he
attempted to cross the Allenby Bridge from Jordan on Sunday.

The Jewish-American linguistics professor, who frequently
speaks out against Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian
territories, had been scheduled to give a lecture at Bir Zeit
University in the West Bank.

And despite Haddad's statement, Chomsky said there was no
"official" guarantee he would be allowed in and so decided to
give the lecture by video link from Amman, Jordan's capital,
on Tuesday.

About 100 students attended the video link lecture at Bir
Zeit University near the city of Ramallah.

Chomsky said he was told during his interrogation at the
border that "Israel does not like what you say".

The academic said preventing him from entering the West Bank
was "tantamount to boycotting Bir Zeit University".

Chomsky, who opposes a general boycott of Israel, told
Israel's Haarestz newspaper that Israel's behaviour reminded
him of South Africa in the 1960s, which thought it could
counter its international pariah status through better public


Chomsky To Deliver Bir Zeit Lecture On Al Jazeera

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

By Richard Silverstein
Well, maybe this will teach the petty bureaucrats at the
Israeli Interior Ministry a lesson. After lecturing him for
four hours on the errors of his ways in criticizing Israel
and telling him what he could or should do to be allowed
admittance, they sent Prof. Noam Chomsky packing back to
Amman. Later, Israeli PR flacks attempted to backtrack by
lying and claiming it was all a clerical error by a desk
jockey the Allenby Bridge.

Still later, they offered to allow him back into the West
Bank (which isn.t Israel last I checked, even by Israel.s
standards, so why should they even be determining who enters
Palestinian territory?). When Chomsky inquired about whether
this was a bona fide official guarantee of entry he
discovered it wasn.t. Israel is just playing games.

But Chomsky, not to be played the fool, has delightfully
one-upped them all. He.s going to deliver his Bir Zeit
lecture via video conference from Amman and it will be
telecast live on Al Jazeera. That way it will reach an
audience thousands of times larger than the original lecture
would have. Since Al Jazeera is available in Israel, perhaps
even Israeli citizens will be able to watch him take apart
the hypocrisy and brustishness of Israeli policy and

This is the problem with Israeli policy and with all
authoritarian regimes (which the Occupation certainly is).
It thinks of the short term benefit, not the long term. It
thinks of tactics instead of strategies. It puts a finger in
the dyke but does nothing to preserve the ecosystem itself.

On a related note, Haaretz columnist Brad Burston has written
a typically eloquent, soul-searching cri de coeur about the
ugly rise of fascism inside Israel. Lest my right-wing
readers jump on Burston as a typically left-wing commentator,
this is simply untrue. Burston made aliyah decades ago and
joined Kibbutz Gezer, where I myself visited when I studied
in Israel. He has impeccable credentials as a liberal
Zionist. So for him to be writing so openly using such
strong language should tell us that the canary is singing in
the coal mine that is Israeli "democracy." Israel is a
nation under threat. Even perhaps a nation beginning to
implode under our very eyes from the heap of
self-contradictions under which it labors.

I was delighted to read that Elvis Costello, a performer I
admire greatly, has cancelled his Israel performances on his
upcoming tour. He wrote a remarkably sensitive, balanced
account of his decision which acknowledges that the decision
is morally conflicted but had to be made nevertheless:

It is after considerable contemplation that I have lately
arrived at the decision that I must withdraw from the two
performances scheduled in Israel on the 30th of June and the
1st of July. One lives in hope that music is more than mere
noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or

Then there are occasions when merely having your name
added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political
act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and
it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of
the innocent.

...If these subjects are actually too grave and complex
to be addressed in a concert, then it is also quite
impossible to simply look the other way.

...I am not taking this decision lightly or so I may
stand beneath any banner, nor is it one in which I imagine
myself to possess any unique or eternal truth.

It is a matter of instinct and conscience.

...Sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to
the static and so an end to it.

I cannot imagine receiving another invitation to perform
in Israel, which is a matter of regret but I can imagine a
better time when I would not be writing this.

With the hope for peace and understanding. Elvis Costello

Haaretz notes that Santana and Gil Scott Heron have also
joined in the protest by cancelling their own performances.
I hope other performers will read Costello.s nuanced, humble
and carefully articulated statement in full. It gives them
much to ponder. I too want to make clear that I do not
support such a decision as a means of harming Israelis,
especially those who share a critique of Occupation. This is
a political act, not one of petty vindictiveness. Of course,
many Israelis will mistakenly take it as the latter. This is
not an act that ultimately seeks harm to Israel or God
forbid, it.s destruction. It is a moral statement that tells
Israel that the rest of the world will no longer sit idly by.
That if Israel wishes to continue down this road, a price
will be paid in isolation. And that when Israel ends
Occupation, then that price will be redeemed and Israel.s
status will be restored.

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger,
with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los
Angeles Times, the Guardian.s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera
English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle
Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun
Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out
Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal
Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 10:06 PM 0 comments

Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust

Slouching toward a
Palestinian Holocaust

Richard Falk, TFF Associate

June 29, 2007

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming

There is little doubt that the Nazi Holocaust was as close to unconditional evil as has been revealed throughout the entire bloody history of the human species. Its massiveness, unconcealed genocidal intent, and reliance on the mentality and instruments of modernity give its enactment in the death camps of Europe a special status in our moral imagination. This special status is exhibited in the continuing presentation of its gruesome realities through film, books, and a variety of cultural artifacts more than six decades after the events in question ceased. The permanent memory of the Holocaust is also kept alive by the existence of several notable museums devoted exclusively to the depiction of the horrors that took place during the period of Nazi rule in Germany.

Against this background, it is especially painful for me, as an American Jew, to feel compelled to portray the ongoing and intensifying abuse of the Palestinian people by Israel through a reliance on such an inflammatory metaphor as ‘holocaust.’ The word is derived from the Greek holos (meaning ‘completely’) and kaustos (meaning ‘burnt’), and was used in ancient Greece to refer to the complete burning of a sacrificial offering to a divinity. Because such a background implies a religious undertaking, there is some inclination in Jewish literature to prefer the Hebrew word ‘Shoah’ that can be translated roughly as ‘calamity,’ and was the name given to the 1985 epic nine-hour narration of the Nazi experience by the French filmmaker, Claude Lanzmann. The Germans themselves were more antiseptic in their designation, officially naming their undertaking as the ‘Final Solution of the Jewish Qestion.’ The label is, of course, inaccurate as a variety of non-Jewish identities were also targets of this genocidal assault, including the Roma and Sinti(‘gypsies), Jehovah Witnesses, gays, disabled persons, political opponents.

Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not. The recent developments in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty. The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy. If ever the ethos of ‘a responsibility to protect,’ recently adopted by the UN Security Council as the basis of ‘humanitarian intervention’ is applicable, it would be to act now to start protecting the people of Gaza from further pain and suffering. But it would be unrealistic to expect the UN to do anything in the face of this crisis, given the pattern of US support for Israel and taking into account the extent to which European governments have lent their weight to recent illicit efforts to crush Hamas as a Palestinian political force.

Even if the pressures exerted on Gaza were to be acknowledged as having genocidal potential and even if Israel’s impunity under America’s geopolitical umbrella is put aside, there is little assurance that any sort of protective action in Gaza would be taken. There were strong advance signals in 1994 of a genocide to come in Rwanda, and yet nothing was done to stop it; the UN and the world watched while the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Bosnians took place, an incident that the World Court described as ‘genocide’ a few months ago; similarly, there have been repeated allegations of genocidal conduct in Darfur over the course of the last several years, and hardly an international finger has been raised, either to protect those threatened or to resolve the conflict in some manner that shares power and resources among the contending ethnic groups.

But Gaza is morally far worse, although mass death has not yet resulted. It is far worse because the international community is watching the ugly spectacle unfold while some of its most influential members actively encourage and assist Israel in its approach to Gaza. Not only the United States, but also the European Union, are complicit, as are such neighbors as Egypt and Jordan apparently motivated by their worries that Hamas is somehow connected with their own problems associated with the rising strength of the Muslim Brotherhood within their own borders. It is helpful to recall that the liberal democracies of Europe paid homage to Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games, and then turned away tens of thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. I am not suggesting that the comparison should be viewed as literal, but to insist that a pattern of criminality associated with Israeli policies in Gaza has actually been supported by the leading democracies of the 21st century.

To ground these allegations, it is necessary to consider the background of the current situation. For over four decades, ever since 1967, Gaza has been occupied by Israel in a manner that turned this crowded area into a cauldron of pain and suffering for the entire population on a daily basis, with more than half of Gazans living in miserable refugees camps and even more dependent on humanitarian relief to satisfy basic human needs. With great fanfare, under Sharon’s leadership, Israel supposedly ended its military occupation and dismantled its settlements in 2005. The process was largely a sham as Israel maintained full control over borders, air space, offshore seas, as well as asserted its military control of Gaza, engaging in violent incursions, sending missiles to Gaza at will on assassination missions that themselves violate international humanitarian law, and managing to kill more than 300 Gazan civilians since its supposed physical departure.

As unacceptable as is this earlier part of the story, a dramatic turn for the worse occurred when Hamas prevailed in the January 2006 national legislative elections. It is a bitter irony that Hamas was encouraged, especially by Washington, to participate in the elections to show its commitment to a political process (as an alternative to violence) and then was badly punished for having the temerity to succeed. These elections were internationally monitored under the leadership of the former American president, Jimmy Carter, and pronounced as completely fair.

Carter has recently termed this Israeli/American refusal to accept the outcome of such a democratic verdict as itself ‘criminal.’ It is also deeply discrediting of the campaign of the Bush presidency to promote democracy in the region, an effort already under a dark shadow in view of the policy failure in Iraq.

After winning the Palestinian elections, Hamas was castigated as a terrorist organization that had not renounced violence against Israel and had refused to recognize the Jewish state as a legitimate political entity. In fact, the behavior and outlook of Hamas is quite different. From the outset of its political Hamas was ready to work with other Palestinian groups, especially Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas, to establish a ‘unity’ government. More than this, their leadership revealed a willingness to move toward an acceptance of Israel’s existence if Israel would in turn agree to move back to its 1967 borders, implementing finally unanimous Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

Even more dramatically, Hamas proposed a ten-year truce with Israel, and went so far as to put in place a unilateral ceasefire that lasted for eighteen months, and was broken only to engage in rather pathetic strikes mainly taking place in response to Israeli violent provocations in Gaza. As Efraim Halevi, former head of Israel’s Mossad was reported to have said, ‘What Isreal needs from Hamas is an end to violence, not diplomatic recognition.’ And this is precisely what Hamas offered and what Israel rejected.

The main weapon available to Hamas, and other Palestinian extremist elements, were Qassam missiles that resulted in producing no more than 12 Israeli deaths in six years. While each civilian death is an unacceptable tragedy, the ratio of death and injury for the two sides in so unequal as to call into question the security logic of continuously inflicting excessive force and collective punishment on the entire beleaguered Gazan population, which is accurately regarded as the world’s largest ‘prison.’

Instead of trying diplomacy and respecting democratic results, Israel and the United States used their leverage to reverse the outcome of the 2006 elections by organizing a variety of international efforts designed to make Hamas fail in its attempts to govern in Gaza. Such efforts were reinforced by the related unwillingness of the defeated Fatah elements to cooperate with Hamas in establishing a government that would be representative of Palestinians as a whole. The main anti-Hamas tactic relied upon was to support Abbas as the sole legitimate leader of the Palestinian people, to impose an economic boycott on the Palestinians generally, to send in weapons for Fatah militias and to enlist neighbors in these efforts, particularly Egypt and Jordan. The United States Government appointed a special envoy, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, to work with Abbas forces, and helped channel $40 million to buildup the Presidential Guard, which were the Fatah forces associated with Abbas.

This was a particularly disgraceful policy. Fatah militias, especially in Gaza, had long been wildly corrupt and often used their weapons to terrorize their adversaries and intimidate the population in a variety of thuggish ways. It was this pattern of abuse by Fatah that was significantly responsible for the Hamas victory in the 2006 elections, along with the popular feelings that Fatah, as a political actor, had neither the will nor capacity to achieve results helpful to the Palestinian people, while Hamas had managed resistance and community service efforts that were widely admired by Gazans.

The latest phase of this external/internal dynamic was to induce civil strife in Gaza that led a complete takeover by Hamas forces. With standard irony, a set of policies adopted by Israel in partnership with the United States once more produced exactly the opposite of their intended effects. The impact of the refusal to honor the election results has after 18 months made Hamas much stronger throughout the Palestinian territories, and put it in control of Gaza. Such an outcome is reminiscent of a similar effect of the 2006 Lebanon War that was undertaken by the Israel/United States strategic partnership to destroy Hezbollah, but had the actual consequence of making Hezbollah a much stronger, more respected force in Lebanon and throughout the region.

The Israel and the United States seemed trapped in a faulty logic that is incapable of learning from mistakes, and takes every setback as a sign that instead of shifting course, the faulty undertaking should be expanded and intensified, that failure resulted from doing too little of the right thing, rather than is the case, doing the wrong thing. So instead of taking advantage of Hamas’ renewed call for a unity government, its clarification that it is not against Fatah, but only that “[w]e have fought against a small clique within Fatah,” (Abu Ubaya, Hamas military commander), Israel seems more determined than ever to foment civil war in Palestine, to make the Gazans pay with their wellbeing and lives to the extent necessary to crush their will, and to separate once and for all the destinies of Gaza and the West Bank.

The insidious new turn of Israeli occupation policy is as follows: push Abbas to rely on hard-line no compromise approach toward Hamas, highlighted by the creation of an unelected ‘emergency’ government to replace the elected leadership. The emergency designated prime minister, Salam Fayyad, appointed to replace the Hamas leader, Ismail Haniya, as head of the Palestinian Authority. It is revealing to recall that when Fayyad’s party was on the 2006 election list its candidates won only 2% of the vote. Israel is also reportedly ready to ease some West Bank restrictions on movement in such a way as to convince Palestinians that they can have a better future if they repudiate Hamas and place their bets on Abbas, by now a most discredited political figure who has substantially sold out the Palestinian cause to gain favor and support from Israel/United States, as well as to prevail in the internal Palestinian power struggle.

To promote these goals it is conceivable, although unlikely, that Israel might release Marwan Barghouti, the only credible Fatah leader, from prison provided Barghouti would be willing to accept the Israeli approach of Sharon/Olmert to the establishment of a Palestinian state. This latter step is doubtful, as Barghouti is a far cry from Abbas, and would be highly unlikely to agree to anything less than a full withdrawal of Israel to the 1967 borders, including the elimination of West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements.

This latest turn in policy needs to be understood in the wider context of the Israeli refusal to reach a reasonable compromise with the Palestinian people since 1967. There is widespread recognition that such an outcome would depend on Israeli withdrawal, establishment of a Palestinian state with full sovereignty on the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as capital, and sufficient external financial assistance to give the Palestinians the prospect of economic viability. The truth is that there is no Israeli leadership with the vision or backing to negotiate such a solution, and so the struggle will continue with violence on both sides.

The Israeli approach to the Palestinian challenge is based on isolating Gaza and cantonizing the West Bank, leaving the settlement blocs intact, and appropriating the whole of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. For years this sidestepping of diplomacy has dominated Israeli behavior, including during the Oslo peace process that was initiated on the White House lawn in 1993 by the famous handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat.

While talking about peace, the number of Israeli settlers doubled, huge sums were invested in settlement roads linked directly to Israel, and the process of Israeli settlement and Palestinian displacement from East Jerusalem was moving ahead at a steady pace. Significantly, also, the ‘moderate’ Arafat was totally discredited as a Palestinian leader capable of negotiating with Israel, being treated as dangerous precisely because he was willing to accept a reasonable compromise. Interestingly, until recently when he became useful in the effort to reverse the Hamas electoral victory, Abbas was treated by Isreal as too weak, too lacking in authority, to act on behalf of the Palestinian people in a negotiating process, one more excuse for persisting with its preferred unilateralist course.

These considerations also make it highly unlikely that Barghouti will be released from prison unless there is some dramatic change of heart on the Israeli side. Instead of working toward some kind of political resolution, Israel has built an elaborate and illegal security wall on Palestinian territory, expanded the settlements, made life intolerable for the 1.4 million people crammed into Gaza, and pretends that such unlawful ‘facts on the ground’ are a path leading toward security and peace.

On June 25, 2007 leaders from Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority met in Sharm El Sheik on the Red Sea to move ahead with their anti-Hamas diplomacy. Israel proposes to release 250 Fatah prisoners (of 9,000 Palestinians currently held) and to hand over Palestinian revenues to Abbas on an installment basis, provided none of the funds is used in Gaza, where a humanitarian catastrophe unfolds day by day. These leaders agreed to cooperate in this effort to break Hamas and to impose a Fatah-led Palestinian Authority on an unwilling Palestine population. Remember that Hamas prevailed in the 2006 elections, not only in Gaza, but in the West Bank as well. To deny Palestinian their right of self-determination is almost certain to backfire in a manner similar to similar efforts, producing a radicalized version of what is being opposed. As some commentators have expressed, getting rid of Hamas means establishing al Qaeda!

Israel is currently stiffening the boycott on economic relations that has brought the people of Gaza to the brink of collective starvation. This set of policies, carried on for more than four decades, has imposed a sub-human existence on a people that have been repeatedly and systematically made the target of a variety of severe forms of collective punishment. The entire population of Gaza is treated as the ‘enemy’ of Israel, and little pretext is made in Tel Aviv of acknowledging the innocence of this long victimized civilian society.

To persist with such an approach under present circumstances is indeed genocidal, and risks destroying an entire Palestinian community that is an integral part of an ethnic whole. It is this prospect that makes appropriate the warning of a Palestinian holocaust in the making, and should remind the world of the famous post-Nazi pledge of ‘never again.’
StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 9:57 PM 0 comments