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Neocolonial Invitation to a Tribal War (Noam Chomsky)

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  • Clore Daniel C
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo Published on Monday, August 13, 2001 in the Los Angeles Times Neocolonial Invitation to a
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 15, 2001
      News for Anarchists & Activists:

      Published on Monday, August 13, 2001 in the Los Angeles

      Neocolonial Invitation to a Tribal War

      by Noam Chomsky

      "What we feared has come true," Israeli sociologist Baruch
      Kimmerling writes in Israel's leading newspaper. Jews and
      Palestinians are "regressing to superstitious tribalism....
      War appears an unavoidable fate," an "evil colonial" war.
      This prospect is likely if the U.S. grants tacit
      authorization, with grim consequences that may reverberate
      far beyond.

      There is, of course, no symmetry between the "ethno-national
      groups" regressing to tribalism. The conflict is centered in
      territories that have been under harsh military occupation
      since 1967. The conqueror is a major armed power, acting
      with massive military, economic and diplomatic support from
      the global superpower. Its subjects are alone and
      defenseless, many barely surviving in miserable camps.

      The cruelty of the occupation has been sharply condemned by
      international and Israeli human rights groups for many
      years. The purpose of the terror, economic strangulation and
      daily humiliation is not obscure. It was articulated in the
      early years of the occupation by Moshe Dayan, one of the
      Israeli leaders most sympathetic to the Palestinian plight,
      who advised his Labor Party associates to tell the
      Palestinians that "you shall continue to live like dogs, and
      whoever wishes may leave." The Oslo "peace process" changed
      the modalities, but not the basic concept. Shortly before
      joining the Ehud Barak government, historian Shlomo Ben-Ami,
      a dove in the U.S.-Israeli spectrum, wrote that "the Oslo
      agreements were founded on a neocolonialist basis." The
      intent was to impose on the Palestinians "almost total
      dependence on Israel" in a "colonial situation" that was to
      be "permanent." He soon became the architect of the latest
      Barak government proposals, virtually identical to Bill
      Clinton's final plan.

      These proposals were highly praised in U.S. commentary; the
      Palestinians and Yasser Arafat were blamed for their failure
      and the subsequent violence.

      That presentation "was a fraud perpetrated on Israeli ...
      and international ... public opinion," Kimmerling writes
      accurately. He continues that, a look at a map suffices to
      show that the Clinton-Barak plans "presented to the
      Palestinians impossible terms." Crucially, Israel retained
      "two settlement blocs that in effect cut the West Bank into
      pieces." The Palestinian enclaves also are effectively
      separated from the center of Palestinian life in Jerusalem;
      the Gaza Strip remains isolated, its population virtually

      Israeli settlement in the territories doubled during the
      years of the "peace process," increasing under Barak, who
      bequeathed the new government of Ariel Sharon "a surprising
      legacy," the Israeli press reported as the transition took
      place early this year: "The highest number of housing starts
      in the territories" since the time when Sharon supervised
      settlements in 1992, before Oslo. The facts on the ground
      are the living reality for the desperate population.

      The nature of permanent neo-colonial dependency was
      underscored by Israel's High Court of Justice in November
      1999 when it rejected yet another Palestinian petition
      opposing further expansion of the [Jewish] city of Maale
      Adumim established to the east of Jerusalem, virtually
      partitioning the West Bank.

      The court suggested that "some good for the residents of
      neighboring [Palestinian villages] might spring from the
      economic and cultural development" of the all-Jewish city.
      While they try to survive without water to drink or fields
      to cultivate, the people whose lands have been taken can
      enjoy the sight of the ample housing, green lawns, swimming
      pools and other amenities of the heavily subsidized Israeli

      Immediately after World War II, the Geneva Conventions were
      adopted to bar repetition of Nazi crimes, including transfer
      of population to occupied territories or actions that harm
      civilians. As a so-called high contracting party, the U.S.
      is obligated "to ensure respect" for the conventions.

      With Israel alone opposed, the United Nations has repeatedly
      declared the conventions applicable to the occupied
      territories; the U.S. abstains from these votes, unwilling
      to take a public stand in violation of fundamental
      principles of international law, which require it to act to
      prevent settlement and expropriation, attacks on civilians
      with U.S.-supplied helicopters, collective punishment and
      all other repressive measures used by the occupying forces.
      Washington has continued to provide the means to implement
      these practices, refusing even to allow observers who might
      reduce violence and protect the victims.

      For 25 years, there has been a near-unanimous international
      consensus on the terms of political settlement: a full peace
      treaty with establishment of a Palestinian state after
      Israeli withdrawal, an outcome that enjoys wide support even
      within Israel. It has been blocked by Washington ever since
      its veto of a Security Council resolution to that effect in

      It is far from an ideal solution. But the likely current
      alternatives are far more ugly.

      Philosopher and social critic Noam Chomsky is author of "A
      New Generation Draws the Line: Kosovo, East Timor, and the
      Variable Standards of the West" (Verso, 2000)

      Dan Clore

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