Noam Chomsky and the Annapolis Fake Peace Talks

Posted on November 28th, 2007 in Culture,Politics by Robert Miller

Noam Chomsky was invited to comment on the Palestinian/Israeli peace talks that are beginning in Annapolis. He spoke today to a packed audience at Boston’s old South Church, to which he and Desmond Tutu were invited by Sabeel, a Palestinian Christian organization. The conference was called The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine-Israel: Highlighting Issues of Justice and Equality. I am not certain who in the Bush administration got this ball rolling, but this has to be a fake peace conference. The only way these things ever get close to working is that prior agreements and understandings are arrived at, meaning that the most critical issues are agreed to well before hand and we have heard nothing in the news about that. This has to be the peace conference that has the lowest radar sighting in history. Last time I looked, Bush himself was encouraging the Israelis to duke it out with the Palestinians, to solve the problems on the battlefield, as he likes to do. He strongly encouraged the incursion into Lebanon and so did C. Rice. My own guess is that C. Rice stimulated this meeting, perhaps responding to international pressure, perhaps also because she wants to go back to Stanford where her own actions have aroused significant anger among students and some faculty there about her return. Maybe this will get her a free pass. But I doubt it. I doubt that this is anything but a sham meeting, to give Bush a little lift and maybe do something for C. Rice, but it won’t or can’t produce anything of significance, because we have this terrorist idea about organizations like Hamas and seem to be unable to recognize that if we don’t like these groups, it’s been our policies that make them successful, because they respond to real needs of people and they give the Palestinians an alternative over the U.S.-backed option of complete despair. If you want to listen to Chomsky summarize some of the atrocities we have been complicit in through our attitudes and dealings with the Palestinians, you will appreciate that Chomsky doesn’t hesitate to provide the alternative point of view. Here’s a man that still reads and subscribes to something like 40 journals and keeps abreast of the major wire services. Who else would tell you that just before the Annapolis conference Israel confiscated more Palestinian land. For example, in his first paragraph (from Democracy Now) “Before saying a word, I’d like to express some severe personal discomfort, because anything I say will be abstract and dry and restrained. The crimes against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and elsewhere, particularly Lebanon, are so shocking that the only emotionally valid reaction is rage and a call for extreme actions. But that does not help the victims. And, in fact, it’s likely to harm them. We have to face the reality that our actions have consequences, and they have to be adapted to real-world circumstances, difficult as it may be to stay calm in the face of shameful crimes in which we are directly and crucially implicated.” You can listen or watch through Democracy Now.

Chomsky is certainly right about facing reality. While the Annapolis peace conference is hardly going to accomplish peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, one can always hope that something useful can come about, something, however small, that reduces tension in that environment. But who in the Middle East besides the Israelis would trust any move stimulated by George Bush and C. Rice?

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