Page 4 of 4 of Chomsky
on Middle East
Ben-Eliezer also explained
in February 1996 that Labor "builds quietly," with the full
protection of the Prime Minister, not ostentatiously like the rival
Likud coalition. the Prime Minister can be Rabin, Peres, Barak (who
broke all records in construction) or anyone else, but "we build
quietly": that's the crucial phrase. And that is the reason why
the US always prefers Labor to Likud. Labor does it quietly. They're
the "doves." Likud tends to be arrogant and noisy about it,
and that makes it harder to pretend that we don't know what we're actually
doing. So Labor's always preferable.
The reason traces back to different electoral constituencies. Labor
is the party of managers, professionals, intellectuals-generally the
more secular and Westernized sectors who understand very well the norms
of Western hypocrisy-and are therefore easier to deal with, hence more
admired in the West. The policies differ somewhat; as noted, Labor has
often been more aggressive in construction (and also military actions)
than Likud, sometimes the reverse, but that is secondary.
Without going into the details, you'll notice that in all of the current
discussion about the remarkable negotiations and the "forthcoming"
and "generous concessions" of Clinton and Barak, there are
some notable omissions. One is maps. Try finding a map in one of the
US newspapers describing what's happening. Well, the reason there aren't
any maps, I suppose, is because what's being implemented under the Camp
David proposal, and Clinton's last plan and Barak's plan, is pretty
much what Ben Eliezer described. The places I mentioned are pretty much
those being incorporated within Israel, along with others. A second
crucial omission is that there cannot be "generous concessions"
because there cannot be territorial concessions at all, any more than
when Russia withdrew from Afghanistan or Germany from occupied France.
What's called "Jerusalem" extends extensively in all directions,
separating Ramallah to the north from Bethlehem to the south, and effectively
partitioning the West Bank. Ma'ale Adumim is called in the US press
"a neighborhood of Jerusalem"; in fact, it is a city constructed
by the US and Israel, primarily during the Oslo period, well to the
east of Jerusalem. Its planned borders are supposed to reach to a few
kilometers from Jericho. Jericho itself is now surrounded by a seven-foot
deep trench to prevent people from getting in and out-and the same is
planned for other cities. That means that the "Jerusalem"
salient effectively bisects the West Bank, separating the Palestinian
sections into two enclaves; and the whole Palestinian region is separated
from the traditional center of Palestinian life in Jerusalem (now vastly
expanded, with Israeli settlement only). There's another salient to
the North, which effectively separates the northern and central regions.
Discussion of Gaza is vague, but judging by settlement and development
patters, something similar is probably planned. Remember that all the
settlements are within vast infrastructure projects designed to integrate
them within Israel and remove West Bank Palestinians from sight, contained
within their enclaves.
These are the forthcoming and generous concessions. They're well understood.
I'll just end with the comment by one of the leading Israeli doves,
Shlomo Ben-Ami, who was the chief negotiator under Barak and is indeed
a Labor dove-pretty much at the extreme. In an academic book written
in 1998 in Hebrew, just before he entered the government, he pointed
out, perfectly accurately, that the goal of the Oslo negotiations is
to establish a situation of "permanent neocolonial dependency"
for the occupied territories. In Israel, it's commonly described as
a Bantustan solution-if you think about South African policy, it's similar
It's worth noting that among the leading supporters of this solution
have been Israeli industrialists. About ten years ago, before the Oslo
agreement, they were calling for a Palestinian state of roughly this
kind-and for quite good reasons. For them, a permanent neocolonial dependency
makes a lot of sense. Kind of like the US and Mexico or the US and El
Salvador, with maquiladoras, assembly plants, along the border on the
Palestinians side. This offers very cheap labor and terrible conditions,
and there is no need to worry about pollution and other annoying constraints
on profit making. And the people don't have to be brought into Israel,
always dangerous. Who knows? Some of those derided as "beautiful
souls" might see the way they are treated and call for minimally
decent working conditions and wages. It is far better for them to be
across the border, in their own "state," like Transkei. Not
only does that relieve the threat of protection of human rights and
improve profits, but it is also a useful weapon against the Israeli
working class. It offers ways to undermine their wages and benefits.
And furthermore it offers means to break strikes, a device commonly
used by US manufacturers, who develop excess capacity abroad that can
be used to break strikes here: the Caterpillar strike a few years ago
is an illustration. For example, there was an effort to privatize the
ports and the Israel union went on strike. Industrialists had a problem.
They could use an Egyptian port or a port in Cyprus to break the strike,
but they're too far away. On the other hand, if they had a port in Gaza,
that would be ideal. With the collaboration of the authorities in the
neocolonial dependency, port operations could be transferred there.
The strike of Israeli workers could be broken, and the ports transferred
to unaccountable private hands. That's a good reason to be in favor
of a Palestinian state in a condition of permanent neocolonial dependency.
The story should be familiar in Toledo.
Israel itself is - not surprisingly - becoming very much like the United
States. It now has tremendous inequality, very high levels of poverty,
stagnating or declining wages and deteriorating working conditions-rather
like the United States, more so than most other industrial societies.
As in the United States, the economy is based crucially on the dynamic
state sector, sometimes concealed under the rubric of military industry.
It's not really surprising that the US should favor arrangements in
its outpost that look pretty much like the United States itself.
It's also not surprising that the US has been pursing the policy called
"dual containment" - isolating Iran and Iraq - the two countries
of the region that have not subordinated themselves to the US-dominated
system of global order. However, that policy is collapsing. And it's
unsustainable. The regional countries are not accepting it any longer.
Outside the US and to a limited extent England, there is very little
support and strong opposition. Within the United States, opposition
is also developing in the crucial area, the business world, which is
unhappy about being forced to cede major opportunities to rivals. Remember
that Iraq has the second-largest oil reserves in the world and Iran
has plenty of resources too. So it is reasonable to expect that somehow
or other, these two regions will be re-incorporated under US control.
Not easily - because there's plenty of problems in doing that. In fact
the whole region is extremely volatile and very dangerous. There is
no doubt that the US role remains critical, probably decisive, which
is good for us because that's the one factor that we can influence-a
fact that confers upon us responsibilities which are very grave.
Question: I'd like you to go one step further in response to an argument
that says, "With our support, Saddam Hussein did these things."
What would you say if someone were to say, "well gee you're right,
that was a mistake of ours and we're trying to correct it."
Answer: How are we correcting it? First of all, that's a good answer,
in fact, and it should be given honestly. So if Bill Clinton, George
Bush and so on, would say, "Yeah, this guy's a monster. Gotta get
rid of him because he committed the ultimate crime with our support,"
that would be aa breakthrough. Then, at least, we could face the question
And then what would be logical answer be? Well, if he committed the
crime with our support, who gets punished? Let's suppose he said, "Well,
I'm sorry. It was a mistake." Is that enough? No, it's not enough.
If somebody commits a major crime then they're responsible. Clinton
didn't oppose it and George Bush isn't going to blame his father.
These are US policies. These are policies that run through year after
year. So, in fact, Saddam could say, "Yeah, I committed the crime
then, but now I'm a better guy. I'm not going to do it again."
We don't accept that. If we committed the crime, we should be asking
ourselves why we did. And are we responsible for it? And furthermore,
we're back to the other question: is the way to deal with it to increase
Saddam's power and to devastate the population? Since no one believes
that, we conclude that the policies are being carried out for different
reasons, which we should seek to discover. But I do agree with you that
it would be a major step forward if somebody would say, "Yes, he
committed the crime with our support." That would be a nice step
Question: What about, the hardest question, Jerusalem?
Answer: I don't think Jerusalem is the hardest question. I think it's
one of the easier questions. A very fine Israeli sociologist, Baruch
Kimmerling, right in the middle of the Camp David negotiations wrote
an article in Ha'Aretz, which is kind of like the New York Times. He
said that off all the problems around, this is one of the easiest and
can be solved in a few minutes. Maybe a little longer. But I think the
point he was making is right. That's the one case you can finesse. And
they're a lot of ways of finessing it. You can think a lot of technical
ways of dealing with the Jerusalem issue.
The thing you cannot finesse is what I was describing: the breakup of
the occupied territories into separated enclaves with major regions
integrated into Israel. That, you can't finesse. And that's why nobody
wants to talk about it. Clinton and Israel don't want to talk about
it for obvious reasons. Why doesn't Arafat want to talk about it? Well
I suspect the reason is that on the issue of Jerusalem, he can get support
from the Arab states. On the issue of destroying the Palestinians, the
Arab states don't care one way or another. If they got rid of the Palestinians,
they'd be happy-they're just a nuisance, just as their own populations
are a nuisance. So I presume that the reason that Arafat focuses on
Jerusalem is tactical-that's the one issue on which he can get support
from the Arab facade. The reason is that they're afraid of their own
populations. If they abandon Jerusalem, people get angry.
Question: tPerhaps the Arab states don't care if the Palestinians go
away, but it's clear the Palestinians are not going away. Not yet anyway.
I was just a part of a National Lawyers Guild group who saw that there
is Apartheid, that they're bringing in Asian populations to do the work,
that Oslo's now dead, that there's no Left anymore in Israel. It's not
working. So if Oslo's dead, and it's not working, what do you see as
the next part of history?
Answer: I wish I agreed with you. But I don't. I think we tend to underestimate
the effectiveness of violence. If you look over history, violence usually
succeeds. And there's no evidence that Oslo isn't working. Oslo is what
Shlomo Ben-Ami described-an effort to create a permanent neocolonialist
dependency in the occupied territories. And I think that may well work.
It's true that there's a level of resistance that the US and Israel
aren't happy about, but they've got plenty of means of violence that
they can use to suppress it and there's a limit to what flesh and blood
can endure. There really is a limit. That's what rulers have understood
all through history. And it usually works. If we allow it - we, you
and I, the people in the United Sates - if we allow it to proceed it
may well work again.
One can think of all kinds of tactics, like what was just done for Jericho:
that could be done for every Arab city. Every Arab city in the West
Bank can be surrounded by a huge moat, which will prevent people from
getting in and out. The US can send more helicopters to carry out more
assassinations and attack more civilian concentrations, relying on the
US press not to mention any of this, just as they haven't mentioned
it in the last six months.
The long-term goal could be pretty much what Israel has assumed all
along - even more dovish Israelis like Moshe Dayan, who of all the Israeli
leaders, was maybe the one most sympathetic to the Palestinians. His
view thirty years ago-in internal cabinet discussions-was: don't give
them anything; we should treat them like dogs and those who are able
to will leave and after that we'll see what happens.
That's been known for fifteen years. It ought to be well understood-it's
in released documents, and has been cited in dissident publications
here. And it is the policy. Incidentally it's a policy that fits very
well with Jewish history, which shouldn't be ignored. Jews know their
own history. Like others here, I studied it when I was a kid, taught
it to children later, and in Israel particularly it's very well known.
Think about the Roman exile-what did it actually do two thousand years
ago? Did they take the whole population out of Palestine? No. They took
out the elites. They left the peasants. The peasants just stay. They
stay, they suffer, they endure. Conquerors come, other conquerors replace
them, and they adapt. They survive somehow. The elites are gone - that's
called an exile. Why can't that happen again?
The unpleasant fact is that violence usually works unless it's constrained
from within. There's no force from outside the United States that can
constrain it. There is a force inside the United States that can constrain
it. If we don't, I suspect that Oslo will work. It's not going to be
pretty, but I don't see any reason to doubt that it will work.
Questioner reply: But what about South Africa and the end of Apartheid?
Answer: What happened in South Africa is a great thing. Eighty percent
of the population was able to get formal freedom in a deal with the
white rulers which left them largely in economic control, now joined
by a new Black elite. That happened and that's an achievement. In most
of history, it doesn't work like that and even in this case it is an
extremely partial victory. For most of the people of South Africa, it's
not much of a victory, if any.
Take a look at the townships outside of Cape Town and the slums of Johannesburg.
The people there didn't have any victory, and they know it. There's
a probably a blow-up coming there. Mandela, just a couple days ago,
issued a strong condemnation ofthe what the ANC is doing, for these
Question: What would you say is a realistic and just solution to the
Israeli and Palestinian problem?
Answer: Well there is an international consensus which is extremely
broad, and it is a possible temporary solution. That is what virtually
everybody in the world outside the United States has supported: UN 242
complemented by the other UN resolutions which call for a Palestinian
state. That would require some technical settlement for Jerusalem, leaving
it an open city, maybe the joint capital of two states roughly on the
pre-June 67 borders.
Personally I've always thought that's a rotten solution. It's better
than what there is now, but I don't really think it's a viable solution
in the longer term. It doesn't make any sense. It would be like putting
an arbitrary boundary through the middle of Ohio and saying we're going
to establish two independent countries, like the US and Mexico. They
just belong together. In fact they really ought be together with Jordan
and probably others. I think the longer-term solution is-I'll qualify
this-something not unlike the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire was
an ugly affair, but they had the right idea. The rulers in Turkey were
fortunately so corrupt that they left people alone pretty much-were
mostly interested in robbing them-and they left them alone to run their
own affairs, and their own regions and their own communities with a
lot of local self determination.
Well, we're not going to back to the Ottoman Empire, fortunately, but
that general picture is not unrealistic. In fact that may be what Europe
is moving towards as it breaks down the nation-state system, which was
vicious and murderous. Just look at the last five hundred years of European
history as this system was established. It's a horror story. And it's
gradually moving towards some kind of integration along with regionalism,
which makes sense. Perhaps the same is true in the Levant. From a two
state settlement which is maybe viable but ugly, we can imagine moves
towards a federal arrangement in which there's a degree of interaction
and shared responsibility and then on towards further forms of integration.
I think that could happen. It will require a major change in US policy.
As long as the US doesn't support it, it will never happen. But it could.
And as a first step there could be something like the international
There are never solutions to problems in one shot. An instantaneous
solution is unlikely. That never happens for a serious problem. But
what can happen is steps that will ease the way towards further steps.
And it seems to me we can think of a course of development that could
be constructive here.
Question: Do you think it's is a good idea to push the idea of divestment
from Israel the same way that we used to push it for white South Africa?
Answer: I regard the United States as the primary guilty party here,
for the past 30 years. And for us to push for divestment from the United
States doesn't really mean anything. What we ought to do is push for
changes in US policy. Now it makes good sense to press for not sending
attack helicopters to Israel, for example. In fact it makes very good
sense to try get some newspaper in the United States to report the fact
that it's happening. That would be a start. And then to stop sending
military weapons that are being used for repression. And you can take
steps like that. But I don't think divestment from Israel would make
much sense, even if such a policy were imaginable (and it's not).
Our primary concern, I think, should be change in fundamental US policy,
which has been driving this thing for decades. And that should be within
our range. That's what we're supposed to be able to do: change US policy.
Question: What about the Palestinian right of return?
The answer: I think there is a right of return. There are lots of rights
of return. For example, I think there's a right of return for the people
who were driven out of this place, those who survived. They have a right
of return. There are all kinds of rights in the world and the fact is
that a lot of rights are simply not going to be satisfied. When rights
conflict as they commonly do, you have to try to find some humane solution.
In the foreseeable future-and no one should mislead miserable Palestinian
refugees about this-in the foreseeable future, there is going to be
no force in the world that will compel Israel, even urge Israel, let
alone compel them, to accept a large number of refugees. Maybe some
but not a large number. If, unimaginably, they were compelled, they'd
probably blow up the world-and don't forget that they can do it. General
Butler was correct. And then there won't be any problems to worry about.
So within the foreseeable future, this is a right which should be recognized
and should be dealt with in some humane fashion but without misleading
suffering people into believing that that their rights are going be
dealt with fully, because they're not. How do you go on from there?
Well you try to work out ways of accommodating the problems of the refugees.
A lot of them could be brought here. Remember, it's return or compensation
that was called for in UN 194. Compensation is a possibility. Given
our responsibilities and our wealth, we could easily take care of the
compensation and should. And that might involve settlement here, which
I suspect most of them might prefer anyway. At least they should be
given the choice. As for going back to Israel, that should be an option,
but it is going to be limited.
Question: In the Fateful Triangle, the 1983 part of it, you suggested
that the United States in Israel had some risks involved in treating
the Palestinians that way. Now at the Soviet Union is gone, do we have
any risks at all from our bad behavior. Is there something, sometime,
that might backlash?
Answer: Well, I never thought that the Soviet Union posed much of a
deterrent. In fact, the Soviet Union was always well in the background
there. And remember that during the period up until its collapse in
1990, the Soviet Union was in the mainstream of international opinion
on this. They were scarcely different from Europe in the positions they
were taking on a diplomatic settlement.
In fact a measure of the Soviet risk was given by the Bush administration
in an extremely important document, which I'd urge you to read, and
which everyone should have known was important. Every year around the
spring, the White House presents Congress with a plan for the military
budget. This is what we want it to be. It's usually boilerplate, the
same story every year. But the interesting one was March 1990. How are
they going to handle it in March 1990 when the pretext for the last
fifty years was gone? The Berlin wall had just fallen.
So anyone who's interested in US foreign policy or in our own country
should have immediately looked at that. And it's very interesting. It's
pretty much the same as before. We need a huge military establishment.
We have to maintain what's called the "defense industrial base"
-which is a name for high-tech industry. We have to have huge intervention
forces aimed at the Middle East, just as before. Everything the same
as before. All that's changed is the pretext. So we have to have this
huge military budget, not because of the Russians, but because of, I'm
quoting "the technical sophistication" of Third World countries.
That's why we need it all.
As far as our intervention forces, what it says is that these have to
be maintained, aimed primarily at the Middle East, as before. Then comes
the following phrase: "where the threat to our interests could
not be laid at the Kremlin's door." In other words, "sorry
folks, we've been lying to you for fifty years, but we've gotta tell
the truth now because the Kremlin's not around." So the threat
to our interest could not be laid at the Kremlin's door, or incidentally
at Iraq's door because remember Iraq was an ally at the time. The threat
is what it had always been - finally the cloud has lifted: independent
nationalism. Pretty clear from the internal record before, but now public.
Yes that was the threat. And the threat of the Palestinians is that
they would stir up independent nationalism.
Now it's perfectly true that as long as there's another superpower around,
things could get out of hand. For example in 1967, at the very end of
the war, when Israel conquered the Golan Heights after the cease-fire
(and against the wishes of the United States), there was a threat of
nuclear war. The Russians were furious, there were Hot Line communications.
There was a confrontation between fleets in the Eastern Mediterranean.
McNamara later said "we damn near had war."
When you've got nuclear weapons all over the place, there's always a
threat of terrible war. That remains. In fact, maybe it's higher now
than it was before. The Russians today probably are more of a threat
than they were 15 years ago - more of a nuclear threat, that is. And
we're helping them become a bigger threat. For example the Clinton administration
urged the Russians to put their missiles on launch-on-warning status.
Meaning the missiles blast off on the basis of electronic information,
not personal judgment, that there's an attack coming. The reason the
Clinton administration did that is to try get them to accept the US
undermining of the ABM treaty with the National Missile Defense. The
idea was, "Don't worry about it- you can raise the status of the
firing of your missiles."
But they have deteriorating command and control systems. What happened
to the Kursk submarine is happening all over. And what we're asking
them to do is to take these deteriorating systems and use them to determine
when to fire nuclear-armed missiles. That's extremely dangerous for
everybody. And that danger not only persists, but is probably increasing.
The Nuclear Missile Defense is going to make it increase further because
it is almost a demand that they increase their deterrent capacity. So
these problems have always existed. There's always a threat that something
can blow up, and that's the end. It was true then and it's true now.
But the immediate threat faced by policy-makers is what it always was:
that the populations of the regions may not accept the arrangements
imposed on them, may overthrow their own governments, may move in the
direction of independent nationalism. And then the US is going to have
to go in with force, if it can; not so easy.
Question: Two questions: Why the passivity of the American population
given the high literacy rate and what can ordinary US citizens do to
keep both sides moving towards peace?
Answer: Well, let's be concrete about it. It's true that there's a fairly
high literacy rate - I wish it were higher, but it's reasonably high.
On the other hand, does a high literacy rate do you any good in discovering
for example that you're sending attack helicopters to Israel to attack
civilian concentrations? No, it doesn't do you any good because you
can't read it anywhere, except in dissident literature that is effectively
marginalized. Not much point in having a high literacy rate if there's
nothing to read. And that generalizes. Take the document that I just
mentioned, the March 1990 Bush administration document. Clearly that's
going to be important. And it's there, it's public. But a high literacy
rate is not enough to find it. You can't find it in the mainstream;
as far as I know, it wasn't even mentioned apart from dissident literature.
And to look elsewhere, you have to know what you're looking for.
If you want to be a physicist for example, it's not enough that there's
a ton of data. You have to know what to look for. That requires some
understanding of how things work. And to get some understanding requires
an education that gears you to picking out the things that are important.
Our educational system doesn't. In fact quite the opposite. It tries
to keep you safe from such dangerous thoughts. And it often succeeds.
That's why we don't pay attention to things like the easy ways to end
human rights abuses. The easiest way, surely, is to stop carrying them
out. That should be trivial. So a primary concern of those who are concerned
with human rights should be to ask, "what we doing to harm human
rights?" Let's stop doing it.
That's not the way it works, however. Not for the schools and colleges,
the media, the general intellectual culture. One might even say without
much exaggeration that their task is to prevent it from becoming a concern.
That's exactly why you have a huge focus on humanitarian intervention
and the dilemmas when somebody else does something bad, but virtually
nothing about terminating participation in crimes when we're doing it.
Well, this generalizes. So it means is what has to be done is to move
from literacy, which is a prerequisite, to understanding, which requires
organization and education and all the things that every activist knows
about. It's true on every issue.
What can we do about peace in the Middle East? A lot of things. For
example one thing we can do is to stop impeding it. That would be a
good start. After we stopped preventing it and gone that far, then we
can ask about constructive steps. I think there are some, for example,
the ones that were discussed a moment ago.
Question: Seems like your talk might better be "the prospects of
fascism in the Middle East". Very dark picture. Do you see any
independent forces in Israeli society - the women's movement, intellectuals,
workers, Palestinian society from the people-that can mount any resistance
what's going down with this global policy? Or in United States, what
you see as a way for the movements that all over the place yet seem
fairly unfocused, including some focus on how US policy is operating
and how an opposition might be mobilized?
Answer: Well I think the last part of the question is the important
one. Sure, there all sorts of good things going on everywhere you look.
Israel, Palestine, all sorts of places. But we can't do much about them.
What we can do a lot about is what's happening here. And yes we can
do plenty. The majority of the American population has always supported
something like a two-state settlement. Most of the population is against
sending military aid to Israel and would be overwhelmingly opposed to
it if they knew what was being done. Those are things that are within
And about the "unfocused movements." Well I don't know about
that. I think there is a lot of energy and activism in United States
and other countries focused on all sorts of things. Is it focused on
this? No. But that's something we can try to do something about. In
the early 60s, we could have asked the same questions about the Vietnam
War. How come no one is focused on this situation where we're bombing
another country, driving huge numbers of people into concentration camps,
destroying their food supplies to control them, and a long series of
other atrocities? Well okay, do something about it. But there are no
secrets. We know what has to be done. It's not going to happen by just
looking at it.
Question: Can you highlight some US publications that do report reasonably
accurately about what's going on in the Middle East.
Answer: Middle East Report for example, a MERIP publication. Actually
the journal I was just quoting this quite interesting article from about
the Israel industrialists and Shlomo Ben-Ami, that's in English. It's
called the Palestine-Israel Bulletin. It's published in Israel, but
it's in English. And it has a lot of interesting material. Z Magazine
has had a lot of things. Z Net has a lot of things. There's material
around. [Follow up: Was that the Washington Report on the Middle East?]
No. The Middle East report is the MERIP journal-I think that's what
they call themselves now. They changed their name recently.
Question: Considering that United Nations reflects the power structure
of post World War II, do you have hope that it will be a true peacemaking
body or are you cynical?
Answer: There are plenty of reasons for being cynical about the United
Nations. There are all kinds of corruption. I could give you a long
story from just my own experience, which is pretty bizarre. But the
main problem with the United Nations is that it can do only what the
great powers will allow it to do. And the "great powers" means
primarily us. So if the United States puts a limit and says "you
guys can't do that," then it's finished-the United Nations can't
So we're back to where we always are. We cannot overlook the fact that
we're living in by far the most powerful country in the world. The one
thing we can really hope to do is change the policies inside that country,
which happens to be the most powerful in the world, so it's terribly
important. And with regard to the United Nations and everything else,
it's imposing the main limits. It's easy to blame the United Nations
for doing this, that, and the other thing when the US gives them no
other option. There's plenty that you can say in criticism of the United
Nations, but it's small as compared with the criticism that they cannot
act because of great power constraints. And that's again in our hands.
In the case we're discussing, the United Nations can't do anything because
the US won't let it. The UN for example wanted to put an observer force
in the occupied territories, which would be a concrete way to cut down
violence. Israel opposed it and the US vetoed it.
Question: What impact are the Israeli peace groups having on Israel's
policies? Are the academic and religious communities central components
of this process?
Answer: "Peace groups" is a pretty wide-ranging phrase. Again,
let me direct it back. There are elements in Israel which would not
only agree with everything I've said but would insist on saying it much
more strongly. On the other hand, there are "peace groups"
that are very impressed with Barak's forthcoming offer, which divided
the West Bank into isolated enclaves. So which are the peace groups?
But-I hate to be boring -but let me say the same thing again. No group
in Israel-no group-peace, war, anything else, can gain any credibility
within that society unless it has very strong support inside the United
States. And that just follows from the relations of dependency. So if
there is an element that is, from your point of view and mine, a "genuine
peace group," it can gain some credibility to the extent that it
detects significant support inside United States. Otherwise it will
gain no credibility.
We can debate the merits of the various groups, but if you want to influence
what they can do, you have to do it here. We're back to the same point,
as we always are. It is a very strong temptation to externalize problems.
Let's look at the problems out there, the things those people out there
are or aren't doing. And there are plenty of problems out there. But
the highest priority is always to internalize them. What can we do about
them? For us particularly that is extremely crucial because we can do
a lot. We happen to be in an unusually free country and by far the most
powerful one of the world. That gives us a range of options which is
extremely important. And the big question is: are we doing anything
about it? Are we using the tremendous opportunities and privilege that
we enjoy? Well if we look at ourselves, we can see we're not doing much
about it, and that's the problem.