- Noam Chomskyworld-renowned political dissident, author and linguist. He is a laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught for more than 50 years. His recent books include Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy and Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power.
In Gaza, thousands gathered Saturday for the funeral of 11-year-old Majdi al-Satari, who died after he was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper Friday at protests near the separation fence with Israel. Seventeen-year-old Moumin al-Hams and 43-year-old Ghazi Abu Mustafa were also shot and killed by Israeli snipers at the protests. In total, Israeli soldiers have killed at least 150 Palestinians since the Palestinians’ nonviolent Great March of Return protests began on March 30. For more, we speak with world-renowned political dissident, author and linguist Noam Chomsky. He is a laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught for more than 50 years.
More from this Interview
- Part 1: Noam Chomsky: U.S. Must Improve Relations with Russia and Challenge the Expansion of NATO
- Part 2: Noam Chomsky: Survival of Organized Human Life Is At Risk Due to Climate Change & Nuclear Weapons
- Part 3: Noam Chomsky Condemns Israel’s Shift to Far Right & New “Jewish Nation-State” Law
- Part 4: Amid Deadly Israeli Crackdown on Gaza Protests, Chomsky Says U.S. Must End Support for “Murderers”
AMY GOODMAN: “Noam Chomsky Is a Soft Revolution” by Foy Vance. This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, as we return to our conversation with the world-renowned dissident, linguist and professor Noam Chomsky.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s turn to the situation in Gaza. Israel’s Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Thursday Israel could launch another wide-scale military operation against the Gaza Strip. This comes after Israel’s violent crackdown on peaceful protests in Gaza from March to May, when Israeli forces killed over 136 Palestinians, injured over 14,000 Palestinians. I want to turn to the Canadian doctor, the Palestinian-Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani, who was shot by Israeli forces in both legs while he was helping treat Palestinians injured by Israeli forces during the nonviolent Great March of Return. It was May 14th, a Monday. I asked Dr. Loubani—this is right after he was shot—if he felt he was targeted.
DR. TAREK LOUBANI: I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know what orders they received or what was in their heads, so I can’t tell you if we were deliberately targeted. What I can tell you is the things that I do know. In the six weeks of the march, there were no paramedic casualties. And in one day, 19 paramedics—18 wounded plus one killed—and myself were all injured, so—or were all shot with live ammunition. We were all—Musa was actually in a rescue at the time, but everybody else I’ve talked to was like me. We were away during a lull, without smoke, without any chaos at all, and we were targeted—and we were, rather, hit by live ammunition, most of us in the lower limbs. So, it’s very, very hard to believe that the Israelis who shot me and the Israelis who shot my other colleagues—just from our medical crew, four of us were shot, including Musa Abuhassanin, who passed away. It’s very hard to believe that they didn’t know who we were, they didn’t know what we were doing, and that they were aiming at anything else.
AMY GOODMAN: So, later that same day, May 14th, the man that Tarek was just talking about, Dr. Loubani was talking about, paramedic Musa Abuhassanin, was shot and killed by Israeli forces. He was shot in the chest. Dr. Loubani tweeted a photo captioned, “A haunting photo, Friday, May 11. Left: Mohammed Migdad, shot in the right ankle. Hassan Abusaada. Tarek Loubani, shot in left leg and right knee. Moumin Silmi. Youssef Almamlouk. Musa Abuhassanin, shot in the thorax and killed. Volunteer unknown. Photographer: shot and wounded.” And he showed this photograph that he had, that he thought he was just going to have for a scrapbook, and then realized these were some of the last days of their lives. What’s going on in Gaza right now, from your perspective, Noam?
NOAM CHOMSKY: We can add to that list the young Palestinian woman, a medic, who was murdered by a sniper, far from the so-called border, when she was tending to a wounded patient. Yes, it’s hideously ugly.
But there’s a background, as always. The crucial background is that Israeli—this Israeli stranglehold on Gaza, which has reduced the life to bare survival, has reached a point where the United Nations, other analysts predict that by the year 2020 Gaza will literally be uninhabitable. That’s 2 million people, half of them children, being caged in a prison, carefully controlled, savage restrictions on food, on anything that comes to them, to the extent that the fishermen are kept close to shore so they can’t fish, the sewage plants have been destroyed, the power plants have been attacked.
The official program—official—was to keep Gaza on what was called a diet, barely enough to survive. Doesn’t look good if they all starve to death. Notice that this is occupied territory, as recognized by—even by the United States, everyone but Israel. So, here’s a population kept in a prison, in an occupied territory, fed a diet to keep them at bare survival, constantly used as a punching bag for what’s called—what calls itself the most moral army in the world, now reaching a point where within a couple years it will be uninhabitable, yes, and in addition to that you have sadistic acts like highly trained snipers killing a young Palestinian woman medic when she’s tending a patient, and what the doctor just described.
What do we do with it? We actually react to that. The United States has reacted. It’s reacted by very sharply cutting its funding to the one organization, UNRWA, U.N. organization, that keeps the population barely alive. That’s our response, along with, of course, overwhelming support for Israel, providing with the arms, diplomatic support and so on. One of the most extraordinary scandals, if that’s the right word, in the modern world.
Can we do something about it? Sure, of course we can. Gaza should be a thriving Mediterranean paradise. It has a wonderful location, has agricultural resources, could be marvelous beaches, fishing, sea resources, even has natural gas offshore, which it’s not being allowed to use. So there’s plenty that can be done. But we’ve—the U.S. has preferred, under repeatedadministrations but much worse now, to, as usual, support the murderers.
AMY GOODMAN: Noam, Israel is threatening another strike on Gaza, like what they called Operation Protective Edge in 2014, when they killed well over 2,000 people, about, oh, around a quarter of that number children.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Yes, they are threatening. If you look over the record—there’s no time to talk about it now—there’s a marvelous book that just came out, incidentally. Norman Finkelstein’s book Gaza, which is about Gaza’s martyrdom, is a definitive study of this. But what’s happened since 2005 is pretty straightforward. I mean, the previous history is ugly enough.
But in 2005, Ariel Sharon, other Israeli hawks recognized that it didn’t make any sense to keep a couple of thousand Jewish settlers illegally settling in Gaza, using up most of its resources and devoting a large part of the Israeli army to protecting them. That was totally senseless. So they decided to move them from their illegal, subsidized settlements in Gaza to illegal, subsidized settlements in areas that Israel wanted to keep, in the West Bank, in the Golan Heights.
It was framed as a traumatic event, but that was a play for world opinion. It was basically a joke. They could have done it quite easily. And they pulled out, and that was called a withdrawal. But they remained under total Israeli occupation, just that the army wasn’t inside Gaza. It was controlling it from the outside. There was an agreement reached in November 2005 between the Palestinians and Israel on a ceasefire, no violence, opening Gaza’s seaport, rebuilding the airport that Israel had destroyed, opening the border so that there could be free flow between Israel and Egypt and so on. That agreement lasted a couple of weeks, in—that was November.
In January, the Palestinians committed a major crime: They ran a free election, recognized to be free and fair, only one in the Arab world. But it came out the wrong way. The wrong people won: Hamas. Israel, at once, escalated violence, heightened the siege, increased the repression against Gaza, imposed the diet. The U.S. reacted by standard operating procedure: started to organize a military coup. Hamas preempted the military coup, which was an even greater crime. Violence, the U.S.-Israeli violence, increased. The savagery of the siege increased, and so on.
Then it goes on like that. Repeatedly, there’s an episode of what Israel calls mowing the lawn. Smash them up. They’re defenseless, of course. Then there’s an agreement reached, which Hamas accepts and lives up to. Israel violates it constantly. Finally, an Israeli escalation of the violation leads to some Hamas response, which Israel uses as a pretext for the next episode of mowing the lawn. I’ve reviewed this. Norman Finkelstein reviews it in his book. Others have. That’s been the history since 2005.
So, yes, there might be another one. But now we’re reaching a point where it’s almost terminal. Repeat, it’s expected that the Gaza Strip, having been devastated so savagely over the years, will literally become uninhabitable. Now, there are ways to deal with this. It’s not a—doesn’t take a, you know, brilliant scientist to figure it out. It’s quite obvious.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Noam, the solution that you say that is very straightforward and simple?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Very straightforward. Live up to the terms of the November 2005 agreement. Allow Gaza to reconstruct. Open the entry points to Israel and Egypt. Rebuild the seaport that was smashed. Destroy the—rebuild the airport that Israel destroyed. Allow them to reconstruct the power plants. Let them become a flourishing Mediterranean site. And, of course, permit—remember that the famous Oslo Agreements required, explicitly, that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank be a unified territory and that its territorial integrity must be maintained. Israel and the United States reacted at once by separating them. OK? That’s not a law of nature, either. Palestinian national rights can be achieved, if the U.S., Israel are willing to accept that.
AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned political dissident, author and linguist, now a laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Chomsky taught for 50 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Visit democracynow.org to watch our first full hour with Noam Chomsky, discussing immigration, U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and more. In the coming week, you’ll hear Noam Chomsky on North Korea, Yemen, Iran and more.