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Why Noam Chomsky remarried at age 86?

At the age of 86, Noam Chomsky remains as active as ever in his work as a world-renowned political dissident and pioneering linguist.

He has also opened a new chapter in his life, recently celebrating a one-year anniversary with his new wife, Valeria Wasserman Chomsky, his second marriage.

Chomsky discusses the joys of newfound love and why it is a “privilege” for him to help people make sense of a very difficult world.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam, you’re headed off on a Latin America trip right now for a month. You’ll be in Brazil. You’ll be giving talks in Argentina. When you go to Brazil, you’re going to be meeting your new family.

NOAM CHOMSKY: That’s correct.

AMY GOODMAN: And I was wondering if you could talk a little about that?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, we’ve been talking about a variety of things that range from unpleasant to horrific, but we shouldn’t overlook the fact that the world has some wonderful things in it, too. And I got an unexpected, wondrous gift from Brazil that fell into my arms not long ago. We’re now—Valeria—we’re now about to celebrate our first anniversary and off to Brazil to meet Valeria’s family.

AMY GOODMAN: And what is that like for you? You are seen around the world, by many, as—not only as a person who shares incredible political insight in the world, but really as a role model. And so, can you talk personally about your own life?

NOAM CHOMSKY: I’m a very private person. I’ve never talked about my own life much. But, you know, I’ve—personally, I’ve been very fortunate in my life, with—there have been tragedies. There have been wonderful things. And Valeria’s sudden appearance is one of those wonderful things.

AARON MATÉ: You said, after your first wife, Carol, died, that life without love is empty—something along those lines. Can you talk about that?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, I could produce some clichés, which have the merit of being true. Life without love is a pretty empty affair.

AARON MATÉ: And your own tireless schedule, keeping up with your lectures, writing extensive articles, and still tirelessly answering the emails, from correspondence from people around the world—when I was in college, I remember I wrote you several times and got back these long, detailed answers on complex questions. And there’s people across the globe who could attest to a similar experience. Do you feel a certain obligation to respond to people? Because nobody would fault you, at the age of 86 now, if you took more time for yourself.

NOAM CHOMSKY: I don’t know if it’s an obligation exactly. It’s a privilege, really. These are the important people in the world. I remember a wonderful comment by Howard Zinn about the countless number of unknown people who are the driving force in history and in progress. And that’s people like—I didn’t know you, but people like you writing from college. These are people that deserve respect, encouragement. They’re the hope for the future. They’re an inspiration for me personally.

AMY GOODMAN: You mentioned your daughter Avi being an expert on Cuba, among others. You have three children that you and Carol raised, now broadening your family to Valeria, as well. Can you talk about your philosophy of child rearing in a very politically active family? You have said in the past that you thought, because of your opposition to the war in Vietnam, for example, you might spend years in jail.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Came very close, came close enough so that by 1967, ’68, when resistance activities were at their height—and I was an unindicted co-conspirator in one trial, and the prosecutor announced I’d be the leading person in the next trial, but—

AMY GOODMAN: In which trial?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Pardon me?

AMY GOODMAN: In which trial?

NOAM CHOMSKY: These were the so-called trials of the resistance. The first was called the Spock-Coffin trial, although—a lot to say about that. The next ones were called off, mainly because of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, which convinced the American business community that the war is going to drag on, and they—in a rather significant power play, they compelled Johnson to start backing off. And one of the things they did was end the trials.

But it was serious enough so that my wife Carol went back to school after 16 years to get a—finish up with her doctoral degree, since we had three kids to take care of. But during those years, although I was extremely active—I mean, there were times when I was giving seven talks a day and going to demonstrations and so on, but I always managed—took care to spend as much time as I could, quality time, with the kids when they were growing up.

AMY GOODMAN: So what gives you hope?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Things like what you described, also the wonderful things in the world of the kind that I mentioned, like my wife.

AMY GOODMAN: MIT professor, world-renowned linguist, dissident, author, Noam Chomsky. To hear part one of our interview yesterday, when he talked about Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress today, you can go to our website. This is just a clip.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Basically, a joint effort by Netanyahu and mostly Republicans hawks from the United States to undermine any possibility of a negotiated settlement with Iran. Neither Israel nor U.S. hawks want to tolerate a deterrent in the region to their violence.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky. To hear both of our hours of interview with him, go to

We Have Already Seen what we feared from Hillary Clinton:

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein

Passing ranked choice voting?

Ranked choice voting says you can rank your first choice first, and if your first choice doesn’t make it, is eliminated and loses, your vote is automatically reassigned to your second choice

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein takes aim at the presumptive nominees of both major parties, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

“Trump says very scary things—deporting immigrants, massive militarism and ignoring the climate. Hillary, unfortunately, has a track record for doing all of those things,” Stein says.

“Hillary has supported the deportations of immigrants, opposed the refugees—women and children coming from Honduras, whose refugee crisis she was very much responsible for by giving a thumbs-up to this corporate coup in Honduras that has created the violence from which those refugees are fleeing.” Stein goes on to say,

“We see these draconian things that Donald Trump is talking about, we actually see Hillary Clinton doing.”

Tonnie Ch shared this link

JUAN GONZÁLEZ:  Jill Stein, what do you say to those, for instance, who criticize third-party efforts as spoiler efforts throughout the history of the country—Ross Perot running in the early ’90s with the result that Bill Clinton was able to defeat the Republican candidate, then, of course, Ralph Nader in the 2000 race, blamed by some, although others disagree that that was the result, for resulting in George Bush being elected in 2000?

DR. JILL STEIN: So, let me say first off, this is a problem that could be fixed with the stroke of a pen, this electoral system that tells you to vote against what you’re afraid of and not for what you believe. And, you know, what we’ve seen over the years, this strategy has a track record: This politics of fear has actually delivered everything we were afraid of. All the reasons you were told you had to vote for the lesser evil—because you didn’t want the massive Wall Street bailouts, the offshoring of our jobs, the meltdown of the climate, the endless expanding wars, the attack on immigrants—all that, we’ve gotten by the droves, because we allowed ourselves to be silenced.

You know, silence is not what democracy needs.

Right now we have an election where even the supporters of Hillary Clinton, the majority don’t support Hillary, they just oppose Donald Trump. And the majority of Donald Trump supporters don’t support him, they just oppose Hillary.

And the majority are clamoring for another independent or several independent candidates and an independent party, and feel that they are being terribly misserved and mistreated by the current politics.

So to further silence our voices is exactly the wrong thing to do. And I’ll just point out, Donald Trump himself is lifted up by a movement which is very much the product of the Clintons’ policies.

The lesser evil very much makes inevitable the greater evil, because people don’t come out to vote for a politician that’s throwing them under the bus. And so we see houses of—the houses of Congress, we have also seen statehouse after statehouse, flipping from red to blue over the years as the Democratic Party has become a lesser-evil party.

And Donald Trump is buoyed up by the policies passed by Bill Clinton, supported by Hillary—that is, deregulation of Wall Street, which led to the disappearance of 9 million jobs, 5 million people thrown out of their homes, and by NAFTA, which exported those jobs.

That’s exactly the economic oppression and stress that has led to this right-wing extremism. So you can’t get where you want to go through the lesser evil. At the end of the day, you’ve got to stand up.

But we could fix this right now simply by passing ranked choice voting, which takes the fear out of voting.

If you can’t put your values into your vote, we don’t have a democracy.

Ranked choice voting says you can rank your first choice first, and if your first choice doesn’t make it, is eliminated and loses, your vote is automatically reassigned to your second choice.

This is used in cities across the country. My campaign actually proposed this in the Massachusetts Legislature through a progressive Democratic representative back in 2002 in the first race that I ran. I was running for governor.

We proposed that bill, filed it, so that there would be no splitting of the vote. The Democrats refused to let it out of committee. And that tells you something very important: They rely on fear. They don’t want you to vote your values. They need to use the scary tactic of, “Oh, the other guy is worse.”

Why is that? Because at the end of the day, they are not on your side. They need you to be afraid of them, because they are not for you. That alone speaks volumes about how far we are going to get.

In this race, I’ll just conclude saying, this is a unique moment now. We’ve never been here in history before. What we are facing is not just a question of what kind of world we want to be, but whether we will be a world at all, the way the nuclear arms race has been re-engaged, the way Hillary Clinton wants to create an air war over Syria through a no-fly zone against another nuclear-armed power—that is, Russia—the climate crisis, where the day of reckoning is coming closer and closer all the time.

We can’t keep using this failed policy of silencing ourselves with this politics of fear. It’s time to forget the lesser evil, stand up and fight for the greater good like our lives depend on it, because they do.

AMY GOODMAN: And to those Sanders supporters who have started saying, “If it’s Hill, it’s Jill”? And this is going back to the point of what would you say to Sanders supporters worried about Trump.

DR. JILL STEIN: Yes, exactly. I’d say putting another Clinton in the White House is only going to make that right-wing extremism greater.

We will see more of these neoliberal policies, like Wall Street deregulation, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Hillary has always supported. She’s changed her tune a little bit, but Hillary has walked the walk.

Look at the walk and not the talk. In fact, you know, Trump says very scary things—deporting immigrants, massive militarism and, you know, ignoring the climate. Well, Hillary, unfortunately, has a track record for doing all of those things. Hillary has supported the deportations of immigrants, opposed the refugees—women and children coming from Honduras, whose refugee crisis she was very much responsible for by giving a thumbs-up to this corporate coup in Honduras that has created the violence from which those refugees are fleeing.

She basically said, “No, bar the gates, send them back.” You know, so we see these draconian things that Donald Trump is talking about, we actually see Hillary Clinton doing.

And it’s not only the militarism that Trump talks about, it’s Hillary’s massive record of militarism: the rush into Libya, which was really— she was the prime mover behind that campaign, which the military advisers were largely against; her approval for the war in Iraq and so on; you know, her threat to bomb Iran; and, you know, she—and her demonization of Russia and China, and the pivot against China.

We are rushing towards war with Hillary Clinton, who has a track record.

And on climate, Trump talks terrible on climate, although in Ireland, I believe it is, he does believe in climate change: He’s trying to build a wall to protect one of his luxury golf courses in Ireland, because he’s worried about sea level rise from climate change, according to the papers that he’s filed for that permit.

And on climate, Hillary Clinton established an office to promote fracking around the world, while secretary of state.

So, the terrible things that we expect from Donald Trump, we’ve actually already seen from Hillary Clinton. So I’d say, don’t be a victim of this propaganda campaign, which is being waged by people who exercise selective amnesia.

They’re very quick to tell you about the terrible things that the Republicans did, but they’re very quick to forget the equally terrible things that have happened under a Democratic White House, with two Democratic houses of Congress.

It’s time to forget the lesser evil, stand up and fight for the greater good. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Neither party of the evils will do it for us.

AMY GOODMAN: We just have 30 seconds, but your unsolicited advice, unsolicited by Bernie Sanders, for what he should demand when he meets with President Obama today, and then your advice to him when he comes outside?

DR. JILL STEIN: You know, I don’t think President Obama is going to change his tune because of something that Bernie Sanders says to him. I think what’s really important— in the words of Frederick Douglass, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has, and it never will.”

This is why third parties are effective, whether they’re in power or whether they are simply pushing. Otherwise, there is no counterweight of the power of corporations, which have basically taken over the two major corporate political parties.

I think it’s very important for Bernie to—you know, to have a teachable moment here and to take heed of his experience of the last many months, and for him to actually stand up and do what the world needs for him to do and what the world needs for this movement to do.

And if Bernie is not able to overcome his experience of many decades as a loyal and faithful Democrat, I really understand that. But I think for those of us who are living in today and who are seeing what tomorrow looks like, it’s very important for us to move ahead and take back the America and the world that works for all of us, based on putting people, planet and peace over profit.

AMY GOODMAN: Jill Stein, we want to thank you for being with us, 2016 presidential candidate for the Green Party.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, a debate on the executive order just issued by New York Governor Cuomo on BDS. Stay with us.

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How to Rid Money from Politics? Lawrence Lessig weighs Presidential Run

“96% of Americans believe it important to reduce the influence of money in politics. But 91% didn’t think it was possible”.

So that is the politics of resignation?


The 2016 presidential race is shaping up to be the most expensive political race in history.

Experts predict as much as $10 billion could be spent by candidates, parties and outside groups on the campaign.

A recent analysis by The New York Times shows fewer than 400 families are responsible for almost half the money raised to date.

The vast majority of the $388 million raised so far has been channeled to super PACs which can accept unlimited donations in support of candidates.

According to the Times, the political network overseen by the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch plans to spend close to $900 million on the 2016 campaign.

That figure dwarfs how much the Republican National Committee and the party’s two congressional campaign committees spent in the 2012 election.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has a set a fundraising goal of $2.5 billion. Today we are joined by a law professor who is considering challenging Clinton in the Democratic primary.

His platform is simple: Get money out of politics. Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig says that if he won the presidency, he would serve only as long as it takes to pass sweeping campaign finance reform. Then, he says, he would resign.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.


Today we’re joined by a law professor who’s considering challenging Clinton in the Democratic primary. His platform is simple:

Get money out of politics. Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig says if he won the presidency, he would serve only as long as it takes to pass sweeping campaign finance reform legislation. Then, he says, he would resign. (Won’t stand well with voters who need Presidents to finish the term)

In 2012, Lawrence Lessig launched Rootstrikers to fight the corrupting influence of money in politics. He’s a legendary figure in the world of cyberlaw, credited with helping to create Creative Commons, an alternative copyright system.

Lawrence Lessig, welcome back to Democracy Now! Are you announcing your candidacy for president of the United States?

LAWRENCE LESSIG: Well, what we’ve said is that if by Labor Day, September 7th, two weeks from today, we’ve raised the initial million dollars that we’re kickstarting to fund this campaign, then I would run. And I would run on a platform not of campaign finance reform, which is kind of like referring to an alcoholic as someone with a liquid intake problem.

I would run on a platform of fundamental citizen equality, because what we’ve allowed to happen in this democracy is a radical inequality in the way citizens are represented. And since—the way we fund campaigns is just one example, but it’s the most grotesque example, of why we don’t have a democracy that works.

AMY GOODMAN: So, explain the problem right now. Talk about the amount of money that is going into this election, and put it in some kind of historical and global context.

LAWRENCE LESSIG: Well, you set it up perfectly, Amy. I mean, the point is, when you have a system that raises its money from such a tiny, tiny fraction of the public—400 families for all of the money raised or 130 families for half the money that’s been raised in the Republican Party—that tiny, tiny number have enormous influence inside of our political system.

And the influence they have is not some rational influence of the elite; it’s a completely destructive vetocracy that they create, where they’re able to block any kind of reform.

So if you want climate change legislation, what we know is we won’t have climate change legislation until we fix this corrupted inequality.

If you want to deal with the problem of Wall Street, we’re not going to deal with the largest contributor to congressional campaigns until we change the way campaigns are funded.

Every important issue gets tied to the way we are funding these campaigns, this inequality. And what I’ve said is, until we address that first, all of these other things that people are talking about, things that excite us, things that especially excite us progressives, all of them are a fantasy.

And we’ve got to stop with the fantasy politics and address the reality that we have to fix our democracy if we’re going to have a democracy that works.

AMY GOODMAN: So how do you do it? And how do you deal with money being equated with free speech?

LAWRENCE LESSIG:  The reforms that I’ve proposed, in what we’re calling the Citizen Equality Act, do not trigger any of the concerns the Supreme Court has talked about.

What the Supreme Court has said is you can’t be restricting speech.

So the step, the first step, that we’re describing is a way to dilute that incredible concentration of funders. So, by increasing bottom-up, citizen-funded elections, either through vouchers, which you could give to every voter that they could use to fund elections, or matching funds, the way John Sarbanes from Maryland has described, all of these would radically change the way campaigns are funded, and radically disempower the lobbyists and the special interests inside of our political system. That’s the first step.

What we need is a mandate strong enough to get that first step.

And what I’ve said is that none of the other candidates, even if they’re talking about the right issues, which I think only  Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley are even getting close to talking about the right issues—even if they’re talking about it, they can’t begin to describe a process, a plan for them to have the mandate to actually get this enacted.

They have a great plan for getting elected, but they don’t have a plan for actually getting us a democracy back.

AMY GOODMAN: How would you do it, if you were elected?

LAWRENCE LESSIG: So if I were elected, what I’ve said is I would serve only until we passed this thing we’ve called the Citizen Equality Act, which would establish citizen-funded elections, number one.

Number two, it would end the political gerrymandering that creates an incredible disempowerment for a vast number of Americans because of the way we design districts.

And number three, it would end the ridiculous systems that try to disempower or disable people from being able to vote.

That would get us the first steps of a democracy back. And when that’s passed, I would resign. And the vice president, the elected vice president, would become president.

But the point of this mandate is it would be a referendum on this reform, and this reform for citizen equality is the kind of equality that all of Americans should affirm. I mean, I agree with Bernie about the need to deal with wealth inequality, and there are many in the progressive left who agree with Bernie about that.

What I know is that America is not yet of the view that we should become Sweden. And the fact is, we can’t rally America unanimously to this—to that idea. But I think the idea of citizen equality, and the idea which is at the core of what representative democracy is, is an idea we could rally people to, and if we did, we could build a mandate powerful enough to begin to get us the democracy we deserve.

AMY GOODMAN: Since you say, Lawrence Lessig, if you became president, you would resign after you achieved your goal, your vice president would be particularly important. Who would you choose?

LAWRENCE LESSIG: Well, I personally would love to see a vice president that excites the Democratic base to create the kind of passion and energy that would be necessary to get elected. People like Bernie have done that, Elizabeth Warren have done that.

But what I’ve also said is that the referendum president, which I’m describing here, trying to create, actually should have different power for picking the vice president from a regular president.

You know, a regular nominee selects the vice president assuming or hoping that vice president is never president. But I want to select a vice president who I want to be president the very next day after I am inaugurated. So this person is a much more significant person in the traditional balance.

And I think that means that the convention, the party, has a much more significant role in selecting and deciding who that person should be. So we would select based on what the party ratifies as the values of the party, based on also what they think is most likely to succeed in November.

AMY GOODMAN: Have you spoken, for example, with Bernie Sanders or any of the presidential candidates about your possible bid, your run for the presidency?

LAWRENCE LESSIG: Well, I tried to reach out to Bernie before I announced. I haven’t had a chance to connect with him about that. But that’s the only person I’ve tried to reach out to, because Bernie is somebody who I have enormous respect for. He’s been a hero in the movement for the right kind of change for many, many years. And I had worked with him in trying to describe what kind of change would make his campaign credible. So I tried to reach out to him, but I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet.

But I think the critical thing is to recognize that as much as people love what he is saying—and for good reason, they should love what he is saying—what we need is a way to make what he is saying possible. And what we don’t have right now is a way to make this change or any change, frankly, possible. And so that’s what I’m trying to focus this campaign on.

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this month, 10 leading Republican presidential candidates faced off in the first debates of the 2016 presidential election. During the debate, Donald Trump defended his record of donating to Democratic candidates in previous races but admitted that the election system is broken.

DONALD TRUMP: I will tell you that our system is broken. I gave to many people. Before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. And that’s a broken system.

CHRIS WALLACE: So what did you get? So what did you get from Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you what. With Hillary Clinton, I said, “Be at my wedding,” and she came to my wedding. You know why? She had no choice, because I gave. I gave to a foundation that, frankly, that foundation is supposed to do good. I didn’t know her money would be used on private jets going all over the world. It was.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Donald Trump. Lawrence Lessig, your response?

LAWRENCE LESSIG: So I think Donald Trump has been the biggest gift to this movement since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, because what it’s done is crystallize a recognition that this system is deeply corrupted.

You know, there he is, pulling back the curtain on the way the system works, making it possible, even in the Republican primary, for people to begin to talk about the corruption of the system. And I agree with him absolutely: This system is deeply corrupted.

The difference between Donald Trump and me—well, there’s $10 billion in difference, at least—but in addition to $10 billion, the difference is that Donald Trump’s solution is that we elect billionaires, and my solution is that we actually have the representative democracy our framers gave us. The idea of electing billionaires was what we fought a revolution about, and Donald Trump’s side in that revolution lost.

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton talked about campaign finance reform when she kicked off her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

HILLARY CLINTON: We need to build the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday. We need to strengthen families and communities, because that’s where it all starts. We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment. And we need to protect our country from the threats that we see and the ones that are on the horizon. So, I’m here in Iowa to begin a conversation about how we do that.

AMY GOODMAN: Lawrence Lessig, how do we do that? And what is your response to Hillary Clinton’s approach to campaign finance reform?

LAWRENCE LESSIG: We haven’t seen a lot. She’s talked about a constitutional amendment, which of course I support the idea of a constitutional amendment, but I think we have to recognize that that’s not going to be a solution in the short run.

And in the short run, we have a critical number of problems we have to have the ability to solve. She’s also pushed the idea of disclosure. In that statement, she said “unaccountable money.”

But I’m not sure what accountable money does. I don’t know why it’s any better to have billions of dollars that we can account for than billions of dollars that we can’t account for. I mean, of course I want to account for it, but still it’s the billions of dollars that’s calling the shots.

What we need is to change the way elections are funded. We need a commitment to a very simple idea, that we, in a democracy, in a representative democracy, need to be represented equally.

And Hillary has not yet articulated any plan that would get us that in any time short of when we need to get there to deal with the critical problems that we face as a nation.

AMY GOODMAN: Lawrence Lessig, I wanted to get your response to Mark Schmitt, the senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and former editor of The American Prospect. He was on Democracy Now! explaining why he’s opposed to a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

MARK SCHMITT: I view it as a real distraction from some real progress that we can make on money in politics, because while you can build a movement around these various—there are like 17 different versions of the amendment. While you can build a movement around this concept, the message it sends is: We can’t do anything until we have a constitutional amendment. And under the current circumstances, “We can’t do anything until we have a constitutional amendment” is exactly the same as saying, “We can’t do anything.” And so, I think that’s just sending the wrong signal to people and overlooking the tremendous progress that’s actually being made.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Mark Schmitt at the Roosevelt Institute. Your response, Lawrence Lessig?

LAWRENCE LESSIG: I think he’s completely right. I think the talk about constitutional amendments has excited an incredible base, and I think the movements that have pushed that have done enormous good to our democracy by getting people to recognize the fundamental problem we have to address.

But the truth is, we can address a vast majority of that problem tomorrow in a statute.

And so, when I talk about passing the Citizen Equality Act, that is a statute, that’s not amending the Constitution. It’s a first step that would have an enormous impact on the ability of democracy to actually function.

And I think if we can give people a sense of what’s possible, we can excite an incredible amount of energy. We, in 2013, did a poll and found 96 percent of Americans believe it important to reduce the influence of money in politics. But 91% didn’t think it was possible. So that is the politics of resignation.

And if you constantly talk about the constitutional amendment, or you make it sound like that’s what’s necessary to win, then those resigned people will stay resigned. They won’t show up to try to change the system. And that’s exactly the resignation we have to find a way to thaw.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, people are resorting to all sorts of efforts to change the system. Earlier this year, the U.S. mailman Doug Hughes made national headlines when he flew a tiny personal aircraft, known as the gyrocopter, onto the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in an act of civil disobedience. He was carrying letters to every member of Congress urging them to address corruption and to pass campaign finance reform.

The letter began with a quote from John Kerry’s farewell speech to the Senate: quote, “The unending chase for money I believe threatens to steal our democracy itself,” Kerry wrote. In April, Democracy Now! spoke to Doug Hughes and asked him to elaborate on the message he hoped to convey.

DOUG HUGHES: What my letter actually said to the Congress critters was they’ve got to decide whether they’re going to deny that corruption exists, or they’re going to pretend that they’re doing something about it, or they’re going to really roll up their sleeves and be a part of reform.

But I’m looking to the local media, particularly the print media, OK, at the local level, to hold the candidates’ feet to the fire and force them to take a stand on real reform and whether or not they’re going to vote for it or whether or not they’re going to try and take a halfway, mealy-mouthed stand on it, which means they’re going to try and preserve the status quo.

The idea is, the voters can decide well if they’re informed. The national media can’t and won’t inform the voters about where the candidates stand. But the local media, which has been, you know, very weak and impotent in the political process, can really take the ball, and they can be the moving force in informing the voters.

AMY GOODMAN: And earlier this year, activists carried out a rare protest inside the Supreme Court chamber to oppose the ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC, a case critics call the “next Citizens United.”

In a 5-to-4 vote last year, the court’s conservative justices eliminated a longstanding limit on how much donors can give in total to federal candidates, party committees and political action committees in a two-year election cycle.

Without any aggregate limit, a donor can now give millions of dollars directly to candidates and parties. In early April, the five activists with the group 99 Rise stood up inside the court to call on justices to reverse their decision.

99 RISE PROTESTER: Justices, is it not your duty to protect our right to self-government? Reverse McCutcheon! Overturn Citizens United. One person, one vote!

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s the five activists with the group 99 Rise. And then you’ve got Doug Hughes. I believe he’s going to trial—he wouldn’t take any plea deal. A lot of the media didn’t even report he was doing this for campaign finance reform; they just said he flew a gyrocopter onto the grounds of the Capitol. Lawrence Lessig, talk about what groups are doing.

LAWRENCE LESSIG: I think there’s been an incredible amount of creative protest that’s been focused on this issue. Doug Hughes is a hero. We just opened up a kickstarter on Indiegogo to raise money for his legal defense fund.

We said we needed to raise $10,000 in 30 days. In one day, we raised the money that he needs to defend himself against the felony charges that he’s now facing. And 99 Rise has done an extraordinary job raising the attention of this issue in a lot of contexts, not just in the Supreme Court.

But what I think we need to do is to raise the level of the debate.

This is not just about telling some people they can’t speak or trying to silence the ability of certain interests to be in the political process. This is about achieving the fundamental equality of our democracy.

And I think that if we raise the level of the debate so we’re not talking about campaign finance, which is just one corner of this problem, and instead talk about the commitment of a representative democracy, as Madison said, one that would, quote, “be not where the rich would have no more power than the poor in this democracy,” we could build the political movement we have to build to win, because that’s what this has got to be a fight about, not in the court, not in the—not in the court at the Supreme Court, not in a court that’s deciding whether a protester should go to jail, but in the court of public opinion, where if the public is reminded of this commitment of equality in our democracy, they could see how we could get a democracy that could work again.

And if we did, then these problems that all of us roll our eyes about, of climate change or the debt or student debt or Wall Street or gun control, all of these problems would be problems we could actually solve. We could actually have a democracy that’s responsive again, because this inequality, this corrupted inequality, has been removed.

And it wouldn’t be a world where you’ve got to stand and say, “Black lives matter,” because we would have an equality in this system where that statement would be crazy to even imagine the necessity of uttering.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Lawrence Lessig, again, to summarize, your timetable on when you will announce your candidacy for president of the United States, under what conditions?

LAWRENCE LESSIG: So we’ve just crossed—we’re at about $550,000 of the million dollars that I said we needed to raise within two weeks. And if we get there and the two—the major candidates have not said this would be their primary focus, then I will enter the race.

And I will enter the race, and we will also try to recruit 50 referendum representatives to also run, to make it so that on day one of 2017, of the administration in 2017, we would have the majority necessary to pass this equality act. So, as of—in two weeks, we’ll know whether this race will happen. And if it does happen, I’m going to give it every ounce of my energy to make it possible for this democracy to utter the words that are so obvious and self-evident, that in a democracy all of us should be treated equal.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Lawrence Lessig, I want to thank you for being with us.


AMY GOODMAN: Lawrence Lessig is considering running for the Democratic nomination for president in order protest money in politics, professor at Harvard Law School. His most recent book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, Sarah Shourd joins us. She was in solitary confinement in Iran for more than a year. She’s going to comment on the Iran nuclear deal and also talk about solitary confinement in the United States. Stay with us.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

“96% of Americans believe it important to reduce the influence of money in politics. But 91% didn’t think it was possible. So that is the politics of resignation.”

The 2016 presidential race is shaping up to be the most expensive political race in history.
Experts predict as much as $10 billion could be spent by candidates,…

 Why Gaza fighters keep firing rockets on settlements build on their lands?

” Israel’s Actions in Palestine are Much Worse Than Apartheid in South Africa…”

Many keep asking me, ‘but why does Hamas keep firing its rockets!?’.

I believe Noam Chomsky has answered this question much better than I ever could:
“Israel wants quiet, wants the Palestinians to be nice and quiet and nonviolent, the way Nicholas Kristof urges.

And then what will Israel do? We don’t have to guess. It’s what they have been doing, and they’ll continue, as long as there’s no resistance to it.

What Israel is doing , briefly, taking over whatever they want,

1.  whatever they see as of value in the West Bank, leaving Palestinians in essentially unviable cantons, pretty much imprisoned;

2. separating the West Bank from Gaza in violation of the solemn commitments of the Oslo Accords;

3. keeping Gaza under siege and on a diet;

4. meanwhile, incidentally, taking over the Golan Heights, already annexed in violation of explicit Security Council orders;

5. vastly expanding Jerusalem way beyond any historical size, annexing it in violation of Security Council orders;

6. huge infrastructure projects, which make it possible for people living in the nice hills of the West Bank to get to Tel Aviv in a few minutes without seeing any Arabs.

That’s what they’ll continue doing, just as they have been, as long as the United States supports it.

That’s the decisive point, and that’s what we should be focusing on.

We’re here. We can do things here. And that happens to be of critical significance in this case.

That’s going to be—it’s not the only factor, but it’s the determinative factor in what the outcome will be.”

Fri Aug 8, 2014

Noam Chomsky: Israel’s Actions in Palestine are “Much Worse Than Apartheid” in South Africa

Part 2 of our conversation with famed linguist and political dissident Noam Chomsky on the crisis in Gaza, U.S. support for Israel, apartheid and the BDS movement.

“In the Occupied Territories, what Israel is doing is much worse than apartheid,” Chomsky says. “To call it apartheid is a gift to Israel, at least if by ‘apartheid’ you mean South African-style apartheid. What’s happening in the Occupied Territories is much worse.

There’s a crucial difference. The South African Nationalists needed the black population. That was their workforce. … The Israeli relationship to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories is totally different. They just don’t want them. They want them out, or at least in prison.”

Click here to watch Part 1 of the interview.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. And we’re continuing our conversation with Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author, has written many books, among them, one of the more recent books, Gaza in Crisis. I want to turn right now to Bob Schieffer, the host of CBS’s Face the Nation. This is how he closed a recent show.

BOB SCHIEFFER: In the Middle East, the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that is embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause—a strategy that might actually be working, at least in some quarters. Last week I found a quote of many years ago by Golda Meir, one of Israel’s early leaders, which might have been said yesterday: “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children,” she said, “but we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.”

AMY GOODMAN: That was CBS journalist Bob Schieffer. Noam Chomsky, can you respond?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, we don’t really have to listen to CBS, because we can listen directly to the Israeli propaganda agencies, which he’s quoting. It’s a shameful moment for U.S. media when it insists on being subservient to the grotesque propaganda agencies of a violent, aggressive state. As for the comment itself, the Israel comment which he—propaganda comment which he quoted, I guess maybe the best comment about that was made by the great Israeli journalist Amira Hass, who just described it as “sadism masked as compassion.” That’s about the right characterization.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to also ask you about the U.N.’s role and the U.S.—vis-à-vis, as well, the United States. This is the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, criticizing the U.S. for its role in the Israeli assault on Gaza.

NAVI PILLAY: They have not only provided the heavy weaponry, which is now being used by Israel in Gaza, but they’ve also provided almost $1 billion in providing the Iron Domes to protect Israelis from the rocket attacks, but no such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling. So I am reminding the United States that it’s a party to international humanitarian law and human rights law.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner or human rights. Noam, on Friday, this was the point where the death toll for Palestinians had exceeded Operation Cast Lead; it had passed 1,400. President Obama was in the White House, and he held a news conference. He didn’t raise the issue of Gaza in the news conference, but he was immediately asked about Gaza, and he talked about—he reaffirmed the U.S. support for Israel, said that the resupply of ammunition was happening, that the $220 million would be going for an expanded Iron Dome. But then the weekend took place, yet another attack on a U.N. shelter, on one of the schools where thousands of Palestinians had taken refuge, and a number of them were killed, including children. And even the U.S. then joined with the U.N. in criticizing what Israel was doing. Can you talk about what the U.S. has done and if you really do see a shift right now?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, let’s start with what the U.S. has done, and continue with the comments with the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Right at that time, the time of the quote you gave over the radio—that you gave before, there was a debate in the Human Rights Commission about whether to have an investigation—no action, just an investigation—of what had happened in Gaza, an investigation of possible violations of human rights. “Possible” is kind of a joke. It was passed with one negative vote. Guess who. Obama voted against an investigation, while he was giving these polite comments. That’s action. The United States continues to provide, as Pillay pointed out, the critical, the decisive support for the atrocities. When what’s called Israeli jet planes bomb defenseless targets in Gaza, that’s U.S. jet planes with Israeli pilots. And the same with the high-tech munition and so on and so forth. So this is, again, sadism masked as compassion. Those are the actions.

AMY GOODMAN: What about opinion in the United States? Can you talk about the role that it plays? We saw some certainly remarkable changes. MSNBC had the reporter Ayman Mohyeldin, who had been at Al Jazeera, very respected. He had been, together with Sherine Tadros, in 2008 the only Western reporters in Gaza covering Operation Cast Lead, tremendous experience in the area. And he was pulled out by MSNBC. But because there was a tremendous response against this, with—I think what was trending was “Let Ayman report”—he was then brought back in. So there was a feeling that people wanted to get a sense of what was happening on the ground. There seemed to be some kind of opening. Do you sense a difference in the American population, how—the attitude toward what’s happening in Israel and the Occupied Territories?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Very definitely. It’s been happening over some years. There was a kind of a point of inflection that increased after Cast Lead, which horrified many people, and it’s happening again now. You can see it everywhere. Take, say, The New York Times. The New York Times devoted a good part of their op-ed page to a Gaza diary a couple of days ago, which was heart-rending and eloquent. They’ve had strong op-eds condemning extremist Israeli policies. That’s new, and it reflects something that’s happening in the country. You can see it in polls, especially among young people. If you look at the polling results, the population below 30, roughly, by now has shifted substantially. You can see it on college campuses. I mean, I see it personally. I’ve been giving talks on these things for almost 50 years. I used to have police protection, literally, even at my own university. The meetings were broken up violently, you know, enormous protest. Within the past, roughly, decade, that’s changed substantially by now that Palestinian solidarity is maybe the biggest issue on campus. Huge audiences. There isn’t even—hardly get a hostile question. That’s a tremendous change. That’s strikingly among younger people, but they become older.

However, there’s something we have to remember about the United States: It’s not a democracy; it’s a plutocracy. There’s study after study that comes out in mainstream academic political science which shows what we all know or ought to know, that political decisions are made by a very small sector of extreme privilege and wealth, concentrated capital. For most of the population, their opinions simply don’t matter in the political system. They’re essentially disenfranchised. I can give the details if you like, but that’s basically the story. Now, public opinion can make a difference. Even in dictatorships, the public can’t be ignored, and in a partially democratic society like this, even less so. So, ultimately, this will make a difference. And how long “ultimately” is, well, that’s up to us.

We’ve seen it before. Take, say, the East Timor case, which I mentioned. For 25 years, the United States strongly supported the vicious Indonesian invasion and massacre, virtual genocide. It was happening right through 1999, as the Indonesian atrocities increased and escalated. After Dili, the capital city, was practically evacuated after Indonesian attacks, the U.S. was still supporting it. Finally, in mid-September 1999, under considerable international and also domestic pressure, Clinton quietly told the Indonesian generals, “It’s finished.” And they had said they’d never leave. They said, “This is our territory.” They pulled out within days and allowed a U.N. peacekeeping force to enter without Indonesian military resistance. Well, you know, that’s a dramatic indication of what can be done. South Africa is a more complex case but has similarities, and there are others. Sooner or later, it’s possible—and that’s really up to us—that domestic pressure will compel the U.S. government to join the world on this issue, and that will be a decisive change.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam, I wanted to ask you about your recent piece for The Nation on Israel-Palestine and BDS. You were critical of the effectiveness of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. One of the many responses came from Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the Jerusalem Fund and its educational program, the Palestine Center. He wrote, quote, “Chomsky’s criticism of BDS seems to be that it hasn’t changed the power dynamic yet, and thus that it can’t. There is no doubt the road ahead is a long one for BDS, but there is also no doubt the movement is growing … All other paths toward change, including diplomacy and armed struggle, have so far proved ineffective, and some have imposed significant costs on Palestinian life and livelihood.” Could you respond?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, actually, I did respond. You can find it on The Nation website. But in brief, far from being critical of BDS, I was strongly supportive of it. One of the oddities of what’s called the BDS movement is that they can’t—many of the activists just can’t see support as support unless it becomes something like almost worship: repeat the catechism. If you take a look at that article, it very strongly supported these tactics. In fact, I was involved in them and supporting them before the BDS movement even existed. They’re the right tactics.

But it should be second nature to activists—and it usually is—that you have to ask yourself, when you conduct some tactic, when you pursue it, what the effect is going to be on the victims. You don’t pursue a tactic because it makes you feel good. You pursue it because it’s going—you estimate that it’ll help the victims. And you have to make choices. This goes way back. You know, say, back during the Vietnam War, there were debates about whether you should resort to violent tactics, say Weathermen-style tactics. You could understand the motivation—people were desperate—but the Vietnamese were strongly opposed. And many of us, me included, were also opposed, not because the horrors don’t justify some strong action, but because the consequences would be harm to the victims. The tactics would increase support for the violence, which in fact is what happened. Those questions arise all the time.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian solidarity movements have been unusual in their unwillingness to think these things through. That was pointed out recently again by Raja Shehadeh, the leading figure in—lives in Ramallah, a longtime supporter, the founder of Al-Haq, the legal organization, a very significant and powerful figure. He pointed out that the Palestinian leadership has tended to focus on what he called absolutes, absolute justice—this is the absolute justice that we want—and not to pay attention to pragmatic policies. That’s been very obvious for decades. It used to drive people like Eqbal Ahmad, the really committed and knowledgeable militant—used to drive him crazy. They just couldn’t listen to pragmatic questions, which are what matter for success in a popular movement, a nationalist movement. And the ones who understand that can succeed; the ones who don’t understand it can’t. If you talk about—

AMY GOODMAN: What choices do you feel that the BDS movement, that activists should make?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, they’re very simple, very clear. In fact, I discussed them in the article. Those actions that have been directed against the occupation have been quite successful, very successful. Most of them don’t have anything to do with the BDS movement. So take, say, one of the most extreme and most successful is the European Union decision, directive, to block any connection to any institution, governmental or private, that has anything to do with the Occupied Territories. That’s a pretty strong move. That’s the kind of move that was taken with regard to South Africa. Just a couple of months ago, the Presbyterian Church here called for divestment from any multinational corporation that’s involved in any way in the occupation. And there’s been case after case like that. That makes perfect sense.

There are also—so far, there haven’t been any sanctions, so BDS is a little misleading. It’s BD, really. But there could be sanctions. And there’s an obvious way to proceed. There has been for years, and has plenty of support. In fact, Amnesty International called for it during the Cast Lead operations. That’s an arms embargo. For the U.S. to impose an arms embargo, or even to discuss it, would be a major issue, major contribution. That’s the most important of the possible sanctions.

And there’s a basis for it. U.S. arms to Israel are in violation of U.S. law, direct violation of U.S. law. You look at U.S. foreign assistance law, it bars any military assistance to any one country, unit, whatever, engaged in consistent human rights violations. Well, you know, Israel’s violation of human rights violations is so extreme and consistent that you hardly have to argue about it. That means that U.S. aid to Israel is in—military aid, is in direct violation of U.S. law. And as Pillay pointed out before, the U.S. is a high-contracting party to the Geneva Conventions, so it’s violating its own extremely serious international commitments by not imposing—working to impose the Geneva Conventions. That’s an obligation for the high-contracting parties, like the U.S. And that means to impose—to prevent a violation of international humanitarian law, and certainly not to abet it. So the U.S. is both in violation of its commitments to international humanitarian law and also in violation of U.S. domestic law. And there’s some understanding of that.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to get your response, Noam, to Nicholas Kristof on the issue of Palestinian nonviolence. Writing in The New York Times last month, Kristof wrote, quote, “Palestinian militancy has accomplished nothing but increasing the misery of the Palestinian people. If Palestinians instead turned more to huge Gandhi-style nonviolence resistance campaigns, the resulting videos would reverberate around the world and Palestine would achieve statehood and freedom.” Noam Chomsky, your response?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, first of all, that’s a total fabrication. Palestinian nonviolence has been going on for a long time, very significant nonviolent actions. I haven’t seen the reverberations in Kristof’s columns, for example, or anywhere. I mean, there is among popular movements, but not what he’s describing.

There’s also a good deal of cynicism in those comments. What he should be doing is preaching nonviolence to the United States, the leading perpetrator of violence in the world. Hasn’t been reported here, but an international poll last December—Gallup here and its counterpart in England, the leading polling agencies—it was an international poll of public opinion. One of the questions that was asked is: Which country is the greatest threat to world peace? Guess who was first. Nobody even close. The United States was way in the lead. Far behind was Pakistan, and that was probably because mostly of the Indian vote. Well, that’s what Nicholas Kristof should be commenting on. He should be calling for nonviolence where he is, where we are, where you and I are. That would make a big difference in the world. And, of course, nonviolence in our client states, like Israel, where we provide directly the means for the violence, or Saudi Arabia, extreme, brutal, fundamentalist state, where we send them tens of billions of dollars of military aid, and on and on, in ways that are not discussed. That would make sense. It’s easy to preach nonviolence to some victim somewhere, saying, “You shouldn’t be violent. We’ll be as violent as we like, but you not be violent.”

That aside, the recommendation is correct, and in fact it’s been a recommendation of people dedicated to Palestinian rights for many years. Eqbal Ahmad, who I mentioned, 40 years—you know, his background, he was active in the Algerian resistance, a long, long history of both very acute political analysis and direct engagement in Third World struggles, he was very close to the PLO—consistently urged this, as many, many people did, me included. And, in fact, there’s been plenty of it. Not enough. But as I say, it’s very easy to recommend to victims, “You be nice guys.” That’s cheap. Even if it’s correct, it’s cheap. What matters is what we say about ourselves. Are we going to be nice guys? That’s the important thing, particularly when it’s the United States, the country which, quite rightly, is regarded by the—internationally as the leading threat to world peace, and the decisive threat in the Israeli case.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam, Mohammed Suliman, a Palestinian human rights worker in Gaza, wrote in The Huffington Post during the Israeli assault, quote, “The reality is that if Palestinians stop resisting, Israel won’t stop occupying, as its leaders repeatedly affirm. The besieged Jews of the Warsaw ghetto had a motto ‘to live and die in dignity.’ As I sit in my own besieged ghetto,” he writes, “I think how Palestinians have honored this universal value. We live in dignity and we die in dignity, refusing to accept subjugation. We’re tired of war. … But I also can no longer tolerate the return to a deeply unjust status quo. I can no longer agree to live in this open-air prison.” Your response to what Mohammed Suliman wrote?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, several points again. First, about the Warsaw Ghetto, there’s a very interesting debate going on right now in Israel in the Hebrew press as to whether the Warsaw Ghetto uprising was justified. It began with an article, I think by a survivor, who went through many details and argued that the uprising, which was sort of a rogue element, he said, actually seriously endangered the Jews of the—surviving Jews in the ghetto and harmed them. Then came responses, and there’s a debate about it. But that’s exactly the kind of question you want to ask all the time: What’s going to be the effect of the action on the victims? It’s not a trivial question in the case of the Warsaw Ghetto. Obviously, maybe the Nazis are the extreme in brutality in human history, and you have to surely sympathize and support the ghetto inhabitants and survivors and the victims, of course. But nevertheless, the tactical question arises. This is not open. And it arises here, too, all the time, if you’re serious about concern for the victims.

But his general point is accurate, and it’s essentially what I was trying to say before. Israel wants quiet, wants the Palestinians to be nice and quiet and nonviolent, the way Nicholas Kristof urges. And then what will Israel do? We don’t have to guess. It’s what they have been doing, and they’ll continue, as long as there’s no resistance to it. What they’re doing is, briefly, taking over whatever they want, whatever they see as of value in the West Bank, leaving Palestinians in essentially unviable cantons, pretty much imprisoned; separating the West Bank from Gaza in violation of the solemn commitments of the Oslo Accords; keeping Gaza under siege and on a diet; meanwhile, incidentally, taking over the Golan Heights, already annexed in violation of explicit Security Council orders; vastly expanding Jerusalem way beyond any historical size, annexing it in violation of Security Council orders; huge infrastructure projects, which make it possible for people living in the nice hills of the West Bank to get to Tel Aviv in a few minutes without seeing any Arabs. That’s what they’ll continue doing, just as they have been, as long as the United States supports it. That’s the decisive point, and that’s what we should be focusing on. We’re here. We can do things here. And that happens to be of critical significance in this case. That’s going to be—it’s not the only factor, but it’s the determinative factor in what the outcome will be.

AMY GOODMAN: Yet you have Congress—you’re talking about American population changing opinion—unanimously passing a resolution in support of Israel. Unanimously.

NOAM CHOMSKY: That’s right, because—and that’s exactly what we have to combat, by organization and action. Take South Africa again. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Congress began to pass sanctions. As I said, Reagan vetoed them and then violated them when they were passed over his veto, but at least they were passing them. But that’s decades after massive protests were developing around the world. In fact, BDS-style tactics—there was never a BDS movement—BDS-style tactics began to be carried out on a popular level in the United States beginning in the late ’70s, but really picking up in the ’80s. That’s decades after large-scale actions of that kind were being taken elsewhere. And ultimately, that had an effect. Well, we’re not there yet. You have to recall—it’s important to recall that by the time Congress was passing sanctions against South Africa, even the American business community, which really is decisive at determining policy, had pretty much turned against apartheid. Just wasn’t worth it for them. And as I said, the agreement that was finally reached was acceptable to them—difference from the Israeli case. We’re not there now. Right now Israel is one of the top recipients of U.S. investment. Warren Buffett, for example, recently bought—couple of billion dollars spent on some factory in Israel, an installment, and said that this is the best place for investment outside the United States. Intel is setting up its major new generation chip factory there. Military industry is closely linked to Israel. All of this is quite different from the South Africa case. And we have to work, as it’ll take a lot of work to get there, but it has to be done.

AMY GOODMAN: And yet, Noam, you say that the analogy between Israel’s occupation of the terrories and apartheid South Africa is a dubious one. Why?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Many reasons. Take, say, the term “apartheid.” In the Occupied Territories, what Israel is doing is much worse than apartheid. To call it apartheid is a gift to Israel, at least if by “apartheid” you mean South African-style apartheid. What’s happening in the Occupied Territories is much worse. There’s a crucial difference. The South African Nationalists needed the black population. That was their workforce. It was 85 percent of the workforce of the population, and that was basically their workforce. They needed them. They had to sustain them. The bantustans were horrifying, but South Africa did try to sustain them. They didn’t put them on a diet. They tried to keep them strong enough to do the work that they needed for the country. They tried to get international support for the bantustans.

The Israeli relationship to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories is totally different. They just don’t want them. They want them out, or at least in prison. And they’re acting that way. That’s a very striking difference, which means that the apartheid analogy, South African apartheid, to the Occupied Territories is just a gift to Israeli violence. It’s much worse than that. If you look inside Israel, there’s plenty of repression and discrimination. I’ve written about it extensively for decades. But it’s not apartheid. It’s bad, but it’s not apartheid. So the term, I just don’t think is applicable.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to get your response to Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser. Speaking to The New York Times, Eiland said, quote, “You cannot win against an effective guerrilla organization when on the one hand, you are fighting them, and on the other hand, you continue to supply them with water and food and gas and electricity. Israel should have declared a war against the de facto state of Gaza, and if there is misery and starvation in Gaza, it might lead the other side to make such hard decisions.” Noam Chomsky, if you could respond to this?

NOAM CHOMSKY: That’s basically the debate within the Israeli top political echelon: Should we follow Dov Weissglas’s position of maintaining them on a diet of bare survival, so you make sure children don’t get chocolate bars, but you allow them to have, say, Cheerios in the morning? Should we—

AMY GOODMAN: Actually, Noam, can you explain that, because when you’ve talked about it before, it sort of sounds—this diet sounds like a metaphor. But can you explain what you meant when you said actual diet? Like, you’re talking number of calories. You’re actually talking about whether kids can have chocolate?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Israel has—Israeli experts have calculated in detail exactly how many calories, literally, Gazans need to survive. And if you look at the sanctions that they impose, they’re grotesque. I mean, even John Kerry condemned them bitterly. They’re sadistic. Just enough calories to survive. And, of course, it is partly metaphoric, because it means just enough material coming in through the tunnels so that they don’t totally die. Israel restricts medicines, but you have to allow a little trickle in. When I was there right before the November 2012 assault, visited the Khan Younis hospital, and the director showed us that there’s—they don’t even have simple medicines, but they have something. And the same is true with all aspects of it. Keep them on a diet, literally. And the reason is—very simple, and they pretty much said it: “If they die, it’s not going to look good for Israel. We may claim that we’re not the occupying power, but the rest of the world doesn’t agree. Even the United States doesn’t agree. We are the occupying power. And if we kill off the population under occupation, not going to look good.” It’s not the 19th century, when, as the U.S. expanded over what’s its national territory, it pretty much exterminated the indigenous population. Well, by 19th century’s imperial standards, that was unproblematic. This is a little different today. You can’t exterminate the population in the territories that you occupy. That’s the dovish position, Weissglas. The hawkish position is Eiland, which you quoted: Let’s just kill them off.

AMY GOODMAN: And who do you think is going to prevail, as I speak to you in the midst of this ceasefire?

NOAM CHOMSKY: The Weissglas position will prevail, because Israel just—you know, it’s already becoming an international pariah and internationally hated. If it went on to pursue Eiland’s recommendations, even the United States wouldn’t be able to support it.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, interestingly, while the Arab countries, most of them, have not spoken out strongly against what Israel has done in Gaza, Latin American countries, one after another, from Brazil to Venezuela to Bolivia, have. A number of them have recalled their ambassadors to Israel. I believe Bolivian President Evo Morales called Israel a “terrorist state.” Can you talk about Latin America and its relationship with Israel?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah, just remember the Arab countries means the Arab dictators, our friends. It doesn’t mean the Arab populations, our enemies.

But what you said about Latin America is very significant. Not long ago, Latin America was what was called the backyard: They did whatever we said. In strategic planning, very little was said about Latin America, because they were under our domination. If we don’t like something that happens, we install a military dictatorship or carry—back huge massacres and so on. But basically they do what we say. Last 10 or 15 years, that’s changed. And it’s a historic change. For the first time in 500 years, since the conquistadors, Latin America is moving toward degree of independence of imperial domination and also a degree of integration, which is critically important. And what you just described is one striking example of it. In the entire world, as far as I know, only a few Latin American countries have taken an honorable position on this issue: Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, El Salvador have withdrawn ambassadors in protest. They join Bolivia and Venezuela, which had done it even earlier in reaction to other atrocities. That’s unique.

And it’s not the only example. There was a very striking example, I guess maybe a year or so ago. The Open Society Forum did a study of support for rendition. Rendition, of course, is the most extreme form of torture. What you do is take people, people you don’t like, and you send them to your favorite dictatorship so they’ll be tortured. Grotesque. That was the CIA program of extraordinary rendition. The study was: Who took part in it? Well, of course, the Middle East dictatorships did—you know, Syria, Assad, Mubarak and others—because that’s where you sent them to be tortured—Gaddafi. They took part. Europe, almost all of it participated. England, Sweden, other countries permitted, abetted the transfer of prisoners to torture chambers to be grotesquely tortured. In fact, if you look over the world, there was only really one exception: The Latin American countries refused to participate. Now, that is pretty remarkable, for one thing, because it shows their independence. But for another, while they were under U.S. control, they were the torture center of the world—not long ago, a couple of decades ago. That’s a real change.

And by now, if you look at hemispheric conferences, the United States and Canada are isolated. The last major hemispheric conference couldn’t come to a consensus decision on the major issues, because the U.S. and Canada didn’t agree with the rest of the hemisphere. The major issues were admission of Cuba into the hemispheric system and steps towards decriminalization of drugs. That’s a terrible burden on the Latin Americans. The problem lies in the United States. And the Latin American countries, even the right-wing ones, want to free themselves of that. U.S. and Canada wouldn’t go along. These are very significant changes in world affairs.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to Charlie Rose interviewing the Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. This was in July. Meshaal called for an end to Israel’s occupation of Gaza.

KHALED MESHAAL: [translated] This is not a prerequisite. Life is not a prerequisite. Life is a right for our people in Palestine. Since 2006, when the world refused the outcomes of the elections, our people actually lived under the siege of eight years. This is a collective punishment. We need to lift the siege. We have to have a port. We have to have an airport. This is the first message.

The second message: In order to stop the bloodletting, we need to look at the underlying causes. We need to look at the occupation. We need to stop the occupation. Netanyahu doesn’t take heed of our rights. And Mr. Kerry, months ago, tried to find a window through the negotiations in order to meet our target: to live without occupation, to reach our state. Netanyahu has killed our hope or killed our dream, and he killed the American initiative.

AMY GOODMAN: That is the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal. In these last few minutes we have left, Noam Chomsky, talk about the demands of Hamas and what Khaled Meshaal just said.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, he was basically reiterating what he and Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas spokespersons have been saying for a long time. In fact, if you go back to 1988, when Hamas was formed, even before they became a functioning organization, their leadership, Sheikh Yassin—who was assassinated by Israel—others, offered settlement proposals, which were turned down. And it remains pretty much the same. By now, it’s quite overt. Takes effort to fail to see it. You can read it in The Washington Post. What they propose is: They accept the international consensus on a two-state settlement. They say, “Yes, let’s have a two-state settlement on the international border.” They do not—they say they don’t go on to say, “We’ll recognize Israel,” but they say, “Yes, let’s have a two-state settlement and a very long truce, maybe 50 years. And then we’ll see what happens.” Well, that’s been their proposal all along. That’s far more forthcoming than any proposal in Israel. But that’s not the way it’s presented here. What you read is, all they’re interested in is destruction of Israel. What you hear is Bob Schieffer’s type of repetition of the most vulgar Israeli propaganda. But that has been their position. It’s not that they’re nice people—like, I wouldn’t vote for them—but that is their position.

AMY GOODMAN: Six billion dollars of damage in Gaza right now. About 1,900 Palestinians are dead, not clear actually how many, as the rubble hasn’t all been dug out at this point. Half a million refugees. You’ve got something like 180,000 in the schools, the shelters. And what does that mean for schools, because they’re supposed to be starting in a few weeks, when the Palestinians are living in these schools, makeshift shelters? So, what is the reality on the ground that happens now, as these negotiations take place in Egypt?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, there is a kind of a slogan that’s been used for years: Israel destroys, Gazans rebuild, Europe pays. It’ll probably be something like that—until the next episode of “mowing the lawn.” And what will happen—unless U.S. policy changes, what’s very likely to happen is that Israel will continue with the policies it has been executing. No reason for them to stop, from their point of view. And it’s what I said: take what you want in the West Bank, integrate it into Israel, leave the Palestinians there in unviable cantons, separate it from Gaza, keep Gaza on that diet, under siege—and, of course, control, keep the West Golan Heights—and try to develop a greater Israel. This is not for security reasons, incidentally. That’s been understood by the Israeli leadership for decades. Back around 1970, I suppose, Ezer Weizman, later the—general, Air Force general, later president, pointed out, correctly, that taking over the territories does not improve our security situation—in fact, probably makes it worse—but, he said, it allows Israel to live at the scale and with the quality that we now enjoy. In other words, we can be a rich, powerful, expansionist country.

AMY GOODMAN: But you hear repeatedly, Hamas has in its charter a call for the destruction of Israel. And how do you guarantee that these thousands of rockets that threaten the people of Israel don’t continue?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Very simple. First of all, Hamas charter means practically nothing. The only people who pay attention to it are Israeli propagandists, who love it. It was a charter put together by a small group of people under siege, under attack in 1988. And it’s essentially meaningless. There are charters that mean something, but they’re not talked about. So, for example, the electoral program of Israel’s governing party, Likud, states explicitly that there can never be a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. And they not only state it in their charter, that’s a call for the destruction of Palestine, explicit call for it. And they don’t only have it in their charter, you know, their electoral program, but they implement it. That’s quite different from the Hamas charter.

Filed under: Gaza, Israel & Palestine, Web Exclusive




December 2022

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