Thursday, December 29, 2016

Noam Chomsky: Israel's Response to the United Nation's Resolution on Palestine Is 'Hysterical'/Israeli Hysteria Over UN Vote is Solidifying Country's New Status, As a Rogue State

Published on Alternet (

Noam Chomsky: Israel’s Response to the United Nation's Resolution on Palestine Is 'Hysterical'

By Ken Klippenstein [1] / AlterNet [2]
December 28, 2016

   The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution [3] 14-0 condemning all Israeli settlements on Palestinian land as having “no legal validity” and amounting to “a flagrant violation under international law.” The resolution goes on to note that Israeli settlements pose “a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security.”

   This represents the first UNSC resolution in almost eight years [4] concerning Israel and Palestine, and the first in over 35 years [5] regarding the issue of Israeli settlements. Typically the U.S. would veto resolutions critical of Israel, but in this case, the Obama administration opted to abstain, in effect allowing the resolution to pass.

    For comment, AlterNet contacted Noam Chomsky, famed linguist, dissident and professor emeritus of MIT. Chomsky said of the resolution, “The UNSC resolution is essentially the same as UNSC 446, March 1979, passed 12-0-3. The main difference is that then two countries joined the U.S. in abstaining. Now the U.S. stands against the world; and under Trump, in even more splendid isolation, on much more crucial matters as well.”

   Following the UNSC resolution, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly responded by announcing [6] a halt to his government’s funding contributions to numerous U.N. institutions. Netanyahu called [7] the resolution “a disgraceful anti-Israel maneuver” and blamed it on an “old-world bias against Israel.” Furthermore, he vowed to exact a “diplomatic and economic price” from the countries that supported it.

    Shortly thereafter, Netanyahu made good on his threats by personally refusing to meet with the foreign ministers of the 12 UNSC members that voted for the resolution and ordering his Foreign Ministry to limit all working ties with the embassies of those 12 nations. He also summoned the ambassadors to the Foreign Ministry for a personal reprimand over the vote—including, in a highly unusual move, the U.S. ambassador [8].

   Asked about Netanyahu’s response, Chomsky told AlterNet, “The hysterical reaction in Israel and in Congress (bipartisan) reflects their sharp shift to the right in the years since, and the whole incident illustrates quite interesting shifts in world order.”

    Palestinian rights advocates have quipped that Israel’s suspension of relations with the UNSC member nations that voted for the resolution—powerful countries including the U.K. and France—has effectively realized a goal of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. AlterNet contacted Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the BDS movement, to see what he thought of this assessment. Barghouti replied, "This unanimous resolution, despite its many flaws in addressing basic Palestinian rights, has dealt Israel's colonial designs a serious blow that will inadvertently, yet significantly, enhance the impact of the BDS movement in isolating Israel academically, culturally, economically and otherwise."
"Israel's delusional hubris and surreal threats to punish the U.N. and the world indicate above everything else how deeply alarmed it is at fast becoming an international pariah, as apartheid South Africa once was."

   Ali Abunimah, the Palestinian-American founder of the Electronic Intifada, told AlterNet that Israel’s use of diplomatic sanctions against the UNSC member states contradicted its vocal opposition to sanctions advocated by the BDS movement. Abunimah said, “It’s sort of amusing to Israel try to impose sanctions and punish the whole world for this decision…Israel claims that sanctions are illegitimate as a tool except of course when Israel is the one wielding them, whether it’s against Iran or whether against the countries that displeased it.”
Though Israel’s heavy-handed response may concretely impact its diplomatic standing internationally, the resolution itself is largely symbolic and, as professor Chomsky pointed out, a reiteration of an earlier UNSC resolution. However, experts like Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights from 2008-2014, don’t think the resolution’s symbolic nature means it isn’t important.

   As Falk told AlterNet, “The SC resolution at this stage is symbolic. Israel has already announced plans for thousand additional units, and the government has indicated its refusal to comply with the resolution. Nevertheless, it is of great psychological and potentially political support for the Palestinian struggle to end the occupation and achieve a sustainable and just peace. The fact that aside from the United States' notable abstention, all 14 other members of the Security Council voted in favor of the resolution, is indicative of the encouraging reality that the world is not ready to forget the Palestinians, that Israel faces a renewed experience of diplomatic isolation, and that the growing international solidarity movement, including the BDS campaign, will be strengthened and encouraged.”

   Asked how the resolution could move from symbolic to something with more concrete effects, Falk responded, “much depends on the future, and whether the commitment in the resolution to have reports from the U.N. Secretary General every three months on implementation will lead to any tangible results beyond a reiteration of censure remains to be seen.”

  Though the Obama administration’s unusual decision not to veto a U.N. resolution critical of Israel might be start toward accountability, many Palestinian rights advocates remain cynical about Obama. Abunimah told AlterNet, “Obama has done more than any other president in history to assure Israel’s impunity.”

   “When Obama was president-elect, Israel was engaged in this massacre in Gaza in 2008, 2009. When Obama came in he blocked any form of international accountability, trashed the Goldstone report which was the independent U.N. inquiry. The same in 2014 when Israel attacked Gaza, Obama actually rearmed Israel while the bombs were falling on Gaza and then of course the same story of blocking any form of international accountability. And …giving Israel this unconditional boost in military aid—a minimum of $3.8 billion [per year] over the next 10 years, up from $3.1 billion [per year] currently.”

Ken Klippenstein is an American journalist who can be reached on Twitter @kenklippenstein [9] or via email: [10]



Published on Portside (

Israeli Hysteria Over UN Vote is Solidifying Country’s New Status, As a Rogue State

Philip Weiss

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

   President Obama’s decision to allow passage of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal has done more to change the shape of the conflict than any other action in the last ten years, even than Israel’s massacres in Gaza. He has nudged Israel, and the media, toward recognition of the country’s new status, as a rogue state; he has split the Israel lobby right down the middle, or down the side anyway; and he has given huge impetus to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).

   That is why Israeli leaders are going crazy this weekend, flinging accusations against the president on the cable networks and national news too. Because what Obama did is so meaningful.

   Israel’s supporters long claimed that Israel only makes progress if you embrace it and tell Israel you love it. (Dennis Ross says this all the time.) Obama heeded that advice for years and got nothing. Now he has made one gesture against Israel, and the progress in a few days is amazing.

   The media are talking about settlements as never before. Every time I turn on National Public Radio, I hear a story about the settlements. It is about time our country talked about the occupation, as it approaches its jubilee year. And any reasonable person hearing this discussion accepts the simple truth of the U.N. resolution: Israel should not have transferred its population into territories conquered by war. It has destroyed the two-state solution by colonizing the 22 percent of the original territory that the two-state solution treated as Palestinian.
The hysteria against the resolution from Israeli leaders is a reminder to even-moderately-well-informed Americans of ideas that were once heresies but are now hardening into public attitudes here: We give these people tens of billions of dollars and they act like spoiled brats. They have ignored our presidents’ warnings [1] for decade after decade and thumbed their noses at critics because they have the powerful Israel lobby at their beck and call.

   Now the country is exposed as never before for Americans, and guess what– the place is haywire! Their prime minister is having a tantrum about American betrayal [2] and non-friendship at his Cabinet meeting, even as they take our $38 billion. His chief diplomat berates President Obama and Ben Rhodes [3] as liars on MSNBC, and does small talk about the Miami Dolphins. These people don’t have a clue: the entire world is against them; the vote was 14-0-1.

   Obama’s Failure to Veto signals to Americans that U.S. policy is not going to be dictated by the Israel lobby any more, or at least this once. Certainly the lobby is now split. The centrist and right wing groups that dominate the leadership are all appalled by Obama’s decision and issuing denunciations. The ADL [4] is “outraged” and “incredibly disappointed,” the Conference of Presidents and AIPAC are boiling. The Trump-addled Zionist Organization of America is accusing [5] our president of anti-Semitism.

   But liberal Zionist groups have never been so happy. Peace Now, the New Israel Fund, and J Street are supporting President Obama. They do so because their own base is highly critical of Israel– American Jews overwhelmingly support action against settlements– and because the Democratic Party base is even further to the left; and so Israel has become a partisan issue at last, with real debate.

   The potential loss of the lobby’s uniform support is what so animates the Israeli political classes right now. As Shmuel Rosner rightly observes [6], echoing Walt and Mearsheimer of 10 years ago, America is all that Israel has. Its entire foreign policy is a domestic policy: pressure tactics carried out by the lobby on American politicians and media, resulting in a uniformly-supportive policy. Those pressure tactics having failed, Israelis are in full crisis mode.

   These people are hysterical for a good reason. They are losing the most important thing they have to maintain the status quo of Jewish supremacy and apartheid, an order that serves the bulk of Israeli society.

   They know that Obama’s defection could have great consequences. It could lead to Palestinian actions in international fora. It will give enormous encouragement to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, because Obama’s action is perceived by Israel’s supporters as a mild form of BDS– so why not try the hard stuff?

   The consequences are already evident in Israeli society. The Jewish left is correctly accusing the right of isolating Israel. “Bibi” is now BBDS, per a liberal messaging campaign. The right seems determined to isolate Israel even more. Several rightwing Israelis are speaking out [7]against Netanyahu.

  A shakeup is happening inside Israeli Jewish society and its political structure that might actually change the country’s direction. It has long been my bet that an Israeli leader is going to emerge who says, “World, we hear you. We are making changes.” I believe that day is approaching more rapidly than people think, and Obama can claim some of the credit. (Though what effect those changes will have is a different question.)

  The questions for students of US politics are: How will Trump change Obama’s orientation? And why didn’t Obama act sooner?

   Obama vetoed a similar resolution in 2011 because of the Israel lobby; because he was being hounded by establishment Jewish voices who were saying that he was being too tough on Israel, and he could not afford to ignore them as he approached his reelection year. It’s that simple. Presidents take actions in their final months because they finally have some political autonomy.

   As for Trump, he also can claim credit for the UN Resolution. If he had not won and not appointed David Friedman, a settler hero, to be his ambassador to Israel, and Steve Bannon, a white nationalist, as a White House strategist, we would be seeing an entirely different political terrain. Hillary Clinton would be the president-elect, and her traditional/conservative Democratic/Jewish establishment fear of alienating her megadonor Haim Saban would have caused President Obama to veto the resolution in the name of continuity. The lobby would be coalescing around right-centrist articles of faith, such as: Settlements are an obstacle to peace, but that’s all. As it is, Saban, and the Democratic Party’s dependence on rich elites, is blamed for the election debacle; and Saban has lost influence.
But will Trump reverse Obama’s actions re settlements? I don’t know. His tweets have actually been careful on this subject; suggesting that he might take Obama’s side against the spoiled child of Israel. Whatever Trump does, the lobby will continue to fragment. That is the larger process at work, and it is good news for Americans and Israelis and Palestinians.

Thanks to Yakov Hirsch, Scott Roth, and Adam Horowitz. 

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of - See more at: [8]


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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