By Dirlik, John
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs , Vol. XI, No. 5
Chomsky Labels Oslo Accords "Triumph of U.S. Indoctrination System"
By John Dirlik
Dissident political analyst Noam Chomsky describes the much-lauded Declaration of Principles signed two years ago by Israel and the PLO as offering the Palestinians something "similar to the apartheid" of early South Africa. Chomsky cites the euphoria surrounding the accords as evidence of the "triumph of the American indoctrination system."
Speaking on the "New World Order" to packed auditoriums on consecutive nights at Concordia and McGill Universities in Montreal, Chomsky reminded his audiences that the U.S. and Israel had stood alone for decades against the entire world, which supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Now, welcoming the Oslo accords, the international community has reversed itself by a deal that rejects Palestinian statehood. "The U.S. has imposed its wishes so fully that it [Oslo] is universally described as a great achievement for diplomacy," said Chomsky. He described this as both a "very successful power play of U.S. policy" and an "achievement of propaganda that has to be admired."
Chomsky noted that even the usually independent European media succumbed to American indoctrination, citing among several newspaper headlines one in the Manchester Guardian that read: "Israel agrees to quit West Bank." That's "not even remotely true," said Chomsky. "They agreed to quit about a quarter of the West Bank."
Chomsky took to task not only Western media and journals of opinion but also the scholarly publications for completely ignoring Middle East history and portraying the Oslo accords as agreements born of compromises and concessions.
"The rational way to evaluate whether a compromise was made is to look at the positions of the two sides that allegedly have made the compromises," Chomsky said. "The PLO side has had various ambiguities and internal contradictions, but there's one feature that's been pretty clear for about 20 years, and that's been a broad consensus on some kind of two-state settlement."
The Israeli position since 1968 has been very consistent, according to Chomsky, and is that Israel "should keep parts of the occupied territories, namely, the parts it wants, and it should relinquish the Palestinian population centers because Israel plainly doesn't want the burden of administering them." This vision, clearly spelled out in various Israeli proposals, was later "supplemented with fertile ideas of cantonization--small locally run [Palestinian] sectors separated from one another and surrounded and controlled by Israeli power."
Chomsky pointed out that since the Oslo accords were signed, "settlements have gone up about 10 percent, the land integrated under Israeli control has risen from 65 percent to 75 percent, and the structures of the settlements and the cantons have been instituted." He compared the post-Oslo situation to the apartheid system in South Africa during the 1950s, saying that for the Palestinians "it's not like the end of apartheid, it's like the beginning of it." According to Chomsky, the Oslo accords not only actualized long-standing Israeli goals, but in some ways went further, since they are "more or less the Sharon plan, the extremist position which went well beyond the early [Israeli] proposals."
Although he regarded the Israel-PLO deal as simply the implementation of Israeli policy, Chomsky stressed this was made possible only because of American compliance. "Nothing would have happened without U.S. support," he said, "so it's basically U.S. policy."
Chomsky convincingly argued that firmly entrenched American military and ideological dominance following the Gulf war prompted the Europeans to abandon their support for a two-state solution. …