August 24, 2007.
SG: Is it true that Nasrallah and several other important Middle East persons maintain that Israel has no right to exist? Is this only a mischaracterization by pro-Israeli press?
NC: No state claims a right to exist (except Israel). There is no such concept in international law. States are recognized, but not their right to exist. Mexico recognizes the US, but not its abstract “right to exist,” sitting on half of Mexico, conquered by aggression. To the best of my knowledge, the concept “right to exist” was invented in the 1970s to establish an impassable barrier for negotiations after the Arab states and the PLO had accepted the wording of UN 242, and the only way to block diplomacy was by a US veto or setting conditions that couldn’t be met. There isn’t the slightest reason why the Palestinians should accept the legitimacy of their expulsion, though they made it clear long ago that they would recognize Israel, much to the discomfiture of the leading rejectionists, the US and Israel. As for Hezbollah, its official position has been that if Palestinians accept a two-state solution, Hezbollah will go along. The US and Israel are alone among relevant actors in rejecting the international consensus on a two-state settlement.
SG: Do Arabs in Israel have more civil rights than Jews do in most Arab states or about the same as Jews have in those states? Is Israel more democratic?
NC: It’s impossible to answer because citizens have very few rights in the Arab dictatorships that the US supports. In the few Arab democracies, like Lebanon, Jews have about the same rights as everyone else, to my knowledge. Unlike Palestinians in Israel.
SG: If we focus only on proximate cause and not on background conditions, is it true that Hezbollah’s 2006 attack on Israel initiated war?
NC: If you cut the time frame narrowly enough, one could say that — putting aside the fact that the capture of soldiers can hardly be regarded as an act of war. If it is, then kidnapping and killing of civilians is far worse, and Israel has been doing that in Lebanon and the high seas for decades, but if anyone had demolished much of Israel in retaliation, we’d speak of a revival of Nazism. Western hypocrisy on this matter rises to the heavens.
SG: Is it true that Arab nations have refused to accommodate displaced Palestinians?
NC: They are part of Jordanian society, for the most part, also in some other Arab states, but not in Lebanon, where they are mostly in camps. The idea that Arab nations had some responsiblity to accommodate Palestinians is rather odd to begin with. No Western state accepts the comparable responsibility, or even greater responsibilities, like accepting refugees from terror states that they support. How has the US treated Haitian refugees, for example? The Zionist (and mostly Western) assumption has always been that Palestinians are Arabs, and could be just as happy anywhere else, so transfer is just. By the same logic, it would be fine for Iran to conquer the US, and drive out the population, who could go live in Europe.
This correspondence is all that is left from some questions I had put to Chomsky in an earlier letter about a certain film. Sorry but I do not recall the film. I had asked him whether he had seen it and he said he hadn’t but asked me whether it was intended as propaganda. In reply to that, I said, “…as I understand the term, propaganda is not necessarily a bad thing. It merely signifies the promotion of an idea by non-neutral means.” This response suggests to me that it was a pro-Israeli film.