Noam Chomsky said Tuesday that recent votes in Europe to recognize Palestinian statehood show growing actions by populations to distance themselves from Israel's "criminal actions." The noted noted linguist, author, and critic of U.S. empire added that continued fossil fuel extraction is destroying a future that would allow decent human existence.
Chomsky made the comments to press at the United Nations headquarters ahead of a lecture he was giving on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
For Palestinians, the only "moral choice is to resist occupation," he said, and for Palestinian leadership, "a primary focus" should be "to address the American population." That direction is needed, he said, for the American public to hope to bring about change to the U.S. policy on Israel and Palestine.
"I think there will be no significant progress in this conflict until pressure from the American population induces the government to take a different stance. Every third world nationalist movement—Vietnamese, Nicaraguan, Timorese, whatever it was—have all understood the significance of developing solidarity and support among the American population to the extent that they can influence modification of policy. And I think that's a crucial direction the Palestinian efforts should be directed to, quite apart from actions in the international arena," he said.
Adding pressure, Chomsky said, to the need for a change in the status quo are Sweden's announcement earlier this month that it officially recognized the state of Palestine—the first EU country to do so—and a symbolic vote this week by UK lawmakers to recognize Palestine.
Though the UK vote was symbolic, "it does affect British policy," he said. "It's another indication of the way the populations in Europe and also in the United States to an extent [...] want to distance themselves from the actions that Israel is taking, which are very explicitly criminal actions—there is no question about it."
"They want to distance themselves from those actions, both their criminality and their brutality," he said. In every more democratic society, he added, "sooner or later attitudes of the population can—they may not but they can—influence the direction of policy if there is effort and engagement in that direction."
Sweden's and the UK's actions are "a direction of the way things are going to go," he said, noting that there are over 130 countries that recognize Palestine.
There will continue to be resistance from the Anglosphere—the UK, Canada, US, Australia—described by Chomsky as "settler colonial societies." He asked rhetorically, "Have these societies come to terms with their extermination of the indigenous population?"
But these nations "can't divorce themselves from the world," he said, and added that more actions in the world, like those taken in Sweden and the UK, will add pressure on the U.S.
That the U.S. is again becoming a major exporter of oil will not ignite a shift in foreign policy, he said. However, he noted, this is a disaster for the world.
"We are really playing with fire. Every drop of oil that is extracted from the ground is another blow in the coffin of the human species."
"We're coming pretty close to a precipice where we're going to destroy the conditions for decent existence, and unless most of that oil stays in the ground, where it has to be, the future for our grandchildren is not very bright. This is constantly neglected when you read the euphoria about the fracking and so on." The price of gasoline going down, Chomsky added, is a "catastrophe, not a time for euphoria."