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American Linguist Noam Chomsky: 'Hitler was Unique... But We Should Recognize Similarities in Planning, Policies, and Thinking'

May 31, 2006 - No. 1178

On a visit to Lebanon during the week of May 14, 2006, American linguist Prof. Noam Chomsky of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology met with Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. Chomsky also spoke at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Center for American Studies and Research at the American University of Beirut. [1]

During the visit, Chomsky gave interviews to various media outlets. The following are excerpts from an interview with LBC TV, that aired on May 23, 2006.

TO VIEW THIS CLIP, VISIT: http://www.memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=1152.

"The Term Terrorism is Used by the Great Powers... [for] Forms of Violence of Which They Disapprove"

Interviewer: "Do you consider Hizbullah to be a terrorist organization?"

Chomsky: "The United States considers Hizbullah a terrorist organization, but the term terrorism is used by the great powers simply to refer to forms of violence of which they disapprove. So the U.S. was of course supporting the Israeli invasions and occupation of southern Lebanon. Hizbullah was instrumental in driving them out, so for that reason they are a terrorist organization."


"It's an interesting dilemma. Personally, I'm very much opposed to Hamas' policies in almost every respect. However, we should recognize that the policies of Hamas are more forthcoming and more conducive to a peaceful settlement than those of the United States or Israel. So to repeat: The policies, in my view, are unacceptable, but preferable to the policies of the United States and Israel.

"So, for example, Hamas has called for a long-term indefinite truce on the international border. There is a long-standing international consensus that goes back over 30 years that there should be a two-state political settlement on the international border, the pre-June 1967 border, with minor and mutual modifications. That's the official phrase. Hamas is willing to accept that as a long-term truce. The United States and Israel are unwilling even to consider it.

"The Hamas is being... The demand on Hamas by the United States and the European Union and Israel... The demand is first that they recognize the State of Israel. Actually, that they recognize its right to exist. Well, Israel and the U.S. certainly don't recognize the right of Palestine to exist, nor recognize any state of Palestine. In fact, they have been acting consistently to undermine any such possibility.

"The second condition is that Hamas must renounce violence. Israel and the United States certainly do not renounce violence.

"The third condition is that Hamas accept international agreements. The United States and Israel reject international agreements."

Hamas's Positions are "The Least Unacceptable"

Chomsky: "So, though the policies of Hamas are, again in my view, unacceptable, they happen to be closer to the international consensus on a political peaceful settlement than those of their antagonists, and it's a reflection of the power of the imperial states - the United States and Europe - that they are able to shift the framework, so that the problem appears to be Hamas' policies, and not the more extreme policies of the United States and Israel.

"And remember... We must remember that in their case it's not just policies. It's not words - it's actions."


"So if we compare the positions of the two sides, all are unacceptable, but those of Hamas are the least unacceptable. So framing the issue this way is a reflection of the power of the Western states to impose the framework of discussion. It's not something we should accept."


"On September 11, 1973 - There was an Even Worse Terrorist Attack" in Chile

Chomsky: "As far as September 11th is concerned, I take the position that I have written, continued to... It was, as I wrote immediately, it was one of the most horrifying terrorist atrocities ever. It's probably the single worst terrorist atrocity, a horrendous crime.

"But we should recognize that in the scale of terrorist actions, it is not unusual. It's... In fact, in Latin America it's often called the second 9/11. Not 9/11. The reason is that on 9/11 - on September 11, 1973 - there was an even worse terrorist attack. In fact, to translate it... Let's just imagine... September 11th, 2001 was bad enough, but suppose what had happened was this: Suppose that Al-Qaeda had succeeded in attacking the White House, killing the president, installing military dictatorship, a regime of terror and violence..."

Interviewer: "What happened then?"

Chomsky: "...which killed 50-100... Pardon?"

Interviewer: "What happened then?"

Chomsky: "Let's continue. Suppose that they had killed 50,000-100,000 people, tortured 700 thousand, installed a terrorist apparatus that was functioning all over the world to overthrow governments, carry out assassinations, and so on. Suppose that had happened on September 11th.

"Well, in fact, it did. That's what happened on September 11th, 1973, in Chile. The only change I've made is to change the numbers to per capita equivalence. Well, that would have been vastly worse than what actually happened, but it did happen. That was the U.S.-backed installation of a military dictatorship in Chile, which overthrew and destroyed the oldest democratic system in Latin America. That's only one example. There are many others.

"So for example... Yes, September 11th, 2001 was a terrible atrocity. In the West it's considered unique, and it is in a sense unique. It's the first time in hundreds of years that massive terrorism was directed against the West. However, the West is the source of far worse terrorism and violence directed against others.

"Yes, we should recognize what happened on September 11 as a crime, as an atrocity, and place it in the context of history."

"The Main Terrorists are the Ones Who Carry Out the Acts in Washington"

Chomsky: "Now, the commissar class in the United States, of whom David Horowitz is an example, do not want that picture to be presented. Just as their counterparts in the Soviet Union didn't want it to be presented."


"The first achievement of George Bush after 9/11 was to attack Afghanistan. Let's take a look at what happened. The attack on Afghanistan was carried out for one explicit reason, because the war aim was stated explicitly. According to George Bush, any state that harbors terrorists is a terrorist state, and must be treated accordingly, by bombing and invasion.

"It follows from that that George Bush is calling for the bombing of the United States. The United States harbors terrorists, violent terrorists, who are regarded by the FBI and the Justice Department as terrorists.

"One of the worst of them is Orlando Bosch, an anti-Cuban terrorist, accused by the FBI of about thirty acts of terrorism, some in the United States: The blowing up of the Cubana airliner, killing 73 people... This is part of the 45-year U.S. terrorist war against Cuba. His father, George Bush I, gave Bosch a presidential pardon, so that he could remain in the United States, over the objections of the Justice Department, which regarded him as a threat to U.S. national security. And I can go on from there. But the main terrorists are the ones who carry out the acts in Washington."


"Hitler was Unique... But We Should Recognize Similarities in Planning, Policies, and Thinking"

Interviewer: "You are a Jew, and you present yourself as having been a Zionist activist in your youth. Nevertheless, you are accused of anti-Semitism. Briefly, what do you have to say in your defense?"

Chomsky: "Well, actually, that notion has origins in the Bible, and I'm happy to accept the criticism. The origins in the Bible are King Ahab, who was the epitome of evil in the Bible, and he condemned the prophet Elijah for being a hater of Israel. The reason Elijah was a hater of Israel was because he was criticizing the acts of the evil king, and the king, like totalitarians throughout history, identified the state - himself - with the people, the country, and the culture. So if you criticize state policy, you are a hater of Israel or a hater of America, or a hater of Russia or any other country like... So yes, I'm delighted to be in that company."

Interviewer: "But don't you think it natural that when you compare the Israeli actions and the Israelis to Hitler, it is only natural that you are labeled an anti-Semite?"

Chomsky: "I have never described Israeli policies as being like Hitler, or anyone else's policies as being like Hitler. Hitler was unique. It's a historically unique, hideous, development in human affairs. I don't think anyone is like it.

"On the other hand, I do say that some of the policies announced happen to be very similar to those of Hitler. So Hitler's quoted remarks when he took over Czechoslovakia - they are familiar from every other great power, and we should recognize that.

"That's not to say that everyone else is committing the Holocaust. No, of course they're not. That was unique. But we should recognize similarities in planning, policies, and thinking, when they are real."

[1] MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1165, "U.S. Linguist Noam Chomsky Meets With Hizbullah Leaders in Lebanon," May 16, 2006, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP116506.

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