TIM HUONG: Good evening. My name is Tim Huong and on behalf of the Harvard Speech and Parliamentary Debate Society I’d like to welcome you all tonight to “Israel and Palestine after Disengagement: Where Do We Go From Here?” While we as an undergraduate group are usually involved with competitions around the world we are particularly interested in promoting public debate and dialogue on campus, and tonight marks the first of many such events planned for the Harvard community.
Now, the support throughout the entire of the university has been overwhelming, and I’d like to take a moment to thank all our cosponsors. These are the Harvard Students for Israel, The Palestinian Solidarity Committee, The Progressive Jewish Alliance, The Harvard Society of Arab Students, The Jewish Law Students’ Association, Justice For Palestine, Alliance for Israel; and in the Kennedy School of Government, the Arab, Jewish and Muslim Caucuses, Students for Israel, Palestine Awareness Committee, and the Jewish Muslim Dialogue.
I’d also like to give special thanks to Bill White and the IOP Forum staff for their really, frankly, invaluable help in putting this project together for us. And now, I’ll leave it to Brian to introduce the speakers tonight, but, suffice it to say, you’re about to witness a remarkable discussion between, really, truly two of the most prominent thinkers in the ongoing discussion for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
So without further adieu, I am proud, very proud, to present this event tonight, and we hope you enjoy it.
And now it is my pleasure to turn the program over to tonight’s moderator, Professor Brian Mandell. Professor Mandell is a lecturer at the JFK School of Government and he directs the school’s negotiations project.
BRIAN MANDELL: Thank you. Thanks, Tim, and good evening everyone and welcome to the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum.
One of the missions of this school is to train public leaders to think hard about critical issues of the day. Certainly this evening we are going to be addressing, confronting and thinking hard about some of those issues as they relate to Israel and Palestine.
Tonight, our critical issue is–to bring it to point–is “Israel and Palestine after Disengagement: Where Do We Go From Here?” As we know, both parties, Israelis and Palestinians, are shortly headed toward elections. In January for the Palestinians, probably in late March for the Israelis.
Since the disengagement in August, both sides are wrestling mightily with their internal constituents, some on board for peace, some reluctant, some not so anxious at all to proceed with what is still an unknown and uncertain future. But there is a ray of hope if you’ve read the papers in the past couple days: an Israeli-Palestinian Peace soccer team, a joint team, has shown up in Spain. What’s interesting about this is that beneath the rhetoric, beneath the politics, there is a level of humanity in both suffering and hope, that these two peoples will soon join hands and produce a better and a different path. And tonight I think we’re here to discuss what that path might look like.
What I want to do before introducing our two speakers is to make clear what our format is for this discussion. First, each speaker will make a 10 minute opening statement on the topic. Then, for approximately 45 minutes or so I will moderate a question and answer session from you, the audience. We will conclude with two minute closing statements from each speaker. And while I encourage you to ask any question you deem appropriate to Professors Chomsky and Dershowitz–and I include in that tough questions-I also ask for the sake of the audience that you be brief and respect the right of each speaker to respond as well. Please remember that civility is the cornerstone of our democracy, and certainly a hallmark here at the Forum.
Born in Brooklyn, Professor Alan Dershowitz graduated from Brooklyn College and Yale Law School. At Yale he graduated first in his class and served as editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Review. After clerking for Chief Judge David Freslin (sp?) and Justice Arthur Goldberg, he was appointed to the Harvard Law faculty at age 25 (there wasn’t even time for you to join a mid-career program here at the school) and he became a full professor at 28, the youngest in the school’s history. When not teaching students he found time to be one of the country’s most accomplished defense lawyers and authored over 20 books. His latest, The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Solved, has received favorable reviews from former President Bill Clinton and Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross. At Harvard Law School, where he is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Professor Dershowitz teaches courses in criminal law; constitutional litigation; civil liberties; and violence, legal ethics and human rights.
Professor Noam Chomsky: son of a Hebrew scholar, Professor Chomsky was born in Philadelphia. While he acquired his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1955, much of his research leading to his degree was done here at Harvard between 1951 and 1955. In 1955, he joined M.I.T., and in ’61 was appointed full professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics. From his articulate opposition to the Vietnam War in the mid ’60’s, to his book, Manufacturing Consent in 1988, and to his even more challenging text, 9-11, published after the terrorists attack that year, Noam Chomsky has never retreated from taking on the most pressing issues of our day. Professor Chomsky is the Institute Professor of Linguistics at M.I.T., and teaches classes in linguistic theory, syntax, semantics, and the philosophy of language.
Before we begin, and to set the appropriate tone and context for this evening, I’d like us to have a brief look at a short clip from a forum event last year.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, my name is Laura Daghi, I’m a Junior in the college, and I was wondering, as a leader who is internationally recognized in the struggle for peace, what advice do you have for the rising leaders of our generation?
Shimon Peres: First of all, don’t be like us. Be different. You know, personally, I have very little patience for history. I believe that to imagine is more important than to remember.
BRIAN MANDELL: Let me just repeat that so that we have that as the tone and the context for our discussion tonight. And I quote from Shimon Peres: ‘First of all, don’t be like us. Be different. Personally, I have very little patience for history. I believe that to imagine is more important to remember”. So tonight let us imagine what should be the next steps in the process of achieving peace in the Middle East.
For your knowledge, a coin toss conducted by the Harvard Speech and Parliamentary Debate Society has determined that Professor Dershowitz will speak first for 10 minutes. After that, we will go to, directly to Professor Chomsky and then the floor will be open. Professor Dershowitz.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Thank you very much. It’s a great honor for me to be participating in a debate with a man who has been called the world’s top public intellectual. My connections to Noam Chomsky go back a long time. In the 1940s, I was a camper, and he a counselor in a Hebrew-speaking Zionist camp in the Pocono Mountains called Camp Massad. In the 1960s we both worked against the Vietnam War. In the 1970s, we had the first of our many debates about the Arab-Israeli conflict. I advocated ending the Israeli occupation in exchange for peace and recognition of Israel; he advocated a one-state solution, modeled on Lebanon and Yugoslavia. We debated again in the 1980s and the 1990s. I have the text. I hope that our once-a-decade encounter will continue for many decades to come, though I doubt we will agree with each other.
The debate today occurs at a time of real potential for peace. Shimon Peres, Israel’s elder statesman in the peace camp, today quit the Labour Party and announced his support for Ariel Sharon in the upcoming election. Quote: “In my eyes, it is not a problem of parties, but a problem of peace, how to create a strong coalition for peace. The elements are now in place for a real peace.” As I wrote in The Case for Peace, when the Palestinian leadership wants a Palestinian state more than it wants to see the destruction of Israel, there will finally be a two-state solution.
The untimely death of Yasser Arafat makes the two-state solution a real possibility. I call Arafat’s death untimely, because if it had occurred five years earlier, we might now be celebrating the anniversary of Palestinian statehood. Arafat’s decision to turn down the Clinton-Barak plan for Palestinian statehood was characterized by Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia as, quote, “a crime against the Palestinians, in fact against the entire region.” The crime and the death that it needlessly caused can never be undone, but this is a time to move forward and to assure that the crime is not repeated.
The time has come for compromise. My friend, Amos Oz, the great novelist and leader of the Israeli peace movement, has said there are two possible resolutions to a conflict of this kind: the Shakespearian and the Chekhovian. In a Shakespear drama, every right is wronged, every act is revenged, every injustice is made right, and perfect justice prevails, but at the end of the play, everybody lies dead on the stage. In a Chekhov play, everybody is disillusioned, embittered, heart-broken, and disappointed, but they remain alive. We need a Chekhovian resolution for the Arab-Israeli tragedy.
This will require the elevation of pragmatism over ideology. It will require that both sides give up rights. Rights. Giving up rights is a hard thing to do. It will require that each side recognizes and acknowledges the pain and the suffering of the other. And it will require an end to the hateful attitudes and speech that some on each side direct against the other.
Sometimes it’s better to start at the end. The ultimate solution is not as much in dispute these days as is the means for getting there. I believe that even Professor Chomsky and I have the same basic agreement about a number of very important elements of what a pragmatic resolution might look like. Professor Chomsky now acknowledges that the two-state solution may be, quote, “the best of the rotten ideas around.” I’ll settle for that. He also seems to acknowledge that those who advocate the so-called Palestinian right of return are pandering to their people and misleading them into believing that there is yet another weapon, a demographic weapon, that can destroy Israel. I think we both agree that Jerusalem should be divided essentially along demographic lines with the Palestinians controlling the Palestinian population and Israel controlling the Jewish population, that the borders between Israel and the Palestinian state should be based roughly on the U.N. Resolution 242, that Israel properly ended its occupation of the Gaza, and that it should end its occupation of all Palestinian cities and population centers on the West Bank, that terrorism must stop, and that the Palestinian state that results from this peace must be as contiguous as possible, and economically and politically viable.
There remain considerable differences between us and, more importantly, between the Israeli government and the Palestinian authority that must resolve these issues and actually sit down and make peace. Some of these differences are attitudinal. I believe that peace is a realistic possibility, whereas Professor Chomsky apparently believes there is no chance for peace, at least as reflected by the German title of his new book, Keine Chance für Frieden, which translates as No Chance for Peace: Why a Palestinian State is Not Possible to be Established with Israel and the United States. I hope you’re wrong.
Other differences are quite specific, relating to precise boundaries and considerations that are quite important, the devil always being in the details. I strongly believe, however, that there is a genuine will for peace on both sides now and that the pragmatic differences can and will be resolved. And here, I think the academy can play a very important and positive role in fostering peace. At the moment, I’m sad to report that many academics around the world are contributing to an atmosphere that makes peace more difficult to achieve. They are encouraging those Palestinians who see the end of Israel as their ultimate goal to persist in their ideological and terrorist campaign.
By demonizing and de-legitimating Israel in the international community and on university campuses throughout the world, they send a doubly destructive message to those who must make peace on the ground. To the Palestinians, the message is don’t compromise. If you hold out long enough, the next generation of leaders will buy into your efforts to de-legitimate Israel and will give you the total victory you seek. To the Israelis, the message is: Whatever you do in the name of compromise, you will continue to be attacked, demonized, divested from, boycotted and de-legitimated, so why make the compromise efforts?
As I travel around college campuses in the United States, I notice a stark difference. Many of those who support the Palestinian cause tend to be virulently opposed to Israel, comparing the Jewish state to Nazism and apartheid, comparing Shimon Peres to Hitler and Idi Amin, calling Israel the world’s worst human rights violators, and suggesting that Israel should be flattered by a comparison with the Gestapo. These are all quotes, the Amin/Hitler quote from Professor Chomsky, the comparison with Gestapo from Norman Finkelstein. Whereas most of those on the Israeli side tend to be supportive of a peaceful Palestinian state. Put another way, pro-Palestinians tend to be anti-Israel, whereas pro-Israelis are often pro-Palestinian, as well.
It was not the Israelis who scuttled the United Nations’ two-state solution in 1948 and themselves originally occupied Gaza and the West Bank with little or no objection from the international community. That was Egypt and Jordan. It was not the Israelis who turned down Resolution 242 in 1967 with the famous three no’s: no negotiation, no peace and no recognition. As Abba Eban put it, this is the first time in history that the side who won the war sued for peace, and the side that lost the war demanded unconditional surrender. It was not Israel that turned down the generous offer at Camp David in Taba. The Palestinian leadership has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity, but it is not too late for peace now.
I wish to end my opening remarks today by making a specific proposal directed to my distinguished opponent. I propose here today a peace treaty among academics who purport to favor peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I believe that by agreeing to this peace treaty and by implementing it, academics can actually contribute to encouraging a pragmatic peace. I call today for those who have supported the Palestinian cause to stop demonizing Israel, to stop de-legitimating Israel, to stop defaming Israel, to stop applying a double standard to Israel, to stop divestiture and boycotts of Israel, and most importantly, to stop being more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves.
I call on academics who support Israel not to call for a greater Israel, nor to call for a continuation of the occupation of Palestinian cities, to stop being more Israeli than the Israelis themselves, and to join the vast majority of Israeli and American supporters of Israel who favor the two-state solution. If the two elder statesmen of Israel, Sharon and Peres, can place pragmatism before ideology and peace before party and come together toward the center in the interest of a pragmatic peace, then surely two elder statesmen of the American academic debate over Israel, who share this platform tonight, can also make our contribution to the peace process by encouraging those who respect us and sometimes follow our guidance to move closer to the center and closer to accepting a pragmatic, non-ideological resolution of this bitter conflict. Ecclesiastes many years ago said, “To everything there is a season, a time to throw stones, a time to gather stones, a time for war and a time for peace.” This is the season of peace. Let us not let it pass us by. Thank you very much.
BRIAN MANDELL: Thank you, Professor Dershowitz. Professor Chomsky.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Mr. Mandell will confirm, there was an explicit condition for this debate. That is, that neither participant try to evade the issue by deceitful allegations about the other. So, I, therefore, congratulate Mr. Dershowitz on having made a true statement. I was a counselor at Massad. About the rest, there happens to be an ample record in print, or if you like, you can ask a question, but I’ll keep to the topic and the rules.
The topic is: Where do we go from here? The answer to that is largely up to us. Evidently, it requires some understanding of how we got here. The question of where we’re going now has a clear answer. It’s given accurately by the leading academic specialist on the occupation, Harvard’s Sara Roy, as she writes that under the terms of disengagement, Gazans are virtually sealed within the Strip, while West Bankers, their lands dismembered by relentless Israeli settlement, will continue to be penned into fragmented geographic spaces, isolated behind and between walls and barriers.
Her judgment is affirmed by Israel’s leading specialist on the West Bank, Meron Benvenisti, who writes that ‘the separation walls snaking through the West Bank will create three Bantustans (his words): north, central and south, all virtually separated from East Jerusalem, the center of Palestinian commercial, cultural and political life. And he adds that this, what he calls the soft transfer from Jerusalem, that is an unavoidable result of the separation wall, might achieve its goal. Quoting still, ‘the goal of disintegration of the Palestinian community, after many earlier attempts, have failed.’ ‘The human disaster being planned,’ he continues, ‘will turn hundreds of thousands of people into a sullen community, hostile, and nurturing a desire for revenge.’ So, another example of the sacrifice of security through expansion that’s been going on for a long time.
A European Union report concludes that U.S.-backed Israeli programs will virtually end the prospects for a viable Palestinian state by the cantonization and by breaking the organic links between East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Human Rights Watch, in a recent statement, concurs.
There was no effort to conceal the fact that Gaza disengagement was in reality West Bank expansion. The official plan for disengagement stated that Israel will permanently take over major population centers, cities, towns and villages, security areas and other places of special interest to Israel in the West Bank. That was endorsed by the U.S. ambassador, as it had been by the President, breaking sharply with U.S. policy.
Along with the disengagement plan, Israel announced investment of tens of millions of dollars in West Bank settlements. Prime Minister Sharon immediately approved new housing units in the town of Maale Adumim–that’s to the east of Jerusalem–the core of the salient that divides the southern from the central Bantustan, to use Benvenisti’s term, and also announced other expansion plans.
There is near unanimity that all of this violates international law. The consensus was expressed by U.S. Judge Buergenthal in his separate declaration attached to the World Court judgment, ruling that the separation wall is illegal. In Buergenthal’s words, “The Fourth Geneva Convention and International Human Rights Law are applicable to the occupied Palestinian territory and must therefore be fully complied with by Israel. Accordingly, the segments of the wall being built by Israel to protect the settlements are ipso facto in violation of international humanitarian law,” which happens to mean about 80% of the wall.
Two months later, Israel’s high court rejected that judgment, ruling that the separation wall, quoting, “must take into account the need to provide security for Israelis living in the West Bank, including their property rights.” This is consistent with Chief Justice’s Barak’s doctrine that Israeli law supersedes international law, particularly in East Jerusalem, annexed in violation of Security Council orders. And practically speaking, he is correct, as long as the United States continues to provide the required economic, military and diplomatic support, as it has been doing for 30 years, in violation of the international consensus on a two-state settlement.
You can find detailed documentation about all of this in work of mine and others who have supported the international consensus for 30 years in print, explicitly. In Israeli literature, like Benny Morris’s histories, you can find ample evidence about the nature of the occupation. In Morris’s words, “founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers and daily intimidation, humiliation and manipulation, along with stealing of valuable land and resources.” Like other Israeli political and legal commentators, Morris reserves special criticism for the Supreme Court, whose record, he writes, “will surely go down as a dark day in the annals of Israel’s judicial system.”
Keeping to the diplomatic record, the first — both sides, of course, rejected 242. The first important step forward was in 1971, when president Sadat of Egypt offered a full peace treaty to Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. That would have ended the international conflict. Israel rejected the offer, choosing expansion over security. In this case, expansion into the Egyptian Sinai, where General Sharon’s forces had driven thousands of farmers into the desert to clear the land for the all-Jewish city of Yamit. The U.S. backed Israel’s stand.
Those decisions led to the 1973 war, a near disaster for Israel. The U.S. and Israel then recognized that Egypt could not be dismissed and finally accepted Sadat’s 1971 offer at Camp David in 1979. But by then, the agreement included the demand for a Palestinian state, which had reached the international agenda.
In 1976, the major Arab states introduced a resolution to the U.N. Security Council calling for a peace settlement on the international border, based on U.N. 242, but now adding a Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories. That’s Syria, Egypt, Jordan and every other relevant state. The U.S. vetoed the resolution again in 1980. The General Assembly passed similar resolutions year after year with the United States and Israel opposed.
The matter reached a head in 1988, when the PLO moved from tacit approval to formal acceptance of the two-state consensus. Israel responded with a declaration that there can be no, as they put it, “additional Palestinian state between Jordan and the sea,” Jordan already being a Palestinian state — that’s Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir — and also that the status of the territories must be settled according to Israeli guidelines. The U.S. endorsed Israel’s stand. I can only add what I wrote at the time: “It’s as if someone were to argue the Jews don’t need a second homeland in Israel, because they already have New York.”
In May 1997, for the first time, Peres’s Labour Party agreed not to rule out the establishment of a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty in areas excluding major Jewish settlement blocks, that is, the three cantons that were being constructed with U.S. support. The highest rate of post-Oslo settlement was in 2000, the final year of Clinton’s term and Prime Minister Barak’s.
Maps of the U.S.-Israel proposals at Camp David show a salient, east of Jerusalem, bisecting the West Bank, and a northern salient virtually dividing the northern from the central canton. I have the maps if you want them. The current map considerably extends these salients and the isolation of East Jerusalem. My maps are from the leading Israeli scholars, Ron Pundak, the Director of the Shimon Peres Center. The crucial issue at Camp David was territorial, not the refugee issue, for which Arafat agreed to a pragmatic solution, as Pundak, the leading scholar, reveals. No Palestinian could accept the cantonization, including the U.S. favorite, Mahmoud Abbas.
Clinton — we don’t have to debate it, because Clinton recognized that Palestinian objections had validity, and in December 2000 proposed his parameters, which went some way toward satisfying Palestinian rights. In Clinton’s words, “Barak and Arafat had both accepted these parameters as the basis for further efforts. Both have expressed some reservations.”
The reservations were addressed at a high level meeting in Taba, which made considerable progress and might have led to a settlement, but Israel called them off. That one week at Taba is the only break in 30 years of U.S.-Israeli rejectionism. High-level informal negotiations continued, leading to the Geneva Accord of December of 2002, welcomed by virtually the entire world, rejected by Israel, dismissed by Washington. That could have been the basis for a just peace. It still can. By then, however, Bush-Sharon bulldozers were demolishing any basis for it.
Every sane Israeli hawk understood that it was absurd for Israel to leave 8,000 settlers in Gaza, protected by a large part of the army, while taking over scarce water resources and arable land. The same conclusion was to withdraw from Gaza while expanding through the West Bank, and that will continue as long as Washington insists on marching on the road to catastrophe by rejecting minimal Palestinian rights. I’m quoting the warning of the four former heads of Israel’s Shin Bet Security Service. “There are clear alternatives, and if that march to catastrophe continues, we will have only ourselves to blame.”
BRIAN MANDELL: Thank you, Professor Chomsky. In the spirit of discussion of this forum, we are now going to open the floor to your questions. So there are four microphones, one here, one-got it–there, one here in the intermediate stage, and one on the floor directly in front of me. We’re going to proceed as follows, and so I want you to listen carefully to respect the civility of the discourse that I intend to make sure that we follow here. I’m going to ask you to introduce yourself, and to ask just one question, as the dean of our school always reminds people, ‘questions end with a question mark’. And out of respect for all of our colleagues and students here this evening waiting patiently at the mics, I will insist on only one brief question. I would also ask that you, where appropriate, direct your question to one of the panelists. After that panelist responds I will invite his colleague for a brief comment and then we will return to the floor. So that you know what’s coming I will begin over here, go up, across, and then back down.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, my name is Michi Harmon, I’m from Jerusalem and this is a question for Professor Chomsky. I wanted to know if you think that it actually is relevant to dwell upon forming a shared narrative of both sides in going forth towards any solution of peace between us. Is it important for us to actually agree [on] what ’48 represents for one side and what ’48 represents for the other in order to live together in peace in the future?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Yes, I think it’s very relevant to understand history if you want to understand the present.
BRIAN MANDELL: Professor Dershowitz, a comment.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I agree and I think that the history has to be objectively verifiable, and it doesn’t become true because Professor Chomsky says it’s true. There was a two-state solution proposed by the United Nations in 1948, and if the Palestinians had accepted what the Israelis accepted, a small non-contiguous state with “Bantustans”, to quote Professor Chomsky, and instead had not invaded, and if the Egyptians had not occupied the Gaza, something that nobody complained about-it was literally a prison for 20 years-and if the Jordanians hadn’t occupied the West Bank-literally a prison for 20 years, and had the situation gone forward as it was supposed to go forward in ’48, we would not be here. We would have a two-state solution. But, what happened is, it’s clear that the Palestinian and Arab leadership was more interested in destroying the nascent, Jewish state of Israel than in establishing a Palestinian state. That is simply the truth, and there is no way to deny that. And no amount of rhetoric can undercut that reality.
NOAM CHOMSKY: You’ll notice that he starts with 1948 and I’d be glad to discuss that if you like but it’s not relevant.
BRIAN MANDELL: Ok.
NOAM CHOMSKY: I began with 1967 for a good reason. Because it’s in 1967 that U.N. 242 was passed and a framework was laid for peace settlements and since then it’s the way I described.
BRIAN MANDELL: Thank you if we can just…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Well, let me briefly respond only because I was…
BRIAN MANDELL: Whoa,whoa.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I participated in the drafting in a small way of 242. I was Arthur Goldberg’s assistant at the Supreme Court. He drafted 242. He conferred with me and consulted with me. Two-four-two clearly contemplated Israel retaining some of the territories needed to create secure boundaries in 1967. The UN rejected a formulation of Israel returning all the territories, or “the” territories, and kept only “territories”, and as the result of that Israel accepted 242, and at Khartoum, all the Arab states and the Palestinians unanimously rejected 242 and issued their three ‘no’s: no compromises, no recognition, no peace.
BRIAN MANDELL: If we can just…
NOAM CHOMSKY: The truth of the matter is…
BRIAN MANDELL: If we can just, uh…
NOAM CHOMSKY: …easily discovered…
BRIAN MANDELL: If we can just hold there…
NOAM CHOMSKY: …from the foreign relations of the United States which points out that Arthur Goldberg…
BRIAN MANDELL: …Professor Chomsky.
NOAM CHOMSKY: …approached the Jordanians and the others and got them to agree to accept–a qualified acceptance of 242 on the condition that there would be minor and mutual adjustments with no substantial change to the map. There were curved lines and it was agreed that they should be straightened.
BRIAN MANDELL: All right, what you can’t see behind the podium is that both of my colleagues are armed with several dozen maps and that could get…that could get dangerous in this part of the conversation so I’m gonna ask for some restraint so we make sure that we go directly to our participants. Yes, sir.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you. Ken Sweder. I’d like to bring it to the present, and I’d like to ask Professor Dershowitz since this was a major point made by Professor Chomsky, whether or not you believe Israel is ready to negotiate for a contiguous state, not one of three separate Bantustans.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Yes. Now, contiguous depends of course on whether it means contiguous within the West Bank, or contiguous, including a connection between the West Bank and the Gaza. Now, it was the UN that created the lack of contiguity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In fact, the original proposals for Israel required complete non-contiguity. The North was separated from Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, yet Israel accepted a noncontiguous state. Under the Clinton parameters there would be complete contiguity with a circumvential (sic) highway around Jerusalem, much like route 128. It would take nine extra minutes to get from Ramallah to Bethlehem, than in the middle of the night through Jerusalem, because the shortest distance between two lines, taking into account traffic, is not a straight line. Now, there are all kinds of creative proposals for functional contiguity between the West Bank and Gaza, including a high tech rail line recently designed by the Rand Foundation. I have a picture of that in my book. It also looks much like the Danish railroad…a high tech waterway…all kinds of ways of connecting all the Palestinian cities to each other. Under this proposal no point in Palestine would be more than 90 minutes away from any other point in Palestine, including Gaza. It would take 34 minutes to get from Hebron to Gaza City on the rail line. That is functional contiguity. And the fact that the leader of the Labour party for years, has quit his party to join a new party, and the leader of Likud has quit his party, both in the interest of making peace, persuades me-plus an hour I had alone in Israel not so long ago with Prime Minister Sharon, and much time that I’ve spent with former Prime Minister Peres-that the will toward peace is absolute and genuine. Having said that, I also believe the will to peace by Abbas, and many of the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, is genuine too. Thank God Israel has to make peace with the Palestinians, and not with the professors.
BRIAN MANDELL: Ok. A comment from…
NOAM CHOMSKY: Only a brief question. For those of you…
BRIAN MANDELL: …briefly from Professor Chomsky.
NOAM CHOMSKY: For those of you who want to see the maps that lie behind Meron Benvenisti’s and Sara Roy’s and Human Rights Watch and the European Union and other comments I have them here. But there’s a very simple test that we can try. If that’s a valid approach to contiguity for the Palestinian state in 22% of the former Palestine, let’s propose it for the Israeli state…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: It was…
NOAM CHOMSKY: …in 78% of the former Palestine. Let’s ask who would dream of proposing that.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: It was proposed. The Peel Commission proposed exactly that…
NOAM CHOMSKY: Sorry. Now. Now.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: …and Israel accepted it.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah, in 1937. But in a relevant period…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Look you know, when, when…
NOAM CHOMSKY: We’re talking about today.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: …when thousands…
NOAM CHOMSKY: Today…
BRIAN MANDELL: Gentlemen, gentlemen…
NOAM CHOMSKY: …who would propose that for Israel?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: When thousands of people have been killed by terrorism you don’t expect a country to go back to a proposal that was offered and rejected many, many years earlier. Options change when rejectionism sets in.
BRIAN MANDELL: Ok, let’s go to our next questioner.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (unintelligible, off mic shouting)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Coming back to 2005, you mention the connection between…I’m sorry, Professor Dershowitz, my name is Theros Armon (sp?) by the way. You mention the connection between Gaza and West Bank…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Right.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: …but I think to follow up on my colleague, I’m not sure if this is what he meant, what about the pieces of West Bank we’re gonna end up with?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Ok.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Settlements are continuing to be built inside the West Bank, the wall is being built inside the borders of 1967. So now please talk to me about peace, about pro-Palestine when it comes to building walls and actually separating the West Bank from east Jerusalem.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Ok, here is what a Palestinian state would have looked like had Camp David and Taba been accepted. It would be a completely contiguous West Bank with an area that–including Ma’ale Adumim and some of the other areas right side of Jerusalem–which would become part of Israel and would remain within the wall. The ultimate goal is to have a separation fence that is on the border, the accepted border. And I’ll tell you what I think the real options are today. The real options are: if this new peace party wins, if the Sharon-Peres peace party wins, it will offer the Palestinians a very good deal, a deal much like that what was rejected at Camp David and Taba, and by the way, if you think it was the Israelis who rejected it, just ask Bill Clinton. He has told me, Dennis Ross has told me, it was completely in the fault, completely in the hands of Arafat, and that’s true of Prince Bandar as well. But if it gets accepted this time, and if the peace party prevails again, they will be offered something very, very close to that. It will be a viable Palestinian state, much more viable than anything Israel was offered and accepted in ’38 and in ’47, and I think every reasonable person today would urge the Palestinians not to repeat the disastrous mistakes they made in ’48, they made in ’67, they made in 2000, they made in 2001. This time say, ‘yes’, accept the Palestinian state, build it, create an economy, create a political system, and finally peace can be achieved.
BRIAN MANDELL: Thank you, Professor Chomsky.
NOAM CHOMSKY: For those who you would like to see the map, I have it. It’s as I said, from Ron Pundak, the leading Israeli scholar, the head of the Shimon Peres Peace Center. It shows-this is the Camp David map, which Clinton recognized was impossible, which is why they went on to Taba. And it cuts through the West Bank completely. (Referring to Alan Dershowitz’s map) It’s not that. It’s…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: It is this.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Here it is. Here it is. This is Ron Pundak’s map.
BRIAN MANDELL: Ok. Ok.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: That’s…that’s the one the Palestinians…
BRIAN MANDELL: We know that everyone can see them clearly.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Ron Pundak is not a Palestinian. He’s the head of the Shimon Peres Peace Center.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: This is Dennis Ross’ map.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Yes, Dennis Ross was the US negotiator whose word is meaningless. Ron Pundak is…Ron Pundak is the leading Israeli scholar, and if we want to go into why Ross’ book is worthless I’ll be happy to say it. It’s obvious to any reader, it stops right be…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: You know, it’s obvious to you, it’s not obvious to other people.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, I’ll tell you why. It stops…notice that his book stops immediately before Taba. Why? Because Clinton’s parameters, and what Clinton said about the acceptance of them by both sides, and the Taba negotiations, completely undermines Dennis Ross’ book. So he therefore terminates it right before that, and can therefore make these absurd claims. But if you want to learn something about it, look at Israeli scholarship. It’s much more serious.
BRIAN MANDELL: Thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Good evening. I’d like to thank both professors for speaking so eloquently tonight. My name is Josh Susquis, I’m a recent alum of Harvard College, and I’m really glad to be back. I have [unintelligible] question for Professor Chomsky. It seems to me that you left out, in your analysis, the element of violence, psychological and physical, against Israel, against Jews, and it seems to me also that the history that Professor Dershowitz described, a lot of that is dictated by what happened, the terrorism, the wars against Jews, especially considering the immediate history right before the establishment of the state of Israel, the Holocaust and everything that has happened since. So I would like you to address the effect of — the psychological effect and the physical effect of war and terrorism on Israel.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah. That’s half of a very important question. The other half of it is: What’s the effect of war and terrorism on the Palestinians?
Now, if you take a look at — We’re not supposed to talk about that question here, but if you look at them both, you will find that what Benny Morris described is, in fact, correct. The balance of terror and violence is overwhelmingly against the Palestinians, not surprisingly, given the balance of forces, and that’s even true — that’s true right to the present. I mean, for — you know, for decades, Israel was able to run the West Bank virtually with no forces, as Morris and others point out, because the population was so passive, while they were being humiliated, beaten, tortured, land stolen and so on, just as I quoted.
Finally, there was a reaction, and it’s interesting to see the U.S. reaction to it. In the first month of the Intifada — this one, October 2000 — in the first month of the Intifada, seventy-four Palestinians were killed, four Israelis were killed. It’s all in the Occupied Territories. The Israeli army, according to its own records, fired a million bullets in the first day, which disgusted the generals when they learned about it.
Israel, in the first few days of the Intifada, was using U.S. helicopters – they don’t make them – U.S. helicopters to attack civilian complexes, apartment houses and so on, killing and wounding dozens of people. And the U.S. did respond to that. Clinton responded by sending the biggest shipment of military helicopters in a decade to Israel. The press responded, too, by not publishing it, I should add, refusing to publish it, because it was repeatedly brought to their attention. Well, while the ratio was 20 to 1, which is pretty much what it’s been for a long time, there was no concern here. Then, over the next two, three years, the ratio reduced to closer to 3 to 1, and then came enormous concern. About the one, not the three. And this goes back for a long time. What I quoted from Morris is accurate.
BRIAN MANDELL: No follow-ups; a very brief response.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Well, you know, the idea that there is this vast conspiracy between the American media and both Democrats like Clinton and Republicans like Bush, to hide the truth from the American public just does not bear reality. Israel is an open society. Any newspaper can come and cover it. Why would not the newspapers cover these stories? For one reason, they are figments of Chomsky’s imagination and they just never happened.
NOAM CHOMSKY: For those of you…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Now, I want to talk about another figment of his imagination. Chomsky constantly quotes…
NOAM CHOMSKY: Those that want to verify them…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: …constantly quotes Benny Morris, as if Benny Morris supports his position. What happened is: Benny Morris was asked whether or not I accurately quote him in my book, The Case For Peace, and Benny Morris responded as follows: he still holds the views that I attributed to him, that I am right about his views, and that someone could read Morris’s books — this is a quote from Morris — “and arrive at exactly the same conclusions.”
And yet, Professor Chomsky, by selectively quoting and by picking tidbits out of context, knowing that you’re not going to check up on him, tells you essentially that what you believe in the American media, whether it be the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, or the New York Times, is not true. In order to get the true meaning of the world, you have to move to Planet Chomsky, where the news reflects his perspective on reality. Well, I urge you to move to the real world. Read the real news. Don’t read the selective Israeli journalists that he talks about. Listen to Dennis Ross. Dennis Ross actually helped to draw the maps.
BRIAN MANDELL: Professor Dershowitz
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: He was there when I –
BRIAN MANDELL: Okay —
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I have to finish. I haven’t done my two minutes. When he said — when I asked Dennis Ross at lunch today —
BRIAN MANDELL: Okay. It’s a long two minutes.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: — about these maps and what apparently Chomsky would say in response, Ross said, “Ask Professor Chomsky one thing: Were you there?” Dennis Ross was there. He knows what maps were presented to the Palestinians and what they rejected.
BRIAN MANDELL: Thank you. If we could just go —
NOAM CHOMSKY: The head of the Shimon Peres Peace Center, Ron Pundak, who is the leading scholar on this and doesn’t cut it off right before —
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Whoever you quote is the leading scholar. How do we know that?
NOAM CHOMSKY: — right before he is refuted, the way Dennis Ross did, presents – he was involved in negotiations since before Oslo, right through Camp David up to the present, got a long historical account of it. You can read it, if you can read Hebrew; some of it’s in English. The one — all this smoke that was blown had to do with one fact that I mentioned, one, and you can check it, and please do.
In the first month of the Intifada — I’m now using Israeli sources — seventy-four Palestinians were killed, four Jews in the Occupied Territories. The first few days, this is reported in the press here, Boston Globe, Israel was using U.S. helicopters to attack apartment complexes. Clinton reacted with the biggest deal in a decade — check it out. It’s in the public record, not questioned by anyone — to send military helicopters to Israel. There has been a database search of the U.S. — it was reported in Europe. It was reported by Amnesty International. It’s reported in Jane’s Defence Weekly, the main military magazine in the world. There was a database search of the U.S. press, and they found nothing. I know of explicit cases, and I will be glad to tell them to you, where the press was approached and asked just to report the facts.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Why didn’t they? Chomsky, why didn’t they report it? Are they bad reporters? What’s their motive? Explain why the Times or the Post wouldn’t report this great story from Planet Chomsky?
BRIAN MANDELL: Gentlemen, if I could, as —
NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s from Jane’s Defence Weekly, from the international press, and so on. Yeah. They wouldn’t — you have to ask them why they didn’t report it. I’ll give you my opinion. In fact, I’ve written about it.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let’s hear it.
BRIAN MANDELL: Given that the JFK Forum is here for the purpose of creating educated citizens and participants in a very important debate, I would ask each of you to exercise a bit of restraint so that we can have more of our questions from the audience. Please, and identify yourself.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Nancy Murray, and if you want the answer why didn’t they report it, see Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land. Now, my question, getting back to today, and your functional contiguity, I would like to know, have you seen not just the wall, but the eight terminals that are being built?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Yes.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Under your vision, under your compromise, will the terminals be dismantled, will the wall be dismantled, will Jerusalem, East Jerusalem be under the sovereignty of Palestinians, not just under their control, and will the Palestinians have their water resources back, will they have freedom of movement? I mean, is this the kind of vision you have?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Yes.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Is it a genuine one, or are you talking about Sharon’s plan for a so-called Palestinian state?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Well, I can only tell you what my proposal is, and I think it’s a proposal that is today widely supported within Israel, that is, that the ultimate security fence — I have been through not only the terminals, but the most recent high-tech terminal that was just built. I proposed, actually, that the security fence be placed on wheels and constantly be able to be moved consistent with Israeli security needs.
The Israeli Supreme Court ruled last year, and Chomsky misstated it, no Israeli Justice has ever said, and I challenge you to find a statement that Barak has ever said that Israeli law trumps international law. That is simply not true. What he said is that Israeli law enforces international law, but international law is not determined by a body, the International Court of Justice, which excludes Israelis from serving on it, and which will not allow an Israeli ever to be a member of that court. It would be as if a Southern black in the 1930s accepted, as the correct statement of American constitutional law, a decision by an all-white court in a case involving a black and a white man.
No, Israel accepts international law, enforces international law, and the goal, of course, of my peace proposal is that the security fence will eventually be dismantled when terrorism ends, but before that, it would be on the border, the way the Gaza fence is now on the border, and that water rights would be respected. There would be complete and total freedom of movement within the contiguous West Bank and between the West Bank and Gaza.
Even today, Israel has given up control over the Rafah crossing. It now has a video, which it can watch to see as Palestinians, monitor exit and entry through the Rafah gateway. That’s going to be the future. And if there is a will to peace, if there is a desire to make sure that there are two states, not simply one state, a Palestinian state, then all of these issues can be resolved and will be resolved. Israel has shown the will to resolve these issues. Certainly, I support a resolution that gives dignity, gives economic viability, gives political freedom and freedom of movement to the Palestinian people. Yes.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: And sovereignty over East Jerusalem?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: And sovereignty over East Jerusalem.
BRIAN MANDELL: Professor Chomsky.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Let me quote, once again — I purposely quoted Justice Buergenthal, because I know of Mr. Dershowitz’s opposition to the World Court. I therefore quoted the U.S. Justice, not the World Court, who stated that the segments of the wall being built to protect the settlements are ipso facto in violation of international humanitarian law. That’s 80% of the wall. Two months later, Israel’s high court stated, in contrast, that the separation wall must take into account the need to provide security for Israelis living in the West Bank, including their property rights. That’s in direct contradiction to Justice Buergenthal’s separate declaration, unanimously by the World Court.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: That’s right.
NOAM CHOMSKY: And if you would like his comment about how international law — Israeli law supersedes international law in East Jerusalem because…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: That’s not what you said.
NOAM CHOMSKY: …it was annexed to Israel illegally, I’ll be happy to provide it to you. Just send me an email.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: But that’s not what you said.
BRIAN MANDELL: Please hold, let’s go to the next…
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Michael Seviem, I’m a second year student at the law school. Professor Chomsky, it seems like you’ve done a lot of remembering and very little imagining, and Alan Dershowitz’s ideas, if they seem funny to have a train or some type of other high tech connection, at least they’re creative and at least they’re moving us forward. How do you deal with the issues of refugees? How would you connect Gaza and the West Bank? Or is the only solution, in your mind, a one state solution? What would you do about Jerusalem?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, as you would know if you looked at anything I’ve written, instead of…if you would know, if you look at anything that’s written I’ve been supporting a two state settlement since the early 1970’s, in print, and perhaps you can show me some of Mr. Dershowitz’s material in print supporting it. I haven’t found it. But yes, that’s my position since the early 70’s, all in print. As for connections, the issue, recall, at Camp David and at Taba and today, is territorial in the West Bank. Okay? And the current proposals are exactly as I described. Go through the sources I mentioned or find any other ones that you think are serious. Those are the major Israeli and western academic sources, and human rights organizations and so on. Yes, they break up the West Bank into three bantustans as Benvenisti said, with virtually no organic connection to East Jerusalem, which is the center of Palestinian life. That’s why the E.U.–the European Union and Human Rights Watch and others flatly reject them. Now, it is possible-what Israel is in fact doing now, is developing a huge infrastructure system in the West Bank, with highways for Israelis, and paths for Palestinians, so that they don’t have to interact with one another, which means that this network around the West Bank, which will be annexed to Israel roughly 40-50%. People can travel in it in great comfort from the suburbs around Tel Aviv including all the water resources, including most arable land. They can get to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Palestinians will be following paths. Actually I can read to you if you like how Israeli journalists are describing that, and if you’d like to check it out for yourself, I’d suggest sometime that you take what’s officially called the Palestinian Road from Bethlehem to Ramallah, which takes like 10 minutes on the Jewish highway. I’ve taken it. It’s a little winding road, a dirt road that goes right next to a wadi. If it’s not raining you’re lucky if you don’t fall into it. And off in the hill you can see the paths where people are sort of moving. On the days when the settlers are not traveling, the roads are empty ’cause there’s no way to get anywhere. I mean, you go in a broken down taxi cab up to a barrier and then you transport someone who needs dialysis, say, or a pregnant woman, carry them over a ditch and then as you go to another cab and so on. Yeah, that’s a kind of contiguity. And again I say the same thing: if that’s reasonable, then fine. Let’s impose that kind of contiguity on Israel.
BRIAN MANDELL: Hold, please. We have a very brief response.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me respond. First of all, listen to the words. There’s an element of racism in one of the phrases we’ve heard today in describing this as a “Jewish highway”. One point two million Israelis are Arabs. Many of them are Christians. There is no such thing as a Jewish highway in Israel. There are Muslim highways in Saudi Arabia. There are Muslim-only roads in other parts of the world, but there is no road-there is nothing in Israel that is opened only to Jews, even synagogues. Everything is open to Israeli Arabs, every road is opened to an Israeli Arab. When the peace solution is finally proposed, had the Camp David and Taba accords been accepted, the Palestinians would be free to build any superhighways they choose. And indeed, Israel has offered now a superhighway and a super-roadway between Gaza and Jerusalem-I’m sorry, between Gaza and Hebron. And the idea of-it’s very difficult, I acknowledge, how to connect East Jerusalem to Bethlehem to Ramallah and to Jericho will require a challenge, but people are working on it. There are creative solutions being proposed. I am waiting, along with the student who asked the question, for some creative, positive, imaginary, imaginative solutions from Professor Chomsky. All we’re hearing is a recitation of the past and a pessimistic notion of “as long as the American evil empire and Israel are involved, there will be no peace.”
BRIAN MANDELL: Thanks. Let’s go to the next…
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, I congratulate Mr. Dershowitz again for one true statement. They are not Jewish roads. They are Israeli roads. That is, they are roads of the sovereign-well, I’m quoting the High Court-the sovereign state of the Jewish people in Israel and the diaspora. And that’s correct.
BRIAN MANDELL: Thank you. OK.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Oh, that’s like saying that British roads are roads of the sovereign Anglican people.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Fine, and that’s…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I mean, Britain is an Anglican country as well.
BRIAN MANDELL: OK. If we can have your question, please.
NOAM CHOMSKY: I agree to your qualification. They’re Israeli roads.
BRIAN MANDELL: We can…gentlemen…
NOAM CHOMSKY: They’re Israeli highways and Palestinian paths. If you want to create a solution, I mentioned one.
BRIAN MANDELL: Let’s go to the questioner.
NOAM CHOMSKY I mentioned it. The Geneva Accords. The Taba agreements, which Israel canceled.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I accept…
NOAM CHOMSKY: Those are creative solutions.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I accept the Taba agreements…
BRIAN MANDELL: Professor Dershowitz…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: …and I think that many Israelis do as well.
BRIAN MANDELL: We’re gonna focus on this next question.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Then you should explain to Mr. [unintelligible] why they objected to them.
BRIAN MANDELL: Please. We’re gonna focus on this next question.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hello?
BRIAN MANDELL: You are?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes. Hi. My name is Abraham Reeseman. I’m a Sophomore at the college. This is really a question for both of you but I guess I’ll ask Professor Chomsky just ’cause Professor Dershowitz just spoke. It’s sort of funny that we’re all here given that a lot of us have never been to Israel, never been to Palestine, and it’s long been one of the sort of strange paradoxes in world politics that Americans and people the world over can get so enraged about either side when it’s a conflict that many of us will never firsthand experience. Specifically, how would both of you like to see young people like me and a lot of us here, envisioning the conflict in the future, because a lot of us have a tendency to internalize it to a degree where it’s not about people anymore-on both sides. There are people I know who are ardent Zionists, who never go to Israel, who believe in it because they are very religiously Jewish, and all of a sudden it becomes detached from the realities on the ground and there are people who are very pro-Palestinian who are strongly in favor of social justice and economic justice.
BRIAN MANDELL: OK. Thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I’m sorry. Yeah, how do you..?
BRIAN MANDELL: Professor Chomsky.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, my feeling is you should approach it as an American. And as for an American, it is one of the lead issues in the world. Israel is able to do these things, to dismantle and destroy the West Bank, to disintegrate the community, because the United States gives it massive aid, unparalleled in international affairs, not only military and economic, but also diplomatic by, as I mentioned, for the last 30 years, unilaterally blocking the two-state settlement, which Israel also totally rejected, alone, the two of them, and as long as you, the American taxpayer, goes on supporting this, yes, it will continue, and it’ll lead to exactly what the Bantustan-style solution that Benvenisti and others describe, right on the ground and, yes, so therefore, it’s of enormous importance to Americans.
As for solutions, pretty straightforward. They were coming close to a solution at Taba until Israel called it off. Negotiations continued, leading to several proposals of which the most detailed were the Geneva Accords. You can find out what I thought about all of those in print. You can ask Mr. Dershowitz where he supported them in print. The Geneva Accords in December 2002 were accepted by essentially the whole world. Israel rejected them. The U.S. refused even to send a message to the Geneva meetings. But they’re still potentially alive, and American citizens can compel our own government to reverse its program, to accept the international consensus for the first time, and then we’ll be on the way to a solution.
BRIAN MANDELL: Thank you. Briefly, Professor Dershowitz.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I, too, have written about the Geneva Accords in chapter six of my book, and I generally support many elements of the Geneva Accords. I do not support the right of return, that is, the idea that 700,000 or now 4 million Palestinians can demographically destroy Israel.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Which is rejected in the Geneva Accords.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: It is not rejected in the Geneva Accords. It is not accepted or rejected. It is left for future negotiations.
NOAM CHOMSKY: It is left open, because the Palestinians already —
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Now, see how you change your view. First it’s accepted, then it’s left open. What is your next position?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Fine. Let’s be precise. They did not say anything about that, because the Palestinians had already at Camp David and at Taba accepted the so-called pragmatic settlement, which would not affect the demographic character of Israel.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: That is simply false.
NOAM CHOMSKY: If you want to learn about that, read the serious scholarship, like Ron Pundak, head of the Shimon Perez Peace —
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: That is simply false. I can tell you that President Clinton told me directly and personally that what caused the failure of the Camp David-Taba accords was the refusal of the Palestinians and Arafat to give up the right of return. That was the sticking point. It wasn’t Jerusalem. It wasn’t borders. It was the right of return. Now if you believe —
BRIAN MANDELL: Can we move on from there?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: If you believe that the United States has unilaterally rejected the two-state solution — that’s what we heard from Professor Chomsky — that it’s the United States that has rejected the two-state solution, when every modern American president has favored the two-state solution, I say, welcome to Planet Chomsky.
BRIAN MANDELL: OK, if we can hold there…
NOAM CHOMSKY: Now, here’s a simple exercise. You can believe one of two things: the extensive published diplomatic record, which I gave you a sample of and you can find in detail in books of mine and others, or what Mr. Dershowitz says he heard from somebody. Which you can’t check.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: No, or — and check the diplomatic record.
BRIAN MANDELL: OK. Professor Dershowitz, hold.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Check the maps.
BRIAN MANDELL: Sir, your question.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: And read Dennis Ross’ book, which contains appendices which have the diplomatic record.
BRIAN MANDELL: OK.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: What Chomsky is telling you to do, is read the available record in Esperanto. He constantly tells you to read sources he knows you can’t read, because he knows if you check…
BRIAN MANDELL: OK.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: …his sources, they are false.
BRIAN MANDELL: OK, let’s go to the next question.
NOAM CHOMSKY: How many of you are capable of reading…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: They are simply false.
NOAM CHOMSKY: How many of you are capable of reading English?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: He makes it up as he goes along. That’s the reality.
BRIAN MANDELL: OK. Thank you.
NOAM CHOMSKY: How many of you are capable of reading English? Including…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: And if he says you…you don’t find it in the press, his answer is, “It’s not in the press, it’s part of a conspiracy to keep it out of the press”. He can’t lose.
BRIAN MANDELL: Thanks very much. Hey can you guys hold for a sec?
NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s in the documentary record. It’s in the documentary record. Which happens to be quite different from the press…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: You can say that.
NOAM CHOMSKY: …not only on this issue.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: You can say it. But you know, you can cry wolf so many times.
BRIAN MANDELL: OK. It’s important…gentlemen…I think it’s important that we take advantage of your expertise, your many years of wisdom by hearing a couple more questions. Please. You are?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. My name is Todd Silverstein. And I was campaign manager on NATO and special advisor to Prime Minister Barak in Camp David. So I think I know, at least know less than Ron Pundak my friend about what happened in Camp David and in Taba. I am saying it only because I think that what Professor Chomsky said here, a lot of things are inaccurate, even though…
BRIAN MANDELL: Do you have a question?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes. Even though…
BRIAN MANDELL: Please give it.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I think, just before the question, because it’s very important…
BRIAN MANDELL: Please go directly to your question.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: The…the…(pause)
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: You know there was a question before that had about a seven minute prerequisite. This is an expert who was there, who was an eyewitness. I think he should be permitted to precede his question with a one minute point.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I don’t want to go into history and I’m a little excited because you have to understand one thing. I believe we have only one last opportunity to reach peace and this is this coming party and this coming election. Now, my question to you, Professor Chomsky-and I agree with you Israel has done a lot of crazy and terrible things to Palestinians, the Palestinians have done a lot of crazy and terrible things to Israelis, but, let’s say that this new party, after the election, guided by Sharon, is to offer the Palestinians a deal-doesn’t matter which deal-a deal that will be accepted by most Palestinians, would you support this deal even if it doesn’t reflect your views or your ideological views?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, I’m glad to see that you-I assume that you endorse Ron Pundak’s expert knowledge. Correct? I therefore recommend to all of you who read English that you read the summary of his review of all of this in the Journal of the Institute of Strategic and Security Studies in England, and for those of you who read Hebrew, like you, I presume, you read the much longer study that Ron Pundak and Shaul Arieli wrote–it’s on the Ha’aretz Center website–which describes in detail, if you like I can quote it for you. As to what I would accept…
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Ron Pundak was not in Camp David, by the way.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Pardon?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Ron Pundak was not in Camp David.
NOAM CHOMSKY: He was one of the negotiators in the background…
AUDIENCE MEMBER: He was not.
NOAM CHOMSKY: He was one of the negotiators in the background, and he was from…
AUDIENCE MEMBER: He was not.
NOAM CHOMSKY: …He was from Oslo, and his study…
AUDIENCE MEMBER: He’s from Oslo. He was never. He was not even close to Camp David, just for the record.
NOAM CHOMSKY: His study, he was one of the advisors, as you know…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Chomsky says so, it must be true.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Read it–you’re the one who told me you agree with him. If you think not, tell the Shimon Peres center to fire his director. Those are the basic Israeli documents. Furthermore, they’re supported by plenty of others. If you want to know more about Taba, you can read the European Union report, accepted by both sides, which says exactly what I said. As to your question, yes, I already told you the answer. There is a very good solution on the table. It’s the solution that they came close to in Taba before Israel canceled it, and that was then carried forward by high level Israeli and Palestinian negotiators informally, leading to the Geneva…that’s what I’m telling you.
BRIAN MANDELL: Quiet, please.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Leading to the December 2002 Geneva Accords, which are right there. You can read them in English, you can read them in Hebrew, they’re on the web, no problem, look up the [unintelligible] shalom website. That’s a pretty good solution. It’s not perfect.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I didn’t get an answer, sorry.
NOAM CHOMSKY: That’s the answer to your question. Yes.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: No, the answer was, even if it wasn’t your plan…
NOAM CHOMSKY: Pardon?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: …and most Palestinians…
NOAM CHOMSKY: Pardon?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Even if it wasn’t the plan that you think is optimal, or I…
NOAM CHOMSKY: What are you asking?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: …and most Palestinians, because I know most Israelis probably would vote for it, if most Palestinians would vote for it, even if it’s not optimal–and it’s not gonna be optimal, let me tell you–if most Palestinians would vote for it, would you accept it as a [unintelligible]?
NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s not up to me to accept. You asked what I thought.
BRIAN MANDELL: OK.
NOAM CHOMSKY: What I thought is…what I think is, there’s a very simple, creative solution, which happens to be very close to the international consensus, that I’ve been supporting for over 30 years, and that the United States and Israel have been unilaterally blocking. It was reached by high level Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, and though there hasn’t been a vote about it, my guess is that if there was a poll on both sides, the majority on both sides would probably accept it. But that’s totally different from the proposals of the Sharon-Peres party, the Kadimah, or incidentally of Ha’artez’s Labour party so far. So far he simply endorsed the expansionist program that breaks up the West Bank into cantons.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Perfect selective…
BRIAN MANDELL: Thirty second response.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Perfect selective use of Shimon Peres. You know, the Shimon Peres Peace Center. I want to read you a quote from Noam Chomsky. He described Shimon Peres, he described Ronald Reagan at one point, as the semi-divine Reagan, as one of the iconic group of mass murderers from Hitler to Idi Amin to Peres. So, on one day of the week you find Noam Chomsky describing Peres, this great man of peace, as an iconic mass murderer, and on another day he’s quoting the authority of Shimon Peres to make peace. I mean…
NOAM CHOMSKY: Excuse me.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: …where do you stand on Shimon Peres? Is he a man of peace or is he an iconic mass murderer?
NOAM CHOMSKY: He is an iconic mass murderer, and I’ve given plenty of evidence for it, and he is not a man of peace. I did not refer to Shimon Peres. I referred to the director of the Shimon Peres Peace Center.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: So you…
NOAM CHOMSKY: That’s not Shimon Peres.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: But you stick to the argument that Shimon Peres, the man who just joined in to make peace is an iconic mass murderer…
NOAM CHOMSKY: You want me to read…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: …and not a man of peace. I think that says it all.
BRIAN MANDELL: OK.
NOAM CHOMSKY: You want me to run through his record?
BRIAN MANDELL No, I think we…
NOAM CHOMSKY: Including the fact that as late as 1996, he informed the press that a Palestinian state will never happen? And in 1997 he said, “Maybe we can ultimately tolerate it somewhere, but we’re not saying where”? That’s not a man of peace.
BRIAN MANDELL: Thank you. You are?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Amy Levinne, I’m a first year at the Kennedy School. My question is for Professor Dershowitz. You had said that one of the steps in your plan for peace in the future was for the Palestinians to stop their terrorism activities.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: That’s right.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: So my question would be, if you were advising the Israeli government, is there anything about their current strategy and how they respond to these terrorism tactics that you would advise them to change to move forward?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Yes. I would. I do not favor, for example, house destructions. On the other hand, I do think that targeted killings of “ticking bomb” terrorist leaders and terrorists has been quite effective. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of terrorist acts have been prevented, including an attempt to blow up a gas tank outside of Tel Aviv, including an attempt to blow up a port in Ashdod. Tens of thousands of Israelis probably would have been killed but for the intelligence activities and the preventive activities of the Israeli government. I have a book coming out in January called Preemption, where I set out all the parameters of where I think preemptive acts are justified, where I think they’re not justified. I think Israel gets a C+ or a B- in its compliance with human rights in fighting terrorism, which is higher than any country ever has gotten, comparably facing any external threats, and I challenge, in fact, anybody in this room, or Professor Chomsky, to name me any other country which has faced comparable threats of terrorism–comparable external threats–which has ever had a supreme court and an academy which has been more sensitive to the human rights and civil rights of those who would destroy it. I say, C+ / B-. If I were an Israeli I would demand much more. I would demand that it get up to the B+ range, but surely, a much better standard than the United States has followed in Iraq, surely a much higher standard than Egypt or Jordan, surely a much higher standard than France, followed when faced with terrorist threats, and at least comparable and probably better than England when it was facing terrorist threats from Northern Ireland. So, when you make comparisons and you argue that Israel is the worst human rights violator in the world, which is the mantra on Planet Chomsky, one always has to look at comparable factors and comparable countries. It’s not enough to single out Israel and say Israel isn’t perfect. If in fact, you wanted to have divestiture, which Chomsky before he opposed it, favored it, if you wanted to have divestiture, I’d favor it if you listed all the countries in the world in terms of their compliance with human rights and did divestiture in order of their compliance, you would never even get to Israel on that list.
BRIAN MANDELL: Professor Chomsky.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, if you would like to, here’s an exercise for the reader. I won’t waste your time on it. Write a letter to Alan Dershowitz, ask him to cite the source where I described Israel as the worst human rights violator in the world, or even anything remotely like it. If he had ever, if he would ever look at a word that’s written, so he would know, for example, that I was supporting the two state settlement in the early 70’s when he was saying nothing about it and hasn’t until recently, he would also know that I described in detail how the US-Israeli record was considerably better than the US record. But to answer his challenge, there are certainly cases that are much better than Israel’s record. Countries that have suffered far worse terrorism and have not done anything like…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: For example?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, take an obvious case: Nicaragua. Uncontroversial case. Uncontroversial, because much as you hate the World Court, the World Court ruled that the United States was carrying out what it called “unlawful use of force” against Nicaragua. That’s international terrorism in lay language. The case was run by one of your distinguished colleagues, and ordered the US to stop the terrorist acts and to pay massive reparations. The US rejected the court judgment, vetoed two security council resolutions supporting the court judgments, went on to practically destroy the country. The number of people killed in that terrorist attack, translating to per capita equivalents here, would be about 2.25 million. That’s more than the total in all US wars ever. There were no targeted assassinations, and unlike Israel, Nicaragua didn’t even close the newspapers. I mean, Israel has repeatedly closed newspapers-even in Israel, but mostly in the occupied territories-’cause it claims that they have some connection with terrorists. The leading newspaper in Nicaragua right to the end was owned by a supporter of the US terrorist army and was openly on its front pages calling for the overthrow of the government. Occasionally they reduced some of its newsprint. They never closed it. That’s one case, an obvious one.
Take and even more obvious case: Cuba. The United States launched-since we’re at the Kennedy Center, I can point out that John F. Kennedy launched a major terrorist attack against Cuba in 1961, right after the failure at the Bay of Pigs. It was a very serious terrorist war, plenty of documentation about it from the best sources you like, Arthur Schlesinger, Raymond Garthoff, all of you can read that. Major terrorist war, it’s going on right to the present, based in Florida. Cuba has not carried out terrorist actions in the United States. So…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: So Cuba has a better human rights record than Israel on Planet Chomsky…
NOAM CHOMSKY: No, on the issue of…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: …but no where else in the world.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Sorry, on the issue of preemption, which is the one you raised. Yes, you raised a challenge about preemption, and I told you that there are many much better cases.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: No, I didn’t say that. Let me be very clear…
NOAM CHOMSKY: In fact, now, I’ll give you…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me be very clear what I said…
NOAM CHOMSKY: …right now. Israel and the United States are both threatening Iran with destruction. Well, you know, preemption, according to Dershowitz, would require that Iran be carrying out targeted assassinations in Israel and the United States. That’s outrageous.
BRIAN MANDELL: I think we need to hold there. We’re gonna go-this is gonna be our last question of the evening here.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Lori Chrisbuelik, I’m a second year MPP student. Thank you for this lively debate. I have a question kind of directed at both of you, but Professor Dershowitz, in your book, you said you hoped to have a win-win situation, where everyone had to give something up. And what’s clear to me after this debate and just looking at history, that no one is able to come to a resolution where they’re willing to give up enough to the other person. So, it seems to me that the only way to win is to have everybody lose. So I’d like you to comment on a proposal where maybe, if you all lost, we’d actually come out winning?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Well, I think there is a win-win possible situation. Israel has been giving up much. It gave up the Gaza. It, by the way, offered to give up the Gaza to Egypt way back in the early 1980s. Egypt wouldn’t take it back. There was no international outcry over the occupation of the Gaza by Egypt for 20 years, nor was there any international — and I’m sure there must be a long record. Check Chomsky’s writing. He must have in print large opposition to the occupation of Gaza by Egypt and strong opposition to the occupation of the West Bank by Jordan. Funny, I never came across it in my research, but I’m sure it must be there, if you check at least the Czechoslovakian version of one of his writings, and — so, I do think there’s a win-win solution.
The win-win solution is the one I proposed, starting in 1967, and that is, Israel make territorial adjustments necessary to secure its boundary and securities, consistent with Palestinian rights, no occupation of Palestinian cities, a two-state solution. That is a win-win situation.
And let me tell you why I consider myself pro-Palestinian. I am pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian, because I favor a viable, healthy, economically strong, politically democratic Palestinian state. That will be good for Palestine. It will be good for Israel. It will be good for the world.
Israel has a major stake in the success of Palestine, whereas the Palestinians have never had a major stake in the success of Israel. And so, I see a successful Palestinian state, a viable, largely contiguous Palestinian state as a win-win situation, not only for Israel and the Palestinians, but for the United States and the rest of the world. I only hope that Professor Chomsky can join me in agreeing that we’re not going to get a perfect solution. And let’s just advocate a solution that’s acceptable.
The question that was asked before was to me the key question. If the Palestinians accept the solution that Professor Chomsky finds unacceptable, will he use his enormous resources as the most influential intellectual in the world today to turn the Palestinians against this peace proposal, or will he lend his great prestige to urging the Palestinians and his academic supporters all over the world to accept a pragmatic compromise solution. Professor Chomsky, a lot turns on you. You are a very important and influential person. And therefore, you would understand your power and use it in the interests of peace.
BRIAN MANDELL: Okay. Just before I ask one of the most influential intellectuals today to respond to Lori’s question, just to tell you where we’re headed, Professor Chomsky will respond. Then, in accordance with our rule of the procedure and decorum for this evening, I will ask Professor Chomsky to offer a two-minute summary for the evening, to be followed by Professor Dershowitz. Professor Chomsky.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Yes. Well, with regard to my opposition to the Jordanian-Egyptian occupation, there is ample material in print, and there has been for 35 years, ever since I publicly and openly and very prominently supported the two-state settlement, which Mr. Dershowitz says he now supports. I’m glad to hear that. I don’t have the background evidence. Let’s return — and that means, of course, opposing Jordanian-Egyptian occupation.
Let’s turn to the question we were asked to address: Where do we go from here? Well, we actually have two fundamental choices. One choice is to support Washington’s continued dedication to the road to catastrophe that’s outlined by Israel’s four former security chiefs, namely watching in silence as Washington funds the cantonization of the West Bank, the breaking of its organic links to Jerusalem, and the disintegration of the remnants of Palestinian society. That choice adopts the advice of Moshe Dayan to his cabinet colleagues in the early ’70s. Dayan was in charge of the occupation. He advised them that we must tell the Palestinians, that we have no solution, you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes, may leave. That’s the solution that is now being implemented. Don’t take my word for it. Go check the sources I cited, very easy, all English.
There’s an alternative. The alternative is to return to the spirit of the one break in U.S.-Israeli rejectionism. That is, the week in Taba in January 2001, before Israel called it off, and to take seriously the follow-up proposals from high-level negotiators on both sides, of which the Geneva Accords are the most detailed. There is overwhelming international support for taking them as the basis for a political settlement. It does come close to the long-standing international consensus that the United States and Israel have barred, and that I have personally been supporting for the last over 30 years. That’s the road away from catastrophe, towards an end to violence and towards eventual reconciliation. Either choice is within our reach. From that point on, it’s up to us.
BRIAN MANDELL: Professor Dershowitz.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: We do seem to have a remarkable point of agreement. I think we both do agree that the proposals made at Taba do provide a useful basis for a peace process. Now, Taba didn’t end because Israel left. Taba ended because Arafat rejected Camp David, thereby causing the election of Sharon over Barak. There was no government, essentially, that could carry out the Taba proposals, which were favored by a very, very large number of Israelis. That’s why Prince Bandar said to Arafat at Camp David and at Taba, ‘If you reject the proposals at Camp David, you are going to get Sharon instead of Barak. You’re never, ever going to get a better deal.’
Thankfully, he was wrong. Sharon emerged as a man of courage and a man of vision. And I, myself, although I never did support Sharon in the past, strongly support the efforts made by Sharon and Peres, a great, great man of peace, a man who has vision, a man who imagines the future, a man who can bring about peace in the world and peace in the Middle East. And I think the prospects for peace based on the Taba proposals are quite realistic. I think that if this party wins the election and invites the Palestinians to the table, and the Palestinians don’t again miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, there will be a real prospect for negotiation, a real prospect for peace based on pragmatism.
One final word about the sources. Please, the other area where Professor Chomsky and I agree, check his sources. Take him at his word. Go back tonight and Google and read the sources. Read them in English. Read them in whatever language you can, and then email us both as to what the sources show.
And finally, in a constructive and positive way, I urge you: Imagine peace. Imagine the peace dividend that will come to the world if finally a pragmatic solution based on peace comes to the Palestinian people and the Israeli people. I’m hoping for shalom, for salaam, and for peace. Thank you.
BRIAN MANDELL: Thank you. Just before we conclude, and I thank our speakers. I want to share with you in a very few seconds, what I have heard tonight, standing between these two scholars. The first…the first is that in looking around this room, it is clear to me that being members of the international community to which we all belong, whether we have been to Israel or Palestine or to other conflict arenas or not, that people can care deeply about people in conflict, and understand that there needs to be a way through. Secondly, as we heard from some of our questioners, the parties themselves, Israelis and Palestinians, seem to be post-disengagement and in their two election processes quickly approaching a crossroads, perhaps a tipping point where some form of acceptable solution that will involve some part of loss of a dream to both sides will make pragmatism reign. The third thing, in which I’ve been honored to be a part of this discussion tonight, is that academe and the scholarly community matter in this discussion. I have read a great deal of the works of both Professors Chomsky and Dershowitz, and in both of these readings, whether you agree with points of view, challenge their sources is beside the point. What you have been treated to tonight is two individuals who have spent a lifetime thinking very, very hard about some of the most difficult problems in international public policy, and on behalf of this group here tonight, to my scholarly colleagues I am eternally grateful. Thank you for coming.