On Monday, over 2,000 people packed into Riverside Church in Manhattan to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Democracy Now! It was an historic occasion in part because it marked the first time Noam Chomsky and Harry Belafonte appeared on stage together in conversation. The two have been longtime champions of social justice. Chomsky is a world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author who gained fame in the 1960s for his critique of the Vietnam War and U.S. imperialism. He is institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught for more than 50 years. Harry Belafonte is a longtime civil rights activist who was an immensely popular singer and actor. He was one of Martin Luther King’s closest confidants and helped organize the March on Washington in 1963.
Secretary of State John Kerry has blasted Israel’s government, saying in a major address on Wednesday that the relentless expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank threatens Israel’s democracy and has all but ended the prospect of a two-state solution with the Palestinians. “If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or Democratic; it cannot be both,” Kerry said. “And it won’t ever really be at peace.” Kerry’s speech followed intense Israeli criticism of the U.S. for refusing to veto a Security Council resolution last week. The measure condemns Israel’s expansion of settlements as a flagrant violation of international law. The resolution passed in a 14-0 vote. The U.S. abstained. We speak to Palestinian attorney Diana Buttu and Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, a Haaretz columnist.
In a speech titled “On Power and Ideology” delivered at The New School for Social Research in Manhattan on Saturday, world-renowned political dissident Noam Chomsky discussed the persistent notion of U.S. exceptionalism, Republican efforts to torpedo the Iran nuclear deal, and the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations.
In clips broadcast by “Democracy Now!”, Chomsky explained why he believes the U.S. poses the greatest threat to world peace.
“[The United States] is a rogue state, indifferent to international law and conventions, entitled to resort to violence at will. … Take, for example, the Clinton Doctrine—namely, the United States is free to resort to unilateral use of military power, even for such purposes as to ensure uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic resources—let alone security or alleged humanitarian concerns. And adherence to this doctrine is very well confirmed and practiced, as need hardly be discussed among people willing to look at the facts of current history.”
Chomsky also explained why he believes the U.S. and its closest allies, namely Saudi Arabia and Israel, are undermining the possibility for peace in the Middle East.
“When we say the international community opposes Iran’s policies or the international community does some other thing, that means the United States and anybody else who happens to be going along with it.”