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News :: Human Rights : International : War and Militarism
Noam Chomsky Speaks on the Middle East at BU
09 Dec 2009
On Tuesday December 8th, noted linguist and anarchist Noam Chomsky spoke at Boston University's Jacob Sleeper Auditorium. The subject of his talk was "Obama, the Middle East and the Prospects for Peace." The event was promoted by the BU School of Education and Axis of Hope Center for International Conflict Prevention.
The main theme of the talk was the vast difference between the rhetoric of the US government and its actions. On a range of subjects connected to the Middle East, Chomsky showed how the US preaches peace and reason, but does the exact opposite. A prime example is nuclear non-proliferation. Chomsky pointed out that while the US demonizes Iran for its civilian nuclear program, the three nuclear armed nations that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- Israel, India and Pakistan -- all received nuclear weapons technology from the US.

Chomsky also mentioned the role of the corporate media in maintaining the illusion of US benevolence, pointing out that they had ignored Brazilian president Lula's defense of Iran and comparing that to the likely outcry if the same defense had been offered by Hugo Chavez. Lula is considered an ally of the US.

Chomsky did make one statement that seemed dubious. When speaking about George Mitchell's record as a peace keeper in Northern Ireland he claimed that the British had begun serious negotiations after finally recognizing that the IRA was a product of legitimate grievances. To say the least, there are competing theories. In his book Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb, historian Mike Davis writes about the IRA bombings of London's financial center in the early nineties that almost bankrupted the British insurance industry. That seems far more likely to have brought the British to the table than a sudden concern for Irish grievances after 400 years.

After the speech Chomsky took questions from the audience. One woman asked what should be done about Iranian sponsorship of terrorist groups. Chomsky replied that the two groups Iran is usually accused of funding are Hezbollah and Hamas, and that it would be a mistake to take the mainstream media's word that those groups were terrorists. He also pointed out that Hezbollah and Hamas were defending Lebanon and the Gaza strip against illegitimate attacks from the US and Israel, and that compared to the terrorism committed by the US both groups were "a toothpick on a mountain."

This was Chomsky's second talk in the Boston area this week. The first, originally to be held at the Eliot Church in Newton on Sunday, was moved at the last minute to the Church of the Good Sheperd in Watertown after the Eliot Church caved in to political pressure and canceled it.

This work is in the public domain
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