Chomsky: “You have human rights to the extent that you serve power”

Legendary scholar and dissident Noam Chomsky gave a speech at the Palestine Cultural Center for Peace in Boston on 21 January 2009 — mere days after the end of Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, in which the close US ally used banned chemical weapons like white phosphorous on Palestinian civilians.

Chomsky detailed how Israel is an extension of US imperialism, not vice-versa.

He also explained how the discourse around human rights invariably serves power. Victims of US empire hardly have any human rights at all, while the human rights of allies of US empire must always be protected.

You have human rights to the extent that you serve power.

So Palestinians have no human rights, because they perform no service to US power. Israel has massive human rights, because it performs massive services. …

Israel provides a major military base for the United States, right at the edge of the most crucial region of the world, the oil-producing region.

And it’s not just a place to store things. It also has a very powerful military force of its own, thanks to its alliance with the United States. Believe it or not, the Israeli air force and armed forces are larger and technologically more advanced than any NATO power, outside the US. …

Small countries hire mercenaries; big countries, like ours, hire mercenary states.

This argument holds true for not just Israel-Palestine, but also for the Gulf regimes nearby. Where is the concern for the human rights of the victims of extreme autocratic and theocratic repression in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain?

The same is true of Sisi’s repressive dictatorship in Egypt — the second-largest recipient of US military aid, after Israel.

A video of Chomsky’s response can be seen below, courtesy of Paul Hubbard.