Chomsky in his book Neccesary Illusions, published in 1989 says:

U.S. ... efforts to prevent a political settlement of the Arab–Israeli conflict over many years, readily documented, but unwelcome and therefore a non-fact.

What is this evidence, and where is it documented?

Has it also been the case between 1989 and the present day?

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    Chomsky is unfortunately not a reliable source of this kind of information, and frequently will simply claim things which are completely untrue. I suspect that in this case what he calls "efforts to prevent a settlement" is simply US support to Israel, a statement which probably can be called true for certain specific values of "true". Aug 10, 2013 at 5:35
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    @MoziburUllah - "is a third - the US" - actually there are/were far more than three, the most prominent of them being the USSR, which was actively involved in the conflict for many years and supported the Arab states military and economically in their fight against Israel. (And that was one of the reasons the USA was also engaged there - it was one of the 'fronts' of the cold war) In their early wars with Israel, the Arabs were using Soviet planes and weapons. And of course the entire Arab league was also engaged.
    – user2590
    Aug 11, 2013 at 6:26
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    @MoziburUllah - "In what appears to be a quarrel solely between two states - Israel & Palestine is a third - the US". You seem to have completely forgotten: (A) Entire League of Arab States - who by the way, started the conflict in 1948; (B) USSR; (C) Iran; (D) France; (E) All the other "non-aligned" states consistently exerting pressure against Israel in UN. Other than those minor exceptions, yes, US is the only party other than Israelis and Palestinians who is in some way involved.
    – DVK
    Aug 11, 2013 at 12:32
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    @MoziburUllah - you were complaining that USA is involved as if it was the ONLY third (or 4th etc...) involved party. The point is, USA was the among the least involved parties well into 1960s (USSR recognized Israel before US did, Arab states launched a war on Israel on the day of independence declaration - a wee bit more of an importance than US's actions) and continues to be among the least involved.
    – DVK
    Aug 11, 2013 at 22:23
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    @MoziburUllah - as far as whether Chomsky was right or wrong - extraordinary claims require extraordinary references, as they say on Skeptics.SE. The onus is on Chomsky to provide proof, NOT on those doubting him to prove that he has no documents when he doesn't say what they are.
    – DVK
    Aug 11, 2013 at 22:49

2 Answers 2


In 1974 the PLO adopted what is called "The Ten Point Program". It is a program that outlines a phased plan for liberating all of Palestine. Liberating here means liberating it from Israeli rule. Obviously once all of Palestine has been liberated that means there is no Israel at all.

If we take this at face value, that means that any compromise you make with PLO, and therefore any settlement you make with them, will just mean you gave concessions for no reason, because they will later break the deal and continue the war to try to liberate the rest of Palestine.

Although the Ten Point Program is still in official effect within PLO, in 1993, Arafat seemed to contradict it in a press-release saying that "the PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security". ref

But up to 1989, the publication of the book mention in the question, no such statement had been done, and the official policy of PLO was still that the state of Israel had to cease existing.

In light of this, blaming the United States for the lack of settlements is complete and utter Chomsky-style nonsense. It may be that the United States did not want a settlement, but Chomsky provides no evidence of that, and the main reason there was no settlement up to 1993 was that PLO's official policy prevented settlements.

This does of course not mean the US wanted peace in 1989, but Chomsky claims that it is the United States that prevents peace as a part of his general anti-Israel and anti-US agenda, not based on any actual evidence.

  • Chomsky didn't write "for years been trying to accommodate themselves to the reality of Israel" - Said did, if you read my answer a little more carefully... Aug 12, 2013 at 7:45
  • @MoziburUllah OK, I removed that bit then, it's more of a comment on your answer than an answer anyway. Aug 12, 2013 at 8:14
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    well said, there can be no compromise with an entity whose sole raison d'etre is your destruction.
    – jwenting
    Aug 12, 2013 at 13:05

Chomsky book Fateful Triangle - The United Staes, Israel & Palestine was published in 1983, and republished in 1999 incorporating then new material on developments such as the Palestinian uprising, Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the ongoing peace process, and with a new foreword by the American-Palestinian Scholar & activist Edward Said, he writes:

Fateful Triangle may be the most ambitious book ever attempted on the conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians viewed as centrally involving the United States. It is a dogged exposé of human corruption, greed, and intellectual dishonesty. It is also a great and important book, which must be read by anyone concerned with public affairs. The facts are there to be recognized for Chomsky, although no one else has ever recognized them so systematically. His mainly Israeli and U.S. sources are staggeringly complete, and he is capable of registering contradictions, distinctions, and lapses which occur between them.

This would appear to be the book by Chomsky that details the allegations & accusations that he makes. Said goes on to say:

Chomsky commands what he calls “reality”—facts—over a breathtaking range. Fateful Triangle can be read as a protracted war between fact and a series of myths—Israeli democracy, Israeli purity of arms, the benign occupation, no racism against Arabs in Israel, Palestinian terrorism, peace for Galilee. Having rehearsed the “official” narrative, he then blows it away with vast amounts of counter-evidence

This is a matter of dismantling official propanganda and spin - functions of any state - but it doesn't allude to the central claim in the OPs question about the US opposition to a settlement. However he adds:

Chomsky’s major claim is that Israel and the United States—especially the latter—are rejectionists opposed to peace, whereas the Arabs, including the PLO, have for years been trying to accommodate themselves to the reality of Israel.

Said also adds:

Nor is Chomsky especially gentle to the PLO, whose “self-destructiveness” and “suicidal character” he criticizes. The Arab regimes, he says, are not “decent,” and, he might have added, not popular either.

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    The book says they have been accommodating Israel "for years" in 1998. However, the book you refer to above was written in 1989. How many years? Is that claim even relevant? No, and I'll expand on why in an answer. Aug 12, 2013 at 5:52
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    Yes, but do we know if the "for years" claim was there in 1983? If Chomsky claims things like that, this is complete and utter baloney. PLO and most of the Arab regimes was in 1983 still completely bent on getting rid of Israel. Egypt was the exception, but only since 1978 withe Camp David accords (also helped along by the US, also showing that the claim that the US wanted war in the region is complete BS). Aug 12, 2013 at 8:19
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    @MoziburUllah The 1976 vetoed resolution is interesting stuff - can you post more about it? Thanks Aug 12, 2013 at 9:13
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    That resolution s/11940 was backed by Benin, Guyana, Pakistan, Panama, Romania and United Republic of Tanzania. USSR also voted for. It included the right to return, which unfortunately is a practical impossibility. It was therefore dead in the water, and as most such resolutions are, just a international relations game. Aug 12, 2013 at 9:48
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    Ok, I've read it - unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/696D540FD7821BCE0525651C00736250 - nothing special there, just a one-sided text, as @LennartRegebro explains. Aug 13, 2013 at 7:25

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