By Elmer A. Ordonez
The Other View column,
Manila Times Dec. 1, 2012
Posted by CenPEG.org, Dec. 12, 2012

This was the title of an article on Gaza (2009) by Noam Chomsky, a distinguished professor of linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology,  and the “world’s top public intellectual” (according to a 2006 poll) who has gone beyond the academe to comment on human rights, war,world politics, civil liberties, and man’s inhumanity to man. I first knew about him in the late 50s in Madisonthrough his book Syntactic Structuresand his monumental work on transformational linguistics or generative grammar.

I didn’t know about his political activism until I read about his participation in the civil rights movement and articles criticizing the Vietnam War.  He always mentioned the American atrocities during Philippine-American war as antecedent to the mass destruction and pillage of Vietnam.

Chomsky is a professed anarcho-syndicalist and once visited a kibbutz in his youth. When he saw how Israelis oppressed the Palestinians whom they had thrown out of their homes in what is now the state of Israel, he had a change of heart -- seeing how victims (or descendants)  of the Holocaust  are now oppressing other people, the Palestinians. 

“Exterminate all the brutes” is a quote from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in which the colonial agent Kurtz wrote on a margin of his Congo report “Exterminate all the brutes.”  An afterthought perhaps, for his report was supposedly for the benefit of the African natives with whom Kurtz  spent time as an ivory trader. Marlow (the fictional Conrad) was sent by the Belgian company in a riverboat following the snakelike Congo intothe now archetypal “heart of darkness” to retrieve the reportedly sick Kurtz.  This became the basis of the anti-war movie, Francis Coppola’s Apocalypse, Now, with Marlow Brando as Col. Kurtz assigned to the jungles of Vietnam among the Montagnards. Like Conrad’s Kurtz, the colonel had been corrupted by absolute power and dominion over the natives.  Kurtz told Marlow of “unspeakable rites” which he himself abetted or performed in his territory. In the film Brando as Col. Kurtz had to be eliminated by Martin Sheen as Marlow.

Kurtz’s last utterance before he died on the riverboat – “The horror, the horror” --may well be appropriated for another article or film about discovery and realization.   “Exterminate all the brutes!” is what colonizers have in mind when the colonized rise in revolt.  In the Philippines during the Spanish offensive in Cavite early 1897 the cazadores must have cried “Mata todo!” as they herded hapless men, women and children into the church of Dasmarinas to be burned to death.Only rubble and ashes remained of the church when the Spanish troops left to continue their offensive to Imus, the revolutionary capital, where massacres also took place in the poblacion.

The American soldiers made their racist colonial mission into a marching song, “Damn, damn, damn the Filipinos / Cross-eyed khaki-akladrones/ Underneath our starry flag / Civilize ‘em with a Krag / And return us to our beloved homes.”  The result was one million Filipino dead in a country of some 9 million at the time. The 1908 census showed 8 million left.

Turkey’s prime minister called the Gaza conflict genocidal --which from the start showed disproportionate losses for the “prisoners” squeezed in the narrow strip of desert land, blockaded by land and sea. A guilt stricken or cynical Israeli official called it “politicide.”

It has been an unequal battle in Gaza.  The homemade rockets that hit Israel are but pin pricks compared to the sledge hammer blows of Israeli jets firing missiles into targets in Gaza, followed by invasion into the strip by tanks, bulldozers, and ground troops.  In the 2009 invasionsome 1300 Gazans, mostly civilians, were slaughtered. Earlier in Lebanon, invading Israeli forces killed some 20,000 Palestinian refugees.

Noam Chomsky said in his “Impressions of Gaza” that the “world’s largest open-air prison” is designed for no other purpose than to “humiliate and degrade”  and to ensure that “Palestinian hopes for a decent future crushed and that the overwhelming diplomatic support that will grant them rights nullified. ”

The truce brokered by Egypt’s new president Morsi is a tenuous one.  While the United Nations (which created the State of Israel in the first place) has over the years passed resolution after resolution condemning Israeli violations of past resolutions, the United States has always exercised its veto in the Security Council for various reasons. Only the U.S., Israel and a few Pacific dependencies vote against overwhelming UN decisions sanctioning Israel which is consistently supported by US presidents past and present, in terms of armaments and other forms of aid.  The U.S. government sees Israel as a beleaguered island in a sea of Arab hostility and aggression.  In truth many Arab states are client states of the US like Egypt under Mubarak, Libya today, and the so-called moderate oil producing countries.

The U.S.-backed Israelis intensified its punishment of the people in Gaza in 2006 for electing Hamas over the Fatah. The US and Israel do not deal with Hamas because it is a “terrorist” organization. It seems this more intensified punishment is designed to make the Gazansabjure Hamas and restore Fatah to governance.  But this has not happened.  Even in the Fatah controlled West Bank more Palestinians support Hamas.  They claim that Hamas won a victory in the last conflict.  At least, the ceasefire came just in time to forestall another destructive invasion of Gaza. But what Hamas has achieved is to make the world aware of this human catastrophe in Gaza and the continued unjust occupation of the West Bank. Once again the world is watching.


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