Noam Chomsky with Hezbollah leader Nabil Qauq
Hosted by Hezbollah, leftist professor Noam Chomsky ended his visit to Lebanon with a tour of Al-Khiam Prison where he declared the terrorist group’s success in removing Israel from the south was “a victory for all the peoples that fight injustice and oppression.”
In a broadcast by Hezbollah’s Al Manar television Sunday, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Chomsky was shown embracing Hezbollah leader Nabil Qauq at Al-Khiam, where Israel kept prisoners during its occupation of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah was credited with liberating the area after Israel withdrew in 2000.
The U.S. State Department lists Hezbollah as a “terrorist organization.” Hezbollah Sec.-Gen. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah frequently calls for destruction of the U.S. In a February speech aired on Al Manar, he led a crowd in chants, “America, America you are the Great Satan … America, America, the enemy of the Muslims … Those who have come at night, like bats, will hear Lebanon saying: Death to America.”
On Saturday, Al Manar quoted Chomsky responding to Hezbollah’s designation by the U.S. as a terrorist state.
The professor said that “if the U.S. was to stick to the clear and precise definition of terrorism in its code of laws, it would be the leading terrorist state.”
Al Manar said Sunday Chomsky insisted on staying inside one of the prison cells for a short while: “He commended the perseverance of the inmates during the years of cruelty and pain, stressing that this prison was no different from Guantanamo.”
The news reader said the “leftist intellectual chose to stand in front of a destroyed Israeli vehicle and declare that all the prisoners in the world must be released, whether in Israel or in American prisons.”
Chomsky was asked about Lebanese expatriates who recently honored U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.
“Well, you know, they have their own choices to make. There is pressure they have to deal with,” he said. “When Japan occupied Asia and committed atrocities there, some Asians honored Japan because they were subject to imperialism.”
A reporter asked Chomsky how the U.S. views his visit.
“I don’t know what their response will be, and I don’t care,” he said.
Referring to Israel, Chomsky said, “The imperialistic forces do whatever they want, and as long as Washington allows them to do so, they will continue, until the American people learn about it and stop them.”
On Saturday, Chomsky said Hezbollah’s insistence on keeping its arms is justified
“I think Nasrallah has a reasoned argument and [a] persuasive argument that [the arms] should be in the hands of Hezbollah as a deterrent to potential aggression, and there is plenty of background reasons for that,” he said.
Chomsky asserted that “until there is a general political settlement in the region, [and] the threat of aggression and violence is reduced or eliminated, there has to be a deterrent, and the Lebanese army can’t be a deterrent.”
Local observers quoted by Ali Hussein in the Lebanese weblog Ya Libnan said Chomsky doesn’t understand the situation in the country.
“Chomsky needs to live here for a while to understand what happened during the past 30 years and why most Lebanese are against the Hezbollah arms,” one observer said.
Another contended Chomsky “showed poor judgment in jumping to this quick conclusion about the Hezbollah arms.”
Chomsky, he added, “does not know that the Hezbollah arms scare the Lebanese people more than the Israelis.”
“If Hezbollah is not disarmed this could trigger a civil war … is this what Chomsky wants? Did Chomsky learn what is happening at the Lebanese national dialogue talks?”
Hussein noted Chomsky tried to visit Lebanon when the country was occupied by Syria but was turned away.
“The reason he was able to get in this time is because of the Cedar Revolution that kicked Syria out,” Hussein observed. “The government of Lebanon now is the product of the Cedar revolution.”
Hussein said Chomsky “obviously doesn’t know that Hezbollah and its allies fought the Cedar Revolution by aligning themselves with the Syrian regime.”
Most Lebanese, he said, while they may opposed the war in Iraq, “are grateful for U.S. help in driving Syria out of Lebanon after the former PM Rafik Hariri was assassinated.”