Sliding into isolation: Israel risks being ‘South Africanized’

Pinning its hopes on the sole support of the US, Israel risks a collapse if it is ever withdrawn - much like apartheid-era South Africa, prominent scholar Professor Noam Chomsky warns.

­He recalls how South Africans felt safe to ignore a UN embargo and corporations pulling out of their country throughout the 1980s, as long as the Reagan administration continued to support them. As soon as the US withdrew its support, the apartheid regime collapsed.

“For 35 years, the US and Israel have been rejecting a political settlement that is supported virtually by the entire world. A couple of months ago, there was a meeting of the oligarchs – people who pretty much run the economy [of Israel]," Chomsky says, "and they warned the government that it better accept something like this resolution, because otherwise, Israel will be, as they put it, South Africanized: even more isolated, with boycotts, refusal to load ships, and their economy will collapse."

Chomsky sees the seeds of this in Egypt and Turkey severing their relations with Israel. While Turkey kicked out its Israeli ambassador after a UN report on the Gaza flotilla raid was published, Egypt, among other Arab countries, overthrew its government and installed a regime less friendly to the US and Israel. Thus, he believes the US had little reason to back the 'Arab Spring':

“The US didn't support the Arab revolutions, they were opposed to them.  They supported the dictators right up to the last minute. When the army turned against them and it was no longer possible to support [the dictators], they said: "OK, democracy is wonderful," and then they moved to ensure that the new regimes stayed pretty much as the old ones were. That's a very old pattern,” he says.

Meanwhile, the US may not be able to support its allies the way it once did, being stuck in what Chomsky calls a ‘vicious cycle’ of social issues:

“The banks are bigger and richer than before with corporate profits reaching record levels, and unemployment is about the level of the Great Depression – I mean real unemployment.”

So it is time to protest, Chomsky is convinced, expressing his support for the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

“These people are saying, let's blame the culprits and the institutions behind them – fiscal policies like taxation, rules of corporate governance, deregulation – it does set in motion a vicious cycle that is getting worse and worse. If you walk down the streets of New York you can see very serious poverty and phenomenal wealth side by side, very much like a Third World country. Meanwhile, infrastructure is collapsing, schools are collapsing and all that keeps this cycle going.”

Of course another provision to keep the cycle going is the political system maintained through elections, the spending on which also worries Chomsky.

"Each candidate spends over US $1 billion. Where does that money come from? A lot of it comes from financial institutions. What gave Obama the election were primarily financial institutions' contributions. They preferred him over McCain, they expected to be paid, and they were. "

The system by which you pay a party to get a chair on a commission is at work in the US parliament, according to Chomsky, further expanding the influence of financial institutions, as they are the only source of that kind of money.

"It has become increasingly difficult to distinguish between elected officials and concentrated capital," Chomsky concludes.