Why we chose Chomsky for the 2011 Sydney Peace Prize

Noam Chomsky.

We chose Professor Noam Chomsky for the 2011 Sydney Peace Prize for inspiring the convictions of millions about ways to achieve those universal human rights, which bolster peace with justice.

For more than 50 years he has been a world champion of freedom of speech, of the value of transparency in government and the need to challenge secrecy and censorship.

In his study of the political economy of human rights, he exposed state crimes, induced by US foreign policy, across South America, the Middle East and South East Asia.

With unfailing moral courage he has challenged abusive uses of power and the false claims made about democracy.

He has offended almost every establishment figure and institution: Chomsky is anathema to the Israeli government, was the only scientist or philosopher on the Nixon White House enemies list and the Soviet Union imposed a total ban on his works.

In his analyses of democracy and power he identifies the “manufacture of consent” by governments, corporations and the media.

Professor Chomsky has always argued that forces for change should be non violent.

He once wrote that “as a tactic violence is absurd … we have to save the country (USA) from yet another generation of men who think it clever to discuss the bombing of North Vietnam as a question of tactics and cost effectiveness”.

We also chose Noam Chomsky because he not only identifies abuses of power but also generates hope by describing the alternatives in domestic and foreign policy.

Chomsky is enthusiastic about British mathematician philosopher Bertrand Russell’s claim that a primary goal of education is to elicit and fortify whatever creative impulse a man may possess, “through literature, laughter and creative discourse”.

Chomsky allied himself with his great friend the Palestinian musician and social scientist Edward Said, who wrote that “the intellectual must be unwilling to accept easy formulas or ready made cliches or the smooth ever accommodating confirmations of what the powerful or conventional have to say, and what they do”.

Chomsky is an activist as well as intellectual and would not separate those responsibilities.

He wants the academic to find the courage to move far beyond the ivory tower, to play a fuller role as citizen educator — about human rights, about violent militaristic ways of thinking and acting, about those peace with justice issues, such as poverty and hunger, which give rationale and purpose to the award of the Sydney Peace Prize.

[Professor Stuart Rees is the director of the Sydney Peace Foundation. Dr Hannah Middleton is the Sydney Peace Foundation executive officer. Visit http://www.sydneypeacefoundation.org.au ]


Thank You...

...for finally providing me with an Australian media link that didn't shine a bad light on this topic: that of Chomsky receiving this award.

Almost any other reporter described it as a shameful tactic that he was the one chosen for the award.

big kudos to the sydney peace foundation

what a sad, sad, sad (but predictable) response from the rest of the australian media

it's going to be interesting in november to see whether he gets any better run. hopefully philip adams might get him in the studio and do at least a modicum of justice allowing him some reasonable air time

will do a better job than adam spencer did at least

Is that the same Hannah Middleton who used to head the Stalinist Socialist Party of Australia?

Glad to read this beautful article.

That almost all of the past winners have been noted critics of Israel:

John Pilger, Irene Khan, Hanan Ashrawi, Desmond Tutu, Arundhati Roy, Hans Blix, Mary Robinson.

Perhaps they should just rename it the Anti-Israel prize and be done with it. When will they get over the obsession and realize there are far worse conflicts and human rights abuses in the world, and no shortage of brave individuals struggling for peace. But if all you're after is recognition from the "Peace Club" you're better off sitting at home and banging out anti-Israel diatribes, as though it was the cause of all the world's problems.

Given that Israel is a colonial settler state with an agenda that includes violent ethnic cleansing, don't you think it would be odd to award a peace prize to someone who is not critical of Israel?

Given that Australia is a colonial settler state that has nearly accomplished its mission of ethnic cleansing, I guess you have the luxury of being able to look outside your own borders. A shame your focus is so narrow and you miss the states that commit the truly horrendous human rights abuses.

In December 1978 and January 1979, Robert Faurisson, a French professor of literature at the University of Lyon, published two letters in Le Monde claiming that the gas chambers used by the Nazis to exterminate the Jews did not exist. Faurisson was charged under French law with inciting racial hatred.

Chomsky did not simply defend Faurisson's right to 'free speech'. He went much further than that. Chomsky joined 600 others - mostly far-right nutters - in signing his name to a petition describing the discredited Faurssion as 'a respected (!) professor of twentieth-century French literature and document criticism' engaged in 'extensive historical research into the "Holocaust" question' (sic). The petiton described Faurisson's crackpot opinions as 'findings'.

The Faurisson affair greatly damaged Chomsky's reputation in France, a country he didn't visit for almost thirty years following the affair.

I can cite other instances of Chomsky's mendacity. But the above example goes to the heart of why he was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. It's not just the Israel-haters Prize. It's the Jew-haters Prize. The fact that Chomsky is Jewish makes it all the better from the point of view of the Jew-haters who honour him. There's nothing like a self-hating Jew to provide them with plausible deniability. Will we see the Sydney Peace Prize next year awarded posthumously to Adolf Hitler?

You won't find many more steadfast defenders of land rights than Green Left I reckon. So this comment is just a dumb smear. And it's the same boring crap we always hear from apologists for apartheid - hey, look, they're worse than us! - which is no justification at all. However you twist and turn it's an apartheid colonial state conducting ethnic cleansing.

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