Noam Chomsky said Tuesday that recent votes in Europe to recognize Palestinian statehood show growing actions by populations to distance themselves from Israel’s “criminal actions.” The noted noted linguist, author, and critic of U.S. empire added that continued fossil fuel extraction is destroying a future that would allow decent human existence.

Chomsky made the comments to press at the United Nations headquarters ahead of a lecture he was giving on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

For Palestinians, the only “moral choice is to resist occupation,” he said, and for Palestinian leadership, “a primary focus” should be “to address the American population.” That direction is needed, he said, for the American public to hope to bring about change to the U.S. policy on Israel and Palestine.

“I think there will be no significant progress in this conflict until pressure from the American population induces the government to take a different stance. Every third world nationalist movement—Vietnamese, Nicaraguan, Timorese, whatever it was—have all understood the significance of developing solidarity and support among the American population to the extent that they can influence modification of policy. And I think that’s a crucial direction the Palestinian efforts should be directed to, quite apart from actions in the international arena,” he said.

Adding pressure, Chomsky said, to the need for a change in the status quo are Sweden’s announcement earlier this month that it officially recognized the state of Palestine—the first EU country to do so—and a symbolic vote this week by UK lawmakers to recognize Palestine.

Though the UK vote was symbolic, “it does affect British policy,” he said. “It’s another indication of the way the populations in Europe and also in the United States to an extent […] want to distance themselves from the actions that Israel is taking, which are very explicitly criminal actions—there is no question about it.”

“They want to distance themselves from those actions, both their criminality and their brutality,” he said. In every more democratic society, he added, “sooner or later attitudes of the population can—they may not but they can—influence the direction of policy if there is effort and engagement in that direction.”

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