The works of William Shakespeare and Karl Marx, as well as the Bible, rank amongst the 10 most quoted texts in history. On Saturday, 900 people stared at the stage at Oakland Technical High School, waiting to listen to an 89-year-old man whose writing also ranks in the top 10. Seats, ranging from $20 to $100, had been sold out for over a month.

Chomsky warned that he had divided his talk between “horrible horrific news, awful news, and—finally—good news.”

“Chomsky’s “horrible horrific news” focused on the situation in the Gaza Strip. Chomsky denounced the decision of Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, to “cut more than half of the meagre US aid to UNRWA,” the United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees. Referring to Haley, Chomsky said: “She is one of the uglier, more disgraceful figures of the administration.”

The “awful news” referred to life under occupation in the West Bank, described by Chomsky as the “practice of quietly taking over what is valuable, little by little, so outsiders can pretend not to see what is happening.” He characterized the decision of President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as “another illustration of US departure from the world.”

In the international arena, Chomsky said, “popular support for Israel is drifting towards the right, towards ultranationalist, anti-migrant, white supremacists and people who fear Muslims.” He emphasized that if this continues, Israel won’t be able to gather international support, as it has done so far. “The good news is that this is the one factor that is under our control,” he added.

Read more from Alicia Medina writing on Oakland North about MECA’s event with Noam Chomksy