Israel: Chomsky’s Way
By Ghali Hassan
05 April, 2006
“[In 1953, after the establishment of Israel] I spent several
very happy months working in a Kibbutz and for several years thought
seriously about returning permanently. Some of my closest friends, including
several who have had a significant influence on my own thinking over
the years, now live in Kibbutzim or elsewhere in Israel and I retain
close connections that are quite separate from any political judgments
Noam Chomsky .
Reading the latest attacks to
discredit Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt very credible
and insightful assay
on the pro-Israel Jewish Lobby in the US, one wonders why
so many people come to defend Israel blindly. It appears that the critics
are more interested in protecting Israel and elevating their positions
than defend ‘free speech’, democracy, or the rights of the
One of those attackers is
the “celebrated” American linguist and US policy critic,
Noam Chomsky. Chomsky condemnation of the two prominent professors,
who are now accused of being “anti-Semites”, and lost the
support of Harvard University, is a betrayal of academic freedom. Protecting
Israel and Zionism has been Chomsky’s sacred duty from an early
age. Chomsky is on record denying the existence of the pro-Israel Lobby
in the US. Chomsky has no time for the role of Congress on US politics
where 11 of its 100 congress members are unquestionably pro-Israel Jews.
Chomsky’s criticism is often directed against the White House
and the presidency ignoring the power of Congress.
Chomsky has been labelled
as ‘self-hated Jews’, ‘radical leftist’ and
recently as the ‘most important intellectual alive’. He
is also revered by many people around the world. Chomsky protection
of Israel is often misunderstood and unwisely credited with credibility
and scholarship. But careful reading of Chomsky’s sheer volumes
of repetitive work (books, articles, interviews and speeches) reveals
the opposite of what his friends and “foes” follow and worship.
While Chomsky allows people to see through US foreign policy, he limits
them to a narrow form of thinking; a kind of brainwashing similar to
that practice by religious cults and gurus. His supporters and devotees
control an array of media outlets and publishing house. Criticising
Chomsky is considered blasphemy and “anti-Semitism”.
Chomsky is not afraid to
criticise Israel (you have to do that) and often called Israel justifiably
“a terrorist state” for its brutal treatments of the Palestinian
people. But Chomsky blames all Israeli crimes on the US. It’s
the US who is committing the crimes, not Israel, said Chomsky. Israel
is an innocent bystander. The same could be said for US-protected dictators
around the world from Saudi Arabia and Egypt to Chile dictatorship under
It is part of the game to
deflect the main responsibility on the US for providing Israel with
aid and arms. This is part of the propaganda and provides people with
some thing to feel good about. It is anti-Americanism and people love
it. Indeed, a large segment of the “anti-war” movement is
anti-Americanism and has nothing to do with opposing the US war on Iraq.
is essentially that US support for Israel is to enhance US strategic
interests, including Israel fight against Arabs “radical nationalism”,
not due to pressure from the pro-Israel Lobby. In other word, Israel
is a US “strategic asset”. This argument however proved
to be the least credible, and is at best an old Zionist propaganda designed
to manipulate public opinion, particularly American. In fact it is propagated
by Israeli leaders and the pro-Israel Lobby for decades.
The evidence provided by
Chomsky to support his argument is vague and at best not credible when
compared with reality on the ground. For example, had the US supported
more than 300 million Arabs – with the world most important energy
resources – and not the few millions Israeli colonisers of Palestine,
the US would be much, powerful and beloved than it is today. This is
interesting because with the exemption of Iraq, all Arab governments
are anti-nationalism. How Israel failed to predict the fall of the Shah
of Iran and other major crises, Chomsky is not clear.
In 1991, the US Administration
of George H. Bush (the father), was the only known US Administration
to have stood up to the Pro-Israel Lobby. Knowing the support of the
American people for a peaceful solution, the Bush administration initiated
the James ‘Baker Plan’ for peace. According to the former
Secretary of State, peace with the Palestinians and Israel's security
“can be accommodated in a settlement based on Resolution
242”. UN Resolution 242 was adopted unanimously by
the Security Council on 02 November 1967 after the 1967 war. It calls
for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from [all] territories
occupied in the recent conflict” and the “[t]ermination
of all claims or states of belligerency”. It is important to mention
here that Chomsky like most Israeli leaders finds UN Resolution 242
“rejectionist” and support Israel refusal to accept it.
Israel and the pro-Israel
Lobby refused negotiation based on 242. Bush reacted angrily to the
pro-Israel Lobby. In a press conference on 12 September 1991 Bush reiterated
his opposition to the Lobby interference in US politics: ‘We are
up against some powerful political forces ... very strong and effective
groups that go up to the Hill … We’ve only got one lonely
little guy down here doing it ... [But] I am going to fight for what
I believe. It may be popular politically but probably not ... the question
isn’t whether it’s good for 1992 politics. What’s
important here is that we give the process a chance. And I don’t
care if I only get one vote ... I believe the American people will be
with me’ . Unhappy about Bush, US Senators and Jewish organisations
in the US led by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee
(AIPAC) mobilised a vicious successful campaign to defeat Bush. As predicted,
Bush lost the 1992 elections to Bill Clinton by a narrow margin and
Israel triumphed again.
AIPAC is simply “a
de facto agent for a foreign government” and enjoys tax exempt
status no other foreign organisation enjoys. With about 100,000 wealthy
members form a single ethnic group and a massive budget wields a formidable
force in US politics. “AIPAC’s success is due to its ability
to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda,
and punish those who challenge it”, write Professors Mearsheimer
and Walt. Supported by the US major television networks and the nation’s
largest newspaper chain and most influential single newspaper, the New
York Times, AIPAC has ousted anyone who is not following its pro-Israel
agenda. In 1982, AIPAC led a very successful campaign to defeat Senator
Paul Findley, of Springfield, Illinois. And in 1984 Senator Charles
Percy Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee was ousted, and
everyone since got the message.
Furthermore, Chomsky fails
to analyse the role of the pro-Israel Lobby, and AIPAC in particular
in funding and electing pro-Israel candidates while it continues using
its formidable “anti-Semitism” tool to intimidate and bully
those who disagree with its Zionist agenda. It doesn’t concern
Chomsky, himself a pro-democracy dissident that the pro-Israel Lobby
has become the most anti-democratic force in the US. His condemnation
of Professors Mearsheimer and Walt is a betrayal of academic freedom
and only enhances the power of the pro-Israel Lobby.
On the ‘right of return’
of Palestinians to their homeland, a right which is enshrined in UN
Resolution 194 (III) and recognised by the vast majority of the world
was deceptive: “[T]here is no detectable international support
for it, and under the (virtually unimaginable) circumstances that such
support would develop, Israel would very likely resort to its ultimate
weapon, defying even the boss-man, to prevent it. In that case there
would be nothing to discuss. The facts are ugly, but facts do not go
out of existence for that reason. In my opinion, it is improper to dangle
hopes that will not be realized before the eyes of people suffering
in misery and oppression. Rather, constructive efforts should be pursued
to mitigate their suffering and deal with their problems in the real
world”. In other word, don’t upset the illegal Jewish settlers
because of the Palestinian refugees.
On a single, democratic and
secular state for Jews and Palestinians (Muslims and Christians), Chomsky
is non-negotiable: “There has never been a legitimate proposal
for a democratic secular state from any significant Palestinian (or
of course Israeli) group. One can debate, abstractly, whether it is
‘desirable’. But it is completely unrealistic. There is
no meaningful international support for it, and within Israel, opposition
to it is close to universal. It is understood that this would soon become
a Palestinian state with a Jewish minority and with no guarantee for
either democracy or secularism (even if the minority status would be
accepted, which it would not). Those who are now calling for a democratic
secular state are, in my opinion, in effect providing weapons to the
most extreme and violent elements in Israel and the US”. Of course,
Chomsky provides no evidence for this charade.
In the early 1970s, most
Palestinians supported the formation of a single democratic state for
Palestinians and Jews to live together, as it has been for centuries.
Today, many Palestinians have no problem coexisting with Jews in a Palestine
based on democratic and equal right principles, which is the only just
and genuine solution. It is Israelis who refuse to recognise the Palestinians.
According to Israeli daily, Ha’aretz (22 March 2006) more than
68 per cent of Israeli Jews refuse to live in the same building with
Palestinian citizen of Israel. Chomsky is in favour of a dominant, “Jewish-only
state”. He sees Jews living as a “minority” in a democratic
Palestine with equal rights is unacceptable. Chomsky must be thinking
that Jews are ‘superior race’. As Virginia
Tilley argues, a single sate which provides protection
for all its citizens “against ethnic discrimination is the only
It is important to remember
that Chomsky is leading the pack for the so-called “two-state”
option, or the Geneva Accord. The “two-state” option is
a trap for Palestinians and Chomsky knows it very well. According to
Accord, Palestinians will be trapped in prisons-like ghettoes
made inaccessible by illegal settlements and Jews-only roads. Palestinians
will continue to be denied self-determination and freedom of movement.
The new ghettoes will be separated from each other with no meaningful
sovereignty, resources of its own, independent economy or army capable
of defending the population. The four million Palestinian refugees will
lose their ‘right of return’ to their land. It is the legalisation
of the 1948 Nakbah – the ‘catastrophe’ of dispossession
and expulsion. It will legitimise Israel’s claim on Palestine
and enforce Israel’s colonial rules, as Amram Mitzna, Labor member
of the Knesset revealed in his Ha’aretz
article. It is like the Oslo “Peace Process”,
a game to continue the Palestinian genocide. The “two-state”
option was never a viable option giving Israel’s terror against
Israel is happy to continue
cutting Palestinian land into ghettoes separated by the Apartheid Wall
and under a brutal system of Apartheid and Occupation. The system is
recently described by liberal Jews and Israeli journalists as worse
than that practiced in South Africa two decades ago . It should be
noted that the system is very useful in keeping the Israeli military
(Occupation forces) in a strong position politically. The Israeli society
functions as militarised society with a form of democracy similar to
that in the US.
With Israel relies heavily
on the massive aid it receives from US taxpayers, any economic sanctions
could force Israel to seek a peaceful settlement with the endogenous
Palestinians. Chomsky views on sanctioning Israel to force it in the
same way South Africa was forced to dismantle Apartheid and Iraq was
forced to give-up WMDs are hypocritical at best. In March 2004, on behalf
of the Journal of South African and American Comparative Studies (Safundi),
Professor Christopher Lee of Harvard University interviewed Chomsky
about Israel’ Apartheid Wall and sanctions. “Apartheid was
one particular system and a particularly ugly situation”. To use
the term to describe Israel, “It's just to wave a red flag, when
it's perfectly well to simply describe the situation. But I should say
is that this is all entirely different from the Occupied Territories”
When Chomsky asked if he
sees sanctions against Israel as a possibility? He replied: “No.
In fact I've been strongly against it in the case of Israel. For a number
of reasons. For one thing, even in the case of South Africa, I think
sanctions are a very questionable tactic. In the case of South Africa,
I think they were [ultimately] legitimate because it was clear that
the large majority of the population of South Africa was in favor of
it”. He added: “Sanctions hurt the population. You don't
impose them unless the population is asking for them. That's the moral
issue. So, the first point in the case of Israel is that: Is the population
asking for it? Well, obviously not”. The Palestinian people are
enduring years of sanctions imposed on them by Israel’s long blockades
and restrictions of freedom of movement. Indeed, The Palestinian people
have time and again called for sanctions against Israel.
We know that Chomsky was
behind the recently watered-down divestment resolution at MIT, where
he is emeritus professor and exerts formidable influence on students’
activism there. Chomsky denounced the campaign and voted against divestment
and sanctions against Israel. Many people and organisations around the
world, including prominent Palestinian
intellectuals and politicians, have called for divestment and sanctions
against Israel. Palestinians were shocked by Chomsky’s betrayal
of their cause. Chomsky’s aim is to deceit rather than defend
According to Francis
Boyle is Professor of International Law Legal at Illinois
University; “[A] worldwide divestment/disinvestment campaign against
Israel can produce an historic reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians--just
as it successfully did between Whites and Blacks in South Africa. This
new divestment/disinvestment campaign should provide the Palestinians
with enough economic and political leverage needed to negotiate a just
and comprehensive peace settlement with the Israelis--just as it did
for the Blacks in South Africa”. Giving Israel’s dependence
on massive US aid, any form of economic sanction will force her to negotiate
a peaceful settlement.
Palestine is becoming a career;
it is no longer a terrorised community. Academics and intellectuals
have used the suffering of the Palestinian people to advance their own
interests and egos. It is like those who are making a career out of
attacking Islam and Muslims.
On the US war on Iraq, Chomsky
agrees with many people that the US motive is the control of Iraq’s
oil resources and US imperialism. Although this is partially true, protection
the state of Israel and the expansion of Zionism ideology remains major
motives. It is on every American mind that Israel and the pro-Israel
Lobby in the US are the main motivators for the war on Iraq. Indeed,
the so-called “War for Oil” was the creation of the pro-Israel
Lobby and spread out by Jewish intellectuals and their key operatives
in the US government and the Zionist mainstream media. Chomsky even
refuses to acknowledge that the group of Zionists ‘cabal’
or the neocons, including Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle,
‘Scooter’ Libby, Elliot Abrams and others who formulated
the policy and made the decision to got to war. Does Chomsky know who
is pushing for war on Iran?
Chomsky criticised the US
because the US violated international law and the UN Charter and committed
crimes against Iraq. The war was an illegal act of aggression, and the
Occupation of Iraq is against the majority of the Iraqi people. However,
Chomsky praised the invasion for it “removes Saddam and the sanctions”.
As we know these are the views of Bush and Blair. Iraq is far worse
today than before the invasion at all levels. On the Occupation itself,
Chomsky is like his army of devotees; he is very surprised it didn’t
work. Chomsky calls the premeditated and deliberate destruction of Iraq
an “American incompetence”. The worst is that Chomsky praised
the US-staged elections as “democratic”. Elections under
foreign occupation are illegitimate and imperialist propaganda. The
Iraqi elections were fraudulent elections designed to legitimise the
imperialist Occupation and cement civil strife and fratricidal killings.
On the right of Iraqis to
self-determination and national independence, Chomsky is flagrant. He
called the Iraqi Resistance “bomb throwers” and follows
the Bush-Blair line of labelling anyone resisting US terrorism as “terrorist”.
The US war on Iraq is “creating more terrorists”, said Chomsky.
On the Iraqi Resistance, Chomsky is emphatic. It is a “violent
insurgency”, he said. Chomsky seems unaware of the hundreds of
thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children needlessly slaughtered
with “trigger happy” violent US forces and their mercenaries.
The illegal mass arrests without charge, torture, abuse and sexual humiliation
of Iraqi civilians is not the most flagrant violation of human rights.
The daily bombardments – with cluster bombs, napalms, chemical
and phosphorous bombs – and the destruction of Iraqi cities are
not the most heinous war crimes in the history. How long will the American
people remain silent in the face of injustice, war crimes and crimes
against humanity committed in their name?
analysis of Middle East suffers from his tendency of demonising the
Arabs, while covertly defending his own ethnic group. Chomsky’s
earlier views are not different form his views today. People with moral
consciousness and open mind should not fall into Chomsky’s trap.
Ghali Hassan lives in Perth,
 Chomsky, Noam. (1974).
Peace in the Middle East. Vintage: London, (p. 49-51).
 Arens, Moshe. (1995).
Broken Covenant, Simon & Schuster: New York.
 McGreal, Chris (2006).
Apart. The Guardian, 06 February. Gideon Levi (2006). One
racist nation. Ha’aretz,
27 March 2006.
 Lee, Christopher J. (2004).
South Africa, Israel-Palestine, and the Contours of the Contemporary
World Order: An Interview with Noam Chomsky. Safundi, 13-14.