Noam Chomsky and Israel

I wrote the following to a friend when he sent me an article by Noam Chomsky from Salon: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2010/04/27/chomsky_middle_east/index.html?source=newsletter

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Chomsky claims he is a Zionist, but does not really support the idea of a Jewish state or of a two-solution (even though he implies that he does here and elsewhere–he’s not serious and calls it temporary).  He does not take seriously into account Arab anti-semitism and Arab views of Jews over the decades or, even more important, the Arab commitment to annihilating Israel.  He neglects to mention that Israel came to occupy the West Bank in 1967, because every surrounding country was on the verge of a massive attack against Israel motivated by the desire to drive “Israel into the sea.”  What was Israel supposed to do?  Allow themselves to be slaughtered to feed the egos of those who do not believe that Jews have a right to defend themselves?  The goal of annihilating Israel and Jews still remains for many, obviously for Hamas, but even in the PLO and in many Arab societies, as well as the Iranian government.

How do you have a peace agreement when the majority of the peoples around you wish to destroy your country and slaughter or deport your citizens?  How do you have a peace agreement with a government which does not demonstrate a commitment to a democratic, non-corrupt, free society?  How do you have a peace agreement with a government that does not demonstrate even the most rudimentary capacity to run an orderly society?

Chomsky also claims in many of his interviews and writing that antisemitism no longer exists in any meaningful form.  That’s nice for him.  I don’t know what reality he lives in, but it’s not one I’m familiar with.  Perhaps he should take a look at what it’s like to be Jewish in France or Britain or Venezuela.  Or he might take a look at FBI religious hate crime stats in the US, which show that in 2007 69.2% of religious hate crimes are against Jews while 8.7% are of an anti-Islamic bias (http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2007/victims.htm).  Chomsky is a well-to-do, successful, academic in a highly privileged institution who has no clue what it’s currently like to be Jewish in other settings, including the Middle East.

The real reason that Chomsky opposes Israel is that he is at heart an anarchist and does not really believe that states should exist in the first place–certainly not a Jewish state.  That’s nice for those who live in La La land.  I am certainly no backer of nation states and believe that they are on their way out as governing entities.  But I’m not so silly as to believe that we don’t need government and authority of some kind.

It’s sad that Salon would feature someone like Chomsky who is not taken seriously in the Jewish community, even on the left.  There are many others who could critique Israeli policies and offer a progressive vision of the Middle East.  Featuring Chomsky, an anarchist, does not encourage discussion or debate.  It shuts it down.

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By the way, I’m not joking when I call Chomsky an anarchist.   He really is a self-proclaimed anarchist.  He has written extensively on the topic, including a book.  My best guess (and it’s only a guess) is that a lot of his strong opposition to Israel stems from his own Jewish identity and his anarchism.  As a Jew, he is especially opposed to Zionism and Jewish statehood, because the very concept of statehood is anathema to him.

But, in the real world today, with the way people live and act, the possibility of anarchism is a fantasy.  It bears a lot of resemblance to radical libertarianism, which comes from the opposite end of the ideological spectrum.

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DR. LAURENCE H. KANT (LARRY KANT), MYSTIC SCHOLAR: Engaged Mysticism and Scholarship in the Pursuit of Wisdom; Discovering meaning in every issue and facet of life; Integrating scholarship, spirituality, mysticism, poetry, community, economics, and politics seamlessly. Historian of Religion: Ph.D., Yale University, 1993 (Department of Religious Studies); Exchange Scholar, Harvard University, Rabbinics, 1983-84; M.A., 1982, Yale, 1982 (Department of Religious Studies); M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School, 1981; B.A., Classics (Greek and Latin), Tufts University, 1978; Wayland High School (Wayland, MA), 1974. Served on the faculty of Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), York University (Toronto), and Lexington Theological Seminary (Lexington, KY). Works in many languages: Ancient Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, English, French, Italian, German, Modern Greek (some Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish). Holder of numerous honors and awards, including The Rome Prize in Classics (Prix de Rome) and Fellow of the American Academy of Rome.
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