Posted 5 years ago on March 21, 2012, 3:37 p.m. EST by ShubeLMorgan2
from New York, NY
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blankfort again illustrates chomsky’s inveterate pro-zionism Chomsky and Palestine: Asset or Liability? Jeff Blankfort, Pulse Media, Jul 20 2010
When Noam Chomsky was stopped at Jordan’s Allenby Bridge and prevented from entering the Palestinian West Bank by Israeli occupation forces in May, the widespread condemnation of that action extended even into the mainstream media, which in the past has paid little attention to his comings and goings and even less to what he has had to say. Chomsky, who has visited Israel on a number of occasions and lived on a kibbutz in the 1950s, had been invited to give a lecture at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah and had also arranged to meet with Salam Fayyad, the unelected prime minister of the Palestine Authority and a favorite of both Washington and Israel and, it would appear, of Chomsky. The negative publicity arising from the incident caused the Israeli government to reverse its position, blaming its refusal to admit Chomsky on an administrative error. Chomsky was not mollified and decided to forego the trip to the West Bank and present his talk to the Bir Zeit students by video from Amman. When interviewed by phone the following day from New York by Democracy Now, on which he is a familiar presence, Chomsky noted:
I was going to meet with the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. But his office called me here in Amman this morning, and we had a long discussion. He is pursuing policies, which, in my view, are quite sensible, policies of essentially developing facts on the ground. It’s almost, I think it’s probably a conscious imitation of the early Zionist policies, establishing facts on the ground and hoping that the political forms that follow will be determined by them. And the policies sound to me like sensible and sound ones.
Unfortunately, Chomsky was not questioned about his support for the nation building priorities of the earlier Zionists nor if he considered the Palestine Authority’s endorsement of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, of its attempts to suppress a UN investigation of the Goldstone Report, and of the role played by its US-trained militia in protecting Israel, to be also “sensible and sound.” Missing from the discussion about what was made to appear a blunder on Israel’s part was a much more important issue: Why had Chomsky been invited to speak at Bir Zeit in the first place? For those puzzled by that question, be assured that it is meant to be taken quite seriously. Once upon a time, Chomsky was considered by many to be the most important spokesperson for the Palestinian cause. It was a position he attained largely on the basis of his writings and activism in opposing the Vietnam War and US intervention in Central America in which, unlike the case with Israel, he had no personal vested interest. That Chomsky has maintained that position despite the presence in the US of a number of distinguished Palestinian professors, among them the late Edward Said, who were and are more knowledgeable about the subject and could speak from personal experience that does not include prior service as “a Zionist youth leader,” Chomsky’s background, is a reflection of the political culture of the US Left, which was and remains substantially if not predominantly Jewish, particularly in its leadership positions. Support for Israel had become so ingrained and fear of anti-Semitism so deeply embedded in the psyche of US Jewish Leftists in the aftermath of WW2 that if the Jewish state was to be criticized it had to be by someone from within the tribe who unequivocally supported its existence. Unfortunately, to the detriment of the Palestinians and the building of a viable Palestinian solidarity movement within the US, that mindset persists to this day, and largely explains why Chomsky maintains his reputation despite public utterances over the past half dozen years that have done more to undermine the Palestinian cause than to help it.
I examined Chomsky’s history in some detail in an article that I wrote for Left Curve in 2005, which called attention to the destructive role he has played regarding the Palestinian-based boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign targeting Israel and the equally destructive impact of his dismissal of the pro-Israel lobby as an influential force in shaping US Middle East policy. That he is still at it, and that his influence among what are considered “progressives” has lessened only imperceptibly, requires another look at the professor’s fierce and unyielding opposition to the BDS campaign launched by the leading organizations of Palestinian civil society. This movement has been gaining support in the world that exists outside of the US, particularly among trade unions, a fact that is causing considerable concern within Israel and among its lobbyists/agents around the world who claim it is a campaign to “delegitimize” the Jewish state. Within the US, however, this campaign challenging Israel has frequently and in certain instances, intentionally, been confused with a vastly different, US-centered, campaign that avoids penalizing Israel while targeting US companies that provide goods and services that assist Israel in maintaining the occupation. This latter campaign Chomsky does support, as does the leading Jewish peace group Jewish Voice for Peace, which has recently been conducting a drive to get 10,000 signatures for its campaign to pressure Caterpillar to stop selling bulldozers to the Israel military which it has used to destroy Palestinian homes. While this is a worthy endeavor, does anyone seriously think that a refusal by Caterpillar to sell its products to Israel would change the current situation for the Palestinians in any significant way? Or are we seeing something else here on the part of both Chomsky and JVP with their competing campaign, namely, damage control on Israel’s behalf? One might certainly draw that conclusion from comments Chomsky has made over the past several years and most recently in interviews with Israeli television (clip1) and with Alison Weir of If Americans Knew, the newly appointed president of the Council for National Interest, on the CNI’s online radio program Jerusalem Calling. In the interview with Alison Weir, Chomsky not only repeatedly attacks advocates of an Israeli boycott as being hypocritical, he accuses them of doing damage to the Palestinian cause, saying:
What I have opposed is BDS proposals that harm Palestinians. If we are serious about BDS or any other tactic, we want to ask what the consequences are for the victims. We have to distinguish always in tactical judgments between what you might call feel-good tactics and do-good tactics. There are tactics that may make people feel good in doing something, but maybe they harm the victims.
Pushed on the subject by Weir, he repeats that a boycott of Israel is “harmful to Palestinians and the reason is harmful is very obvious.” And what is obvious about it, Chomsky tells us in the very next sentence, saying:
"It is so hypocritical that it discredits the whole effort. I mean, why boycott Israel and not boycott the US? The US has a much worse record."
When reminded by Weir that “Palestinian civil society issued a call, signed by dozens of diverse organizations calling for a boycott of Israel,” Chomsky was dismissive and condescending, upbraiding Weir and by implication the Palestinian people themselves:
"There are groups who call themselves Palestinian civil society who are calling for a boycott, and I think they are making a mistake and I’ve explained why. I’m not going to take, adopt positions which have already been and will continue to be quite harmful to Palestinians. If you want to, then do it, but it’s clear why the call for a boycott has been harmful for Palestinians and will continue to be. The reason is very simple. It’s so utterly hypocritical that it’s basically a gift to the hardliners. They can say, look, you’re calling for a boycott of Israel, but you’re not calling for a boycott of the US, which has a much worse record, in fact, it’s even responsible for most of Israel’s crimes. So therefore, if your position is that hypocritical, how can we even take you seriously? That’s like giving a gift to the hard-line elements. I find your commitment to harming Palestinians surprising. It is quite obvious why a call for a boycott of Israel is a gift to AIPAC. It’s a gift because they can point out that it is utterly hypocritical. We are not boycotting the US, for example, which has a much worse record and is responsible for a lot of Israel’s criminal behavior. I can give you cases if you want where the calls like the one you’re advocating have, in fact, for good reasons, harmed Palestinians."