By Harry Clark, first published 11 February 2015 at Dissident Voice here:

Noam Chomsky’s critique of the boycott/divestment/sanctions movement against Israel, which is in solidarity with the Palestinian people, has attracted wide attention.1 The Nation, where his article appeared, published five responses, to which Chomsky responded, and at least five appeared independently.2 Chomsky’s views were not new, but were first expressed during a BDS initiative in 2002, at Harvard and MIT. The wide attention his recent remarks earned was due to the growth of the BDS movement since.

Harvard/MIT 2002

The Harvard-MIT initiative was a response to Israeli suppression of the al-Aqsa intifada, the Palestinian uprising that began in September, 2000. It was provoked by the swaggering entrance to the Islamic shrines in Jerusalem of then-defense minister Ariel Sharon, accompanied by a thousand Israeli police. There was a demonstration, an Israeli massacre, and resistance across the West Bank that Israel attacked with utmost ferocity. The uprising expressed seven lean years of frustration with Israel’s exploitation of the 1993 Oslo accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization to further engorge the occupied territories and suffocate Palestinian life. As prime minister, Sharon ordered Operation Field of Thorns, the lavishly violent reconquista of Palestinian areas of the West Bank, including the drunken bulldozing of the center of Jenin refugee camp, and its inhabitants.3

Against this sanguinary backdrop, a Harvard-MIT petition called for “the US government to make military aid and arms sales to Israel conditional on immediate initiation and rapid progress in implementing the conditions listed below. We also call on MIT and Harvard to divest from Israel, and from US companies that sell arms to Israel.”4 The petition called for Israel to comply with UN Resolution 242 and withdraw from the territories conquered in the June, 1967 war; stop torturing, as called for by the United Nations Committee Against Torture Report of 2001; comply with the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting settlement and other practices in the occupied territories; and acknowledge in principle the Palestinian right of return as expressed in UN Resolution 194 (and related international law).

The petition garnered 443 signatures from Harvard and MIT faculty, staff, students and alumni, while a counter-petition garnered more than 3,200 signatures, amidst animated discussion.5 Then-Harvard President Lawrence Summers opined that “Harvard should not be an organ for advocacy on an issue as complex as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” He did exactly that by stating: “The suggestion that [Israel’s] defense against terrorist attacks is inherently immoral seems to me to be an unsupportable one.”6 At a prayer meeting on campus at the start of fall term, Summers stated: “Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent…. Where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities.”7

Chomsky could have defended divestment as amply justified by Israel’s conduct and denounced Summers as unfit to lead an institution of higher education. He would have been vindicated resoundingly by Israel’s ongoing atrocities, and by Summers’ later claims about women’s inability in science, faculty no-confidence votes, and his resignation in 2006 after the shortest presidential term at Harvard in 144 years.8 Instead Chomsky was as upset as Summers that Israel could be sanctioned. In November, Chomsky told a Harvard audience: “I am opposed and have been opposed for many years, in fact, I’ve probably been the leading opponent for years of the campaign for divestment from Israel and of the campaign about academic boycotts.”9 One witness told this writer that the audience was “astonished.”

An editorialist in the Harvard Crimson called Chomsky’s statement the “greatest Hanukkah gift of all to opponents of the divestment campaign against Israel.”9 Chomsky told the Crimson that a call for divestment is “very welcome gift to the most extreme supporters of U.S.-Israeli violence…. It removes from the agenda the primary issues and it allows them to turn the discussion to irrelevant issues, which are here irrelevant, anti-Semitism and academic freedom and so on and so forth.” According to Chomsky, the result “was ‘totally predictable… [divestment] is the only thing that’s talked about. Not the main thrust. Nobody talks about the Geneva Conventions, nobody talks about any of the issues that matter.”9 Thus divestment was “a gift, a gift to the extremists who want to maximize U.S.-Israeli atrocities and crimes, and I don’t see any point in giving them that gift.” Divestment was “a big mistake.”9 Chomsky was particularly incensed by the phrase “divest from Israel” in the Harvard/MIT petition. As he explained in 2003:

As is well known in Cambridge, of anyone involved, I was the most outspoken opponent of the [Harvard-MIT] petition calling for divestment, and in fact refused to sign until it was substantially changed, along lines that you can read if you are interested. The “divestment” part was reduced to three entirely meaningless words, which had nothing to do with the main thrust of the petition. I thought that the three meaningless words should also be deleted.10

“Divest from Israel” is ambiguous, but not “meaningless”; the common sense interpretation is divestment of holdings in companies doing business within Israel, as the anti-apartheid campaign called for divestment from South Africa. Harvard, for instance, then held $600 million in investments in companies doing business in Israel.11

Chomsky’s claim that “divest from Israel” was a “gift to extremists” was disingenuous. Mainstream Jewish opinion is extremist, as shown by Summers’ description of Israel’s crushing of the al-Aqsa intifada as “defense against terrorist attacks,” and his claim that divestment was “anti-semitic in effect,” that the views of “poorly educated right-wing populists… are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities.” Extremism is also apparent in the the 8-1 ratio of signatures on the negative and affirmative petitions. People opposed to divestment would not have favored cutting off military aid to coerce Israel. Chomsky lectured about “provoking extremism” while Ariel Sharon, renowned as an “Arab killer” from the early statehood days, was crushing the al-Aqsa intifada.”12

The call to “divest from Israel” was a response to extremism. As one senior Harvard professor and divestment supporter stated, “What we have witnessed in the last months is a spiral of violence that cannot have a good ending unless we arrest it. I think now is a time when the citizens of the United States must act from their consciences.”11 The fatal phrase did not distract from awareness, around Harvard and MIT, of Israel’s engorgement of the occupied territories and serial war crimes. It raised awareness from its normal complacency, addressing which, and secondary issues about “academic freedom,” is presumably the task of activists, above all in an educational setting. As the Harvard faculty supporter put it, “I’m going to have a lot of colleagues who disagree with me. I don’t think we should shy away from the discussion.”11

Chomsky’s limits

In Chomsky’s view BDS should be limited to opposing Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territory conquered in the June, 1967 war, which he emphasized after 2002. In his July, 2014 article, he cited approvingly the first goal of the BDS movement, “Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall,” Israel’s “separation barrier,” which effectively annexes to Israel parts of the West Bank.13 This “makes good sense: it has a clear objective and is readily understood by its target audience in the West.”14

Chomsky found “the case” for advocating the second BDS goal, “Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality,” to be “ambiguous.” He acknowledged that Israel’s oppression of its Palestinian citizens violates international law, but found such criticism hypocritical. The call for equal rights for all Israeli citizens “at once opens the door to the ‘glass house’ reaction: for example, if we boycott Tel Aviv University because Israel violates human rights at home, then why not boycott Harvard because of the far greater violations of the United States?”14

Chomsky dismissed the third goal of the call, for the right of Palestinian refugees to return, as based solely in a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution, but the right is part of international law, not advisory, as legal scholar Susan Akram has argued.”15 These limits are discussed in the later sections of this article.

Chomsky rejected the “S” in BDS, claiming that “sanctions, or state actions, are not on the horizon.”15 Tom Suarez responded: “No, professor, the question is whether sanctions are justified, and if they are, they should be part of the strategy. Nor are sanctions against Israel as remote as Professor Chomsky suggests: Already in 2010, 26 ex-EU leaders argued for sanctions.”16 Chomsky’s decree was followed by Israel’s Operation Firm Cliff against Gaza, whose savagery was condemned by Latin American countries and joint bodies. “Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru have withdrawn their ambassadors from Israel, and Venezuela suspended diplomatic relations.”17 Several Irish MPs called for expelling the Israeli ambassador from Ireland, and breaking diplomatic relations with Israel.”18 The vice-chair of the German Social Democratic Party has called for ending arms sales to Israel.19 A Haaretz editorialist warns that the “Germans may no longer be the gift that keeps on giving.”20 Other European politicians, officials and coalitions have advocated sanctions on trade and arms sales.”21 Sixty-three members of the European parliament have called for ending the EU-Israel treaty of association.”22 In Chomsky’s view, these officials believe that “they have attained their ‘South African moment’ but that is far from accurate. And if tactics are to be effective, they must be based on a realistic assessment of circumstances.”14

Ignorance and education

Chomsky discerned epic difficulties overcoming public ignorance of the need for sanctions, as if medieval Europeans were being taught atheism. In 2004 he argued that “sanctions against South Africa were finally imposed after years, decades of organization and activism until it got to the point where people could understand why you would want to do it… even if it were morally correct, which I don’t think it is.”23 Again in 2004, he found that “sanctions against South Africa did not become a really significant issue… until after years of education and organization.”24 Ignorance continued in 2006. Sanctions “were implemented after a long period of education and organizing, which had led to widespread condemnation of apartheid, even within mainstream opinion and powerful institutions.”25 Ignorance prevailed in 2012. “There could be circumstances in which a boycott of Tel Aviv [University] would be helpful, but first you have to do the educational and organizational work.”26 Ignorance still reigned in July, 2014, when Chomsky found that

individual states and the UN had imposed sanctions [on South Africa] decades before the 1980s, when BD tactics began to be used extensively in the United States. By then, Congress was legislating sanctions and overriding Reagan’s vetoes on the issue. Years earlier—by 1960—global investors had already abandoned South Africa to such an extent that its financial reserves were halved; although there was some recovery, the handwriting was on the wall…. While there is, finally, a growing domestic opposition in the United States to Israeli crimes, it does not remotely compare with the South African case. The necessary educational work has not been done.14

Chomsky emphasized public ignorance, but could not avoid acknowledging that “public opinion in the US on these matters—which is highly critical—is effectively suppressed and unknown.”24 The untutored public supports a balanced policy that favors neither side, with less US responsibility overall. In August, 2014, in response to the question, “Do you think the U.S. should favor one group over another?” 54% said “treat them the same,” while 34% said “Favor Israelis”.27 In May 2011, when asked “In the Middle East conflict, do you think the United States should take Israel’s side, take the Palestinians’ side, or not take either side?” 31% said Israel’s side, 4% said the Palestinians’ and 65% said neither side.28 This echoes polls from 2010 and earlier.29 In July/August 2014, when asked “Do you think the U.S. has a responsibility to try to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, or doesn’t the U.S. have this responsibility?” 59% answered no, 35% yes, 6% unsure.30 A survey by the Institute for Research Middle East Policy, on the rarely polled matter of US aid to Israel, found that 60.7% felt that aid was “much too much” or “too much,” when told that it was over $3 billion, and 9% of the foreign aid budget.”31

Elite opinion, not public opinion, is the problem, beginning, though not ending, with Jewish opinion. This factor underlies the media’s inability to depict conditions in Israel/Palestine accurately, not Chomsky’s “lack of education.” Professors Mearsheimer and Walt, authors of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, found that the Israel “lobby’s perspective on Israel is widely reflected in the mainstream media in part because a substantial number of commentators who write about Israel are themselves pro-Israel.”32 Media critic Eric Alterman found that for “reasons of religion, politics, history and genuine conviction the punditocracy debate of the Middle East in America is dominated by people who cannot imagine criticizing Israel.”33 Their tabulations are dominated by Jewish writers, editors and publishers. It appears to be a qualification for New York Times Israel correspondents and op-ed columnists to have a son in the Israeli military, or be married into the Israeli establishment.34

US support for Israel comes foremost from Jewish activists. “The bulk of the [Israel] lobby is comprised of Jewish Americans who are deeply committed to making sure that U.S. foreign policy advances what they believe to be Israel’s interests.”35 The efficacy of boycotts depends, in Chomsky’s formulation, on their “education.” If these people were “educable” they would no longer advocate for Israel, US policy would no longer support it, and BDS would be unnecessary. BDS is a response to the frustration of conventional politics. Chomsky adduces “many significant differences with South Africa,” but omits the most important, the absence of a powerful “Afrikaner lobby,” which could have “educated” the US like the Israel lobby educates about Israel today. This difference was complemented by a large, active African diaspora, compared with the weakness of today’s Arab diaspora.36

Chomsky also claimed that Israel’s economic strength showed the ignorance of capitalists about BDS, and stated that the economic “handwriting was on the wall” in South Africa in 1960, but this is greatly exaggerated. According to a recent economic history, “the earliest calls for sanctions were made in the 1960s… but there was little effect until the mid-1980s.”37 The “early 1970s marked the high point of South Africa’s economic performance,” but real GDP grew by 3.5% 1973-81, as inflation in gold and other export commodities fostered an illusory boom.38 As late as 1980 the head of the South African Reserve Bank could state: “Because of the economy’s increased fundamental strength, the long-term secular trend of economic activity will probably be strongly upward.”39

By 1986-7, the apartheid regime was in terminal crisis, from the early 1980s deflation, from foreign debt service, from military defeat in Angola, all compounded by internal and international opposition, including financial sanctions. Real GDP growth averaged .8% 1981 to 1994, when the first democratic elections were held.40

Apartheid apologetics

Chomsky’s misuse of the South Africa precedent slides into apartheid apologetics. Chomsky warns that “concern for the victims dictates that in assessing tactics, we should be scrupulous in recognizing what has failed, and why. This has not always been the case.”1 He cites Michael Neumann, another philosophy professor, reviewing The Case for Sanctions Against Israel.41 Neumann frets that a boycott would hurt the Palestinians, the same argument advanced on behalf of South African blacks by defenders of apartheid, by white South African liberals like Helen Suzman, who sat in the apartheid parliament, and by Chief Buthelezi and his Inkatha movement, who were widely viewed as regime collaborators.42 Neumann cited Albert Luthuli’s claim of unanimous support from non-white political organizations in South Africa, and contrived a quibble, asking whether “organizations should make such decisions for individuals,” and praised the South African activist for “at least… squarely recogniz[ing] the existence of a problem.”43 The “problem” is Neumann’s refusal to accept the majority of non-white opinion in South Africa.

In 1987 the African National Congress, the United Democratic Front and Archbishop Tutu, all adherents of the 1955 Freedom Charter, commanded majority support of 75% in urban areas and 60% country-wide.44 The “Charterist” tendencies all favored sanctions, whether conditional, on the dismantling of apartheid and police rule by the regime, or unconditional ceding of power to representatives of the majority. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the smaller National Council of Trade Unions, and the National Union of Mineworkers all supported sanctions, with minor differences. COSATU argued that “over decades the policy of apartheid has created structural unemployment of a magnitude far greater than that which would be caused by sanctions… It follows that the regime which has caused this hardship needs to be removed rather than reformed.”45 The Palestinian call was endorsed by a broad coalition of Palestinian organizations, including the trade union movement, itself a broad coalition of Palestinian labor and professional associations.46

Chomsky has opposed the academic boycott of Israel from the outset, stating in 2003, “I think the action is wrong in principle.”47 Neumann shares his view, and is indignant that the academic boycott of Israel “is aimed at institutions, not individuals… as if hurting institutions cannot hurt the individuals who depend on them!”48 American law professor Lawrence Davidson argued

that any successful academic boycott imposed upon Israeli institutions of higher education will assuredly have an impact on the academic freedom of Israeli scholars and teachers, at least in terms of its expression beyond their national borders. Is this acceptable?… it is not only acceptable but absolutely necessary…

… Israeli academic institutions and personnel have been intimately involved for nearly 40 years in their country’s systematic destruction of Palestinian educational endeavors (and thus Palestinian academic freedom) within the Occupied Territories. And even longer, if less dramatically, as regards the Arab-Israeli community within Israel proper. The vast majority of Israel academics have either been silent, or active participants in this process.

… Tanya Reinhart, formerly a professor of Linguistics at Tel Aviv University… tells us that “Never in its history did the senate of a any Israeli university pass a resolution protesting the frequent closure of Palestinian universities, let alone voice protest over the devastation sowed there [in the OT]… It is not that a motion in that direction failed to gather a majority, there was no such motion anywhere in Israeli academia.” And then there is Professor Ilan Pappe of Haifa University, who estimates that the number of Israeli academics who have “raised their voices against occupation” is “roughly 100 out of 9000”…

…The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has noted that “Israeli research institutes, think tanks and academic departments have historically granted legitimacy to the work of academics who advocate ethnic cleansing, apartheid, denial of refugee rights, and other discriminatory policies… Collaboration and cooperation with the intelligence services, the army, and other agencies of the occupation regime is part of the routine work of the Israeli academy.

Thus, with the passive or active assistance of the vast majority of Israeli professoriate, Palestinian education at all levels in the Occupied Territory is often brought to a near standstill by closures and roadblocks while its teachers, students, and physical structures suffer repeated assaults by Israeli military and settler paramilitary forces…

… systematic attack on their Palestinian peers in any way. Indeed… it may in fact have helped abet that attack…

…Israel’s academic community cannot be allowed to proceed as if it has nothing to do with the destruction of Palestinian society, including its academy and academic freedom… the placing of temporary limits on the freedom of 9000 Israeli academics is a necessary price that must be paid in the struggle to restore the fundamental rights of millions of Palestinians49

Chomsky claims that a boycott of Israeli academia is hypocritical because US academics are equally complicit in the “far greater crimes of the United States.” Since the end of the Cold War Israel and its US supporters have been prime movers in US crimes: the 1991 Gulf War; “dual containment” of Iran and Iraq; provoking the 9/11 attacks and all their sequelae; and the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the present dissolution of the Middle East into medieval components.50 Chomsky’s charge is a gambit to protect Israel and its supporters, not to oppose the US.

‘Each country has its own way’

In a 2004 interview, Chomsky rejected the use of apartheid, the Afrikaans word for South African segregation, to describe Zionism within Israel. He acknowledged its existence. “There is a kind of apartheid structure, and its built into the system. It’s also built into the immigration laws and all sorts of other things.” Yet he stated, “these are just inflammatory terms… I think it’s just sufficient to describe the situation, without comparing it to other situations. Each country is going to have its own way: Jim Crow is different from South African apartheid.” Chomsky recounted the anti-Semitism his family had experienced when he was growing up, and the fact that Harvard had very few Jewish faculty when he arrived on a post-doctoral fellowship in the early 1950s. “That’s not the same as South African apartheid, I don’t know what name you can give it, but it’s something, you have to describe it for what it is.”23

Or what it was. Anti-Semitism declined rapidly after 1945, and Jewish socioeconomic ascendancy, ongoing since Jewish immigrants arrived on American shores, continued apace, with the result that US elites have been thoroughly Judaized and the situation Chomsky described reversed. It is a positive thing about US society that millions of Jews could emigrate from the most impoverished and oppressed conditions in Europe, and that their descendants could rise to the top. The Jewish chauvinism that has been awakened by Zionism is a very negative and destructive thing.

The racialism of Zionism and Israeli society is not just “another way” of discrimination. No other state today defines itself formally as racialist, and insists that racialism is normative, as Israel demands to be recognized as the state of the Jewish people, with ever-escalating vehemence and violence. Most recently the cabinet sent to the Knesset legislation to ensure the “Jewish” character of Israel, which will “demote Arabic—spoken by the fifth of the population who belong to the country’s Palestinian minority—from its current status as an official language,” make “ ‘Jewish tradition’ and ‘the prophets of Israel’ a primary source of legal and judicial authority,” and formally define “Israel as belonging to Jews around the world rather than to its citizens, which includes 1.5 million Palestinians.”51

This has been building since the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO. Israel envisioned a “peace without Arabs,” as Israeli ex-patriate scholar Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin put it.52 The Oslo Accords did not recognize the Palestinian Arabs as equal inhabitants of historic Palestine, and the injustice done them by the establishment of Israel. Rather they expressed the idea of “separation,” which would remove the Palestinian Arabs from Israel’s midst and let it continue its separate, Zionist, Jewish destiny. The “reality of separation which was formed after the Oslo Accord actually diminished the differences between the main political powers in Israel concerning the future of the Occupied Territories.”53 The “peace” and “national” camps differed only on how best to achieve “separation.”

The principle of “separation” also introduced “a new mood of intolerance towards the political ambitions of the Arab minority inside Israel.”54 This led to increased repression, which escalated radically upon the outbreak of the al-Aqsa intidafa in September, 2000. Thirteen Israeli Palestinians protesting Israel’s attacks in the occupied territories were killed by draconian, militarized policing, including sniper units. Prime minister Ehud Barak and Sharon both argued that the internal protests were a “second front” against Israel, orchestrated by PA president Yasser Arafat.55

The Israeli Palestinian public increasingly supported, not changing discriminatory laws, but constitutional reform to make Israel a secular state of all its citizens. Palestinian politicians had resigned from Zionist political parties and been elected to the Knesset as members of Arab parties. Israeli Jewish society reacted by attacking Palestinian political leaders physically, and with trumped-up investigation and persecution, resulting in imprisonment, exile and suspension from the Knesset.56 Electoral laws were changed to effectively bar Arab political parties, which prompted a unified Arab slate for the March election.57 Veteran journalist Jonathan Cook wrote of “Israel’s next phase of the Palestinians’ conquest… the crushing of these more than one million unwanted citizens.”58

The combination of Zionist “separation” ideology and irredentism precludes Palestinian sovereignty and culminates in expulsion of the entire Palestinian population. The first annual Herzliya Conference, in December 2000, where Israel’s elite brainstorms, had “examined the ‘demographic threat’ facing Israel, concentrating less on the problem of the Palestinians in the occupied territories and more on the country’s Arab citizens.”59 A subsequent report proposed swapping an area adjacent to the northern West Bank, and its Palestinian population of 250,000, a quarter of Israel’s minority, for settlements in the West Bank. Benny Morris, one of the cohort of “new historians” who had exposed the ethnic cleansing of Israel’s founding, concluded that “Ben Gurion did not complete the transfer in 1948… he left a large and volatile demographic reserve in the West Bank and Gaza and within Israel itself.”60 The job might have to be finished:

If you are asking me whether I support the transfer and expulsion of the Arabs from the West Bank, Gaza, and perhaps even from the Galilee and the Triangle, I say not at this moment… But I am ready to tell you that in other circumstances, apocalyptic ones, which are liable to be realized in five or ten years, I can see expulsions.61

The new Yisrael Beiteinu (“Israel is Our Home”) party expresses this radical Right politics. Cook described Our Home’s then-leader Avigdor Lieberman as an “avowed Arab-hater,” “every bit the populist and racist politician,” head of “Israel’s only unquestionably fascist party,” who favors an autocratic presidential government.62 Lieberman has advocated expelling 90% of Israel’s Palestinian citizens, and called for Palestinian MKs to be executed.63 The president of Israel, and former speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin, was moved to state: “It is time to honestly admit that Israeli society is ill—and it is our duty to treat this disease.”64 For this he was vilified.65 The incumbent prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making Israel’s Arab minority the scapegoat for its difficulties.66 Netanyahu may have overreached in his arranging an invitation to address Congress, forcing Democrats into supporting President Obama over Iran and raising concern in Israel that he is damaging the crucial relationship.67

Nadia Ben-Youssef of Adalah, the Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel, responded to Chomsky in The Nation, in a piece titled “How Chomsky Obscures Israel’s True Nature.” She stated that “by focusing almost exclusively, though with bracing accuracy, on the injustices and humiliations Palestinians face in the OPT, Chomsky’s analysis reinforces a false paradigm that deflects from the problematic nature of the single Israeli regime.”68

Thus, when the Arab political leadership in Israel calls for a “state for all of its citizens,” they and their parties face attempts to disqualify them from participating in the Knesset under the argument that such demands contradict the constitutional values of Israel as a ‘Jewish and democratic’ state. Just as in the OPT, the Israeli regime within the Green Line is predicated on inequality and permeated with racism. It is this reality that Palestinians and their allies are aiming to change, and it is this that demands our attention.68

Chomsky referred to his 40-year old foreword to Sabri Jiryis’ book The Arabs in Israel and other dated work in which he discussed the nature of Israeli society, in responding to another Nation critic.69 Yet he has ignored the convergence of the two regimes since the al-Aqsa intifada. To Ben-Youssef Chomsky still defended “distinguishing the situation in the OT (much worse than apartheid) from the situation within Israel (very serious, but not South African-style apartheid).”70 The ominous impetus toward exclusion and expulsion make the Israeli regime worse, not better than apartheid. Chomsky nonetheless lectured her that the distinction “sharpens the framework within which to pursue the struggle successfully,” and warned disingenuously that activists should “evaluate the tactics that are used and their consequences, at least if we care about the fate of the victims—again.”70


As Israel radicalized its oppression of its Palestinian citizens, Chomsky nonetheless mounted his accusation of hypocrisy toward critics. The call for equal rights for all Israeli citizens “at once opens the door to the ‘glass house’ reaction: for example, if we boycott Tel Aviv University because Israel violates human rights at home, then why not boycott Harvard because of the far greater violations of the United States?”70 “We know the answer, and it is not an attractive one, undermining the integrity of the call for boycott.”25

The claim is familiar from the anti-apartheid struggle, when it was dismissed by American philosopher Robert Wolff.

The reproach to foreigners who are accused of seeing the mote in South Africa’s eye but not the beam in their own can be dismissed as the merest ad hominem. All oppressions, exploitations and expropriations should be fought, those at home and those abroad. It is not necessary to debate which is the greatest evil, nor to anguish about which should be fought first… social change is a broad avalanche… any work one does in opposition to social injustice anywhere is a worthy contribution, about which one can feel confident and proud.71

Since the end of the Cold War, Israel and its US supporters have been prime movers in US crimes, as noted. Yet debating the point obscures Wolff ’s principled argument that such tactics are “the merest ad hominem.”

In his recent appearance at the United Nations, sponsored by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Chomsky noted that Israel’s one-time UN ambassador, Abba Eban, had advised American Jewry that

they had two tasks to perform: to show that criticisms of the policy of the state of Israel… were anti-Semitism… if the criticism was made by Jews, their task was to show that it’s neurotic self-hatred… We have to be treated for our psychiatric disorders, and non-Jews have to be condemned for anti-Semitism if they’re critical of the state of Israel… We ought to understand that there is no sensible charge, no sensible charge, there is nothing to respond to. It’s not a form of anti-Semitism, it’s simply criticism of the criminal actions of the state.72

Chomsky basically echoed Wolff’s dismissal of “the merest ad hominem,” yet he makes the accusation when it suits him, just like Eban. Journalist Philip Weiss has attributed Chomsky’s adamant deprecation of the Israel lobby to anti-gentilism.73

Chomsky has also claimed that sanctions cannot be imposed on Israel because Israeli Jews would object. “In the case of South Africa, I think [sanctions] were legitimate because it was clear that the large majority of the population of South Africa was in favor of it. ..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.”23 “We agree that the Jewish population of Israel overwhelmingly opposes sanctions. To the best of my knowledge, there has been no meaningful call for sanctions among the non-Jewish population of Israel. So I think it is fair to say that opposition to sanctions would range from substantial to extremely strong across the Israeli spectrum.”24

Chomsky’s claim, in 2004, that no non-Jewish Israeli citizens had called for sanctions was premature. The 2005 call from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was endorsed by “Palestinian political parties, unions, associations, coalitions and organizations… represent[ing] the three integral parts of the people of Palestine: Palestinian refugees, Palestinians under occupation and Palestinian citizens of Israel.”74 Israel Palestinian endorsers included Ittijah, an umbrella group of Palestinian NGOs, whose director, Ameer Makhoul, was later imprisoned.75 Israel’s 2011 law effectively proscribing BDS is being contested by Adalah.76 The Israeli Palestinians also advocate something much more fundamental, a state of its citizens, for which they are persecuted as traitors. In Chomsky’s view their advocacy is apparently premature; they should first embrace the two-state logic of “separation,” even at risk of expulsion, and advocate a democratic state only after some unspecified period of “education.”

Damage to the cause

As the BDS movement gained momentum after 2005, Chomsky’s rationales for restricting BDS became more and more convoluted. In a 2010 interview he claimed:

Whatever crimes Israel commits are committed to the extent the US not only tolerates in them but participates in them, and playing a decisive role in Israel’s crimes is a very minor footnote to US crimes. So therefore, boycotting an Israeli dance group, immediately, apart from the question of selectivity, immediately offers jingoist, hard-line supporters of Israel an opening. It says, look, you’re a total hypocrite, and unfortunately they have a case, and I’m not in favor of giving support to hard-line supporters of Israeli atrocities.77

US support for Israel is a world-historical catastrophe, not “a very minor footnote.” Even apart from that, it is ludicrous to claim that Israeli war criminals and their US supporters would defend themselves by admitting that, yes, they commit terrible atrocities, but their patron, the US commits far more, and therefore the critics are hypocrites.

Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah commented:

Israeli government ministers have said it publicly many times, that Israel is using tours by dance groups and other cultural groups sponsored by the Israeli government to burnish the image of Israel. If we’re saying were not going to protest those groups… then what we’re saying is, we should give free reign to Israeli government propaganda, and allow them to use dance and other forms of art and film as a way to whitewash Israel’s image.78

While Chomsky accused advocates of BDS beyond his narrow limits of hurting the Palestinians, Israeli think tanks, cabinet ministries and the prime minister were apprehending damage to Israel’s image and the threat of worse. One think tank urged that Israel “sabotage” and “attack” the BDS movement. That language was scrubbed when it became notorious, but the Israeli government monitors Palestine solidarity activity on and off-line.79 In 2013 responsibility for Israel’s anti-BDS efforts was moved from the foreign ministry to the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.80 While addressing the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March, 2014, prime minister Netanyahu “launched a frontal assault on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.”81 In January, 2015, a classified foreign ministry report, sent to Israeli diplomatic missions world-wide, warned of “worsening international isolation,” citing economic and security consequences from European actions, and also erosion of US support, from the academic boycott.82 Opinion polls in Israel’s current election campaign show that Jewish voters fear international isolation, which is due in part to the BDS campaign.83

All that said, the BDS movement can be criticized, in this writer’s view. Campaigns against “the occupation” often proceed as if the overwhelming and crucial US official (and semi-official Jewish) “support for Israel” is taking place on a different planet. Focusing on Israel at least names the culprit and implicitly raises questions about US policy. Omar Barghouti, the leading Palestinian spokesman for BDS, spoke at Columbia University on December 2, on a program entitled “Palestine’s South Africa Moment?” with several Columbia faculty.84

The present writer asked a question about the Israel lobby. I noted that there was no comparable “Afrikaner lobby,” and asked how would BDS actually affect US policy? Or was the Lobby not a problem, as some thought? Barghouti answered that corporations were a powerful lobby for South Africa, but they were not; they were a lobby for their own investments, defending their economic value to South Africans, and signing on to token measures like the Sullivan principles, devised by a clergyman on GM’s board. They did not flood US culture with propaganda extolling apartheid and Afrikaner “self-determination,” and they did not vilify critics as “anti-Afrikaner.” It’s unlikely that they lobbied the US executive and Congress in support of the apartheid regime, beyond implicitly supporting it by defending their investments.

Barghouti then said: “Neither Chomsky nor Mearsheimer/Walt are correct. Sometimes the tail wags the dog, sometimes the dog wags the tail. But they are part of the same animal.” At another point he said that “supporting Israel benefits the 1%”, a vaguely Marxist political economy argument. This contradicted his response to a question asked just before mine, in which he said that much of the investment in Israel was “ideologically driven,” meaning by Zionist motives, apart from economic opportunity. Barghouti had no real idea how BDS would affect US policy, but it is not mainly his place, as a non-US citizen, to analyze and confront the forces at work here. That is the task of US citizens, who presumably know the territory. Barghouti is doing what he can, developing BDS, which is limited but constructive.

The historian Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia, introduced the panel. He later said that BDS affects public opinion. He said that politics will “remain impervious” to change, a phrase he repeated; the straight media will “remain impervious,” X will “remain impervious,” Y will “remain impervious,” strongly emphasizing “impervious.” BDS addresses US policy indirectly and is thus incomplete.

The Ugandan historian Mahmood Mamdani, who is also at Columbia, was on the panel with Barghouti. He denied for various reasons that Palestine’s “South Africa moment” has arrived. He acknowledged the much greater difficulty of the Palestinian struggle and stated:

The Palestinian challenge is to persuade the Jewish population and the world, just as in South Africa, the longtime security of a Jewish homeland in historic Palestine requires the dismantling of the Jewish state. The lesson for Palestine and Israel, is that historic Palestine can be a homeland for Jews but not for Jews only. Jews can have a homeland in historic Palestine, but not a state.85

It is not a Palestinian challenge but a challenge to the world that empowers Israel’s genocidal oppression, above all a challenge to the citizens of the United States. The response is to address Zionism, in keeping with the classical liberal traditions descended from the Enlightenment and Jewish emancipation that rejected it. This critique would explore Zionism’s roots as Jewish racialism, its power in the US today, and its cost to the country, as well as to Palestine and the world. This requires a major cultural shift, to overcome the obfuscation of the minimal “anti-occupation” critique of Chomsky and his followers over the last 50 years. The reader may decide whether Chomsky or the BDS movement has been “harming the Palestinians.”

US support for Israel

In his July, 2014 attack on BDS, Chomsky stated the obvious fact that US support for Israel enables its policies and blocks an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, and faulted BDS for “occasionally—but not sufficiently—reaching to the crucial matter of US support for Israeli crimes.”1 He had sounded this theme since the MIT/Harvard initiative. In 2004 he exclaimed indignantly: “We ought to call for sanctions against the United States! If the U.S. were to stop its massive support for this, it’s over. So, you don’t have to have sanctions on Israel. It’s like putting sanctions on Poland under the Russians because of what the Poles are doing. It doesn’t make sense. Here, we’re the Russians.”23 Chomsky argued as if Israel were conquered and occupied by the US military and operating under a US puppet government, rather than one elected by its people, and enjoying overwhelming and decisive support from a powerful US lobby. In 2006 Chomsky used this ploy to accuse BDS advocates of anti-semitism. “For the most part, Israel can act only within the framework established by the Great Power on which it has chosen to rely… So, if there are to be boycotts, why not of the US… we know the answer, and it is not an attractive one, undermining the integrity of the call for boycott.”86

In his July, 2014 article, Chomsky cited the US-Israeli rejection of a 1971 Egyptian peace initiative. What Chomsky insists is “US-Israeli rejectionism” and undifferentiated “US support for Israel” may be better understood as the adaptation by US elites to Jewish faits accompli. A study of the period by a former AIPAC legislative aide and Defense Department employee found that

Congress played a key role in shaping the course of American-Israeli relations during the 1969- 1976 period… Congress was willing at times to exert its authority by blocking measures that the administration contemplated but Congress believed would threaten Israel’s security. This willingness helped keep United States policy within certain pro-Israel boundaries. For example, the May, 1975 letter of seventy-six senators to President Ford virtually forced the executive branch to abandon the option of imposing a Mideast settlement which Israel considered to be potentially detrimental to its security. Similarly, Congressional and interest group [AIPAC] activity in response to the 1969 Rogers Plan “virtually insured that no further pro-Arab initiatives would be undertaken” by the Nixon administration.87

President Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, had opposed the 1969 Rogers Plan for a two-state settlement, for fatuous notions of Cold War strategy, from his own biases, and from a desire to control foreign policy. As the study cited argued, in effect, this was making a virtue of necessity. Nixon was wary of the Israel lobby after the firestorm over the Rogers Plan, but he still viewed the Arab-Israeli conflict as as critical. Shortly after winning re-election in 1972 he told Kissinger, “Henry, the time has now come to squeeze the old woman [Israeli prime minister Golda Meir]… we can’t just let the thing ride and have a hundred million Arabs hating us and providing a fishing ground not only for radicals, but of course the Soviets.”88 In talks with Egypt in early 1973 Kissinger simply presented Israel’s position, from personal affinity for Israel and his knowledge “that the Israelis were not going to be easy to budge.”89 US-Egypt contacts came to nought, leading to the October, 1973 Arab-Israeli war. The end of hostilities left Israeli and Egyptian forces entangled in place, and Israel’s obduracy in disengaging frustrated even Kissinger. In 1975 he persuaded President Ford to agree to a “review” of US-Israel relations. The result was the “letter of seventy-six senators” referred to above, not the first or last time three-quarters of the US Senate endorsed Israel’s desires, with or against the US executive.

Chomsky claims that the US-Israel relationship is due to US “strategic interest,” that the “Israel lobby” is powerful only when it pursues policies the US would have pursued anyway. “Domestic pressure groups tend to be ineffectual unless they line up with significant elements of state-corporate power, or have reached a scale and intensity that compels moves to accommodate them. When AIPAC lobbies for policies that the state executive and major sectors of corporate America intend to pursue, it is influential; when it confronts authentic power, largely unified, it fades very quickly.”90 Chomsky wants to suggest, intimate and convey, to hint, insinuate and imply, that US policy would be the same absent the Israel lobby, but he is careful not to state that directly.

In the 1940s, the nascent Israel lobby “reached a scale and intensity that compelled moves to accommodate it” and imposed US support for partition of Palestine and a Jewish state on the US government, against the opposition of the State Department, the Pentagon, and the international oil companies. Roosevelt’s enthusiasm for Zionism did not survive meeting Saudi King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud in Egypt in February 1945. After hearing Ibn Saud’s forceful views FDR resolved to “reexamine our entire policy on Palestine.”91 Truman reluctantly assented to Zionism, but resented the overwhelming pressure, and continued to feel that a 1946 Anglo-American plan for federated Arab and Jewish cantons was the best solution.92

In 1944 the Zionist lobby “wrung support from the conventions of both parties” for a Senate resolution supporting abrogation of the Palestine immigration limits in the 1939 British white paper, and the establishment of Palestine as a Jewish commonwealth.93 In 1945, the Zionist lobby secured Truman’s endorsement of a Jewish Agency proposal for the entry of 100,000 Jewish immigrants to Palestine.94 In fall of 1946 it obtained a statement from Truman on the eve of Yom Kippur in effect endorsing partition of Palestine.95 In November, 1947 Zionist pressure ensured US lobbying at the UN for partition of Palestine, and in May, 1948, US diplomatic recognition, within minutes of the state’s proclamation in Tel Aviv.96 US Jewish Zionists illegally purchased war surplus materiel, including aircraft and ships, and munitions-producing machinery, and smuggled it to Palestine. They were detected by US authorities but were not prosecuted for political reasons.97

The chief concern of the US foreign policy establishment was the nascent Cold War, whose first flashpoints were in Iran, Turkey and Greece. Loy Henderson, as director of Near East and Africa Affairs in the State Department, was deeply involved in Cold War strategy, and in Palestine policy.98 “Marshall, Acheson and Lovett were relatively unversed in the politics of Palestine, so they relied on Henderson to guide them.”99 Following the partition recommendation by the UN Special Committee on Palestine in August, 1947, Henderson stated to Undersecretary of State Robert Lovett that a “hostile attitude on the part of the Arabs would threaten from the rear the position we are desperately trying to hold in Greece, Turkey and Iran.”100 He stated to Secretary of State George Marshall that it “would not be in the national interests of the United States for it to advocate any kind of a plan at this time for the partitioning of Palestine or for the setting up of a Jewish State.” Such advocacy would jeopardize “our efforts to support world stability and to prevent further Soviet penetration,” damage “relations with the peoples of the Near East and with Moslems everywhere,” impede plans to use “the resources of the area… for the reconstruction of Europe,” encourage “violent Arab nationalist uprisings,” etc.101 In a private letter in March, 1948, Henderson stated that the “Zionists would ‘win the first few rounds’ but be unable to establish anything like lasting peace and stability. The American people… would find themselves increasingly drawn to the Zionists’ defense. Anti-western elements would batten on the chaos… The region would experience ‘the rise of fanatic Mohammedanism’ of an intensity ‘not experienced for hundreds of years.”102

The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the armed forces argued that support by the US for the partition of Palestine “would prejudice United States strategic interests in the Near and Middle East,” possibly lead to “serious disturbances throughout the Near and Middle East” with the result that “the USSR might replace the United States and Great Britain in influence and power.” The US might have to fight an “oil-starved war” without its “maximum potential power” if it did not “retain the good will of the Arab and Moslem states.” The Joint Chiefs also feared that forces required to implement partition would “invalidate entirely current estimate of required strengths” of the US military, and absorb the “extremely small strategic reserve.”103

The Arabian American Oil Company, which held the Saudi oil concession, warned the State Department that “United States is jeopardizing the good will of 30,000,000 Arabs and 220,000,000 Muslims, risking the loss of its cultural and educational leadership in that part of the world, the sacrifice of many hundreds of millions of dollars of investments… and the strategic loss of access to air and naval bases throughout the Moslem world.”104 After the UN partition resolution in November, 1947 a crowd of 2,000 attacked the US Legation in Damascus, and in Baghdad the office of the US Information Service was attacked.105 Aramco was constructing the Trans-Arabian Pipeline from the Saudi oil fields to the Mediterranean coast. Tapline would fuel the recovery of Europe, relieve demands on western hemisphere supplies and tankers to transport them, greatly reduce the cost of moving Saudi oil to market, and increase Aramco profits, to the benefit of the American partners and to Saudi Arabia. Syria initially refused to ratify a transit agreement for the Tapline route over US Palestine policy.106

In the end, Ibn Saud’s kingdom was too weak and too dependent on the US for him to jeopardize relations over Palestine, no matter how insistently he protested. Henderson himself observed that in “the recent setback suffered by all American interests in the Near East as a result of our stand on Palestine business firms have seemed to suffer less than either U.S. Government or American cultural interests… It may well be that the oil companies are in a position to recover lost ground… sooner than the U.S. Government.”107 Yet, indisputably, in such critical circumstances, US support for Zionism would never have been conceived, let alone implemented, absent the ruthless Zionist orchestration of US politics, including the inner circle of the Truman White House, both political parties, campaign finance, Congress, governors, gentile notables, the media and the Jewish vote.

The maturation of the Zionist lobby in the 1940s was a familiar historical event, a rising socioeconomic elite bidding for political power. Even in the 1940s, Jewish organizations and the Jewish public had the political influence and the financial resources to prevail on a major foreign policy decision, like a commercial or industrial bourgeoisie imposing its interest. This elite was motivated not by a class interest, but by a purely ideological one, the aggrandizement of the Zionist Jewish people, with fanatical appetite.
Nor can this be considered independent of “US interests.” As Ambassador Chas Freeman put it: “We need to begin by recognizing that our relationship with Israel has never been driven by strategic reasoning. It began with President Truman overruling his strategic and military advisers in deference to personal sentiment and political expediency.”108 The establishment of Israel revealed the quasi-sovereign power of the nascent Israel lobby. The US did not create Israel for its own purposes, rather Israel was created despite US purposes, and its specific and virulent racialism, belligerence and irredentism has influenced the US ever since. This has rigorously precluded some outcomes and powerfully encouraged others, greatly radicalizing US policy and culture. One may argue that Zionism has turned the Middle East into the eastern front of the US empire, like the eastern front of Nazi Germany, site of its most depraved deeds and ideology.

The Lobby’s frustration of politics has led to the BDS movement, which establishes the principle that Israel needs to be sanctioned. Chomsky’s charge that BDS does not address “US support” for Israel is the reddest herring in the sea. Palestine supporters need to learn how to deal with the pro-Israel complex, which they have not because Chomsky and his followers have suppressed the issue, an ongoing effort. The strategic asset school aren’t about to acknowledge the precedent of Zionist influence in the 1940s, but are trying to backdate the strategic asset argument to that time.109


At the Columbia panel on “Palestine’s South Africa Moment?” Omar Barghouti was questioned about Chomsky’s attack on BDS, and replied that, “in the BDS movement, we don’t discuss Chomsky, from respect for his past.” While it has become more obvious lately, Chomsky’s past is as Zionist as his present.

Chomsky grew up with Zionist values, not just liberal ones. Chomsky’s parents were teachers and scholars of Hebrew at Jewish institutions in Philadelphia. His father was a devotee of Ahad Ha’am, the first stylist of modern Hebrew prose and a proponent of secular Jewish culture. Young Chomsky shared this affinity, studied Hebrew linguistics himself, and has never renounced this upbringing. Chomsky’s first writings on Palestine, collected in Peace in the Middle East? in 1974, recycled his Zionist youth movement doctrine as “radical analysis.”

The classical liberal traditions descended from the Enlightenment and Jewish emancipation—classical Reform Judaism, Marxist internationalism and plain secularism—rejected Zionism and its conceit of the Jewish people categorically. Chomsky subscribes to anarchism, whose modes of decentralization and federalism are more amenable to identity politics, and avoid the potentially rigorous standards of internationalism, though the anarchists had their own ideals of internationalism.110 Internationalism remains an ideal today, in the World Social Forum and other expressions.

At the same time Chomsky was purveying Zionist youth doctrine as “radical analysis,” the classical traditions were being upheld by distinguished Jewish exemplars such as Elmer Berger, Isaac Deutscher, Maxime Rodinson, Israel Shahak and the Israeli Matzpen. In defiance of the classical traditions, their latter-day exemplars, and the leading scholarship on Zionism, Chomsky defined a Jewish national right to settle Palestine, and continues to idealize the kibbutz and Ahad Ha’am’s “secular Jewish identity,” the basis of the Zionist Jewish people.111

For the classical traditions, Chomsky and his followers have substituted Jewish identity politics and a minimal, truncated critique of “the occupation,” but not of Zionism as Jewish racialism, beyond acknowledging the injustice of the Jewish state; a discourse of diplomatic “conflict solutions” and false Zionist precedents, rather than one of opposition to Zionism; an ahistorical emphasis on “international law and human rights,” rather than neo-colonial conquest; and the “strategic asset” view of US-Israel relations, the support of evangelical Christians (which has collapsed over Israel’s atrocities) and others, over the “Israel lobby.” The classical traditions, by rejecting Jewish racialism and affirming liberal rights and freedoms, are our fundamental defense against Zionism, and also against anti-Semitism. Their abandonment by Chomsky and his followers, even as they accuse gentiles of anti-Semitism, confirms that the danger today is Jewish chauvinism, not anti-Semitism.

In the view of many Chomsky’s attack on BDS exposes more broadly his failings on Palestine, which are coming to overshadow the legacy of the scholar who once promulgated the “responsibility of intellectuals:” to “speak the truth and to expose lies.”112

  1. Noam Chomsky, “On Israel-Palestine and BDS. Those dedicated to the Palestinian cause should think carefully about the tactics they choose”, The Nation, July 21-28, 2014 (August 24, 2014). [] [] []
  2. Responses to Noam Chomsky on Israel-Palestine and BDS,” Yosef Munayyer, et al. July 10, 2014 (August 24, 2014). “On Israel-Palestine and BDS: Chomsky Replies,” July 22, 2014. Wael Elasady, “Why doesn’t Noam Chomsky support BDS?” Socialist Worker, July 15, 2015 (November 10, 2014). Kim Petersen, “Who Decides for the Palestinians?” Dissident Voice, July 5, 2014 (January 3, 2015). Tom Suarez, “Chomsky and BDS,” July 6, 2014 (August 24, 2014). Max Blumenthal, at 22:45 in this interview on Russia Today with Abby Martin, July 3, 2013 (August 24, 2014). Frank Barat on Facebook, July 3, 2014, “Chomsky is Wrong. Fact” (August 24, 2014). Barat rejected Chomsky’s claim that the right of return was not part of international law. This post requires scrolling down to the date. []
  3. Tanya Reinhart, Israel/Palestine. How to End the War of 1948 (New York: Seven Stories, 2005), Caps. V-VIII cover the conquest and reoccupation; a later phase was called Defensive Shield. On the bulldozing, see p. 159-70. Reinart quotes most of Tsadok Yeheskeli, “I made them a stadium in the middle of the camp,” from the Israeli Yediot Aharonot, May 31, 2002, archived at Gush Shalom web site (January 1, 2015). []
  4. See Joint Harvard-MIT Petition for Divestment from Israel (November 10, 2014). []
  5. Harvard-MIT affiliates sign petition against divestment,” MIT News Office, May 15, 2002, (November 10, 2014). []
  6. David H. Gellis, “Summers Rules Out Divestment,” Harvard Crimson, Friday, May 17, 2002 (November 10, 2014). []
  7. Karen W. Arenson, “Harvard President Sees Rise In Anti-Semitism on Campus,” New York Times, September 21, 2002. “Marcella Bombardieri, “Summers’ remarks on women draw fire,” Boston Globe, January 17, 2005 (November 10, 2014). []
  8. Marcella Bombardieri and Maria Sacchetti, “Summers to step down, ending tumult at Harvard President faced revolt,” Boston Globe, February 22, 2006 (November 10, 2014). []
  9. David Weinfeld, “Chomsky’s Gift,” The Crimson, December 12, 2002 (September 24, 2014). [] [] [] []
  10. Noam Chomsky, “Books: ‘Hegemony or Survival’”, on-line chat, November 26, 2003 (October 16, 2014). []
  11. David H. Gellis, “Faculty Urge Divestment from Israel,” Harvard Crimson, May 6, 2002. [] [] []
  12. See Uzi Benziman, Sharon. An Israeli Caesar (New York: Adama Books, 1985). []
  13. BDS National Committee, “Introducing the BDS Movement,” (November 9, 2014). Note the qualification about 1967 in the first of the three goals, compared to the original Call (November 9, 2014). []
  14. Noam Chomsky, “On Israel-Palestine and BDS. Those dedicated to the Palestinian cause should think carefully about the tactics they choose”, The Nation, July 21-28, 2014; (August 24, 2014). [] [] [] []
  15. Susan M. Akram, “Palestinian Refugees and Their Legal Status: Rights, Politics, and Implications for a Just Solution,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 31, No. 3. (Spring, 2002), p. 36-51 [] []
  16. Tom Suarez, “Chomsky and BDS,” Mondoweiss, July 6, 2014
    (October 10, 2014). “Former EU leaders urge sanctions for Israel settlements,” December 10, 2010 (October 10, 2014). []
  17. Laura Carlsen, “Why Latin American leaders are standing up to Israel,” Al-Jazeera, August 16, 2014 (September 7, 2014). []
  18. ‘We must take action’ … Senators call for Ireland to strengthen stance on Gaza,” thejournalie, July 31, 2014 (September 7, 2014). []
  19. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “Leading German Opposition Politician Calls for Ending Arms Exports to Israel,” September 08, 2014. []
  20. Amir Oren, “The Germans may no longer be the gift that keeps on giving,” Haaretz, September 10, 2014 (September 10, 2014). []
  21. Stan Hoben, “British MPs call for concrete action to sanction Israel,” Mondoweiss, December 3 (December 3, 2014). “FM threatens sanctions against Israel,” The Local, September 22, 2014 (September 24, 2014). “Belgium cancels economic mission to Israel due to its latest attack on Gaza,” October 3, 2014 (citing two Belgian media sources) (January 3, 2015). Michael Deas, “EU must cease ‘material support’ for Israel’s crimes, say leading trade unions,” Electronic Intifada, November 12 (January 23, 2015). []
  22. Michael Deas, “Dozens of European parliamentarians call for end to EU-Israel treaty,” Electronic Intifada, February 2, 2015 (February 5, 2015). []
  23. Noam Chomsky and Christopher J. Lee, “South Africa, Israel-Palestine, and the Contours of the Contemporary World Order. An Interview With Noam Chomsky”, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Comparative Studies, 13-14 (April 2004). [] [] [] []
  24. Chomsky, “South Africa-style Sanctions Against Israel?” [] [] []
  25. Noam Chomsky, “Israel, Palestine and the Hypocrisies of Power,” New Internationalist, August 22, 2007 (October 18, 2014). [] []
  26. Rami Almeghari, “Chomsky in Gaza: academic boycott ‘will strengthen support for Israel,’” Electronic Intifada, October 20, 2012 (November 7, 2014). []
  27. Janet Hook, “WSJ/NBC Poll: U.S. Should Be Even-Handed on Israel, Palestinians,” August 5, 2014 (September 28, 2014). []
  28. CNN/ORC poll of May 24-26, 2011 (September 9, 2014). []
  29. Alison Weir, “Polls Say: Dont Take Sides,” surveying polls from 2003 to 2010 (September 9, 2014) Richard H. Curtiss and Delinda C. Hanley, “U.S. Opinion Polls Show Growing Support for Palestinians,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September-October 2002 (September 9, 2014). []
  30. CBS News, July 29-August 4 2014) (September 9, 2014) A Washington Post-ABC News poll March 7-10, 2013 confirmed that, and also showed pluralities against the view that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to national security; p. 14,16 in 25 (September 9, 2014). []
  31. Grant Smith and Jeff Blankfort, “American Public Opinion on U.S. Aid to Israel. Who wants to pay for nuclear armed Israel’s ‘Qualitative Military Edge?’” (October 10, 2014). []
  32. John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Farar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), p. 169. Chomsky commented on their 2006 article, John J . Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, “The Israel Lobby,” London Review of Books, March 23, 2006 (December 28, 2014) full paper (December 28, 2014). Chomsky’s response was a rehash of familiar gambits. He adduced his faux-axiomatic definition of “US interests” apart from those of Israel, whose satisfaction “proves” the subordination of the Israel lobby. He drew lengthy and incorrect parallels between US actions world-wide to claim that there was nothing singular in US support for Israel. Both of these ploys divert attention from an examination of actual US policy-making and Zionist influence. He adduced his usual alternate suspects, the oil industry, which opposed Zionism in the 1940s and ever since; and the evangelical Christians, whose support has collapsed over Israel’s atrocities. He claimed that general “liberal support” for Israel caused the lobby “thesis to lose much of its content,” as if “liberal support” were separable from liberal Jewish support. He claimed quite falsely that only after 1967 was the lobby influential, ignoring its success in coercing US support for partition of Palestine and sponsorship of a Jewish state in the 1940s, against military, diplomatic and oil industry opposition. Chomsky’s pronouncements must be contrasted with those who study and implement “US interests,” including establishment scholars like Mearsheimer and Walt, but also national security alumni, who View Israel as a mortal threat to the US. In Chomsky’s view they don’t understand their jobs. See Harry Clark, “Overcoming the Passionate Attachment,” for an account of the March, 2014 national conference on the US-Israel relationship. (January 31, 2015). []
  33. Eric Alterman, “Intractable Foes, Warring Narratives,” Alternet, April 1, 2002 (October 3 1, 2014). []
  34. Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz, “Another New York Times reporter’s son is in the Israeli army,” Mondoweiss, October 27, 2014 (October 31, 2014) Alex Kane, “New Conflict of Interest at NYT Jerusalem Bureau. Isabel Kershners family tie to pro-government think tank,” FAIR, May 1, 2012 (January 29, 2015). []
  35. Mearsheimer and Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, p. 115. []
  36. See Francis Njubi Nesbitt, Race for Sanctions. African Americans Against Apartheid, 1946-94 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004) on the African diaspora in the US. []
  37. Charles H. Feinstein, An Economic History of South Africa. Conquest, Discrimination and Development (Cambridge: Cam- bridge University Press, 2005), p. 224. []
  38. Ibid., p. 213, table p. 201. []
  39. Ibid., p. 225. []
  40. Ibid., p. 201. []
  41. Michael Neumann, reviewing Audrea Lim, ed., The Case for Sanctions Against Israel (London and Brooklyn, NY: Verso, 2012), Journal of Palestine Studies, XLII:2, Winter, 2014. []
  42. Ramia Khalek, “How today’s liberal Zionists echo apartheid South Africa’s defenders,” Electronic Intifada, February 13, 2014 (September 20, 2014). John F. Burns and Alan Cowell, “Helen Suzman, Anti-Apartheid Leader, Dies at 91,” New York Times, January 1, 2009. []
  43. Neumann, review of The Case for Sanctions Against Israel, p. 82 []
  44. Mark Orkin, ed., Sanctions Against Apartheid (Cape Town and Johannesburg: David Philip, 1989), p. 81, 94. []
  45. Orkin, p. 10. []
  46. Palestinian BDS Call. Palestinian Civil Society Calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights,” July 9, 2005 (November 9, 2014). Maureen Clare Murphy, “Palestinian trade union movement forms historic BDS coalition,” Electronic Intifada, Thursday, May 5, 2011 (September 18, 2014). []
  47. Chomsky attacks boycott of Israel,” Times Higher Education Supplement, February 28, 2003 (November 8, 2014). []
  48. Michael Neumann, Journal of Palestine Studies XLII:2, Winter, 2014, p. 82. []
  49. Lawrence Davidson, “Why an academic boycott of Israel is necessary,” Electronic Intifada, January 3, 2007 (September 18, 2014). []
  50. See the section “The Establishment,” in Harry Clark, “The End of Modern Jewish History,” Left Curve #38, for an outline and references (January 1, 2015). []
  51. Jonathan Cook, “Israel’s Jewish state bill: The wider impact,” November 27, 2014 (November 28, 2014). See also Eli Aminov, “Israel’s nation state law: Jewish sharia,” November 25, 2014, Alternative Information Center (November 26, 2014). Ben White, “Jewish state law furore misses the point: Israel already discriminates,” Middle East Monitor, November 25, 2014 (November 26, 2014). []
  52. Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, “A Peace without Arabs: The Discourse of Peace and the Limits of Israeli Consciousness”, in George Giacaman and Dag Lorung Lonning, eds., After Olso, New Realities, Old Problems (London: Pluto Press, 1998). []
  53. Giacaman and Lonning, p. 65. []
  54. Jonathan Cook, Blood and Religion. The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State (London: Pluto Press, 2006), p. 79. []
  55. Ibid., p. 59 for “second front”; Introduction and Chap 1 for background. []
  56. Ali Abunimah, “What the persecution of Azmi Bishara means for Palestine,” Electronic Intifada, April 16, 2007 (January 3, 2015). National Democratic Assembly, “The State of Israel vs. Former MK Azmi Bishara,” Electronic Intifada, May 20, 2007 (January 3, 2015). Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, “Ameer Makhoul: still shaking the foundations of Israeli apartheid after 2 years in jail,” Electronic Intifada, May 3, 2012 (October 20, 2014). Jonathan Cook, “Israel moves to outlaw Palestinian political parties in the Knesset,” Electronic Intifada, November 4, 2014 (November 4, 2014). Mairav Zonszein, “High Court rules against Zoabi, upholds Knesset suspension,” 972, December 10, 2014 (January 3, 2015) Revital Hovel, “AG: Arab lawmaker to stand trial for incitement to violence, pending hearing,” Haaretz, January 6, 2015 (January 7, 2015). []
  57. Cook, “Israel moves to outlaw Palestinian political parties in the Knesset”; Jonathan Cook, “Israeli election could end in Arab-free Knesset,” December 22, 2014 (January 3, 2015). Noam Sheizaf, “Why does the Israeli left oppose MK Haneen Zoabi?” 972, August 25, 2014 (October 30, 2014). Mairav Zonszein, “Arab parties announce joint slate for upcoming election,” 972, January 23, 2015 (January 23, 2015). []
  58. Cook, Disappearing Palestine, p. 158. []
  59. Cook, Blood and Religion, p. 116. For the Herzliya Conference (October 26, 2014). []
  60. Cook, Blood and Religion, p. 107. []
  61. Ibid., p. 107-8. []
  62. Ibid., p. 152, 153. []
  63. Jonathan Cook, “Israel’s Minister of Strategic Threats”, CounterPunch October 25, 2006 (December 6, 2014) I’lam Media Center for Palestinians in Israel, “Israeli party leader Avigdor Lieberman calls for Arab MKs to be executed,” Electronic Intifada, May 11, 2006 (January 3, 2015). []
  64. Rivlin: Violence an epidemic in Israeli society,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 19, 2014 (November 6, 2014). []
  65. Israeli right-wingers launch campaign of incitement against Rivlin,” Jerusalem Post, October, 31, 2014 (November 13, 2014). []
  66. Jonathan Cook, “Netanyahu’s election scapegoat: Israel’s Palestinian minority,” December 5, 2014 (January 3, 2015). []
  67. Philip Weiss, “Netanyahu speech scandal blows up, and soiled Derrner looks like the fall guy,” Mondoweiss January 29, 2015 (January 29, 2015). []
  68. Nadia Ben-Youssef, “Chomsky Obscures Israel’s True Nature,” The Nation, July 10, 2014 (January 3, 2015). [] []
  69. Sabri Jiryis, translated from Arabic by Inea Bushnaq, foreword by Noam Chomsky, The Arabs in Israel (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1976). []
  70. Noam Chomsky, “On Israel-Palestine and BDS: Chomsky Replies,” The Nation, July 22, 2014 (November 12, 2014). [] [] []
  71. Mark Orkin, ed., Sanctions Against Apartheid (Cape Town and Johannesburg: David Philip, 1989), p. 111. []
  72. Noam Chomsky, “Anti-Zionism Is NOT Anti-Semitism,” excerpt of appearance before the UN General Assembly, October 14, 2014 (November 9, 2014). []
  73. Philip Weiss, “The Bastards,” Mondoweiss, April 27, 2011. Growing up, in Weiss’s family, “the bastards, the goyim in power, they always received the full measure of our scorn… the bastards had unbroken pedigree in my family’s cultural/political memory from Coolidge to Hoover to Dulles to Eisenhower to Nixon to Reagan, right on up to the Bushes and the Koch brothers. These were the real powers in political life; and I think there is some bastard-ism in Chomsky’s analysis.” (November 8, 2014). The expression was not limited to Weiss’s family. In the 1940s, “the Jewish Agency in Palestine privately referred to Marshall’s State Department as ‘bastards,’ or ‘momzerim.’ ” Geoffrey Wawro, Quicksand. America ’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East (New York: Penguin Press, 2010), p. 108. The term is Yiddish, descended from biblical and rabbinical injunctions. Momzer is worse than mere bastard, a child born out of wedlock; it means an illegal, immoral individual, product of a union which could not be legal and moral in any sense. See “Bastard” (December 31, 2014). []
  74. Palestinian BDS National Committee, “Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS,” (January 23, 2015). []
  75. Palestinian BDS Call. Palestinian Civil Society Calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights,” July 9, 2005 (November 22, 2014). []
  76. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, “Expanded Supreme Court Panel Hears Petition Against Anti-Boycott Law,” February 18, 2014 (September 12, 2014). Palestinian BDS National Committee, “Leadership of Palestinian boycott campaign responds to new law,” July 12, 2011 (November 22, 2014). []
  77. Virtual Debate: Chomsky v. Abunimah, Blankfort,” KPFA, January 6, 2010; 2: 10 onward (November 9, 2014). []
  78. KPFA, “Virtual Debate: Chomsky v. Abunimah, Blankfort,” January 6, 2010; 5:55 onward at URL below. Bay Area journalist and artist Khalil Bendib had interviewed Chomsky on one radio program, and then asked him to return to debate Abunimah. Chomsky refused, so Bendib staged a “virtual debate” by playing sections of Chomsky’s remarks and letting Abunimah, and journalist Jeff Blankfort, respond. The recording is archived on the site of Blankfort’s programs. (November 9, 2014). []
  79. Ali Abunimah, “Israel’s new strategy: ‘sabotage’ and ‘attack’ the global justice movement,” Electronic Intifada, February 16, 2010 (December 6, 2014). Asa Winstanley, “The Mossad’s strategy against BDSMiddle East Monitor, November 27, 2014 (December 2, 2014). []
  80. Ben White, “Israeli government ramps up anti-boycott fight,” Electronic Intifada, June 27, 2014 (January 3, 2015) Barak Ravid, “Ministers split on strategic plan over how to counter boycott threats,” Haaretz, January 31, 2014 (December 6, 2014). []
  81. Ali Abunimah, “At AIPAC, Netanyahu launches ‘desperate’ attack on BDS movement,” Electronic Intifada March 4, 2014 (December 6, 2014). []
  82. Itamar Eichner, “Israel’s facing worsening international isolation, warns Foreign Ministry paper,”, January 14, 2015 (January 24, 2015). []
  83. Dahlia Scheindlin, “+972 poll: Israelis reject the status quo, fear int’l isolation,” 972, December 24, 2014 (January 2, 2015). []
  84. Omar Barghouti, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions. The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2011). (December 8, 2014) “Palestine’s South Africa Moment?” Center for Palestine Studies, Columbia University (January 11, 2015). []
  85. Philip Weiss, “Mamdani’s ‘holistic’ challenge: Anti-Zionists must persuade Jews they can only be safe by dismantling the Jewish state Activism,” Mondoweiss, December 7, 2014 (December 8, 2014) See also Philip Weiss, “Israe1 has no answer to BDS, Barghouti tells packed hall at Columbia,” Mondoweiss, December 6, 2014 (December 6, 2014). []
  86. Noam Chomsky, “Israel, Palestine and the Hypocrisies of Power,” New Internationalist, August 22, 2007 (October 18, 2014). []
  87. Marvin C. Feuerwerger, Congress and Israel: Foreign Aid Decision-Making in the House of Representatives, 1969-1976 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1979), p. 181. []
  88. Craig Daigle, The Limits of Detente The United States, the Soviet Union and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1969-1973 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), p. 245. []
  89. Ibid., p. 257, see p. 250-60 for US-Egypt talks in early 1973. []
  90. Noam Chomsky, “Middle East Diplomacy: Continuities and Changes,” Z magazine, December, 1991 (September 3, 2014). []
  91. Wawro, Quicksand, p. 91. []
  92. Cohen, Truman and Israel, p. 278. []
  93. Cohen, Truman and Israel, p. 63. []
  94. John B. Judis, Genesis. Truman, America Jews and the Origin of the Arab/Israeli Conflict (New York: Farar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), p. 202-6. []
  95. Cohen, Truman and Israel, p. 143-6; Judis, Genesis, p. 240-6. []
  96. Cohen, Truman and Israel, p. 168-72, 212-22; Judis, Genesis, p. 265-82, 311-19. []
  97. Grant F. Smith, Spy Trade. How Israel’s Lobby Undermines America’s Economy (Washington: Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, 2008), p. 19-26; Grant F. Smith, America’s Defense Line. The Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government (Washington: Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, 2008), p. 69-74; Institute for Research: Middle East Policy, (November 25, 2014). “The Jewish Agency’s U.S. Arms Smuggling Network” part of IRMEP’s Israel Lobby Archive (November 25, 2014). []
  98. H. W. Brands, Inside the Cold War. Loy Henderson and the Rise of the American Empire, 1918-1961 (New York : Oxford University Press, 1991), Chs. 9-11, describe Henderson’s service in Iraq and his early tenure at NEA; “The Present Situation in the Near East,” FRUS 1946, V, p. 1-6, is an early Henderson appreciation of the northern tier; a cover memo to Acheson is dated December 28, 1945. Matthew F. Holland, America and Egypt. From Roosevelt to Eisenhower (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996), p. xxiv-xxix, also discusses Henderson’s central role in US Middle East policy as NEA director. []
  99. Judis, Genesis, p. 255. []
  100. FRUS, 1947, V, p. 800; Henderson to Undersecretary Lovett, August 28, 1947. []
  101. FRUS, 1947, v, p. 1153-59, Henderson to Marshall, September 22, 1947. See also Miller, Aaron David, Search for Security. Saudi Arabian Oil and American Foreign Policy, 1939-1949 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), p. 163-72, and Ch. 7, “Palestine and Pipeline”; Brands, Inside the Cold War, Ch. 12, “In the Palestine Labyrinth”. []
  102. Brands, Inside the Cold War, p. 186, quoting a private letter by Henderson of March, 1948. []
  103. Kenneth W. Condit, The History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Policy, Volume 2, 1947-1949 (Office of Joint History, Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Washington, DC, 1996), p. 86-7, quoting a JCS memo, “The Problem of Palestine,” to the Secretary of Defense, October 10, 1947. []
  104. Cohen, Truman and Israel, p. 98. []
  105. Miller, Aaron David, Search for Security. Saudi Arabian Oil and American Foreign Policy, 1939-1949 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), p. 188. see Search for Security, Chap. 7, “Palestine and Pipeline” and Irvine H. Anderson, Aramco, the United States and Saudi Arabia: A Study of the Dynamics of Foreign Oil Policy, 1933-1950 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), p. 170-8 for background. []
  106. Anderson, Aramco, the United States and Saudi Arabia, p 173-8.) When partition was announced, “Tapline field parties in Syria and Transjordan had to be evacuated because of anti-American violence, and the companies began to fear that the pipeline might not be constructed at all.” ((Ibid., p 174. []
  107. Ibid., p. 177. []
  108. Chas Freeman, “Is Israel a Strategic Asset or Liability for the United States?”, July 20, 2010 (September 4, 2014). []
  109. See Irene Gendzier, “Why the U.S. Recognized Israel,” November 9, 2011 (August 11, 2013). Gendzier is professor emerita of political science at Boston University. This article is an excerpt from her book Dying to Forget: The Foundation of US Policy in the Middle East, Oil and Palestine/Israel, 1945-1949, forthcoming from Columbia University Press, though there is not yet a CUP web page for it. See also Irene Gendzier, “U.S. Policy in Israel/Palestine, 1948: The Forgotten History,” Middle East Policy, Spring 2011, v. xviii, n. 1 (August 1 1, 2013). I have attended two talks by Gendzier about her forthcoming book, one at MIT in early 2013, and one at New York University in late 2014. Against the account of Zionist influence, she adduces two main points, the Pentagon’s recognition of Israel’s military capabilities in the 1948 war; and a private, high-level, Zionist contact with the Interior Department (if memory serves), to argue for Israel’s benignity for US oil interests. In my view she makes too much of the Pentagon’s judgment, which was ephemeral; the US did not sell arms, it kept Israel out of regional military plans, and overall the US tried to balance its unavoidable commitment to Israel with its own interest. Zionism was all over US politics in the 1940s (and since); it is scarcely surprising that they made a high-level presentation about oil. The question is, who was persuaded? The oil companies were not, then and later. []
  110. Noam Chomsky, selected and edited by Barry Pateman, Chomsky on Anarchism (Edinburgh and Oakland: AK Press, 2005). Constance Bantman, “Internationalism without an International? Cross-Channel Anarchist Networks, 1880-1914,” Revue Belge de Philologie et d’Histoire, 84(4):961-981. (January 4, 2014). []
  111. See the section “Noam Chomsky,” in Harry Clark, “The End of Modern Jewish History,” Dissident Voice, (January 32, 2015). See also David Samuels, “Q&A: Noam Chomsky,” Tablet, November 12, 2010 (January 31, 2015) Compare those statements on Ahad Ha’am to Steven J. Zipperstein, Elusive Prophet. Ahad Ha ’am and the Origins of Zionism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); and Alan Dowty, “Much Ado about little: Ahad Ha’am’s ‘Truth from Eretz Yisrael,’ Zionism, and the Arabs”, Israel Studies (5:2), Fall, 1970. []
  112. Noam Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins (New York: Pantheon, 1969), p. 325, in “The Responsibility of Intellectuals.” []

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