Q: Does Chomsky feel Jewish responsibility for Israel’s crimes?
(Mondoweiss) -- by Philip Weiss --
Here is a great interview of the great Chomsky by David Samuels at Tablet, thoroughly exploring the roots of Chomsky's ethnic/religious identification, which I think is largely unconscious for him. Samuels is uniquely positioned to do this, he comes out of an institutional-religious background; and so does Chomsky. I excerpt some of the religious-roots exchange below.
I am going to leave out the Walt and Mearsheimer question, you can find it at the link. It angries up my blood (as Dizzy Dean said of fried food); in essence you have two ethnocentric Jews saying that Jews lack agency in American government, and had nothing to do with the decision to destroy Iraq, no that was Lockheed Martin and Intel and Goldman, Sachs, see, that's how power works. As readers here know, I ascribe a huge part of the blame to neoconservative Jewish thinkers; and the neoconservatism is all over the liberal Jewish community because of Israel; and we can't begin to undo the damage till we look at the role of Zionism in Jewish life.
To his credit, Samuels understands the issue of Jewish responsibility when it comes to Israel; and I am going to first quote his last questions, well-feathered arrows that expose Chomsky's lack of reflective capacity here. Samuels:
When you speak about Israeli crimes, do you feel that you have a special responsibility to speak out as someone who comes from a specific Jewish tradition, or do you simply speak as an American?I love Chomsky; he is Mount Rainier. But notice how Chomsky doesn't really address the question. It doesn't seem like he even can. Wow. And then Samuels persists and still Chomsky doesn't touch it:
There are many factors, as always. A sufficient factor is that the United States is responsible. But of course there’s a lot more. Background. Childhood. Emotional connections. Friends. All sorts of things. But they’re kind of irrelevant to the fundamental issue, those personal things. The fundamental issue is quite simple: Every U.S. taxpayer is responsible for Israeli crimes. They can’t carry them out without the decisive military, economic, ideological, and diplomatic support of the United States. The United States destroyed Iraq. Of course that should be harshly condemned. In fact I do it much more than I talk about Israel. In the case of the Vietnam war, we basically destroyed three countries. They’ll never recover. Same with Nicaragua. Same with Cuba. Go on and on. Same with Chile. That’s what we ought to be concentrating on. Israel happens to be a subcase of a larger problem. And yes, for me personally, it’s additional things....So Chomsky distinguishes between his "personal background," which he admits is part of his gestalt, and the real moral factors in human history, i.e., the United States. Are Jews the bad guy of the occupation? Samuels has asked. No, the United States is, is the answer. I believe that Roger Cohen and Tom Friedman have done better here just by saying, Israel's conduct makes me ashamed as a Jew. Chomsky seems unable to ascribe power to Jews as Jews, or even really to talk about such attachment. And in that "personal" dismissal, every "personal" element of Jewish energy on behalf of Zionism goes out the window, from Eddie Jacobson getting into his friend Truman's office to lobby him, Chuck Schumer screaming that the People of Israel live, Weizmann pressing Balfour after giving the English the invention of acetone to fight World War I, Louis Brandeis converting to Zionism before he got on the Supreme Court, Herzl going to the Ottoman court and dangling debt relief and PR work on your Armenia problem in the European press in exchange for Palestine. None of it matters. It's Lockheed Martin...MORE...LINK