The Chomsky File - Part I

Chomsky repeats every distortion and libel directed against the Jewish state that has appeared in Arab, Western and "pro-peace" Israeli publications, to which he adds some conspiracy theories of his own devising.

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Rachel Neuwirth,

Rachel Neuwirth
Rachel Neuwirth
Noam Chomsky, long-time professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an idol of leftist academics and journalists everywhere, has created hundreds of anti-Israel books, articles, recorded interviews and lectures - all his own. Chomsky repeats every distortion and libel directed against the Jewish state that has appeared in Arab, Western and "pro-peace" Israeli publications, to which he adds some conspiracy theories of his own devising. Chomsky portrays Israel as a racist state that has driven the Palestinian Arabs from their homes, seized their land, reduced them to slavery, tortured and murdered them, and discriminated against them in every imaginable way. In his vision, Israel is an agent of American imperialism, doing the US' dirty work for it in the Middle East and around the world.

Chomsky's books on the Arab-Israeli conflict are filled with footnote references and quotations from documentary sources, thereby creating an impression of accuracy and expertise. But as Werner Cohn points out in his trenchant study Partners in Hate: Noam Chomsky and the Holocaust Deniers, most of the sources cited by Chomsky are very biased against Israel and Zionism. But even when he cites more even-handed sources, he does so very selectively. When Chomsky's documentary sources contain versions or interpretations of events that reflect unfavorably on Israel, they are incorporated into Chomsky's own narrative; but whenever they present the actions of Zionists or Israelis in a more favorable light, their accounts are omitted and ignored. Chomsky even distorts and alters his biased "original" sources in order to construct a narrative even more damaging to Israel than what they contain. Such behavior on the part of a scholar is difficult to explain except as an expression of an obsessive hatred.

Chomsky, who is the son of a Hebrew teacher, vehemently denies being an anti-Semite. He accuses Israel and its supporters in the US (the Anti-Defamation League is a particular object of Chomsky's bile) of charging anyone who criticizes Israel in any way with being an anti-Semite. Worse, Israel and its supporters constantly exploit the Holocaust as a means of creating sympathy for Israel and its aggressive, imperialist actions. Chomsky represents himself as the victim of false charges of anti-Semitism by these Zionist propagandists intent on discrediting him.

In line with his denial of anti-Jewish intentions, Chomsky is usually careful to avoid overt attacks on the Jewish people collectively, or Judaism per se, in the material that he publishes under his own name, although he never has anything good to say about them, either. However, he has devised ways of assisting more overt anti-Semites to get their message across to a wider public, without ever quite saying in so many words that he agrees with their anti-Jewish rantings. The most effective of these tools has been the bestowal of his hekhsher (a kosher seal of approval) on overtly anti-Semitic writers, which confers on them a degree of legitimacy with the left-leaning, "progressive" intellectual public that idolizes Chomsky.

For example, Chomsky is author of the preface to a book by the notorious French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, one of several in which Faurisson claims that Jewish organizations fabricated the Holocaust in order to extort war reparations from Germany and to build international sympathy for the creation of a Jewish state:

"The alleged gassing and the alleged genocide of Jews are part of the same historical lie which has been the basis of a huge political and financial swindle of which the principle beneficiaries are the State of Israel and principal victims the German people, not its leaders, and the Palestinian people," as Faurisson puts it.

While Chomsky's preface does not specifically endorse Faurisson's thesis, neither does it criticize or repudiate it. In addition, Chomsky denies that Faurisson is an anti-Semite, and instead characterizes him as "a relatively apolitical liberal of some type." Shortly thereafter, Chomsky went so far as to claim, in private correspondence with the Australian journalist William Rubenstein, that he saw nothing anti-Semitic about Holocaust denial:

"I see no anti-Semitic implications in denial of the existence of gas chambers, or even denial of the holocaust. Nor would there be anti-Semitic implications, per se, in the claim that the holocaust (whether one believes it took place or not) is being exploited, viciously so, by apologists for Israeli repression and violence. I see no hint of anti-Semitic implications in Faurisson's work..." [1]

Chomsky, then, sees nothing wrong with denying that the worst crime in human history ever occurred. What strikes him as "vicious" is that this horrendous atrocity should be used to generate sympathy for Israel. Even before he authored the Faurisson preface in 1980, Chomsky signed a petition on Faurisson's behalf, proudly putting his name first above several hundred other names:

"Dr. Robert Faurisson has served as a respected professor of twentieth-century French literature and document criticism for over four years at the University of Lyon-2 in France. Since 1974 he has been conducting extensive historical research into the 'Holocaust' question. Since he began making his findings public, Professor Faurisson has been subject to a vicious campaign of harassment, intimidation, slander and physical violence in a crude attempt to silence him. Fearful officials have even tried to stop him from further research by denying him access to public libraries and archives. We strongly protest these efforts to deprive Professor Faurisson of his freedom of speech and expression, and we condemn the shameful campaign to silence him"

Chomsky later claimed that this petition was "quite neutral" about the accuracy of Faurisson's "findings." But the tone of it at least implies that Faurisson has discovered some great truth, through an honest and professional inquiry, which powerful people are attempting to suppress. In the course of the controversy over his support for Faurisson, Chomsky also conferred his hekhsher on Faurisson's publishers, Serge Thion and Pierre Guillaume, who are both prolific Holocaust-deniers in their own right. According to Chomsky, Thion is "a libertarian socialist scholar with a record of opposition to all forms of totalitarianism," while he describes Guillaume as "libertarian and antifascist on principle." [2]

Chomsky also wrote what Werner Cohn describes as "an enthusiastic endorsement, right on its cover, "of a book by the late Hebrew University professor Israel Shahak (yet another Jewish anti-Semite), which attacks the Jewish religion as such as inherently racist. [3] Shahak is especially harsh in his attacks on the Talmud - a traditional target of anti-Semites for centuries. The publisher of the book, Noontide Press, a neo-Nazi outfit, summarizes Shahak's magnum opus this way in its catalog advertisement:

"This stunning, powerful work, with a foreword by Gore Vidal, is essential reading for anyone interested in the eternally vexing 'Jewish question'. Drawing on a masterly study of the Jewish Talmud and rabbinical laws, Shahak brilliantly traces the long Jewish record of vicious hostility toward non-Jews, and particularly against Christianity. He reveals the destructive role Jews have played throughout history on behalf of tyrannical rulers. Written by a Polish-born Jew and 'Holocaust survivor' who spent his childhood in the wartime Warsaw ghetto and the Belsen concentration camp. After moving to Palestine in 1945, he worked for years as a Professor of Organic Chemistry. MIT professor Noam Chomsky calls Shahak 'an outstanding scholar, with remarkable insight and depth of knowledge,' and praises his work as 'informed and penetrating, a contribution of great value.' Deeply probing the roots of Jewish chauvinism and arrogant hostility toward non-Jews, Shahak shows how Jews are encouraged to regard non-Jews as spiritually and morally unclean subhumans. As a result, warns Shahak, 'Israel as a Jewish state constitutes a danger not only to itself and its inhabitants, but all Jews, and to all other peoples and states in the Middle East and beyond.'"

Shahak even justifies the notorious Chmeilnitsky pogroms in the 17th century Ukraine, which may have killed up to 100,000 Jews, on the grounds that the Jews had exploited the Ukrainian peasantry and deserved what they got. Amongst so many accusations against the Jews and Judaism, one, perhaps, especially stands out: Shahak's claim that the Jews worship Satan. This is the author whom Chomsky, on the cover of this learned tome, praises as "an outstanding scholar, with remarkable insight and depth of knowledge. His work is informed and penetrating, a contribution of great value."

Chomsky also gave a joint lecture appearance with Shahak at MIT on November 3, 1994, around the same time that Jewish History was going to press. The announced theme of the lecture was "Jewish Fundamentalism". An outfit called Radio Free Maine distributes an audio-video recording of this performance. I don't have a complete transcript of what the speakers said on this occasion, but RFM does have a free summary on its website that is very revealing:

"Both Chomsky and Shahak spoke at length about the appalling crimes supposedly committed by Israel against the innocent Palestinians, as they both had been doing for over 25 years. During the question period, however, Shahak moved on to his broader attack on Judaism and 'Jewish tradition'. In the question period, Professor Shahak makes a telling comment on Fiddler on the Roof, the musical based on the book by the Jewish writer Shalom Aleichem. Professor Shahak sees Jewish tradition as standing in contradiction to democratic society, as indeed did the author Aleichem in his incessant ridicule of Jewish tradition in many of his writings. In Hollywood style, of course, the musical has turned the issue on its head and the playwrights would have us, the audience, revel in Jewish tradition. Aside from the entertaining music of this hit, the writer of this review has long viewed it as a clever bit of propaganda for the Jewish nationalist cause which has been so costly in human lives. Jewish people can and do joke about the duplicity of Jewish fundamentalism and this deception that beguiles the Gentile world. To illustrate, Professor Shahak retells the well-known Jewish joke: Some Jews don't believe God exists, but they do believe that God gave them the land."

As far as I know, Chomsky did not himself talk in this vein. But he did stand silently next to his lecture partner, apparently without protest, while Shahak mouthed this anti-Semitic garbage. There is an old legal maxim, "silence gives consent."

[Part 1 of 3]


John Landau, contributed research and reporting to this article.

[1] W. D. Rubinstein, "Chomsky and the Neo-Nazis," Quadrant [Australia], October 1981, pp. 8-14. A reply by Chomsky and a rebuttal by Rubinstein are published in the April 1982 issue of the same journal. See Noam Chomsky, Search for the Truth,, and for Chomsky's comments.

[2] Chomsky's article "His Right to Say It," and, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, "On Faurisson and Chomsky" in Assassins of Memory , quoting Chomsky's letter in the Village Voice of March 18,1986, p. 7).

[3] Jewish History, Jewish Religion. The Weight of Three Thousand Years by Israel Shahak. Foreword by Gore Vidal. Pluto Press, London and Boulder, Colorado. 1994. See review by Werner Cohn,