J.J. Goldberg

Dos Pintele Yid Dept.: Chomsky Attacked as a Closet Zionist

By J.J. Goldberg

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The tenor of Middle East debate in this country is evolving faster than most of us realize, and in unpredictable directions. The latest is the attack on Noam Chomsky for being too sympathetic to Zionism.

Chomsky was interviewed December 2 on Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, a weekly talk show on radio station KPFA, the Pacifica flagship outlet in Berkeley, California. He was questioned on boycotting and divestment as a tactic against Israel, and said it was not productive. A month later the producers decided to follow up and held a discussion with two supporters of boycotts, sanctions and divestment, Ali Abunimah, Chicago-based editor of the Electronic Intifada Web site, and Jeff Blankfort, a longtime critic of Israel and Zionism. The host says Chomsky had been invited, too, but declined. Probably a smart move. They were out for blood.

The KPFA site says it will keep the discussion up until January 27. Here is another link on the Voices of the Middle East etc. Web site, which presumably will remain active.

It’s worth noting that Abunimah sticks to issues; he criticizes Chomsky’s views on economic sanctions and the one-state versus two-state solution, meaning the legitimacy of Israel’s existence, which Chomsky accepts and Abunimah rejects. Blankfort takes on Chomsky on the power of the Israel lobby and the Jews. In the original interview, interviewer Khalil Bendib challenged Chomsky for failing to criticize the Israel lobby. Chomsky insisted he been doing so for years and repeatedly asked what else he was supposed to say. Bendib basically fumfitted—he apparently wanted to say that Chomsky failed to attack Jewish influence and control but he couldn’t bring himself to say that out loud. Blankfort takes it on with gusto.

I found this discussion on Philip Weiss’s Mondoweiss.net site, which regularly attacks Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. The post on Chomsky and KPFA includes some fascinating reader feedback, including attacks on Weiss himself for being too pro-Israel and pro-Zionist. Weiss comes right out and says he doesn’t like blanket attacks on Jews, which would be obvious to anyone who reads him with any regularity and sees the Jewish moral anguish at work. Also in the feedback thread: Blankfort himself explaining how his Jewish upbringing in the 1950s shaped his current views.

zink Sun. Jan 17, 2010

what's fumfitted?

Yisrael Medad Thu. Jan 21, 2010

JJ, can you here me laughing? Chomsky not anti-Zionist enough? Weiss angusihed Jewishly? Puhleeze. keep well.

Oh, "fumfit" is a Yiddishism meaning "to stumble over your words, search around for something proper and correct while getting lost twice".

Yisrael Medad Thu. Jan 21, 2010

oiysh. sorry for typo: hear

Lisa B Thu. Jan 21, 2010

We need to stop even talking about the whole "legitimacy of Israel’s existence", a door which was opened frankly by the religious right in trying to justify the settlements and attempt to maintain the status quo in the West Bank (and previously Gaza). All they have done is weaken Israel on the world stage.

I don't know of any country which talks about legitimacy, regardless of when in the mists of time it was founded, or how (most were born out of conflict, conquest and ethnicity). Fact is that Israel exists, a nation of 7 million with infrastructure, legal system and natural born citizens.

The response should be simple. Israel exists, suck it up.

Dovid K Thu. Jan 21, 2010

Remind me to print out the latest Mondoweiss and Pacifica news report when we read "In every generation they've sought to destroy us..."

With that in mind, there's a great piece in Mondo about Israel being in Haiti just for the 'hasbara' it's been generating. As they say, you can't make this stuff up.

reuven Fri. Jan 22, 2010

why is it of interest to anyone including J.J. goldberg what these "soney yisrael" (=israel haters) babble? Is this newsworthy??

Georg von Starkermann Fri. Jan 22, 2010

Chomsky a closet Zionist. Next you will say that Hitler was really Jewish. Get real, Chomsky hates Jews, and Christian Zionists. That's the truth.

Bill Pearlman Sat. Jan 23, 2010

Phil Weiss loves blanket attacks on Jews, encourages it, and his fan base eats it up. He eats it up. He endorsed Pat Buchanans book which states that Churchill was really the instigator of WW2 and Hitler was just a misunderstood fellow. I don't know what Goldberg is reading but perhaps a visit to the eye doctor is in order.

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