Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Chomsky's real agenda?

Jeffrey Blankfort and James Petras each attack Chomsky’s bizarre rejection of the Israel Lobby thesis.  A quote from Blankfort:

“At least, I realized I was not alone in my assessment of Chomsky. His position has been a boon for AIPAC and therefore has benefited Israel’s position in the United States. In fact, as noted earlier, he has never even mentioned the organization by name in any of the books he has written on the Middle East. By steering activists away from confronting the liberal politicians that the lobby holds in thrall and placing the blame for Israel’s actions on the resident of the White House, Chomsky has, without question, been doing ‘damage control’ for AIPAC.”

From Petras:

“Chomsky claims that the Lobby is just another lobby in Washington.  Yet he fails to observe that the lobby has secured the biggest Congressional majorities in favor of allocating three times the annual foreign aid designated to all of Africa, Asia and Latin America to Israel (over 100 billion dollars over the past 40 years).  The Lobby has 150 full time functionaries working for the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), accompanied by an army of lobbyists from all the major Jewish organizations (Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, etc.) and the nation-wide, regional and local Jewish federations which hew closely to the line of the "majors" and are active in policy and local opinion on Israel and promote and finance legislative candidates on the basis of their adherence to the Lobby’s party line.  No other lobby combines the wealth, grass roots networks, media access, legislative muscle and single-minded purpose of the pro-Israel lobby.”


“Chomsky fails to analyze the near unanimous congressional majorities which yearly support all the pro-Israel military, economic, immigration privileges and aid promoted by the Lobby.  He fails to examine the list of over 100 successful legislative initiatives publicized yearly by AIPAC even in years of budgetary crisis, disintegrating domestic health services and war induced military losses.”


“Chomsky fails to discuss the role of the Lobby in electing Congress-people, their funding of pro-Israel candidates and the over fifty-million dollars they spend on the Parties, candidates and propaganda campaigns.  The result is a 90% congressional vote on high priority items pushed by the Lobby and affiliated local and regional pro-Israel federations.”


“Nor does he undertake to analyze the cases of candidates defeated by the Lobby, the abject apologies extracted from Congress-people who have dared to question the policies and tactics of the Lobby, and the intimidation effect of its 'exemplary punishments’ on the rest of Congress.  The ‘snowball’ effect of punishment and payoffs is one reason for the unprecedented majorities in favor of all of AIPAC’s initiatives.  Chomsky’s feeble attempts to equate the AIPAC’s pro-Israel initiatives with broader US policy interests is patently absurd to anyone who studies the alignment of policy groups associated with designing, pressuring, backing and co-sponsoring the AIPAC’s measures:  The reach of the Jewish lobby far exceeds its electoral constituency – as the one million dollar slush fund to defeat incumbent Georgia Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinny, demonstrates.  That she was subsequently re-elected on the basis of low keying her criticism of Israel reveals the Lobby’s impact even on consequential Democrats.”

You have to be willfully blind not to see the enormous influence of AIPAC and the Lobby on the U. S. Congress.  It’s not just support for the most ridiculous of  Israel-centric motions, but the unanimous, or near unanimous, support.  The members of Congress have again and again demonstrated something akin to stark terror at even the slightest suggestion of anything less than complete fealty to the interests of Israel.  It’s like watching an elephant in fear from a mouse.

I have been hard on Chomsky on this, but I think he deserves it (a more reasoned view is here).  I could have been harder, in that I blamed his thinking on his Marxist analysis.  I’m not suggesting that he is a Marxist, but just that all the main dissenters against the American Empire (Chomsky, Parenti, Cockburn) came out of the intellectual milieu of American socialism, and derive their principles from class analysis (it’s funny how the first wave of American dissenters from Marxism became neocons, and the second wave became what we now think of as the old guard of the American left). 

The deep problem with Chomsky’s peculiar and uncharacteristic attitude towards the Israel Lobby is that it undermines his life’s work in attacking American colonialism.  One of his main points is that the mainstream media hides the actions of the United States government not so much by lying – although they do that too – but by simply failing to report on the most important crimes committed by the Empire.  Chomsky is clearly doing the exact same thing in protecting the Lobby.  Right-wing critics of Chomsky claim that he just hates America, and uses rhetorical tricks to put down the United States.  Since he doesn’t hesitate to use the same techniques he so roundly criticizes in his efforts to protect the Lobby from criticism, perhaps the right-wing critics are right.  The ultimate conspiracy theory would be that Chomsky’s entire opus of attacks on the United States, which started at about the same time as the main push for Israeli colonialism, is just an attempt to hide the only thing he really cares about, the creation of Greater Israel.  He’s walking on very thin ice.