Noam Chomsky was recently denied entry into Judea and Samaria – AKA the “West Bank” if you’re a fan of Jordan’s attempt to usurp the territory – on a trip where he was supposed to give a talk at Bir Zeit University. I believe this is the university that once hosted a gallery depicting Israel body parts flying through the air in commemoration of the Sbarro Pizzeria suicide bombing by a Palestinian who felt like murdering a bunch of families eating a meal.
The Israelis, for some odd reason, decided to give the media and the Left another reason to bash Israel, so they denied Chomsky entry while letting his fellow travelers, human rights activists – whatever the hell that means, but that’s how they’ve been described by some media outlets – through. Chomsky was held back and then denied entry.
Today, among interviews that he’s given, he gave one to NPR which I happened to hear. In it, he made a number of statements, but two that struck me as particularly false.
The first is that to deny a speaker to a university entry is the mark of a totalitarian state.
Now, according to “Plato’s Totalitarianism” in the Oxford Press publication “Plato 2: Ethics, Politics, Religion, and the Soul,” Totalitarianism can be defined thus:
Totalitarianism (or totalitarian rule) is a political system where the state, usually under the control of a single political person, faction, or class, recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible. Totalitarianism is generally characterised by the coincidence of authoritarianism (where ordinary citizens have no significant share in state decision-making) and ideology (a pervasive scheme of values promulgated by institutional means to direct the most significant aspects of public and private life)
That came from Wikipedia. The dictionary defines totalitarianism as
“a system of highly centralized government in which one political party or group takes control and grants neither recognition nor tolerance to other political groups. 2. autocracy in one of its several varieties. 3. the character or traits of an autocratic or authoritarian individual, party, government, or state
Over the years, Chomsky has been suggesting that we, in the US and parts of the West, are essentially living like members of a herd manipulated by the media which is functioning to blind us to the truth and essentially replacing the violent suasion which enabled totalitarian regimes to hold power . The media does this by holding us in thrall to various lies about our society and our country (hence “manufacturing consent”). Then our leaders, which appear to be differentiated by elections but are really all the same automatons serving corporate interests, continue to manipulate us and the world to further the goals of, I don’t know, let’s assume the wealthy. I’m sure some Chomsky fan can fine-tune this description and I welcome the adjustment.
In any case, he is suggesting that because he has been barred from speaking to the Palestinians at Bir Zeit, Israel is attempting to control information that is reaching people and therefore it is taking steps resembling a totalitarian state that would seek to control any public information that might undermine the regime or its goals.
Really, that is so absurd considering the endless number of Israeli critics from within the country who speak openly against Israel and its actions, that his assertion borders on the malicious. It is simply a ridiculous fabrication. Between Ha’aretz, B’Tselem, the Arab parties, Adallah, Meretz, Peace Now, Women in Black, endless leftist professors at Israeli universities being vocal with their views, Israeli Arabs pushing for a boycott against Israel, leftist Israelis pushing for a boycott against Israel, Ultra-Orthodox Jews undermining the state’s religious legitimacy and Modern Orthodox complaining that those who are running the state oppose the true Zionists who live as settlers in Judea and Samaria, the notion that somehow Israel is a totalitarian state may impress ignorant listeners on NPR but in actuality could be considered propaganda that is far worse than the supposed propaganda and unified manipulation of truth of which he is accusing Israel.
The second falsehood was to accuse Israel of being like early 1960s South Africa in that as it was devolving into a pariah state, it was making public mistakes that resemble those Israel is making today by preventing people like him from coming to speak at Bir Zeit. Yeah, more poppycock. Israel was just accepted into the OECD, its filmmakers just won two key prizes at a documentary film festival in Toronto, which follows the Israeli-Tel Aviv ten movie special section at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, which follows Israeli business start-ups receiving more VC funding than virtually any other country outside of North America, which follows two Nobel prize winners in just as many years, etc.
As Chomsky well knows, the key parties in attempting to seclude and segregate Israel are his leftist friends who have come into an unholy alliance with Islamists. They have come together, despite having completely contradictory viewpoints on many other subjects, because they are unified by hatred for Israel. They are certainly scoring points out there, but these points are often scored at the expense of the truth, just like Mr. Chomsky’s assertions…which may have scored media points in the past couple of days, but at the expense of the truth.
One last point: it is not an accident that in this interview, Chomsky has brought up a totalitarian Israel and an Israel that resembles South Africa. This is because, like his many friends on the Left who attack Israel, they have painted it into a monster so hideous that they don’t know whether to compare it to Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa, so they combine the two.
This is done all the time. Naomi Klein does it, Norman Finkelstein does it, Noam Chomsky does it, Fatah does it, Hamas does it and less well known groups and people do it as well. It comes up ALL THE TIME. Israel is the Nazi Apartheid state, according to them. It is the beast from beyond, for how can any country or ideology be any worse than that entity which combines the Nazis and apartheid?
When you, dear reader, encounter these criticisms of Israel, take a deep breath and relax. Slowly, confidently, and without any hesitation or concern, remind the Israel basher that the Nazis killed more Jews in one month in early 1940 – before the Final Solution kicked in – than the total Palestinian death count in a 100 years of war with Jews and Israel. Remind the basher that in South Africa the whites were a distinct minority of about 10% of the population, while in Israel Jews are 80% of the population and anywhere from 65% to 55% (depends which Palestinian population figures you believe) of the population from “the River to the Sea.” Oh, and in Israel the minority can vote and elect Knesset representatives. Look at them calmly and say, “Please stop telling lies and demonizing Israel. People who want peace tell the truth.”
Because the truth is that Israel is also different from Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa in two other key measures: 1. Israel/Yishuv has offered peaceful resolutions that would give the Palestinians a state 5 times in history; 2. Israel’s enemies have sought to annihilate the country and remove it as a Jewish state from the map by using two approaches, the first being violence and the second being propaganda/hate speech that segregates Jews that live or support Israel from the rest of the world’s population, even when such claims ignore or obfuscate the actions of many brutal, dictatorial, militaristic, chauvinistic and murderous state actors who commit horrendous crimes that make Israel’s most aggressive actions look like child’s play.
In other words, people like Noam Chomsky should be ashamed of themselves.
A reader indicated to me that I had few words for the Israeli government blocking Chomsky from going to Bir Zeit. I want to be clear that this was a moronic move by Israel, with no justification whatsoever. The ministers surrounding Netanyahu are not too clever, and Netanyahu is running his government like a teacher in an unruly class who has no idea how to gain control of the classroom. They embarrass him when the principal comes to visit, and also when some emissary needs to enter the room for a minute to drop something off. Idiots.