Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Chomsky and The USS Liberty

Almost every one who is familiar with the Six Day War, has heard about the USS Liberty incident in which the Israeli army mistakenly attacked an American Warship. As Chomsky recounts,

There was an Israeli attack on a U.S. spy ship, USS Liberty, which killed about 35 sailors and crewman and practically sank the ship. The Liberty didn’t know who was attacking it. The attackers were disguised. Before they were disabled, they got messages back to the 6th Fleet Headquarters in Naples, who also didn’t know who was attacking it. They sent out Phantoms, which were nuclear armed, because they didn’t have any that weren’t nuclear-armed, to respond to whoever was attacking it, and they didn’t know who they were supposed to bomb – Russia, Egypt, you know, anybody. Apparently the planes were called back directly from the Pentagon sort of at the last moment. But that event alone could have lead to a nuclear war.
More or less Chomsky was describing the situation correctly and the facts that he has set out are not in dispute. However, what is in dispute is whether or not the Israeli attack was deliberate. I for one don't think it was, but that is not the issue. What is at issue is the out right lies and falsehoods that Chomsky makes in order to spin his web of lies that Israel made more than a mistake. Witness the following:
Most of this probably had to do with Israel’s plans to conquer the Golan Heights, which they did after the ceasefire. And they didn’t want the United States to know about it in advance because the U.S. would have stopped them, and probably that’s what lies behind most of this. Documents aren’t out, so we can only speculate, and they will probably never come out.
Read that last line again "Documents aren’t out, so we can only speculate, and they will probably never come out." It's a lie and a shoddy one at that. Chomsky should know that Israel, America and most of the democratic countries in the world have a thirty-year declassification policy. In fact Chomky even makes the claim on his blog stating, "The scheduled release of declassified documents in the official State Department history is 30 years. In practice it is a bit longer, about 35 years or so usually." If Chomsky cared to check the archives, instead of invoking them in vein, he might have learned something, but all he can do is make statements that he knows might not be true and hope no one will notice. But anyway Michael Oren who is a real researcher and who did search the archives has learned that,
Like the other claims for Israel's alleged motive in attacking the Liberty, the one linking the assault to the Golan Heights campaign cannot withstand the scrutiny of the newly declassified documents. These confirm that Israel made no attempt to hide its preparations for an offensive against Syria, and that the United States government, relying on regular diplomatic channels, remained fully apprised of them. Thus, on June 8, the American consulate in Jerusalem reported that Israel was retaliating for Syria's bombardment of Israeli villages "in an apparent prelude to large-scale attack in effort to seize Heights overlooking border kibbutzim." That same day, U.S. Ambassador Walworth Barbour in Tel Aviv reported that "I would not, repeat not, be surprised if the reported Israeli attack [on the Golan] does take place or has already done so," and IDF Intelligence Chief Aharon Yariv told Harry McPherson, a senior White House aide who was visiting Israel at the time, that "there still remained the Syria problem and perhaps it would be necessary to give Syria a blow." Similarly, the United States National Archives contain no evidence to suggest that information obtained by the Liberty augmented Washington's already detailed picture of events on the Golan front and of Israel's intentions there. The Israeli records, for their part, reveal no fear whatsoever of American opposition to punishing Syria, but only of possible Soviet military intervention. (It was this fear that led Israel to delay its decision to capture the Golan until the morning of June 9.) Nor do they suggest that there was any danger of an American ultimatum. On the contrary, from his conversations with presidential advisor McGeorge Bundy and other administration officials, Foreign Minister Abba Eban understood that "official Washington would not be too aggrieved if Syria suffered some painful effects from the war that it had started...." Once again, there is no indication in the archives that the Israelis were troubled by the Liberty, much less considered it worthy of attack. Indeed, there is no evidence that anyone in the Israeli government, or the IDF Chief of Staff, knew of the ship's presence at all.
So much for "Documents aren’t out, so we can only speculate, and they will probably never come out."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Chomsky and Ben-Gurion

As is noted in the great article Chomsky’s War Against Israel Chomsky has a propensity to attribute statements to people, in particular Ben-Gurion, that they never made. For example:

[Ben-Gurion] who is supposed to have confided in his diary [as Chomsky claims]: “If we know the family – strike mercilessly, women and children included. Otherwise the reaction is inefficient. At the place of action there is no need to distinguish between guilty and innocent.” This is a interesting example of Chomsky’s technique: the alleged quotation is not from Ben-Gurion, but an adviser, Gad Machnes. And the latter’s comments were the opposite of Chomsky’s version: “These matters necessitate the utmost precision – in terms of time, place, and whom and what to hit...only a direct blow and no touching of innocent people!” Meanwhile, Ben-Gurion’s own views were clear and explicit: “There is no other way than by sharp, aggressive reprisal, without harming women and children, to prevent Jews from being murdered...”

Ironically I stumbled upon a similar quotation in which Chomsky attributes to Ben-Gurion which in actuality Ben-Gurion did not say. The quote comes from the afterward in his book Deterring Democracy. In it he states, “During the 1948 war, [Ben-Gurion] held that ‘To the Arabs of the Land of Israel only one function remains -- to run away.’” Anyone familiar with the idea of transfer in Zionist thought knows that this quote comes from Ezra Danin not Ben-Gurion [1]. Once I found this quote I emailed Chomsky and asked him what his sources were, he replied:

I don't know what you are looking at, but I've repeatedly cited the source in print, from the first time I mentioned it: Yossi Beilin, Mehiro shel Ihud (Revivim, 1985). Can add the page reference if you like. This is the standard scholarly source, in fact the only source for Israeli cabinet records from 67-77, the period he covers.

Even though the quote as Chomsky wrote it in the original himself attributes it to the War of Independence that would be 1948 which is not anywhere remotely near the time period of 67-77, I still decided to shoot an email down to Yossi Beilin and see if the quotation actually exists in his work. As I expected it doesn’t.

So much for Chomsky’s scholarly pretensions.

[1] Ilan Pappe no friend of Zionism and a Chomsky confidant writes, “Ezra Danin's words to Ben Gurion: 'The Arabs of the Land of Israel, they have but one task left - to run away'.”

UPDATE: Chomsky has written me back stating the following:

It's you, not me, who says that B-G "uttered those words." What I wrote -- as you repeat -- is that he held that view, as discussed in the source I cited. I'll grant you one thing, though. I should have realized that people who are really desperate to defend their own crimes would find some way of misreading something if they can, and should have spelled it out more explicitly.

The irony should be apparent here.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Meretz MK Ran Cohen considers them to be "black ants".
Journalist Amnon Dankner thinks of them as dogs, "tied up in the yard and barking Psalms all night long".
Tour guide Sefi Ben-Yosef sees them as "a humming collection of locusts". Poet Moshe Dor pictures them as "the dark forces of our era".
Columnist Amnon Avramovicz maintains that they are "a death-causing plague".
Commentator Natan Donevitz imagines them as "black swarms".
Yoel Marcus, author and newspaperman, knows they are "black forces" and "soul snatchers".

Playwright Yosef Mondey opines that they are "rude baboons".
The now defunct Marxist daily, Al HaMishmar, the mouthpiece of the Mapam party, held them to be "barbarians...the black front...representing the most mystical, magical, primitive urge...their schools are ‘institutes of darkness’".
Gideon Sammet, journalist and former diplomat, knows they are "the most obscurantist and ugly phenomena of our time".

Shulamit Aloni, former Education Minister and progressive politician, is convinced they are "bloodsuckers...snakes...suckling from the most darkest urges that the Nazi horror suckled from. They are greedy, domineering, evil and primitive, immoral, parasitical and power-hungry".
Uri Avnery, media person, sees them as "bloodsuckers".
Meretz MK Professor Naomi Chazan "a terrible evil...a black genie". Acclaimed writer Amos Oz "armed groups of gangsters, criminals against humanity, sadists, pogromists and murderers...".
(All the quotations appeared in newspapers and other periodicals except for the words of Shulamit Aloni which were spoken in the Knesset Chamber).

And so on and so forth. The "they" are, of course, the Charedim. The religious, and more specifically, the more observant Jews, termed ultra-orthodox.

See the article to learn more about Jewish-Self Hate.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

From a fellow reader, Dennis Josefsson, (my many thanks, and sorry this is so late) has translated an article for me written in Swedish regarding comments made by Chomsky. The original article can be found here:

Dagens Nyheter by Gellert Tamas

The translated version is here:

The battle of the front of words is now [front of words is a direct translation of "ordfronten", definite form of Ordfront]

This weekend, the association Ordfront have their congress. The result of the meeting might be decisive for the Swedish leftist debate.

No systematic killings have occurred in Bosnia. That assertion from Diana Johnstone, reproduced in a big, blown up, article in and by Ordfront Magazine’s editor’s secretary Björn Eklund, became the starting point of one of the most extensive and infected debates in Sweden’s cultural life. The last chapter will probably be written May 15th when the association Ordfront have their congress.

The debate in its entirety, one hundred contributions or so, can be read at the homepage of the publishing house Manifest. Even Noam Chomsky speaks out. He defends Diana Johnstone in an open letter to Ordfront. Chomsky’s tone is harsh. His contribution is based on the highly esteemed journal International Affairs which, according to Chomsky, contains a "very favourable" review of Johnstone’s book.

Chomsky raises a finger of accusation against the whole Swedish world of media:

"It would be interesting to learn how the Swedish press explains the fact that their interpretation of Johnstone's book differs so radically from that of Britain's leading scholarly foreign affairs journal, International Affairs", writes Chomsky. [Note: the letter is available online,, the quote in the article is translated into Swedish but I use Chomsky’s original words]

It is undeniably an interesting question that gets a whole new dimension when one reads the review.

That Chomsky reports the wrong name of the reviewer, Robert instead of Richard Caplan, can be blamed on negligence. But despite some benevolent lines can Caplan’s review, in its entirety, not even with the best of will be interpreted as "very favourable". It is rather the opposite.

Johnstone’s book is "revisionist" and "highly contentious", writes Caplan, a scholar of International Relations at the University of Oxford, and state that the book "contains numerous errors of fact on which Johnstone, however, relies on to strengthen her case". Johnstone is also "very selective" in her selection of facts, says Caplan and points out, with badly hidden sarcasm, that Johnstone, with this method, succeeds with the art of getting Milosevic "emerge as a multiculturalist". [I haven’t translated the quotes from Tamas’ article, instead they are from Caplan’s review in International Affairs]

The irony is that the of Chomsky cited review treats Johnstone’s book in the same way as more or less every media in Sweden have done; that is criticizing her blatant errors of facts and tendentious method of selection. The exception is Eklund’s interview in Ordfront.

Chomsky’s strange treatment of his source is sadly not unusual among the participants of the Ordfront debate and underlines once more two of the foundations of journalism; careful checking of sources and, to quote Chomsky, a permanent questioning of authorities.

The wars in former Yugoslavia are in many ways still a bleeding wound and the debate on their causes, lapses and happenings is therefore important. The discussion must be open, but have to in the same time, like all journalism and debate worth the name, be built on an intellectual, critically examining, attitude regarding sources and facts.

[The rest of the article is about Ordfront and not Chomsky]

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Promoting Fraud

For a minute just try to imagine that you knew of a person who declared the following in March of 2001:

Should not observers and academics keep skeptical about the U.S. government's assessment of the terrorist threat? To what extent do terrorist 'experts' indirectly perpetuate this irrational fear of terrorism by focusing too much on farfetched horrible scenarios? Does the terrorist industry[1], consciously or unconsciously, exaggerate the nature and degree of the terrorist threat to American citizens?
Just as a reminder to those who forgotten already this statement was made six months prior to the most devastating terror attacks on the soil of the United States. And now most democrats are saying that America was not doing enough to prevent such horrors. Who said this? No, it wasn't Noam Chomsky. It was Fawaz Gerges, a Sarah Lawrence professor specializing in international relations of the Arab world. So what's the relevance of all this to Noam Chomsky? Well in a recent article for Khaleej Times Online Chomsky envokes some of Gerges rhetoric. Chomsky first introduces him as a "Middle East expert". Then Chomsky quotes Gerges as saying it's "simply unbelievable how the war has revived the appeal of a global jihadi Islam that was in real decline after 9-11." Apparently Chomsky isn't aware that Gerges was claiming global jihad was on the decline before 9-11 and that Gerges even went so far as to say there was a 'terrorism industry' and fears of attacks like the ones on 9-11 are 'irrational.'

The rest of the article is pure nonsense and littered with inconsistencies. For instance in the beginning of the article Chomsky claims "the most threatening document of our time is the US National Security Strategy of September 2002," then he goes on to claim that "the doctrine of the NSS" had to be "revised." Which begs the question if there is such a thing as "the most threatening document" how does it remain threatening if it is "revised?" Leaving the discrepancies aside, doesn't one expect Chomsky to actually quote from the document and prove why it is "threatening?" Is it to much to ask Chomsky to prove it? All Chomsky does is point to a quote by Colin Powell which he claims America has the "'sovereign right to use force to defend ourselves' from nations that possess weapons of mass destruction and cooperate with terrorists." Apparently to those who don't know this is the ideology behind "the most threatening document of our time." And for those of you who want to read the document in question it can be found here. In addition, what is actually written inside of it is the following, "in pursuit of our goals, our first imperative is to clarify what we stand for: the United States must defend liberty and justice because these principles are right and true for all people everywhere." This leaves one to assuming that either Chomsky believes that the doctrine of protecting "liberty and justice" is the most threatening of our time or he is hoping no one will actually read the US National Security Strategy of September 2002.

In the end what is clear is that Chomsky is just promoting fraud.

[1] Just as a side note the 'terrorism industry' is an obvious reference to the so called 'Holocaust Industry.' The theory is the belief that Jews abuse the memory of the Holocaust to promote a Zionist agenda. Apparently Gerges was trying to make a similar claim with regard to terrorism and American policy.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Chomsky and Linguistics

As Keith Windschuttle pointed out in his recent article:

One of the main reasons Noam Chomsky's political views are taken seriously in universities and the media is because he has an awesome reputation for scientific accomplishment in the field of linguistics.
Yet, as Windschuttle notes Chomsky's contribution, or lack there, to the field of linguistics is rarely mentioned:
The most devastating articles in the Anti-Chomsky Reader are not those that expose the ideological prejudices, factual misrepresentations, and distorted logic of his political writings but the two at the end of the book that tear up his reputation as one of the towering intellects of our time. Two essays about linguistics reveal Chomsky's output in that field to be not the work of a rare, great mind but the product of a very familiar kind of academic hack. His reputation turns out not to have been earned by any significant contribution to human understanding but to be the product of a combination of self-promotion, abuse of detractors, and the fudging of his findings. John Williamson points out that fifty years after the announcement of the "Chomskyan revolution" in linguistics, immense progress has been made in almost every field of science. "We have been to the moon several times," he writes. "Our way of life depends upon the computer chip." The work of Einstein, to whom some of Chomsky's fans compare him, has been confirmed many times and can explain many physical phenomena. But in linguistics, Williamson shows, the results are comparatively trivial. All that Chomskyan grammar can explain is language which is transparent and easily labelled: "first-order" sentences such as The keeper fed the bananas to the monkey. Grammatical formulations of the "second order of difficulty," such as For there to be a snowstorm would be nice, still remain a mystery.
For more information on how the Chomskyan theory of linguistics is flawed please see the following:

Beyond Noam
Chomsky's Minimalism by Pieter A. M. Seuren
The First Idea: How Symbols, Language and Intelligence Evolve by Stanley Greenspan & Stuart Shanker
The origin of language stemmed from relationships, not genes By Ruth Walker

Monday, September 06, 2004

Dissecting Chomsky and Anti-Americanism

Great article by George Shadroui. Check it out.