Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On the auspicious origins of the modern Olympic Games –

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“The modern Olympic Games began in 1896 as a place for the imperial rivals – in the process of carving up the world from Cuba to the Congo to the Philippines – to spur fevered nationalist frenzies through sports. In an age when people like Teddy Roosevelt expounded on the redeeming values of empire and the development of ‘muscular Christianity’ through sports, the Olympics provided the perfect place for the rulers of imperialist nations to assert their right to symbolic domination.” – Dave Zirin, Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics, and Promise of Sports

As a social studies teacher, society’s general ignorance of history disturbs me. During classes I’m not surprised when students are ignorant of history – because they’re young and I can’t hold it against them. Meanwhile, adults are often equally as ignorant of history, yet they prance around thinking they understand how everything in the world works.

In some instances we see this arising as semantic conflations steeped in ignorance. Drawing from George Orwell’s 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, we are provided a frame with which we may analyze politically-motivated linguistic degradation. The process occurs “organically” over time and through usage, but this degradation is also actively facilitated by despots who desire to shape and mould our semantic horizons. We’ve all seen this with semantic mindfucks like “just war”, “collateral damage”, etc. As the public gets saturated with this manufactured semantic worldview, it’s no surprise when they think Saddam Hussein had WMDs – and we found them! Or, when they think Iran is going to build nukes and kill us all – so let’s attack to defend ourselves! Clearly, we have to be vigilant semantic consumers if we are to see through the fog of propaganda that’s been lain before us.

More problematic, though, are instances where people position themselves as authorities of perspectives they’re completely ignorant of. In the case of spectator sports, consumers will happily position themselves as avid fans. Many of them, as noted Chomsky, can recite all sorts of arcane statistical trivia, but they’re functionally ignorant of the political processes that govern their lives. Fans of NFL teams, for example, don’t typically care if their noise disturbs neighbours, funds for needed social services are rerouted to pay for facility upgrades, or if athletes make ridiculous amounts of money while behaving like overgrown children. Although they might complain about these things, by remaining “fans” and continuing to advocate for “their team”, their actions indicate profligate narcissism. Lurking beneath their consumerism and violent fetishism lies a deeply entrenched cynicism: “I don’t really know what I’m doing and I don’t care.”

This is the milieu in which the Olympic frame operates. But the public couldn’t care less. Give them shiny new products, spark their nationalist insecurities, and tell them they’re helping make the world a better place by supporting the Olympic Dream™. Don’t bother them with facts or skepticism. You’ll get nowhere.

Tellingly, the Olympics usually gets wide political support – both locally and nationally. Politicians who previously fought bitter campaigns to get or stay where they are will come together to join hands and sing the praises of the Olympics. When the entire political class is united, you know you’re getting fucked. Nevertheless, every 2 years another city gets gentrified by the Olympics – and the rich keep dancing.

Assuming you finished school with gaps in your historical understanding, how have you gone about filling them in? Which areas of history do you wish would get more attention by the media? Less? Which countries’ histories do you wish your formal education would have touched on?

Goldman misled clients and nation — and made billions

Senate investigators said Monday Goldman Sachs reaped "billions of dollars" in profits by secretly betting in 2006 and 2007 the U.S. housing market would crash. Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Permanent Investigations Subcommittee, said: "The evidence shows Goldman repeatedly put its own interests and profits ahead of the interests of its clients." The panel provided the first detailed glimpse of its findings from an 18-month investigation. Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein has denied Goldman orchestrated negative bets that enabled it to ring up huge profits when the housing bubble burst and sank the nation's economy. The subcommittee's findings, however, bolstered reports by McClatchy News last December that Goldman had marketed $57 billion in risky mortgage securities in 2006 and 2007, without telling investors it was secretly making bets on a housing downturn.

Chris Christie Speech Declaring Fiscal Crisis Emergency

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States Bristle as Investors Make Wagers on Defaults

As U.S. cities and towns wrestle with financial problems, investors are finding a new way to profit on their misery: by buying derivatives that essentially bet municipalities will default.

These so-called credit default swaps are basically insurance contracts that have long been available to protect holders of corporate bonds against default. They became available a few years ago for municipal debt, allowing investors to short sell—or bet against—countless cities, towns and bridges, and more than a dozen states, including California, Michigan and New York.

The derivatives are still thinly traded, but their existence has the potential to make investors skittish ...

BP earns £463 a second... as motorists suffer record petrol prices

Motorists paying record prices at the pumps reacted with fury at news of a 135per cent rise in profits by oil giant BP - earning a massive £463 a second.

BP said on Tuesday that profits hit £3.6 billion ($US5.6 billion) in the first three months of 2010 - more than double the level last year.

The 135 per cent profits rise comes after the price of crude oil was pushed higher by recovery hopes for the global economy and due to market speculation.

Soaring profits: BP's performance was far betther than the City's forecasts

Soaring profits: BP's performance was far betther than the City's forecasts

For the first three months of the year it works out at at £40million a day, and £1.6million an hour and £2,777 a minute.

Experts said the surge in crude oil prices and the weaker pound have fuelled massive increases in oil company profits while also hitting motorists hard, with average petrol prices now at record highs.


Where a litre of petrol costs 119.9p, 57.19p is fuel duty, 17.86p is VAT, 39.85p is actual cost of the fuel and just 5p goes to the retailer.

RAC Motoring Strategist Adrian Tink said: 'With motorists paying on average more than £5.50 a gallon for petrol, these results do little to lift the gloom over Britain's forecourts. While exchange rates and tax rises are as much to blame, motorists will undoubtedly find this a bitter pill to swallow and be left wondering why they're paying the record prices they are.'

Recent tax rises have also helped fuel the record pump prices, which have soared to more than 120p a litre compared to 95p a year ago. Prices soared this month through the previous record of 119.7p reached in 2008.

In his recent Budget Chancellor Alistair Darling decided to phase-in a near-3p fuel duty rise in three stages.

From April 1 drivers paid an extra 1p a litre, with a further 1p due in October and another 0.76p next January.

In response, protesters on Facebook are calling for drivers to boycott petrol stations on May 1 for a week in the run up to May 6 polling day, and hope it will put pressure onto the new Government - of whatever political complexion - to lower tax.

AA president Edmund King said: 'We accept that, following the 2008 collapse of fuel prices, refiners had to revive profit margins to stay in business, but question whether the recent surge in the petrol wholesale price, from $US680 in February to $US800 now, has gone too far.

'Record petrol prices are due primarily to the weakness of the pound, fuel duty increases and lack of refining capacity. However, the increased wholesale cost will have played its part in the more than 10 per cent cut in petrol consumption by UK drivers in recent months.'

The AA Fuel Price Report for April has found petrol prices in the UK continue to rise to new record highs, hitting rural drivers hardest. Almost three in four drivers in the South West, Wales and Northern Ireland are cutting back on car use, on non-fuel expenditure or both.

Average UK petrol prices have now reached 120.53p a litre, up 4.44p on mid-March’s average of 116.09p. This has added £2.22 to the cost of filling a typical 50-litre fuel tank, and raised the monthly petrol cost for a family with two cars by £9.43. The same family, who at the beginning of the year was spending £233.32 a month on fuel (109.88p), now has to find £255.93.

Since mid-March, the average price of diesel has risen from 116.87p a litre to 121.56, adding £2.35 to the cost filling a tank.

Research from the AA/Populus panel of 17,480 AA members has found that tolerance of rising fuel prices 'has finally snapped'.

In their manifesto, the Conservatives promise to consult on a ‘Fair Fuel Stabiliser’ that would cut fuel duty when oil prices rise and increase it when prices fall. The measure has received widespread support from motoring groups and road haulage firms.

BP's booming results compare with sluggish performance during the recession in the first quarter of 2009, when crude prices averaged just over $41 dollars a barrel, although a year later this figure stands at an average $76 dollars.

BP's performance was much higher than City forecasts after profits in exploration and production nearly doubled to £5.36 billion ($US8.29 billion).

Airlines could get £2bn ash pay-outs... and the taxpayer will pick up the bill

Airlines could share in a £ 2billion taxpayer-funded compensation bonanza in the wake of the volcanic ash chaos which turned Europe into a six-day no-fly zone.

The European Union has agreed to allow state help for airlines which have complained bitterly that the flight ban has cost them millions.

They will be offered emergency loans and allowed to postpone payments of charges.

Eyjafjallajokull volcano

Trouble causer: Eyjafjallajokull volcano left flights across Europe banned for a week

Up to 35,000 British passengers are still stranded in Asia, Africa, America and Australia.

According to estimates, 13,000 are waiting to get back from the U.S. while a further 10,000 are in Egypt, 2,500 in Thailand and 2,000 in Malaysia.

The remaning 7,500 are scattered around the globe.

Many have run out of cash and are living under blankets in airports. Others have borrowed from family and friends to pay for hotels.

Thousands of passengers were left stranded after the volcano eruption

Thousands of passengers were left stranded after the volcano eruption

Many airlines are now struggling after having to pay out compensation to frustrated travellers

Many airlines are now struggling after having to pay out compensation to frustrated travellers


More than 50,000 stranded airline passengers who took Gordon Brown's advice could lose out on compensation, it has emerged

During this month's volcanic ash crisis, the Prime Minister told Britons stranded in Europe to make their way to Channel ports to get home by ferries.

But the advice, which was also given out by the Foreign Office, means that passengers who boarded a ferry are unlikely to get compensation from airlines for making alternative travel arrangements.

Under EU rules airlines are obliged to pick up the accommodation bills of stranded passengers - but not if they try to get home themselves.

The only reimbursement they are eligible is the cost of an unused plane ticket.

The warning on stranded passengers losing compensation was made by Ryanair.

A spokesman said: 'If you made your own arrangments, you are on your own.'

Their anger about the continued delay in returning home has intensified as it was claimed that some planes are flying back to the UK half empty while airlines jack up seat prices to more than £2,500.

But last night British Airways rejected accusations of ‘ profiteering’, saying the inflated fares were a ‘technical’ device to ensure the seats remain unbooked and available to stranded passengers.

These passengers do not have to pay any extra for their flight home but have to wait for a seat to be allocated when they are given a ‘rebooking date’.

BA denied it was letting planes fly half empty.

'We have been doing everything we can to ensure that aircraft are full when they depart for the UK,’ said a spokesman.

‘However there have been instances where customers who held bookings for flights either cancelled their bookings at short notice or did not turn up.

'Those customers had paid normal fares, and we do not know why they decided not to travel. ‘

Our advice to customers who want to return sooner than their rebooking date is to keep checking on, contact British Airways directly or your travel agent to see if an earlier option has become available.’

British Airways aircraft are seen parked at Heathrow airport. The airline says it has done everything to get passengers home

British Airways aircraft are seen parked at Heathrow airport. The airline says it has done everything to get passengers home

The state aid compensation package to airlines was pledged yesterday by European Union Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas.

But it will be individual governments – and their taxpayers – who will be picking up the tab.

Airlines have been furious that under EU rules they are obliged to pay for accommodation and meals for their stranded passengers.

They complain that the nervous reaction of safety quangos such as Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority was to blame for the flying ban and spiralling costs.

• More than 30 aircraft, including jumbo jets and helicopters, have reported incidents linked to the Icelandic volcano since the flying ban was lifted last week.

These include a ‘smell of sulphur’ or evidence of volcanic ash, but the CAA stressed last night that there was no damage to any aircraft.

Under new rules introduced last Tuesday, airlines must by law report any traces of ash and whether any damage has been caused.

Still stranded in Disneyland

For Richard Burton and his family, their £5,000 holiday of a lifetime at Disneyworld in Florida has turned into a nightmare.

Long after the flights ban was lifted they remain stranded and are now borrowing money from relatives in the UK just to survive.

They have not been given any vouchers by their airline, Virgin Atlantic, being told instead to claim back their expenses once they returned.

Richard Burton and his partner Victoria Manning with their children Lucy, 11, Tom, 13 and Reece, 15

No fun: Richard Burton and his partner Victoria Manning with their children Lucy, 11, Tom, 13 and Reece, 15

So far, they have spent £1,000 on food and £1,500 on phone bills trying to organise flights home.

Their hotel cost has been met by Virgin. Mr Burton, 42, from Clacton, Essex, travelled to Orlando with his children Tom, 13, and Lucy, 11, his partner Victoria Manning, 41, and her 15-year-old son Reece.

They were due to fly home ten days ago, on April 18, but their flight was cancelled.

Since then they have attended daily meetings with airline representatives in the hope that they will at last be repatriated.

Each day they, and dozens of others, have been told that flights will become available within 24 hours, only to find that they are full.

Mr Burton, who runs his own home improvements business, said: ‘We are living off money put into our bank accounts by relatives back home in the UK. At the same time I’m not earning, so this may bankrupt me.’

An illegal bank is the second-largest holder of U.S. treasury securities

From the U.S. Treasury Department’s latest numbers of major foreign holders of treasury securities, we see that China owned $877.5 billion and Japan owned $768.50 billion in February 2010.

From their historical data, we see that China overtook Japan as the largest foreign holder of treasury securities as recently as September 2008, the month that the world’s economic system was thrown into turmoil by the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the stock and real estate market.

However, Japan isn’t the second-largest holder of U.S. treasury securities — the privately owned Federal Reserve Bank of New York is. That is, one of the 12 member banks of the illegal privately owned Federal Reserve System of the United States.

From their official numbers on April 21, 2010, they owned $771.57 billion in U.S. treasury securities — $3 billion more than Japan did in February.

Their parent organization, the Federal Reserve, lies about interest-free United States Notes, the currency that Congress issued to fund the Civil War, when the bankers were demanding 20-30% interest.

While United States Notes didn’t benefit the bankers, they clearly benefitted the American people, by not having to pay any interest during their entire lifetime, including to this very day. On the other hand, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is receiving interest from their $771 billion in treasury securities, and as a member bank of the Federal Reserve, it receives a 6% annual dividend on its stock in the Federal Reserve System, with the proceeds going to private interests.

Even calculating with the current all-time low Federal Funds Rate of 0.25% on all the bank’s $771 billion in treasury securities, that’s nearly $2 billion a year in interest that could be saved by this and future generations, which will be compounded every year, and will reach $15-50 billion when annual interest rates reach a more historically recent level of between 2-6%.

Bush at a loss for words on 9/11 foreknowledge question

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Barbara Hollingsworth: Fannie Mae owns patent on residential 'cap and trade' exchange

When he wasn't busy helping create a $127 billion mess for taxpayers to clean up, former Fannie Mae Chief Executive Officer Franklin Raines, two of his top underlings and select individuals in the "green" movement were inventing a patented system to trade residential carbon credits.

Patent No. 6904336 was approved by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office on Nov. 7, 2006 -- the day after Democrats took control of Congress. Former Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., criticized the award at the time, pointing out that it had "nothing to do with Fannie Mae's charter, nothing to do with making mortgages more affordable."

It wasn't about mortgages. It was about greenbacks. The patent, which Fannie Mae confirmed it still owns with Cantor Fitzgerald subsidiary, gives the mortgage giant a lock on the fledgling carbon trading market, thus also giving it a major financial stake in the success of cap-and-trade legislation.

Besides Raines, the other "inventors" are:

* Former Fannie Vice President and Deputy General Counsel G. Scott Lesmes, who provided legal advice on Fannie Mae's debt and equity offerings;

* Former Fannie Vice President Robert Sahadi, who now runs GreenSpace Investment Financial Services out of his 5,002-square-foot Clarksburg home;

* 2008 Barack Obama fundraiser Kenneth Berlin, an environmental law partner at Skadden Arps;

* Michelle Desiderio, director of the National Green Building Certification program, which trains "green" monitors;

* Former Cantor Fitzgerald employee Elizabeth Arner Cavey, wife of Democratic donor Brian Cavey of the Stanton Park Group, which received $200,000 last year to lobby on climate change legislation; and

* Jane Bartels, widow of former CEO Carlton Bartels. Three weeks before Carlton Bartels was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, he filed for another patent on the software used in 2003 to set up the Chicago Climate Exchange.

The patent, which covers both the "cap" and "trade" parts of Obama's top domestic energy initiation, gives Fannie Mae proprietary control over an automated trading system that pools and sells credits for hard-to-quantify residential carbon reduction efforts (such as solar panels and high-efficiency appliances) to companies and utilities that don't meet emission reduction targets. Depending on where the Environmental Protection Agency sets arbitrary CO2 standards, that could be every company in America.

The patent summary describes how carbon "and other pollutants yet to be determined" would be "combined into a single emissions pool" and traded -- just as Fannie's toxic portfolio of subprime mortgages were.

"Fannie Mae earns no money on this patent," communications director Amy Bonitatibus told the Washington Examiner. "We can't conjecture as to the cap-and-trade legislation."

But passage of the legislation would create an artificial, government-mandated, trillion-dollar carbon trading market that would drive up the price of energy, indirectly making housing more expensive.

If the proprietary emissions trading system functions like other exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange, which makes most of its revenue on listing and trading fees, its owners could see extremely generous profits, especially with a patent that keeps out competition for two decades.

So Fannie Mae, a quasi-governmental entity whose congressionally mandated mission is to make housing more affordable, has been a behind-the-scenes participant in a carbon trading scheme that would do just the opposite.

In January, Europol announced that up to 90 percent of the volume in the European Union's own carbon-trading market was fraudulent, costing EU members $5 billion during the previous 18 months. That would be just the tip of the iceberg if the Congress were to make a similar mistake.

But if it does, thanks to Raines and his fellow "inventors," Fannie Mae will be laughing all the way to the (bailed-out) bank.

Barbara F. Hollingsworth is the Examiner's local opinion editor.

Government and Banks Complicit in Fraud

Just as the major banks report super earnings, Richard Koo issues his report on their condition. If banks were required to keep honest books and mark their assets to market, there would be no earnings and both the finance and real estate industries would collapse.

As described by Zerohedge:

Richard Koo’s latest observations on the US economy are as always, a must read. The critical observation from the Nomura economist explains why the realists and the naive idealists are at greater odds than ever before: the government continues to perpetuate, endorse and legalize accounting fraud in the hope that covering everything up under the rug will rekindle animal spirits. The truth, as Koo points out, is that were the FASB to show the real sad state of affairs, the two core industries in the US – finance and real estate, would be bankrupt. “If US authorities were to require banks to mark their commercial real estate loans to market today, lending to this sector would be extinguished, triggering a chain of bankruptcies as borrowers became unable to roll over their debt.” In other news Citi, Bank of America, and Wells just reported fantastic earnings beats on the heels of reduced credit loss provisions. Nothing on the conference call mentioned the fact that all would be bankrupt if there was an ounce of integrity left in financial reporting, and that every firm is committing FASB-complicit 10(b)-5 fraud. One day, just like Goldman’s mortgage follies, all this will be the subject of epic lawsuits. But not yet. There is some more money to be stolen from the middle class first, by these very firms.

This is devastating news for those that believe the economy is in a recovery, but not news for those who understand what is going on. The government is desperate and complicit in fraud to prevent the collapse of the economy. Unfortunately, they are trapped and there is no escape.

The strategy with the banks cannot work because there is no way short of major inflation that real estate regains the value necessary to correct this problem. Even that is unlikely to work because wages are unlikely to keep pace with inflation, causing commercial real estate bankruptcies. The employment situation and overseas competition (labor arbitrage) is likely to make the inflation scenario a non-winner.

At this point, nothing short of some unknown miracle is likely to save the economy. I cannot even fathom what that miracle might be, never mind its probability of occurrence.

To read Zerohedge’s full commentary and the Richard Koo report, go to the website.

The Dishonesty of Obama's Keyensian Reform

Obama promises to end bailouts 'once and for all' ... President Barack Obama (left) promised an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts "once and for all" as the US Senate prepared to start debating this week an overhaul of the financial system to restore confidence in Wall Street. Mr Obama called on Congress to pass the most wide-ranging changes to oversight of the financial market since the Great Depression and said the changes would help revive the economy and "put an end to the cycles of boom and bust ... In the absence of common-sense rules, Wall Street firms took enormous, irresponsible risks that imperiled our financial system – and hurt just about every sector of our economy," said the president in his weekly address. "Some people simply forgot that behind every dollar traded or leveraged, there is family looking to buy a house, pay for an education, open a business, or save for retirement." – UK Telegraph

Dominant Social Theme: What must be done.

Free-Market Analysis: We think President Barack Obama's statement that the upcoming US financial regulation bill could end boom-and-bust cycles is an unfortunate one. It illustrates a fundamental rhetorical dishonesty, because even the socialist economist John Maynard Keynes did not directly associate regulatory policy with ending the business cycle. For Keynes, a recession was merely an indicator of lagging demand, which could be rectified having central banks rev up the printing presses. For free-market economists, recessions were an inevitable outcome of central bank manipulations of the money supply.

First too much money is printed causing a boom, according to free-market economics, and then, eventually, the mal-investment from so much money causes a fairly severe downturn. The solution, Austrian, free-market economists proposed, was to do nothing – to let the economy unwind the mal-investments so that new capital could flow to healthy enterprises. Unfortunately, today, as before, central banks have flooded Western economies with fresh money, which has seemed to promote a "recovery" but which has actually just frozen the mal-investments in place and set the stage for another boom-bust cycle, an even more extreme one.

It's not as if Barack Obama, who is a very smart man surrounded by smart people, does not know this. As libertarian Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex) has pointed out, those running the Federal Reserve and those in Congress involved with monetary issues are well aware of the business cycle and free-market business cycle analysis. Yet one only has to look at textbooks and the larger economic and policy conversations of the 20th century to see that an Austrian analysis is almost entirely lacking. Only the Keynesian perspective is well represented. And at the governmental level this obviously continues to be the case. Here's some more from the Telegraph article:

With negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on the details of a 1,300-page reform bill continuing late into the night, there were hopes that it could be taken up as early as Monday. "We are going to get this bill, I think in the next few days ... and it's going to be a major achievement for this country," said Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, the chairman of the senate banking committee on NBC. "We need to get on with this. It's 18 months since someone broke into our house and robbed us and we haven't even changed the locks on the door."

Richard Shelby, a Republican senator from Tennessee who has led months of negotiations with Mr. Dodd, said: "We are getting there, I think conceptually we are very, very close. We are trying to improve two or three things in it, but we are closer than we have ever been." Amid voter fury about the billions used to revive banks, which quickly returned to profit while the regular economy continued to suffer, both parties have vied to portray themselves as the defender of ordinary man.

Republicans said that the bill drafted by Mr. Dodd did not do enough to ensure that no institution became so large that its failure would endanger the whole economy, as happened in late 2008 ... Republicans have also raised objections to a provision that would set up a $50 billion industry-supported fund to cover the cost of liquidation of failed financial firms, arguing it would set up a permanent bailout of Wall Street banks. Mr. Obama has said the accusation is "simply not true."

Regulation as a methodology for curing the central-banking induced business cycle simply doesn't work – because it is not a monetary solution. But we can see in the last paragraph of the above excerpt why regulation is so attractive to the powers-that-be. Republicans rightly observe that a "$50 billion industry-supported fund to cover the cost of failed financial firms" is a recipe for continued bail-outs, not for ending them. Now the federal government will have the wherewithal to proclaim a company a failure and begin to unwind it. This procedure opens tremendous avenues for abuse and political shakedowns

Only free-market economic analysis explains what has regularly gone wrong with Western economies over the past 100 years. Prior to central bank induced booms and busts, the business cycle existed but in a far more milder form (absent government interference) and was regional in nature as well. In fact, much was regional, including interest rates, inflation and other monetary factors as money was not a uniform commodity organized by a centralizing bureaucracy. Among the other problems with the coordinated activities of central banks is that they replace myriad money effects with powerful single surges. When one country heads downhill, others follow. Central banking policies are all interlinked and each does what the others do.

Policy-makers continually claim to be puzzled as to how subprime mortgage-contagion spread from the US to everywhere else in the world, but one reason that helps explain it is this inter-relatedness between economies. Policy-makers, as well, are prone to maintain that this inter-relatedness is merely a result of modernity and cannot be helped. But that is not true. The inter-linkage between economies and monetary policy is deliberate and man-made. Absent money-tampering and centralization, economies would be a good more robust.

Proclaiming that regulation will do away with boom-and-bust cycles does not make it so. But what is perhaps more important is that many people have learned about free-market economics thanks to the Internet. Thus the rhetoric of the leadership class is not only less persuasive, it can be seen increasingly as downright meretricious.

Conclusion: One of the problems with the current sociopolitical conversation is that the increasing knowledge is giving rise to real impatience with the proposed solutions of the political class – not just in America but throughout the West. As the Internet continues its process of free-market education (as it has for several decades now) the tension will continue to rise between a populace that increasingly knows better and their leaders who are still playing by an old-fashioned rule-book. Keynesian curatives were never intended as a panacea but as a method of imposing further control. As Keynesian rhetoric is increasingly seen as dishonest, the ability of the power elite to promote traditional public rhetoric will contract accordingly. The process will continue until a tipping point is reached at which time, hopefully, the conversation will grow more rather than less honest.

S&P on Greek Debt Downgrade to Junk Status: Options Are Narrowing

Standard & Poor's credit analyst Marko Mrsni explains the Greek debt downgrade to junk status:
The downgrade results from our updated assessment of the political, economic, and budgetary challenges that the Greek government faces in its efforts to put the public debt burden onto a sustained downward trajectory

We believe that the government's policy options are narrowing because of Greece's weakening economic growth prospects, at a time when pressures for stronger fiscal adjustment measures are rising.

There is no way this stops with Greece. The PIIGS, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain, are about to become bacon.

Cuts to Debt Rating Stir Anxiety in Europe

FRANKFURT — Greece’s credit rating was lowered to junk status Tuesday by a leading credit agency, a decision that rocked financial markets and deepened fears that a debt crisis in Europe could spiral out of control.

The ratings agency, Standard & Poor’s, downgraded Greece’s long-term and short-term debt to non-investment status and cautioned that investors who bought Greek bonds faced dwindling odds of getting their money back if Greece defaulted or went through a debt restructuring. The move came shortly after S.&P. reduced Portugal’s credit rating and warned that more downgrades were possible.

The downgrades, announced near the end of trading in Europe, came amid rising political tensions across the Continent that had already punished Greek bonds and sent stock prices down sharply from London to Paris to New York. The Dow Jones industrial average slumped by 213.04 points to close at 10,991.99, a fall of 1.9 percent for the day; major indexes in Western Europe fell by 2.5 percent or more. Investors, worried about shock waves in the broader European economy, also migrated away from the euro and pushed the dollar and Treasury bonds higher. The euro slid to $1.3316 in afternoon trading in New York from $1.3382 late Tuesday.

“This is a signal to the markets that the situation is deteriorating rapidly, and it’s not clear who’s in a position to stop the Greeks from going into a default situation,” said Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research. “That creates a spillover effect into Portugal and Spain and raises the whole sovereign debt issue.”

As transportation workers in Portugal and Greece went on strike against austerity measures Tuesday, the risk premium on Greece’s bonds set records even before S.&P. announced the downgrades.

Investors were unsettled by perceptions that European leaders have not yet shown they can contain the fallout from Greece’s problems, as well as the political resistance in Germany to using taxpayer money for a rescue.

“This thing is getting more and more urgent and tense,” said Robert Barrie, head of European economics at Credit Suisse in London. He said the markets could settle down once Greece manages to refinance €8.5 billion, or $11.2 billion, in bonds that mature in May. “But it’s anything but calm at the moment,” he added.

In an effort to show unity, European Union governments may hold a summit meeting May 10 to discuss releasing aid to Greece, according to an E.U. official who was knowledgeable about the ongoing talks on the matter, but who declined to be identified because the date was not yet confirmed.

The meeting could also provide a forum for Germany, where a large majority of voters oppose aid to Greece, to deliver a stern warning to other over-indebted countries that such aid is exceptional and should be avoided in the future.

Amid the turmoil, a European Central Bank official warned all euro-zone countries to cut their soaring budget deficits and suggested that Greece may need to impose even harsher austerity measures to bring its debt under control.

The central bank vice president, Lucas D. Papademos, who was governor of the Bank of Greece from 1994 to 2002, told members of the European Parliament in Brussels that the Maastricht Treaty, which sets out borrowing limits for euro-zone countries, “is facing its biggest challenge since its adoption in 1997.”

The economic program that European officials and the International Monetary Fund are negotiating with Athens in return for €45 billion in loans at interest rates well below what the market is demanding must “address the root causes of Greece’s fiscal imbalances and structural weaknesses, so as to ensure the sustainability of its public finances and improve the country’s international competitiveness,” he said.

On the streets of Greece and Portugal, labor unions stepped up resistance to the austerity measures that will be crucial to any turnaround.

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E.C.B. Official Warns That Greece May Have to Cut More Deeply

FRANKFURT — As workers in Portugal went on strike against austerity measures and the risk premium on Greek bonds rose to a record level Tuesday, a European Central Bank official warned all euro-zone countries to cut their soaring budget deficits and suggested that Greece may need to impose even harsher measures to bring its debt under control. The central bank vice president, Lucas D....

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Goldman culture crash

Commentary: From white shoes to the 'Fabulous Fab' tap dance

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- More than anything else, the Securities and Exchange Commission's fraud case against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has illustrated the fall of the firm from Wall Street's preeminent bank to riverboat casino.

The case is the final indictment in long decline for the brokerage. Some of the wounds have been self-inflicted, others by outside forces. The upshot is that during the last decade, Goldman /quotes/comstock/13*!gs/quotes/nls/gs (GS 153.04, +1.01, +0.66%) has transformed from a client-oriented firm to a bona fide hedge fund. For a while, it was one of the best. But now, as the SEC case shows, it's as sloppy and imperfect as any on Wall Street.

To understand how far the mighty have fallen, one needs to understand the awe and envy Goldman once elicited. Goldman wasn't just one of the most profitable firms, it was the No. 1 choice destination for graduates of Harvard Business School and Wharton. It was the first advisory choice for chief executives looking to do deals.

As Jonathan Knee, an investment banker now at Evercore Partners Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!evr/quotes/nls/evr (EVR 36.36, -0.18, -0.49%) , put it in his book, "The Accidental Investment Banker," the admiration built into the Goldman brand helped him win the confidence of Fortune 500 CEOs despite his early inexperience.

Knee wrote that working for Goldman carried weight when he proposed sometimes unorthodox ideas that might have been dismissed had they come from other bankers. Instead, Knee wrote, CEOs would say, "'Well, he's from Goldman, so there must be something here.'"

He added "At least as important as the money, being at Goldman bestowed a kind of credibility that no other institution could match."

Knee said he left when he felt Goldman began moving away from its roots and other banks became more competitive by using their balance sheets to finance deals. But there was more to the change. Goldman's trading desk grew exponentially during the last decade and changed the culture of the bank.

Scale for risk, returns

/quotes/comstock/13*!gs/quotes/nls/gs GS 153.04, +1.01, +0.66%

More so than other investment banks, Goldman's financial reports are opaque black boxes. It's hard to determine just how much profit the trading desk was making, but you can get an idea of the scope. Between 1998 and 2008, Goldman more than doubled in size. Its roll of employees rose to 30,522, up from 15,361. Its principal investments grew to $13.96 billion, up from $1.4 billion and its leverage ratio rose to 26.2-to-1, up from 24.7-to-1. In other words, Goldman morphed into an uberbank, and its size and the risk the firm took on grew with it.

The problem with fast growth -- for any company not just Goldman -- is that it's hard to manage. Goldman was a staid partnership until it went public in 1999. After that, Goldman was in the wide open competition for investor dollars with Merrill Lynch & Co., Morgan Stanley /quotes/comstock/13*!ms/quotes/nls/ms (MS 29.93, -1.01, -3.26%) and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!jpm/quotes/nls/jpm (JPM 42.41, -1.48, -3.37%) . It needed to drive earnings to match those banks. So when the lucrative initial public offering business and mergers and acquisitions dried up after the tech bust, Goldman turned to trading. It was the last place to make money in a stalled market.

The biggest example of this shift was the rise of Lloyd Blankfein to chief executive in 2006. Blankfein came up on the trading side of the firm. Trading has flourished under Blankfein and it was under his guidance that Goldman began to bet against the mortgage market in 2007 even as it was still churning out mortgage-backed securities.

It's no coincidence that Fabrice Tourre, the Goldman employee at the center of the SEC case, was hired in 2001 when Goldman was beefing up its trading arm. Like many hired during the era, Tourre's background differed from the traditional MBA-armed graduates hired by the firm. Tourre had a mathematics degree from Ecole Centrale, one of Paris' top universities.

Math whizzes such as Tourre were Wall Street's most sought-after people during the decade. Again, young employees good with numbers were placed on trading desks to help create or at least make sense of the increasingly complex derivatives dominating trading.

And what was the result? The "Fabulous Fab" crowing in an email about the derivatives "he created without necessarily understanding all of the implication of those monstuosities (sic)!!!"


By now you get a sense of how the firm changed. Top bankers became disillusioned. Trading became the chief source of revenue. There were too many new faces. It was a new business even the smart guys didn't fully understand. For all of the firms chasing Goldman, it was Goldman that, in the end, had to chase, or at least stay a step ahead of other firms.

Goldman was successful, but that success came at a cost. The identity of the firm was lost. A bank that was once the gold standard of American finance succumbed to the temptations of quick, easy money.

The broker, in the end, became a bank with too many "Fabulous Fabs" and "monstrosities" when what it needed was to be Goldman Sachs.

Case-Shiller Wants You To Ignore Some Housing Data

On Tuesday the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index will offer its monthly look at what happened to home prices in February. The reading isn’t likely to show a great month, in part because the index uses a three month moving average, and so it will show home price measurements for December, January and February–three of the weakest months for home sales since home prices hit bottom one year ago.

But there’s another reason that the reading may not be as positive as the last few reports: The committee that releases the index has told everyone to stop paying attention to the seasonally adjusted figures for the time being. The reason: The growing share of distressed sales over the past three years had increasingly skewed the formula used to calculate seasonal adjustments, which are used help smooth out regular distortions that arise because spring and summer months are typically stronger than the fall and winter periods that bring weaker sales activity.

In January, the Case-Shiller 10-City composite index registered a seasonally-adjusted 0.4% monthly gain, even though the unadjusted data registered a 0.2% decline, and the fourth decline in a row. Writes David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff:

Now it would be one thing if January was an unusually weak seasonal month for home prices deserving of an upward skew from the adjustment factors; however, from 1998 through to 2006, they rose in each and every January and by an average of 0.6%. But what happened is that home prices collapsed in each of the past three Januarys — by an average of 1.8%, or a 25% annual rate. And, seasonal factors typically weigh the experience of the prior three years disproportionately so what looks like steady gains in housing prices may be little more than a statistical mirage.

Over at his Matrix blog, New York appraiser and housing analyst Jonathan Miller says something similar. Seasonality in New York City “ran amok” after the financial crisis, he writes: “Contract peak moved forward 90 days for the first time in the 25 years I’ve been tracking the market, from May-June to August-September, which will then screw up year over year comparisons.”

Because we’re no longer in a “normal” housing market, the predictability of seasonal adjustments has disintegrated. Instead of making comparisons to a month-ago period with a seasonal adjustment, the S&P index committee is now recommending that observers make year-ago comparisons where seasonal shifts aren’t going to distort trends.

Possible Supreme Court pick had ties with Goldman Sachs

WASHINGTON — A top prospect for the Supreme Court was a paid member of an advisory panel for the embattled investment firm Goldman Sachs, federal financial disclosures show.

Solicitor General Elena Kagan was a member of the Research Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute, according to the financial disclosures she filed when President Obama appointed her last year to her current post. Kagan served on the Goldman panel from 2005 through 2008, when she was dean of Harvard Law School, and received a $10,000 stipend for her service in 2008, her disclosure forms show.

A spokesman for Goldman Sachs did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

The advisory panel met once a year to discuss public policy issues and was not involved in any investment decisions, Justice Department spokesman Tracy Schmaler said.

Kagan, the administration's top lawyer before the high court, has been named in news reports as a possible replacement for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Last year, Obama interviewed her for the high court seat now held by Sonia Sotomayor.

If Kagan is nominated to replace Stevens, senators will scrutinize those ties to Goldman Sachs, said Northwestern University law professor Lee Epstein.

"One side will pick apart anything a nominee has done," said Epstein, who co-wrote a book on the politics of judicial nominations. "Here, Goldman Sachs doesn't have a lot of fans. It may make things more complicated for her."

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil lawsuit against Goldman Sachs earlier this month, accusing the financial giant of failing to disclose important information about an investment it sold in 2007 that was tied to subprime mortgages. The SEC lawsuit alleges investors lost $1 billion and that Goldman Sachs didn't tell them it had packaged the mortgages at the request of a hedge fund manager who bet the housing bubble would burst.

Goldman Sachs insists it did nothing wrong. CEO Lloyd Blankfein will testify today before a Senate panel that the company did not bet against its clients.

The Global Markets Institute, Goldman Sachs' public policy research unit, was not involved in the conduct being challenged by the SEC. The council Kagan served on is a group of outside experts called on to organize discussions and examine public policy issues. The institute provides analysis and advice to Goldman Sachs and its clients.

Although Goldman's executives have been generous political donors, particularly to Democrats, some lawmakers are trying to distance themselves from that link. One example: Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, who is running for the Senate in Illinois, announced he will return more than $20,000 in campaign contributions linked to Goldman Sachs.

Russia says genetically modified foods are harmful

Russia has started the annual Days of Defence against Environmental Hazards from the 15th of April to the 5th of June with the announcement of sensational results of an independent work of research. Scientists have proved that Genetically Modified Organisms are harmful for mammals. The researchers discovered that animals that eat GM foodstuffs lose their ability to reproduce. Campbell hamsters that have a fast reproduction rate were fed for two years with ordinary soya beans, which are widely used in agriculture and those contain different percentages of GM organisms. Another group of hamsters, the control group, was fed with pure soya, which was found with great difficulty in Serbia because 95 percent of soya in the world is transgenic.

Concerning the experiment carried out jointly by the National Association for Gene Security and the Institute of Ecological and Evolutional Problems, Dr. Alexei Surov has this to say. “We selected several groups of hamsters, kept them in pairs in cells and gave them ordinary food as always,” says Alexei Surov. “We did not add anything for one group but the other was fed with soya that contained no GM components, while the third group with some content of Genetically Modified Organisms and the fourth one with increased amount of GMO. We monitored their behavior and how they gain weight and when they give birth to their cubs. Originally, everything went smoothly. However, we noticed quite a serious effect when we selected new pairs from their cubs and continued to feed them as before. These pairs’ growth rate was slower and reached their sexual maturity slowly. When we got some of their cubs we formed the new pairs of the third generation. We failed to get cubs from these pairs, which were fed with GM foodstuffs. It was proved that these pairs lost their ability to give birth to their cubs,” Dr. Alexei Surov said.

Another surprise was discovered by scientists in hamsters of the third generation. Hair grew in the mouth of the animals that took part in the experiment. It’s unclear why this happened. The researchers cannot understand why a programme of destruction is launched when animals take GMO foodstuffs. They say that this can be neutralized only by stopping to eat these foods. Consequently, scientists suggest imposing a ban on the use of GM foods until they are tested for their bio-security. The results of Russian scientists coincide with those of their colleagues from France and Austria. For one, when scientist proved that GM maize was harmful for mammals, France banned immediately its production and sale. The scientists who carried out the experiment say that it’s too early to make far-reaching conclusions about the health hazards of the GMO. They insist that there is a need to carry out comprehensive research. They suggest implementing the project, “Safety Gene Technology” at the innovation centre, “Skolkovo” which is being set up near Moscow.


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Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine Conflict

amage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Here is Noam Speaking about 9-11

Jeffrey Blankfort

"In an article in the New York Times (April 19, 2003), reporter Emily Eakin tells the story of a University of Chicago confab called to assess theory's fate. At a session attended by a bevy of humanities superstars, a student asked: What good is theory if, he said, ‘we concede in fact how much more important the actions of Noam Chomsky are in the world than all the writings of critical theorists combined.’" Jon Spayde, Senior Editor, Utne Reader Nov/Dec 2004

Noam Chomsky has been the foremost critic of America’s imperial adventures for more than three decades. That is probably the only point of agreement shared by his legions of loyal supporters and his equally committed although far less numerous detractors. His domination of the field is so extraordinary and unprecedented that one would be hard-put to find a runner-up. It is a considerable achievement for someone who has been described, at times, as a "reluctant icon."[1]

Despite his low-key demeanor and monotone delivery, Chomsky has been anything but reluctant. On closer examination, however, it appears that he has gained his elevated position less from scholarship than from the sheer body of his work that includes books by the dozens—30 in the last 30 years--and speeches and interviews in the hundreds.

In the field of US-Israel-Palestine relations he has been a virtual human tsunami, washing like a huge wave over genuine scholarly works in the field that contradict his critical positions on the Middle East, namely that Israel serves a strategic asset for the US and that the Israeli lobby, primarily AIPAC, is little more than a pressure group like any other trying to affect US policy in the Middle East. For both of these positions, as I will show, he offers only the sketchiest of evidence and what undercuts his theory he eliminates altogether.

Nevertheless, he has ignited the thinking and gained himself the passionate, almost cult-like attachment of thousands of followers across the globe. At the same time it has made him the favorite hate object of those who support and justify the US global agenda and the domination of its junior partner, Israel, over the Palestinians. Who else has whole internet blogs dedicated to nothing else but attacking him?

What is less generally known is that he admits to having been a Zionist from childhood, by one of the earlier definitions of the term—in favor of a Jewish homeland in Palestine and a bi-national, not a Jewish state—and, as he wrote 30 years ago, "perhaps this personal history distorts my perspective.モ[2]Measuring the degree to which it has done so is critical to understanding puzzling positions he has taken in response to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Given the viciousness and the consistency with which Chomsky has been attacked by his critics on the "right," one ventures cautiously when challenging him from the "left." To expose serious errors in Chomsky’s analysis and recording of history is to court almost certain opprobrium from those who might even agree with the nature of the criticism but who have become so protective of his reputation over the years, often through personal friendships, that have they not only failed to publicly challenge substantial errors of both fact and interpretation on his part, they have dismissed attempts by others to do so as "personal" vendettas.

Chomsky himself is no more inclined to accept criticism than his supporters. As one critic put it, "His attitude to who those who disagree with him, is, by and large, one of contempt. The only reason they can't see the simple truth of what he's saying is that they are, in one way or another, morally deficient."[3]

Although I had previously criticized Chomsky for downplaying the influence of the pro-Israel lobby on Washington’s Middle East policies,[4] I had hesitated to write a critique of his overall approach for the reasons noted. Nevertheless, I was convinced that while, ironically, having provided perhaps the most extensive documentation of Israeli crimes, he had, at the same time immobilized, if not sabotaged, the development of any serious effort to halt those crimes and to build an effective movement in behalf of the Palestinian cause.

An exaggeration? Hardly. A number of statements made by Chomsky have demonstrated his determination to keep Israel and Israelis from being punished or inconvenienced for the very monumental transgressions of decent human behavior that he himself has passionately documented over the years. This is one of the glaring contradictions in Chomsky’s work. He would have us believe that Israel’s occupation and harsh actions against the Palestinians, its invasions and undeclared 40 years war on Lebanon, and its arming of murderous regimes in Central America and Africa during the Cold War, has been done as a client state in the service of US interests. In Chomsky’s world view, that absolves Israel of responsibility and has become standard Chomsky doctrine.

Following through with a critique of his work seemed essential after reading an interview he had given last May to Christopher J. Lee of Safundi: the Journal of South African and American Comparative Studies and circulated on Znet.[5]

Quite naturally, the discussion turned to apartheid and whether Chomsky considered the term applied to Palestinians under Israeli rule. He responded:

I don’t use it myself, to tell you the truth. Just like I don't [often] use the term "empire," because these are just inflammatory terms... I think it's sufficient to just describe the situation, without comparing it to other situations.
Anyone familiar with Chomsky’s work will recognize that he is no stranger to inflammatory terms and that comparing one historical situation with another has long been part of his modus operandi. His response in this instance was troubling. Many Israeli academics and journalists, such as Ilan Pappe, Tanya Reinhart and Amira Hass, have described the situation of the Palestinians as one of apartheid. Bishop Tutu has done the same and last year Ha’aretz reported that South African law professor John Dugard, the special rapporteur for the United Nations on the situation of human rights in Occupied Palestine and a former member of his country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, had written in a report to the UN General Assembly that there is "an apartheid regime" in the territories "worse than the one that existed in South Africa."[6]

Chomsky explained his disagreement:

Apartheid was one particular system and a particularly ugly situation... It's just to wave a red flag, when it's perfectly well to simply describe the situation...
His reluctance to label Israel’s control of the Palestinians as "apartheid" out of concern that it be seen as a "red flag," like describing it as "inflammatory," was a red flag itself and raised questions that should have been asked by the interviewer, such as who would be inflamed by the reference to ‘apartheid’ as a "red flag" in Israel’s case and what objections would Chomsky have to that?

A more disturbing exchange occurred later in the interview when Chomsky was asked if sanctions should be applied against Israel as they were against South Africa. He responded:

In fact, I've been strongly against it in the case of Israel. For a number of reasons. For one thing, even in the case of South Africa, I think sanctions are a very questionable tactic. In the case of South Africa, I think they were [ultimately] legitimate because it was clear that the large majority of the population of South Africa was in favor of it.
Sanctions hurt the population. You don't impose them unless the population is asking for them. That's the moral issue. So, the first point in the case of Israel is that: Is the population asking for it? Well, obviously not.
Obviously not. But is it acceptable to make such a decision on the basis of what the majority of Israelis want? Israel, after all, is not a dictatorship in which the people are held in check by fear and, therefore, cannot be held responsible for their government’s actions. Israel has a largely unregulated, lively press and a "people’s army" in which all Israeli Jews, other than the ultra-orthodox, are expected to serve and that is viewed by the Israeli public with almost religious reverence. Over the years, in their own democratic fashion, the overwhelming majority of Israelis have consistently supported and participated in actions of their government against the Palestinians and Lebanese that are not only racist, but in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Chomsky made his position clear:

So calling for sanctions here, when the majority of the population doesn't understand what you are doing, is tactically absurd-even if it were morally correct, which I don't think it is. The country against which the sanctions are being imposed is not calling for it.
The interviewer, Lee, understandably puzzled by that answer, then asked him, "Palestinians aren't calling for sanctions?

Chomsky: "Well, the sanctions wouldn't be imposed against the Palestinians, they would be imposed against Israel."
Lee: "Right... [And] Israelis aren't calling for sanctions."
That response also disturbed Palestinian political analyst, Omar Barghouti, who, while tactfully acknowledging Chomsky as "a distinguished supporter of the Palestinian cause," addressed the issue squarely:

Of all the anti-boycott arguments, this one reflects either surprising naiveté or deliberate intellectual dishonesty. Are we to judge whether to apply sanctions on a colonial power based on the opinion of the majority in the oppressors community? Does the oppressed community count at all? [7]
For Chomsky, apparently not. But there were more absurdities to come:

Furthermore, there is no need for it. We ought to call for sanctions against the United States! If the US were to stop its massive support for this, it's over. So, you don't have to have sanctions on Israel. It's like putting sanctions on Poland under the Russians because of what the Poles are doing. It doesn't make sense. Here, we're the Russians.
First, what does Chomsky mean by saying "there is no need of it?" He was certainly aware, at the time of the interview that Israel, with its construction of a 25-foot high wall and fence, appropriately described by its critics as the "Apartheid Wall" was accelerating the confiscation of yet more Palestinian land and continuing the ethnic cleansing that began well before 1947 and there was nothing other than the weight of public opinion that might stop it.

Second, while there would be considerable support of sanctions against the US, if such were possible, would this not violate Chomsky’s own standard for applying them? Had he not moments before, said that the majority of the people must support them? He apparently has a different standard for Israelis than he does for Americans. And what the Palestinians may wish doesn’t count.

Then, having just told the interviewer that he did not like making comparisons, what can one make of his placing the relationship that existed between Poland and the former Soviet Union (Russia, in his lexicon) in the same category as that existing between Israel and the United States? He was referring to the implementation of sanctions by the Reagan administration against Poland in 1981 after the East Bloc nation had instituted martial law in response to the rise of the Solidarnosc movement. What role the Soviet Union had in that has been debated, but it should be obvious that there is no serious basis for such a comparison.

In retrospect, however, it was no surprise. In the Eighties, Chomsky placed Israel’s relationship to the US in the same category as that of El Salvador when the Reagan administration was backing its puppet government against the FMLN. Not embarrassed at having spouted such nonsense, he still repeats it. [8] Even then, he exhibited a gritty determination to deflect responsibility for Israel’s actions on to the United States. To point this out is not to defend the US or its egregious history of global criminality—which is not defensible—but to expose the deep fault lines that inhabit Chomsky’s world view.

In case I had missed something, however, I wrote him, asking if he wished to clarify what the Polish-Soviet relationship had in common with that of Israel and the US?

He declined to answer that question but with reference to my asking him about his avoidance of placing blame on Israel, he responded:

I also don’t acknowledge other efforts to blame others [presumably Israel] for what we do. Cheap, cowardly, and convenient, but I won’t take part in it. That’s precisely what’s at stake. Nothing else. [9]
"Cheap, cowardly and convenient" to blame Israel? If his primary desire is to protect Israel and Israelis from any form of inconvenience is not obvious from that private response, his public effort to sabotage the budding campus divestment program should leave no doubt where and with whom his sympathies lie:

In an exchange with Washington Post readers, Chomsky was asked by a caller:

Why did you sign an MIT petition calling for MIT to boycott Israeli investments, and then give an interview in which you state that you opposed such investment boycotts? What was or is your position on the proposal by some MIT faculty that MIT should boycott Israeli investments?
Chomsky replied:

As is well known in Cambridge, of anyone involved, I was the most outspoken opponent of the petition calling for divestment, and in fact refused to sign until it was substantially changed, along lines that you can read if you are interested. The "divestment" part was reduced to three entirely meaningless words, which had nothing to do with the main thrust of the petition. I thought that the three meaningless words should also be deleted... On your last question, as noted, I was and remain strongly opposed, without exception -- at least if I understand what the question means. How does one "boycott Israeli investments"? (Emphasis added). [10]
I will assume that Chomsky understood very well what the caller meant: investing in Israeli companies and in State of Israel Bonds of which US labor union pension funds, and many states and universities have purchased hundreds of millions of dollars worth. These purchases clearly obligate those institutions to lobby Congress to insure that the Israeli economy stays afloat. This isn’t something that Chomsky talks or writes about.

The caller was referring to a speech that Chomsky had made to the Harvard Anthropology Dept. shortly after the MIT and Harvard faculties issued a joint statement on divestment. It was gleefully reported in the Harvard Crimson by pro-Israel activist, David Weinfeld, under the headline "Chomsky’s Gift":

MIT Institute Professor of Linguistics Noam Chomsky recently gave the greatest Hanukkah gift of all to opponents of the divestment campaign against Israel. By signing the Harvard-MIT divestment petition several months ago—and then denouncing divestment on Nov. 25 at Harvard—Chomsky has completely undercut the petition.
At his recent talk for the Harvard anthropology department, Chomsky stated: "I am opposed and have been opposed for many years, in fact, I’ve probably been the leading opponent for years of the campaign for divestment from Israel and of the campaign about academic boycotts."
He argued that a call for divestment is "a very welcome gift to the most extreme supporters of US-Israeli violence... It removes from the agenda the primary issues and it allows them to turn the discussion to irrelevant issues, which are here irrelevant, anti-Semitism and academic freedom and so on and so forth." [11] (Emphasis added.)
Here you see one of the tactics that Chomsky uses to silence his few left critics; he accuses them of aiding "the most extreme supporters of US-Israeli violence."

When contacted by the Cornell Daily Sun which was preparing an article on the MIT-Harvard divestment movement, Chomsky repeated his objections, and "despite acknowledging the existence of this petition," the reporter wrote, Chomsky said, ‘I’m aware of no divestment movement. I had almost nothing to do with the ‘movement’ except to insist that it not be a divestment movement.’" [12] (Emphasis added)

A least, he cannot be accused of inconsistency. After speaking at the First Annual Maryse Mikhail Lecture at the University of Toledo, on March 4, 2001, Chomsky was asked:

Do you think it's is a good idea to push the idea of divestment from Israel the same way that we used to push for it in white South Africa?
Chomsky replied:

I regard the United States as the primary guilty party here, for the past 30 years. And for us to push for divestment from the United States doesn't really mean anything. What we ought to do is push for changes in US policy. Now it makes good sense to press for not sending attack helicopters to Israel, for example. In fact it makes very good sense to try to get some newspaper in the United States to report the fact that it's happening. That would be a start. And then to stop sending military weapons that are being used for repression. And you can take steps like that. But I don't think divestment from Israel would make much sense, even if such a policy were imaginable (and it's not).
Our primary concern, I think, should be change in fundamental US policy, which has been driving this thing for decades. And that should be within our range. That's what we're supposed to be able to do: change US policy. (Emphasis added)
Let us examine the response he gave at this event. Having stated forthrightly his opposition to pressuring Israel through divestment, he made no suggestion that his audience contact their Congressional representatives or senators regarding their support for aid to Israel. Mass appeals to Congress to stop funding, whether it was in opposition to the war in Vietnam or the Contras in Nicaragua, have been a basic element in every other nation-wide struggle against US global policy. Why not in this case? If Chomsky has ever called for any actions involving Congress, I could find no record of it.

Middle East activists, consequently, following Chomsky’s lead, have continued to allow members of Congress and liberal Democrats, in particular, avoid paying any political price for supporting legislation that has provided Israel with the billions of dollars and the weaponry it has used to suppress the Palestinians, confiscate their land and expand its illegal settlements. This is what has devastated the Palestinians, not the meaningless three score plus Security Council resolutions reprimanding Israel that the US has vetoed but which, for Chomsky, validate his position that the US is the main culprit.

What he suggested to this audience—getting a newspaper to report the helicopter "sales" to Israel should have had those not entranced by his presence shaking their heads. As for changing US policy being "within our range," if Israel is a US "strategic asset," as he maintains, how does Chomsky suggest this be done? Beyond contacting your local newspaper editor, he doesn’t.

Last year, Noah Cohen had the temerity to challenge Chomsky’s opposition to both a "single state" solution and implementing the Palestinian "right of return." Chomsky defended his "realism" and accused Cohen of being engaged in "an academic seminar among disengaged intellectuals on Mars... [and] those who take these stands" [are] "serving the cause of the extreme hawks in Israel and the US, and bringing even more harm to the suffering Palestinians." [13]

Note, again, how Chomsky accuses those who disagree with him of harming the Palestinians. This evidently includes the Palestinians themselves who refuse to surrender their "right of return." Their crime, in Chomsky’s opinion, is to oppose what he praises as the "international consensus," the support of which, for him, is "true advocacy." [14]

"The main task," he says, "is to bring the opinions and attitudes of the large majority of the US population into the arena of policy. As compared with other tasks facing activists, this is, and has long been a relatively simple one." [15] Simple? Who, we must ask, is on Mars? Of course, as noted previously, he offers no suggestions as how to accomplish this.

Although he doesn’t advertise it publicly, Chomsky did sign a petition calling for the suspension of US military aid to Israel, but it has received little publicity and Sustain, the organization initiating the campaign has done little to promote it. It is not a demand that Chomsky raises in his books or interviews. When I pointed this out, he responded:

That is totally false. I’ve always supported the call of Human Rights Watch and others to stop ‘aid’ to Israel until it meets minimal human rights conditions. I’ve also gone out of way to publicize the fact that the majority of the population is in favor of cutting all aid to Israel until it agrees to serious negotiations (with my approval)... [16]
Given the probable nature and outcome of previous "serious negotiations" and the relative strength in the power relationship, this would present no problem for Israel as was demonstrated at Oslo and since. Chomsky’s claim to have supported Human Rights Watch's call for stopping aid to Israel, however, was a figment of his imagination. This was confirmed by an HRW official who explained that HRW had only asked that the amount of money spent on the occupied territories be deducted from the last round of loan guarantees. [17] That is hardly the same thing. When I pointed this out to Chomsky, he replied:

To take only one example, consider ‘HRW, Israel's Interrogation of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories,’ p. xv, which states that US law prohibits sending any military or economic aid to Israel because of its practice of systematic torture. [18]
To my objection that this did not exactly constitute what would be described as a "campaign," he testily responded:

Calling actions illegal is sufficient basis for a reference to a call that the actions should be terminated. If you prefer not to join HRW and me in calling the aid illegal, implying directly that it should be terminated, that's up to you. Not very impressive... [19] (Emphasis added)
I will leave it to the reader to decide whether describing US aid to Israel as illegal in a single document is the same as conducting a campaign to stop it.

Two and a half years earlier, Chomsky had made his position quite clear:

It is convenient in the US, and the West, to blame Israel and particularly Sharon, but that is unfair and hardly honest. Many of Sharon's worst atrocities were carried out under Labor governments. Peres comes close to Sharon as a war criminal. Furthermore, the prime responsibility lies in Washington, and has for 30 years. That is true of the general diplomatic framework, and also of particular actions. Israel can act within the limits established by the master in Washington, rarely beyond. [20] (Emphasis added)
While no doubt a statement of this sort is comforting to the eyes and ears of Israel’s supporters in "the left," it should be obvious that his waiving of the Jewish State’s responsibility to adhere to the Nuremberg principles, as well as the Geneva Conventions, clearly serves Israel’s interests. (While a strong case can certainly be made against Peres, as well, he is not in Sharon’s class in the "war criminal" competition.)

Chomsky’s rationalization of Israel’s criminal misdeeds in The Fateful Triangle should have rung alarm bells when it appeared in 1983. Written a year after Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, in what would become a sacred text for Middle East activists, he actually began the book not by taking Israel to task so much as its critics:

In the war of words that has been waged since Israel invaded Lebanon on June 6, 1982, critics of Israeli actions have frequently been accused of hypocrisy. While the reasons advanced are spurious, the charge itself has some merit. It is surely hypocritical to condemn Israel for establishing settlements in the occupied territories while we pay for establishing and expanding them. Or to condemn Israel for attacking civilian targets with cluster and phosphorous bombs "to get the maximum kill per hit." When we provide them gratis or at bargain rates, knowing that they will be used for just this purpose. Or to criticize Israel’s ‘indiscriminate’ bombardment of heavily-settled civilian areas or its other military adventures, while we not only provide the means in abundance but welcome Israel’s assistance in testing the latest weaponry under live battlefield conditions... .In general, it is pure hypocrisy to criticize the exercise of Israeli power while welcoming Israel’s contributions towards realizing the US aim of eliminating possible threats, largely indigenous, to American domination of the Middle East region.[ 21]
First, the PLO was seen as a threat by Israel, not by the United States in 1982, particularly since it had strictly abided by a US-brokered cease-fire with Israel for 11 months, giving it a dangerous degree of credibility in Israeli eyes. Second, whom did Chomsky mean by "we?" Perhaps, President Reagan and some members of Congress who gently expressed their concern when the number of Palestinians and Lebanese killed in the invasion and the wholesale destruction of the country could not be suppressed in the media. But he doesn’t say. It certainly wasn’t those who took to the streets across the country to protest Israel’s invasion. Both political parties had competed in their applause when Israel launched its attack, as did the AFL-CIO which took out a full page ad in the NY Times, declaring "We Are Not Neutral. We Support Israel!" paid for by an Israeli lobbyist with a Park Avenue address. The media, in the beginning, was also supportive, but it is rare to find an editorial supporting US aid to Israel. It is rarely ever mentioned and that’s the way the lobby likes it. So is Chomsky creating a straw figure? It appears so.

If we follow Chomsky’s "logic," it would be an injustice to bring charges of war crimes against Indonesian, El Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Haitian, or Filipino officers, soldiers, or public officials for the atrocities committed against their own countrymen and women since they were funded, armed and politically supported by the US. Perhaps, General Pinochet will claim the Chomsky Defense if he goes to trial.

He pressed the point of US responsibility for Israel’s sins again in his introduction to The New Intifada, noting that as one of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, "It is therefore Washington’s responsibility to prevent settlement and expropriation, along with collective punishment and all other measures of violence... .It follows that the United States is in express and extreme violation of its obligations as a High Contracting Party." [22]

I would agree with Chomsky, but is the US refusal to act a more "extreme violation" than the actual crimes being committed by another signatory to the Conventions, namely Israel? Chomsky would have us believe that it is.

It is a point he made clear at a talk in Oxford in May, 2004, when he brought up the killing a week earlier of the Hamas spiritual leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin by the Israeli military as he left a Mosque in Gaza. "That was reported as an Israeli assassination, but inaccurately" said Chomsky. "Sheikh Yassin was killed by a US helicopter, flown by an Israeli pilot. Israel does not produce helicopters. The US sends them with the understanding that they will be used for such purposes, not defense, as they have been, regularly."

Chomsky is correct to a point. What is missing from his analysis is any reference to the demands from Congress, orchestrated by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel’s officially registered lobby, to make sure that the US provides those helicopters to Israel to use as its generals see fit. (In fact, there is not a single mention of AIPAC in any one of Chomsky’s many books on the Israel-Palestine conflict). What Chomsky’s British audience was left with was the conclusion that the assassination of Sheik Yassin was done with Washington's approval.

While its repeated use of helicopters against the Palestinian resistance and civilian population has been one of the more criminal aspects of Israel’s response to the Intifada, absolving the Israelis of blame for their use has become something of a fetish for Chomsky as his introduction to The New Intifada [23] and again, in more detail in Middle East Illusions, illustrates:

On October 1, [at the beginning of the Al-Aksa Intifada] Israeli military helicopters, or, to be more precise, US military helicopters with Israeli pilots, sharply escalated the violence, killing two Palestinians in Gaza... . The continuing provision of attack helicopters by the United States to Israel, with the knowledge that these weapons are being used against the civilian Palestinian population, and the silence of the mainstream media is just one illustration of many of how we live up to the principle that we do not believe in violence. Again, it leaves honest citizens with two tasks: the important one, do something about it; and the second one, try to find out why the policies are being pursued. (Emphasis added) [24]

What to do Chomsky again doesn’t say, but he does try to tell us why:

"On that matter, the fundamental reasons are not really controversial... It has long been understood that the gulf region has the major energy sources in the world... " [25]

Chomsky then goes on for two pages explaining the importance of Middle East oil and the efforts by the US to control it. It is the basic explanation that he has repeated and republished, almost verbatim, over the years. What it has to do with the Palestinians who have no oil or how a truncated Palestinian state would present a threat to US regional interests is not provided, but after two pages the reader has forgotten that the question was even posed. In his explanation there is no mention of the lobby or domestic influences.

Chomsky does acknowledge that "major sectors of American corporate capitalism, including powerful elements with interests in the Middle East [the major oil companies!]" have endorsed a "two-state solution" on the basis that

the radical nationalist tendencies that are enflamed by the unsettled Palestinian problem would be reduced by the establishment of a Palestinian mini-state that would be contained within a Jordanian-Israeli military alliance (perhaps tacit), surviving at the pleasure of its far more powerful neighbors and subsidized by the most conservative and pro-American forces in the Arab world... .This would, in fact, be the likely outcome of a two-state settlement." [26]
Such an outcome would have little direct influence on regional Arab politics, except to demoralize supporters of the Palestinian struggle in the neighboring countries and around the world, a development that would clearly serve US interests. It would, however, curb Israel’s expansion, which is critical to Israel’s agenda, not Washington’s. Chomsky also fails to recognize a fundamental contradiction in his argument. If the support of Israel has been based on its role as protector of US strategic resources, namely oil, why does not that position enjoy the support of the major oil companies with interests in the region?

It is useful to go look at Chomsky’s earlier writings to see how his position has developed. This paragraph from Peace in the Middle East, published in 1974 and repackaged with additional material in 2003, is not dissimilar from the liberal mush he often criticizes:

I do not see any way in which Americans can contribute to the active pursuit of peace. That is a matter for the people of the former Palestine themselves. But it is conceivable that Americans might make some contribution to the passive search for peace, by providing channels of communication, by broadening the scope of the discussion and exploring basic issues in ways that are not easily open to those who see their lives as immediately threatened. [27]
Readers should note amidst the vagueness of this paragraph, how Chomsky’s suggestion that "the active pursuit of peace" should be left to "people of the former Palestine" mirrors a phrase that we have heard frequently from Clinton and since from George the Second and Colin Powell, namely, "leaving the negotiations to the concerned parties".

This was published a year after the October 1973 war when the US was massively increasing both military and economic aid to Israel, a fact Chomsky emphasizes in his other writings. Raising it in this context, however, was not on his agenda at that time.

It is reasonable to conclude by now that Chomsky’s dancing around the question of US aid, his opposition to divestment and sanctions, and to holding Israel to account, can be traced more to his Zionist perspective, irrespective of how he defines it, than to his general approach to historical events . It doesn’t stop there, however. An examination of a sampling of his prodigious output on the Israel-Palestine conflict reveals critical historical omissions and blind spots, badly misinterpreted events, and a tendency to repeat his errors to the point where they have become accepted as "non-controversial facts" by successive generations of activists who repeat them like trained seals. In sum, what they have been given by Chomsky is a deeply flawed scenario that he has successfully sold and resold to them as reality.

The consequences are self-evident.

Those who have relied on Chomsky’s interpretation of the US-Israel relationship for their work in behalf of the Palestinian cause, have been functionally impotent. There is simply no evidence that any activity they have undertaken has applied any brake on the Palestinians’ ever-deteriorating situation. I include here, specifically, the anti-war and solidarity movements and their leading spokespersons who have adopted Chomsky’s formulations en toto. How much responsibility for their failure can be laid at Chomsky’s feet may be debatable, but that he has been a major factor can not be. On the other hand, for those in the movement whose primary interest has been to protect Israel from blame and sanctions, and their numbers are not small, Chomsky has been extremely helpful.

Up to this point, I have dealt largely with Chomsky’s opinions. His scholarship, unfortunately, exhibits the same failings. They were succinctly described by Bruce Sharp on an internet site that examines his early writings on the Cambodian genocide. Chomsky, wrote Sharp

does not evaluate all sources and then determine which stand up to logical inquiry. Rather he examines a handful of accounts until he finds one which matches his predetermined idea of what the truth must be; he does not derive his theories from the evidence. Instead, he selectively gathers ‘evidence’ which supports his theories and ignores the rest. [28]
His failures, wrote Sharp, are:

rooted in precisely the same sort of unthinking bias that he derides in the mainstream press. Stories which support his theory are held to a different (far lower) standard of accountability than stories which do not. [29]
These criticisms, to be sure, are not exclusive to Chomsky, but given his elevated status and credibility as a scholar, they are particularly relevant. What has been described by Sharp is closer to the function of a courtroom prosecutor than a historian.

Granted, the issues concerning the effort to secure a just resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict are complex and controversial, but they need to be honestly examined and debated. Everyone, however, is not an equal participant in that debate. The question of the Palestinian "right of return" is for Palestinians themselves to determine, not Israelis, Washington or Chomsky’s "international consensus." Another issue, closely connected, "one-state vs. two states," is more complicated and upon which Palestinians are themselves divided. Although I support a single state, I do not intend to argue for it here, only to present and lay out for the reader Chomsky’s perspective. Given the dominance of the Zionist narrative, however, neither issue has the potential of energizing significant numbers of Americans in their behalf beyond those with a personal or vested interest in their outcome.

Two issues that do have that possibility and which are intimately linked are

1. Stopping the flow of tax dollars to Israel. In view of the sharp cuts being made across the nation in spending on health, education and pensions, there is a ready audience for stopping that aid which has now surpassed the $100 billion mark. It would include ending public and private investment in Israel, in Israeli companies, and in American companies doing business in Israel, which has already begun in a limited way; in other words, imposing the sanctions that Chomsky deplores, and
2. Exposing and challenging the pro-Israel lobby’s stranglehold on Congress and its control over US Middle East policies which is accepted as a fact of life by political observers in Washington and elsewhere, but not by Chomsky.
Chomsky does mention from time to time that the majority of the American people is less than enthusiastic about military aid to Israel but fails to take the issue further than that. His fixation on Israeli pilots flying US helicopters, notwithstanding, relegating the potential power of the aid issue and the lobby to the margins of political discourse has been essential for Chomsky since they undermine the basis of his analysis that

Israel is essentially a US client state that is supported by Washington based on its "services" as a "strategic asset" [30] and "cop on the beat" [31] for US interests in the Middle East and elsewhere and
The "rejectionist" position of the United States, espoused by successive administrations that oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state is the primary obstacle blocking the implementation of a "two-state solution." Moreover, he would have us believe that US policy, despite occasional appearances to the contrary, has supported "the gradual integration of the occupied territories within Israel." [32]
The influence of the pro-Israel lobby has been exaggerated by its critics and メ is more of a swing factor than an independently decisive one... [and] that opens the way for the ideological influence to exert itself - lined up with real power." [33]
On these three points there is an extraordinary amount of contradictory evidence provided by reputable scholars in the field of which Chomsky is clearly aware (since he quotes them when useful) but chooses to ignore. Within the limits of this article, I will only be able to touch on a few.

The "Strategic Asset" Theory

Chomsky’s argument that US support for Israel has been based on its value as a "strategic asset," was most clearly articulated The Fateful Triangle in 1983 and was repeated in interviews and speeches until the Soviet Union was no longer a threat and new justifications were required:

From the late 1950s... the US government came increasingly to accept the Israeli thesis that a powerful Israel is a "strategic asset" for the United States, serving as a barrier against indigenous radical nationalist threats to American interests, which might gain support from the USSR. [34]
The paucity of evidence he supplies to back it up should long ago have raised eyebrows. One item he inevitably brings up is a National Security Council Memorandum from January, 1958, that, according to Chomsky "concluded that a ‘logical corollary of opposition to growing Arab nationalism "would be to support Israel as the only strong pro-Western power left in the Middle East" 35 On such an important point, one would expect he could produce something more recent. In that same year, in response to the successful anti-colonial uprising against the British in Iraq and nationalist moves in Lebanon, Eisenhower sent the marines to that country to protect perceived threats to US interests. Use of Israeli troops was apparently not considered.

The only regional "services" provided by Israel referred to by Chomsky were the defeat of Egypt in 1967 (when France was Israel’s major arms supplier) that was clearly done for Israel’s own interests and it’s role in dissuading the Syrian government from coming to the aid of the Palestinians when they were under attack by Jordan’s King Hussein in September, 1970. That’s it. And in the latter instance, Israel did not need the US to activate its forces to prevent what has been incorrectly recorded (not by Chomsky) as an attempted PLO takeover of Jordan. [36]

What Chomsky and those who parrot his analysis ignore (since he fails to mention them) are other factors that played a role in the routing of the PLO, such as internal Palestinian dissent, the refusal of the Syrian air force under Hafez Al-Assad—no friend of the PLO-- to provide air cover, and the strategic advantages of Jordan’s largely Bedouin forces. It was Henry Kissinger who exaggerated Israel’s role in the outcome of that situation and its potential as a Cold War asset [37], and, ironically, it is Kissinger’s position that Chomsky has enshrined as "fact."

There is another factor in the "strategic asset" argument that is usually overlooked. As Camille Mansour points out:

[T]hese struggles for influence, occurring in a region so close to Israel, are often linked (an in the case of the Jordanian crisis, were definitely linked) to the Arab-Israeli conflict itself: for the Americans, Israel was in the paradoxical position of being an asset by alleviating threats to its own and American interests—threats, however, that it may have itself originally provoked through its situation of conflict with the Arabs. [38]
This opinion was confirmed earlier by Stephen Hillman, former staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, who wrote:

The strategic service that Israel is said to perform for the United States—acting as a barrier to Soviet penetration of the Middle East—is one that is needed primarily because of the existence of Israel, but for which the Arabs would be much less amenable to Soviet influence... It is true that Israel provides the United States with valuable military information and intelligence, and it is conceivable... that the United States might have need of naval or air bases on Israeli territory. These assets in themselves... do not seem sufficient to explain the expenditure by the United States between the founding of Israel and 1980 of almost $13 billion in military assistance and over $5.5 billion in economic support, making Israel by far the largest recipient of United States foreign aid." [39] (Emphasis added)
Chomsky was quite of aware of Tillman’s work, using it frequently as a reference in The Fateful Triangle. The above citation was not included. More to his liking was a comment by the late Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a Democrat from Washington, that Chomsky included in The Fateful Triangle and has been repeating in virtually every book, interview and speech he makes about the Israel-Palestine conflict. According to Jackson

Israel’s job was to "inhibit and contain those irresponsible and radical elements in certain Arab states... who were they free to do so, would pose a grave threat indeed to our principal sources of petroleum in the Persian Gulf. [40]
He was referring to "the tacit alliance between Israel, Iran (under the Shah) and Saudi Arabia" yet there is no evidence that any of the three countries ever performed that role. When the first Bush administration considered the region’s oil sources threatened by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991, it acted on it own, and went out of its way to keep Israel from participating. This has not dissuaded Chomsky from continuing to tell us the same tale.

Why Chomsky believes we should give credibility to Jackson’s opinion is that he was "the Senate’s leading expert on the topic [of oil]" in Fateful Triangle ( p. 535); "the Senate’s expert on the Middle East and Oil" in Toward a New Cold War. (p. 315)

"the Senate’s leading specialist on the Middle East and Oil" in The New Intifada, (p .9) and Middle East Illusions (p. 179);"the ranking oil expert," on P. 55 in Deterring Democracy, "the Senate’s leading specialist on the Middle East and oil," in Pirates and Emperors, (p. 165), and "an influential figure concerned with the Middle East," Hegemony or Survival ( p.165).

I dwell on Chomsky’s descriptions of Jackson because they are characteristically misleading. The closest thing that Jackson came to being an oil expert was having once chaired an investigation on domestic oil practices while head of the Senate Interior Committee.

Aside from being known as "the senator from Boeing," in recognition of the many lucrative contracts he funneled Boeing’s way while chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jackson’s main legacy is as co-author of the Jackson-Vanik amendment which made the success of US-USSR Cold War negotiations dependent on the Soviet Union opening its doors to Jewish emigration. Understandably, that made him the darling of the pro-Israel lobby and American Jews, in general, who provided $523,778 or 24.9% of his campaign contributions over a five-year period. [41] An opponent of détente and a Cold War hawk, he was "virtually the last Democrat in the Senate to support... [the Vietnam] war." [42] Most recently, he has been remembered as the Congressional patron saint of the neo-cons, having given Richard Perle his start on the path to evil.

Thanks to his support of both Israel and the US military-industrial complex, Jackson’s labors did not go unnoticed by the influential Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a major promoter of the integration of the US and Israeli arms industries since 1976. It is another key component of the pro-Israel lobby that Chomsky has never mentioned. In 1982, it established the Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson Distinguished Service Award and Jackson became its first honoree. The most recent was his protégé, Perle.

Had Chomsky mentioned Jackson’s hawkish pro-Israel background it would surely have raised questions about the senator’s credibility if not stripped it away altogether.

Apart from a handful of loyalists who seem echo his every word, Chomsky’s view of US-Israel relations does not fair as well with his fellow academics, including those who generally share his world view. While careful not to mention Chomsky by name, for example, Professor Ian Lustick was clearly referring to his theory when interviewed by Shibley Telhami in 2001:

The US is strong enough and rich enough that, even when thereare crises like the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which was clearly a majorcrisis, it could address it. But... the biggest question in terms ofwhat motivates the US domestically has been on what is the source ofthe commitment to Israel. That really has been the core question. Andhere you have different competing views. For a long time, there was a view which said that the commitment to Israel is a corollary to the USstrategic interest, that, essentially, the US sees Israel as an instrument in its broader strategic interest, containing the Soviet Union during the Cold War and then later, maintaining the flow of oil, reducing terrorism, etc.
The truth of the matter is that theory just doesn't work, because Israel was, at various stages, very useful strategically, and other stages it was not viewed to be strategically very important. Even more important, probably, during muchof the Cold War, the bureaucracies – the Executive bureaucracy, the Defense Department, and the State Department -- did not view Israel to be a strategic asset, and some of them viewed it to be a detriment. So that just doesn't do it. [43]
Whether valid or not, if during the Cold War the US regarded Israel as a reliable ally against Soviet-backed regimes in some Arab states, this argument vanished as quickly as did the USSR. When Afif Safieh, Palestinian Delegate to the UK and the Holy See visited the United States just before the collapse of the Soviet Union he was surprised to see

within pro-Israeli circles ... their worry was about the loss of "anenemy," what it might signify for the raison-d'etre and the strategicfunction and utility of Israel in American foreign policy as a bastionand strategic asset to contain Soviet expansionism. It was preciselyduring this period that the ideological construction of an alternative global threat, the peril of Islam, took shape.[44]
The Soviet collapse forced not only the pro-Israel lobby, but Chomsky, as well, to scramble for a new reason justifying continued US support; the lobby to maintain, Chomsky to explain the US-Israel relationship.

He found it in a statement by former Israeli intelligence chief, Shlomo Gazit. The Cold War argument that Chomsky had earlier relied upon he now found to have been "highly misleading," preferring "the analysis... of Gazit" who wrote after the collapse of the USSR that:

Israel’s main task has not changed at all, and it remains of crucial importance. Its location at the center of the Arab Muslim Middle East predestines Israel to be a devoted guardian of stability in all the countries surrounding it. Its [role] is to protect the existing regimes: to prevent or halt the processes of radicalization and to block expansion of fundamentalist religious zealotry.[45]
"To which we may add," Chomsky wrote in the preface to the new edition of Fateful Triangle, "performing dirty work that the US is unable to undertake itself because of popular opposition or other costs." [46] Chomsky is still writing as if it were the Seventies or Eighties; there apparently is no limits to the "dirty work" the US will do for itself these days. Gazit would, of course, be expected to come up with an excuse for maintaining US support. But stability? If anything, Israel’s presence in the region has been the key destabilizing factor in the region and on two occasions, in 1967, and again in 1973, it almost led to nuclear war (and did lead then to a costly Arab oil embargo.) In the early days of the October War, when it appeared that Israeli troops might be overrun, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan reportedly panicked and threatened to use Israel’s atomic weapons on Egypt if the US did not rush Israel an airlift of conventional weapons. The Nixon administration promptly responded. [47]

As Mansour points out, "By so urgently asking Washington for arms, the Israeli government did not behave as a strategic asset, but as a protégé that feared—exaggeratedly perhaps—for its life." [48]

It should be noted that not until 1978, when Menachem Begin was elected prime minister, did Israel officially promote itself as a US asset. In an interview in the January 1991 Journal of Palestine Studies, the late retired Israel General Matti Peled said, "The argument that Israel is a strategic asset of the US serving as a static aircraft carrier, has never been more than a figment of the Israeli imagination. It was first proposed by Prime Minister Begin as a way of justifying the considerable grants given to Israel to purchase American weapon systems.... The Kuwaiti crisis has proved that the argument was false..." The arms deals were useful to the U.S, he said, because they triggered even bigger arms sales to America's Arab allies.

In 1986, and reprinted in four editions through 2002, Chomsky’s popular Pirates and Emperors contained a "strategic asset" theory that appeared to be pumped up on steroids. In one of five references to Israel performing that service, he wrote:

The US has consistently sought to maintain the military confrontation and to ensure that Israel remains a "strategic asset." In this conception, Israel is to be highly militarized, technologically advanced, a pariah state with little in the way of an independent economy apart from high tech production (often in coordination with the US), utterly dependent on the United States and hence dependable, serving US needs as a local "cop on the beat" and as a mercenary state employed for US purposes elsewhere... [49]
Chomsky couldn’t have been more mistaken. Thanks to the political support of the United States, Israel is anything but a "pariah state." It enjoys favored nation status with the European Union, its largest trading partner, and its arms industry, despite increasing integration with its US counterpart, is one of the world’s largest and competes with that of the US on the world market. Israel is also one of the major centers of the domestic high tech industry. It is hardly hostage to US demands although that characterization is what Chomsky is clearly trying to suggest. Furthermore, while the Israeli military and its arms manufacturers did serve US interests in Latin America and Africa, from the Sixties to the early Eighties, they did so for their own interests which happened to be mutually profitable.

Israel’s alleged usefulness to the US has been negated from other angles. Harold Brown was Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of Defense. When his Israeli counterpart suggested that the two countries make plans for joint nuclear targeting of the Soviet Union in case of a war, Brown told Seymour Hersh that the Carter administration

would not have wanted to get involved in an Israeli-Soviet conflict. The whole idea of Israel as a strategic asset seems crazy to me. The Israelis would say, ‘Let us help you,’ and then you end up being their tool. The Israelis have their own security interests and we have our interests. They are not identical. [50]
Professor Cheryl Rubenberg challenged the Chomsky mindset from another perspective:

[T]he constraints imposed on American diplomacy in the Middle East by virtue of the US-Israeli relationship have impeded Washington’s ability to achieve stable and constructive working relationships with the Arab states, a necessary prerequisite for the realization of all American regional interests... .Even those regimes that pursued close associations with Washington in spite of the American-Israeli union were constrained from publicly normalizing the ties for fear of the domestic opposition an overt affiliation with the United States would bring... .
American corporate and commercial interests in the Middle East have been constrained in other ways... .To cite but one example: as a result of pressure that pro-Israeli groups were able to exert on Congress, a set of antiboycott laws was passed that severely limit [US] business in the Arab world. As a result, American companies and the United States economy suffer an estimated $ 1 billion loss per year. [51]
That antiboycott legislation has been successfully used to prosecute American companies over the years and is now being employed by pro-Israel members of Congress to stifle efforts of US activists to instigate a boycott of Israeli products in the United States. There is no need to ask where Chomsky stands on that.

Furthermore, Rubenberg, emphasizing the point made by others, asks, "How can Israel, committed to policies that a priori assure the perpetuation of regional instability, be considered a strategic asset to American interests?" [52]

For the post-Soviet era, Chomsky might have sought support for his case from neocon stalwart Douglas Feith. With only slight modifications, these lines from an article by the Deputy Defense Secretary in the Harvard Law Review, Spring 2004, could have been written by Chomsky himself:

For a variety of reasons, Israel has remained strategically relevantsince the Soviet Union’s demise... Israel’s geography ensures itscontinued importance to the US Even without a Soviet presence, theMiddle East remains important to the US as the primary source ofAmerican oil imports... .
Israel has been a loyal ally to the US and, through its strength, a stabilizing Force in an otherwise volatile region. Although Israel’s very existence has fueled numerous conflicts in the Middle East, from the perspective of the US government, the destruction of Israel, the region’s sole liberal democracy, is strategically not an option. Operating on the principle that Israel is here to stay and should stay, US aid to Israel has yielded enormous strategic dividends for the US By creating a regional imbalance ofpower favoring Israel, aid has curbed Arab military aggression andprevented situations, namely full-blown war between Israel and itsneighbors, in which the US might need to deploy troops to the MiddleEast. (Emphasis added)
This last paragraph is quite interesting. Not only does Feith reinforce earlier citations from Hillman, Mansour and Rubenberg regarding Israel’s existence being the source of regional instability, he suggests that Israel has been justly rewarded for preventing another war that’s its presence would otherwise have caused. That’s chutzpah.

The "Rejectionist" Theory

"In the real world," Chomsky writes, "the primary barrier to the ‘emerging vision’ [the Arab League’s offer of full peace and recognition in exchange for Israeli withdrawal] has been and remains, unilateral US rejectionism." (Emphasis added) 53 Chomsky would have us believe that it is primarily the US and not Israel that stands in the way of a peaceful (if not a just) settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict. He fails, however, in all his prolific writings, to explain why this solution would interfere and not enhance US power in the Middle East since the Palestinian state suggested, as he frequently acknowledges, would be weak and dependent largely on Israel, the US and other Arab countries for its economic survival.

By repeating it over and over, often several times on the same page, Chomsky has made the "rejectionist" label stick to the US like tar paper. What he has really achieved, however, is establishing his own definition of the term, yet another "straw man" that he can then pummel the stuffing out of as if it were real. This has required some nimble shifting and inexcusable ignoring of the available record that every US president beginning with Richard Nixon has tried to get Israel to withdraw from the land it captured in 1967, albeit now, after successive failures, White House efforts have been reduced to a dribble.

These "peace plans" as they were called were not initiated for the benefit of the Palestinians but to pacify the area in the pursuit of America’s regional and global interests that have been negatively affected by Israel’s continuing occupation as described earlier. Under those plans, Palestinians in the West Bank would likely have once again come under Jordanian sovereignty and the Gazans under that of Egypt. Other than Camp David, in which Israel ended up the big winner, all the plans have been doomed:

"What happened to all those nice plans?" asked Israeli journalist and peace activist Uri Avnery. "Israel's governments have mobilized the collective power of US Jewry - which dominates Congress and the media to a large degree - against them. Faced by this vigorous opposition, all the presidents, great and small, football players and movie stars - folded one after another." [54]

The origin of the term "rejectionist" is important. Chomsky lifted it from what was referred to in the Seventies by Israel’s supporters, Chomsky among them, as the Palestinian "rejection front." It was the term they used to describe those Palestinian resistance organizations, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DPFLP), and some smaller groups, that rejected the existence of Israel as a Jewish state and called for the establishment of a democratic, secular state in all of historic Palestine, a position to which Chomsky was and remains unalterably opposed.

In 1975, Chomsky considered the possibility of

a unitary democratic secular state in Mandatory Palestine... an exercise in futility. It is curious that this goal is advocated in some form by the most extreme antagonists: the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and expansionist elements within Israel. But the documents of the former indicate that what they have in mind is an Arab state that will grant civil rights to Jews, and the pronouncements of the advocates of a Greater Israel leave little doubt that their thoughts run along parallel lines, interchanging "Jew" and "Arab. [55]
The Palestinian struggle did not, in fact, become acceptable in Chomsky’s eyes until it accepted the US-Israel demand that the PLO recognize Israel’s legitimacy within its 1967 borders. That he equates the desires of Palestinians to regain their lost homeland to the program of the most extremist Israeli colonizers is also telling. Another piece of the puzzle fits. Writing in 1974, he was more explicit:

The Palestinian groups that have consolidated in the past few years argue that this injustice could be rectified by the establishment of a democratic secular state in all of Palestine. However, they frankly acknowledge—in fact, insist—that this would require the elimination of the "political, military, social, syndical and cultural institutions" of Israel" which will necessitate armed struggle, which "guarantees that... all elements of Israeli society will be unified in opposing the armed struggle against its institutions.
Even if, contrary to fact, the means proposed could succeed—I repeat and emphasize, even if, contrary to fact, these means could succeed—they would involve the destruction by force of a unified society, its people, and its institutions—a consequence intolerable to civilized opinion on the left or elsewhere." (emphasis in original) [56]
Apparently, for Chomsky, "civilized opinion" excluded the entire Arab world and much of the Third World—at least in sufficient numbers for the UN General Assembly to overwhelmingly brand Zionism as a form of racism in 1975. His "civilized opinion" as well, did not consider the expulsion of the Palestinians to be an "intolerable consequence" of the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state.

Now, in an effort to appear fair-minded, he equates the rejection of a Palestinian state with the rejection of an Israeli Jewish state and declares the US to be "rejectionist" on the basis that it has not called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. This enables him to ignore the US goal: getting Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders as a way of improving regional US relations and the stability of it sources of oil.

Not only does this make the US "rejectionist" by Chomsky’s definition, but also, so he places Resolution 242 in the same category. While admitting that the resolution, passed five months after the 1967 war was intended to restore the pre-existing status quo, "It is important to bear in mind that 242 was strictly rejectionist—using the term here in a neutral sense to refer to rejection of national rights of one or the other of the contending national groups in the former Palestine, not just rejection of the right of Jews, as in the conventional racist usage." [57]

Chomsky’s use of the inflammatory term, "racist," here, however, disguises the fact that from the perspective of the Palestinians, it was Chomsky who was the rejectionist. In the early 70s, the Palestinian national movement was not calling for a separate state in the West Bank and Gaza but for returning to the land from which 750,000 of them had been expelled or fled, not 2000 years, but twenty years before. It was not until the PLO dropped its demand for its national rights in all of what had been Palestine in exchange for a truncated entity on the other side of the Green Line (1967 border) that Palestinian national rights, or what was left of them, became acceptable to Chomsky.

The Israel Lobby: A Chomsky Blind Spot

If there are any constants in Washington, they are the power of AIPAC over Congress and the combined power of both over the White House when it comes to issues in the Middle East. While the lobby and its legislative lackeys may not win every battle, they ultimately win every war as the three living ex-presidents, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George Bush the First, who ended up losers at the polls can attest.

Founded in 1959, with each passing year, the organization gets bigger and stronger. With a base in Washington, offices across the country, 85,000 energized members, a staff of 165, and a $33.4 million annual budget, 58AIPAC is at the pinnacle of a massive complex of Jewish organizations and Political Action Committees (PACS) across the country, from the national to the local, that are devoted to maintaining Israel’s privileged status in the nation’s capitol.

It no longer has serious concerns about the White House, but in the past, Ford, Carter and Bush Sr. publicly challenged Israel’s territorial aspirations and crossed the lobby on numerous occasions. There is little evidence of this in Chomsky’s writings. Instead, he would like us to believe that they, as well as their predecessors, supported Israel’s settlement building and its efforts to integrate the territories into Israel proper. The historical record proves otherwise. And yet he writes:

Through the most significant facts are missing from mainstream, commentary, and often ignored or misrepresented even in scholarly work, they are not controversial. They provide the indispensable background for any serious understanding of what is happening now. [59]
Much of what Chomsky tells us is "not controversial," invariably proves to be very much so and particularly when it comes to the relations between Israel and the White House. The late revered Israeli scholar and human rights activist, Professor Israel Shahak pointed out that Chomsky’s analysis suffers from his

undoubted tendency of demonizing the American presidency and the Executive in general, while ignoring the Legislature, but also from his very mistaken, in my opinion, tendency of assuming that not only the principles but literally everything concerning the American imperialism was laid in detail long ago, in 1944 or about that time, and from then on the policy is, so to say, a follow-up of instructions from a computer.
This ignores not only the human factor in the US itself but also the completely different nature of the foes and the victims of the US during the last decades. There can be no doubt, in my own opinion, that the actual policies of the US are complex even when they are evil, influenced, as in the case of all other states, by many factors of which AIPAC is one and human stupidity (for which he never allows) is another.
And finally, this very insightful paragraph:

But such simplistic theories, backed by his memory and ability to pick isolated examples (sometimes from a long time ago like his stock example of Eisenhower in the case of Israel while ignoring everything else from 1967 on) can appeal to [the] young who look for certainty and also for those who don't want to [be] engaged in actual work and so find substitute for it in crude and useless display of emotion. " [60]
I had written to Shahak after hearing Chomsky's reply to a question following a speech he made in Berkeley at the outset of the first Gulf War. A member of the audience wanted to know his thoughts about AIPAC's role in that war and his opinion of the lobby, in general. Chomsky was predictably dismissive:

Personally I don't think AIPAC played much of a role in this, in fact, my own feeling is that the role of the Israeli lobby, in general, is pretty much exaggerated. That's a matter of judgment. It's not a simple factual question. In my opinion the Israeli lobby gets its input in large part because it happens to line up with powerful sectors of domestic US power. [61]
Chomsky’s comment, notwithstanding, AIPAC, "was widely credited with having played a key role" in rounding up the necessary votes in the Senate to give Pres. Bush his majority. "[B]ecause of the extreme sensitivity to the issue, AIPAC was anxious to camouflage its role to avoid providing evidence for the accusation... that the Persian Gulf War was fought at the behest of the Jews to protect Israel." [62] To disguise their role, the Washington Jewish Week’s Larry Cohler reported that AIPAC had prominent Jewish senators vote against the war while lobbying non-Jewish senators in states with small Jewish populations to support it. That Saddam Hussein was not removed at the time brought strong criticism from the primarily Jewish neocons and on a lower register from AIPAC. During the Clinton presidency they would press their demand for regime change in Iraq and under Bush Jr., they made sure that task would be carried out. [63]

The most troubling part of his answer, however, was his downplaying of the lobby. Since most political observers view elected officials at virtually every level as representing to varying degrees their major campaign contributors, much like lawyers representing corporate clients—and AIPAC has been acknowledged as a leader in the field—his response answer was at best disingenuous.

Predictably, it drew applause from the supporters of Israel who were happy to have the distinguished scholar absolve organized American Jewry of any responsibility for what their co-religionists were doing to the Palestinians or for the lobby’s activities in support of the first war on Iraq. I decided to express my feelings to Professor Shahak. Here was his frank reply:

I had the same, only greater, differences of opinion with Noam Chomsky, who is my personal friend for quite a time, on the subject of AIPAC and the influence of the Jewish lobby in general as you have. What is more, a number of mutual friends of Chomsky and me have also tried to influence him, in vain, on that point.
I am afraid that he is, with all his wonderful qualities and the work he does, quite dogmatic on many things. I have no doubt that his grievous mistake about the lack of importance of AIPAC, which he repeats quite often, helps the Zionists very much as you so graphically described. (Emphasis added) [64]
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.

Another good friend and admirer of Chomsky, the late Professor Edward Said, did not mince words on the issue. In his contribution to The New Intifada, entitled, appropriately,
"America’s Last Taboo," he wrote:

What explains this [present] state of affairs? The answer lies in the power of Zionist organizations in American politics, whose role throughout the "peace process" has never been sufficiently addressed—a neglect that is absolutely astonishing, given the policy of the PLO has been in essence to throw our fate as a people into the lap of the United States, without any strategic awareness of how American policy is dominated by a small minority whose views about the Middle East are in some ways more extreme than those of Likud itself. (Emphasis added) [65]
And on the subject AIPAC, Said wrote:

[T]he American Israel Public Affairs Committee—AIPAC—has for years been the most powerful single lobby in Washington. Drawing on a well-organized, well-connected, highly visible and wealthy Jewish population, AIPAC inspires an awed fear and respect across the political spectrum. Who is going to stand up to this Moloch in behalf of the Palestinians, when they can offer nothing, and AIPAC can destroy a professional career at the drop of a checkbook? In the past, one or two members of Congress did resist AIPAC openly, but the many political action committees controlled by AIPAC made sure they were never re-elected... If such is the material of the legislature, what can be expected of the executive? [66]
With the lobby, the checkbook is always open. In 2002, for example, Israeli-American Chaim Saban donated $12.3 million to the Democrats with little public notice. Compare that with the media hoopla over Exxon having donated $10 million to the Republicans over a six-year period. Moreover, according to the Mother Jones web site, approximately 120 of the top 250 donors to the 2000 elections were Jewish which is interpreted in Washington as Israel lobby money.

University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole sounded the alarm on AIPAC with equal vigor, noting a CNN report that AIPAC, "holds 2000 meetings a year with US Senators and Congressmen, leading to the passage of an average of 100 pro-Israel pieces of legislation every year!" He further writes:

Some readers have suggested that I have exaggerated AIPAC's hold on the US Congress. But I have direct knowledge of senators and congressmen being afraid to speak out on Israeli issues because of AIPAC's reputation for targeting representatives for un-election if they dare do so. And, it is easy to check. Look in the Congressional record. Is there ever /any/ speech given on the floor critical of Israeli policy, given by a senator or representative who goes on to win the next election? And look at the debates in every other parliament in the world; there are such criticisms elsewhere. The US Congress is being held hostage by a single-issue lobbying organization that often puts Israeli interests above US interests... [67]
Two decades earlier, well before the emergence of the Christian Zionist factor, Seth Tillman had pointed out that

American presidents have sought to avoid a direct confrontation with Israel and its strong supporters in the United States because of the terrific domestic controversy sure to be engendered by such a face-off; because of the powerful and undiminished hold Israel and its supporters have upon Congress; because of the exorbitant amount of political capital that would have to be expended in such a battle, placing at risk an administration’s other objectives, foreign and domestic; and because of the uncertainty that even with the use of the full political and educational powers of his office, a president would prevail in a domestic showdown... [68]
Unlike other domestic lobbies, AIPAC has no serious challengers, the Arab-American organizations in Washington, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Arab-American Institute (AAI), being both too small and too timid to challenge even their shadow. What gives the lobby its strength, besides its significant organizational skills, is that its members are intimately tied to Jewish organizations, federations, and community relations councils across the country, as well as to labor union officials, and in recent years, to the growing Christian evangelical movement, which provides Israel with unprecedented support in what is generally right-wing Republican territory. It is noteworthy that it was only when the Christian Zionists joined the fray did Chomsky and his acolytes, most notably Professors Stephen Zunes and Joel Beinin, and the Institute for Public Studies’ Phyllis Bennis began to speak about "the lobby," suggesting that the evangelicals were now its most powerful component. The subtext was that they were welcome because they took the attention away from AIPAC.

Fighting a lonely fight against AIPAC has been the Council for the National Interest (CNI), a group made up of former State Department and Foreign Service diplomats with experience in the Middle East, and ex-members of Congress such as Paul Findley and Pete McCloskey whose criticism of Israel and support of Palestinian rights led to their being targeted for defeat by AIPAC. The former government officials are disdainfully referred to by Israel’s supporters and it’s friends in the media as "Arabists," as if to imply that their experience in the Middle East has compromised their patriotism. In practice, the term has become a euphemism for "anti-semitic," and occasionally their Jewish critics do not bother with the euphemism. The position of CNI is, simply, that the support by Washington of Israel’s policy of occupation and expansion is not in the US national interest.

The effects of an accusation of "anti-Semitism" are like none other. Being so branded as has brought such powerful and diverse public figures as Rev. Billy Graham and Actor Marlon Brando to their knees and to tears with their apologies. The fear of being called "anti-semitic" or of provoking anti-semitism, ironically, inhibits the actions of US-based Palestinian organizations despite the fact that they are Semites themselves. As if losing their land was not enough, in America they have also been robbed of their ethnic identity.

The result is that they have found it easier to go along with Chomsky’s positions. Unfortunately, they do so to the point where the issue of AIPAC and the pro-Israel lobby is never discussed at their conferences. This is also at least partly due to their affiliation with various political organizations that are led by self-proclaimed Jewish anti-Zionists who, fearful themselves of provoking anti-Semitism, prefer to blame everything on US imperialism, a much safer, if more remote target.

No series of events provide a deeper understanding of AIPAC’s power than President Gerald Ford’s losing battle with Israel and the lobby in 1975—one of the most significant encounters in the history of US-Israel relations. It rated less than three lines from Chomsky in 1982, and not one word since. [69]

The confrontation involved Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on one side and Israel and AIPAC on the other. This is how Seth Tillman described it:

Among the lobby’s many victory trophies from the legislative arena, one of the most conspicuous and consequential was "the letter of seventy-six" addressed to President Ford by that number of Senators on May 21, 1975. Following the collapse in March of Secretary of State Kissinger’s first round of shuttle diplomacy toward a second Sinai disengagement agreement [as a result of the 1973 war], the angry and frustrated secretary of state announced a "reassessment" of American Middle East policy, during which the Ford administration conspicuously delayed the delivery of certain weapons to Israel and suspended negotiations for pending financial and military aid, including the new F-15 fighter plane.
In the course of the policy reassessment, experts from within the government and others called in from the outside reached a near consensus in favor of the United States calling for a Middle East settlement based on Israeli withdrawal to the borders of 1967 (with minor modifications), coupled with strong guarantees for Israel’s security... Kissinger’s advisers envisioned a national television appeal by President Ford to the American people spelling out the basic issues of American national interest in the Middle East, and on the basis of these, making the case for Israeli withdrawal in return for guarantees." [70] (Emphasis added)
With the administration’s gauntlet down, AIPAC went into action. Three weeks later, after intensive lobbying, 76 senators signed a letter to Ford that reaffirmed Israel’s role as a barrier to Soviet influence in the Middle East and warned that

withholding military equipment from Israel would be dangerous, discouraging accommodation by Israel’s neighbors and encouraging a resort to force. Within the next several weeks, the Congress expects to receive your foreign aid requests for fiscal year 1976. We trust that your recommendations will be responsive to Israel’s urgent military and economic needs. We urge you to make it clear, as we do, that the United States acting in its own national interests stands firmly with Israel in the search for peace in future negotiations, and that this premise is the basis of the current reassessment of US policy in the Middle East." [71]
That effectively ended the administration’s "reassessment" plan and coupled with his pardon of Nixon, Ford’s election hopes for 1976.

"Any document," observed UCLA's Stephen Spiegel, "that brought together such disparate Senatorial voices as [Teddy] Kennedy and Barry Goldwater, Frank Church and Paul Laxalt, Walter Mondale and Strom Thurmond, was bound to challenge the administration’s Mideast diplomacy." [72] The realization that AIPAC was able to get such a diverse group of senators to sign a letter at any time was not lost on future presidents, but as we shall see, underestimating the lobby would trip up Bush and James Baker 15 years later. (It is still the case today. Only the names have changed. There is no other critical issue that finds liberal Democrats eagerly locking arms with the most right wing Republicans and thanks no little to Chomsky’s efforts, paying no political price for doing so).

In evaluating the "Congressional Impact on United States Policy Toward Israel" a comprehensive study of that period, Marvin Feuerwerger concluded that

Congress played a key role in shaping the course of American-Israeli relations during the 1969-1976 period... Congress was willing at times to exert its authority by blocking measures that the administration contemplated but Congress believed would threaten Israel’s security. This willingness helped keep United States policy within certain pro-Israel boundaries... [referring to the letter from the senators to Ford, and] virtually forced the executive branch to abandon the option of imposing a Mideast settlement which Israel considered to be potentially detrimental to its security. Similarly. Congressional and interest group [AIPAC] activity in response to the 1969 Rogers Plan ‘virtually insured that no further pro-Arab initiatives would be undertaken’ by the Nixon administration." [73]
If Chomsky’s ignoring of the Ford administration’s losing battle with AIPAC was inexcusable, the same must be said for his revisionist history of George Bush Senior’s relations with Israel. While an overall evaluation of Bush’s career would have him standing in the dock as a war criminal, his confrontation with the lobby was one of the bright spots for opponents of the US-Israel alliance. It also probably cost him re-election.

While it is generally acknowledged both in Israel and within the American Jewish community that the first Bush administration was the most unfriendly to Israel since the establishment of the state, Chomsky, incredibly, maintains otherwise. "There is an illusion," he wrote, "that the (first) Bush Administration took a harsh line toward Israel. The truth is closer to the opposite." Chomsky bases that on "the official administration position of December 1989 (the Baker Plan), which endorsed without reservations the May 1989 plan of Israel’s Peres-Shamir coalition government... [that] declared that there can be no "... Palestinian state" and no change in the status of the occupied territories and no negotiations with the PLO. [74]

Chomsky complained that the story was unreported in the press, while "What one does read is that Baker strongly reiterated US support for ‘total withdrawal from territory in exchange for peaceful relations’—while he was quietly lending decisive support to programs to ensure that nothing of the sort would happen." Not only does the historical record not back Chomsky up, this is another typical example in which Chomsky "examines a handful of accounts until he finds one which matches his predetermined idea of what the truth must be... [he] selectively gathers ‘evidence’ which supports his theories and ignores the rest." In this case, "the rest" is massive, much of it provided by former Israeli foreign minister Moshe Arens whose book, "Broken Covenant," was an angry rebuke of the Bush administration’s treatment of Israel.

As Ronald Reagan’s vice-president, Bush had already shown his animosity toward Israel when he urged the president, unsuccessfully, to implement sanctions against Israel when it destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor 1981. He fared no better the following June when he once again urged sanctions when Israel invaded Lebanon but was outvoted by Reagan and Secretary of State Al Haig. [75]

Of his first meeting with the newly elected President Bush in Washington, Arens writes, "The President raised the question of Israeli settlements in the territories, leaving no doubt of his objection to further settlement activity." [76] Later conversations with Baker led Arens to conclude that

The ‘new world’ the State Department was talking about was a world in which the Bush administration had decided to assume a confrontational posture toward Israel, its longtime ally and friend... that the ‘final status’ it was promoting was a return of Israel to the lines that existed prior to June 1967." [77]
It was time to call in "the lobby."

[T]he Bush administration would have to learn that Israel would not be bullied or pushed around. It was clear to me that the only possible constraint on the Bush administration’s tactics toward Israel was domestic politics... .If Bush and Baker were to realize that there was public opposition to their bullying tactics, then they would be likely to relent, certainly as election time approached...
I realized that we would have to fortify support for Israel in Congress and among US public opinion... .I spent the next day on the Hill meeting with congressional committees and with individual members of the Senate and the House... [78]
Arens’s visit and the work of AIPAC were to pay off when Baker launched a shot across its bows. Speaking at its annual convention in Washington in May of 1990, in the second year of the Bush administration, he told the assembled lobbyists and their Congressional guests that

For Israel, now is the time to lay aside once and for all the unrealistic vision of Greater Israel. Israeli interests in the West Bank and Gaza, security and otherwise, can be accommodated in a settlement based on Resolution 242. Forswear annexation; stop settlement activity; allow schools to reopen, reach out to the Palestinians as neighbors who deserve political rights. [79]
Baker, a longtime player on Capitol Hill should have known what was coming next. Here is how Arens described it:

Early in June, in an extraordinary display of support and collective acknowledgement that there had been a turnaround in official US sympathy for Israel, ninety-four of the one hundred US senators signed a letter to the secretary of state asking that the administration ‘strongly and publicly’ endorse the Israeli [Peres-Shamir] peace initiative.
Israel’s proposals," said the letter, "have not always received the consideration they deserve by other parties to the conflict or by the international community at large. To prevent that from happening now, the United States must be fully supportive, both in fact and appearance,"
A triumphant Arens concluded:

There could be no misreading the message to the administration, or the implied rebuke. It was reported to me that Baker was genuinely taken aback by the letter and the fact that ninety-four senators had signed it... [80]
Over the years Congress has been at the ready to give Israel additional funding, even when money has been unavailable for essential domestic programs, as happened in 2002 when the Senate, after defeating a bill that would have provided $150 million for inner-city schools that had been impacted by 9-11, turned around and tucked an additional $200 million for Israel into the Homeland Security Bill as if Israel had been targeted that day and not New York and Washington.

Things were no different in 199l when six out of ten US cities were unable to meet their budgets and several states their payrolls. In March of that year, over the objections of the Bush administration, the House voted by a 397-24 margin to give Israel $650 million in cash as part of the Gulf War emergency spending bill. Bush had publicly threatened to veto the bill but backed down when he realized it would be overridden.

In September 1991, with the war over, the Bush administration presented AIPAC with its greatest crisis since the battle with Ford. In the midst of the administration’s efforts to assemble the cast for what became the Madrid "peace conference," much to the consternation of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Israel sprang a surprise on the President—a demand for $10 billion dollars in US guaranteed loans over a five year period.

Congress, of course, was ready to jump through Israel’s hoops again over the opposition of President Bush. Angered at Israel’s demand and fearing, perhaps, that approval of the loan guarantees would allow Israel to withdraw from the conference while antagonizing the Arab invitees, Bush asked Shamir to postpone the loan application for 120 days, and made its approval conditional on Israel freezing Jewish settlements.

When Bush indicated that he was going to ask for the delay, Arens recalled, "[Sen. Daniel] Inouye [D-HA] was not equivocal at all. He said, ‘I am putting on my yarmulkle; we’re going to war." (It was no coincidence that his first paying job after getting out of the Army after WW 2 had been as a salesman for State of Israel Bonds.)

Shamir refused, confident that he would prevail over Bush should it come to a showdown with Congress. On September 12, aware that AIPAC had secured sufficient votes in both Houses to approve the guarantees and override his veto, and taking note that "more than a thousand American Jews, representing various organizations and mobilized by AIPAC, went to Capitol Hill to express their support for [their] speedy enactment" [81] Bush took an unusual step. He called a press conference. What happened was graphically described in the Washington Jewish Week. [82]

Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, a long time darling of the liberal Democrats, had just promised a group of the Jewish lobbyists her vote for the guarantees when she was interrupted by an aide who handed her a note. Mikulski's face "went ashen," wrote the WJW reporter, "I've just learned the president said he's taking his case for a 120-day loan guarantee to the American people, " said Mikulski. The American people! Imagine that, the very last folks AIPAC and Congress wanted included in their deliberations.

As Arens describes it

Bush hastily called a press conference and made an extraordinary televised appeal to the American people. Visibly angry, pounding his fist on the lectern, he made it appear that Israel’s insistence on the guarantees was a threat not only to the forthcoming conference but to peace itself. "A debate now could well destroy our ability to bring one or more of the parties to the peace table... If necessary I will use my veto power to keep that from happening."
Then the president took direct aim at the pro-Israel lobby. ‘We are up against some powerful political forces... very strong and effective groups that go up to the Hill’ he said, ‘We’ve only got one lonely little guy down here doing it... [but] I am going to fight for what I believe. It may be popular politically but probably not... the question isn’t whether it’s good for 1992 politics. What’s important here is that we give the process a chance. And I don’t care if I only get one vote... I believe the American people will be with me.’ Then, his voice rising, the president said "... . Just months ago, American men and women in uniform, risked their lives to defend Israelis in the face of Iraqi Scud missiles, and indeed Desert Storm, while winning a war against aggression, also achieved the defeat of Israel’s most dangerous adversary." He also added that, during the current fiscal year, "despite our own economic worries," the United States had provided Israel with more than $4 billion worth of aid, "nearly one thousand dollars for each Israeli man, woman, and child." [83]
Never had a president addressed the American people with such frankness and none has since. Polls taken afterward indicated that Americans supported Bush by a 3-1 margin and half of those responding opposed providing any economic aid to Israel. Two weeks later, a NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey showed that while by 58 to 32% voters favored aid to the Soviet Union and by a margin of 55% to 29% supported aid to Poland, voters opposed economic support to Israel by 46% to 44%. Moreover, 34% saw Israel as the greatest impediment to peace in the region while only 33% saw the Arab nations in that role. [84] (Emphasis in original)

If there had ever been a "window of opportunity" for Middle East activists, this was it. Chomsky was to effectively close it. Writing of Bush’s appeal several months later, he was smug and, at best, naïve, and the polls were not mentioned:

At the time of the US-Israel confrontation, it took scarcely more than araised eyebrow from the President for the Israeli lobby to collapse,while major journals that rarely veer from the Israeli Party line took the cueand began to run articles critical of Israeli practices and hinting thatUS support for them was not inevitable. That should also occasion littlesurprise. Domestic pressure groups tend to be ineffectual unless theyline up with significant elements of state-corporate power, or have reached ascale and intensity that compels moves to accommodate them. WhenAIPAC lobbies for policies that the state executive and major sectors ofcorporate America intend to pursue, it is influential; when it confrontsauthentic power, largely unified, it fades very quickly. [85]
Chomsky’s dismissal of Bush’s stance as "a raised eyebrow" was accepted with approving nods by the movement’s trained seals. AIPAC had become a "paper tiger" in Chomsky’s words, a sentiment that quickly moved across the country to be repeated by Prof. Joel Beinin of Stanford. What Bush’s press conference made clear, however, was the immense power that AIPAC wields over the US Congress to the extent that it stands ready to place the demands of Israel, a foreign country, above the wishes of an American president. It forced Bush, in this instance, to take what was clearly a desperate and unprecedented action. While succeeding for the moment, within a week and under pressure, Bush had written a letter to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, a large umbrella group that lobbies the White House (and includes AIPAC), expressing his dismay that some of his remarks had "caused apprehension within the Jewish community... .My references to lobbyists and powerful political forces were never meant to be pejorative in any sense." [86]

Chomsky’s response to that series of events and his decision to erase them from his version of history reveals what side of the Israel-Palestine conflict he is on when forced to choose. Rather than urge activists to take advantage of the huge fissure that Bush’s dramatic appeal had opened between Israel and the American people and to suggest, if not call, for a campaign to stop aid, he provided "damage control" for AIPAC. While one must also fault the Palestine solidarity movement for not seizing the situation and acting upon those poll figures themselves, the influence of Chomsky on its actions was at the time, and unfortunately, still remains overwhelming.

AIPAC, of course, was not about to fold it tent depart the field. On the day after the press conference, Tom Dine, AIPAC’s executive director, declared "September 12 a day that will live in infamy," and declared war on the president. Both Israel and AIPAC had agreed, given the poll numbers that it would be unwise to challenge the president in Congress, but to wait for the 120 days. In the interim one could detect a considerable increase in the media of articles critical of Bush’s handling of the presidency and, particularly, the economy. With the November election in view, and after Yitzhak Rabin had replaced Shamir as prime minister, Bush agreed to the loan guarantees with the proviso that the amount of money that Israel was spending in the Occupied Territories be deducted from the total. It didn’t help him. Arens summed it up:

... George Bush was defeated in his attempt to get a second term. His administration’s repeated attempts to interfere in Israel’s internal politics had been without precedent in the history of relations between the United States and Israel... Although in the months after the Likud defeat Bush gave Rabin everything he had withheld from Shamir, including the loan guarantees, he could not dispel the impression that his administration had been hostile to Israel. Bill Clinton had narrowly defeated Bush for the presidency of the United States. The vast majority of the Jewish community of America, as well as many non-Jews who were dedicated to the US-Israel alliance, could not bring themselves to vote for George Bush. The Bush administration’s confrontational style with Israel, especially the withholding of the loan guarantees, had contributed to the Likud’s defeat and, considering Rabin’s slim margin of victory, might well have been decisive. Now, it seemed as if the same policy had also contributed to the Bush defeat." [87]
Readers should ask themselves how this first-hand report squares with what Chomsky referred to as "the extreme pro-Israeli bias of the Bush-Baker administration" in an interview with his devoted Boswell, David Barsamian. [88]

Given the experiences of their predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush apparently decided that "if you can’t beat them, join them." Clinton turned his Middle East diplomacy over to pro-Israel Jewish lobbyists with ties to Israel’s Labor party while Bush Jr., after a bruising and losing encounter with the lobby and Ariel Sharon following his criticisms of Israel’s actions in Jenin in 2002, allowed a gaggle of right-wing pro-Israel Jewish neocons, to write his Middle East script which gave us the war on Iraq. He has even gone beyond that, to Sharon himself, as such diverse sources as Robert Fisk and Brent Scowcroft, the National Security Advisor under George Sr., have pointed out, Fisk suggesting that Sharon was running Bush’s "press bureau," and [89] and Scowcroft, that the Israeli prime minister has George Jr., "mesmerized." [90] The control over US Middle East policy by Israel and its American supporters now seems to be total.

Cheryl Rubenberg, after a detailed study of the lobby in her "Israel and the American National Interest," concluded

That the power of the Israeli lobby over the formation and execution of US Middle East policy has become a virtual stranglehold. It no longer matters whether elected officials subscribe to the perception of Israel as a strategic asset to American interests or not. What matters is that the Israeli lobby is able to maintain the dominance of that perception as virtually unquestionable political truth and to assure that regardless of how severely American interests in the Middle East are compromised by Israel’s policies, the US government will continue to provide Israel with complete support. The lobby’s effectiveness in impacting on the electoral process and its ability to shape public opinion and affect political culture are major factors in fostering this perception. (Emphasis added). [91]
It has arguably had no more effective ally in this cause than Noam Chomsky.

One foot still in Zion:

While I knew, in a casual way, that Chomsky had been a Zionist in his youth, it had not seemed that important since his detailed descriptions of the injustices that had been heaped upon the Palestinians by the Israelis, described in detail in The Fateful Triangle and elsewhere, were exposing thousands of new readers and potential activists to the evils of Zionism. What was puzzling was why, at the same time, he was providing cover for the pro-Israel lobby.

While doing research for this article, I believe I found the answer. In 1974, Chomsky had written a little book, Peace in the Middle East, which contained many clues to the puzzle but this paragraph was the one that tied them all together. He wrote:

that a few years later [after the establishment of the state] I spent several very happy months working in a Kibbutz and for several years thought seriously about returning permanently. Some of my closest friends, including several who have had a significant influence on my own thinking over the years, now live in Kibbutzim or elsewhere in Israel and I retain close connections that are quite separate from any political judgments and attitudes. I mention all of this to make clear that I inevitably view the continuing conflict from a very specific point of view, colored by these personal relationships. Perhaps this personal history distorts my perspective. In any event, it should be understood by the reader. [92] (Emphasis added).
Although Peace in the Middle East was reprinted in 2003 as the first part of yet another Chomsky book, Middle East Illusions, it is questionable how many of Chomsky’s many fans and admirers know this about his past. A reference to his Zionist youth was in the Safundi interview cited earlier and seemed to account for his determination to protect Israel, for which he obviously maintains an affection, from being punished in any way for its misdeeds. Here is what he said in that later interview:

I've been involved in this since childhood in the 1930s. I was part of the Zionist movement, in fact, a Zionist youth leader, but I was opposed to a Jewish state, and that was part of the Zionist movement at the time. It was not the main part, but it was considered within the umbrella, so I could be an activist Zionist youth leader-the main thing in my life as a teenager- but opposed to a Jewish state, up until 1948. [93]
What becomes apparent in reading the Peace in the Middle East and his later writings is Chomsky’s naïve, romantic vision of the early Zionists and his sincere belief that leaders of the Jewish Yishuv (settlement) in Palestine—despite mountains of evidence to the contrary--were genuinely interested in peacefully sharing the land with the Palestinian Arabs who they were already dispossessing and only opted for a state in 1942 in the wake of the Nazi holocaust. Here is how he frames the argument in Towards a New Cold War:

It is useful to recall that in the period before the Second World War, Zionist leaders, particularly those associated with the labor movement that dominated the Palestinian Yishuv, forcefully opposed the idea of a Jewish state "which would eventually mean Jewish domination of Arabs in Palestine," on grounds that "the rule of one national group over the other" is illegitimate and that the Arabs of Palestine "have the right not to be at the mercy of the Jews" [94]
One needs to go to the footnotes to find that the speaker quoted was David Ben-Gurion who remains an admirable figure in Chomsky’s pantheon. What Chomsky did not mention was that in 1931, when Ben-Gurion made those comments, Jews in Palestine numbered 172,300, or 18% of the total population, as opposed to 784,891 Arabs and owned but 1,201,529 dunams or 4.6% of the land. [95]

It should not be surprising, under the circumstances, that Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders said what they did at the time, preferring, as they have done since, to "create facts on the ground." In the above quote from Chomsky, the word "publicly" would have been more appropriate than "forcefully." This was also the opinion of the late Zionist leader, Nahum Goldmann, who Chomsky cites, but then doubts " the accuracy of Goldmann’s interpretation, many years after the event and after a Jewish state had in fact been established." Goldmann, who would go on to form the World Jewish Congress, was actually in Palestine in the Thirties, participating in the discussions and debates. He pointed out in his autobiography that the silence on the part of Zionists regarding their intent, from the Twenties, to establish a Jewish state was purely tactical, but Chomsky believes what he wants to believe and he wants us to believe it, too. [96]

To those supporting Chomsky’s position as opposed to that of Goldmann, (and the majority of observers at the time) the question must be asked as to whether the Zionists, mainstream and revisionists, exerted all that energy, money, and political pressure over the years, before WW II, for anything less than the establishment of a Jewish state?

I noted, earlier, Chomsky’s criticism of the UN Security Council’s approval of Resolution 242 in 1967 which he dismissed as "rejectionist." His own thinking at the time, however, clearly revealed his affinity and concerns for Israel that informed his thinking then as it does now. In "Peace in the Middle East," he reveals that:

At the time of the Six Day War in June 1967, I personally believed that the threat of genocide was real and reacted with virtually uncritical support for Israel at what appeared to be a desperate moment. In retrospect it seems that this assessment of the facts was dubious at best." [97]
It was an honest expressions of his affection for Israel and a rare admission by Chomsky that he had erred. It was apparently his last. Given this background, some other questionable statements of Chomsky in that South African interview become comprehensible. When asked to explain the differences between Israel before and after statehood, he responded:

The post-1967 period is different. The concept of settler-colonialism would apply to the pre-1948 period. It is plainly an outside population coming in and basically dispossessing an indigenous population.: ... Without going into it, by 1948, that argument is over. There was a state there, right or wrong. And that state should have the rights of any state in the international system, no more, no less. After 1967, there is a quite different situation. That's military conquest. (Emphasis added) [98]
What Chomsky seems to be saying here to the Palestinians after 1948, is "Get over it." Is that a misinterpretation? Could not the apartheid state of South Africa been defended on the same basis? And what was Israel’s war in 1948, if not military conquest? Israel took not only the area accorded it by the United Nations, but much of what would have been the Palestinians’ had they accepted partition. Finally, how could Chomsky’s ideal of a Jewish homeland in Palestine have been realized by any means other than by settler-colonialism? than by settler-colonialism? Those are a few of many questions that require answers from Chomsky.

In these pages I have begun what, ideally, will lead to a further critical assessment of Chomsky’s work, not as academic exercise, but as an instrument to energize what has been a largely ineffectual movement with regard to the struggle for justice in Israel/Palestine that has relied on him for guidance. I am aware that what I have written will upset those who have accorded him god-like status as it will others who have allowed their friendship with Chomsky to keep them silent concerning his failings, even when aware of them. That has been my intention. Rather than being responded to with personal attacks, I would hope that the issues raised here will be examined on their merits. Let the debate begin.


2 Peace in the Middle East, Vintage, 1974 p. 49-51

3 Mick Hartley,, January 10, 2004

4 Occupied Territory: Congress, the Lobby and Jewish Responsibility, City Lights Review, San Francisco, 1992, The Israel Lobby and the Left: Uneasy Questions, Left Curve, Oakland, 2003

5 Safundi, Znet, May 10, 2004

6 Ha’aretz, August 24, 2004

7, Dec. 25, 2004

8 Pirates and Emperors, South End Press. Cambridge, 2002

9 email Nov. 26, 2004

10 Washington Post, Nov. 26, 2003

11 Harvard Crimson, Dec. 2, 2003

12 Cornell Daily Sun, April 12, 2004

13 Znet, July 26, 2004

14 Znet, August 26, 2004

15 ibid.

16 email, Nov. 26, 2004

17 Leila Hull, HRW, email, Nov. 27, 2004

18 email, Nov. 25, 2004

19 email, Nov. 26, 2004

20 Znet, April 2, 2002

21 The Fateful Triangle, South End, Boston, 1983, pp. 1-2.

22 The New Intifada, Verso, London-New York, 2001 p. 18-19

23 ibid, p. 6

24 Middle East Illusions, Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham, MD, 2003, p.207

25 Middle East Illusions, p. 209 Fateful Triangle, pp. 17 ff

26 The Fateful Triangle, pp 43-44

27 Peace in the Middle East, p. 56

28 May 25, 1995

29 ibid., May 27, 1995

30 Fateful Triangle, p. 17 ff

31 Pirates and Emperors, p. 117

32 Fateful Triangle, p. xii

33 Left Hook, Feb, 4, 2004

34 The Fateful Triangle, p.20

35 ibid., p. 21; MEI, p. 176

36 ibid, p.21 , Hegemony or Survival, Henry Holt, New York, p. 264

37 Camille Mansour, Beyond Alliance: Israel and US Foreign Policy, Columbia University, New York, 1994, p. 103-104

38 ibid., p. 103-104

39 Seth Tillman, The United States and the Middle East, Indiana Univ., Bloomington, 1982, pp. 52-53

40 Fateful Triangle, p. 535

41 A.F.K. Organski, The $36 Billion Bargain, Columbia Univ., New York, 1990, p. 228

42 Jim Lobe, Chicken Hawks as Cheer Leaders, Foreign Policy In Focus Advisory Committee,, 2002

43 Harry Kreisler, US Foreign Policy and the Search for Peace in the Middle East: Ian Lustick in Conversation with Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development, University of Maryland, College Park; Nov. 8, 2001

44 Rome and its Belligerent Sparta,

45 Fateful Triangle, p. xii; Middle East Illusions, p. 177,

46 ibid., p. xiii

47 Stephen Green, Living by the Sword: Israel and the US in the Middle East, Amana, Brattleboro, VT, 1988, p. 91. Seymour Hersh, The Sampson Option, pp. 225ff, Avner Cohen, New York Times, Oct. 6, 2003

48 Mansour, op. cit., p. 111

49 Pirates and Emperors, op. cit.

50 Hersh, op.cit., p. 270

51 Cheryl Rubenberg, Israel and the American National Interest, Univ. of Illinois. Urbana and Chicago, 1986, pp.6-7

52 Ibid., p. 330

53 Middle East Illusions, p. 229

54 Ha'aretz, March 6, 1991.

55 Towards a New Cold War, Pantheon, New York, 1982, p. 231

56 Peace in the Middle East,. pp. 98-99

57 The New Intifada, p. 10

58 Ha’aretz, Sept 7, 2004

59 The New Intifada, p.7

60 Letter to the author, Aug. 10-11, 1991

61 Univ. of California, Berkeley, March 16, 1991

62 Benjamin Ginsberg, Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State, Univ. of Chicago, 1993, p. 208

63 Jeffrey Blankfort, A War for Israel, Left Curve, Oakland, 2004

64 Shahak, op. cit.

65 The New Intifada, p. 260

66 Ibid., p.262

67 Information Clearing House, Aug. 30, 2004

68 Tillman, United States Middle East Policy: Theory and Practice, Arab-American Affairs, Spring, 1983, cited by Rubenberg, p. 8

69 Towards a New Cold War, p. 294

70 Tillman, op. cit., p. 66

71 Ibid., p. 67

72 Stephen L. Spiegel, The Other Arab-Israeli Conflict, Univ. of Chicago, Chicago and London, 1985, p. 296

73 Marvin C. Feuerwerger, Congress and Israel: Foreign Aid Decision-Making in the House of Representatives, 1969-1976, p. 296.

74 The New Intifada, p. 12

75 Moshe Arens, Broken Covenant, Simon & Schuster, NY, 1995, p.

76 ibid., p. 56

77 ibid., p. 58

78 ibid., p. 59

79 May 22, 1990, ibid., cited by Arens p.. 69

80 ibid., p. 72

81 ibid., p. 246

82 Washington Jewish Week, Sep. 19, 1991

83 Arens, op. cit., p. 246-247

84 Ginsberg, op. cit., p. 220

85 Z Magazine, Dec., 1991

86 New York Times, Sep. 20, 1991, cited by Ginsberg, op. cit, p. 221

87 Arens, op.cit., p. 301-302

88 The Progressive, January 21, 1993

89 The Independent, June 26, 2002

90 Washington Post, Oct. 16, 2004

91 Rubenberg, op. cit., p. 375

92 Peace in the Middle East, p.51

93 Safundi, Znet, op. cit.

94 Towards a New Cold War, p. 259

95 John Chapple, Jewish Land Settlement in Palestine (unpublished paper) 1964, cited by Walid Khalidi, From Haven to Conquest, Institute of Palestine Studies, Beirut, 1971, Appendix 1

96 Towards a New Cold War, p. 259

97 Peace in the Middle East, p. 124

98 Safundi, Znet, op. cit.