James Petras challenges Noam Chomsky on the role of the Israel lobby in Middle East. This has been around for a few years now but it’s a good one.
Noam Chomsky has been called the US leading intellectual by pundits and even some sectors of the mass media. He has a large audience throughout the world especially in academic circles, in large part because of his vocal criticism of US foreign policy and many of the injustices resulting from those policies. Chomsky has nonetheless been reviled by all of the major Jewish and pro-Israel organizations and media for his criticism of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians even as he has defended the existence of the Zionist state of Israel.
Despite his respected reputation for documenting, dissecting and exposing the hypocrisy of the US and European regimes and acutely analyzing the intellectual deceptions of imperial apologists, these analytical virtues are totally absent when it comes to discussing the formulation of US foreign policy in the Middle East, particularly the role of his own ethnic group, the Jewish Pro-Israel lobby and their Zionist supporters in the government.
This political blindness is not unknown or uncommon. History is replete of intellectual critics of all imperialisms except their own, the abuses of power by others, but not of one?s own kin and kind. Chomsky?s long history denying the power and role of the pro-Israel lobby in decisively shaping US Middle East policy culminated in his recent conjoining with the US Zionist propaganda machine attacking a study critical of the Israeli lobby.
I am referring to the essay published by the London Review of Books entitled ?The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy? by Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Professor Stephan Walt, the purged Academic Dean of the Kenney School of Government at Harvard University. (A complete version of the study was published by the Kennedy School of Government in March 2006.)
Chomsky?s speeches and writing on the Lobby emphasizes several dubious propositions.
The pro-Israel Lobby is just like any other lobby; it has no special influence or place in US politics.
The power of the groups backing the Israel lobby are no more powerful than other influential pressure groups
The Lobby?s agenda succeeds because it coincides with the interests of the dominant powers and interests of the US State
The Lobby?s weakness is demonstrated by the fact that Israel is ?merely a tool? of US empire building to be used when needed and otherwise marginalized.
The major forces shaping US Middle East policy are ?big oil? and the ?military-industrial complex?, neither of which is connected to the pro-Israel lobby.
The interests of the US generally coincide with the interests of Israel
The Iraq War, the threats to Syria and Iran are primarily a product of ?oil interests? and the ?military-industrial complex? and not the role of the pro-Israel lobby or its collaborators in the Pentagon and other government agencies.
While in general Chomsky has deliberately refrained from specifically discussing the pro-Israel lobby in his speeches, interviews and publications analyzing US policy toward the Middle East, but when he does, he follows the above-mentioned repertory.