In Pt.1 I compared Noam Chomsky and Ben Shapiro over their speeches/discussions of socialism. In this post, I want to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian question, for which I will refer to those two but also many others. Just like when talking about socialism, the contrast between intelligent speakers and arrogant and hypocritical ones is rather interesting.
As always when delving into this topic, it is prudent to state upfront that there is a clear distinction between anti-Semitism and opposing/criticising Zionism and the state of Israel; despite calling itself the “Jewish State”, no rational person adheres to that self-proclaimed status. This is actually one of the many points of contention between those on the ‘left’ and the ‘right’, with many on the right arguing any mild criticism of Israel is immediately grounds for a vicious accusation of anti-Semitism.
The crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians are numerous and damning, and here the brush of arrogance and hypocrisy sweeps over many more people than the likes of Shapiro. The entirety of the US government, up until recently with a few dissident Democrats, and a majority of the people can be included in this.
In one talk, Shapiro, for someone who decries people denouncing Jews, seems to have little issue similarly denouncing the Arabs. While the Arab states aren’t the most ideal locations, Israel is by no means a perfect beacon. The following is quoted from Shapiro.
“Israel is rich, it’s neighbours are not.” Israel is rich, and has one of the largest militaries in the world, because of the US. If the US packed its bags and left Israel to fend for itself, quite likely it would suffer a number of setbacks. The opposite would happen in the Arab states – if the US left, there might actually be a chance to start rebuilding. “Israel is democratic, its neighbours are not.” Many of its neighbours may not be entirely democratic, but Israel is by no means democratic either. The declaration of being the Jewish State contradicts that entirely, as it alienates the Arabs and other non-Jewish members of the population. They occupy three separate territories which are incredibly militarised and where war crimes and breaches of International Law are prolific.
Shapiro ignores this and justifies any ‘wrongs’ carried out by Israel as a reasonable response to Arab and Islamic provocation. As in many similar cases, the provocation certainly does not come from the weakened party – the Palestinians here. As Chomsky has explained from his own experiences as a Jew, in the 1940’s and 50’s he experienced rather severe anti-Semitism, and he said it took years into adulthood before he could come to terms with Catholics, who were the common perpetrators where he grew up. Anti-Semitism was not a hidden discrimination – people were very open about it and it was visible in public.
Chomsky now believes that a similar phenomenon is taking place, but this time with the Arabs and Muslim people as the target. Not everyone admits it openly, but racism towards Arabs in the 21st century is sadly a perfectly acceptable form of discrimination in many circles. To my knowledge, there is no definitive way to prove this shift – even Chomsky admits it’s mostly anecdotal – but you would be blind to not see that the life of the Arab is ‘worth less’ than that of the Israeli Jew in the minds of many.
Another name worth mentioning in Norman Finkelstein, another Jewish dissident who speaks out against Israel. He is not afraid to compare Israel’s actions – the actions of the State, not the Jewish people – against the Palestinians to the Jews own treatment by the Nazis in Germany and elsewhere. Many have denounced him for it, but I think it is a perfectly valid comparison – although hardly the same scale in terms of numbers – and that Finkelstein is justified in saying it. When challenged, he reluctantly brings up the fact that his parents were survivors of the Holocaust and has said (in one altercation):
“It is precisely and exactly because of the lessons my parents taught me and my two siblings that I will not be silent when Israel commits its crimes against the Palestinians.”
He was met with a cacophony of boos, tears, and applause – a reflection of just how divisive the topic is. But when people like him and Chomsky talk, not just as Jews but as activists, they do so with immense experience and knowledge. They have the ability to articulate their point of view – whether it’s one you agree with or not – and there is no doubt of their intelligence when they call out any wrong committed on either side. Shapiro and others like him – such as the Murdoch press – are willingly blind to the truth, or even outright lie in some cases, to prove their point. Israel is the perfect state, a Jewish State, and to hell with the Arabs.
Such a shallow and obviously hypocritical stance highlights the arrogance and entitlement of the people advocating it. Give any rational person the facts and there is no ‘good’ side, but many more would undoubtedly sympathise more with the Palestinians than with the Israeli policies and actions. I am (way too slowly) getting through a book called Gaza Unsilenced, about Operation Protective Edge – Israel’s 2014 incursion into Gaza that killed and injured thousands. Such atrocities are ignored or justified by some, and any who dare question the legitimacy of them is suddenly anti-Semitic. When intelligent people present the truth, a brawl ensues.
Hopefully intelligence will, in the end, win over arrogance.
Liked this? Read Calling Out AIPAC and Israel Is Not Anti-Semitic