Greenwald’s War Against Israel

 

Mr. Glenn Greenwald, author, columnist, and self-described journalist, has become well-known for his collaborations with Edward Snowden.  Several months ago Mr. Greenwald obtained substantial funding from the billionaire Pierre Obidyar to establish an online publication Intercept, part of Obidyar’s First Look Media.

Now, several months forward, Intercept, as it promised it would, devotes space to Snowden’s cause.  But that is not the only cause  which it supports.  Another one, to which it has given substantial space as well, is that of Israel-bashing.

About a week ago, Greenwald ran a particularly untruthful, hateful, shameful attack on Israel:  Netanyahu’s ‘Telegenically Dead’ Comment Is Grotesque but Not Original .  Greenwald’s assertion is that Israel behaves like Nazis in Gaza.

Greenwald begins by what he says is a quotation from Netanyahu, which he presents as follows:

“They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.”

Next, he gives what he says is a quotation from Joseph Goebbels, as follows:

“The Jews gradually are having to depend more and more on themselves, and have recently found a new trick. They knew the good-natured German Michael in us, always ready to shed sentimental tears for the injustice done to them. One suddenly has the impression that the Berlin Jewish population consists only of little babies whose childish helplessness might move us, or else fragile old ladies. The Jews send out the pitiable. They may confuse some harmless souls for a while, but not us. We know exactly what the situation is.”

The emphasis, in both cases, is of course supplied by Mr. Greenwald.

I have taken the trouble to look at the context of both of these quotations.  That by Netanyahu is also reported by the Forward, but together with a clarifying statement by Netanyahu:

“Israel regrets every injury to civilians,” the prime minister said. “I call on the residents of Gaza: Don’t stay there. Hamas wants you to die, we want you to be safe.”

If Mr. Greenwald’s reporting on Netanyahu is grossly misleading, the same must be said of his reporting on Goebbels.

The passage from Goebbels in question (dated November 16, 1941)  can be seen here in the original German and here in an English translation.    The article is quite long,  approximately 1600 words, and is entitled “Die Juden sind schuld !,”  (“The Jews are at  fault !).    It makes the following points:  Every Jew is our enemy.  There is no such thing as a good Jew and a bad Jew.  Every Jew is evil.  Judaism must be destroyed. 

Has Mr. Greenwald even read this German-language article, either in the original or in translation, or does he depend on some tendentious report by a third party ?  In either case, the paragraph translated and presented by Mr. Greenwald is in no way representative of the gist of Goebbels’s piece, and, in fact, grossly distorts it.

 Whether he cites Goebbels or Netanyahu, Mr. Greenwald  misleads his readers.  Read in relevant context, Netanyahu asserts, as does his government, that Israel is deeply concerned over loss of life, whether Jew or Arab.  And when read its entirety, Goebbels is seen to advocate the destruction of all Jews.  When Greenwald tells us that these two positions are the same,  he tells us more about his own integrity — or rather lack thereof — than he tells us about the ostensible subject of his rantings.

Obviously, Mr. Greenwald’s publisher, Pierre Obidyar, must share in   the moral responsibility for what is published under his imprint,  First Look Media.

As it happens, there is indeed a Nazi connection to be found in this topic of Israel vs. Hamas.  And pace Mr. Greenwald, the Nazi connection is on the side of Hamas.   The Hamas Charter, available freely on the Internet and elsewhere, calls for the destruction of Israel and the  killing  of all Jews and cites, with great approval, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a veritable bible of the Nazi movement.  But on this topic, the Hamas Charter, Mr. Greenwald is strangely quiet.

READ ALSO:  my earlier posting on Comrade Greenwald and Mr. Pierre Obidyar

Chomsky’s Followers: A Cult of Rancor

chomsky copy When I recently caught up on my pile of unread copies of the Times Literary Supplement,  I came across a piece of ill-natured polemic in the ostensibly technical field of linguistics.  Professor Kenneth Wexler of MIT, writing in the Letters columns of TLS (10/19/2012),  opined that a distinguished scholar with whom he disagrees  “lives in an alternative universe to the truth.”  The truth, according to Wexler, is the one established by Noam Chomsky, viz. that there is a Universal Grammar underlying all human language.

Concerning the scientific standing or otherwise of Chomskyan linguistics, see the recent work by Christina Behme, here and here.  Unlike Behme, I have not studied these issues in depth and can hardly claim to have an informed opinion.  But, as any Google search will readily confirm, I have a long-term interest in Chomsky’s hostility to Israel (and, I would say, to the Jewish people), and, when I once caught him in an outrageous lie,  I even had the honor of being labelled a “pathological liar” by him.

So it occurred to me that Wexler may be bound to Chomsky by more than theoretical linguistics.  Could it be that he also shares the animus toward Israel ?  We cannot know what is in a man’s heart, but, in these days of Google, we can know what he has chosen to put into the public record about his political commitments.  And, indeed, Professor Wexler is on record as an adversary of the State of Israel.  (See below).

Wexler’s dual ties to Chomskyanism, in and of itself, would not be greatly interesting.  But, as it happens, a check of the best-known linguistic supporters of Chomsky yields at least seven others, for a total of eight,  with such dual ties.  Here is the list:

John Collins, U. of East Anglia, 1/15/09

Norbert Hornstein, U. of Md. 2/24/09

Richard Kayne, NYU, 11/14/11 

David Pesetsky, MIT, 5/7/02

Luigi Rizzi, Siena, 11/14/11 

Tom Roeper, U. of Mass., 11/14/11 

Neil Smith, Univ. Coll., London, 1/15/09

Kenneth Wexler, MIT, 5/7/02

In each case, the date represent links to where the anti-Israel statements can be found.  Not all the statements are equally vitriolic or hostile, but the one of 1/15/09 gives an idea of the tenor of most of them:

Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance. It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides. If we believe in the principle of democratic self-determination, if we affirm the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation, then we are obliged to take sides… against Israel, and with the people of Gaza and the West Bank.

There are at least some linguists associated with the Chomsky school who are not on record  against Israel, and, of course, there are many non-linguist academics who are.  On the other hand, not everyone who feels rancor and resentment against Israel will go on public record.  So my list is an indication of the very minimum of those so aligned.  Moreover, I  have not found a single case of a Chomsky-aligned linguist who is on record as supportive of Israel.  (My internet search was not exhaustive.)

All in all, these materials give  persuasive anecdotal grounds for believing that the Chomsky cult, in both linguistics and politics, is at least in part based on grounds that are neither rational nor scientific.  Neither reason nor science can account for the striking circumstance that so many who are committed to Universal Grammar also happen to be committed to opposition to Israel.

Addendum, Aug. 13, 2016

Here are two more Chomsky-supporting linguists who are also on record as opposed to Israel:

David Lightfoot

Marc D. Hauser

READ ALSO:  “The Marketing of Noam Chomsky,” by Jean-Charles Chebat. (In French.)