For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



In Defence of Shamir .. and Chomsky

by Ian Buckley

What's in a name? Certainly not much when it comes to the hackneyed and over-used term of 'anti-Semitism'. All kinds of people have been uncovered as sufferers from this regrettable condition, from G.K. Chesterton to Roald Dahl and Humphrey Bogart.*

Now - pardon me for injecting a note of sense into this heated topic - but if  'anti-Semitism' means anything at all, then it means someone who hates Jews - all Jews - for no other reason than that they are Jews. Happily, this definition means there are next to no real anti-Semites around whatever. However, this absence doesn't stop the determined and possibly demented from trying to fill the vacuum. Of course, most recently Stephen Pollard of the Times plonked Israel Adam Shamir into this category following his appearance at the House of Lords in Westminister.

Now our good friend has been accorded the particular honour of being declared not just an ordinary 'anti-Semite', but a 'toxic' and a 'rabid' one. That latter epithet comes from the littlegreenfootballs weblog**, a particularly noxious Zionist supremacist site, which distinguished itself in infamy by its repulsive comments about Rachel Corrie.

One is struck by the extreme childishness with which his opponents conduct their campaigns, with their bizarre allegations that he's really a Swedish fascist. Shamir has called himself a 'Mediterranean man', and his photos attest to this. If he's not what he's claims, a case could conceivably be made that's he's a Greek, a Maltese, an Arab or an Armenian. But one thing he most obviously is not is a Swedish fascist skinhead, presumably complete - if only in the imaginings of Pollard - with tattoos, boots and a bicycle chain!

If such allegedly intelligent people ever took the trouble to thoroughly read Shamir's books and commentaries, they would be forced to admit one telling fact. That fact is that he has both an extensive knowledge of and an easy familiarity with Judaica which would be virtually impossible for any outsider to acquire.

The outraged comments bewailing the fact that Shamir was allowed to address a group at the House of Lords seemed somehow to suggest that he'd 'polluted' the place in some strange, metaphysical manner. As if everyone - in Britain especially - didn't realise that both Houses of Parliament have a full complement of crooks, perverts and scoundrels in regular attendance. Oh dear, Israel Adam, you mustn't try to make people think!

Now it's quite true that Shamir does like to be provocative at times. Despite now being an Eastern Orthodox Christian, he's quite the iconoclast in his way. When a topic is forbidden, he goes in and explores it. Of course, this does sometimes provide his detractors with useful quotes wrenched totally out of context.

When you actually explore what he says on these controversial topics, the quality of shock horror his enemies seek to impart vanishes away. Take The Protocols of the Elders of Zion : Shamir doesn't claim that these are really as 'advertised', but does find interesting nuances to comment upon. Likewise with the 'blood libel', when he merely takes issue with those who say that no Jewish person at any time or in any place could ever have committed a murder with ritualistic aspects. It is much the same argument that was put forward by that neglected author Bernard Lazare.

Shamir is definitely an economic radical, or economic democrat, if you like. But he is also socially conservative, probably due to a mixture of personal temperament and his new Orthodox Christian faith. This is a very rare combination today, the diametrically opposing viewpoint being sanctified and promoted by press and politicians. This might be termed the Clinton-Blair manoeuvre: privatisation and pension cuts combined with the promotion of homosexuality and unlimited abortion. In my own benighted country, this policy has been such a wonderful success that - to take just two very recent statistics out of many - we have the largest prison population ever and the greatest gap in life expectancy between rich and poor since the Victorian era.

After the anti-Shamir calumny, it's almost a relief to turn a reasonable bit of criticism, Damage Control: Noam Chomsky, otherwise Blankfort vs. Chomsky. As I quite often seem to be defending Chomsky to a Palestinian friend - whom she views as 'insincere' -  maybe I should try the same before a wider audience. I would content that Noam is basically an honest and very knowledgeable man, despite his occasional personal blind spots.

It should be freely admitted that Chomsky doesn't go far enough on the Middle East. At the same time, his thesis does at least deserve some consideration. Israel is small but nasty, in geopolitical terms rather like a rabid bull terrier: the leviathan is in the United States. It matters little whether one sees this in terms of the simplistic 'Israel within America' of Bin Laden, or the more subtle domination of the 'Judaic paradigm' over the US first noted by the early ( and 'anti-Semitic') Marx.

Whatever the slight defects and blind spots in this particular area, he still deserves kudos for his excellent, indeed pioneering, investigations into the distortions of the mass media and the profoundly undemocratic nature of 'democratic' societies. An article such as The Victors represents Chomsky at his best, jam-packed with facts and analysis, mercilessly hammering Uncle Sam, who hypocritically 'protects' Kurds and Kuwaitis, while leaving a trail of destruction and ruined lives in his own backyard.

After a reading of Chomsky, you are inoculated for good against the foetid netherworld of the mainstream media. We should pity the poor saps who still accept news stories about Palestinian 'terrorists' attacking tanks with rifles, the 'booming' American and British economies and those cheery, gum-chewing Marines completing the long overdue 'pacification' of Falluja. British television news sometimes has the feel of taking a trip through the brain of Tony Bliar. Not a pretty experience!

As is Shamir, I would suggest that Chomsky also is a true Voltairean, standing for freedom of thought and action, not afraid to stand up for those outside the ever-shrinking circle of permitted discourse. This is a great rarity, in these days of ever more open repression, of curbs on the freedom of speech, of semi-rigged elections, in America, Australia and - we may anticipate - Britain.

There is nothing wrong at all with a little criticism, but we shouldn't lose sight of who the 'good guys' really are. After all, there are so few of them around.

And in my book, both Shamir and Chomsky are good guys.


* Larry Adler reported that Bogie is supposed to have said something on the lines of: 'I know I married one, but I don't like the influence some of the others have over this country.'

** Incidentally run by a 'Christian' Zionist