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Werner Cohn slandering of Chomsky and other left-wing libertarians from France

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[Partners in Hate: Page 89]


From Marlen to Faurisson

Faurisson is of course not the first to propose preposterous
ideas or to use pseudo-rational methods in the process.
Jacques Baynac and Nadine Fresco have recently reminded us
that a certain Jean-Baptiste Peres denied as early as 1827
that Napoleon ever existed.<64> Today there is a California-
based Flat Earth Research Society International, only a
stone's throw from our Institute for Historical Review,
whose leaflet assures us that it can "...prove [the] earth
flat by experiment, demonstrated and demonstrable. Earth
Flat is a Fact, not a "theory" ... Australians do not hang
by their feet under the world." There is proof for
everything.

It is one of the misfortunes of the left wing, both in
Europe and America, to have been afflicted with more than
its share of Flat Earthers. Many of these marginal socialist
and anarchist illuminati are adepts of the doctrine of
malign equivalence, i.e. they see all government as
basically "capitalist" including that of the Soviet Union,
and they find all "capitalist" rule to be equally
reprehensible. The autobiographical part of the new
_Chomsky Reader_<65> shows us how Chomsky has adhered to
such doctrines, from his earliest days to the present. But
we shall also see how both he and_La Vieille Taupe_have gone
beyond this anarcho-Marxist tradition to arrive at what
amounts to a justification of Nazi Germany.

Chomsky tells us (in page 14 of _The Chomsky Reader_) that
he was fascinated by the "Marlenites" when he was a boy of
fifteen or sixteen. This was about 1944 or 1945. Insofar
as I can reconstruct it now, this ex-Trotskyist splinter
group thought that the war was "phony" and that the Western
Allies, the Soviet Union, and the Axis powers were all
conspiring together against the international proletariat.
All sides represented the bourgeoisie (including the Stalin
"burocracy," as Marlen liked to spell it), all sides
oppressed the workers, all sides were in every way morally
equivalent. Chomsky now says that he "never really believed
the thesis, but ... found it intriguing enough to try to
figure out what they were talking about."

I want to linger just a bit on the subject of the
Marlenites. On the surface it would seem that there is
little similarity between this small band of 1940's New York
revolutionists and the Chomsky of today. The Marlenites had
strange ideas but they were no apologists for the Nazis, so
compared to Chomsky and his French "revisionists" they were
models of sanity, of moderation, of judiciousness. But as
it happens the Marlenites do afford us some insight, first
into the atmosphere of the little radical groups that
constitute the lineal forebears of todayOs left-wing neo-
Nazis, and second into the methods of historiography that
Chomsky and his friends employ today.

It so happens that I myself had a brush with the Marlenite
organization Leninist League, as it was then called. It
was, at the time, led by the veteran New York splinter-group
radical George Spiro. Like all American Bolshevists in
those days, Spiro used a pseudonym in the hope of warding
off the FBI. (The leadership of the Trotskyist Socialist
Workers Party having been sent to jail in 1941, this
precaution was not as fanciful as it would seem today.)
When Spiro chose his "party name" he wanted to honor his
(temporary, as it turned out) heroes and picked Marlen, Mar
for Marx and len for Lenin.

My first experience with the Marlenites predates Chomsky's
by about four years. I was fourteen in late 1940 or early
1941 when I attended a meeting in Spiro's apartment on the
Lower East Side of Manhattan. I had been invited by the
Marlenite who distributed propaganda to one of the group's
larger rivals, and I can't now remember whether this other
group had been of the Shachtmanite or the Cannonite wing of
the Trotskyists.

Spiro and his Marlenites struck me as not much different
from other Trotskyists in the manner in which they conducted
their business except that the group was even smaller and
even further removed from the common sense of the world.
They seemed to have had an even more intense conviction of
being the very small elite that alone knows all the esoteric
truths about capitalism, war, the class struggle, the future
of humanity. It was a matter of very heavy Rechthaberei,
of disputatious knowing-it-better.

When I first met Spiro he had already accomplished a
considerable political journey. He had been expelled from
the Communist Party and had joined the Trotskyists. He had
next joined a splinter group led by Hugo Oehler and Thomas
Stamm to found the Revolutionary Workers League, in
opposition to the "official" Trotskyist organization. But
soon thereafter he had discovered that Oehler and Stamm and
in fact Trotsky himself were traitors to the working class,
so he had left all these groups, with a very small band of
followers in tow, to found his Leninist League and to
declare World War II to be "phony." I don't think that the
number of these Marlenites ever exceeded a dozen or so.

I went to see Spiro again around 1956, in the same Lower
East Side apartment where the earlier meeting had taken
place. He told me then that the intervening years had
brought him one disappointment after another. His
researches had led him to see that not only Stalin and
Trotsky had been traitors to the proletariat but that Lenin
had been of the same stripe. And even the writings of Marx
could not withstand his careful inspection. Spiro (he had by
then abandoned his pseudonym for obvious reasons) discovered
that yes, old Karl Marx himself had really been nothing but
an anti-Semite in disguise. When I asked him about the
other Marlenites whom I had met some fifteen years earlier,
Spiro revealed to me that they, too, had been unmasked by
him for what they really were, a bunch of anti-Semites.<66>

Spiro was by then a mellow old man and I must say that I was
shaken, not only by his madness but also because of the
kernel of truth that his madness all but hid. He gave me a
copy of what I take to be his last opus, Marxism and the
Bolshevik State
.<67> I am glad that I kept this volume. At
one time in my life I owned other Marlenite literature but
unfortunately I discarded it all except for that last big
book.

Marxism and the Bolshevik State has 1100 closely-printed
pages, divided into 78 chapters, and gives evidence of a
tremendous mental energy on the part of its author. Its
thesis can readily be surmised by some of the chapter
headings: The Stalin-Trotsky Betrayal of the British
Workers; Lenin Disrupts the Potential World Revolutionary
Army and Navy; Marx's Personal and Political Insincerity;
A Marxist-Ignored Phenomenon in the Ancient and Medieval
Class Struggles -- The Jewish Scapegoat; Marxist Anti-
Semitism in the United States; Marxism's Hand in Creating
the Reactionary Zionist State; Marxism -- The Last Bulwark
of Anti-Semitism and Christianity. The book denounces all
known government -- i.e. it embraces the doctrine of malign
equivalence -- but it also holds open the promise of a new
day, when, presumably under the guidance of enlightened
leaders like Spiro himself, "Mankind will attain
superabundance of the fruits of its labors, will plan its
own history, will gradually gain mastery over the globe..."
(p. 1077).

Spiro could read German and Russian in addition to English,
and he has perused thousands of old books and especially old
newspapers, apparently all in the Reference Division of the
New York Public Library. Whenever he saw something that he
liked he would carefully note it and cite it in his book.
As he himself explains the method in his preface:

In the body of the work for example, we cite a
parenthetical remark by Lenin which, to our
knowledge, has never been used as source material,
and which is of greater value to an investigator
of the true history of the Bolshevik State than a
shelf of histories produced either by the
bourgeoisie or by any historians of that State
.
(p. 14)

Spiro had no more critical sense about such sources than
Faurisson and seemed to think that something printed in an
old newspaper, if it tended to confirm his own convictions
about history, constituted proof positive of the rightness
of his cause. It would never occur to him to consult the
work of the expert historians on a given subject, let alone
to weigh one source against another. He was a completely
self-educated erudite as well as a ceaseless polemicist and
self-righteous moralist. Perhaps, had he acquired some
sense of balance along the way, he could indeed have become
what he thought he had become: an important thinker.

With all that Marlen-Spiro was a rather amiable old crank,
and I think that the same can be said for the Flat Earthers,
"Marlenites" all. If I now suggest that Chomsky and
Faurisson are also adepts of the Marlen method of
historiography I must immediately add that Spiro's writings,
with all their faults, were free of malice; there was
vigorous polemic but there was no hate or vituperation. For
these we must look to Professor Chomsky and his neo-Nazis
associates.

In any case, Chomsky only gives the faintest of nods to
Marlenism in his autobiographical musings. His real
political mentors, he says, are Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Korsch,
Paul Mattick, Anton Pannekoek, and some others.<68> These
writers are the founders of "Council Communism," and, as it
happens, the very ones whom the "revisionist"_La Vieille
Taupe_also claims as among its guides and teachers. Chomsky
and VT thus have common professed ideological roots, Council
Communism, and Chomsky is less than forthright when he
suppresses this ideological tie in his autobiographical
sketch and elsewhere.

But what is Council Communism?<69>

The beginnings lie in a small sect of left-wing,
oppositionist German Communists in the 1920's who were in
revolt against Moscow's domination of the German Communist
party. Basing themselves partly on the anti-Bolshevist
writings of Rosa Luxemburg, the group developed profound
differences with the Communist International on
organizational matters. It rejected the notion of a
"dictatorship of the proletariat" as exercised by a party or
state, advocating, instead, independent councils of workers
as the government of socialism. Under the influence of
writers like Paul Mattick and Karl Korsch (both of whom
emigrated to the United States where they died after the
war), Council Communists became fierce opponents of Stalin,
were persecuted by both Stalin and Hitler, and in general
maintained standards of political ethics that were widely
admired.

Council Communists were much more consistent than
Trotskyists in their opposition to Bolshevist tyranny but
they shared certain attitudes with both Trotskyists and
anarchists during the Second World War. Wherever they could
exist in Europe and America, these little groups and
grouplets held to a radical anti-war position; they thought
that neither the Axis nor the Allies merited their support.
Unlike most of the Trotskyist groups, both Council
Communists and the anarchists applied this anti-war position
to the Soviet Union as well as to the West and the Axis.
But none of these groups, and nobody in them, had anything
but hatred for the Nazis. They all supported the resistance
in Nazi-occupied Europe, and culturally and practically,
insofar as they had any influence anywhere, they were part
of the overall anti-Nazi front of all decent people. The
current pro-Nazi position of_La Vieille Taupe_is, as far as
I know, the first time that a group with authentically left-
wing origins has broken this front.

The history of _La Vieille Taupe_ has been told by Pierre
Vidal-Naquet and Alain Finkielkraut.<70> A group of ex-
Trotskyists led by Cornelius Castoriadis and Claude Lefort
broke with Bolshevism in the late 1940's to start a movement
called Socialisme ou Barbarie<71> with ideas broadly
resembling those of the Council Communists. Many splits and
mergers later, toward the end of the 1960's, one of the
resulting grouplets called itself _La Vieille Taupe_. By
about 1970, VT began to develop ideas and activities that
contrast very sharply with any of its ideological ancestors.
It had inherited a thorough-going rejection of "bourgeois"
society, and had inherited also a tendency to equate
"capitalist tyranny" with "fascism." But now, partly under
the influence of certain ultra-leftist Italians
(Bordigists), it began to reject the one article of faith
that had hitherto been a common denominator for everyone on
the left: anti-Fascism.

At first it was a matter of declaring Nazism as no worse
than the "bourgeois" capitalism of the West, of finding the
Axis as no more guilty than the Allies of crimes against the
working class. Such, roughly, were the ideas of the first
anti-Semitic writer whom Vieille Taupe saw fit to promote:
the ex-Communist,
ex-concentration camp inmate Paul
Rassinier
, now deceased ("Revisionists" from Paris to
California still accord him pride of place as the father of
their particular branch of knowledge). But going from
Rassinier on to Faurisson, whom VT discovered in 1978 and
has promoted ever since, the group became more and more
openly anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi, a process which reached a
sort of apogee in 1986 when it published the 520-page screed
of one of the most strident of the German post-War Nazis,
Wilhelm Staeglich.

In preparation for this essay I corresponded with some
veterans of Council Communism and other far-left wing groups
in France and elsewhere. My informants were unanimous in
their observations that Guillaume and his Vieille Taupe,
apart from his two or three tiny fronts groups, are
absolutely and completely alone in this trajectory from anti-
Stalinist radicalism to neo-Nazism. As one particularly
knowledgeable correspondent put it: "Neither the
Trotskyists nor the Council Communists can be held even
indirectly responsible for Guillaume's wanderings."
Authentic Council Communists will not have anything to do
with him. Paul Mattick was one of the respected thinkers of
this movement, and his son, Paul Mattick, Jr., wrote to me
as follows: "A few years ago, Guillaume offered to publish
a French translation of my father's last book, but we (my
mother and I) of course refused him the right, as we do not
want to be associated with these crazy people."

Estimates of the number of Guillaume followers range from
about ten to about thirty. Veterans of the left wing shun
him, scholars laugh at him. But Guillaume does have two
things going for him. First, as we saw, he seems to have
ample finances; second, he has Noam Chomsky.

***

The safety and welfare of the State of Israel mean a great
deal to most Jews today no matter where they happen to live.
There is a minority to whom Israel does not matter much, and
an even smaller minority who are critical of both Israel and
the Zionist enterprise. And after we have thought of all
these categories and try very hard, we can find still
others: there is an individual here or there who hates
Israel so much that he is willing to aid the neo-Nazis in an
attempt to dismantle the State. There is the sad Alfred
Lilienthal, tireless pro-Arab propagandist and speaker at
neo-Nazi conventions; there is the eccentric Dr. Howard
Stein who translates Julius Streicher's propaganda into
psychobabble; and there is Noam Chomsky.

Some individual Jews have always turned against their own
people. We call such people "self-haters" after the title
of some biographical sketches describing such unfortunates
during the Weimar republic.<72> It is of course anyone's
inalienable right, in a free society, to be a self-hater,
and most such cases are sad rather than interesting. The
psychology of how and why a person reaches that stage,
especially when that person has had the benefit of every
privilege of Western society, is not something that I can
claim to understand. All I can do here is to demonstrate
the methods, the ways and means, of Chomsky's crusade
against Israel and the Jews.

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[Partners in Hate: Page 106]

The Documentary Basis of Anti-Zionism

Chomsky's most ambitious book about the Jews and Israel,
published in 1983, is entitled The Fateful Triangle: The
United States, Israel and the Palestinians. It purports to
review the history and current status of the Arab-Israel
dispute as well as the role of the United States in it.
Like other political writings of Chomsky's, this one has
been widely praised by his supporters for its wealth of
"facts" and documentation. As we have seen, too, the book
is featured as a prized item on the book lists of organized
anti-Semitism.

The violence between Arabs and Jews -- who did what to whom
and when -- is naturally a field of much contention among
those who write about the two peoples. Two events in the
modern history of Arab-Jewish relations have most
particularly demanded the attention of both scholarly and
propagandistic writers: the riots of 1929 in Hebron and
elsewhere, and the War of Independence in 1948. Enough
about these is known to serve as touchstones for those who
would write rationally about Arabs and Jews. I propose to
examine Chomsky's treatment of these two events, not only to
study his point of view but also to see whether his methods
conform to a modicum of scholarly objectivity.

The 1929 Violence

Chomsky devotes two paragraphs, one of main text and one
long footnote, to the 1929 events. The text, on page 90,
reads as follows:

The [Arabs] never accepted the legitimacy of
[Balfour's] point of view, and resisted in a
variety of ways. They repeatedly resorted to
terrorist violence against Jews. The most extreme
case was in late August 1929, when 133 Jews were
massacred. The "most ghastly incident" was in
Hebron, where 60 Jews were killed, most of them
from an old Jewish community, largely anti-
Zionist; the Arab police "stood passively by
while their fellow Moslems moved into the town and
proceeded to deeds which would have been revolting
among animals," and a still greater slaughter was
prevented only by the bravery of one member of the
vastly undermanned British police. (4) Many were
saved by Muslim neighbors.*

I have shown the footnote references -- one marked (4), the
other with an asterisk -- as they appear in Chomsky's
original. Footnote (4) is found on page 169, and says
"Ibid., pp. 109-10, 123," a reference to Crossroads to
Israel by Christopher Sykes. The footnote marked by an
asterisk is found on the bottom of pages 90 and 91 and
reads:

* The massacre followed a demonstration organized
at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem to counter "Arab
arrogance" -- "a major provocation even in the
eyes of Jewish public opinion" (Flapan, Zionism
and the Palestinians
, p. 96). See Sheean, in
Khalidi, From Haven to Conquest, for a detailed
eyewitness account. This provocation was
organized by Betar, the youth movement of Vladimir
Jabotinsky's Revisionist organization, which is
the precursor of Begin's Herut, the central
element in the Likud coalition. The very name,
"Betar," reflects the cynicism of this fascist-
style movement, which, in Flapan's words,
described Hitler "as the saviour of Germany,
Mussolini as the political genius of the century,"
and often acted accordingly. The name is an
acronym for "Brith Yosef Trumpeldor" ("The
Covenant of Joseph Trumpeldor"). Trumpeldor was
killed defending the northern settlement of Tel
Hai from Bedouin attackers; Jabotinsky "opposed
the Labour call for mobilization to help the
threatened settlements" (Flapan, p. 104).

Chomsky here acknowledges that a slaughter of the Jews of
Hebron had taken place and he borrows words from Sykes to
show that this had been "ghastly." He writes the word
"ghastly" and his reproduction of the word -- though
borrowed from Sykes and in quotation marks -- may well be
used later by him and his friends as proof of his
sensitivity to Jewish suffering. As we have seen, Chomsky
is fond of such self-exculpating formulas.

But Chomsky is also quick to give us two separate sets of
justification for the Arab assassins at Hebron. The first
comes at the very beginning of the main paragraph: the
killings were part of the "resistance" of Arabs against the
Balfour plan for a Jewish national home.<73> The second is
more elaborate and takes up the whole of the asterisked
footnote: it seems that the killings were "provoked" by a
"fascist-style" Jewish youth organization, Betar.

How does Chomsky document his charge of "provocation?"

He cites three references in this footnote: a) Simha
Flapan concerning the import of Betar's demonstration in
Jerusalem; b) Vincent Sheean, the "eye witness" to the same
demonstration; and finally c) Flapan again, this time
concerning the nature of Betar.

a) Betar's demonstration in Jerusalem: Flapan vs. the
historians

Simha Flapan, recently deceased, was a left-wing Israeli
editor and polemical writer and indeed says that Betar's
1929 demonstration "... led to the bloody riots and
disturbances." But Flapan mentions the incident only in
passing, gives no evidence for his assertion, and is in any
case no historical expert. Like Marlen, Chomsky here quotes
the unsupported opinion of an unqualified writer as if such
citation constituted evidence.

It so happens that there is now a scholarly literature
concerning the 1929 events and that all such scholarly
writing takes as one of its starting points the Report of
the Shaw Commission of Inquiry that was appointed by the
British government. Chomsky does not mention this Report
although it is probably the most detailed description of the
facts as they could be ascertained then or now.

One reliable guide to the various claims is contained in Y.
Porath, The Emergence of the Palestinian-Arab National
Movement, 1918-1929
. Chomsky professes to respect this work
and quotes it as an authority elsewhere in his book (p.
169). Porath takes pains to give an account of provocative
actions by both Jews and Arabs in the period preceding the
1929 events. Concerning the demonstrations by Betar,
Porath's judgment is as follows:

While it is true that the demonstration by Betar
... at the Wailing Wall on Tishea Be-Av (15th
August 1929) prompted the Muslim demonstration
there the next day ... the bloody [Hebron]
outbreaks occurred a week later and not
necessarily in response to the Jewish demonstration.
(p. 269)


Porath is known for his sympathies for the Arab national
movement, and Chomsky quotes him with approval concerning
the Lebanon war on pp. 200, 260, and 334 of his book. But
when Porath writes in his most professional capacity, i.e.
as a historian of the Arab-Jewish entanglement, Chomsky
chooses to ignore him.

Chomsky's failure to refer to Christopher Sykes is equally
reprehensible. Chomsky quotes from Sykes in his main
paragraph as an authority on the Hebron riots but he
suppresses what Sykes has to say in connection with the
alleged "provocation" by Betar. Actually Sykes gives a
general account of the background in a way similar to
Porath. A Jewish boy had been killed in Jerusalem in the
days leading to the serious riots. Both Jews and Arabs had
been embroiled in provocative acts. Referring to the days
immediately before Betar's demonstration, Sykes writes that
"the atmosphere in Jerusalem was daily growing more tense
and the goading policy of the Supreme Moslem Council over
the Wailing Wall had the desired effect of driving Jews to
exasperation." (p. 136).

In fact all historians agree that Arabs and Jews had been
involved in reciprocal provocation, but Chomsky, ignoring
all this testimony in favor of the obiter dictum of a
journalist, sees fault only with the Jews.

b) Vincent Sheean, eye witness

Betar's demonstration of course had hundreds of "eye
witnesses." One of these, the American journalist Vincent
Sheean, has claimed that his presence at the Jerusalem
demonstration qualifies him to pass judgment on what
happened a week later in Hebron, where he was not. Sheean
tells us that previous to the 1929 events he had been very
much pro-Zionist but that the Jewish demonstrations in
August of that year, which he blames for all the subsequent
bloodshed, turned him into a convinced anti-Zionist ever
after.

The Shaw Commission (see its Report, p. 52) examined more
than twenty eye witnesses concerning the Jerusalem events,
of whom Sheean, according to his own writings, was one.
Sheean also tells us that his testimony was directly
contradicted by others at the Commission hearings, and this
is not surprising since eye witness reports are notoriously
unreliable. Nevertheless Professor Chomsky cites Sheean and
only Sheean as an eye witness, and the question arises why
this would be so.

First, a word about how Chomsky discovered Sheean.

Sheean included his reminiscences of the 1929 events, "Holy
Land," in his collected essays Personal History (1935).59
The book was published by standard American and British
publishers and is widely available in research libraries.
But Chomsky's reference is not to this book. He cites a
greatly abbreviated reprint of the Sheean essay in an
anthology entitled From Haven to Conquest, edited by
Professor Walid Khalidi and published by the Institute for
Palestine Studies, Beirut, in 1971.

Unlike Chomsky, Professor Khalidi does not profess
neutrality between Jew and Arab. He dedicates his volume
"To all Palestine Arabs under Israeli occupation" and
explains how he selected the various snippets for his book:
"Any anthology is selective by definition. The items in
this anthology have been selected to illustrate the central
theme in the Palestine tragedy, which is the process by
which Zionism has sought to wrest control of Palestine and
its surroundings from the Arabs." (p. xxiv). Naturally,
materials that do not "illustrate the central theme" are not
in the Khalidi book. Chomsky relies heavily on this volume
in his own book, citing it over and over again.

One of the ways of evaluating eye witness testimony is to
consider whether the witness is credible. Sheean wants to
be believed, obviously, not only for what he has seen with
his own eyes but also for his insight and perspicacity in
relating what he has seen (Jerusalem) to what he has not
seen (Hebron). And the unabridged version of Sheean's
reminiscences gives us valuable clues indeed about Sheean's
credibility.

On pages 409 to 411, Sheean reports "the pogrom heritage" of
Jewish people that he observed in Palestine and elsewhere,
the unbelievably irrational fear that harm might come to
them simply because they were Jews. "It was a state of mind
I had never seen before, and it required a powerful effort
of the imagination to understand it." (p. 409). But
understand it he could not, and what he judged to be Jewish
irrational fears, both in Palestine and in general, are
cited as reasons for his remarkable sudden conversion from
pro-Zionism to anti-Zionism. He published these
observations in 1935, before the Holocaust but already
after Hitler's seizure of power in Germany, and of course he
was not alone then in his failure to appreciate the
exceptional realism of the Zionists of 1929. But alone or
not, Sheean's state of mind at the time does not exactly add
to his qualification as an informed observer. Perhaps for
this reason, these passages are not reproduced in Khalidi's
version of the essay.

Sheean's unexpurgated essay also shows great admiration for
Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem: "But
the Grand Mufti kept his head; the better I knew him the
more I realized that he was a man of remarkable character,
extraordinary inner calm and certainty. He never got
excited, he was always open to reason, and he never rejected
an argument or a suggestion without examining it carefully."
When Sheean published these lines in 1935 he may not have
known that two years earlier, immediately after the Nazi
seizure of power, the Mufti had conveyed his admiration and
support to the Hitler government, praising in particular the
Nazi policy of anti-Semitism. <75> But Sheean should have
known, as all informed observers have testified, that the
Mufti played an important part in inflaming Arab violence
against Jews throughout the 1920s.

Since the Second World War the Mufti has become an
embarrassment for partisans of the Arab side. The original
Sheean publication must have been among the very last in
which a reputable Western writer expressed admiration for
him. In Khalidi's version of Sheean, the one cited by
Chomsky, all praise of the Mufti is suppressed, as well it
might. But without these passages the reader of Sheean is
deprived of one of the most important clues to Sheean's lack
of credibility.

In brief, Chomsky ignores the scholarly literature on the
1929 riots. Had he reported the contents of this literature
to his readers, his pro-Arab and anti-Jewish charges could
not have been sustained. He cites the eye witness testimony
of only one witness when many were available, and the
witness whom he uses has been pre-selected for him by an
anthology of pro-Arab writings. Finally, he suppresses all
information that would enable the reader to test the
credibility of his witness.

Is this the scholarship that is taught at MIT?

c) the "fascist" Betar

Chomsky charges that Betar, the youth organization of the
Zionist Revisionist movement, was not only "fascist-style"
but actually praised Hitler, presumably as part of its
general political stance in 1929. (Of course in 1929 Hitler
had not yet come to power and was barely known outside of
Germany, but let that pass). Chomsky again cites the left-
wing Israeli writer Simha Flapan who had little to say about
the Hebron incident but who does devote a whole chapter to
Zionist Revisionism.

Chomsky, whose full passage I have quoted above, speaks of
Betar as "...this fascist-style movement, which, in
Flapan's words, describes Hitler "as the saviour of Germany,
Mussolini as the political genius of the century" .... "
Chomsky tends toward forgetfulness in such matters and does
not tell us just where he found this in Flapan. The fact is
that Flapan wrote something just a little bit different:

The violent anti-labour campaign, accompanied as
it was by venomous propaganda, brawls and physical
violence on both sides, created in the 1930s a
tension resembling a state of civil war [between
Labour Zionists and Zionist Revisionists]. The
attempt to challenge the labour hegemony failed
and boomeranged against the Revisionists
themselves. They earned for themselves a
reputation as fascists due to the viciousness of
the anti-socialist propaganda, their unbridled
hatred of kibbutzim, their "character
assassinations", the unconcealed sympathy of some
members towards the authoritarian regimes (Hitler,
for example, was described as the saviour of
Germany, Mussolini as the political genius of the
century). -- Flapan, pp. 111-2.

Chomsky has Flapan claim that Betar as such embraced Hitler
and Mussolini, but Flapan just says that "some members" had
such sympathies. The "some members," which here makes all
the difference and completely changes the meaning, is
suppressed by Chomsky.

Is this how scholarship is taught at MIT?

But this outrageous misquotation aside, Flapan does
maintain that there was some sympathy for Hitler in Betar.
How does Flapan know this? To what extent can we trust
Flapan as an expert on Betar and the Zionist Revisionist
movement? Like Chomsky, Flapan is often cited by Arab and
other "anti-Zionist" propagandists. Like Chomsky, Flapan's
articles have appeared in journals hostile to Israel. But
Flappan's work has a certain inner integrity, and he likes
to tell us how he has come to know what he says he knows.
So he appends a little note at the end of his chapter on the
Revisionists:

Shortage of time did not allow me to look for and
peruse primary sources. Rather, I had to rely
mainly on personal recollections of events I have
lived through and experienced as a member of the
Zionist-Socialist Movement, Hashomer Hatzair ... I
have checked these recollections against the
official literature of the Revisionist Party.

Those with recollections of the Zionist youth movement some
forty years ago will remember, as Flapan does, that members
of Hashomer Hatzair would indeed refer to Betar as
"fascist," and that Betar knew how to return such
compliments with epithets of its own. What Flapan
remembers about such youthful name-calling tells at least as
much about Hashomer Hatzair as it does about Betar. Flapan
does not cite any direct source, Revisionist or otherwise,
for his assertion that even as many as "some" Betar members
admired Hitler. And if he had seen any praise of Hitler in
the "official literature of the Revisionist Party" we can be
sure that he would have cited it. He doesn't.

Flapan is loose about his charge but still stays within the
polemical style of 1930s youthful Zionism. Chomsky goes a
few steps further. He drops the crucial modifier "some;" he
projects back into the 1920's what Flapan describes about
the 1930's; he disregards the tenuous and hearsay nature of
this evidence. These steps, certainly beyond anything that
Marlen would have tried, now give Chomsky his proof that the
Jewish demonstrators in 1929 in Jerusalem were really like
Nazis.

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[ people/c/cohn.werner/partners-in-hate ]

The Nizkor Project


COHN -- Hidden Alliances | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
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