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Abba Eban Said Chomsky Was ‘Guilty’ Over Jews’ Refusal to Disappear

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 11 Comments

A couple weeks back, I mentioned Noam Chomsky’s assertion that the
smear of Jews who criticize Israel as being "self hating" originated in 1973 in
comments by Abba Eban in an American Jewish Congress publication. I looked up that old magazine (Congress Bi-Weekly) and Eban’s complete statement was right where the MIT scholar said it would be.

Eban began by putting the new left position on Israel in a historical context: 

Throughout the 19th
century, the revolutionary left literature is full of invidious remarks about
the Jewish insistence on self-affirmation and survival. The assumption was that in a free national
society there would be no room for the maintenance of Jewish
particularism. It was assumed that the destiny and duty of
Jews was to disappear in the universal utopia. When Zionism came on the scene as the product not only of specific
currents in Judaism but also of European nationalism, the phrase
nationalism no longer had about it the fine glow that it possessed in the days
of Garibaldi… recently we have witnessed the rise of the new left which
identifies Israel with the establishment, with acquisition, with smug
satisfaction, with, in fact, all the basic enemies… Let there be no mistake: the new left is the
author and the progenitor of the new anti-Semitism. One of
the chief tasks of any dialogue with the Gentile world is to prove that the
distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is not a distinction at all.
Anti-Zionism is merely the new
anti-Semitism. The old classic
anti-Semitism declared that equal rights belong to all individuals within the
society, except the Jews. The new
anti-Semitism says that the right to establish and maintain an independent
national sovereign state is the prerogative of all nations, so long as they
happen not to be Jewish. And when this
right is exercised not by the Maldive
Islands, not by the state of Gabon,
not by Barbados…
but by the oldest and most authentic of all nationhoods, then this is said to
be exclusivism, particularism, and a flight of the Jewish people from its
universal mission.

I do not believe that any argument however sophisticated, can
probably change the convictions of Noam Chomsky or of I.F. Stone, whose basic
complex is one of guilt about Jewish survival. They feel themselves associated with our unpardonable audacity at not
having been destroyed or eclipsed or, more accurately, at not having been
merged into some homogenized universalist utopia.

A couple comments. This is a nationalist screed, from a great polemicist. And how interesting that Eban’s concern with lecturing the gentile world about anti-Zionism has morphed, 30 years on, to the need to lecture the progressive Jewish world! For Eban’s equation– Anti-Zionism=Anti-Semitism– was the theme of the American Jewish Committee’s shameful report on Jewish progressives last December. I.e., Chomsky now has a lot of company. All these efforts speak to a misbegotten program of organized, Jewish life: Jewish identity is officially defined as involving, at its core, support for Israel. 

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11 Responses

  1. TheJeebus
    TheJeebus
    December 4, 2014, 12:32 pm

    If that’s all there is in that article, it sort of discredits Chomsky, since he has misrepresented it pretty substantially.
    On several occasions he’s said that the article gives 2 tasks to the American Jewish community (no mention of any tasks) and that anti-zionist criticism coming from other Jews they should be labeled neurotic and self-hating, requiring psychiatric treatment. None of that appears anywhere in what’s pasted.

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