Recently I had lunch in a Delhi restaurant with one of our Indian readers, the philosopher and a sayid (that is a descendent of the Prophet) Professor Syed Zaidi. Zaidi was concerned with the 9/11 movement and with its investigations that apparently indicated involvement of some high-placed Jews. Even more he was concerned with the position of Professor Noam Chomsky, and he forwarded me a letter by Kevin Barrett (“Chomsky – Hero or Gatekeeper?”) and an article by our friend Professor James Petras who aired similar accusations. When I defended Noam, Zaidi wrote: “The general view of Chomsky is increasingly more harsh than your own. If you do feel he is after all not so bad, why not write about it. This is a topic, especially the role of gatekeeper, that deserves to be aired with your group. Frankly, I find views such as those of Petras, Jeff Blankfort and Kevin Barrett quite liberating, and I do believe that there is life beyond courtesy.” Here is my response.
Walking around town, we are sometimes accosted by well-meaning people who are greatly devoted to a cause. It can be a Kurdish refugee replete with blood-curdling photos of Turkish atrocities, or an Iranian émigré with a petition to sign, or, if we are lucky, it could be Mia Farrow asking us to condemn the Chinese. These good people do not take no for an answer. They grasp your buttonhole and keep it in their sweaty hands until you sign their petition or ask them rather impolitely to buzz off. Then they explode in a fury not unlike that of a woman scorned.
Such a thing happened to the great luminary Noam Chomsky. He was accosted by one Kevin Barrett, a 9/11 enthusiast, whom he tried to reason with politely, but was eventually forced to tell to get off. An infuriated Barrett published an acrimonious attack: “Chomsky, an anemic speaker with all the charisma of a garden slug, endlessly bashes the USA in a whiney voice, phrasing his criticism in terms that only the sectarian left will agree with. Chomsky’s boring, unpleasant style, and his obsessively anti-American argument, identifies anti-Empire with anti-American.”
What did Chomsky do to deserve this abuse? If one delves into Barrett’s tedious torrent of vituperation, one finds that his main objection to Chomsky is that the Boston Professor does not want to fight Barrett’s war for crediting Bush and Mossad with 9/11. And so he does not. Does he have to? Barrett tried to push Chomsky into immersing himself in the technicalities of 9/11 “Truth Movement” discourse, and refused to take no for an answer. You know these guys: anyone who does not agree with them is an agent of the Enemy. Chomsky did well to retort: “That’s a curious feature of the Truth Movement … the curious ‘with us or against us’ mentality that pervades much of the movement: either you accept our claims, or you’re a ‘left gatekeeper.’”
There is always a place for critique and argument — even against Chomsky, and I have had my go at that, too. However, there are some red lines we should try to observe in friendly critique, and this one was a crude ad hominem and paranoid attack. Barrett is similar to the holocaust-obsessed Jews (and their ‘denying’ counterparts) who need your confirmation of their narrative and do not let go of your buttonhole until you respond. Let Barrett fight this war himself, without Chomsky at his disposal. This is a free country, more or less. For instance, I do not deny or confirm holocausts and massacres. Peak Oil does not pique me overmuch. And as for 9/11 whodunit, I feel that the 911 Truth Movement of Barrett et al. trivializes the event, turning it into a successful insurance swindle. I wrote about the event, at the time it took place:
“The kamikaze could be practically anybody: American Nationalists, American Communists, American Fundamentalist Christians, American Anarchists, anybody who rejects the twin gods of the dollar and the M-16, who hates the stock market and interventions overseas, who dreams of America for Americans, who does not want to support the drive for world domination. They could be Native Americans returning to Manhattan, or Afro-Americans who still have not received compensation for slavery.
They could be foreigners of practically any extraction, as Wall Street and the Pentagon ruined many lives of people all over the globe. Germans can remember the fiery holocaust of Dresden with its hundreds of thousands of peaceful refugees incinerated by the US Air Force. The Japanese will not forget the nuclear holocaust of Hiroshima. The Arab world still feels the creeping holocaust of Iraq and Palestine. Russians and East Europeans feel the shame of Belgrade. Latin Americans think of American invasions of Panama and Granada, of destroyed Nicaragua and defoliated Colombia. Asians count their dead of Vietnam War, Cambodia bombings, Laos CIA operations in millions. Even a pro-American, Russian TV broadcaster could not refrain from saying, ‘now Americans begin to understand the feelings of Baghdad and Belgrade’.
The Riders could be anybody who lost his house to the bank, who was squeezed from his work and made permanently unemployed, who was declared an Untermench by the new Herrenvolk. They could be Russians, Malaysians, Mexicans, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Congolese, Brazilians, Vietnamese, as their economy was destroyed by Wall Street and the Pentagon. They could be anybody, and they are everybody. Their identity is quite irrelevant as their message is more important than their personalities, and their message is read loud and clear in the choice of targets.”
This was also the view of the late French thinker Jean Baudrillard: “In the end it was they who did it but we who wished it. If we do not take this into account, the event loses its symbolic dimension; it becomes a purely arbitrary act. . . (A)nd in their strategic symbolism the terrorists knew they could count on this unconfessable complicity.” He saw 9/11 as “arguably the most potent symbolic event since the crucifixion of Christ”, says Bradley Butterfield.
In other words, the act of 9/11 was by far too powerful of a symbol to give it away to the Enemy. Not in vain did people all over the world rejoice when this Mammon symbol collapsed. The knowledge that the Americans may be beaten on their home ground has comforted the innumerable victims of the Empire. I do not know who did it, but it was planned and executed by people of great spirit.
I can’t accept the Mossad and/or the Jews as the perpetrators of the 9/11, not because it is an antisemitic claim. My readers know that this consideration has never stopped me before. It’s the other way around: I consider it a deeply pro-Jewish claim implying that only Jews are capable of enterprises of great pith and moment, while others prefer to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and never take arms against a sea of troubles. In a way, the Jewish perpetration theory shows how far this belief in Jewish superiority has entered the hearts of Americans and of many Muslims: “if it was done and it did not flop, it’s got to be Jews”. We Israelis are more critical; we say “if it did not flop, it can’t be the Mossad”.
This does not mean that one has to subscribe to the 19 Osama warriors’ conspiracy as presented by US officialdom. Of many kamikaze attacks, that of 9/11 towers above the rest. It cannot be compared with any other, certainly not with any Islamic suicide attack. The assault on the very symbol of Mammon and at the heart of its military might was a great, paradigmatic event. It is easier to believe that this feat was done by avenging angels, by St Michael in person, rather than by five merry Mossad agents or by Bush and Cheney’s accomplices. It is easier to agree with Baudrillard that the Twin towers had committed suicide in order not to be outdone by the pilots, than it is with Barrett et al that it was done by crafty Jew Larry Silverstein in order to collect insurance.
Baudrillard spoke of people who “try everything to discredit their actions. Thus we call them “suicidal” and “martyrs,” and add immediately that such martyrdom does not prove anything. But such a moral argument can be reversed. If the voluntary martyrdom of kamikazes proves nothing, then the involuntary martyrdom of the victims cannot prove anything either, and there is something obscene in making it a moral argument.”
Unwillingly, Barrett and the Truth Movement are engaged in undermining and discrediting the supreme sacrifice of those who died to knock off the Towers. I understand Noam Chomsky, who did not want to support this effort. Nor did he want to uphold the arrogant American view of 9/11 as the worst lie and the most dreadful atrocity ever. Chomsky suggested that Barrett compare this lie with “the massacre of 4 million people in Indochina or the Reaganite terror, leaving some 200,000 tortured and mutilated bodies in Central America.”
“But qui bono?!” – I hear them calling. – “The Jews (call them Zionists, or Neocons, if you wish) profited from 9/11. Even Netanyahu said recently that 9/11 was good for Israel.”
There is no doubt that the Jews used 9/11 to its fullest extent; but they can make use of any event due to their media control. Be it a Mars landing, a victory over Germany, a defeat in Iraq, oil price rise or the dollar’s collapse – they can use it to their advantage. They do not have to fly to Mars, knock down the dollar – or the Twin Towers, themselves.
“In order to succeed, a terrorist needs dynamite and newspaper”, quipped a Jewish terrorist in 1901. In 2001, a hundred years later, a newspaper alone would suffice. With newspapers, or rather, with TV under one’s control, one can utilize others’ dynamite for one’s own benefit. One can expropriate others’ actions freely, even others’ supreme sacrifices. In such situations, qui bono? does not apply. Everything, even the most damning event will be turned for their benefit – as long as they will do the explaining.
Noam Chomsky does not fight the Truth Movement. Let these good people continue with their research of steel and concrete boiling points; let them accuse the administration, the CIA, the Jews and Mossad as much as they wish. Their struggle has some positive value: it undermines public trust in mainstream media and in good intentions of the authorities. They may try to understand that their position is not the only one possible: others may actually approve of the attack, or consider it of little importance, or just have other fish to fry.
People attach the “left gatekeeper” label to anybody who does not agree with them with great ease; but this pertinent expression should be used against pundits who fight us, not against allies and neutrals.
Our friend Jim Petras had unleashed such philippics against Chomsky: “Noam Chomsky has long been one of the great obfuscators of AIPAC and the existence of Zionist power over US Middle East policy… To continue to masquerade as ‘war critics’ while ignoring the central role of the Zionist Power Configuration makes pundits like Chomsky, Moyers and Powers and their acolytes irrelevant to the anti-war struggle. They are part of the problem, not part of the solution.”
Petras also wants Chomsky to fight his war, that is the war against Jewish establishment (he calls it ‘Zionist Power Configuration’). Yes, it would be nice, but then, Petras won’t be needed. Instead of seeing Noam Chomsky as an enemy (“part of the problem”), it is better to view him as an important ally covering an important part of the battle line. He does not cover all, he does not go to places Petras or I go, but he does not stop us from going. That is why it is ridiculous to call him “left gatekeeper”, as he keeps no gate locked.
We have many points of disagreement with Noam Chomsky. To mention a few:
(1) He supports the obsolete idea of Two States in Israel/Palestine and thus of preserving the Jewish state, while we call to undo it and replace it with One state where Jews are equal rather than superior.
(2) He considers the American support of Israel being derived from “the imperial interests”, (‘Chomsky thesis’: “Israel is good for true imperial interests of the US elites, and the Jewish Lobby is powerful exactly because its line coincides with these interests of elites”) while we think that this support is caused by the commanding heights the Jews occupy in the US discourse.
We argued for our views and against his, sine ira et studio, in many articles, both our own and those of other writers published on our site or circulated. My essay Fiesta of St. FerminRNR (included in the book The Galilee Flowers) dealt and debunked the Chomsky thesis in 2001. It caused very interesting polemics. I discussed it with Chomsky. In Spider Web, we brought up the polemics of Noah Cohen who called Chomsky’s position on Palestine “Apologetics for Injustice”. We published Jeffrey Blankfort’s ‘The Israel Lobby and the Left: Uneasy Questions’ and ‘The Chomsky/Blankfort Polemic. W e published a very censorious article by Bob Finch, who described Noam Chomsky as “the chief Rabbi of the left who absolves the Jewish state of guilt and responsibility for its apartheid regime and its military belligerence against neighbouring countries.” We published harsh critique of Chomsky’s views qua the Lobby by Pappe, Blankfort and Petras in Contra Chomsky and by Mazin Qumsiyeh., see also Chomsky under Fire.
Despite many, many attacks on him, Chomsky never responded in kind. He always remained polite, even courteous. He had never ever blocked a publication. He is going his way and let us respect it. Light infantry and heavy artillery have different modes of operation. Chomsky is our heavy cannon, while Petras or Gilad Atzmon or Israel Shamir, we are light scouts, the reconnaissance unit. We should go further than he does, but he is our fallback. Let us cherish this man and his activity.
The bottom line was editorialized by Ian Buckley in his In Defence of Shamir .. and Chomsky
“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. 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. After a reading of Chomsky, you are inoculated for good against the foetid netherworld of the mainstream media. 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.”