I watched the debate between Alan Dershowitz and Noam Chomsky on “ISRAEL & PALESTINE AFTER DISENGAGEMENT: Where Do We Go From Here?”, held tonight at Harvard’s Kennedy School. The streaming video should soon be archived here. The upshot is that the event lived up to its billing, as Dershowitz, armed with maps, pulled no punches in challenging Chomsky. What came across in the debate was the contrast between Dershowitz, who is optimistic for the prospects of a peaceful two-state solution, as outlined in his new book The Case For Peace, and Chomsky, who doesn’t think Israel is capable of agreeing to any plan that would be realistic for Palestinians.
It’s inconceivable to me how anybody can watch this debate and take anything Chomsky says seriously. Any source that contradicts his viewpoint he dismisses as suspect, and as Dershowitz pointed out, whoever he quotes in support of his theories he identifies as a “?leading scholar.” The average member of the audience isn’t going to take the time to track down every obscure source Chomsky cites, and when asked why his theories were not more widely reported, he talks of a media cover-up.
One good example of this related to the collapse of the 2000 peace process. Dershowitz laid the blame squarely on Arafat for the rejection of a two-state solution, but Chomsky blamed Israel. Dershowitz cited statements by U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross and Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia as well as private conversations with Bill Clinton to back up his claim. Chomsky said anything coming from Dennis Ross should be disregarded, and cited Ron Pundak, the director of the Shimon Peres Center for Peace as the “?leading scholar” on the issue.
When Dershowitz said that Dennis Ross should be considered reliable, because he was at Camp David in 2000, Chomsky said that Pundak was there too. Chomsky held his ground on this point, even after a questioner from the audience challenged him. Chomsky’s assertion that Pundak was at Camp David is contradicted by this biography of Pundak, from the official Website of the Shimon Peres Center for Peace. As the questioner rightly told Chomsky, Pundak was involved in the Oslo process in 1993, but, at least according to this official bio, he was not at Camp David. If anybody else out there has contrary evidence, I’d love to hear it.
Another great point came when Dershowitz asked what country facing a similar terrorist threat to Israel had used preemptive action with better discretion. Chomsky cited Nicaragua and Cuba, for showing so much restraint in the face of terrorism carried out by the U.S. Chomsky then had the nerve to cite Iran, because Israel and the U.S. are threatening Iran with destruction. Hello Noam! It was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who recently called for Israel to be “?wiped off the map.” As my evidence, I cite this story from Al Jazeera. Even Chomsky would have a tough time dismissing Al Jazeera as American/Zionist propaganda.
It would be great if we could just laugh at Chomsky. But unfortunately, he is more responsible than any living intellectual for brainwashing college students against Israel (and America). I have often wondered what the appeal of Chomsky is, and have concluded that it comes down to the fact that he makes impressionable people think that he’s letting them in on secrets. To his followers, Chomsky is like Morpheus in “?The Matrix,” offering people a red pill that will allow them to see beyond the world surrounding them and uncover hidden truths.
Or, as Dershowitz put it, “?In order to get the truth, you have to go to Planet Chomsky.” (This is not an exact quote since a transcript is not available at this time).