Noam Chomsky’s Support for Hezbollah

On May 8, 2006, MIT Professor Noam Chomsky began an eight-day visit to Lebanon where met with leaders of the terrorist organization Hezbollah . Chomsky received a hero’s welcome and effectively acted as a propagandist for the terrorist group as he repeated much of its rhetoric and lies on Lebanese television, including Hezbollah’s own Al Manar TV.

Chomsky expressed support for the arming of Hezbollah, in direct contradiction to UN Security Council Resolution 1559 calliing for “the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias”:

Hezbollah’s insistence on keeping its arms is justified… I think [Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan] Nasrallah has a reasoned argument and [a] persuasive argument that they [the arms] should be in the hands of Hezbollah as a deterrent to potential aggression, and there is plenty of background reasons for that. So until – I think his position [is] reporting it correctly and it seems to me [a] reasonable position, is that until there is a general political settlement in the region, [and] the threat of aggression and violence is reduced or eliminated, there has to be a deterrent, and the Lebanese army can’t be a deterrent. (Noam Chomsky, Al Manar TV, 13 May 2006) 

At the time, Chomsky’s comment drew criticism from commentators in the Arab world who pointed out that, “Most Lebanese are against the Hezbollah arms…the Hezbollah arms scare the Lebanese people more than the Israelis.” (Ali Hussein, “Chomsky needs to learn a lot more about Lebanon,” Ya Libnan, May 13, 2006.) But Chomsky’s zeal in defending a terrorist organization that shares his own anti-American and anti-Israel sentiments outweighed any thought as to the practical implications for the wider Arab public.

Little more than a month after Chomsky left Lebanon, Hezbollah has used its arms to launch an unprovoked attack on Israel, seriously destabilizing the Middle East. With Hezbollah’s invasion of Israel’s sovereign territory, kidnapping of two soldiers, and raining of missiles into Israeli cities, Chomsky told Pacifica radio show host Amy Goodman that he hopes the terrorist group’s actions can yield results. He weakly criticized Hezbollah’s kidnapping of soldiers as “irresponsible,” but only because, he said, it has exposed the Lebanese to “terror.” According to Chomsky:

It’s a … very irresponsible act. It subjects Lebanese to possible – certainly to plenty of terror and possible extreme disaster. Whether it can achieve any result, either in the secondary question of freeing prisoners or the primary question of some form of solidarity with the people of Gaza, I hope so, but I wouldn’t rank the probabilities very high.” [emphasis added] (Democracy Now, Pacifica Radio, July 14, 2006) 

Judge Richard Posner has written that “a successful academic may be able to use his success to reach the general public on matters about which he is an idiot” (Richard A. Posner, Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002). Noam Chomsky’s recent visit to Lebanon and his support for that terror organization as it wages a war in the Middle East is a case in point. Chomsky is widely recognized for his accomplishments as a theoretical linguist, and he has become a deeply influential intellectual. A poll by the magazine New Statesman ranked Chomsky #7 on a list of “Heroes of our Time,” ( Jason Cowley, “Heroes of our time,” New Statesman, May 22, 2006) and a joint poll by Prospect and Foreign Policy declared him the world’s top public intellectual.  According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar between 1980 and 1992. The professor has used the recognition gained for his linguistic scholarship to become one of the most outspoken critics of American foreign policy, despite his lack of training or academic pedigree in any field related to politics or international relations.

But there is a significant and qualitative difference between being an outspoken critic of one’s government and supporting and embracing a terrorist organization that plots that government’s destruction. Hezbollah and/or its armed wing is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, the U.K., Canada, Israel, Australia, and the Netherlands. Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has frequently called for the destruction of the U.S. and Israel, and from time to time has personally led mobs in chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

Even before its latest aggression, Hezbollah was responsible for murderous attacks on Israelis, rival Lebanese, and Americans, most notably the 1983 Marine barracks bombing that killed 241 American servicemen (Carol D. Leonnig, “Damages Awarded in Beirut Bombing,” The Washington Post, 9 Sept. 2003.). According to the U.S. Treasury Department:

Until September 11,2001, Hezbollah was responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist organization. Hezbollah is known or suspected to have been involved in numerous terrorist attacks throughout the world, including the suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marins Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984. Hezbollah also executed the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 en route from Athens to Rome and assumed responsibility for the suicide bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina in 1992….

Hezbollah was also responsible for the 1994 bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 Jews. Yet Chomsky insisted in his 1994 book, World Orders Old and New, that Hezbollah was not a terrorist organization at all. Similarly, Chomsky maintained in his book that Hamas, an organization that has carried out numerous attacks against civilians in its stated goal of eliminating the Jewish State, is not a terrorist organization. (Noam Chomsky, World Orders Old and New New York: Columbia University Press, 1994, pp. 228-229.)

Despite being born to Jewish parents himself, Chomsky embraces Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who calls Jews the “grandsons of apes and pigs.” The ideology of Hezbollah, which is rooted in the group’s fundamentalist and anti-Semitic interpretation of Islam, has been described as the “direct ideological heir of the Nazis” ( Jeffrey Goldberg, “In the Party of God,” The New Yorker, 14 Oct. 2002.). Affinity for such extreme Jew-haters is nothing new for Chomsky; he has well-documented connections to European neo-Nazi groups and Holocaust deniers on both the right and left (See Werner Cohn, Partners in Hate: Noam Chomsky and the Holocaust Deniers, Cambridge:Avukah Press, 1995).

Chomsky’s statements and actions typify what David Horowitz terms “the unholy alliance between Islamic extremists and secular radicals in the West.”(David Horowitz, “Noam Chomsky’s Love Affair with Nazis,” Front Page Magazine, 15 May 2006.) As writer Tzvi Fleischer observed:

Philosophically, of course, anarcho-socialist Chomsky has almost nothing in common with Hezbollah, which seeks to establish an Iranian style theocracy dominated by coercive enforcement of sharia religious law. He wouldn’t be caught dead supporting a Christian group with the same violent theocratic tendencies. But as Chomsky and many on the far Left have demonstrated many times, for them, anti-Americanism trumps everything else.” (Tzvi Fleischer, “The far Left and radical Islamist international alliance,” The Australian, 8 June 2006.)

Indeed, Chomsky describes the United States as “one of the leading terrorist states,”and claims that the attacks of September 11th, 2001 pale in comparison to the terror that he suggests America perpetrated during the 1973 Allende coup in Chile ( Noam Chomsky, television interview, Lebanon Broadcasting Corporation TV (Lebanon), 23 May 2006).

Noam Chomsky’s decades of promoting virulent anti-American and anti-Israeli propaganda have been dismissed by his supporters as simple “eccentricity,” but they in fact represent something far more damaging. Chomsky has used the influence granted him as a prominent linguist to support militant organizations and murderous dictatorships, including not only Hezbollah and Hamas, but also the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia. Chomsky’s advocacy for these groups is truly dangerous, for he minimizes the atrocities and murders that they have committed in an effort to whitewash them while implicating those he perpetually paints as the guilty parties—the United States and Israel. Chomsky’s selective use of history and frequent use of lies to advance the agenda of terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas is among the most shameful and incendiary behavior ever undertaken by an American academic.

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