Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky on “The Case for a Secular New Jerusalem”, July 2007:

Dear Ofra,

Just managed to read the chapters you sent.  Poignant and painful.  Even personally.  The early days are a large part of my childhood, including the dreams and illusions — though the post-Oslo euphoria seemed to me to have been based on a willingness to look the other way, from the the start.  By everyone.  Don’t know whether he’ll recall, but in November 1993 Azmi Bishara passed through Boston, and we both spoke at a teach-in on the Oslo agreement, about which I had written very critically, and spoke the same way.  We went out for a cup of coffee afterwards and he told me that he didn’t disagree, but if I’d given that talk in Ramallah I’d have been lynched — symbolically of course.  One of the few people I knew well who agreed was Ed Said.

I wish I could share your optimism.



About the book
by Noam Chomsky

In 1947, when the Truman administration was considering its stance towards the Palestine mandate that Britain was abandoning, the State Department’s senior intelligence official, William Eddy, warned that partition “would only intensify support for Zionist expansion” and would represent “an endorsement of a theocratic sovereign state characteristic of the Dark Ages.” For those familiar with the Jewish community in Palestine and its ideological roots, the first prediction might have seemed reasonable enough, but the second an outlandish prospect for the secular socialist idealistic society that had taken root.  Both evocative memoir and sober analysis, Ofra Yeshua-Lyth’s penetrating study reveals that Eddy’s grim prediction is not the fantasy it might once have seemed.   She reviews the painful course by which the chains of religious orthodoxy from which the early Zionists sought to escape have become “hanging cords,” as “Israeli Jews accept life in a homemade trap” constructed from the dedication to expansionism and religious-nationalist domination that shatters aspirations for democracy and enlightenment.  These might yet become more than mocking words, she suggests, but not without a willingness to face honestly the internal contradiction in the concept of a “democratic Jewish state.”

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