Webber fact-checks Chomsky

Mitch Webber is a third-year student at Harvard Law School and a research assistant for Alan Dershowitz. Mitch heard that the Harvard Crimson was working on an editorial about the Dershowitz-Chomsky debate that will be broadcast on C-SPAN tonight and wrote the paper’s editors. Mitch’s (slightly revised) message to the Crimson was as follows:

Considering The Crimson’s current anti-Dershowitz slant and general disregard for facts in stories concerning Dershowitz, I thought I should offer my assistance.

I’m working on compiling a list of verifiably false remarks that Chomsky made at the debate on Tuesday. Please note, I’m distinguishing objective factual errors from Chomsky’s run-of-the-mill ludicrous theories about US-Israeli “rejectionism,” media conspiracies of silence, and nefarious plots to destroy Iran. For example, I’m not including Chomsky’s support for this comment including Ronald Reagan among “an iconic group of mass murderers — from Hitler to Idi Amin to [Shimon] Peres.” That’s a matter of opinion, no matter how outrageous. I’ll stick to the facts.

1. Contrary to the writings of former President Clinton, Dennis Ross, and former PM Barak, Chomsky, on at least five occasions, made the “Bantustan” accusation. In doing so, he (1) falsely claims that Israel never offered Arafat contiguous territory in the West Bank, while at the same time (2) comparing Israel to Apartheid South Africa.

(As published maps from Camp David show, Israel agreed at Camp David to establishing a Palestinian state on 100% of Gaza and a contiguous 92% of the West Bank. A few months later, Israel agreed to cede a full 97% of the occupied territories to a Palestinian state.)

2. Chomsky cited as his primary source for the Bantustan accusation an article written by Ron Pundak. From what I can find, Pundak never made any such “Bantustan” or “non-contiguous” accusation against Israel. (He used the word “Bantustan” in the article to refer to the temporary autonomous Area A and B regions under Oslo. It had nothing to do with American and Israeli offers at Camp David and the December 2000 Clinton Parameters.)

3. Chomsky claimed that Egypt offered Israel a genuine “full peace” in 1971, which Israel rejected and to which it responded with belligerencies, ultimately causing the 1973 war. (It didn’t.)

4. Chomsky claimed that Arafat agreed to the Clinton Parameters. (Israel accepted; Arafat refused.)

5. Chomsky said that “[b]oth sides, of course, rejected Resolution 242.” (Do I even have to say that Israel accepted, while Arab nations and Palestinian organizations unanimously rejected 242?)

6. Chomsky claimed that he had not, only a moment earlier, claimed that Cuba has a better human rights record that Israel. (Dershowitz challenged Chomsky to name a single country, facing similar external or terrorist threats, that maintained greater devotion to the rule of law and human rights. Chomsky named Nicaragua and Cuba.)

7. On at least three occasions Chomsky made the especially bizarre claim that he has supported a two-state solution since the early ’70s, while Dershowitz has only recently and grudgingly accepted Palestinians’ right to self-determination. (Dershowitz and Chomsky debated in 1973 on this very issue. Dershowitz advocated a two-state solution. Chomsky railed against there being a Jewish state, arguing in favor of a single-state modeled after Lebanon and Yugoslavia. In his writings, Chomsky has made the exact same argument.)

I haven’t finished checking Chomsky’s “sources” yet, but you’re welcome to what I have on these points. I’d also be happy to provide you with pages of Chomsky quotations on Israeli “concentration camps,” Holocaust-deniers, and Jews. My personal favorite: “The Jewish community here is deeply totalitarian. They do not want democracy, they do not want freedom.” Dershowitz refused to bring these points up during the debate, deciding to constructively focus on the issue of peace instead of attacking Chomsky personally for his apparent hostility toward Jews. If you find it relevant, though, this Dershowitz article might also help with your editorial.

Also, I think it’s important to stress the tone of the debate. Dershowitz offered a Peace Treaty for Academics (which The Crimson news story missed), according to which he and Chomsky would promise to help temper the community discussion by outsiders who vilify and demonize either Israelis or Palestinians. He proposed creative solutions to the conflict, recognized the crimes that both sides have committed, and asked that men and women of goodwill press for a practical peace. Chomsky, in turn, spent every moment of his speaking time doing precisely the opposite — vilifying and demonizing the US and Israel, refusing to recognize any violence against Israelis or one iota of blame on the part of Palestinians or Arabs for the conflict. This was not a debate between a pro-Israel speaker and an anti-Israel speaker. It was a debate between a man who is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine, against a man who will mischaracterize or invent any fact, no matter how silly, in order to undermine the Jewish state’s very right to exist. Please don’t be lulled into a journalistically comfortable but false “balance.” Chomsky’s blatant lies, hate, and destructiveness should not be afforded equal standing alongside Dershowitz’s fastidious honesty, tolerance, moderation, and optimism.

I’m exasperated. Against the dozens of professors who regularly lecture at their own schools and elsewhere that Israel is no better than Nazi Germany and should be abolished, it’s a shame that The Crimson has decided to join the defamatory campaign against the single professor in the entire country (that’s no exaggeration) who gives talks on the modest proposition that Israel ought to exist, even though it, like all other nations, could do a lot better. I hope you’ll at least make an effort to give Dershowitz a fairer shake than your editorial and news staff have recently done.

Mitch writes to emphasize that he wrote the message to the Crimson without the knowledge or consent of Dershowitz, and to advise that the Crimson has decided against running an editorial on the debate.

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