Preface, Cohn Werner

Preface to the 1995 Edition

Avram Noam Chomsky, a famous linguist at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, is known for his left-wing
politics. It is the gravamen of this book, however, that
these politics derive as much from the extreme right wing —
particularly right-wing anti-Semitism — as from the
rhetoric of the American Left.

In March of 1989, not long after the appearance of the first
edition of this book, A. M. Rosenthal of the _New York Times_
wrote a column to mark the tenth anniversary of the Israeli-
Egyptian peace treaty. The column was generally favorable
to Israel, although he also chided Israel for what he called
its “historical error — the refusal to recognize the
reality of the Palestinian people and passion.”

One of Rosenthal’s points was that Jordan is a Palestinian
state (Jordan’s territory is situated in the original
British mandate of Palestine), and Rosenthal opposed the
creation of a second Palestinian state in this territory.
This was enough to once again provoke Noam Chomsky’s
legendary bile. He wrote:

We might ask how the Times would react to an Arab claim
that the Jews do not merit a “second homeland” because
they already have New York, with a huge Jewish
population, Jewish-run media, a Jewish mayor, and
domination of cultural and economic life.<1>

As it happened, Rosenthal did not use either the words or
the concept of a “second homeland.” Nonetheless, Chomsky
saw fit to put these words between quotation marks to
attribute them to Rosenthal. Chomsky habitually, as we
shall see in the body of this book, misrepresents the
writings of others. But let that pass for the moment.

What is actually most noteworthy in this passage is
Chomsky’s unpleasant tone about the Jews of New York and the
fact that his malice does not conform to familiar “anti-
Zionist” left-wing doctrines. Chomsky’s target here is very
simply Jews, without any pretense whatever about being “anti-

When Chomsky wrote these words, there was indeed a Jewish
mayor in New York, and a large Jewish population. There
were Jews in the media on all levels. There were also many
Jews in cultural and economic pursuits in New York. These
facts are not in dispute.

But what are “Jewish-run media?” What is meant by a Jewish
“domination of cultural and economic life?” These hateful
expressions are staples of traditional anti-Semitism. They
suggest that Jews do not act as individuals but only as
agents of a larger Jewish cabal. The anti-Semitic
propagandist says that Jewish artists and business men and
journalists do not pursue such professions as other men
would. No, to him such Jewish men and women are “running”
the media, “dominating” culture and the economy, all in
their capacity as Jews, all for the sake of a Jewish design.

But wait a minute. Is it Chomsky himself who makes these
anti-Semitic allegations? Or is it some unnamed anti-
Semitic Arab? Chomsky does not say. Nor is he explicit,
assuming that it isn’t he but rather his hypothetical Arab
who is speaking, in telling us whether he would regard the
accusations as justified.

But what he fails to do explicitly he does by indirection.
By mixing legitimate facts with allegations of “running”
media and “dominating” culture, all in the same sentence and
in the same tone, he endorses and justifies the anti-Semitic
assertions. And he does all this without taking direct
responsibility. Chomsky, as always, is — what is the word
— clever.

Actually we have here a fine example of the well-known
Chomskyan method of devious ambiguity. He says the anti-
Semitic thing by very clear implication, and then, with the
wink of complicity to his neo-Nazi following that we shall
encounter again, there is a built-in explanation of it all
to his left-wing following: it is not I who would ever say
such a thing, not I at all, but how can I help it if an
oppressed Arab makes such interesting observations?

Hidden from tourists and from most of its citizens, the
fringes of Israeli society harbor a fair number of babblers,
seers, zealots, and other assorted know-alls. Such people
are of interest mainly to social scientists and journalists
who make a living describing the quaint and the curious.
Ordinary Israelis merely shrug a shoulder: surely Jews, like
everyone else, are entitled to a quota of maniacs.

But even in Israel, tolerant as it is of the eccentric and
the deranged, the case of Israel Shahak gives pause.
Without a question, he is the world’s most conspicuous
Jewish anti-Semite. His specialty, moreover, is quite rare
these days even among non-Jewish anti-Semites; quite rare,
that is, since the demise of the Nazis. Like the Nazis
before him, Shahak specializes in defaming the Talmud. In
fact, he has made it his life’s work to popularize the anti-
Talmud ruminations of the 18th century German anti-Semite,
Johann Eisenmenger.<2>

Now a retired chemist, Shahak travels the world to propound
a simple thesis: Jews (with only a rare exception — guess
who that might be) are evil. The Talmud teaches them to be
criminal, and Zionism compounds the evil. Naturally, Shahak
is an active, enthusiastic supporter of the most militant
Arab terrorists.

Shahak’s most recent tract, Jewish History, Jewish Religion
(London and Boulder, Colorado, 1994) demands that Jews
repent of their own sins and of the sins of their
forefathers. First of all, says Shahak, Jews should now
applaud, retroactively, the “popular anti-Jewish
manifestations of the past,” for instance the Chmielnicki
massacres of 17th century Ukraine. These were “progressive”
uprisings, according to Shahak.

Concerning the Jews of our day, Shahak reveals that “Jewish
children are actually taught” to utter a ritual curse when
passing a non-Jewish cemetery. Moreover, he tells us, “both
before and after a meal, a pious Jew ritually washes his
hands….On one of these two occasions he is worshipping
God… but on the other he is worshipping Satan.”

On its own, being so hopelessly crackpot, Jewish History,
Jewish Religion would hardly find enough buyers to pay for
its printing. But this little booklet is not on its own.
It has a foreword by a famous writer, Gore Vidal, who tells
us that he, Vidal, is not himself an anti-Semite. And it
carries an enthusiastic endorsement, right on its cover, by
Noam Chomsky. Says Chomsky: “Shahak is an outstanding
scholar, with remarkable insight and depth of knowledge.
His work is informed and penetrating, a contribution of
great value.”<3>

So that is how scholarship is judged these days at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Since the present book first appeared in 1988, there have
been a number of other works, on Holocaust-denial and
related subjects, that have been critical of Chomsky. But
on the whole I have not found these discussions fully
satisfactory. These authors have mentioned some of the more
conspicuous examples of Chomsky’s outrageous behavior
without coming to grips with what I would regard as the
underlying problem of the Chomsky phenomenon.

As this book will document in detail, Chomsky gave his name
in support of Robert Faurisson, the well-known French neo-
Nazi Holocaust denier. He has published in the neo-Nazi’s
journal. He went out of his way to have his books published
by French neo-Nazis. He has promoted the anti-Semitic idea
that the Jewish religion is basically anti-social.

Nevertheless, the tenor of Chomsky criticism, as that of
Chomsky admiration, has been to stress the image of Chomsky
as a partisan of the political Left. Chomsky’s use of anti-
Semitic rhetoric — often not at all veiled by “anti-
Zionism” — has by and large been ignored by his critics and
sympathizers alike. (His handful of fully initiated
followers, of course, are another matter).

How can we account for this negligence?

First, there is Chomsky’s well-known deviousness, which we
observed in his commentary on Rosenthal’s writing. But that
alone could hardly have misled the knowledgeable and
sophisticated authors who have written about him (although
it may indeed have played a part in certain instances).

Second there is the obscurity of much of the Chomsky
publication enterprise. Some of his most malicious
pronouncements have been reported in very small ultra-
leftist and neo-Nazi publications, and often in French, thus
remaining hidden from the general American reader.<4> The
single most revealing description of his intimate
involvement with the neo-Nazis was written in French by
Chomsky’s neo-Nazi associate, Pierre Guillaume, and was
published by a very obscure neo-Nazi publisher in Paris. (I
report on this essay in some detail — on pages xx-xx —
and I ask the reader to pay particular attention to it).

But, on the other hand, Chomsky has also made blatantly anti-
Semitic statements, for instance his talk of “genocidal”
teachings in the Jewish religion, in The Fateful Triangle,
an accessible and widely-reviewed book.

In other words, Chomsky’s famous ability to obfuscate and
the obscurity of most of his publications can only partially
explain why his neo-Nazi involvements have escaped wide-
spread criticism.

In my view there has been a more fundamental obstacle to an
understanding of the Chomsky phenomenon. I think that there
is a persisting state of mind that divides the political
world into “left” versus “right” and sees the “Left” as
essentially incapable of primitive Jew-baiting. Even
sophisticated writers can occasionally fall into this trap.

All informed people, of course, know that there has been an
anti-Semitism of the Left. Recently often disguised as
“anti-Zionism,” left anti-Semitism has a history that goes
back well into the nineteenth century.<5> Most recently is
was propagated by the Soviet Union as long as it existed, by
the splinter grouplets of the Left, and, not least, by the
political propaganda of left-liberal Protestant
Christianity.<6> But the rhetorical style has typically been
different from the anti-Semitism of the Right. Where the
latter was generally couched in racist or religious terms,
identifying itself with chauvinist and xenophobic
prejudices, the Left tended to use a Marxist, left-wing,
humanistic vocabulary.

This difference in rhetoric has led to the false assumption
that Left and Right are ideologically and socially
incompatible, and that the two anti-Semitisms — the left
and the right — similarly preclude one another.

Consequently it is mistakenly taken for granted that a
proponent of left-wing ideas cannot possibly be involved
with old-fashioned Jew-baiting. Chomsky’s most
characteristic stance — that of the left-wing gladiator
battling “Zionism” — turned out to be a very effective
cover for him.


Benito Mussolini began his political life as a left-wing
revolutionary socialist. When he founded Fascism, he
abandoned neither the methods nor the doctrines of his early
anti- “bourgeois” resentments. Similarly, Hitler’s
revolution, “national socialism” in its self-description,
used the methods, ideology, and personnel of left-wing
radicals. In many parts of pre-war Europe, individual
Communists, Nazis, and anarchists, brawling with one another
in the streets like Crips and Bloods,<7> nevertheless found it
easy to move from one camp to the other as occasion

The basic common ground of this Left-cum-Right, ultra-
radical demimonde consisted of anti-Semitism, the worship of
violence, and unrestrained mendacity, in short, a rejection
of bourgeois respectability. These elements have fashioned
a certain milieu that has persisted to our day.

Today’s sects that openly declare themselves both Nazi and
left wing — the “National Bolsheviks” of Europe, for
instance, or the Third Position people in France and Italy
–remain obscure and hidden from readers of the mainstream
press.<9> Such obscurity has also enveloped La Vieille Taupe
(to be described in this book), Chomsky’s main transmission
belt to the neo-Nazis. But while this milieu has often been
concealed, especially in the post-war years, it occasionally
does emerge and then gains public attention. When it does,
it is virulent, much like the cholera. We think for a time
that we have conquered it when we don’t see it; but the
vibrio persists hidden, ready to cause an epidemic when
circumstances allow.

After the Six Day War of 1967 the Soviet Union broke
diplomatic relations with Israel and the international
Communist movement embarked on a bitter propaganda campaign
against the Jewish state. In the course of this Communist
crusade, the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism was
deliberately blurred. Anti-Stalinist Communists like the
Trotskyists went further. Eager to outbid the Moscow-
dominated movement, they began to use anti-Semitic language
heretofore restricted to the radical Right: the Jews of
Israel (not just the “capitalists” among them) were now an
“oppressor nation;” Jews worldwide were depicted as a caste
of “usurers.”<10> (As we shall see, it was the anti-Stalinist
extreme Left from whom Chomsky first learned his politics.)

But such fringe movements are hardly noticed by the public.
It took certain notorious individuals to obtain substantial
publicity, and this despite the generally fanciful,
outrageous, and ridiculous nature of their public
statements. These people were able to exploit a prominence
or notoriety that came to them fortuitously. There are a
number of such individuals, but, not counting Chomsky
himself, the best known might well be Jacques Verges.

Verges is a French lawyer of mixed French-Vietnamese
parentage, a former member of the Communist Party, later
active in the New Left. He came to worldwide attention
about ten years ago when he acted as defense lawyer for
Klaus Barbie, a Nazi official in Lyon during the Occupation
who was eventually convicted, in Lyon, of multiple murder.<11>
Marcel Ophuls’ remarkable documentary _Hotel Terminus_
provides more than a few revealing insights into Maitre
Verges’ character and activities.

Verges, like Chomsky, is still counted as a prominent man of
the Left. He is active in the worldwide movement against
the United States and Western democracies. He agitated
against the French war in Algeria. He is vehemently on the
side of Arab terrorists, both as defense lawyer and
propagandist. At the same time he is also active in the
network of Nazi recalcitrants and the neo-Nazi movement.
According to Erna Paris, author of the book Unhealed Wounds,
Verges was initiated into the Nazi network by Francois
Genoud, a Swiss Nazi financier whose resources apparently
derive from Jewish money that was stolen during the war by
the Nazis. It is Genoud’s funds that probably financed the
Barbie defense, as well as various Arab terrorist groups.
Paris says that Genoud “personifies a hybrid of ultra-Left
and neo-Nazi extremism …. One might even say he created
the type.”<12>

Verges conducted Barbie’s defense by staging a combination
of street theater and burlesque. He asserted that the true
war criminals were not the Nazis during the Second World
War; no, the true criminals are the Jews, the Jews both
during the war and now as Zionists, and also the French
Resistance during the war. Furthermore, the government of
France is guilty because of its Algerian war and similar
offenses. For such reasons, said Verges, Barbie should be
acquitted. The Lyon court disagreed, to be sure, but not
before Verges had gained worldwide publicity for himself and
for his ideology of the absurd.

In the summer of 1994, Verges was once more in the news.
Once again his striking, exotic face, familiar to us from
the movie _Hotel Terminus_, seems to mock us with its
characteristic superior smile. This time Maitre Verges
represents the famous “Carlos” (Ilich Ramirez Sanchez),
accused in Paris of numerous murders on behalf of Arab
terrorist groups. But now there are also reports of East
German government records that implicate Verges himself as a
member of terrorist organizations.<13>

Verges and Chomsky share a common political program and a
common style of violence and vituperation. They are anti-
Israel without restraint. While they work with the Left in
opposition to Western democracy, and in fact depend heavily
on Left support, they are also unashamedly supportive of
the neo-Nazis, especially on matters relating to Jews.

And here we have the true significance of the Chomsky
phenomenon. Together with Verges and a handful of other
relatively prominent individuals in America and Europe, he
has succeeded in rescuing old-fashioned Jew-baiting from the
extinction it might otherwise have suffered in the post-
Hitler world.

There is one more thing. Unlike Verges, Chomsky is a Jew,
and this fact is surely of some interest. I have been asked
by some readers to speculate on the psychology of a Jew who
behaves in this manner. Unfortunately I have nothing to
offer that would not already have occurred to the attentive
reader. After all, Chomsky is not the first Jew in history,
nor the last, surely, to devote his life to this kind of


Since the first edition of this work, Chomsky’s ties with
the neo-Nazi Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical
Review have been strengthened.

The IHR’s publishing and bookselling arm is called Noontide
Press. Holocaust-denying is only one part of the anti-
Semitic menu of this supermarket of Nazism. The latest NP
catalog is dated 1995. Among its offerings we find Nazi-
made movies that are banned in Germany because of their
brazen propaganda (pp. 29, ff), as well as the notorious
Protocols of the Elders of Zion (p. 10), books by Adolf
Hitler and Joseph Goebbels (pp. 10 and 12), a book by the
late Father Coughlin (p. 7), and the infamous The
International Jew by Henry Ford. Chomsky is represented
by five separate items: two audio cassette tapes (p. 26);
The Fateful Triangle (p. 16); Necessary Illusions (p.
11); and Pirates and Emperors (p. 12). Chomsky,
according to the IHR, “enlightens as no other writer on
Israel, Zionism, and American complicity.” (p. 4).

Since the first edition of this book, also, Chomsky and his
friends have produced a further flood of propaganda. There
is a “Common Courage Press” in Maine and a “Black Rose
Books” in Canada, as well as other enterprises, all churning
out propaganda pamphlets by Chomsky and his helpers. _Z
Magazine_ and _Lies of Our Time_, among others, publish his
articles. The Pacifica radio network tirelessly broadcasts
tapes of his speeches.<14> Finally, the Chomsky group has been
able to appropriate Canadian public funds to produce a
hagiographic movie, Manufacturing Consent, with Chomsky as

Chomsky has not changed his themes in this avalanche of
words. Most of what he has to say amounts to the simple
claim that the United States and Israel are to be blamed for
the ills of the world.

The Chomskyana that appeared before the current peace
negotiations always praised the PLO and its chairman, Yasser
Arafat; until very recently, Chomsky was the very model of a
Jew for Arafat. But now that Arafat negotiates with the
enemy, Chomsky has suddenly turned viciously anti-Arafat.

On April 17, 1994, Chomsky spoke at the Berkeley
(California) Community Theater saying that “Something’s
Happening.”<15> Suddenly he finds “corruption” in the PLO, a
PLO dictatorship, and an Arafat who is selling out. The
whole peace process is a joint Israeli-American plot. In
the absence of an unconditional surrender by Israel, Chomsky
leaves no doubt that he will oppose and denounce any letup
in the intransigent Arabs’ war against the Jews.

Finally, as we have already seen, Chomsky has recently
awarded his urgent recommendation to Israel Shahak’s
scurrilous tract against the Talmud and the Jews.

Chomsky will soon enter the eighth decade of his life. Some
men and women similarly possessed — Vanessa Redgrave is
apparently among these — have seen a decline of inspiration
from the Furies as they grow older. But others have become
crustier and more and more outrageous. Let us hope, for his
sake no less than for ours, that Avram Noam Chomsky, son of
a noted Hebrew scholar and himself exposed to Hebrew
learning in his youth, will find the peace of moderation as
he enters his old age.
The first edition of this book, reprinted here with only
minor changes, was published by Americans for a Safe Israel.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the people who helped with that
edition: Herb Zweibon, Erich Isaac, Rael Jean Isaac, and
Frances Besner Newman who designed the original cover.

Since AFSI is active in supporting the right-wing opposition
to the present (Labor) government of Israel, it has been
suggested to me that my book may be identified with that
point of view. I do not think that these matters are
relevant to the Chomsky issue, but many readers have raised
them, and I can see no harm in clarifying my personal
position. I am not a member of AFSI, and, unlike AFSI, I am
(cautiously) happy about the current peace negotiations
between Israel and the PLO.

For helping with the new edition, I am grateful to Jon
Haber, Hillel Stavis, and Gabriel Schoenfeld.


1 “The Middle East Lie,” Lies of Our Times, January 1,
1990, reprinted in Chomsky, Letters from Lexington, pp. 3-15

2 When Shahak staged a particularly fraudulent publicity
stunt — he tried to have people believe that orthodox Jews
will not save a non-Jewish life on the Sabbath — Rabbi
Immanuel Jakobovits exposed him. See Jakobovits’s “A Modern
Blood Libel — L’Affaire Shahak,” Tradition, vol. 8, no. 2
(1966), pp. 58-65.

3 Chomsky also contributed an introduction to an earlier
pamphlet by Shahak, IsraelOs Global Role. Weapons for
Repression, an anti-Israel diatribe published by the
Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Inc.,
Belmont, MA, 1982.

4 References to the older French and American publications
will be found in the footnotes to the main text.

5 Karl Marx himself has written an anti-Semitic essay,
Zur Judenfrage. On this whole question, see two books by
Robert S. Wistrich, Revolutionary Jews from Marx to Trotsky
(London: Harrap, 1976) and Socialism and the Jews
(Rutherford, N.J.: Fairly Dickinson, 1982). See also Ruth
R. Wisse, If I Am Not For Myself … The Liberal Betrayal of
The Jews (New York: Macmillan, 1992), and Arnold Forster and
Benjamin R. Epstein, The New Anti-Semitism, (New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1974).

6 All the varieties of Christian anti-Semitism, from the
beginning to our times, are discussed by William Nicholls,
Christian Antisemitism. A History of Hate, Northvale, N.J.:
Jason Aronson, 1993).

7 Both the Crips and the Bloods, by the way, have now been
politicized by the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam. See
Village Voice, August 2, 1994, pp. 24-5.

8 Various splinter groups bridged the institutional
barriers between extreme Left and extreme Right. There
were, for instance, the National Bolsheviks in pre-Hitler
Germany and the movement of Jacques Doriot, the PPF (Parti
Populaire Francais), in pre-war France. During the war in
German-occupied France, leftists of many different
persuasions formed grouplets that sought to combine Nazism
with Marxism. Among the most curious of these is the
Trotskyist splinter group Mouvement National
Revolutionnaire. It was led by Jean Rous and included a
number of Jewish members. It must be said to this groupOs
credit that it existed only a few months, after which its
members joined the Resistance. (Personal communication by
William Petersen; see also Jean-Pierre Cassard, Les
Trotskystes en France Pendant La Deuxieme Guerre Mondiale,
Paris, La Verite, n.d., pp. 65-6.)

9 One book that describes all such groups in France,
including ChomskyOs friends of the “Vieille Taupe,” is
Christophe Bourseiller,1989, Les Ennemis du Systeme, Paris,
Robert Laffont. The book by Ray Hill, 1988, The Other Face
of Terror, Inside Europe’s Neo-Nazi Network (London,
Grafton) focuses on the right wing but also provides
information on Third Position groups.

10 Cohn, Werner, 1991, “From Victim to Shylock and
Oppressor: The New Image of the Jew in the Trotskyist
Movement,” Journal of Communist Studies, vol. 7, no. 1
(March), pp. 46-68.

11 For the Verges story, see Erna Paris, 1985, Unhealed
Wounds. France and the Klaus Barbie Affair. Toronto,
Methuen. (Unfortunately, this book was published before the
completion of the Barbie trial.)

12 Ibid., p. 140.

13 New York Times, August 22, 1994.

14 On Pacifica’s record of anti-Semitism, see The Jewish
Week, August 5-11, 1994.

15 The speech was broadcast on April 17 on PacificaOs
station KPFK. My text comes from a transcript of this

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