A Palestinian family reacts after Israeli bulldozers demolished their home in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, Feb. 5, 2013. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Newly elected Israeli Knesset member Yair Lapid (l), leader of the Yesh Atid party, speaks to Naftali Bennett, head of the hard-line national religious party the Jewish Home, during a Feb. 5 reception in Jerusalem marking the opening of the 19th Knesset. (URIEL SINAI/GETTY IMAGES)
Richard Curtiss at work in his Washington Report office. (STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY)
Then-Vice President Dick Cheney (l) and Likud chairman Benyamin Netanyahu, out of office at the time and serving as the official Israeli opposition leader, at a March 23, 2008 breakfast meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III (r) shares candies with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim during a Feb. 11 visit to the rebels’ stronghold in Sultan Kudarat on the island of Mindanao. (KARLOS MANLUPIG/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Emad Burnat views his five broken cameras in his documentary of the same name. (PHOTO COURTESY KINO LORBER)
Washington Report, March 24, 1986, Page 11
Avram Noam Chomsky
Twenty or more years ago a young American heavyweight named Anderson electrified the weight lifting world at a Moscow meet. Anderson, a touchingly uncomplicated country boy from Georgia, was so strong that he surpassed existing lift records of the time by fifteen percent. The weight lifting crazy Russians saw Anderson as "a force of nature." Moreover, he viewed the Russians not at all as political symbols, but rather as spontaneously generous human beings whom he liked very much. The Soviets, in turn, were enchanted by him. Anderson, the superbly talented man of simple humanity, had become a hero.
The same kind of man, brilliant and talented yet simple and unaffected as a child, is Dr. Avram Noam Chomsky, a full Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Noam Chomsky, as he is usually called, is undeniably one of the great intellects of our time. A mere listing of some of his writings suggests the scale and depth of his contributions to linguistics: Aspects of the Theory of Syntax; Cartesian Linguistics; Sound Pattern of English; Language and Mind; Reflections on Language; Studies on Semantics in Generative Grammar; Essays on Form and Interpretation; Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory, and Knowledge of Language: Its Nature, Origins and Use.
Chomsky's preeminent standing in the world scholarly community is attested to by honorary degrees from the Universities of London, Chicago, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania; from Loyola University of Chicago; Swarthmore College, Delhi University and Bard College. He delivered the prestigious John Locke Lectures at Oxford, England in 1969; the Bertrand Russell Memorial Lectures at Cambridge, England in 1970; the Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi, India in 1972; and in 1977 the Huizinga Lecture at Leiden, The Netherlands. The power of his intellect is admired by all who know him personally, who have read his works or listened to him lecture. But it is his simplicity, lack of pretence, his sweetness (yes, sweetness) as a person and his uncompromising rejection of pious hypocricy that attracts so much affection.
Noam Chomsky's style and turns of phrase in such books as Peace in the Middle East?, The Fateful Triangle: The US., Israel and the Palestinians, and other writings on the Middle East, display such honesty and clarity as to evoke comparison with the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats. Yeats urged fellow poets to strive for a "simplicity of fire" in their poems, images so "right" that the reader might assume only a minute had gone into composition when sometimes days might have been consumed. Chomsky's brilliantly apt depiction of Henry Kissinger's prose as "murky rhetoric" has particularly endeared him to State Department officers sentenced to suffer under Super K.
His scientific studies led him into politics because he found that words were used in certain contexts with such distorted meanings that thought itself was stifled. He generates intellectual excitement in discussing such words as "hostage," "terrorism," "moderate," "democratic," etc. Each of these has the usual dictionary meaning, summed up in legal doctrine as "Words mean what they are ordinarily taken to mean." But Chomsky found an Orwellian (from George Orwell) meaning within a reigning doctrinal system. For example, the murder of three Israelis in Cyprus was rightly regarded as a terrorist act, but the Israeli bombing of Tunis, a few days later, which killed 20 Tunisians and 55 Palestinians, was not regarded as terrorism, at least by the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the United States.
Dr. Chomsky may be the classically dispassionate intellectual, but this scarcely means that he cannot rise to heights of moral indignation. He does so with corrosive bitterness, for example, in the "Peace for Galilee" chapter of the The Fateful Triangle. Israeli use of the word "peace" to describe a brutal war against civilians, refugee camps and cities in Lebanon dramatically counterpoints an actuality of blood, death and misery. Chomsky delivers his point here with a beautifully sustained recitation of one barbarity after another perpetrated in Lebanon to a chorus of excuses, rationalizations and justifications from Israeli apologists in the United States.
Educated at the University of Pennsylvania (Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral Degrees), Dr. Chomsky is married to the former Carol Doris Schatz. They have two daughters in their 20s who have already finished school. The couple's third child, a son, is studying at Harvard University. In the heady intellectual atmosphere of Boston/Cambridge, Noam Chomsky is in his element, one of the shining stars. Given his vigorous energy and probing intelligence his creativity promises to go on for years.
Dr. Chomsky's writings on The Middle East have not endeared him to Israel and its supporters in the United States. The fact that he is Jewish lends his criticisms of Israel/United States policies vis a vis the Palestinians and the Arabs generally all the more weight. Moreover, he is no doctrinaire ideologue, employing emotion to make his points. This makes him all but immune to attack from the Israel Lobby, immune because what he has to say is rational, clearly thought out, clearly stated and true. The only "defense" the Lobby has is to try to ignore him and deny him public attention.
But everybody knows that a blazing star in the night cannot be hidden from view.
—Andrew I. Killgore