The Guardian’s “Respected American Academic”: Noam Chomsky

In characteristically ‘fair and balanced’ form, and apparently fully embracing its role as self-appointed defence advocate for Raed Salah, the Guardian published two more letters in support of the Islamist Sheikh currently detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure on July 4th.  

One of the letters is from veteran anti-Israel campaigner Noam Chomsky and its content does little to surprise. What is interesting, however, is a report on Harry’s Place which would suggest that the letter/article first appeared on the website of the Hamas support group MEMO but was then later removed and at a subsequent juncture appeared on the Guardian letters page.

Imaginative minds can only speculate as to the goings on behind that scenario; after all, it wouldn’t be the first time that the proximity of views between the Guardian and MEMO has been revealed and noted.  

What is slightly more surprising was the apparent need to promote Chomsky’s letter further on the ‘Middle East Live liveblogging section of the Guardian’s news section where, among news of renewed violence in Tahrir Square and the Syrian town of Hama, Matthew Weaver squeezed in the earth-shattering news that:

“The respected American academic Noam Chomsky has written to the Guardian to condemn government plans to deport the Palestinian activist Sheikh Raed Salah.”

Not just any old academic, one notes, but a ‘respected’ one. Presumably that word is intended to add gravity and authority to the Chomsky epistle but, rather, it indicates the type of person considered to be worthy of admiration at Guardian HQ.

Chomsky’s record is famously rich, but one of his more egregious actions was his decision to spend a week visiting Hizbollah in Lebanon in 2006, which included a meeting with Hassan Nasrallah who, weeks later, rained over 4,000 rockets down on northern Israel, killing dozens of civilians.

During the visit, Hizbullah’s ‘Al Manar’ TV station quoted Chomsky as saying:

“Hizbullah’s insistence on keeping its arms is justified… I think Nasrallah has a reasoned argument and [a] persuasive argument that they [the arms] should be in the hands of Hizbullah 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.”

One has to wonder if the people of Lebanon, who have seen Hizbollah take over their country in recent months, without needing to fire a shot, and anxiously await the outcome of the indictments of the Special Tribunal on Lebanon, would agree with the Guardian’s definition of Chomsky (the terrorist supporter) as ‘respected’ – likewise the Syrian and Iranian protesters who found themselves being attacked by Hizbollah thugs brought in by their respective regimes to help quell dissent.   

But at least they now know the type of person whom Guardian editors find worthy of respect. 

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