Passionnante interview de Noam Chomsky avec Mouin Rabbani : Reflections on a Lifetime of Engagement with Zionism, the Palestine Question, and American Empire. Chomsky revient assez longuement sur ses propres engagements dans une famille hébraïsante, puis en kibboutz…
I was an organizer of what were then called Zionist youth groups, which I suppose would now be called anti-Zionist, because they were mostly opposed to a Jewish state. My own commitments early on, from when I was a teenager, would be socialist binationalism.
Puis, classiquement, l’évolution de l’engagement politique et intellectuel, aux États-Unis et en Europe, en faveur d’Israël à partir de 1967 :
1967 changed everything here; it was almost instantaneous. Suddenly the intellectual community has a passion for Israel, it was a love affair. Support for Israeli actions became reflexive: as I mentioned earlier, people like Irving Howe and Norman Podhoretz, who had been indifferent to Zionism, became almost fanatic Zionists after1967. This is partly because now the U.S.-Israeli alliance was firmly in place, making it possible to support the U.S. government and look humanitarian at the same time. You could support violence and terror and be noble and humanitarian, defending the Jews from anti-Semitism and genocide, and so on. This is an irresistible combination for liberal intellectuals. You can see the same phenomenon elsewhere, like in Bosnia.
But actually, the love affair wasn’t new. It had existed in American society before. If you go back and read the press of the 1920s, 1930s, you have a similar picture. I didn’t know this at the time, but this country had already been steeped in Zionism, this whole conception of biblical promises being realized. It’s not just Christian evangelicals; a large segment of the population was immersed in the Bible; Woodrow Wilson read the Bible every day; for Truman it was real. Lawrence Davison has written a good history of the early period with plenty of press quotes. Harold Ickes, one of Roosevelt’s main advisors, described the Jewish return to Palestine, to use his exact words, as “the most remarkable, historical event in history.” I mean, this is a very deep current of British and American thought. It’s a mistake to dismiss it.
There’s also the crusader element. When General Allenby conquered Jerusalem in 1917, he was compared with Richard the Lion-hearted, depicted as having achieved what the crusaders had tried to do and failed: drive the infidels out of the holy land. His obituary repeated the same thing twenty years later. It’s kind of like how China talks about its century of humiliation. For the West, there was 1,300 years of humiliation when the pagans took our Holy Land. Now it’s back in our hands, back in the civilized world, and the Jews are returning. And they are modern and European and developing, and the Palestinians were supposed to be gaining enormously from these progressive elements in their midst. It just captured the American mind.