Noam Chomsky on “The Iranian Threat”

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on August 20, 2015
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Noam Chomsky on “The Iranian Threat”

August 20, 2015

Editor’s note: Noam Chomsky’s analysis (read below after reading this) is an important counter to the endless drum of US propaganda from both parties about the threat from Iran. So much self-deception is thrown at Americans that we are not to blame when even the best among us begins to repeat analyses that forget or obscure the actual role that the US plays in the world today, as Chomsky begins to outline (though he doesn’t really explore the more powerful distorting role of global capitalism, which is not to be blamed solely on the US). Unfortunately, Chomsky underplays the anti-Semitism that the Iranian mullahs have fanned in Iran. They may never have explicitly called for Israel’s physical destruction, but they had plenty of time to clarify what they’ve meant by what seems like code language with such destruction in mind—all they needed to do to eliminate what Chomsky considers an unfair charge would be to publicly affirm that they don’t intend or seek to eliminate the state that was created as a refuge for Jews. We at Tikkun have sent that request to Iranian leaders, but they haven’t responded. Nor have they repudiated past Iranian governments’ attempts to deny the Holocaust, and there is little doubt that the constant calls for “death to Israel"—while not translated into death to the Iranian Jews who claim to be safe in Iran and who support the Iranian nuclear deal despite Netanyahu’s opposition—are rarely perceived by Iranians as somehow distinct from “death to the Jews.” And the mullahs’ near-genocidal policies toward the Baha’i and repression of other religious minorities are outrageous, as has been their suppression of dissent and countless human rights violations. (As an aside, I want to express compassion for the Jewish people whose Holocaust-rooted post-traumatic-stress-disorder still generates a fearful attitude that makes us so easily manipulated by opportunists and militarists like Netanyahu and his AIPAC, American Jewish Committee, Conference of Presidents of Major (sic) Jewish Organizations allies, manipulation that leads many Jews to support policies that are actually destructive to the best interests of the Jewish people, the US, Israel, and the peoples of the world. To consider just two examples: maintaining the Occupation of the West Bank, rather than helping the Palestinians create an economically and politically viable Palestinian state living in peace and harmony with Israel; or the too-widespread Jewish vocal opposition to the nuclear agreement with Iran, though most Jews support the deal. Tragically, and unjustifiably, this tilt toward militarist and ungenerous policies may eventually be the foundation for a resurgence of anti-Semitism globally. I have compassion for my people, just as I have compassion for the many middle-income and poorer Americans who end up supporting right-wing policies that are actually destructive to their own long-term best interests—but that compassion should must be accompanied by our powerful challenge to the policies they support and the racism that is too often a component of their fears.)

We at Tikkun, while supporting the nuclear arms agreement, also continue to support any nonviolent efforts by the people of Iran to overthrow the Iranian regime of the mullahs and create a state that is safe for its minorities and for dissent. We do so with deep humility, recognizing that we ourselves live in a society that is not safe for African Americans and other people of color, a society with many repressive policies and which, while allowing free speech on the individual and small group level, nevertheless manages to manipulate the public sphere in such a way that the ideas presented by Tikkun, by Chomsky, by those who believe that the strategy of domination which pervades both major political parties and fundamental assumptions of the world should be replaced by a strategy of generosity (e.g. our proposed Global Marshall Plan rarely get heard by the vast majority of Americans. So please read the article by Noam Chomsky below! Thanks to for permission to reprint this piece.

– Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, Tikkun

If you wish to comment on this introduction or the article itself, write me at: rabbilerner.tikkun

P.S. You don’t have to be Jewish to get a lot of spiritual wealth from the Beyt Tikkun High Holiday services which I will be leading at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley this September—people have come from around the world to attend these services, which will focus this year on our responsibility for the environment, building both on Jewish tradition and the wise teachings of Pope Francis and his recent encyclical. Among the teachers presenting at our services is Cynthia Moe Lobeda, author of Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation. Beyt Tikkun is one of the very few synagogues which offers prayers for the well-being of BOTH Israel and Palestine, publicly supports the Iran nuclear deal, challenges American racism and exceptionalism, and simultaneously focuses on inner spiritual development, challenging spiritual narcissism while helping people deepen their spiritual awareness, and following the traditional prayers and music of the High Holliday liturgy while using enough English to be welcoming to those with no previous background with Jewish holidays. Information and registration at: We call this an Emancipatory Spirituality—focused both on inner transformation and the ‘tikkun-ing" (healing and transformation) of our economic, political, and cultural institutions and practices. This is teshuva (returning to our higher selves, sometimes called repentance) in reality—not just good intentions, but actions.


2 Responses

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  1. Barry Wright said, on August 21, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Somehow I didn’t see the Chomsky piece alluded to…



  2. @honestcharlie said, on August 21, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks, don’t know what happened to it, just republished it, thanks you. 🙂


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