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Smart Jews, stupid Israeli officials

“Jews are a famously accomplished group. They make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates and 31 percent of the medicine laureates.” So began a New York Times column by David Brooks from January. My own library has several books about Jewish brainpower -- the usual awesome statistics -- but nothing on why the dumbest Jews work for the Israeli government.

The latest proof of that, call it the Cohen theorem, is the refusal to allow the famed linguist Noam Chomsky to enter the West Bank from Jordan. Chomsky wasn’t found with explosives hidden in his underwear or secreted under his shirt, as is the quaint custom in certain parts of the world. All he was found to have were views harshly critical of the country he was attempting to visit.

Israel doesn’t like what you say,” Chomsky said he was told by the border police. He said he was asked all sorts of question about why he was going to deliver a lecture at Bir Zeit University, a West Bank institution. The proper answer to that is that he was invited because his views and those of Palestinians are identical. This is the case, even though Chomsky once lived in Israel and speaks Hebrew.

It should be pointed out that the United States, among other countries, has at times closed its doors to certain critics, especial if they can be “linked,” that most plastic of words, to a terrorist group or individual. It also should be pointed out that that is stupid.

Israel’s treatment of Chomsky is also stupid. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office has repudiated it and acts as if some border guard took it upon himself to vet Chomsky’s work and deem it repugnant. This, though, is yet another example of Netanyahu’s office being taken by surprise by some minor official. It said it knew nothing of the decision to announce yet more Jewish housing in East Jerusalem when vice president Joe Biden was visiting there. Now this.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz suggested in an editorial that Israel is behaving like South Africa in the 1960s. As if often the case with anything Israeli, that’s a fulsome exaggeration, but one that would not be possible if the government started acting as if it cared about civil liberties and had a decent regard for the opinions of others. If that were the case, then Netanyahu would see to it that the relevant official is drawn, quartered or otherwise admonished, lest we all have to revise our estimation of Jewish brainpower. One of the books I have on the subject is Sander Gilman’s Smart Jews. He clearly was not referring to the Israeli government.

By Richard Cohen  | May 18, 2010; 12:22 PM ET
Categories:  Cohen  | Tags:  Richard Cohen  
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Comments

It iw very easy to criticize the actions of a government when you are not officially a resident or a citizen of that state.
Chomsky wjth his visit and lecture,,in a very subtle way was going to inflame the already explosive scenario of israel-palestinian politics.
The israeli government has the duty to prevent any one to talk to the adversary and provoke even more bloodshed.
Words can kill and inspire the radical groups to blow up more civilians and cause inmense tragedies.
If he is such a smart person, he should submit his proposals to the palestinians and the israelis to find common ground instead of attacking one party in this
conflict.
Has CHomsky ever been to the Indian American reservations? Did he ever influenced policy in the U.S. where he is a citizen?
It seems very hypocritical to raise the banner of justice without knowing both faces of the problem.

Posted by: buenosaires381 | May 18, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Being barred from Israel seems to have been a publicity coup for Chomsky. Has his influence/ability to attract attention faded, or is it just me not paying attention?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 18, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

It is very easy to criticize the actions of a government when you are not officially a resident or a citizen of that state.
Chomsky wjth his visit and lecture,in a very subtle way was going to inflame the already explosive scenario of Israeli-Palestinian politics.
The Israeli government has the duty to prevent any one to talk to the adversary and provoke even more bloodshed.
Words can kill and if they inspire the radical groups to blow up more civilians and cause inmense tragedies, that is not
a constructive contribution.
If he is such a smart person, he should submit his proposals to the Palestinians and the Israelis to find common ground instead of attacking one party in this
conflict.
Has CHomsky ever been to the Indian American reservations? Did he ever influenced policy in the U.S. where he is a citizen?
It seems very hypocritical to raise the banner of justice without knowing both faces of the problem.

Posted by: buenosaires381 | May 18, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

It is only the American Jews - who happened also to be outspoken liberals - that are so extraordinary smart and sophisticated. The Israeli Jews, on the other hand are stupid and brutal.

The "brainpower" is hereby measured as the degree of how much one's "views and those of Palestinians are identical".

Thanks, Mr Cohen. You opened my eyes.

Posted by: nahumkorda | May 18, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Chomsky is a LIAR. It is ONE thing to be an enemy of the Jewish State, but, slinging LIE upon LIE in "support" of his anti Israel stance? How come Cohen isn't exercised of Britain's ban of Michael Savage? How come the remainder of the drowning press isn't?

Posted by: craigslsst | May 18, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

It's always better when Jews debate among themselves about the behavior of the current Israeli government.

It keeps concerned non-Jews like myself from being labeled "anti-Semitic" –– for just asking questions!

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | May 18, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse


We get only one side of "what jews are"
in Cohen's first paragraph.

He forgot greedy, ruinous wherever they are, funny with money and not likely to care about the country they live in, nor
fight for it. Do not assimalite, anywhere. Are uniformly detested around the world. There's more, that's a beginning.

Posted by: whistling | May 18, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

It keeps concerned non-Jews like myself from being labeled "anti-Semitic" –– for just asking questions!

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC

*********************************
Precisely. I have spent my entire life chewing my tongue in the presence of Jewish friends & colleagues any time the topic of Israel comes up.

Posted by: nonsensical2001 | May 18, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

We get only one side of "what jews are"
in Cohen's first paragraph.

He forgot greedy, ruinous wherever they are, funny with money and not likely to care about the country they live in, nor
fight for it. Do not assimalite, anywhere. Are uniformly detested around the world. There's more, that's a beginning.

Posted by: whistling | May 18, 2010 1:40 PM
----------------------
Funny whistling. I thought you were talking about you and your fellow Arabs.

You know, the ones the whole world loves so much, and that have assimilated so well.

Posted by: shewholives | May 18, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse


whistling wrote:

We get only one side of "what jews are"
in Cohen's first paragraph.

He forgot greedy, ruinous wherever they are, funny with money and not likely to care about the country they live in, nor
fight for it. Do not assimalite, anywhere. Are uniformly detested around the world. There's more, that's a beginning.

**********************

I swear, every time there's an article on Israel, the ugliest and most ignorant racists show up.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | May 18, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

How is it that "Whistling" has been permitted to post his/her anti-Semitic rant? I agree with Cohen, I don't support Chomsky's views but I do support his right to express them at a university, and I am reassured that vile anti-Semitism is alive and well when a WAPO reader feels fully empowered to express hatred against a racial group. This should not be posted on a blog of ideas.

Posted by: 1244lkm | May 18, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Chomsky's works are always extensively footnoted to original source material.
Being "smart" doesn't mean you are moral or compassionate. The recent scandals among top Israeli officials shows a "me first" attitude and a lack of concern for others that seems to pervade Israeli policy. I am another Jew that abhors the policies of Israel.

Posted by: t11123 | May 18, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I swear, every time there's an article on Israel, the ugliest and most ignorant racists show up.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | May 18, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

--------------------------
Just a typical response from an Arab.

Posted by: shewholives | May 18, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Whistling's comments are ignorant and rascist. unfortunately, the responses thereto, which assume that whisting is an arab, are just as bad.

Posted by: ooops | May 18, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Israel is nothing but another former South Afrcia.Palestinians,being moslems or Christians, are treated like subhumans. Their houses are being demolished,their children are being jailed or killed on daily basis,their little farms are being bulldozed.Any Jew from all over the world is entitled for Israeli citizenship upon his arrival at Ben Gorion Airport, while the orginal land owners are not permitted even to visit the houses they were kicked from in Israel.The whole world should be ashamed of tolerating such an apartheid regime to cintinue in the 21st century. Israel as a pure Jewish state should not be permitted to continue anymore. Israel does have the right to exist but within its legal borders under UN resolution 181 and as a secular state for all its citizens regardless of their religion.Palestinian refugees must be given the right to return to their stolen homes and belongings in Israel.The only solution for this chronic Dlemma is establishing one secular state on all the land of Historical Palestine for Jews,Moslems and Christians with equal rights and responsibilities and without any kind of descrimination.

Posted by: smhh4 | May 18, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

.
Anecdotal, proof of nothing, but I served in the US Army, and I remember serving with Jews.
.

Posted by: BrianX9 | May 18, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Just wondering if the state of Israel would do the same to say Pat Buchannan if he paid a visit.

A few weeks back Gen. Petraus and other military officers issued statement that were critical of Israel's policies. Would they be banned as well?

Posted by: MerrillFrank | May 18, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Reading posts from whistling and shewholives show how ugly absolute hatred of a whole group can be. You both disgust me!

Posted by: Sonny53 | May 18, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Israel is far from alone in having many very intelligent citizens yet quite a few really ignorant politicians in office. Note, though, that it is the overall citizen population that elects politicians, and there are certainly a fair number of stupid citizens in any country: see Tea Party, Birthers, and immigration bigots in the US. Perhaps it takes a certain thick skinned willful ignorance combined with blind political ambition to take political positions that pander to the stupider citizens/voters.

Posted by: gjhinnova | May 18, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Whistling's comments are ignorant and rascist. unfortunately, the responses thereto, which assume that whisting is an arab, are just as bad.

Posted by: ooops
-------------------------

Whistling is an Arab and his posts have been ugly and racist. I just enjoy giving it right back to him.

Posted by: shewholives | May 18, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Cohen writes that to compare Israel to South Africa is an exaggeration. But when it comes to the Israeli land grabs and apartheid policy the Israelis are more ruthless, more blatantly dishonest in their bureaucratic gamemanship, and they lie to themselves and the world about what they have become far more than the Afrikaners. Oops, now they will stop me at the borders of the Holy Land.

Posted by: jj1123 | May 18, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse


"smart jews,stupid Israeli officials"...

hasn't occurred to Cohen that those smart Jews elect those officials...
many or most of whom have to resign for crooked dealings.

And a good many of whom will be subject to
war criminal subpoenas if they set their feet on European streets.

How nice that you get and read so many books on who smart jews are, as you mention. Convince yourself yet?

Posted by: whistling | May 18, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Smart people would lead to the only real solution to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict -- a single, secular state where the rule of law upholds human rights and all citizens have a vote.

Israel and Palestine really need a Mandela.

Posted by: riskpref | May 18, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

So smart? Then how come they still haven't figured out why most of humanity hasn't, and perhaps still doesn't, care for them?
Maybe it has something to do with them always perceiving themselves as better.

Posted by: member8 | May 18, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

The Jews may be smart; but they certainly covet the lands of the feverish imaginary God gave their purported forebears some 3000 years ago! The simple truth and of course nothing around any of the Abrahamic superstitions, is simple and very little has any truth; but that said, the Zionist Jews have no claim whatsoever to a sq inch of the lands of Palestine beyond that given in guilt and compassion to the survivors of the Nazi holocaust. It is also worth noting that few if any of the Zionist Jews are actually from Europe; that many if not most were paid to immigrate to this "promised" land; that the Zionist Jews have systematically and ruthlessly stolen more and more land while crying the need for security as the oppressed and the dislocated oppose this blatant and sadistic theft of their homes and their land! The Israeli Jews have created vast open air ghettos, prisons really; and claim rights to control who these people can see, where they can go, what they can do; and in some sick joke of moral sickness.. America aids these criminal actions, provides monies and weapons to kill and enslave the "real" owners of the occupied lands and condones the bestiality of the Jews subjugating a peoples for generations! Where is the outrage of these inhumane acts of violence? How do we turn a blind eye to these despicable acts of terror??

Posted by: Chaotician | May 18, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Leaving side both the anti-Semites and the Zionists who post here this is the crust of the whole shebang:

Jews are an ethnic group part of the Caucasian race. So are the Arabs. Both have had through history, and still have, smart people within the world communities in which they live. Israel and the Palestinian territories are not exempt.

But "smart" is not a term to be used when one talks about a government, Israeli or Arab. Government people, after their election, are overly political, self-absorbed in their office, cunning in their machinations, power-sensitive in their relationships, and committed to please all voters, thus unable to decide factually based on reality. This whole blog says nothing that we do not know!

Posted by: HarGru | May 18, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Is Cohen really that stupid, or just ignorant? Chomsky is a self-professed anti-Semite and is vehemently anti-Israel. The fact that Israel denied him entry into the ccuntry - one could argue that they should have arrested the moron - should be applauded. Then again, Cohen cavorts with anti-American imbiciles and some of the most anti-free speech, left wing radicals, what would one expect from a self-loathing Jew?

Posted by: freepost | May 18, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I was watching Ehud Barak on the Charlie Rose show sometime ago. He said if a solution cannot be found that establishes a 2 state solution, then they would end up with an aparthied state. He said it in Davos too. Desmond Tutu says in some respects he cannot distinquish between SA then and West bank now..So there, for what its worth.

Posted by: fibre101 | May 18, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

I was watching Ehud Barak on the Charlie Rose show sometime ago. He said if a solution cannot be found that establishes a 2 state solution, then they would end up with an aparthied state. He said it in Davos too. Desmond Tutu says in some respects he cannot distinquish between SA then and West bank now..So there, for what its worth.

Posted by: fibre101 | May 18, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Richard,

On Sander Gilman, I'd recommend you read "Smart Jews," one of Gillman's disappointments, perhaps his only work of Jewish self-hatred. Then, of course, you should read "Jewish Self-Hatred," a masterpiece. Also read "The Jew's Body."

Sander is a geenyous. Ain't no doubt. And Chomsky is an aging linguist of considerable gifts in his field.

Moi and the other Iranian Js missed him when his buddies were killing us.

Posted by: Farnaz1Mansouri1 | May 18, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Lunatic right wing extremists Jews [if they really are Jews, and not crazed Christian neo-con Dominionists] posting here are discredit to the liberal religious tradition I belong to, as I born into the Jewish faith, and still consider myself to be a member of the community.

Most of the Jews I know in the US despair of the brutal repression of the Palestinian people by both the Likudnik government, and the tyrannical para militiaries like Hamas and Hezbollah; both sides use the civilian population as cannon fodder for the their extremist view points.

Some favor military action against the small group of these criminals who use terrorism and terror tactics, others want to find another way to end the violence. So far, the Likud shows itself to be capable of police state tactics and absolute violence. There's little in the way of nuance or compromise that has been offered, and it serves to maintain the intifadah, which is exactly what Hamas and Hezbollah want.

Meanwhile, the majority of Israeli and Palestinian civilians want nothing more than peace. It's unlikely they will get it, in this environment.

Posted by: shpilk | May 18, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

The israeli government has the duty to prevent any one to talk to the adversary and provoke even more bloodshed.
Words can kill and inspire the radical groups to blow up more civilians and cause inmense tragedies.

Posted by: buenosaires381 | May 18, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

########################################

Oh bull crap - the Israeli government is simply trying to curtail free speech that it doesn't like. This is the kind of argument that the Iranians would make. The Likud party is not only dumb, it is also cynical and corrupt. I feel sorry for the Israeli people.

Posted by: maggots | May 18, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

A generation ago, Israelis were smart like American Jews, but educated Israelis themselves admit that the average level of education in the country has declined.

There are two reasons for this: high Orthodox Jewish birthrate, and Russian Jewish immigration.

Uusually, representatives of one of these two groups are involved whenever Israel commits a self-inflicted PR wound. i.e. the housing minister who shafted Biden on his visit came from Avigdor Lieberman's Russian extremist party.

It really is sad, the dumbing-down of Israel. It was once at least a thoughtful country.

Posted by: bourassa1 | May 18, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I believe that the title of Cohen's piece should read : "Smart Jews on day-to-day basis and stupid Israelis on the long run"! You only need to "read" their past worldwide political, financial, social...etc. "behavior"! Due to their "disliked" behavior, the words "never again" might be replaced not in the too distant future by Reagan's famous words: "Here we go again"! And, as the WP says, if you don't get it...you don't get it.

Posted by: editor4tonio | May 18, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Gotta disagree with Cohen here. Chomsky is a genius in his field and toxic (no, insane) when it comes to politics.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | May 18, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

This type of thing is really not stupid. In fact it's clever, but extremely unwise. The government says one thing but "can't stop" another thing that it would really like to happen. The government officials can't officially do it, but they can wring their hands in public and smile in private.

This is the same sort of "half policy" that drives settlement in occupied territories, where the official state policy isn't just unenforced - Israel sponsors civil disobediance against itself.

Mr. Netanyahu has a stellar IQ but he falls too easily into the trap that catches most people like him - he thinks too little of other people. We get it.

Israel's behavior in the last decade has been unwise to the point where, instead of our most reliable friend in the region, instead of the underdog country founded by survivors of the worst crime ever, Israel is now being seen an one more little country conniving for its own benefit. A country that says it can't control itself, but the errors and omissions that take place somehow seem to all be in the same direction. Hmmmmm.

Posted by: Rozinante2 | May 18, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

What everyone fails to realize is he wasn't going to Israel he was going to Palestine. Or is it one state already? never mind the moral ethical grounds...

Posted by: Amazed2 | May 18, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Of all people on the Planet (now that I KNOW he speaks Hebrew) he's supposed to be a scientist/linguist. He's a stupid old geezer. Otherwise, he would be part of the Oriental Institute of Uof Chicago and busy providing us with a Franklin Electronic handheld Quran-Strong's Concordance in the name of Salaam/Shalom. He also should critique on the Washington Post, Dr. Uri Rubin's Hebrew Quran. He holds all US citizens in contempt. He's a horrible example of a human CHON. Imagine having such linguistic skills and not using them for the evolution of the intellect of the little Palestinian kids he loves so much. He certainly spits on the average US citizen's brains. He doesn't care about the language skills of our grandchildren.

Posted by: macnietspingal1 | May 19, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

There seems to be a huge elephant in the room on these discussions. Why do even the moderately left not point out the fact that the notion of a 'Jewish State' is instrinsically racist? Lets conduct a thought experiment. Depending on the context 'Jewish' is defined as both an ethnic group and a religion, from an immigration perspective more the former than the latter. So, would we have any compunction about calling out someone who wanted to re-found the USA as a 'caucasian' or instrinsically 'Christian' entity where other ethnic groups and/or demoninations could only vote for defined ethnically-based seats in congress?

Israel is not a democracy as a vast proportion of the people that live within its (claimed) borders do not have the vote and it is not a pluralist society as it reserves certain priviliges for one ethnic-religious majority group. It is a self-professed ethnically and religiously based society with an enormous subject population that don't even have citizenship, let alone rights. Even Arab citizens are branded so in their passport and have restrictions placed on who they can vote for and discrimination in government programs.

Imagine if Arizona had passed legislation targetting not illegal immigrants but mandating that all hispanics have their ethnic group detailed on their documents, voting rights curtailed so they could only elect hispanic representatives to a few allocated seats!

I do not believe Israel should cease to exist; many nations are founded on expropriation and conquest, including the USA. However, I don't think Israel does itself any favours in the long term by continuing to shamelessly rely upon the trope of anti-semitism to disguise the essential racism inherant in their actions and the very notion of a 'Jewish State'. Being the victims of a historical wrong does not give one the right to perpetrate similar, albeit less severe, wrongs against others; it only makes it more obscene because they should know better.

P.S. I think the Iranian President pointed out once, with possibly unintended humour, that even if the Holocaust was real, why should the Arabs - who had no role in the Holocaust - have had to give them land? Why weren't the Jews given Bavaria? Now there's a thought! :-)


Posted by: dashstar1972 | May 19, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

he was attempting to enter palestine not israel proper. that is a very important part of the story mr. cohen

Posted by: merankin67@yahoo.com | May 20, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse


It seems that somehow Richard Cohen thinks himself to be smart enough to judge Israel behave. It is quite ridiculous. Richard Cohen ignores the fact that Chomsky de-legitimizes the right of Israel to exist and serve not only the proPALganda platform but influence the hesitations among the Palestinians' youngsters to line in order and to serve their God by terror ("The resistance" as Chomsky calls it). These kinds of people are very dangerous to Israelis and Arabs alike because their visit can blast the whole area in fire.


Posted by: aviefar | May 24, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

dashstar1972; you ask very interesting questions although your answers are quite biased and not related to reality. Judaism is nationality (not ethnicity) and faith combined at the same expression identity. So you can’t compare it to Christianity or Islam. It might be closer by imagination to the Britons that have their own Britain and church. Even so Judaism is a very unique phenomenon that’s why weak and foolish gentiles are developing Anti Semitism while met with that phenomenon.



Israel is not a democracy if you call the US a totalitarian rule. But if you think that democracy exists in the US you can’t suggest ignoring the fact that Israel is a democracy at any filter you check. All those who live within Israel’s border have Israeli citizenship and can vote. There is no such thing as “privileges for one ethnic-religious majority group” because Israel is not an Arab dictatorship. Yet. The Arab Palestinians are ethnic-religious society and that’s why they don’t want Jews to live next to them as the Apartheid S. Africa didn’t want Blacks and Jews to live there. Israel’s society and government are not discriminate against minorities, although a small portion of the some minorities are opposing Israel existence and cooperate with Islamic terror groups around. Arabs in Israel have Israel ID card, and Arabs of the occupied territories have their own ID card. Tell your Arizona that fact. Israel’s parliament has Arab MPs. Isn’t it bother you?

Let Israel decides what is good for her. I think she doesn’t need someone as you to decide for her. None of the “historic wrong doing “were made by Israel, but by the Arabs. The Arabs in Palestine have their state already since 1921-3 when the British occupier s let the Saudi Hashemite Abdullah to have a rule over all the eastern part of the Jewish Palestine, now is called Jordan, and they have failed to accomplish mission and have western Palestine to the Jews. That is the source of the conflict. The Muslims never have accepted the right of a national Jewish state to exist in Palestine land
P.S. I think that using the Holocaust in weird humor shows perfectly who you are. AhmadInJihad is no different. Arabs had some role in the Holocaust – in one hand they cooperated and fought with the Nazis mainly in Yugoslavia (Haj Amin el-HouSSeini) and on the other hand pressed the occupier British not let the Jews flee from Europe and have a refuge in Palestine. Palestinian Arabs studied their proPALganda first from the Nazis and later from communist’s USSR (Abu Mazen had his history’s Doctorate from Lomumba U in Moscow, and his work wasconclude the denial of the Holocaust and fabricating a new Arab people whom he called “Palestinian People”). Why Arabs need their 23rd state on the Jewish people assets, expense and land? Why the Arabs are not satisfied with half of the land they already had / have? Now there's a thought! :-)

Posted by: aviefar | May 24, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Rozinante2 ; Sure I'm not accept your colorful painting of Israel. It might be nice picture in your eyes but you didn't paint Israel at all but the reflrction of yourself. Thanks anyway.

Posted by: aviefar | May 24, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

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