The Anti-Imperialism of Fools

The Anti-Imperialism of Fools

The following remarks were delivered at the Socialist Scholars Conference in New York City in April 1986, at the panel on Israel and the U.S. Left.” The participants were Noam Chomsky, Ellen Willis of the Village Voice, and myself.—P.B.

The Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis recentlycontributed to the New York Review of Books some comments on what he calls “The New Anti- Semitism.” I have discussed his comments in the Voice and wish to expand and elaborate on those points here.

We must ask ourselves: why is it that Israel arouses, around the world, such ferocious hostility? Is it because Israel has been engaged in a very nasty border dispute with its neighbors, which has gone on for a long time and in which its own actions have frequently been reprehensible? The description is true. But in what way does the nastiness of the dispute and the reprehensibility of the behavior differ from what we see in other disputes, for instance between Greece and Turkey, Iran and Iraq, India and Pakistan, China and Vietnam—all of these being controversies that, though bloody and horrendous, have failed to arouse global passions?