Media, Lebanon & U.S. - Israeli Brutal Operations
By Noam Chomsky at Aug 19, 2006
Below is a Q&A from the Z Sustianer System.
Z Sustianer: While I certainly wouldn't characterize the coverage of the Israeli atrocities as "balanced", it has been far better than I would have expected, at least in so far as the suffering of the Lebanese is concerned; would you agree? Any idea why that might be?
Noam Chomsky: My expectations were pretty low, but the coverage has been worse than I expected, at least. There are scattered and good reports about the suffering of the Lebanese. But overwhelmingly, it's presented from the Israeli point of view. And there is only oblique indication of the fact that it is a US-Israeli attack, not an Israeli-attack. One might do a count of the phrases "Iranian-supplied" and "US-supplied." The ratio should be about one to 50, maybe, but I suspect it's more like 50 to 1. And the US influence is vastly greater than any Iranian influence, but rarely discussed, because it's taken for granted that it is right and just, even "an honest broker." Same in Iraq. The journals of the occupying armies report Washington's concerns about Iranian intervention. One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.
It's also worth remembering that there are three US-Israeli operations underway: (1) the West Bank programs of annexation and cantonization, designed to drive the last nail into the coffin of Palestinian national rights, cynically called "withdrawal" in the nation's press, and barely reported, including the regular atrocities: (2) Gaza, where the US-Israel continue to carry out regular crimes in the largest prison in the world: 150 Palestinians killed in July, 19 killed in the first week of August (including 4 children), along with constant terror and destruction, scarcely reported; (3) Lebanon, reported, but as noted, overwhelmingly from the Israeli point of view (with the US presented not as a direct participant, as it is, but as seeking a peaceful settlement). There is also outright suppression. The current sharp escalation of violence began after the Hamas capture of Corporal Gilad Shalit on June 25, and the capture of two Israeli soldiers on the Israel-Lebanon border on July 12. Each case elicited enormous outrage in the US, and strong support for very harsh Israeli retaliation. On June 24, Israeli forces kidnapped two Gaza civilians, the Muammar brothers, a far worse crime.
That was scarcely reported and quickly dismissed to oblivion. The
timing demonstrates with unusual clarity that the posture of
outrage over the capture of Israeli soldiers is cynical fraud,
facts underscored by the (null) reaction to the regular Israeli practice
over many years of kidnapping Lebanese. It also follows at
once that there is no moral legitimacy to either of the two
major escalations against the populations of Gaza and Lebanon.
And of course if we look at the ratio of killings, it's overwhelmingly
It's interesting to see the reactions of the most depraved apologists for US-Israeli crimes when someone dares to mention the enormously important and dramatically revealing June 24 events. After the required tantrums, they shriek that Israel charged the Muammar brothers with being Hamas militants. And since Israel made the charge, it's true by definition. Suppose it's true. Then the apologists for US-Israel crimes should be lauding the capture of Cpl. Shalit, who was, uncontroversially, a soldier in an army attacking Gaza.
None of this can be discussed in the major media and journals, and it's only a fraction. When we look at what is swept under the rug, or grossly distorted, the extreme imbalance of coverage becomes much more severe.
I'm omitting here pure fabrication, e.g, Ethan Bronner's account of Sharon's legacy in the NYT, Aug. 6. He does refer to an event that is very crucial in the present context: the (US-backed) Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, destroying much of the country and killing some 15-20,000 people. Bronner repeats the standard fable, long known to be a complete fabrication: "[Sharon] led the first invasion of Lebanon in 1982 to uproot the Palestinian ministate that had taken hold there to carry out raids on Israel, a goal the invasion achieved." The goal of removing the PLO from Lebanon was indeed achieved, but had nothing to do with carrying out raids on Israel. The border had been almost entirely quiet after the cease-fire a year earlier, apart from many Israeli attacks, killing many people, probably in an effort to elicit a response that could justify the planned invasion. When that failed, Israel invaded anyway. The real reason for the invasion, as frankly acknowledged, was to put an end to increasingly embarrassing PLO offers to settle the Israel-Palestine conflict through negotiations not violence, in accord with the international consensus on a two-state settlement that the US-Israel rejected. Those fabrications, which are common, are highly significant, for the present as well.
Z Sustianer: Hezbollah resistance in southern Lebanon has been much stiffer than was expected, according to mainstream media - is the planned Israeli intensification a response to these successes, or was it their intention all along? Are Hezbollah successes productive, in the sense of dampening the prospects for Israeli aggression, or not, in your estimation? Supposedly, public opinion in Israel itself is hardening in favor of the attack.
Noam Chomsky: It's true, and not controversial, that the resistance was far stiffer than expected, and is causing deep concern in Israeli (and presumably US) military-political circles. As for intentions, we don't know. On effects, Hezbollah resistance, again uncontroversially, is arousing enormous support in the Arab world, including Lebanon, where by late July, 87% supported Hezbollah resistance, including 80% of Christians and Druze. In the longer term, who knows? It's very likely that whatever the outcome, there will be another stimulus for radical Islamism and terrorism. That's been the general effect of US and Israeli actions over many years -- including, again uncontroversially, the invasion of Iraq. In Israel, public opinion has strongly supported the attack and wants it intensified, but there has been opposition, dismissed or ridiculed mostly in the US, but quite serious. By now even the pro-war Peace Now organization, and leading pro-war intellectuals (regarded here as "doves"), are raising questions about whether the invasion is too costly for Israel -- reminiscent of US "doves" in the case of Vietnam, after the Tet offensive.