re-israel's aggression in leb

Daniel S. Epstein mie at ix.netcom.com
Mon Apr 29 16:43:43 MDT 1996


Here's Chomsky's take on the so called "peace process."

       Israel, Lebanon, and the "Peace Process"
       by Noam Chomsky


     Lebanon has been a victim of the Arab-Israel
conflict for half a century.  In 1948, and again in
1967, it was a dumping ground for Palestinians who fled
or were expelled by the Israeli army.  Their right to
return or compensation is written into the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (Dec. 10, 1948), spelled
out more explicitly in UN Resolution 194 passed
unanimously the next day, and reiterated annually.

     That right, of course, is conditional on U.S.
decisions.  Since World War II, the U.S. has controlled
the region, recognizing it to be "a stupendous source
of strategic power, and one of the greatest material
prizes in world history." Washington's support of the
right of return was rhetorical only, and has been
officially abandoned by the Clinton Administration.  By
U.S. decision, then, the refugees are a problem for
Lebanon and Jordan, and do not have the rights accorded
them by the community of nations.

     After the 1967 Israel-Arab war, a diplomatic
framework was established calling for peace along with
Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, with
at most minor and mutual adjustment (UN 242, reiterated
in official U.S. policy statements).  The Arab states
refused peace and Israel refused withdrawal, proposing
instead the "Allon Plan," which left it in control of
much of the territories.  The impasse was broken in
1971, when President Sadat of Egypt agreed to full
peace in return for Israeli withdrawal from Egyptian
territory.  U.S. policy then shifted to support for
Israel's stand, under Kissinger's formula of
"stalemate."

     U.S. international isolation increased in the
mid-1970s, when virtually the entire world endorsed a
modification of UN 242 to include a Palestinian state
in the West Bank and Gaza.  Washington was compelled to
veto a Security Council resolution to this effect in
January 1976, to vote regularly against subsequent UN
resolutions, and to block other diplomatic initiatives
>from Europe, the Arab states, the PLO, and others.

     From the early 1970s, Lebanon was drawn into the
conflict as a result of cross-border PLO terror and far
more destructive Israeli attacks on Lebanon, sometimes
retaliatory, often not.  Thus in February 1973, Israeli
forces attacked north of Beirut, killing many
civilians, in a raid justified as preemptive.  In
December 1975, Israeli bombing killed over 50 Lebanese
in an attack Israel described as "preventive, not
punitive"; it appears to have been a reaction to the UN
Security Council meeting debating the diplomatic
settlement that Israel opposed and Washington vetoed.
There are many other examples.

     The Camp David agreements in 1978-79 neutralized
Egypt, leaving Israel "free to sustain military
operations against the PLO in Lebanon as well as
settlement activity on the West Bank" (Israeli
strategic analyst Avner Yaniv).  As Yaniv and other
Israeli commentators have observed, Israel's 1982
invasion of Lebanon, after a year of Israeli attacks
that failed to elicit PLO retaliation, was motivated by
concern that the PLO's public advocacy of the
international consensus might undermine U.S.-Israeli
rejectionism.  The invasion eliminated the problem of
PLO moderation by demolishing the organization in
Lebanon, but created a new problem: the formation of
the Islamic fundamentalist group Hizbollah, with the
official aim of driving Israel from Lebanon.  Despite
massive resort to terror, Israel was forced to withdraw
>from all but the southern part of Lebanon, where it
maintains a "security zone" in violation of orders of
the UN Security Council issued in March 1978.

     The Iraq war in 1991 put the U.S. in a position to
implement its own unilateral settlement, ratified in
the Oslo Agreements.  The latest phase, Oslo II, grants
Israel control of far more of the territories than it
demanded in the Allon Plan, and affirms its legal
rights throughout the territories, thus rescinding UN
242 and other relevant UN Resolutions and official
declarations.  A greatly expanded Jerusalem region is
effectively incorporated within Israel, which also
keeps control of most of West Bank water resources.
Settlement and construction programs implementing these
plans were extended, relying on U.S. subsidies.  During
the first three years of the Rabin-Peres Labor
government, to July 1995, the number of settlers
increased by 30% (not counting Greater Jerusalem).
Government expenditures and inducements for new
settlers continue after Oslo II.  The intended goal, it
appears, is to ensure Israel's control of the
territories, with scattered cantons of local
Palestinian administration.  If these are called a
"Palestinian state," the result will resemble South
Africa's Bantustan policy, but not quite.  The
Bantustans were subsidized by South Africa, while the
U.S.-Israeli plan is to leave to the Palestinian
cantons the task of dealing with the bitter effects of
the military occupation, which barred any possibility
of economic development.

      Meanwhile Israeli attacks on Lebanon continued,
killing many civilians.  In 1993, these attacks
elicited retaliation by Hizbollah, to which Israel
responded by invading Lebanon.  An agreement was
reached to restrict military actions by either side to
Israel's "security zone" in Lebanon.  Israel has
ignored the agreement, attacking elsewhere at will.
Thus, the day that Prime Minister Shimon Peres took
office after the Rabin assassination in November 1995,
The New York Times reported approvingly that Israeli
warplanes attacked targets near Beirut, thus
demonstrating that Peres would maintain Rabin's hard
line.  So matters continued, occasionally receiving
brief notice, as on March 21 1996, when Israel attacked
Muslim villages north of the "security zone" in
retaliation for attacks on its occupying army.  The
standard story in U.S. commentary is that "the accord
had largely held until [April 1996], when Hezbollah
resumed its attacks" (New York Times).  The slightest
attention to facts suffices to refute the doctrine,
which nevertheless reigns unchallenged.

     The Israeli offensive of April 1996, much like
those of earlier years, has the openly expressed intent
of punishing the civilian population so that the
government of Lebanon will be compelled to accept U.S.-
Israeli demands.  It is this "rational prospect" that
has always motivated Israel's attacks on civilian
populations, Israeli diplomat Abba Eban explained years
ago.

     The short-term goal today, Washington announced,
is to modify the 1993 agreement to require that all
actions against the Israeli occupying forces cease, and
that Hizbollah disarm; Lebanon rejected the proposal,
insisting on the right of resistance to foreign
occupation that was endorsed by the UN in 1987 by a
vote of 153-2 (U.S. and Israel opposed, Honduras alone
abstaining), still unreported in the U.S.  Washington's
long-term goal is to integrate Lebanon and Syria into
the Middle East system based on U.S. client states.
Palestinians in the occupied territories are to be
reduced to a minor annoyance, with local administration
under general Israeli control.  The refugees are to be
forgotten.

     It is well to remember that Israel's actions,
however one assesses them, are conducted with virtual
impunity.  As Washington's leading client state, Israel
inherits the right to do as it chooses.  A dramatic
illustration of this right, quite relevant to Lebanon,
has just been offered in the home country.  On April
19, there was much anguished commentary on the car
bombing at Oklahoma City a year earlier, when middle
America "looked like Beirut," headlines lamented.

Beirut, of course, had looked like Beirut long before;
for example, just 10 years before, when the worst
terrorist act of the period was perpetrated in Beirut,
a car bombing timed to cause maximum civilian
casualties, virtually duplicated at Oklahoma City.  The
facts are well known, but unmentionable.  That act of
terror was carried out by the CIA, a fact that suffices
to remove the incident from history along with much
else that suffers the same defect.  The implications
are of no slight significance in world affairs.

Noam Chomsky
MIT, Cambridge MA
April 23 1996






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