Noam Chomsky on Gaza

By Ben Cohen

Palestinian men bury the body of 4-year-old Lama Hamdan at Beit Hanoun

cemetery in the northern Gaza Strip December 30, 2008. Lama and her

sister were reportedly riding a donkey cart Tuesday near a

rocket-launching site that was targeted by Israel.

photo by

Amir Farshad Ebrahimi

Of course today will be remembered for the inauguration of Barack Obama – but we must also pay serious attention to the devastation in Gaza, a war that was cynically waged during the lead up to the American transition of power.

Noam Chomsky has been a tireless voice of support for the Palestinians, and his words carry an authority matched by few. Chomsky is a Jew, a Hebrew scholar who once lived on a kibubbtz in Israel with strong ties to the country. He has been relentlessly smeared in the press by other Jews like Alan Dershowitz, mainly because he speaks the painful truth. And the truth is what we must hear if we are to honor our own history as a persecuted people, murdered for no other reason than the fact we were Jews. Chomsky says:

Eban’s justification for state terror is regarded as persuasive by respected authorities. As the current US-Israel assault raged, Times columnist Thomas Friedman explained that Israel’s tactics both in the current attack and in its invasion of Lebanon in 2006 are based on the sound principle of “trying to `educate’ Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population.” That makes sense on pragmatic grounds, as it did in Lebanon, where “the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.” And by similar logic, bin Laden’s effort to “educate” Americans on 9/11 was highly praiseworthy, as were the Nazi attacks on Lidice and Oradour, Putin’s destruction of Grozny, and other notable attempts at “education.”

Israel has taken pains to make clear its dedication to these guiding principles.NYT

correspondent Stephen Erlanger reports that Israeli human rights groups

are “troubled by Israel’s strikes on buildings they believe should be

classified as civilian, like the parliament, police stations and the

presidential palace” – and, we may add, villages, homes, densely

populated refugee camps, water and sewage systems, hospitals, schools

and universities, mosques, UN relief facilities, ambulances, and indeed

anything that might relieve the pain of the unworthy victims.A

senior Israeli intelligence officer explained that the IDF attacked

“both aspects of Hamas — its resistance or military wing and its dawa,

or social wing,” the latter a euphemism for the civilian society.”He

argued that Hamas was all of a piece,” Erlanger continues, “and in a

war, its instruments of political and social control were as legitimate

a target as its rocket caches.” Erlanger and his editors add no comment

about the open advocacy, and practice, of massive terrorism targeting

civilians, though correspondents and columnists signal their tolerance

or even explicit advocacy of war crimes, as noted.But

keeping to the norm, Erlanger does not fail to stress that Hamas

rocketing is “an obvious violation of the principle of discrimination

and fits the classic definition of terrorism.”

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.