On June 12, 1982, over half a million people demonstrated in New York, calling for a halt to the nuclear arms race. The demonstration was unusual in its size, and even more so in the favorable media coverage it received. About the same time, a few thousand people in scattered cities throughout the country actively protested the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the barely disguised US government support for it. A strong case can be made that the latter actions constituted the more direct and appropriate response to the very real danger of nuclear war.

It is clear enough that existing arsenals pose an enormous hazard and that the new weapons systems now being planned or deployed bring the world closer to nuclear war. Efforts to reverse the escalation in the capacity for nuclear destruction are imperative, but they are secondary to the need to identify and eliminate the most probable causes of a nuclear conflict. Any direct military conflict between the superpowers is likely to escalate quickly to nuclear conflict. Even if their nuclear arsenals were sharply reduced, they would remain capable of devastating nuclear strikes. The primary concern of those who hope to reduce the likelihood of a nuclear holocaust must be to settle, or at least limit, the conflicts and tensions that threaten to involve the superpowers.

The likelihood of such conflict in Europe today is very slight. In many parts of the Third World, however, regional conflicts or outside intervention threaten to engage the superpowers. The most threatening examples are those of the Middle East. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon provides an illuminating case study. It falls only a few steps short of engaging the superpowers, thus raising considerably the possibility of nuclear war. This danger has by no means passed. An Israeli attack on Syria proper could well lead to Russian moves in support of their ally. Even the hint of such a response would bring in the United States in force. Recall the October 1973 strategic nuclear alert, when it appeared that the USSR might undertake some action to enforce the ceasefire in Egypt.

To consider another possible scenario, the Israeli invasion may firm up Syria’s alliance with Iran. The spread of the conflict to Syria could drive Iran closer to the USSR. This would be intolerable to the United States, yet countermoves might escalate out of control. Here, too, the danger of nuclear war is appreciable. Israel itself is a nuclear power. More than a few prominent Israeli and American analysts have presented the case that Israel should publicly adopt a military strategy of “nuclear deterrence.” The primary factor enhancing the danger of nuclear war in the Middle East, however, is the US political, economic and military support for Israeli policy in the region, particularly Israel’s refusal to accept any meaningful political accommodation with the Palestinians. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon was planned on the assumption of such US political and, if necessary, military support.

No Concessions

Since 1973, Israel and the United States have been committed to removing Egypt from the Arab-Israeli conflict. Only after the October War were they willing to accept Sadat’s offer, quite explicit as early as February 1971, of a full peace treaty that would turn Egypt into an American client state. Sadat had proposed a settlement on the pre-June 1967 borders in essential agreement with the international consensus and the Rogers Plan that Kissinger had shunted aside. Sadat’s 1971 peace offer has virtually disappeared from the approved history of the period, which prefers to see the Egyptian president as a militant Arab who only became a man of peace under the kindly tutelage of his American mentors. Sadat made no mention then of Palestinian rights, allegedly the main source of controversy since Camp David. At that time, the US and Israel assumed that Israel’s overwhelming power required no concessions to Egypt. The shock of the 1973 war and its aftermath led to reassessment. Sadat’s earlier proposals were accepted, though only in part. Kissinger’s “shuttle diplomacy” and Interim Agreement were designed to exclude Egypt from the conflict while leaving Israel in a position to control the bulk of the occupied territories, in accordance with the ruling Labor government’s Allon Plan. [1]

During this period, it was necessary to fend off annoying Arab efforts to settle the conflict peaceably, on essentially the terms proposed by Sadat in 1971, but now with the added proviso of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In January 1976, the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution, introduced and backed by the Arab “confrontation states” and supported by the PLO, calling for a two-state settlement, with recognized borders and guarantees for the security and territorial integrity of both states. This fact, too, has conveniently been removed from historical memory — even Harold Saunders, former assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, can write today that “as long as no Arab government but Egypt would make peace, Israel saw no alternative to maintaining its security by the force of its own arms.” [2]

The Camp David agreements carried these arrangements further, leading finally to Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai after a “national trauma” that appears to have been staged for Israeli and American audiences. [3] The completion of this withdrawal was one crucial event of spring 1982. A second significant event of this period was the virtual annexation of the Golan Heights. A third was the implementation of the Sharon-Milson plan for suppressing any form of independent political expression in the occupied territories. These policies led to the harsh and brutal repression in the occupied territories (including the Golan) that received some limited and inadequate attention in the US press when Arabs were killed outright. The regular daily oppression and humiliation under the “benign occupation” generally passed without notice, as has been the case for many years. [4]

The next step was the invasion of Lebanon. Its primary aim was to destroy the social and political structures of the PLO, in order to eliminate any response as Israel proceeds toward more efficient repression in the occupied territories leading to ultimate annexation. A second specific goal was to establish at least in the southern part of Lebanon an Israeli client regime that will sooner or later provide Israel with access to the waters of the Litani River, a long-standing aim of Israeli government policy, advocated by Israeli planners at the highest level going back to the mid-1950s and in fact with earlier roots in Zionist thinking. [5]

Since early 1982, Israel has been seeking a pretext for the invasion of Lebanon. Since none was provided, a pretext was manufactured, on the plausible assumption that any story, however fanciful, would be defensible in the United States given the influence of “supporters of Israel” in the media and their past successes in constructing an acceptable history.

The attempt to assassinate Israeli Ambassador Shlomo Argov in London led to Israeli bombings with many casualties. The fact that the PLO was not involved in this savage act was an irrelevancy passed over quickly here. [6] (Let us put aside the question of the appropriateness of the response had the PLO been involved.) PLO rocket attacks, in retaliation for the bombing of heavily populated areas in Lebanon, then served as the long-awaited pretext for the invasion, on the grounds that Israel was acting in “self-defense” and could not tolerate regular shelling of its northern settlements. There had been no PLO shelling of Israel from the July 1981 ceasefire [7] until May 1982 (in response to Israeli bombing), while Israel had carried out thousands of intrusions into Lebanese territory, air space and territorial waters, and numerous other provocations, such as sinking Lebanese fishing vessels in Lebanese territorial waters. [8]

Creating Opportunities

Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, himself a former terrorist commander, stated in Paris that “The goal [of the invasion] is to assure an end to terrorist attacks on northern Israel. As to the means for achieving this goal, rely on us. We will find the best way.” [9] The fact that there had been no such terrorist attacks despite apparent attempts to elicit them was, as usual, beside the point. The New York Times bluntly asserted that “one need not approve every facet of Israel’s policy to see the opportunity it has created.” [10] Secretary of State Alexander Haig explained that there is a “great deal of [US government] support” for Israel’s justification of the invasion, though “some observers question [its] scope.” [11] At this time the press was full of much noble rhetoric about how aggression must not be allowed to go unpunished — in the Falklands, where the bloodless Argentine invasion also “created opportunities” for resolving a long-standing dispute. Israel had undoubtedly been emboldened by the absence of any US condemnation when Israel bombed Lebanon with many civilian casualties on April 21, after a PLO “provocation” — an Israeli soldier was killed when his jeep struck a mine within Lebanon.

The timing of the Israeli invasion may have been influenced by the fact that elections were scheduled for August in Lebanon. One Israeli goal was to ensure that Israel will be in a position to determine the form of any possible settlement. Similar considerations may have been a factor in the 1978 Israeli invasion. [12]

The Israeli leadership combined mass murder with self-congratulation. Its claim to be “different” from other powers in its profound respect for human life has been generally treated with mock seriousness here. The New York Times cites without comment a Jerusalem press conference in which Imri Ron, a Mapam Knesset member and paratroop major who fought in the Bekaa valley and Sidon, “spoke from a combination of political and military authority” about the “clean fight” the Israeli army had fought, “taking extraordinary precautions to save civilians.” [13] This is not the perception of Madeline Van Voorst, a Dutch nurse at the Palestinian Red Crescent Hospital in Sidon closed down by the Israeli army. “I was in Holland during World War II,” she told a reporter, “I know what fascists are like. It’s terrible that all these women and children are being killed. Tell that to the world.” [14] But the paratroop major’s version of what happened in Sidon is nevertheless the “authoritative” one, as far as our newspaper of record is concerned. We are therefore to ignore the Israeli bulldozers a few blocks from the hospital which “carved out a ditch to be used as a mass grave for members of the Palestine Liberation Organization and civilians,” [15] among many other scenes that the media have recorded. Apart from the US military itself, only an Israeli military officer would be accorded such “authority” in the US press.

Though the final outcome is not yet fully determined, Israel may well achieve its primary objectives. The next steps are easy to imagine. Israel will continue to move toward annexation of the occupied territories, employing whatever measures will be necessary, in accordance with the assumption of Gen. Sharon that “quiet on the West Bank” requires “the destruction of the PLO in Lebanon.” [16] Sharon’s approach has the warm endorsement of New Republic editor Martin Peretz, who writes that Israel should administer to the PLO a “lasting military defeat” which “will clarify to the Palestinians in the West Bank that their struggle for an independent state has suffered a setback of many years.” [17]

Wasting no time, Sharon dissolved the elected city councils of Doura and Nablus in the West Bank, replacing the city council of Doura by “five Arab moderates.” (“Moderate” is the term used for “Arab collaborators” in the US press.) An Israeli occupation official told the New York Times that “the moderates were now less vulnerable to intimidation by the Palestine Liberation Organization because of the success of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.” [18] Perhaps the Times sees in this action the “more forthcoming posture toward the West Bank Palestinians” recommended in its June 11 editorial, but we cannot know, since the appointment of the “moderates” elicited no editorial comment.

Longer-term planning is also fairly predictable. The logic of both the Likud and Labor Party positions is that Jordan must be converted into the “Palestinian state” it already is in Israeli propaganda. Then conditions can be created in which the Arabs of the occupied territories (and perhaps those of Israel too) will “voluntarily emigrate” to the “Palestinian state,” as proposed years ago by the Labor party leadership. [19] This “Palestinian state” will then be hostage to Israeli attack, perhaps after such “provocations” as those that sufficed to justify the Lebanon invasion to American audiences. Syria, for its part, is ruled with quite extraordinary brutality by a minority sect. Israel will work to destabilize it, so that Syria and Lebanon will be restored to a system rather like that of the Ottoman Empire, broken down into local dependencies of an ethnic-religious character dominated by America’s “strategic asset.” Similar plans are contemplated for Iraq, where Israel’s interest lies in an eventual partition into Sunni, Shi‘i and Kurdish states, as observed by military commentator Zeev Schiff. [20]

This is one motive for Israel’s support for Iran in the Iran-Iraq conflict. Another is that Israel perceives the possibility of a military coup that will restore the kinds of Iranian-Israeli relations that existed under the Shah. To this end, it is important to maintain contacts with the Iranian military. Jacob Nimrodi, formerly head of the Israeli Mossad in Iran under the Shah, expounded on these possibilities over BBC radio in February 1982. [21] On the same program, the former Israeli Ambassador to Iran, Uri Lubrani, explained that a coup would be possible if carried out by a “relatively small force, determined, ruthless, cruel,” led by men “emotionally geared to the possibility that they’d have to kill 10,000 people.”

Strategic Understanding

The long-term objective may be an alliance of Iran (once restored to the West), Turkey and Israel, ruling the region in alliance with the US as the ultimate source of their power. “The chance of strategic understanding among Iran, Turkey and Israel should not be ruled out as something that can surface again,” according to an Israeli “expert.” [22] Some Israeli commentators go further still. In Kivunim (Directions), the official ideological journal of the World Zionist Organization, Oded Yinon suggests that “the political goal of Israel in the 1980s on its western front” is to dismember Egypt after reconquest of the Sinai, overturning the “mistaken peace agreement” with Sadat. This should be no major problem, he suggests, since Egypt is “a corpse.” His detailed version of an Ottoman-style restoration for the region includes the Arabian peninsula. [23] A plausible (though unstated) further consequence is that Israel will control the region’s energy reserves. A reading of the Israeli literature confirms David Shipler’s observation that “a sense of Israeli grandeur seemed to shape [its] vision” of what he calls “a more peaceful and stable Middle East.” [24]

On a still broader scale, this alliance may be extended to include South Africa, which has been the recipient of direct Israeli assistance in its own rather comparable efforts to maintain instability and disorder along its borders. [25] It appears that Israel and South Africa are also advancing towards a large scale nuclear weapons capacity in their joint endeavors, including development of neutron bombs, missile delivery systems that can reach targets in the USSR, and a wide range of strategic and low-yield nuclear weapons. [26] Israel and South Africa are also reported to be engaged in joint development of cruise missiles with Taiwan. [27]

In the 1960s, Israel acted (with substantial CIA subsidies) to assist in US penetration of black Africa. Israel supported the regimes of Mobutu in Zaire and Bokassa in the Central African Republic. Ugandan president Milton Obote charges that Israel helped install Idi Amin in 1971. [28] The recent restoration of diplomatic relations with Mobutu is a step toward formally rebuilding these relations, which informally persisted through the diplomatic break of the 1970s. [29]

Israel also has increasingly come to serve US interests in Central America. The new military regime in Guatemala alleges that “we succeeded because our soldiers were trained by the Israelis.” [30] Its predecessor, the murderous Lucas Garcia regime, also benefited from substantial Israeli aid. Chief of Staff Benedicto Lucas Garcia stated that “the Israeli soldier is an example and a model for us,” while announcing that “Israel provides us with military support.” [31] There is evidence that Israel may have provided the technical assistance to establish an intelligence system to enable the Guatemalan regime to conduct more efficient control (in effect, massacre) of opposition elements in Guatemala. [32] According to the Israeli press, Israel served as a conduit for Reagan administration funding for El Salvador in 1981 after extra funds were blocked by Congress. [33] US plans to use Argentina as a surrogate force in Central America have foundered after the South Atlantic war. Israel might move to fill the gap, along with Chile, which is eager to take on the role assigned formerly to Argentina in US government planning. Since the late 1950s, the US government has regarded Israel as an “asset” in combating radical nationalist forces in the Middle East that might threaten US interests, increasingly so after the military victory of 1967 and particularly after 1970, when Israeli pressure was effective in deterring Syrian intervention in support of the Palestinians at the time of the “Black September” massacre. Israel is working to extend its services as a “strategic asset” on a global scale, in order to secure US support for its own immediate objectives in the surrounding Middle East region.

Much of this is projection rather than accomplished fact, but it is substantially within the bounds of plausibility. As long as the United States provides Israel with the requisite military forces, there is every reason to believe that Israel will proceed along this path, risking expanded war, which may engage the superpowers, leading to nuclear war.

Two Camps

Within Israel itself, opposition to these tendencies exists, but prior to this latest invasion at least it has been quite marginal. “This country is in two camps,” says one Israeli sociologist, “the people who want to talk to the Palestinians and the people who want to hit them. And the people who want to hit them have won.” [34] In fact, they had won long ago. It was, after all, the Labor Party cabinet of Yitzhak Rabin that rejected a proposal for Israel to “announce publicly its willingness to negotiate with any Palestinian group that would recognize Israel, renounce the use of terrorism against this country and accept the principles of the Security Council’s Resolutions 242 and 338.” [35] The policy of the Labor Party consistently corresponded to that of the Rejection Front within the PLO. Nevertheless, it is true that the voice of those seeking accommodation with the Palestinians has increasingly been stilled. Attitudes seem to be harsher among younger Israelis, so that prospects for the future are dimmer still.

One factor in this decline of “the people who want to talk to the Palestinians” is that their position has elicited so little support within the United States. Israeli doves constantly complain that “supporters of Israel” in the US are in fact driving Israel “toward a posture of callused intransigence” [36] that will lead to its moral deterioration and very likely ultimate physical destruction. A writer for Haaretz, referring to the recent wave of repression in the occupied territories, asserted that “you American Jews, you liberals, you lovers of democracy are supporting its destruction here by not speaking out against the government’s actions.” [37] He goes on to explain the plans of Begin and Sharon: to drive a large number of Arabs out of the West Bank, especially those with a potential for leadership: “You activate terrorists to plant bombs in the cars of their elected mayors, you arm the settlers and a few Arab quislings to run rampages through Arabs towns, pogroms against property, not against people. A few Arabs have been killed by settlers. The murderers are known, but the police are virtually helpless. They have their orders. What’s your excuse for not speaking out against these violations of Israeli law and Jewish morality?” With the word “quislings,” the journalist is referring to the Village Leagues that Israel has attempted to implant in the occupied territories to displace the elected leadership.

The settlers, he adds, are “religious Jews who follow a higher law and do whatever their rabbis tell them. At least one of the Gush Emunim rabbis has written that it is a mitzvah to destroy Amalek, including women and children.” (Mitzvah is an act done to please God. Amalek is a Biblical term for non-Jews living in Palestine.) The Haaretz journalist adds that his journal has “a file of horror stories reported to us by soldiers returning from occupation duty in the West Bank. We can refer to them in general terms — we can rail against the occupation that destroys the moral fiber and self-respect of our youth — but we can’t print the details because military censorship covers actions by soldiers on active duty.”

One can imagine what the file contains, given what has been presented in the Israeli press, which has been much more comprehensive and candid than the US press in this regard. This topic should be a major concern of the US press, in the light of the enormous contribution of American taxpayers to maintaining the occupation.

The Disarmament Movement and Israel

Several years ago, certain elements in the Pentagon began to fear that the US had created a Frankenstein’s monster by flooding Israel with advanced armaments. Anthony Cordesman, who had held a variety of high level administrative and intelligence posts in the Pentagon, wrote that the United States “may now find itself aiding an Israel which may use its military strength to take permanent control of former Arab territory in direct opposition to US policy, and be locked into an indefinite cold war with the Arabs,” using its military forces for preemptive strikes. The US, he observed, “has built up Israel into a state able to wage aggressive war with minimal risk.” He analyzed Israel’s overwhelming military advantages as a result of US programs and speculated that Begin’s “election may well have turned US willingness to supply armament to Israel into a major national security problem.” [38] Cordesman’s interpretation of US policy is open to question, but his warning is apt: US-backed Israeli adventurism is creating a serious security problem.

The disarmament movement dooms itself to near irrelevance if it disregards this and similar phenomena. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and the policy context in which it took place, provides one illustration of how a nuclear war is likely to erupt. It is particularly significant for us because of the primary US role in support of Israel’s “civilized terrorism” over many years. There are many other examples in the Middle East and elsewhere. Sometimes the operative factors may be largely or completely out of US control. In such cases, we can deplore ominous developments and their human consequences but can do little about them. Sometimes, as in the case discussed here, the US bears a heavy share of responsibility for exacerbating tensions and conflicts. Correspondingly, there is a great deal that we might do to relieve them.

For much of the human race, concern over a possible nuclear war may seem rather abstract and remote, a luxury granted those who do not have to face starvation, state terrorism, virtual slavery, military attack and subversion, and harsh deprivation of minimal human rights as conditions of daily existence. These issues must also be primary ones for those who hope to resist World War III in a meaningful way.

Those who devote their energies to these issues will confront problems that are intellectually more difficult and personally more unpleasant. A favorable media image, for example, is reserved for those who do not threaten the interests of established power. It is not difficult to understand why certain tendencies in the disarmament movement are accorded considerable respect and receive much applause in the ideological institutions. It is possible to portray their concerns as self-serving, thus consistent with the principle that we should be devoted primarily to our own welfare. It is the expression of sympathy and concern for the victims of our power that is intolerable to the approved moral code.

A narrow focus on strategic weapons also tends to reinforce the basic principle of the ideological system, mirrored in the propaganda of our tacit partner in global oppression: that the superpower conflict is the central element of world affairs, to which all else is subordinated. In fact, the history of the cold war demonstrates with great clarity that the threat of the superpower enemy has consistently been manipulated by each of the superpowers to mobilize its domestic population and recalcitrant allies in support of aggression, intervention and subversion in its own domains, allegedly in “defense” against a powerful enemy bent on its destruction. It also demonstrates that the primary role of strategic weapons has been to establish conditions for often brutal assault against those who seek a measure of independence, without undue concern that these actions will be inhibited by countervailing forces. Again, this pattern is manifest in the behavior of both superpowers, each of which cheerfully exploits the other’s brutality. It is also reflected in the Pentagon budget, much of which is devoted to intervention capacity.

The rhetoric of “self-defense” may come to be believed by leadership groups and the mainstream intelligentsia. In the USSR, for example, these elements may be able to persuade themselves that they are acting in self-defense when they attack Czechoslovakia or Afghanistan. In the US, their counterparts may come to believe that the US was acting in self-defense when it overthrew the government of Guatemala or invaded Vietnam or bombed a defenseless peasant society in northern Laos. In Israel, Indonesia and elsewhere, naked aggression may likewise be seen as an exercise in self-defense. After all, people are able to tolerate only so much cognitive dissonance.

The superpower conflict is real enough, but the true history of the modern period is seriously distorted, in the interests of the superpowers, by the simplistic interpretations of the Cold War system that suppress its functional role in providing the framework for intervention and subversion, employing the rhetoric of “self-defense” and “containment.” The potential of the mass disarmament movement is enormous. It faces a task of historic significance. But it may fade away as quickly as it arose, with little impact on the drift toward catastrophe that brought it into being, unless it can break away from the assumptions of the prevailing doctrinal system and devote its energies to the more demanding and more uncomfortable questions that this system is designed to mask.


[1] Noam Chomsky, “Interim Agreement,” New Politics (Winter 1975). For further references and discussion concerning the period reviewed here, see my Toward a New Cold War (New York: Pantheon, 1982).
[2] Harold Saunders, “Post-Lebanon Goals,” New York Times, June 20, 1982.
[3] Israleft 205-206, May 20, 1982.
[4] For some indication of the character of the occupation, see Toward a New Cold War, chapter 9, and Rafik Halabi, The West Bank Story (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981).
[5] It was clear a year ago that “sooner or later, Israel will probably find a pretext for another invasion of Lebanon in an effort to administer the coup de grace to the PLO and to disperse the refugees once again” (Toward a New Cold War, p. 297). For discussion of Israel’s designs on the Litani River, which require that it control Lebanon well to the north, and of Israel’s long-term efforts to control the water resources in the immediate region, see Thomas Stauffer, “Israel’s Water Needs May Erode Path to Peace in Region,” Christian Science Monitor, January 20, 1982. Much earlier, David Ben-Gurion held that Eretz Yisrael included southern Lebanon, which he referred to as “the northern part of western Israel.” For Ben-Gurion, it also included southern Syria, Jordan, the Sinai and the currently occupied territories. See Israel Shahak, “The ‘Historical Right’ and the Other Holocaust,” Journal of Palestine Studies (Spring 1981), citing the Report of the 1938 Congress of the World Council of Poalei Zion, the precursor to the major element in the current Labor coalition. At about the same time, Ben-Gurion claimed that “the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them” [New Outlook (Tel Aviv, April 1977), citing Ben-Gurion’s memoirs]. The context was his acceptance of a partition proposal as a step toward realizing these aspirations. Similar statements by Yasser Arafat on Palestinian “dreams” have elicited much outrage in the US and are cited to “prove” the Nazi-like character of the PLO.
[6] Also quickly passed over was the assassination of two Palestinians in Rome by a group calling itself the “Jewish Armed Resistance,” which appears to have had contact with the Jewish Defense League. The PLO claim that Israel was involved in the assassinations was denounced by the Israeli charge d’affaires in Rome who said that it was tantamount to “an appeal to the assassination of members of the embassy of Israel” (New York Times, June 18, 1982). The Israeli claim that the PLO was responsible for the Argov attack was not “tantamount to an appeal for assassination.” Rather, it was the preliminary to the Israeli assassination of thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese during the “retaliatory” strikes.
[7] Michael Precker writes in the Boston Globe (June 20, 1982) that the Israeli town of Kiryat Shimona “was frequently hit by artillery shells and Soviet-made Katyusha rockets,” referring specifically to the three-week “border clash” (which included the bombing of Beirut with hundreds of dead) in July 1981. He does not mention that the border had been peaceful in mid-1981 until Israel bombed Palestinian targets in Lebanon on July 10, 1981. This has been a recurring pattern. The standard version in the US, however, is that Israel has been compelled to tolerate unprovoked PLO shelling: “It was never reasonable,” the New York Times editorialized on June 7, “to expect Israel to leave the Galilee hostage to an unfettered PLO army within rocket range.” In the light of the historical record, this can be interpreted to mean that Israel must be free to bomb Palestinians and Lebanese at will, without fear of retaliation.
[8] Anthony Lewis, “Operation Peace,” New York Times, June 7, 1982: Alexander Cockburn and James Ridgeway, “War in Lebanon,” Village Voice, June 22, 1982, reviewing UN Security Council reports, inter alia: to date, this is the most accurate and comprehensive account of the background to the invasion. On the record of Israeli provocations, the Christian Science Monitor’s Robin Wright reported on March 18, 1982, what UN officials and Western diplomats in Beirut describe as an Israeli campaign of “‘brinkmanship shadowboxing’ in an attempt to bait the Palestinians into provoking a confrontation in southern Lebanon,” including highly provocative military deployments in Lebanon, sinking of Lebanese fishing boats and so forth. AJME News (Americans for Justice in the Middle East) (Beirut, April 1982) cites a report of the right-wing Voice of Lebanon radio on March 9 that a Lebanese freighter was dynamited by Israeli frogmen in Tyre. The Monitor has been virtually alone in stating the obvious in its reporting and analysis. See, for example, Geoffrey Godsell’s June 14, 1982 discussion of the interconnections between the invasion of Lebanon and the West Bank repression, and the regular reporting of John Yemma.
[9] Boston Globe, June 16, 1982.
[10] New York Times editorial, June 11, 1982.
[11] Boston Globe, June 20, 1982.
[12] Walid Khalidi, Conflict and Violence in Lebanon (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979). For discussion of the possibilities for an internal Lebanese settlement prior to the current invasion, see Edward Mortimer, “Arab Land Carved Up,” New Statesman, June 11, 1982.
[13] See David Shipler’s dispatches in New York Times, June 18 and June 20, 1982.
[14] Michael Precker, Boston Globe, June 20, 1982.
[15] Ibid. Evidently we are also to ignore Shipler’s description of Tyre (June 15), where “not a single building was untouched by the flying shrapnel” and “some high-rise apartments had collapsed like houses of cards, some villas were chewed into piles of dust and rubble,” with casualties that will probably never be known.
[16] Zeev Schiff, Haaretz, May 23, 1982.
[17] Interview with Beni Landau, Haaretz, June 4, 1982. Peretz is concerned that Begin’s “autonomy” will allow the Arabs no more than the right to collect their own garbage, and urges “slightly better” treatment. Israeli society is “too moral,” he explains, as illustrated by the “enlightened and liberal 13-year occupation.” He thinks that his “old friend” Menahem Milson may be right in his judgement that “it was necessary to carry out the strong-arm policies [he has advocated] from 1967.” As for the Palestinians, their day has passed: “The quarrel is beginning to be boring.” The Palestinians will become “just another crushed people, like the Kurds and the Afghans,” and the “European initiative” will founder, as has already begun to happen with the political changes in France and Britain. There is a problem in the US, where Israel has “lost the press many years ago” because “most journalists are young people of the Vietnam generation whose sympathy is always granted to anyone who calls himself ‘a guerrilla’ or a ‘freedom fighter,’” and television simply “makes the problem worse.” But Israel has friends in powerful places and should carry the day. Meanwhile, this advocate of an overwhelming assault on the PLO felt no shame in serving as a sponsor for an Oxfam “Urgent Humanitarian Appeal for the People of Lebanon” that described “The grim count of civilian casualties in Lebanon,” with thousands killed and hundreds of thousands homeless (advertisement, New York Times, June 20, 1982).
[18] New York Times, June 17, 1982.
[19] For Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s thoughts on this matter, see Toward a New Cold War, p. 234.
[20] Haaretz, June 2, 1982.
[21] BBC-1 at 2010, February 1, 1982.
[22] New York Times, May 29, 1982.
[23] Oded Yinon, “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s,” Kivunim, February 1982 (Hebrew). A translation will appear in the Journal of Palestine Studies (Summer 1982). For perceptive comments on this topic, see Edward Said, Covering Islam (New York: Pantheon, 1981), pp. 137 ff.
[24] New York Times, June 20, 1982. In keeping with this sense of grandeur, Begin described the Argov assassination attempt as “a most cruel attack on the majesty of the state of Israel” (New York Times, June 18, 1982). Consider also Gen. Sharon’s account of “Israel’s strategic interests” as extending over Southwest Asia and the Persian Gulf to North and Central Africa. (Al-Fajr, January 15-21, 1982, p. 10, translated from Maariv).
[25] See Toward a New Cold War, pp. 293-294, and Israel Shahak, Israel’s Global Role: Weapons for Repression (Belmont, MA: Association of Arab-American University Graduates, 1982).
[26] Yossi Melman, Haaretz, May 12, 1982, reporting on the contents of a new book (Two Minutes Over Baghdad) by Israeli and American-Israeli scholars with special qualifications in “military strategy and nuclear doctrines,” Michael Hendel, Amos Perlmutter and Uri Bar-Yossef. There is a briefer report in the Jerusalem Post, May 13, 1982.
[27] See Toward a New Cold War, p. 293.
[28] Ibid., pp. 315, 457. On Uganda, see the Washington Post, March 25, 1972, and British press accounts of the Idi Amin coup in January 1971. Amin ordered an estimated 40 Israeli military advisers out of the country in March 1972, and soon broke relations completely.
[29] Christian Science Monitor, May 24, 1982; Jewish Post and Opinion (New York), June 4, 1982; New York Times, June 19, 1982.
[30] Maariv, March 25, 1982.
[31] Maariv, November 22, 1981; see appendix to Shahak, op. cit.
[32] Manchester Guardian Weekly, January 10, 1982.
[33] Davar, January 3, 1982; Maariv, January 3, 1982; see appendix to Shahak, op, cit.
[34] New York Times, June 20, 1982.
[35] New York Times, December 2, 1975. See Toward a New Cold War, pp. 266ff for this and other statements.
[36] Gen. Mattityahu Peled, “American Jewry: More Israeli than Israelis,” New Outlook (May-June 1975). See also Toward a New Cold War, p. 273.
[37] Jesse Lurie, “Democracy Seen in Danger in Israel,” Jewish Post and Opinion, May 28, 1982.
[38] Armed Forces Journal International, October 20, 1977.

How to cite this article:

Noam Chomsky "Israel’s Invasion and the Disarmament Movement," Middle East Report 108 (September/October 1982).

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