The Muamar brothers and corporeal Gilad Shalat
The West’s power of distinction is challenged
By Noam Chomsky
[This article published in: Freitag 34, 8/25/2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.freitag.de/2006/34/06340603.php.]
A quick glance at western media shows that the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel were faded out during the Lebanon war even more than before. The destruction of the Gaza strip fell to the background like the further takeover of the West Bank. The world press reported one-sidedly about the official reasons. On June 25, Israeli corporeal Gilad Shalit was taken prisoner triggering vehement worldwide indignation. Logically the attacks of the Israelis were justified. The “kidnapping” of this soldier was a serious crime, it was said.
A day before, the Israeli army abducted two civilians, Osama and Mustafa Muamar from Gaza City and thereby committed an even more serious crime. The world press must have known about this kidnapping of the Muamars. The reports in Israel’s English-language media were based on information of the army (IDF). Scattered accounts appeared in several US papers. Typically enough, there wasn’t a commentary or any more reporting anywhere or any call for military attacks against Israel.
A Google search shows how the kidnapping of the two Palestinians on June 24 and the capture of the Israeli the next day were treated. Since both events were only 24 hours apart, the rage over the kidnapping of Shalet was nothing but cynical swindle. The prevailing standard says: The abduction of civilians cannot be criticized as long as it starts from our side. If our soldier is captured, we must counter the despicable outrage of the “other side” that calls for collective punishment.
Gideon Levy, editor of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, comments: The abduction of civilians the day before the capture of corporeal Shalet gave a “legitimate basis” to the operations of the army. Therefore the established media preferred to avoid the facts. Lastly, the army claims the kidnapped Palestinians were “Hamas militants” or potential criminals.
Several things are actually at stake for Israel with the justification of its military actions. The US-supported Arab rulers first condemned Hezbollah but then relativized that verdict – out of fear of their own populations. Even king Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Washington’s most loyal ally, said: “If a peaceful solution should fail through Israeli arrogance, only a belligerent solution is left. Nobody can predict the reverberation in the region and whether there will be wars and conflicts that will spare no one, not even those seduced by their strength who play with fire.”
A leading Lebanese Hezbollah researcher who is also a sharp critic of the “party of God” warns, “all hell will break loose” in Lebanon. On account of the Israeli campaign supported by the US, “the Shiite community nurses a seething resentment toward Israel, the US and their own government that they regard as a traitor.”
The US will hardly be able to oppose this because the remarkable incompetence of the Bush planners – even according to their own standards – has led to a catastrophe in Iraq. The US administration may face a nightmare, a loose Shiite alliance that independent of Washington controls the greatest energy supply in the world and in the worst case builds close ties to the Shanghai group that includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kurdistan, Uzbekistan and Taschekistan with Pakistan, India and Iran as observers.