The US political and media establishment lies in defense of Israel

Chris Hedges writes that pretty much everything that emanates from Washington and Tel Aviv and the mainstream media about the situation in Gaza is a lie, with only a few reports and analyses presenting anything remotely close to the truth.

Nearly all the words and phrases used by the Democrats, Republicans and the talking heads on the media to describe the unrest inside Israel and the heaviest Israeli assault against the Palestinians since the 2014 attacks on Gaza, which lasted 51 days and killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children, are a lie. Israel, by employing its military machine against an occupied population that does not have mechanized units, an air force, navy, missiles, heavy artillery and command-and-control, not to mention a U.S. commitment to provide a $38 billion defense aid package for Israel over the next decade, is not exercising “the right to defend itself.” It is carrying out mass murder. It is a war crime. 

Israel has made clear it is ready to destroy and kill as wantonly now as it was in 2014. Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz, who was the chief of staff during the murderous assault on Gaza in 2014, has vowed that if Hamas “does not stop the violence, the strike of 2021 will be harder and more painful than that of 2014.” The current attacks have already targeted several residential high-rises including buildings that housed more than a dozen local and international press agencies, government buildings, roads, public facilities, agricultural lands, two schools and a mosque.

I spent seven years in the Middle East as a correspondent, four of them as The New York Times Middle East bureau chief. I am an Arabic speaker. I lived for weeks at a time in Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, where more than 2 million Palestinians exist on the edge of starvation, struggle to find clean water and endure constant Israeli terror. I have been in Gaza when it was pounded with Israeli artillery and air strikes. I have watched mothers and fathers, wailing in grief, cradling the bloodied bodies of their sons and daughters. I know the crimes of the occupation — the food shortages caused by the Israeli blockade, the stifling overcrowding, the contaminated water, the lack of health services, the near-constant electrical outages due to the Israeli targeting of power plants, the crippling poverty, the endemic unemployment, the fear and the despair. I have witnessed the carnage. 

I also have listened from Gaza to the lies emanating from Jerusalem and Washington. Israel’s indiscriminate use of modern, industrial weapons to kill thousands of innocents, wound thousands more and make tens of thousands of families homeless is not a war: It is state-sponsored terror. And while I oppose the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinians into Israel, as I oppose suicide bombings, seeing them also as war crimes, I am acutely aware of a huge disparity between the industrial violence carried out by Israel against innocent Palestinians and the minimal acts of violence capable of being waged by groups such as Hamas.

Israel is in breach of more than 30 UN Security Council resolutions. It is in breach of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that defines collective punishment of a civilian population as a war crime. It is in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention for settling over half a million Jewish Israelis on occupied Palestinian land and for the ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians when the Israeli state was founded and another 300,000 after Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank were occupied following the 1967 war. Its annexation of East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights violates international law, as does its building of a security barrier in the West Bank that annexes Palestinian land into Israel. It is in violation of UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which states that Palestinian “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.” 

This is the truth. Any other starting point for the discussion of what is taking place between Israel and the Palestinians is a lie.

Joe Biden has always been, and still is, a contemptible apologist for Israeli war crimes. He has issued a statement not only supporting Israel’s right to defend itself (the usual excuse put forward to justify Israel’s war crimes) , he has also put the brakes on any action by the UN.

The US alone blocked a council statement on the worsening situation in the region at closed-door meetings in New York last Monday and Wednesday, and it was alone again when it opposed holding an open session on Friday, as proposed by Norway, Tunisia and China.

Preventing a meeting was an unusual step which in more normal circumstances would be put to a procedural vote – one that the US would almost certainly have lost. Virtual sessions during the Covid pandemic, however, have to be agreed by consensus.

According to diplomats at the UN, the US mission, led by ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, had been in favour of a security council statement but had been overruled by Washington. However, the prospect of a demonstration of US isolation at the general assembly, on a scale reminiscent of the Trump era, helped bring the White House and state department around to accepting an open meeting.

“After a period where Linda Thomas-Greenfield has really pushed other council members to make statements on Tigray and on Myanmar, for the US then to suddenly turn around and say that a statement would not be helpful inevitably creates a sense of dissonance,” Richard Gowan, the UN director of the International Crisis Group, said.

Israel has destroyed a 12-story building in Gaza that housed the Associated Press and Al Jazeera news bureaus, not doubt to suppress first-hand reporting of its war crimes from that area. In this report NBC correspondent Richard Engel recounts how the US deliberately targeted the Al Jazeera office in Baghdad during the US onslaught on that country.

American forces had destroyed the office of the Arab television network al-Jazeera in the early-morning hours, killing a reporter.

I’ve been told that both al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi had given the Pentagon the global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of their bureaus in Baghdad. The Americans, therefore, should have known where they were.

In other attacks, the US killed three reporters in Iraq where, as the report says, “All the journalists were killed and injured in daylight at locations known to the Pentagon as media sites.”

So Israel is doing what its patron, apologist, and enabler the US also does, trying to prevent any media coverage of its crimes.


  1. garnetstar says

    And the 2014 attack on Gaza--51 days of bombardment, 2200 killed--achieved….what, exactly? That, in seven years, Israel could do it again? And so, making the 2021 strikes longer and more painful will accomplish…..nothing as well?

    Why 51 days, why not 50 or 49? Were the citizens of Gaza not terrorized enough until exactly 51 days? And the current continuing strikes, will they go on for another random number of days, or until…..what? Who decides when enough civilians have randomly been killed and enough of their buildings destroyed? Who decides that the terror has gone on long enough to accomplish Israel’s goal of……what?

    Too much open sadism here. Killing and cruelty for the enjoyment of exercising power, just because they can.

  2. publicola says

    I have no animus toward Jews, but why are we so damn afraid of Israel? Do we really think they would leave us and become allies of the Russians if we disagreed with them, let alone give them the spanking they so richly deserve? It’s the money and votes of American Jews that keep our politicians in line concerning Israel. Shame on Biden for blindly caving in.

  3. Ray de Silva says

    This is gonna get me some hate mail, I’m sure. Jews were targeted by the Nazis during WWII (and before, and after) and usually were seen as the victims. Israel, after its creation by cynical Brits, was very quickly governed by European Jews who were basically “white” and … learned everything about victim-blaming from the Nazis. Now Israel is a fascist country where even non-european Jews are ignored. I speak as a descendant of Latvian Jews three centuries ago, although I am technically a Methodist. The behaviour of the Israeli government is very clearly not that which is perceived in the USA, where much of the reporting is coloured by vague guilt feelings that prevent people from realizing that even Jewish human rights groups have deemed the Israeli government an apartheid regime. That’s so unfair! Those poor Israelis, who have only nuclear warheads and F16s and billions of dollars worth of war material, going up against opponents who have … nothing? And demand the right to survive? The heck with that!

  4. steve oberski says


    Inside Israel’s Unholy Alliance With Right-Wing Evangelicals

    Until, that is, Armageddon, at which point two-thirds of all Jews will perish during the seven-year Tribulations, and the remaining third will be converted to Christianity. Devout Christians will be spared this hellish conflict by the Rapture, and then, following Jesus’ return to Earth, they will claim Jerusalem for themselves.

    That doesn’t sound like a very pro-Jewish position, and yet Evangelicals have nonetheless fostered strong bonds with Israel (and its supporters) over the past few decades. Much of that is thanks to the work of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, an organization founded in the early 1980s by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and now run—following his February 2019 death—by his daughter Yael Eckstein. The Fellowship receives upwards of $129 million annually in donations from Evangelicals, including from the likes of Boyd and his economically ravaged congregation, who in a late ’Til Kingdom Come scene fork over $25,000 to Yael in a ceremony that’s as strange as it is, apparently, now commonplace. Across America and Israel, the Fellowship and its base court and attain financial and political support for the cause of Israel defense and sovereignty—which also includes the settler movement that, the film contends, is driven by the theological conviction that Israel is central to God’s divine plan.

  5. KG says

    Ray de Silva@3,

    I have no issue with anything in your comment, apart from one historical inaccuracy:

    Israel, after its creation by cynical Brits

    The Balfour Declaration, in 1917, spoke of a “national home for the Jewish people”, but did not envisage that “home” as an independent state; the intention was that it should be part of the British Empire -- at most, a British protectorate. The state of Israel was established as a result of Zionist terrorism (backed by France, in retaliation for British undermining of French rule in Syria and Lebanon), aimed both at the Arab population, and at the British*. Among its leaders were at least two future Israeli Prime Ministers -- Begin and Shamir. I recommend James Barr’s A Line in the Sand for the whole period 1916-1948 (the eponymous “Line” was drawn as part of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 which divided the area into British and French spheres).

    *There was also Arab terrorism, and British state terror.

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