His antipathy toward Israeli actions was immediately clear as he opened his remarks by referring to Dec. 27, 2008 as the first day of the â€œU.S.-Israel attack on helpless Palestiniansâ€ in the Gaza Strip. Calling the military and media campaigns meticulously planned, he likened current Israeli actions in Gaza to its attacks in Lebanon during the summer of 2006. Both actions have come under fire for large numbers of civilian causalities and with allegations of disproportionate use of force, while Israel has maintained that its actions have always been aimed at militant targets.
Chomsky, however, stated that the months of planning behind the ongoing incursion mean that one can be confident that all Israeli actions have been done purposefully. He claimed that the Israelis intentionally scheduled the initial bombardment at a time when children would be returning from school and adults would be milling about the streets.
He then proceeded to recall two incidents in which ships with humanitarian aid were prevented from reaching the Gaza Strip. Chomsky noted that the ships â€œintended to violate Israelâ€™s criminal blockadeâ€ around the Gaza Strip, and that the Israeli government â€œprovided routine lines,â€ saying, among other things, one of the ships encroached on its waters without establishing proper communication.
â€œEven though ramming a boat in international waters is worse than piracy off the coast of Somalia,â€ said Chomsky, â€œthe event was hardly reported.â€
Later stating that the U.S. media, just like any other media, is frequently a reflection of the norms established by its government, he ultimately concluded that the Israeli actions â€” and the underreporting of them â€” were nothing new.
â€œAt most they should be greeted with a yawn,â€ he said.
Chomsky grasped for an appropriate word to describe the magnitude of Israeli actions. Dismissing the words â€œterrorismâ€ and â€œaggressionâ€ as insufficient, he recounted past Israeli incursions into Lebanon and called the current attacks â€œfamiliarâ€ in capturing the magnitude of the Israeli offensive. He also flashed back to the 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza, when Israel removed its settlements from the area.
â€œAriel Sharon, the patron-saint of the disengagement,â€ he said, â€œthought it had made more sense to convert Gaza into the worldâ€™s largest prison.â€
At the same time, Chomsky criticized Israel for setting its sights on the West Bank, where he believes it hopes to annex land carved out by settlements and a barrier currently under construction. He added that, on top of that, Israel hopes to acquire land in the Jordan River Valley on the eastern edge of the West Bank and fragment Palestinian land through settlements and checkpoints which â€œmake life impossible.â€