This is the full text of an interview, conducted by Amir Tajik, published in the English-language Iran Daily on 16 July 2007. Jonathan Cook is a British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the author of Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State (Pluto Press, 2006) and the forthcoming Israel and the Clash of Civilizations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East.
You have declared that Israel’s attack on Lebanon’s Hezbollah was based on a prepared script. Which countries do you think contributed to this script?
I don’t think there is too much doubt about who was involved in writing this script. It was a cabal inside the Israeli and US political and security establishments. My guess is that the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, was only marginally in the picture. There is a common misperception in the West that Israel is not only a democracy but that it is a normal regime in terms of its political structure. What isn’t appreciated is that the army and government are more like two “faces” of the same set of institutions, which is why the same personnel move so effortlessly between them. In the most important areas of life, the army is really in charge of the country.
We have quite a lot of evidence for how the script was drafted, a process that I describe in detail in my forthcoming book, Israel and the Clash of Civilizations.
According to reports in the US media, for more than a year before the war on Lebanon, Israeli commanders had been discussing an attack on Lebanon with the Pentagon, which at the time was decisively under the control of an ultra-hawkish group known as the neocons — American policymakers with close ideological ties to the Israeli right. It seems that both the US and Israel were agreed that they needed to find a pretext to attack Lebanon. It seems that both the US and Israel were agreed that they needed to find a pretext to attack Lebanon. The US had also made sure both to isolate Hizbullah before the attack by using a UN resolution to force Syria out of the country, and to encourage popular support for the pro-Washington government in Beirut by helping to engineer a “Cedar Revolution”. We also know from statements made by neocons close to Bush that, once Hizbullah had been crushed, they were planning some sort of strike on Syria.