Steven Jonas, Senior Editor, TGP
So there was one Danny Danon, a Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset and leading member of the leading Right-Wing Israeli political party, Likud, on “Morning Joe” (without Joe or Mika, as it happened) on Sept. 12, 2012, stating that what the United States (!) had to do with Iran was “draw a red line” in reference to their nuclear development program.
Danon did not specify exactly (or even imprecisely) what this “red line” would be: US support for a date certain for an Israeli attack on Iran, a date certain for a joint US/Israeli attack on Iran, the revelation of some absolute truth about the Iranian nuclear development program, something else, unspecified? But anyway, there was the demand for the “red line.” This was followed by the clear implication that President Obama, by not being willing to do this (totally unspecified) thing, was “letting Israel down,” was showing that “he was no friend of Israel,” had “no backbone,” and etc. Danon went on to say that the sanctions that Obama has worked so hard to get through the UN are a) not working (there seems to be plenty of evidence that they are, but who cares about evidence) b) wouldn‘t mean anything even if they were.
Now it happens that there is no clear evidence that Iran is working to develop a nuclear weapon (although they certainly may be and given Israeli aggressiveness might well want to do so). But the Likud government says a) that they are and b) that even given Israel’s own huge nuclear arsenal and totally unknown means of delivery, Iran mustn’t be allowed to get one. Apparently, the lessons of mutually assured destruction (AWAD) from the Cold War, and, for example, the present experience of India and Pakistan, mean nothing to the Israel Right. And, on the surface, the Israeli Right seems to be just itching to go attack Iran, even with the very real, and assured, consequences of doing so. They would, for example, include devastating rocket attacks on Israel, the closing of the Strait of Hormuz with the resulting massive increases in energy prices around the world, to say nothing of the enormous potential Iranian civilian casualties and the creation of total international pariah status for the State of Israel.
Now, one might say, doesn’t Netanyahu know all this? And one might also point to the article (1) by David Remnick, Editor of The New Yorker that appeared in the Sept. 3, 2012 issue. In it, Mr. Remnick discusses at length the position of most of the present and recent leadership of the Israeli Defense Force, Mossad (the Israeli CIA) and Shin Bet (the Isreali FBI) that Israel should do no such thing. This position is affirmed, at considerable length (after all, it is The New Yorker) by a recently retired head of Mossad, one Meir Dagan, who, Mr. Remnick points out, has never been a shrinking violet in using force to promote Israel’s interests.
So the question must be raised, “what’s it all about, Bibi?” Is it really about Iran and the bomb or is it really about something else? Well, I happen to think that it is really about something else, or really two something elses: Israeli domestic politics and policies and US politics. Given the utter insanity of actually bombing Iran (and unlike certain members of his party/coalition and of the US GOP, Netanyahu gives no evidence of being insane, nor does his number two, Ehud Barak), it appears that all this sturm und drang about “red lines” and “Obama abandoning Israel” is really about something else. That would be the continuing occupation of the Occupied Territories and the ultimate goal of many of the Jewish occupiers (know politely as the “settlers”), led by the Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman: expulsion of the Palestinians. Danny Danon himself said as much in an Op-Ed that appeared last year in The New York Times (2). He declared, in effect, “the West Bank [otherwise known as the Occupied Territories] is ours and everyone better get used to the idea.”
This is the real goal of the Netanyahu government. And so the real current objective in regard to Iran and the bomb has little to do with Iran and the bomb, but rather is a really not-at-all shrouded attempt to influence the US election. An Obama in his second term could really turn up the pressure on Israel to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Palestinians. Any successful outcome would mean both the repatriation of many of the Occupiers (“settlers”) and the abandonment of the “Greater Israel” concept, so fondly held by many orthodox Jews, Christian Zionists, and Armageddonists. A Romney in his first term not only would not do that but would encourage the Israeli Right in steadfast opposition to any negotiations. Netanyahu and his friends at AIPAC/Sheldon Adelson, etc. are really after peeling away some of the traditionally Democratic Jewish support for Obama, so as to help get the much-more-desirable Romney elected.
In terms of domestic Israeli policy, as long as Netanyahu can portray Iran as an “existential threat to Israel’s existence,” so long can he keep any meaningful opposition to either his foreign or domestic policies at bay, and undermined. Further, by doing the latter he keeps any real opposition to the rapid widening of the gap between the very rich in Israel and everyone else (sound familiar?) from developing, he keeps the Israeli domestic arms industry humming along (sound familiar?), and he keeps Likud politically relevant. Because with any peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, Likud becomes totally irrelevant.
And so, that’s what it’s all about, Bibi. And the sooner that truth is recognized the better it will be for all concerned.
Senior Editor STEVEN JONAS, MD, MPH, is a widely published author. He is a contributing editor to Buzzflash, Truthout, Cyrano’s Journal, and other leading anglophone political sites. His 15% Solution, How the Republican Religious Right Won the White House, a true fiction novel on the coming of fascism to the US is scheduled for re-publication in a revised edition in the Winter/Spring 2013 season by Trepper & Katz Impact Books.
1. Remnick, David, “Letter from Tel Aviv: The Vegetarian,” The New Yorker, Sept. 3, 2012, p. 22.
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