Netanyahu identifies Israel with the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School
It was intended to be thoughtful and compassionate, but it came across as something far different.
In his letter of condolences to President Barack Obama over the tragedy in Newton, Connecticut, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu deliberately referenced Palestinian attacks in Israel. He didn’t actually write ‘terrorism’ or ‘Hamas’ or something else incendiary because he didn’t have to; the implication was clear.
The letter reads:
Dear President Obama,
I was shocked and horrified by today’s savage massacre of innocent children and adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
We in Israel have experienced such cruel acts of slaughter and we know the shock and agony they bring.
I want to express my profound grief, and that of all the people in Israel, to the families that lost their loved ones.
May you and the American people find the strength to overcome this unspeakable tragedy.
With my deepest condolences,
(Signed) Benjamin Netanyahu,
Prime Minister of Israel
It would be deeply cynical to suggest that Netanyahu consciously saw a massacre of innocent children as an opportunity to make a political point about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. In fact, there is no doubt that the Prime Minister’s sympathies are genuine.
But that’s just the point. The line about Israel having ‘experienced such cruel acts of slaughter’ gives us a telling commentary on the way Netanyahu sees the world, and, more specifically, the way he sees Israel’s relationship with Palestinians.
Prime Minister Netanyahu identifies Israel with the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza with the gunman. According to Netanyahu’s worldview, any violent interaction between Israelis and Palestinians will, without fail, be an example of evil Palestinian terrorists preying upon Israeli innocence. To wit, even after the formidable Israeli army pounded Gaza City last month [killing 35 children], Netanyahu, displaying a stunning nerve, declared that Israel would not be bullied by the Palestinians.
It’s this perverse victimization philosophy that drives Israeli foreign policy, and, according to Israel’s hawkish officials, it is what should form the framework of the United States’ national conversation about the Israel-Palestine conflict. According to Netanyahu, however, that framework has begun to crack under the Obama Presidency.
Though Obama has repeatedly reaffirmed the ‘special relationship’ the US has with its Middle Eastern partner, the President’s administration has had the temerity to chastise Israel for some of its particularly extreme policy decisions, such as the approval of the construction of thousands of apartment buildings the day after the United Nations voted to upgrade Palestine’s diplomatic status.
Netanyahu has found it intolerable that Obama is either unable or unwilling to entirely accept (to the Prime Minister’s standard) the Israeli narrative on Israel-Palestine relations, and has struggled for a way to help the President understand what the Palestinians truly represent.
The shooting in Connecticut was his chance, and he took it. In Netanyahu’s mind, comparing the state of Israel to the victims of the Sandy Hook slayings wasn’t a crude and awkward attempt to portray the Palestinian struggle for statehood and dignity as a cold-blooded attack on school children. It was an opportunity to show Obama just how evil the Palestinians really are.
He just couldn’t help himself.
- Matt Moir is a Journalism graduate student and former history teacher in Toronto, Canada.
In a recent interview with the Jewish Journal, unfunny comedian Bill Maher has once again praised Israel for its restraint in only committing rampant war crimes in Gaza rather than a full-scale nuclear genocide of a civilian population.
Two-and-a-half years ago, I wrote a lengthy post about Maher’s appalling anti-Islam bigotry and staggering ignorance regarding the factual history of his favorite colonial-settler ethnocracy, Israel. While Maher’s vitriolic attacks on Muslims, grotesque caricature of Palestinians in particular and unconditional fealty to Zionist propaganda has continued unabated in the intervening years, comments made in his Jewish Journal interview – conducted just days after the Israeli military concluded its latest criminal bombardment of besieged Gaza that succeeded in murdering over 160 people, including 42 children – concisely illustrate his warped understanding of reality.
Condemning religious people for ignorance of their own doctrinal scripture, Maher says, “I think if they read the bible, especially the Old Testament, I think they would be appalled,” adding that if biblical stories were de-contextualized and read only as a vengeful deity “wiping these people out and ethnically cleaning [sic] them for no apparent reason, how he does things on a whim and how he’s jealous; They’d go, ‘This is terrible.’”
While Maher may be correct on this point, he then claims that Judaism is “certainly not as dangerous as Islam and Christianity. Those are warlike religions.” One is left to wonder if Maher knows what the Old Testament actually is.
Maher finds elements of Judaism “insane” and “funny” and, in his world, the religion seems to boil down to kooky inventions like the Shabbos Elevator which “doesn’t really threaten anybody’s life.”
For Maher, who seems to be channeling the myopia of Jon Stewart here, every Muslim is a brainwashed terrorist, while every Jew is just a hapless nebbish – one part Catskills-era Jackie Mason, one part whining Yiddish Bubbe. Muslims are violent fanatics who blow things up, whereas Jews are more concerned with hikes in bus fares and guilt-tripping their children. Never in Maher’s mind could Jewish people be seen as racists, occupiers, ethnic cleansers, and colonists. Never could they level neighborhoods, attack civilian populations with the most high-tech killing machines and chemical weapons, or discriminate against communities based solely on their religion or ethnicity. They are victims – always – never aggressors.
It is therefore unsurprising that Maher stated, “Y’know, maybe Arabs and Jews are both crazy, but Jews save a tiny piece of their mind for science, math, and writing sitcoms. Arabs, on the other severed hand, seem to spend all their time handing down grudges from one generation to the next.”
Maher has apparently never stopped to wonder what the world would be like without coffee, carpets, windmills, parachutes, soap, fountain pens, romantic poetry, algorithms, trigonometry, rose windows, pointed arches, scalpels, forceps, dissolving stitches, anesthesia, cataract surgery, cameras and the science of optics – to name just a few – all products of Arab and Muslim minds. And where would we all be without Khalil Gibran, Steve Jobs, and 1980′s pop sensation Tiffany, whose last name is Darwish?
Because he is generally seen as “liberal” in mainstream discourse, the inconsistencies and ignorance in Maher’s conception of world religions and his passionate attachment to Israel are cause for concern.
To his credit, Maher is honest about his proclivities. “I’ve never hid the fact that I don’t think it’s a conflict where both sides are equally guilty,” he told Danielle Berrin, who writes the “Hollywood Jew” column for the Jewish Journal. “I’m more on the side of the Israelis; that’s why Benjamin Netanyahu did my show a few years ago, before he was Prime Minister.”
Is Maher saying here that Netanyahu will only do interviews with Zionists? Maher also neglects to mention that his interview with Netanyahu was in 2006, soon after Israel had decimated southern Lebanon for a month, killing 1,180 people (about a third of whom were children), wounding over 4,050, and displacing about 970,000 others as direct result of the more than 7,000 air attacks by the Israeli Air Force and an additional 2,500 bombardments by the Israeli Navy that deliberately contravened international law and targeted civilian infrastructure.
Maher repeatedly praised the assault in which Lebanese men, women and children were being blown to pieces, claiming that condemning Israeli war crimes (which he benignly referred to as Israel being “forced to kill people in its own defense”) was the same thing as anti-Semitism. Maher seemed blissfully oblivious to the facts, including evidence that Israel had actually instigated the conflict and willfully continued the “widespread destruction of apartments, houses, electricity and water services, roads, bridges, factories and ports… even when it became clear that the victims of the bombardment were predominantly civilians, which was the case from the first days of the conflict.”
At the end of his fawning interview with the once-and-future Prime Minister, Maher quotes a Jerusalem Post article: “The Foreign Ministry would do well to watch Bill Maher to learn how to sell Israel’s case to a TV audience… ,” then asks Netanyahu, “What do you think? I could roll that way!”
Netanyahu’s response? “Hey Bill, watch it, if I’m Prime Minister, you’ll get the job.”
Clearly, they both got their wish.
Maher’s original admission that he is “more on the side of the Israelis” acknowledges that he finds Palestinians – an indigenous population that was dispossessed, displaced and all but destroyed by militarily superior Zionist forces and which has lived as refugees under perpetual occupation, deliberately denied sovereignty, self-determination and self-defense for over six decades; a people demonized, dehumanized and traumatized who are routinely condemned in their desperate resistance to subjugation, colonization and collective punishment for not taking enough care to protect the lives and collective identity of its oppressors and occupiers – far more culpable for the persistence of a century-old “conflict” than the Israelis – a nuclear-armed, superpower-backed, settler society that institutionally discriminates against the non-Jewish communities whose lives it controls.
And this guy is called “liberal”?
Maher’s take on Israel/Palestine boils down to this: “It’s not that complicated: Stop firing rockets into Israel and perhaps they won’t annihilate you,” he told Berrin. Perhaps. Annihilate. That Israel might cease its occupation, blockade, night raids, airstrikes and land theft is obviously not the problem here. No, it’s the futile and frustrated reaction to such trifles that is beyond Maher’s pale. Again, one hundred years of history is erased and replaced by an invented narrative of violent Arabs endlessly attacking innocent Israeli Jews. Maher is obviously unaware that, according to a 2009 study, “it is overwhelmingly Israel, not Palestine, that kills first” following a ceasefire, thus instigating retaliatory rocket fire from Gaza. “Indeed,” the study concluded, “it is virtually always Israel that kills first after a lull lasting more than a week.” The recent Israeli bombing campaign against Gaza is no exception.
Moreover, Maher seems to be unaware that four years have passed since Israel’s massacre in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, claiming that Palestinians “lost over 1,000 people” in the recent Israeli offensive. Keeping abreast of facts, of course, isn’t Maher’s concern when describing a week of devastation wrought upon a caged population of 1.7 million with nowhere to run and no viable means to protect itself as Gaza gets, in Maher’s words, its “ass kicked.” One can assume that, in his childhood, Maher spent many an hour kicking the asses of ants with a magnifying glass.
But all this is merely prologue to where both Maher and his interlocutor Berrin were about to go. Berrin posed a leading question to Maher about proportionality and the vast discrepancy between Israeli and Palestinian death tolls and got the answer she was hoping for:
Its obvious that Israelis, in all of their battles with the Palestinians, show restraint. Because they have nuclear weapons. And if the situation was reversed, I don’t doubt for a second that Palestinians would fire them immediately. They’d use the maximum of what they have available and the Israelis don’t.
Ok, ignore the hypothetical nature of role-reversal (how would an indigenous population occupy and colonize parts of its own land?) and leave aside the sheer stupidity of assuming Palestinians in Gaza would launch nuclear weapons at a state in which 20% of the population are themselves Palestinian or that Tel Aviv is roughly 50 miles away from Gaza meaning that Palestinians would essentially be dropping a nuke on themselves. Or the weirdness of suggesting that the Palestinian goal of self-determination, statehood and equal rights in their historic homeland could be achieved by physically obliterating that very homeland and making it literally uninhabitable. And forget that the “restraint” Maher lauds in Israel’s recent round of murder is a casualty ratio of 33-1.
Maher actually contends here that Israel shows “restraint” merely by not engaging in the complete nuclear holocaust of Palestinians, a desperate refugee population Israel itself created through ethnic cleansing and continued occupation. The fact that Israel’s conventional military might and capacity for lethal destruction far surpasses that of most countries on the planet is obviously irrelevant, as is the tragedy that such “restraint” in late November included the murder of ten members of the al-Dalou family, including four children, crushed to death when Israel bombed their three-story home in Gaza. Such is the Israeli conception of “restraint” and Maher’s explicit endorsement of excessive Israeli force against a civilian Palestinian population.
Maher has said similar things before. A few years ago he suggested that, if rockets were fired into the United States from Canada, “we would have nuked them a hundred times by now,” despite the fact that the analogy literally makes no sense. In fact, Maher’s penchant for recycling material is nothing new. On November 21, when a ceasefire was announced, Maher tweeted:
Glad Hillary was able to get a cease-fire in Gaza. Otherwise known as Stopping to Reload.
Obviously, for Maher, those “reloading” are the Palestinians and not the Israelis, who are annually gifted with $3 billion in military aid from the United States, have their own booming arms industry, and have some of the planet’s most sophisticated and deadly weaponry in its own perennially loaded arsenal. Maher used the same line on March 18, 2011 during an obsequious Real Time interview with Israeli ambassador Michael Oren because, hey, when it’s disingenuous and not funny the first time, why not roll it out a year-and-a-half later?
Before wrapping up the Jewish Journal interview, Maher resorted to tossing out some hackneyed hasbara talking points. While it should be remembered that “the Palestinians do have gripes,” he said (yes, gripes), the real threat to Israel is “becoming a minority Jewish state within their own country.” Whose country? Oh, and, yeah, calling for demographic engineering isn’t particularly progressive, Bill. It’s just racist.
Maher of course can’t let the interview end without interjecting the mother of all hasbara canards: that Israeli actions against the Palestinians in Gaza (aka war crimes) are motivated primarily by “self-defense.” As always, the occupied indigenous refugees with homemade rockets and smuggled AK-47s are transformed into eliminationist aggressors while the colonizing occupiers armed with drones, Apache helicopters, F-16 jets, tanks, warships, white phosphorous and nuclear bombs are the innocent victims of senseless anti-Semitic violence. It goes without saying that, for Maher, Palestinians are never entitled to defend themselves.
But remember, as Maher told the Jewish Journal, Judaism simply isn’t a “warlike religion” like the others – despite the fact that a self-proclaimed “Jewish State” was established atop Palestine, its native inhabitants massacred or driven from the land by Zionist militias, its towns, villages, groves and orchards razed and reduced to rubble by Israeli bombs, tank treads and bulldozers.
Never mind that, during the 2008-9 massacre of Gaza known in Israel as Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli military rabbinate actively called upon Jewish soldiers not to “show mercy” towards its “enemy,” comparing Palestinians to ancient Philistines, ripe for righteous slaughter. It disseminated material declaring “a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter of it [the Land of Israel] to gentiles, though all sorts of impure distortions and foolishness of autonomy, enclaves and other national weaknesses,” and insisting, “We will not abandon it to the hands of another nation, not a finger, not a nail of it.”
Never mind that chief army rabbi, Brigadier General Avichai Rontzki, made it perfectly clear that the rabbinate’s goal in relation to Israeli soldiers was “to fill them with yiddishkeit and a fighting spirit.” In that campaign, the Israeli military killed over 1,400 Palestinians, the majority of whom were non-combatant men, women and children, and wounding thousands upon thousands more in just over three weeks. Despite the worldwide condemnation of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, Rontzki remained convinced that “[i]n Israel’s wars, warriors are God-fearing people, righteous people, people who don’t have sins on their hands.”
Never mind that, in November 2009, rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, an Israeli settler who lives in the illegal West Bank colony of Yitzhar near Nablus, published The King’s Torah, which “describes how it is possible to kill non-Jews according to halakha (Jewish religious law).” According to the Israeli press, “the book contains no fewer than 230 pages on the laws concerning the killing of non-Jews, a kind of guide for anyone who ponders the question of if and when it is permissible to take the life of a non-Jew” and states that, as non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature,” even children are legitimate targets for murder. “One must consider killing even babies,” the book says, “because of the future danger that will be caused if they are allowed to grow up to be as wicked as their parents.”
Never mind that during the most recent Israeli attacks, with the Biblical moniker Operation Pillar of Cloud, Gilad Sharon, son of former Prime Minister/comatose war criminal Ariel Sharon, declared in The Jerusalem Post that – because Hamas won a majority in Parliamentary elections in January 2006 – “the residents of Gaza are not innocent,” urging the Israeli military to “flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza,” just like the United States decimated the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. “There is no middle path here,” Sharon concluded, “either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip.”
Never mind that Knesset minister Michael Ben-Ari echoed Sharon’s sentiments, saying, “There are no innocents in Gaza,” imploring the Israeli military to “mow them!” Referring to Gaza as the Biblical Sodom, Ben-Ari addressed soldiers directly, asserting that “there are no righteous men, turn it into rubble. Paint it red! We are worried about you and rely on you. We all do, all of the Nation of Israel,” an unmistakable reference to all Jewish people worldwide, not merely citizens of the State of Israel.
Never mind that, on November 21, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon declared that “most of the people” in Gaza killed by Israel “deserved it,” falsely claiming that those killed and wounded “were just armed terrorists,” when in fact the vast majority were unarmed civilians, including dozens of women, children and babies.
Never mind that more than 90% of Jewish Israelis supported Israel’s November 2012 bombardment of Gaza. Never mind that roughly 94% supported Cast Lead. Never mind that, according to a recent study, Israel remains the single most militarized nation in the world, a distinction it has held for nearly 20 straight years.
Back in September 2010, Maher told Larry King that, along with Saudi Salafis and the Afghan Taliban, he thought “Hamas is crazy.” When King asked how “a civilized world” should “deal with crazies,” Maher replied, “I would say, first thing is don’t use the Army.” Considering his obvious affinity for and justification of Israeli violence against Palestinians in Gaza, either Maher somehow exempts the Israeli military from such a prescription or, more appropriately, he doesn’t find Israel to be part of the “civilized world.” It is doubtful Maher would pick the latter option.
To make the point that Maher is uninformed on the topic of Israel and Palestine is obvious. That his enthusiastic promotion of Zionist propaganda and apologia seems not to affect his reputation as a mainstream liberal mouthpiece is considerably more alarming.
- Oh Bill Maher, There You Go Again… (randomrationality.com)
In life, some phenomena cannot be explained by ordinary logic or technical language, let alone official discourses. How did Gaza manage to fight back with such ferocity and undying vigor in quelling the latest Israeli war despite years of a bloody siege and one-sided war in 2008-9? It simply cannot be explained by the outmoded language of today’s media analysts. Notwithstanding, a new reality is about to emerge.
During the 2008-09 ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ Israel killed over 1,400 Palestinians and wounded over 5,000 others. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Most victims were civilians as is always the case in such wars of ‘self-defense’. A United Nations investigation published in September 2009 concluded there is “evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.”
Back then there was no shortage of indictments and condemnations, as will surely emerge from its latest 8-day war on Gaza. Many spoke of how the tide of public opinion is turning against Israel, how the self-declared Jewish State was losing its command over an ever-skewed narrative of David vs. Goliath, of how the US will no longer be able to shield Israel against the profound anguish of millions of besieged people imploring the world for help and solidarity.
Much of this was in fact true, but equally true was that Israel succeeded in dragging Gaza and the rest of Palestine back to the same status quo – despite the heinous crimes committed four years ago -that preceded the war. Former Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, told journalists on January 12, 2009 that her country was deliberately ‘going wild’ in Gaza to “restore … Israel’s deterrence. Hamas now understands that when you fire on its citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a good thing.”
It certainly was good enough for the United States, but also for many European powers who giddily wined and dined with Livni in Brussels, shortly after the war, as if thousands of people had not been killed and wounded or that whole families hadn’t just perished for no fault of their own and as if a whole nation was not still in mourning for its lost children, men and women.
It is not that Israel was particularly crafty in restoring its standing among official western circles in the last four years, thus giving it the needed confidence to assault Gaza once more. The fact is that Israel never lost that standing to begin with. These very powers (starting with Washington and London) never ceased backing Israel with the latest killing technology, bolstering Israel’s economy despite their own economic woes and of course, supporting Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ at every available opportunity.
The 22-day war on Gaza of 2008-09 was in actuality a continuation of another long war, which is difficult to demarcate by specific dates and times. Palestinians in Gaza (as in the rest of the occupied territories) have been dying at rates that decelerate and accelerate depending on the political mood in Tel Aviv. In 2008, embattled Kadima party officials sought war to boost their rating among a war and security-obsessed public. In 2012, national elections in Israel are upon us once more. In both cases, Palestinian blood had to be exacted in that same bloody game of Israeli politics. And all rising stars in Israeli politics needed to be there to impress the ever-approving public.
When “more than 90 percent of Israeli Jews support Gaza war” (Haaretz, Nov 19), it becomes less shocking to read Gilad Sharon (son of former Israeli Prime Minister and repeatedly accused war criminal Ariel Sharon) writing in the Jerusalem Post: “There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire … We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.”
Yet what was thought of as another hunting season of Gaza’s civilians and fighters alike didn’t turn out as desired. ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’ was meant to present Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Ehud Barak with ample opportunities so that they may wave their fingers in threatening gestures and score as many political points as they could before international pressure mount. Instead, it ended up being a political debacle of historic proportions.
Israel’s trial balloons were downed by hundreds of Palestinian rockets that reached as far as northern Tel Aviv and even west Jerusalem. What was meant to break the resistance, so that Palestinians may never dare complain of occupation, of Israel-imposed political isolation and suffocating siege, along with Israel’s ‘deterrence’ wars, resulted in a new strange reality that sent Israelis everywhere seeking shelter. When sirens blared, Israel came to a halt as Israelis experienced bloody glimpses of what Palestinians experience too often. 167 Palestinians were killed and over a thousand wounded. 6 Israelis were killed, including a soldier who died from his wounds after a ceasefire was achieved through Egypt on Nov 21. But it was not the amount of spilled blood that made this war different, for the ratio of horrific deaths remains tilted. It was different because of the nature of the message that Hamas and other resistance factions delivered. Even starved and besieged Gazans are capable of fighting back after six long years of a hermetic blockade that forced them to dig hundreds of tunnels seeking salvation through neighboring Egypt.
In Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority, with little credibility to begin with, became more irrelevant than ever before. Mahmoud Abbas tried to impose himself as a party in the conflict by speaking of a popular but peaceful resistance in a televised speech. He conveniently explained the Israeli war as an attempt to coerce him not to seek the UN vote on a non-member state status for Palestine. And as Israeli leaders struggled to understand the new variable in their unfair war equation with the Palestinians, Arab officials poured into Gaza signaling that this time around things would be different. The Americans took notice too. Just as the US media spoke of a shift in US foreign policy focus to East and Southeast Asia, the alarming nature of the new war forced Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to rush to Israel to offer its support and solidarity. European leaders did the same. The lines were being demarcated once more. This time Gaza was a dividing point of regional and international politics, its resistance being the main factor behind a seismic shift.
Many in Israel tried to distort the facts by explaining that a ceasefire for Hamas would be good for Israel as it would bring “quiet” to border communities. Thus the Israeli objectives were achieved in a roundabout sort of way. Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel labored to soften the blow by saying “The art of measuring the level of deterrence power is far from an exact science. Nobody expected that failed actions against Hezbollah in 2006 would lead to six-and-a-half years of quiet (which for the time being persists) on the Lebanon border”.
However, Israel’s intentions were not exactly about achieving peace and tranquility. For decades, Israel’s sought to have complete monopoly over violence, thus the right to punish, deter, intervene, occupy and ‘teach lessons’ to whomever it wanted, whenever it wanted. Its recent targeting of Sudan, its past strikes against Iraq, Tunisia, Syria, appalling wars in Lebanon, and constant threats against Iran are all cases in point.
Certainly, something big has changed. Not that Palestinians managed to narrow the imbalance of power, but that they succeeded in imposing their resistance as a factor in Israel’s ‘security’ equation that was exclusively determined by Israel.
Despite their heavy losses, thousands of Palestinians danced with joy throughout the Gaza Strip. They knelt and prayed among the rebels, thanking God for their ‘victory’. Masked armed men were crowded by jubilant Gazans cheering for resistance. Israel and its benefactors began assigning blame by pointing the finger mostly at Iran. But their words drowned in the echoes of Palestinian chants. All parties know that something fundamental has been altered, although the battle is anything but over. A war of a different kind is about to begin.
In the course of his much-ridiculed albeit deadly serious ACME bomb speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asserted that “the medieval forces of radical Islam” stand in the way of Israel’s desire for “a Middle East of progress and peace.” As evidence of these freedom-hating, anti-modern forces supposedly “bent on world conquest,” Netanyahu cited the Sept. 11 besieging of U.S. embassies throughout the region.
The Israeli prime minister was repeating a theme he had been given the opportunity to develop earlier in an interview on prime-time American television. Addressed by NBC’s “Meet the Press” host David Gregory as “the leader of the Jewish people” (Gregory himself is Jewish), Netanyahu was asked whether he thought a “containment strategy” would work on Iran, as it had with the Soviet Union. Iran was different, Netanyahu responded, because its “rationality” could not be relied upon since it is “guided by a leadership with an unbelievable fanaticism.” To emphasize the purported threat of nuclear-armed mullahs in Tehran, the Israeli leader drew a terrifying mental picture for his American audience: “It’s the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today. You want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?”
While there is much controversy about the reasons for the assaults on U.S. diplomatic missions on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, widespread Muslim outrage over a YouTube video insulting the Prophet Muhammad was clearly a factor in triggering at least some of the ensuing anti-American riots. In light of Netanyahu’s subsequent emphasis on these vivid examples of “fanaticism” to advance the narrative of an Iranian “nuclear threat” in an increasingly unstable region in which Tel Aviv remains Washington’s “one reliable ally,” it’s certainly worth exploring whether the deliberately offensive anti-Islam video may have been the work of pro-Israel provocateurs. As former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said on NBC’s “Morning Joe” regarding what position America should take toward the Muslim world, “If there are evil forces at work trying to provoke violence between us and you, we have the obligation to investigate and to crack down.”
In what appears to have been an artfully contrived red herring, initial reports did indeed point to an Israeli source of the provocative video. The Wall Street Journal and Associated Press—two media outlets often accused of pro-Israel bias—were suspiciously credulous of someone claiming to be an Israeli-American real estate developer who said he was the writer and director of “Innocence of Muslims.” This “Sam Bacile” gratuitously added that the production had been funded by “about 100 Jewish donors.” Almost immediately, the dubious story was debunked by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg—a former prison guard in the Israel Defense Forces whose reporting has at key junctures served to advance Tel Aviv’s interests—when a self-described “militant Christian activist” named Steve Klein assured him that “the State of Israel is not involved.” Absolving the Jewish state of any culpability, Klein eagerly pointed the finger at Egyptian Copts and American evangelicals. A self-satisfied Goldberg summed up the story in a tweet: “A group of Christians smearing Muslims libels Jews.”
Notwithstanding Goldberg’s terse dismissal of an Israeli connection, the Jew-libeling Christians actually turned out to have close ties to the pro-Israel Islamophobia network led by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Spencer’s Jihad Watch group has been indirectly funded by Aubrey Chernick, a Los Angeles-based software security entrepreneur and former trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the influential think tank created in 1985 by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Spencer’s provocative writings on Islam are also publicized by The Gatestone Institute, whose founder and director Nina Rosenwald has held leadership positions in AIPAC and other mainstream pro-Israel organizations. In a July 2012 profile in The Nation magazine, Max Blumenthal dubbed the heiress to the Sears Roebuck fortune “The Sugar Mama of Anti-Islam Hate.”
This past February, in a post on her Atlas Shrugs blog entitled “A Movie about Muhammad: An Idea whose Time Has Come,” Geller solicited funds for a film that would show “Muhammad’s raids, plunders, massacres, rapes, assassinations and other crimes.” According to the controversial pro-Israel provocateur, it was “a brilliant idea” by Ali Sina, whom she introduced as a “renowned ex-Muslim author, founder of FaithFreedom.org and SION Board member.” SION, whose similarity to Zion is hardly coincidental, stands for “Stop Islamization of Nations,” a group co-founded by Geller and Spencer which held its inaugural International World Freedom Congress in New York on Sept. 11 “to combat the Islamic supremacist war against free speech.” Ali Sina’s solicitation for funds assured readers of Geller’s blog that “given the subject matter” it could become “one of the most seen motion pictures ever.” Revealingly, he asked them, “Recall Danish cartoons?”—an earlier media-catalyzed provocation in which pro-Israel, anti-Islam propagandists such as Daniel Pipes cited freedom of speech as they incited Muslim outrage against the West.
Two years earlier, on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, Geller and her partners-in-provocation held a rally to protest the construction of an Islamic community center a few blocks from the site of the demolished World Trade Center. Among those who took part were a couple of extremist Coptic Christian activists who would later be involved in the making and distribution of “Innocence of Muslims.” Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, another Egyptian-American named Morris Sadek was filmed with a crucifix in one hand and in the other a Bible with the American flag sticking out of it, shouting “Islam is evil!”
As McClatchey reported on Sept. 15, it was Sadek who had triggered the anti-American outrage in the Muslim world with a timely phone call to an Egyptian reporter. On Sept. 4, the Washington, DC-based provocateur phoned Gamel Girgis, who covers Christian emigrants for the al Youm al Sabaa daily newspaper, to tell him about a movie he had produced. According to Girgis, Sadek wanted to screen it on Sept. 11 “to reveal what was behind the terrorists’ actions that day—Islam.”
As with most of the mainstream media’s coverage of the post-Bacile story, the McClatchey report made no mention of Morris Sadek’s ties to the Geller-Spencer Islamophobia network or his extreme pro-Israel views. On his blog dedicated to the “National American Coptic Assembly”—of which he describes himself as “a president”—Sadek provides an erratically punctuated outline of what he claims should be “The Coptic Position on Israel”:
We recognize the sacred right of the state of Israel and the Israeli people to the land of historic Israel.
“The right of Return” of the Jewish people to the land of their foremothers and forefathers is a sacred right. It has no statute of limitation. The return must continue to enrich the Middle East.
We recognize Jerusalem as simply a Jewish city, It must never be divided. She is, and shall always be, the united capital of Israel.
The future of the Palestinians lies with the Arab states. A Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria constitute an imminent danger to world peace.
The Chantilly, Virginia-based National American Coptic Assembly, Inc., a private company with a staff of two, has an estimated annual revenue of $97,000. Considering the fawning pro-Israel statements of its principal—not to mention his priceless contribution to Netanyahu’s relentless campaign to induce a U.S. attack on the “fanatics” in Tehran—it’s not too difficult to speculate as to the most likely source of that income.
Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
So what makes him think he is right about Iran developing nuclear weapons?
Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on September 12 2002.
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the main investigative committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- What Bibi Said In the Run-Up To Iraq (thedailybeast.com)
Even those pundits who seem to want to distance U.S. foreign policy from Tel Aviv’s demands and begin treating Israel like any other country sometimes feel compelled to make excuses and apologies before getting down to the nitty-gritty. The self-lacerating prologues generally describe how much the writer really has a lot of Jewish friends and how he or she thinks Israelis are great people and that Israel is a wonderful country before launching into what is usually a fairly mild critique.
Well, I don’t feel that way. I don’t like Israel very much. Whether or not I have Jewish friends does not define how I see Israel and is irrelevant to the argument. And as for the Israelis, when I was a CIA officer overseas, I certainly encountered many of them. Some were fine people and some were not so fine, just like the general run of people everywhere else in the world. But even the existence of good upstanding Israelis doesn’t alter the fact that the governments that they have elected are essentially part of a long-running criminal enterprise judging by the serial convictions of former presidents and prime ministers. Most recently, former President Moshe Katsav was convicted of rape, while almost every recent head of government, including the current one, has been investigated for corruption. Further, the Israeli government is a rogue regime by most international standards, engaging as it does in torture, arbitrary imprisonment, and continued occupation of territories seized by its military. Worse still, it has successfully manipulated my country, the United States, and has done terrible damage both to our political system and to the American people, a crime that I just cannot forgive, condone, or explain away.
Interfering in American electoral politics
The most recent outrage is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s direct interference in U.S. domestic politics through his appearance in a television ad appearing in Florida that serves as an endorsement of Republican candidate Mitt Romney. The Netanyahu ad and his involvement in the election has been widely reported in the media and has even been condemned by several leading Jewish congressmen, but it has elicited no response from either Obama or Romney. Both should be condemning in the strongest terms the completely unprecedented intervention by a foreign head of government in an American election. That they are saying nothing is a testament to the power that Israel and its friends in Congress and the media have over the U.S. political establishment. Romney might even privately approve of the ads, as he has basically promised to cede to Netanyahu the right to set the limits for U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Pushing us into war
And why is Benjamin Netanyahu in such a lather? It is because President Barack Obama will not concede to him a “red line” that would automatically trigger a U.S. attack on Iran. Consider for a moment the hubris of Netanyahu in demanding that Washington meet his conditions for going to war with Iran, a nation that for all its frequently described faults has not attacked anyone, has not threatened to attack anyone, and has not made the political decision to acquire a nuclear weapon in spite of what one reads in the U.S. press. At the U.N., Netanyahu’s chart showing a cartoon bomb with a sputtering fuse reminiscent of something that might have been employed by an anarchist in the 1870s failed to pass any credibility test even for the inevitable cheerleaders in the U.S. media. If the U.S. is to go to war based on a Netanyahu cartoon then it deserves everything it gets when the venture turns sour, most likely Iraq Redux, only 10 times worse.
Even more outrageous, and a lot less reported in the media, were the comments made by Patrick Clawson, director of research for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), an organization founded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). WINEP is widely viewed as a major component of the Israel Lobby in Washington and is closely tied to the Israeli government, with which it communicates on a regular basis. Clawson heads WINEP’s Iran Security Initiative. At a briefing on Sept. 24 he said, “I frankly think that crisis initiation is really tough, and it’s very hard for me to see how the United States … uh … president can get us to war with Iran.… The traditional way America gets to war is what would be best for U.S. interests.”
Note that Clawson states his conviction that initiating a crisis to get the U.S. involved in a war with Iran and thereby fooling the American people into thinking that it is the right thing to do is actually a “U.S. interest.” He cites Pearl Harbor, Fort Sumter, the Lusitania, and the Gulf of Tonkin as models for how to get engaged. Which inevitably leads to Clawson’s solution: “if the Iranians aren’t going to compromise it would be best if someone else started the war … Iranian submarines periodically go down. Some day one of them may not come up…. We are in the game of using covert means against the Iranians. We could get nastier at that.” Clawson is clearly approving of Israel’s staging an incident that would lead to war, possibly even a false-flag operation carried out by Israel that would implicate the United States directly, or he is urging the White House to do the job itself.
Clawson not surprisingly has never served in the U.S. military and has a Ph.D. in economics from the New School for Social Research, which would at first glance seem to disqualify him from figuring out how to set up a covert operation to sink a submarine and thereby start a war. He might be seen as moderately ridiculous, but like many of his neoconservative colleagues he is well wired into the system. He writes regularly for The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal; appears on television as an “expert”; and is a colleague at WINEP of the ubiquitous Dennis Ross, sometimes called “Israel’s lawyer,” who was until recently President Obama’s point man on the Middle East. Clawson is a useful idiot who would be registered as an agent of the Israeli government if the Justice Department were doing its job, but instead he is feted as a man who tells it like it is in terms of American interests. The distortion of the foreign-policy decision-making in this country is something that can be attributed to Clawson and his host of fellow travelers, all of whom promote Israel’s perceived interests at the expense of the United States. And they do it with their eyes wide open.
Hate speech posing as free speech
I will deliberately avoid belaboring another Israel Firster Pamela Geller and her New York subway posters calling Palestinians savages and Israelis civilized, as I am sure the point has been made about how any lie that can serve the cause of Israel will be aggressively defended as “free speech.” A poster excoriating Jews or blacks in similar terms as “savages” would not have seen the light of day in New York City, another indication of the power of the Lobby and its friends to control the debate about the Middle East and game the system.
And then there are the reasons to dislike Israel and what it represents that go way back. In 1952′s Lavon Affair, the Israelis were prepared to blow up a U.S. Information Center in Alexandria and blame it on the Egyptians. In 1967, the Israelis attacked and nearly sank the USS Liberty, killing 34 crewmen, and then used their power over President Lyndon Johnson to block an investigation into what had occurred. In 1987, Jonathan Pollard was convicted of spying for Israel with investigators determining that he had been the most damaging spy in the history of the United States. In the 1960s, Israelis stole uranium from a lab in Pennsylvania to construct a secret nuclear arsenal. And the spying and theft of U.S. technology continues. Israel is the most active “friendly nation” when it comes to stealing U.S. secrets, and when its spies are caught, they are either sent home or, if they are Americans, receive a slap on the wrist.
Killing American citizens
And Israel gets away with killing American citizens — literally — in the cases of Rachel Corrie and Furkan Dogan of the Mavi Marmara. And let’s not forget Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians which has made the United States complicit in a crime against humanity. Tel Aviv has also played a key role in Washington’s going to war against Iraq, in promulgating a U.S.-led global war on terror against the Muslim world, and in crying wolf over Iran, all of which have served no U.S. interest. Through it all, Congress and the media are oblivious to what is taking place. Israel is a net recipient of over $123 billion in U.S. aid and continues to get $3 billion a year even though its per capita income is higher than that of Spain or Italy. No one questions anything having to do with Israel while Congress rubber-stamps resolution after resolution virtually promising to go to war on Israel’s behalf.
I have to admit that I don’t like what my own government is doing these days, but I like Israel even less and it is past time to do something about it. No more money, no more political support, no more tolerance of spying, and no more having to listen to demands for red lines to go to war. No more favorable press when the demented Benjamin Netanyahu holds up a cartoon at the U.N. The United States government exists to serve the American people, no more, no less, and it is time that our elected representatives begin to remember that fact.
Philip Giraldi is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues. He is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served eighteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was Chief of Base in Barcelona from 1989 to 1992 designated as the Agency’s senior officer for Olympic Games support.
What if the White House were deliberately misleading America and the world about a major foreign policy issue involving war and peace, would it not be something worth investigating? What if, on top of that, the US Congress and Senate were going along with the subterfuge, remaining silent and not questioning it in the slightest? Wouldn’t that phenomenon be remarkable?
What if the mainstream news media, both television and print, were also enabling the same White House campaign of misrepresentation? Would this not be even more shocking? Should not a free press be checking the facts, asking basic questions, instead of blindly parroting a government party line which could be little more than war propaganda?
If you guessed I am describing Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, hyped at every opportunity by the Obama White House and the Congress and by the Republicans and Mitt Romney, you would be on target. The nonstop campaign of harassing and demonizing Tehran, premised upon the existential threat supposedly posed by an Iranian atomic bomb, is a determined bipartisan affair in Washington.
Every Tom, Dick and Jane has a stake in the game, the only difference being the extent to which a particular Tom, Dick and Jane is willing to proclaim his or her outrage and commit the United States to punitive action, ranging from ruinous economic sanctions to a bunker-busting military assault in tandem with our dauntless nuclearized ally[sic], Israel.
True, this scenario has been in place for years and is becoming tedious, but we now seem to have arrived at a new plateau of mass hysteria thanks to the 2012 U.S. Presidential campaign. Why? In a word, leverage. The leverage to determine who gets elected in Washington and under what conditions. I am referring in part to a foreign leader who is acting in concert with his American lobbyists and financial backers.
As part of this electioneering process, extravagant commitments have been extracted from craven American officials to further the interests and expand the greater territorial ambitions of the nuclear-armed foreign entity at issue, in exchange for campaign contributions and votes. Nothing new here, but I am getting ahead of myself.
Let me dramatize the problem with a recent example. I have not spoken with John McLaughlin in over ten years, but I believe we remain on good terms. I watch his weekly Washington-based show, the McLaughlin Group, to hear in particular what Patrick Buchanan has to say about the week’s events. The Group remains informative and a partial antidote to the mainstream media. McLaughlin often wanders off the MSM reservation, but never too far.
Last Friday, September 28th, something occurred on the program which blew this fake Iranian crisis sky high. Issue One was, naturally, the interminable and largely irrelevant 2012 Presidential campaign. Issue Two was Iran and Bibi Netanyahu’s speech the day before, at the UN General Assembly, in which he explained why the world must set “red lines” to Iran’s enrichment of uranium to halt its quest for an atomic bomb.
Two days prior to Bibi’s speech, President Barack Obama had proclaimed from the same dais: “… America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy… there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited… Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained… And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Where’s the daylight between the two?
John McLaughlin turned to Mort Zuckerman for a comment. Zuckerman repeated the party line that the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb would be an existential threat to Israel which must be stopped. As in all such pronouncements, just like those of Barack and Bibi at the UN, the indisputable assumption was that the Iranians are, of course, working to build The Bomb. Then Buchanan weighed in with this bombshell:
“But John, Iran has no nuclear weapons program. There is no nuclear weapons program according to 16 United States intelligence agencies in 2007, reaffirmed in 2011. Even the Israelis are now saying we think the Americans were right. They don’t have a nuclear weapons program. The Ayatollah [Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] has said nuclear weapons on Iran’s part would be immoral, unjust and un-Islamic. So why are we now considering talking about a war on a country to deprive it of weapons of mass destruction it does not have?
So I’m thinking, whoa, we have arrived at the Emperor-has-no-clothes moment. It is out in the open at last. Buchanan has challenged the undeniable: the premise that Tehran has a program underway to build The Bomb. What’s more, he has done it by pointing to the conclusions of the U.S. Government itself, as embodied in its 16 intelligence agencies. Buchanan did not rely upon his own research or idle speculation. He cited the best available conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community.
All right, this is not new information. I wrote an article about it in 2007 for Taki’s Magazine when the news first broke regarding the National Intelligence Estimate. The NIE was a true revelation back then as well as a wake-up call. It demonstrated that Dick Cheney and G.W. Bush and their Neoconservative foreign-policy brain trust were actively deceiving their fellow-Americans by attempting to entice the country into yet another war, on top of Iraq, under false premises.
It was assumed at the time that the NIE ended this deceit and that the project to smack Iran could not go forward. How could it? There were no nuclear weapons in Iran and no program underway to develop them, just like there had been no WMD in Iraq when Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched at the beginning of 2003. Now we knew. The 2007 NIE was reaffirmed in a 2011 NIE update. The Neoconservatives had a cow. Where was the threat needed to start another conflict and continue their undertaking to remake the Middle East?
Please note, however, that during the interim since Peace Prize Obama was handed the torch in 2008, no one in the Executive Branch–not Obama or Hillary Clinton, and no one on Capitol Hill–dares mention these NIE conclusions. It is as if they do not exist. Only the disinformation from misguided and suborned office-holders matters. At the end of the day, only that counts, not reality. In essence, Peace Prize Obama and the Democrats have continued, under different packaging, the same Neoconized foreign policy of Dick Cheney and the Republicans. The question you might ask yourself is, why?
What was the reaction to Buchanan’s assertions? For me, the reaction of his fellow panelists was more interesting and eye-opening than what Buchanan actually said. You could have expected the Group to react in horror at Buchanan’s denial of what everyone else in Washington was taking for granted. But no, that is not what happened. No one challenged Buchanan. No one challenged the veracity of his pronouncement.
Not Mort Zuckerman, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Zuckerman is one of the top Zionists in the country and a personal friend of Netanyahu. Not Rich Lowry, the editor of the Neoconservative outlet, National Review, which competes with the Weekly Standard and Commentary for warmongering and American exceptionalism. And not the liberal columnist and professional Democrat, Eleanor Clift, who idolizes Obama. And not the former Jesuit priest and host, John McLaughlin.
All of them simply ignored what Buchanan had said, did not address it, even though its implications blew the legs out from under long-standing U.S. foreign policy and reduced the speeches of Barack and Bibi at the UN to nonsense.
The only reason I can think of why Zuckerman, Lowry, Clift and McLaughlin did not confront Buchanan is that they knew what Buchanan had said was the truth. To enter into a discussion with Buchanan would be to acknowledge the possibility that his view might be correct. This would reveal that a colossal con game was underway in which both political parties and the press were enablers.
The principal con man in this game would be the President of the United States, followed by his Secretary of State. The victims of the con game would be the American people, just like they were under Bush and Cheney. And of course the Iranians, who now must cope with crippling economic sanctions for no legitimate reason. The larger question remains, why is this happening? Why is the deception continuing from one Administration to the next? Cui bono?
PATRICK FOY is an essayist and short story writer as well as a former altar boy. He graduated from Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut and from Columbia University in New York City, where he studied English literature, European history and American diplomatic history. His work can be found at www.PatrickFoyDossier.com.
- The Amazing Msm (theburningplatform.com)
At his United Nations address yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held up a cartoonish drawing of a bomb, an odd way to illustrate the supposed existential threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program.
With an almost professorial air, Mr. Netanyahu held up a diagram of a bomb with a fuse to show the Israeli view of Iran’s progress in achieving the ability to make a nuclear weapon. He drew a red line through the point at which Iran would have amassed enough medium-enriched uranium to make a bomb–which he said would be in the spring or summer of 2013.
Umm, what kind of professor would do that?
Even stranger is the Times going on to point out that, according to the latest International Atomic Energy Agency reporting, Iran’s uranium stockpile that could even be used for a weapon is getting smaller:
His calculus turned on a stockpile of medium-enriched uranium –uranium enriched to the level of 20 percent–that Iran has produced, ostensibly to fuel a research reactor, provided to the country by the United States in the days of the shah. Right now, Iran does not possess enough of that fuel to make a single weapon. In fact, its stockpile of it has declined in recent months, as it has converted some for the research reactor.
Has the meaning of “professorial” changed?
As part of his escalated rhetoric against the Islamic Republic, “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Thursday that “the world has until next summer at the latest to stop Iran before it can build a nuclear bomb.”
Netanyahu flashed a diagram of a cartoon-like bomb before the UN General Assembly showing the progress Iran has made, saying “it has already completed the first stage of uranium enrichment.”
Then, he pulled out a red marker and drew a line across what he said was a threshold Iran was approaching and which “Israel” could not tolerate – the completion of the second stage and 90 percent of the way to the uranium enrichment needed to make an atomic bomb.
“By next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage,” he said. “From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.”
“The battle is between modernity and the medieval forces of radical Islam,” he said and noted that “deterrence would not work against Iran as it had with the Soviet Union.”
“Deterrence worked with the Soviets, because every time the Soviets faced a choice between their ideology and their survival, they chose survival,” he said. But “militant jihadists behave very differently from secular Marxists. There were no Soviet “suicide bombers”. Yet, Iran produces hordes of them.”
“I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down. This will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether,” the “Israeli” top official said. “
“Red lines don’t lead to war, red lines prevent war,” he added.
In response, Iran’s deputy UN ambassador took the floor at the General Assembly to categorically reject “”Israel’s” entirely baseless allegations.”
Eshagh al-Habib accused Netanyahu of using “an unfounded and imaginary graph to justify a military threat against Iran.”
“Iran is strong enough to defend itself and reserves its full right to retaliate with full force against any attack,” he said.
Al-Habib urged the international community to exert pressure on “Israel” to end its irresponsible behavior and to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon party and put all its nuclear facilities under US safeguards.”
The Prime Minister of Apartheid Israel just lectured the United Nations General Assembly! He spent most of his time nagging those present as if they were school children about Iran. He even insulted their intelligence by showing them a diagram of a “bomb” and drawing a red line on it (yes literally with an actual red marker). He also went about insulting 1.6 billion Muslims and even had the “chutzpa” to claim Israel is helping people around the world!
Those in attendance were less numerically and qualitatively than those who attended the Iranian president’s speech. Netanyahu thus utterly failed to anticipate the transformed reality around him and acted as if Israel can still run the show and start wars that others fight for it. He must have not even been briefed on the Egyptian President’s speech. The first democratically elected leader of Egypt received significant applause when he said that the world community must stop the hypocrisy and charade of injustice beginning with “the number one” issue: justice for Palestine. Netanyahu merely dismissed Mahmoud Abbas’s speech with just one sentence “we won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN or unilateral declarations of statehood.” [No we solve them via continuing colonization]. He dismissed all Palestinians and their rights by claiming they need to recognize a “Jewish state” then they could be allowed a vague but “dimiltarized state”.
The very moderate/accommodating PLO representative Mahmoud Abbas had said that he wanted to gain the overdue legitimacy for a Palestinian state at the UN and “not delegitimize Israel”. But Israel has done a very good job of delegitimizing itself. Israel in fact should be expelled from the United Nations because it failed to live up to its commitments to implement UN resolutions or to be a peace seeking nation. It also fulfils the requirement of being an apartheid state according to the relevant International Convention. Netanyahu’s war mongering and idiotic speech merely confirmed the obvious conclusion about this rogue state: it is run by lunatics. So on the bright side, perhaps putting the last few nails in the coffin of this apartheid system will come from lying racist idiots like Netanyahu.
The frustrated reaction from many world leaders and the shocked reaction by many others to Netanyahu’s “lecture” give us great hope for the future. Indeed the racist mentality and arrogant criminal actions of this man and other Zionists could be the best accelerator for the end of apartheid Israel. “The jig maybe up” as they say in English.
As usual, Paul Pillar hits the mark in his latest blog post at the National Interest in asking “Why are the Neocons Still Around?,” suggesting that when you are responsible for “one of the biggest and costliest blunders in the history of U.S. foreign relations” [the Iraq war], retirement from public affairs — as opposed to beating the drums for a new Middle East military adventures — might be a more seemly course of action.
What applies to U.S. neo-cons should also apply to the current prime minister of Israel who, given his many years of growing up and living in the United States, as well as his close personal relations with leading U.S. neo-cons, has either drunk the same kool-aid or helped to brew it up himself. (After all, it was in 2001 that Bibi was bragging about how easy the United States could be “moved to the right direction.”) And just like then, he is now leading the charge for war with Iran in ways that are not only increasing the chances of a major breach between the United States and Israel, as M.J. Rosenberg and other informed observers see it, but are also raising serious questions among the national-security elite in Israel about his fitness to lead.
So, given his current efforts to take the U.S. to war in Iran, I thought it might be useful to review at least part of Netanyahu’s advice and exhortations to Washington in the run-up to the Iraq war. Coincidentally, it was almost exactly ten years ago when he testified at seemingly interminable length before the House Government Reform Committee about the absolute necessity for Washington to effect regime change in Iraq as the next step — the first was ousting the Taliban — toward destroying the “entire terror network” (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Arafat, etc.) and “ventilating” the Middle East in much the same that the U.S. and its allies “ventilated” Nazi Germany after World War II. You will be quick to see that Netanyahu echoed many of the same points that were being made at the time by Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Bill Kristol, et. al. who spoke with similar confidence (and profound understanding of the region) about the necessity for war and the unmitigated good that would come of it.
It’s also worth remembering that Netanyahu testified before Congress on this issue five days after then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told the New York Times in reference to the administration’s push for a war resolution on Iraq, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t roll out new products in August.” In that context, Netanyahu’s testimony has to be seen as part of the administration’s public campaign to roll Congress. Bibi subsequently drew heavily on his testimony in an op-ed published on the Wall Street Journal’s neo-con editorial page (September 20, 2002) and in an interview with the Washington Times a month later (October 23). Let there be no mistake: Bibi was a big booster of “one of the biggest and costliest blunders in the history of U.S. foreign relations,” as Pillar describes it.
Here’s some of examples of the wisdom he shared with Congress about Iraq, the alleged threat it posed, and how to transform the region:
On why invading Iraq — instead of pursuing Al Qaeda — was the top priority:
I think the first question is, do you want to merely avenge September 11th or do you want to win the war on terror? If you want to stop with September 11th, go after al Qaeda.
…[T]here is no international terrorism of any kind — al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, you name them, all of them — there is no international terrorism if you take away the support of sovereign states. And the sovereign states are few. If you want to win this war, you just have to neutralize these states. In neutralizing them, you have two options. It’s like when kamikaze fighters are coming at you and bombing you. You can shoot one; you can shoot the other. But if you really want to stop it, you have to shoot down the aircraft carriers. There are only a handful of aircraft carriers. …So, I think if you want to win the broader war on terror, you have to get rid of these regimes.
And the question of time [for taking preemptive action], I think the sooner the better. But now the question is when you choose a target, I think Iraq brings two things, a confluence of two things. One, it is sufficiently important in this network to have a tremendous effect. If it collapses, it will have a beneficial seismic effect…
And today the United States must destroy the same regime because a nuclear-armed Saddam will place the security of our entire world at risk. And make no mistake about it — if and once Saddam has nuclear weapons, it is only a matter of time before those weapons will be used.
If a preemptive action will be supported by a broad coalition of free countries in the United Nations, all the better. But if such support is not forthcoming, then the United States must be prepared to act without it.[Emphasis added.]
On Saddam’s (presumed) nuclear program, Netanyahu had no doubts whatsoever:
“Two decades ago, it was possible to thwart Saddam’s nuclear ambitions by bombing a single installation. But today, nothing less than dismantling his regime will do, because Saddam’s nuclear program has fundamentally changed in those two decades. He no longer needs one large reactor to produce the deadly material necessary for atomic bombs. He can produce it in centrifuges the size of washing machines that can be hidden throughout the country. And I want to remind you that Iraq is a very big country. It is not the size of Monte Carlo. It is a big country. And I believe that even free and unfettered inspections will not uncover these portable manufacturing sites of death.”
“There’s no question that [Saddam] had not given upon on his nuclear program, not [sic] whatsoever. There is also no question that he was not satisfied with the arsenal of chemical and biological weapons that he had and was trying to perfect them constantly. …So I think, frankly, it is not serious to assume that this man, who 20 years ago was very close to producing an atomic bomb, spent the last 20 years sitting on his hands. He has not. And every indication we have is that he is pursuing, pursuing with abandon, pursuing with ever ounce of effort, the establishment of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. If anyone makes an opposite assumption or cannot draw the lines connecting the dots, that is simply not an objective assessment of what has happened. Saddam is hell-bent on achieving atomic bombs, atomic capabilities, as soon as he can.
…There was a constant upgrading of these weapons, constant upgrading of these weapons, constant efforts to make them more lethal and to expand the reach of the delivery systems to deliver them.”
So we have all these dots and we say, well, we don’t know exactly what is happening. You know, it’s like you’re about to see somebody plunge the knife into someone, you’re looking through a keyhole. You followed a murderer. You know that he is suspected that he’s already killed a few people and you see him trailing somebody and you’re trailing him. He shuts the door. You’re looking through the keyhole and you see him grasping the throat of this person, raising the knife and then the light goes out, and the next thing you know a bod is found. And you can say, ‘Well, you know, I didn’t actually see him en flagrante, in the act, if you will,’ but I think, Mr. Kucinich, that it is simply not reflecting the reality to assume that Saddam isn’t feverishly working to develop nuclear weapons, as we speak.
There is not question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons — no question whatsoever. And there is no question that once he acquires it, history shifts immediately.
On how regime change in Iraq will have wondrous effects on the region:
…If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.
So what is the next step? I believe that the next step is to choose — it’s not a question of whether you have to take action but what kind of action and against whom. I think of the three [Iraq, Iran and Libya, all "racing to develop nuclear weapons"], Saddam is probably in many ways a linchpin, because it is possible to take out this regime with military action and the reverberations of what happens with the collapse of Saddam’s regime could very well create an implosion in a neighbor regime like Iran for the simple reason that Iran has, I don’t want to say a middle class, but it has a very large population that might bring down the regime, just as has [sic] brought down the shah’s regime. So I think that the choice of going after Iraq is like removing a brick that holds a lot of other bricks and might cause this structure to crumble. It is not guaranteed. The assumption of regime removal in Iraq, an implosion in Iran, an implosion in Libya is an assumption. It is not guaranteed. But if I have to choose should there be military action first against Iraq or first against Iran, I would choose exactly what the president had chosen, to after Iraq.
The three principles of winning the war on terror are the three W’s — winning, winning and winning. The more victories you amass, the easier the next victory becomes. The first victory in Afghanistan makes a second victory in Iraq that much easier. The second victory in Iraq will make the third victory that much easier, too, but it may change the nature of achieving that victory.
Democratization is the answer:
The test and the great opportunity and challenge is not merely to effect the ouster of the regime, but also transform that society and thereby begin too the process of democratizing the Arab world. I think that’s absolutely essential.
…I think the greatest protection ….against the return of another Saddam, another bin Laden, another Mullah Omar …is to ventilate these societies with the winds of freedom. Democracy, or, if I want to be realistic, democratization, coupled with an economic package. I think that should be the step afterwards in Iraq. And I think it would actually stabilize Iraq. It might send a message — I think it will — to neighboring Iran, to neighboring Syria. And the people will wake up and they’ll say, “We can have a real life. We can have a choice. Our children can have a future.” That’s not a bad idea.
On regime change in Iran:
I once said to the …heads of the CIA, when I was prime minister, that if you want to advance regime change in Iran, you don’t have to go through the CIA cloak-and-dagger stuff — what you want to do is take very large, very strong transponders and just beam ‘Melrose Place’ and ‘Beverly Hills 2050′ [sic] and all that into Teheran and into Iran, because that is subversive stuff. …[B]ut it may take a long time.
If Bush strikes Iraq, Saddam will hit Israel:
I want to say that I’m here today as a citizen of a country that is most endangered by a preemptive strike, for it is, I think, clear that in the last gasps of Saddam’s dying regime, he will attempt to launch his remaining missiles, his remaining payloads, including biological and chemical payloads, at the Jewish state.
On the “right direction” in which Bush and the U.S. are heading (recalling, for a second, Bibi’s boast about the ease with which Washington can be “moved in the right direction” in the 2001 video):
I think, in a similar way, the bombing of September 11th opened the eyes of Americans to see the great conflict and the great danger that faces us. And once opened, then, the overpowering will of the majority of the people of the United States, of the steamroller, is inevitably moving to decide this battle. I think this is — I think this was called by Congressman Lantos “a hinge of history,” and it is exactly that. It is a hinge of history.
And one year later, I can come here and say that history is moving in the right direction; that had America not woken up, had America not mobilized its action, had it not — have — if it had not had the courageous leadership of President Bush, then I wouldn’t be able to say that I’m confident today. But I am saying that I believe that the war on terror is going in the right direction and that I am confident that if we pursue this direction, then we will achieve victory. And victory is victory for America and victory for Israel and victory for Britain, victory for all the democracies, however vacillating and however reluctant their governments are. This is a victory for all free societies, and I’m sure it will be achieved.
All of which raises the question: given his proven powers of analysis and foresight, why are we listening to Bibi Netanyahu on how to deal with Iran?
Flynt Leverett appeared on Background Briefing with Ian Masters; to listen to the interview, click here. The discussion centered on two big topics: whether Israel will attack Iran, and whether the United States can pursue a diplomatic opening with Iranian “hardliners.”
Asked about the prospects for a unilateral Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear targets, perhaps even before the U.S. presidential election on November 6, Flynt argues that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is compelled to deal with two significant constraints on his decision-making. The first is a “capacity constraint”: the Israeli military, on its own, simply cannot do that much damage to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. This is a constraint that Netanyahu or any other Israeli prime minister would have to face; it helps to explain why the leadership of Israel’s military and intelligence services and most of Israel’s national security establishment is so strongly opposed to the idea of a unilateral attack. Of course, this is not an absolute barrier facing Netanyahu; one cannot categorically say that he and his colleagues would never decide to do something strategically counter-productive or at odds with material reality. But, in this case, material reality does make such a decision harder.
The second constraint that Netanyahu must deal with is a political one. Broadly speaking, the prime minister of Israel does not have the same measure of “commander-in-chief” authority as an American president. (Actually, the U.S. Constitution would suggest that American presidents should not have as much power in this regard as they currently wield, but that’s another issue.) Put more specifically, Netanyahu, on his own, does not have the authority to start a war, against Iran or anybody else.
For a prime minister to start a war, he must have, at a minimum, the defense minister on board; with Ehud Barak currently holding the defense portfolio, that is probably not an insuperable obstacle. Beyond this, however, historically-conditioned expectations in Israel are that a prime minister will also have very strong consensus within an eight-member inner cabinet and a larger, more formalized, committee on defense and security affairs within the cabinet. While outsiders do not have transparent access to the deliberations of these bodies, myriad indications coming from Israel suggest that Netanyahu, today, does not have the requisite degree of consensus to order an attack on the Islamic Republic.
We have argued before that Netanyahu’s ultimate goal is to line up the United States to take on the mission of striking Iran militarily. But the Obama administration is not about to start an overt war against Iran before the U.S. presidential election (a covert war, of course, has been underway for some time). Netanyahu is playing a longer-term game than that. We anticipate that this game will come to a head in 2013—either with a re-elected President Obama or with a new Romney administration—not before November 6, 2012.
Furthermore, as Flynt points out in the interview, scenarios of Israel launching a unilateral strike in the expectation that the United States will inevitably be “drawn in” depend on Israeli leaders making deeply confident assumptions about a multiplicity of variables (in Washington, Tehran, and elsewhere) completely beyond Israel’s control. Again, this is not to say that Netanyahu and his colleagues would never decide to do something strategically unwise. But, here too, material reality makes such a decision harder.
The interview segues to a discussion of American diplomacy with Iran with a question about the long-term effect of the George W. Bush administration’s undercutting of former President Seyed Mohammad Khatami and his reformist colleagues through Washington’s abusive reaction to Iranian cooperation with the United States after 9/11. Playing off this point, Ian Masters asked Flynt’s view of a recent article in which Ray Takeyh argues that, because of the religious grounding of the ideology ostensibly driving Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Iran—unlike the People’s Republic of China—has failed to continue moving along a path of “moderation” and reform. In Takeyh’s depiction, the Islamic Republic today looks (at least from official Washington’s perspective) like the People’s Republic if the Maoists were still in charge.
Flynt responds that the George W. Bush administration certainly blew a major opportunity to improve U.S. relations with Iran by its witless reaction (perhaps motivated by an ideology grounded in a particular religious view?) to Tehran’s post-9/11 cooperation with the United States. Through the remainder of Khatami’s presidency, the Bush administration continued to blow opportunities for realigning U.S.-Iranian relations—most importantly by refusing to deal diplomatically with Iran during the nearly two years (2003-2005) in which it suspended uranium enrichment in order to encourage a serious negotiating process. But to suggest that Iran’s post-9/11 cooperation with the United States was only a function of a reformist administration in Tehran and that Washington has no openings to deal with the current Iranian leadership shows only how willfully distorted is Takeyh’s reading of Iranian foreign policy.
Ayatollah Khamenei has been the Supreme Leader through the presidencies of Ali Akbar Rafsanjani (what many analysts call a “pragmatic conservative”), the reformist Mohammad Khatami, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a “new generation” conservative. We fully expect Ayatollah Khamenei to continue serving in this position after the Islamic Republic elects its next president in 2013. Under the Rafsanjani, Khatami, and Ahmadinejad administrations, Iran made serious efforts to engage the United States on the basis of mutual interests; it insisted only that diplomacy take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Khatami—like Rafsanjani before him and Ahmadinejad after him—could not have sought better relations with Washington without Khamenei’s backing. It is successive American administrations that, on a bipartisan basis, have been too obtuse to take advantage of the openings that Tehran has afforded, demanding instead that the Islamic Republic surrender to American diktats on the nuclear issue and various regional issues up front.
Moreover, if one wants to stick with Takeyh’s analogy between the Islamic Republic’s current leadership and Chinese Maoists, then let’s follow the analogy all the way through: the United States achieved its historic diplomatic opening with China when Mao still held power and the People’s Republic was still going through the Cultural Revolution. If the United States insists on micromanaging Iran’s domestic politics to produce exactly the kind of interlocutor it wants to deal with, it will fail. In the process, Washington will continue to miss opportunities to do what it so manifestly needs to do, for America’s own interests—to come to terms with the Islamic Republic as it is, not as those radically disconnected from Iranian reality might wish it to be.
- How much will America’s animus against Iran distort U.S. policy toward Syria? (alethonews.wordpress.com)