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Israel Talks Itself Into War

israel shieldThere was an article in The Christian Science Monitor the other day (June 22, 2010) entitled "Why Iran vs. Israel rhetoric could escalate into war." Almost all of the rhetoric was coming from one source, and that was Israel. Once more, the war talk reflected the peculiar and really pathological nature of the Israeli worldview.

Here is example of it:

1. Former Israeli intelligence chief Shabtai Shavit, a fellow who still has the ear of Israel’s leadership, laid out the situation as the ruling elite sees it. He did this while at a conference at Bar Ilan University. "Since there is an ongoing war, since the threat is permanent, since the intention of the enemy in this case [he was referring to Iran] is to annihilate you, the right doctrine is one of preemption and not of retaliation." Does any of this match up with reality? Well, not really.
There is no official, or even any actual unofficial, state of war between Israel and Iran.
There is no such thing as a "permanent" threat (even to the Jews) unless you see the world in a permanently paranoid way.
The Iranians are not out to annihilate the Jews of Israel. No such threat has ever been made, at least not by Amadinejad. I assume that Mr. Shavit (who is suppose to be an expert at accurately interpreting "intelligence") is working from the infamous New York Times mistranslation of the Iranian President’s statement in May 2007. An accurate paraphrased partial translation of what Amadinejad said at that time runs as follows, the world can expect the passing of the Zionist regime from the "pages of history" in the same way as the Soviet Union disappeared. In the meantime the Iranian president has warned Israel away from Lebanon and railed against its oppression of the Palestinians. Just recently it unfortunately dispatched an aid ship to Gaza. What this all means is that Israel can no longer throw its regional weight around in a totally free fashion. Is that what is making Jerusalem so mad?
Of course this is counter balanced by the Israeli insistence that Iran’s desire to generate enough nuclear fuel to treat the country’s cancer patients is really a dark conspiracy to build nuclear bombs in order to destroy an Israel which is itself armed with over hundred nuclear warheads and the missiles to deliver them.
The only way one can justify an act of war (a preemptive attack by Israel on Iran) from all this is if you have twisted each of these imaginings into a string of "existential threats." Apparently, the Israelis are very good at that sort of thing.
2. As a consequence of this kind of talk from people in or close to the government there are a good number of Israeli civilian analysts who are getting worried. For instance, Haggai Ram who is an Iran expert at Ben Gurion University, says that the "rhetoric from both sides, because it is so intensive, and involves so many emotions...can just become reality."
Israeli analysts who actually know something about Iran play down the threat and some even say it is non-existent. However, the last time any government official agreed with them was September 9, 2009 when Ehud Barack admitted that Iran was not an "existential threat" to Israel. Since then they have been largely ignored. They don’t make the newspapers and they don’t normally walk the halls of government. As Trita Parsi, an American Iranian scholar, points out those Israelis who have had dealings with Iran in the past and "know the country quite well are less and less in the bureaucracy ." The result is an ever greater risk of "skewed calculations" that can turn into a "self-fulfilling prophecy."
All of this should sound very familiar to Americans. It is just like the situation during the Bush Jr. administration that led the US to invade Iraq.
3. One has to observe that The Christian Science Monitor article itself does not hesitate to indulge in its own fantasy. Following an argument for nuclear deterrence laid out by Martin Van Creveld, a military historian at the Hebrew University, the piece raises the possibility that the Iranians are "irrational and cannot be deterred." That is a very strange thing to say when the reportage offered by the piece so strongly suggests that it is the Israeli leaders who are crazy.
The truth is that Iran has not attacked another country in centuries unless it itself was first attacked. Another truth is that the Iranians find themselves surrounded by hostile forces, first and foremost Americans, while having a recent history of other countries starting wars against them. If there is any country out there that has a good rational reason to possess a nuclear deterrent it is Iran. Yet there is no real evidence (except in the opaque minds of the Israelis and their Zionist supporters in the US) that they plan to actually build a nuclear bomb. This is not to say that the present Iranian regime is nice. It isn’t. But its brutality has been directed at its own people, not at Israel.
I am afraid that here in the West we have things reversed. Iran is not the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East or anywhere else. That position is clearly held by Israel. It is Israel that is expansionist, not Iran. It is Israel that has evaded literally dozens of peace proposals from Palestinians, Americans and Arabs for decades. And it is Israel, not Iran, that has its proxies seducing American Congressmen and Senators into positions that run counter to US national interests. Since World War II there have been a lot of loose canons out there all threatening the peace and security of millions of folks who just want to be left alone to live out their natural life spans. Too often the United States itself has been the most destructive of these loose canons. However, Israel has always been, and continues to be, an ambitious runner up.

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