Friday, October 19, 2012

Netanyahu, Not Iran, Is An Existential Threat To Israel

MJ Rosenberg writes the following:

One ex-Israeli official put it best. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seems to be “going berserk.”

Netanyahu is now demanding that the United States set a “red line” that, once crossed, will automatically initiate a U.S. attack on Iran. Bibi doesn’t even bother to pretend that war with Iran is in the interests of the U.S. He just wants the U.S. to recognize his red line and give him his war trigger. And he is increasingly fearful that he won’t get it.

His latest tantrum was produced by last week’s New York Times op-ed by its former executive editor, Bill Keller. He wrote that even if Iran develops nuclear weapons, they would not necessarily pose a significant threat to Israel, let alone to the United States. The Iranians are not insane. In fact the Middle East leader who behaves most irrationally is Netanyahu himself.

Keller suggested what many Israelis say privately: 

This whole Iran scare is not about nukes per, but about the fear that a nuclear Iran jeopardizes Israel’s geostrategic supremacy. Bibi fears that he would lose his ability to do whatever he wants, to whomever he wants, whenever he wants.
Bomb Gaza. Bomb Lebanon. Bomb relief ships. Bomb whatever.
It is all about regional hegemony. After all, Israel’s military can more than handle Iran and everyone understands that. Iran certainly does. That is why Israelis do not share Netanyahu’s enthusiasm for war.

Not only do Israelis not want war, they rightly fear that an attack on Iran would result in thousands of missiles being launched against Israeli population centers by Hezbollah and Hamas. Even though Defense Minister Ehud Barak promises that only 500 Israeli civilians would be killed (how did he come up with that number?), Israelis do not want their kids to be among them.

None of this seems to matters to Netanyahu, who acts less as an Israeli patriot than as a U.S. neoconservative. That is why he is the first Israeli prime minister not even to go through the motions of serious negotiations. He is not interested.

The only force in the United States that favors war with Iran is the Israel lobby (AIPAC and its satellite organizations), neoconservative pundits and some Christian rightists.

The bottom line then is that all Netanyahu is accomplishing with his ugly saber-rattling and interference in our election is threatening the survival of the US-Israel relationship especially if, as seems likely, Obama wins.

Don’t kid yourself. No matter what Obama says publicly, he cannot stand Netanyahu. Privately, it is hard to imagine that even Republicans like seeing the their country being treated with such contempt by a tiny country we sustain with $3.5 billion a year in aid (exempt from all cuts, unlike every other program) and UN vetoes that make America look like Israel’s satellite.

The only thing that keeps everyone quiet is intimidation and campaign contributions. That won’t last forever, particularly as younger American Jews have moved toward indifference to Israel due to the policies it has pursued since an Israeli fanatic killed Yitzhak Rabin.

Israelis need to wake up. I.L. Kenen, the founder of AIPAC, said the United States was Israel’s defense line. It is. And Bibi is jeopardizing it.

Binyamin Netanyahu poses an existential threat to the Jewish state. Those who claim to care about Israel need to speak out. Will we really allow this rightist egomaniac to destroy a 2000 year old dream?

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