Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Zionist Hysteria over Iran

Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not my cup of tea, to say the least. I look at him and see an Iranian version of one of our Shas politicians, and I don't like them, or their political-religious fundamentalism either. His human rights record isn't great; he is a lousy president; the Iranian people would do well to get rid of him.

So I am not going to defend him or make apologies for him – even though he has never threatened to destroy Israelis, and, needless to say, he has never threatened to wipe Israel off the map.

(If you don't believe me, read the wikipedia article Ahmadinejad and Israel – which is not, apparently, even disputed by the Hasbara-niks and the neo-cons.)

Of course Ahmadinejad wants the State of Israel to vanish from the face of the earth. Big deal. Reagan wanted the same thing to happen to the Soviet Union. Most Arab states, and all Palestinians I know, see no justification for a Jewish state in Palestine. Some are willing to make peace with it, but no Arab I know is a political Zionist (I realize that there are folks like that; the hasbara people trot them out, occasionally, or so I have been told.)

Ahmadinejad has never called for massacring Jews. As Roger Cohen points out, if he is another Hitler, then why doesn't he treat his Jews the way Hitler treated German Jews? Even if life isn't a picnic for the Iranian Jewish community, they have suffered less loss of property than have Palestinian Israelis, and much less than Palestinians under the permanent Occupation.

Given the fact that neither Ahmadinejad's anti-Zionism nor his Holocaust denial poses any sort of threat to Israel (except in the eyes of the Commentary crowd and some politicians), then the only rational grounds for Israel's sabre-rattling against Iran is Iran's support of Hezbollah and Hamas.

Now that makes sense. That's where Israel should be focusing its attention.

And yet, when Israel and its Jewish supporters (and an occasional politician courting Jewish votes) go bonkers over Iran, it is not over its support of Palestinian and Lebanese insurgent groups, but over its nuclear program.

Will somebody explain to me why Israel has the right to have nuclear weapons but Iran, or the Arab countries do not? (Besides, of course, the rights that your tribe has over other tribes, regardless of international law and conventions.) Israel is afraid that Iran would wipe it off the map? Hasn't an Israeli minister (Fouad Ben-Eliezer, I believe) threatened Iran with that? And doesn't Iran have more to fear from Israel than vice-versa?

In fact, it would take years, perhaps decades, for Iran to equal Israel's nuclear capability. Given that Ahmadinejad has proven himself (with the help of Bush-Cheney) to be an astute leader in terms of Middle East power politics, given that he is no Idi Amin (and not even a Mu'amar Qaddafi), given that he knows when to back off, why the cause of hysteria?

That there is Zionist hysteria cannot be denied. The affliction is particularly noticeable among the liberal hawks. Reporter Daniel Luban has a great piece about Jeffrey Goldberg's hysteria here. It should be must reading for anybody who wants to penetrate the psyche of the species.

Israel's own liberal hawk columnist, Ari Shavit, has produced an extraordinary rant, a scare-scenario with the typical, glatt kosher Israeli message to Obama (tinged with the customary Israeli condescension to African Americans). The message? Stop talking about dialogue with Iran; they may not be Arabs, but they sure act like them; they only understand force. If you don't act now, it will be the END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT, or, at least, the END OF YOUR REGIME.

What are the sources of Shavit's hysteria? I think it has many sources: the Jewish fantasy (partly kabbalistic) that Jews are at the center of the universe; the Iron Wall philosophy of the political Zionists ("Morality is a luxury for Switzerland"; "This is the Middle East"; "We have to out-bastard the bastards.") Throw in some post-Holocaust trauma for the children of the survivors, but not, of course, for the actual survivors. And, of course, the galling fact that guys like Iran can even have a nuclear bomb. I mean, it was one thing when their film industry was doing better among international critics and festivals than Israel's. But nukes?

Anyway, Shavit's piece is worth reading for the psychological malaise that is essential to his type of Zionist. In fact, some of the other articles in Haaretz on Independence Day illustrate this well. When somebody has to write an "I-am-proud-to-be-a-Zionist," piece, a century after Zionism and 61 years after the birth of the Zionist state, you know that there is still a problem. Israel has not succeeded in getting rid of the question mark over its very legitimacy. Tribalists, of course, will attribute that to the "New Antisemitism." They will forget that the legitimacy of Israel was then, as now, predicated on finding an agreed-upon solution for both the Jewish and the Palestinian peoples, and that the little matter of ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians (all "cleansed," by the way, on the same day and at the same hour – when Israel passed its Nationality Law) has come back to haunt Israel

As long as one side is not free, neither side will be free.

22 comments:

Y. Ben-David said...

Your naivite is rather touching. "Ahmedinejad never has called for massacring the Jews". Hitler never did either. It was always expressed elliptically, although in his speech to the Reichstag in January 1939 he did say that war would bring the end of the Jews in Europe. No doubt people like you also found ways of explaining it like "he doesn't mean it literally, he is just referring to reducing their unfair political influence", or he was referring to the end "Jewish/Bolshevik" rule in the USSR, or some other such less malevolent thing.
Do you really think he is so stupid to say such a thing openly? Even the Nazis felt they had to hide the Holocaust while it was happening.
This is like the ridiculous arguments apologists for radical Islam say when it is claimed that "jihad" doesn't really mean armed, holy war when it used in political contexts.
You don't have telepathy, you don't know what he is really thinking. I certainly don't. We only know what he says and what his country's official propaganda say. When he calls compares Israel and Zionism to cancer and a threat to humanity, we have every reason to assume the worst, and if we do, he is not taking steps to assure that he doens't mean it. Thus, he wants other people to understand it that way as well.
Look at all the intra-Muslim bloodshed that has occurred or is currently happening in places like Lebanon, Algeria, Iraq and Pakistan (a country explicitly founded in the name of Islam). There is real hate motivating the slaughter going on there, in spite of the fact that we are told by these Islamist apologists that "all Muslims are brothers" and "all Muslims love one another". Now, on the other hand, they are all UNITED in opposing Israel and Zionism. They do not claim to love us. So isn't it reasonable to think that he would want them to understand his outbursts and the hate he is peddling in the way that would be most understood and appreciated by them?

Avram said...

Hi Jerry,

Hope you had an enjoyable mangal during Yom Ha’atzma’ut (still don’t really ‘get’ why they call it a Chag)

The only historical comparison we may have here is to Saddam, and both situations (I think) have many differences. Though had Israel not done what she did in June ’81, how do you think this region would have turned out?

“Even if life isn't a picnic for the Iranian Jewish community”

Nice understatement there! But hey, A-mad’s human rights record isn’t great either.

“They have suffered less loss of property than have Palestinian Israelis”

Who have suffered far far less property loss than the Arab Jews … but that’s irrelevant just like the original comparison.

“Ahmadinejad's anti-Zionism nor his Holocaust denial poses any sort of threat to Israel”

Let’s hope you’re 100% right … We’ll never really know until his term ends or he dies (whichever comes first).

“But over its nuclear program”

So “we’re” scared … It happens.

“And doesn't Iran have more to fear from Israel than vice-versa?”

How exactly? Do we actively pursue ways of eliminating her citizens as you admit Iran does through Hezbollah and Hamas?

“species”, “Tribalists”

Nice terms …

“Israel has not succeeded in getting rid of the question mark over its very legitimacy. “

And we most likely never will in our lifetimes.

“That the little matter of ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians”

And 850,000 Arab Jews … surely, both are of equal stature to you …

“As long as one side is not free, neither side will be free.”

Yup … and neither side is really free (though we are far more than Palestinians.

Jerry Haber said...

OK, Y. Ben David -- show me what measures Ahmadinejad has taken in persecuting the Jews of Iran.

Let's start with the racial laws he has put into place, the wearing of the Jewish stars, the segregation, the pogroms against the synagogues, the boycott of the stores, etc., etc.

No, I don't have telepathy. I don't know whether he wants to gas all the Jews, just like I don't know that Obama wants to gas all the whites, or you want to gas all the Arabs.

But there is something called burden of proof. For you, an anti-Zionist wants to kill Jews.

Hey, I believe that Gush Emunim is, to quote Leibowitz, a sartan be-guf ha-oomah. I would love to see the ideology of Gush Emunim destroyed.

That doesn't mean I want to kill settlers.

By your logic, when Reagan called the Soviet Union an Evil Empire, and took legitimate steps against it, it would have been legitimate (if foolish) for Russia to bomb the US -- because clearly what Reagan meant, according to your logic, was that he wished to destroy all the Russians.

Let me say this loud and clear. Ahmadinejad wants Zionism and the State of Israel to pass from the earth.

That, my friend, doesn't threaten the life of a single Jew. You would have to be absolutely mad not to distinguish between seeking the end of a regime or ideology, and killing people.

Of course, you may also not believe in wishing for regime change. I guess you don't want some of the Arab regimes, say the Iranian one, to change.

By the way, Ahmadinejad has taken many steps and has given many interviews to explain the difference between his anti-Zionism and the sort of narrishkeit you are attributing to him.

Read the wikipedia article I mentioned.

But why stop with Iran? why not take all the Arabs who think political Zionism is a curse.

And after that, go after the Jews.

Jerry Haber said...

Avram,

I wrote a post a while back about how wrong it is to compare the expulsion of the Palestinians *from* their homeland *to* the expulsion of the Arab Jews to their homeland.

Even if they were comparable, two wrongs don't make a right.

The only thing in common between the two expulsions is that in both cases, the Palestinians were shafted: first, by the Zionists who kicked them out of their homes; then by the Arab countries and the Zionists who kicked the Jewish Arabs into the Palestinian homes.

The Palestinians have no responsibility for what the Arab governments did. They suffered for it no less than the Jews

And you are wrong about property loss. The Arab Jews lost their property during a short period. The Palestinians have been robbed of their property continually over the last sixty years.

By the way, the Jordanians treated Jewish property abandoned by Jews much better than did their Israeli counterparts. (I am not talking about desecration; both sides were guilty of that, the Israelis in more cases than the Jordanians, because they had more holy places.) This is well-documented.

Avram said...

"the wearing of the Jewish stars"

Jews were, however, wearing that in the 'Arab' world over 1000 years ago ... 'Twas part of being '2nd class' and inferior ...

"the expulsion of the Palestinians *from* their homeland *to* the expulsion of the Arab Jews to their homeland. "

Haven't we both agreed that Zionism was not really an active movement in the Mizrachi world (well bar the one rabbi who attended the first congress!)? If that's the case, how can you say 'their homeland'? Considering many Palestinians ended up in what will one day be 'Palestine', we can say 'their homeland' too.

"The Arab Jews lost their property during a short period."

But they lost property x5 the size of Israel (or just about x5) in a period of ~20 years (depending on how far you want to take the 'expulsion' of Arab Jewry, for example - the Egyptians I know in the States were kicked out in the 60s) ...

Avram said...

re:Iranian Jewry.

There was little 'noise' about the treatment of the remaining Yemenite Jews until the recent 'public killing' in December. Now the 'stories' start of their difficult livelihood. The document I'm linking below (though I doubt you'll take it seriously due to 'the site') has some of the issues:

http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35497.htm

To be honest, the Persians (like the Ottomans or the Moors) don't have a track record of abusing their Jewish minorities to the degree that was done in the Arab world ...

I'm sure there are many pressing issues there for the Jews (probably, similar to the plight of Iran's homosexuals, who don't really exist as per A-mad ... their lives are hell) - but they aren't revealed for quite obvious reasons (and even you can acknowledge that if stories started coming out highlighting 'problems', far more 'problems' would arise).

Y. Ben-David said...

Jerry said:
-----------------------------------
Let me say this loud and clear. Ahmadinejad wants Zionism and the State of Israel to pass from the earth.

That, my friend, doesn't threaten the life of a single Jew.
----------------------------------

Yes, it does. That is the crux of the difference between us.

Mike said...

What strikes me is Nedjad’s obsession about Israel and sionism… I could understand it if there was a real conflict of interest between Iran and Israel, with border clashes or territorial claims. But Iran is 2000 kilometers away. Furthermore, he is not even an Arab. OK, he supports the Palestinians and feels (or make believe that he has) a deep empathy for his fellow Muslims but does that justify his compulsive attitude towards Israel? I understand that his behavior is partially aimed at his own people, pointing a finger against a self declared enemy is always politically rewarding. And Israel main ally, the US, has harmed Iran in the past (notably by pushing Mossadegh out of power). But still, I feel uneasy about this guy and his protector Khamenei. There is something irrational, weird about this hatred. It’s not about the “tumor” thing or the “cancer” thing, or the “Holocaust is a myth” thing or the “wipe of the pages of time” thing… it is about all those bits and pieces put together. It gives you a gestalt. Frankly, I would not like this guy to have a bomb. I hope the more liberal Mousavi will win the elections in June.

Jerry Haber said...

Mike, I am in agreement with you. I wouldn't like him to get a bomb either. And, yes, the Holocaust thing reveals something an idee fixe. But the Holocaust thing is entirely driven by the anti-Zionism. Undermine the Holocaust, think many anti-Zionists, and you undermine a crucial argument that is used even today for the need of a Jewish state.

Y. Ben David --- you are absolutely right. Let's get together in Jerusalem this summer. We'll go dutch.

Y. Ben-David said...

You say:
-----------------------------------
And, yes, the Holocaust thing reveals something an idee fixe. But the Holocaust thing is entirely driven by the anti-Zionism. Undermine the Holocaust, think many anti-Zionists, and you undermine a crucial argument that is used even today for the need of a Jewish state.
----------------------------------

"Entirely driven". Really? Are you referring to Ahmedinejad or all Holocaust deniers? Don't forget that Zionism, and more specifically the Balfour Declaration and the 1937 Peel Partition Plan which was the first to explicitly talk about setting up a Jewish STATE predate the Holocaust. And if you are referring to other Holocaust deniers, I think it is preposterous to claim that they are "motivated entirely by anti-Zionism".
In other words, Ahmedinejad and the others have plenty of sources of hate for Jews and Israel besides the Holocaust.

Anonymous said...

The bombing of the Iraqi reactor in 1981 (mentioned by Avram) may have accomplished precisely nothing in terms of preventing Iraq from developing nukes.

link

Jerry Haber said...

Y ben david, before you read into what I have said, or speculate about Ahmadinejad and other holocaust deniers, why not just take some time and look at Ahmadinejad and his statements on Israel and Holocaust. Base your comments on what he says. In particular, see if he has anti-Semitic statements, if so, and how they mesh with his anti-Semitism.

As I have said repeatedly, most Muslim anti-Zionism TODAY is not motivated by anti-Semitism, but rather vice-versa. Most, not all all.

AmericanGoy said...

Am popping in here from time to time.

Was hoping on your take on the AIPAC conference.

This joyful celebration of subversion is taking place tomorrow.

Avram said...

"Let me say this loud and clear. Ahmadinejad wants Zionism and the State of Israel to pass from the earth.

That, my friend, doesn't threaten the life of a single Jew."

Jerry, can you explain how Israel & Zionism could 'pass from the earth' without on Jew's life being threatened? But please be realistic - not the "We'll rename the land Palestine, and everyone will live in peace" line.

"Anonymous said..."

It's interesting - Haven't heard this point of view. No facts to back up his ideas (that Saddam was that close to nukes in '90) but nonetheless, plausible.

Greg said...

It will be interesting to read your post the day that Iran nukes Israel.

Though most likely there won't be a post from you that day as that is how people like you work.

Although I guess it would be understandable that you wouldn't post that day. After all, oops, I was wrong would just generate anger after so many deaths. You could go the other way and write a touching memorial to Israel but act like you never posted the stuff about Iran being a threat. Sure, we have the archive of your previous posts to show what you wrote.

Another thing you could do is deny it was Iran. Blame in on some Mossad plot. Throw in the Bushes just for safe measure. Yeah, that's the ticket.

So on the day that Iran nukes Israel it will be a very interesting post from you to be sure. And since that day approaches increasingly nearer you better prepare for what you are going to say.

Anonymous said...

"Will somebody explain to me why Israel has the right to have nuclear weapons but Iran, or the Arab countries do not?"

Rights? Rights? This has nothing to do with rights but with survival.

Or are you again just playing out one of your academic constructs with no concern for the real world effects of your ideas?

Damn it if your academic constructs don't work in the real world then there is something wrong with the real world, not the academic constructs.

You know some of the world's greatest evils have been caused by people trying to adjust the real world to their academic constructs instead of the other way around.

G-d save use from the overeducated pointy head academics. They have caused much more evil in the world than the "ignorant masses".

I pray a return to street smart common sense.

Jerry Haber said...

Avram, how many Russians died as a result of the passing of the Soviet Union? Or, for that matter, the fall of communist regimes in Eastern Europe. You don't like the analogy? Fine. But give me reason to believe why it doesn't work. I am still waiting for Y. Ben David.

Anonymous, instead of blabbering about "academic constructs", make a claim and back it up with an intelligent argument. Don't just foam about academics. We just elected a law professor President of the United States.

If Ahmadinejad is an anti-Semite, for example, show me where Iran has instituted discriminatory legislation against its Jews since he became President.

If Ahmandinejad wants to nuke Israel, show me where he has threatened to nuke Israel, not just where he has predicted that Irsael will cease to exist.

I know that you are afraid of Iran -- but show me the rational basis for your fear.

Avram said...

"Avram, how many Russians died as a result of the passing of the Soviet Union? Or, for that matter, the fall of communist regimes in Eastern Europe. You don't like the analogy? Fine. But give me reason to believe why it doesn't work. I am still waiting for Y. Ben David."

Jerry,

I don't really feel that is a valid comparison - Because after the fall of the Soviet Union, we had Chechnya and quite a few people have died there ... as have quite a few people in the Balkans (which I guess falls in line with your example) ...

Shavoah Tov,
Avram

ps - how come I don't get an invite for coffee in J-town?

David L. said...

Jerry-In this case I agree with you. Iran is a very complex country and this mass hysteria can lead to no good. I might add I
m beginning to think you may have been right after all over the mess in Gaza.

Peter said...

See this analysis by Areyh Amihay.

Levi9909 said...

"permanent occupation"? don't you mean the younger occupation?

great post by the way

Anonymous said...

It isn't only Zionists who have concerns about Iran.

I am not a Zionist and I believe that Iran is a great danger as well.

Iran and North Korea. Pakistan also makes me very nervous indeed. And then of course there's Syria but thank G-d for Israel as they have minimized that threat for the near future.