Sunday, August 15, 2010

Israel’s Useful Idiots (?) in the US Media

Who needs AIPAC when all it takes is a few interviews with Israeli "sources" to scare the hell out of the Jews -- courtesy of Israel's spokespeople in the American media?

For the last, oh, seven years Israel has tried to convince the world that a) Iran is 1-3 years away from obtaining a nuclear weapon capacity; b) Israel feels existentially threatened by this; c) it is the duty and interest of the West to see that no other country but Israel has nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

And don't' forget d): if the World (i.e., the US) doesn't take military steps soon to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions, then Israel will go it alone.

Now few people believe a), whereas b) is irrelevant because Israel always feels existentially threatened (or says that it feels so); c) is entirely without basis; and d) is simply bullshit.

Call me naïve, but I don't think that Israel is so stupid, so suicidal, as to go it alone by bombing Iran. True, Israel has been capable of doing incredibly stupid and masochistic things in the past, and no doubt will continue to do so in the future. But even Israelis don't think that they can seriously defeat Iran's nuclear ambitions (whatever they may be), and the one thing Israel doesn't want to look like is a loser. So precisely because it goes around kvetching about Iran all the time, we can infer that Israel has no desire to attack Iran and every desire to make others think it desires to attack Iran

No, there is another reason for this hysterical warmongering, and that is simply to push the onus for attacking Iran on the US and – when it fails to do so -- portray Obama as weak and appeasing to Iran. And that is in order to get more votes for a Congress that will be even more favorable to Israel – if that's possible – and to further cripple a naturally hesitant and wimpy on Israel administration.

Israel knows that an Obama administration will not attack Iran. Period. When it makes noises to that effect, you can be sure that there is an ulterior motive.

Enter the servants of Israel in the US media who, in recent days, have sounded like the Rosh ha-Shanah shofar, trumpeting to the American media what Israel wants them to hear.

George F. Will is no idiot, but that doesn't mean that he can't be somebody else's idiot…no I have too much respect for George to say that. He must know that Netanyahu's warning is sham, that his rhetoric is sham, and that publicizing this stuff now can only have one purpose, which is to embarrass the Obama administration. So to call him a "useful idiot" is not fair to his intelligence or his ideology. He is doing what he thinks is necessary to further what he thinks is good for America, and that is the end of the Obama administration, with little regard for Israel or Iran.

I cannot say the same for Jeffrey Goldberg, who, unlike Will, has no ideological antipathy towards Obama, but whose recent much-criticized article on Israel's intentions towards Iran – Goldberg's colleague at the Atlantic James Fallows had to leap to defend his objectivity – reeks of an Israel-first political agenda. I know, I know, you will say, "Duh", and that it is unlikely that the Obama administration will take the message of the article seriously. But, that is not the point. Here, too, the effect will simply be to weaken the Obama administration's already weak posture towards Israel on other fronts, like the Israel/Palestine direct talks, which are scheduled to begin…uh…Real Soon Now.

How many articles have blasted Goldberg's piece? Well, among the many, let me point out good pieces by Eli Clifton, Justin Elliot, Paul Woodward, Matt Duss, Amjad Atallah , Tony Karon, Stephen Walt, Max Blumenthal, Glenn Greenwald, Trita Parsi and Robert Farley.

Time limited? Well, the last two are good places to start, the former for historical perspective, and the latter for insight.

I don't normally blog on this stuff, but what annoys me about the Iran hysteria is that I know Jews who don't sleep at night because they are afraid of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. Like glatt kosher Chicken Littles, they run around in a tizzy, genuinely scared – I believe them – because their leaders have frightened the bejesus out of them.

The Passover Haggadah says, "In every generation, people rose against us to destroy us." Just like every Jewish generation needs a messiah (of which we have an endless supply), it also needs a Bogeyman. Ahmadinejad is this generation's Jewish bogeyman. The Iranian people should vote him out of office, but for existential threats to Israel, Iran is the last place to look.

10 comments:

Juan said...

Jerry, very thought-proking piece. You seem to suggest that the Israeli agenda at this point is to hold Obama to one term in order to have a US government which will attack Iran. But, isn't the grip of The Lobby on our congress (and president) already overwhelming? You say Obama attack Iran. I'm thrilled to hear you think that it won't, but what's your reasoning on this? Finally, I think that if Obama can turn the economy around by the 2012 elections, he has a very real chance of a second term. Do you think the Lobby would disagree?

Eric said...

By 2012 maybe I will die, maybe the dog will die, maybe the king will die, and maybe the dog will learn to speak Russian.

arieh zimmerman said...

Before the Gaza Blockade and the other stupidities which have followed it, Israel might have attempted to bomb the Iranian atomic installations. Given its present smell in the world, it must be aware that the attempt would present only a lose, lose proposition.
It also seems to me that an attempt at a first strike by Iran on Israel is more in the realm of fantasy fiction than anything else. Even among such leaders as we are cursed with in Israel and Iran, realpolitik and sanity weigh in with greater mass than beating ones chest for the mass media.

Anonymous said...

Jerry,

You must feel really lonely and unappreciated in the lunacy world in which you are the shining light and the final arbitrator for all things for the whole humanity that you had to resort to profanities.

I suggest that you see a shrink - and the sooner the better before you tip over into abyss of complete schizophrenia.

Anonymous said...

Jerry,

You must feel really lonely and unappreciated in the lunacy world in which you are the shining light and the final arbitrator for all things for the whole humanity that you had to resort to profanities.

I suggest that you see a shrink - and the sooner the better before you tip over into abyss of complete schizophrenia.

bacci40 said...

jerry,

are you making light of what the hagaddah says?

Peter Schwartz said...

Jerry, I have to say this whole Iran-Israel argument--not yours, but everyone's--seems to circle around a three poles:

• who's irrational and who isn't
• who's manipulating whom and why
• what are any of them really after

You have a novel interpretation: the Israelis want to keep Obama to one term. But why? Bush didn't attack Iran. Would McCain, really? This idea would seem to make the Israelis pretty irrational. And, as Juan says, "the Lobby" has a pretty strong hold on the levers of power, so...

Seems hard to believe that ANY president would bomb Iran at this point, what with all our forces over there.

Parsi seems to think that the real goal is to make sure Israel and the US remain BFF and keep Iran away. But why would a peaceful Iran be a threat to Israel? The US trades with lots of regimes, even in the Arab world--none of this is a problem for Israel. In fact, as he points out, Israel and Iran have been cozy in the past.

So what's the REAL deal here?

Peter Schwartz said...

And what of Benny Morris?

He strikes me as a pretty cool character and not overly duped by Israel's myths...

And yet, some time ago, he wrote a searing article about the threat from Iran. Has he simply drunk the kool-aid? Is he a willing tool of the Likudniks?

Most on the left now just call him names, where once he was a great hero for exploding the myth of Israel's founding.

But what do you reckon is REALLY going on with him?

Peter Schwartz said...

Jerry writes: "Here, too, the effect will simply be to weaken the Obama administration's already weak posture towards Israel on other fronts, like the Israel/Palestine direct talks, which are scheduled to begin…uh…Real Soon Now."

Jerry, here you appear to be blaming Israel for the absence of direct talks. But it's been reported (sorry for no link) that Hamas and one or two secular Palestinian groups are also pressuring Abbas for no direct talks, inasmuch as they feel that such talks would allow Israel to escape from what they deem to be its deepening isolation. They'd like to see the isolation deepen.

Isn't it worth laying out the full picture?

Peter H said...

Peter Schwartz,

The attitude of the Left toward Benny Morris was never as positive as you suggest. Pro-Palestinian scholars like Nur Massalha & Norman Finkelstein were very critical of Morris' "born of war, not of design" conclusions about the causes of the Palestinian Refugee Crisis. For a left-wing overview of Morris' work, I would recommend Joel Beinin's 2004 article in MERIP.