Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Some Things to Think About

Benjamin Netanyahu seems panic-stricken over Iran. 

Sunday’s newspapers report:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved quickly to block even tentative steps by Iran and the United States to ease tensions and move toward  negotiations to end the nuclear crisis, signaling what is likely to be a sustained campaign by Israel to head off any deal…”The test is not in what Rouhani says, but in the deeds of the Iranian regime.”[1]

Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Netanyahu aide, adds “Israel is clearly focused on Iranian action.” 

How in heavens name can he make such a statement and keep a straight face?  Without question, Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons.  However, it seems that our political position is that if Israel drops bombs on unarmed civilians, explodes chemical weapons on children and stockpiles an arsenal of nuclear weapons, it is a legitimate act of security. If Iran even thinks of doing such things, it’s a crime that must be punished.

While Iran has invaded no one, or even threatened to invade anyone, Israel has attacked Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.  Israel has pulled off numerous “assassinations” of Iran’s leading scientists, while drawing red lines on maps to threaten the use of WMDs.  So, who is the neighborhood bully?

Netanyahu cries “security,” but it may not be for the reasons he wants us to believe. It could be that security is the last thing he wants.  Why? For at least two reasons:

First – The belief that Israel is being threatened keeps Israel’s economy thriving. When my friend Chris Weaver said that 40% of Israel’s economy depends upon military and security operations, he was challenged. Ilise Cohen, scholar and activist member of Jewish Voice for Peace, said that his figure was actually too conservative.  Regardless, without an enemy out there to fear, Israel’s economy would collapse, even with huge parts of it financed by the U.S. taxpayer.

Second – Keeping Iran on the hot plate, which does nothing for the US and our relations with the rest of the world, serves another important strategy of Netanyahu. It keeps our focus off of his continued building of Jewish only settlements in Palestine, the construction of his apartheid wall, the theft of Palestinian water, the humiliation of check points and road blocks, and the destruction of olive trees, none of which has anything to do with security.

In the midst of Netanyahu’s cry of, “they are out to get us” several questions about Iran’s nuclear program begin to surface.   

In spite of all the sympathy Netanyahu gets from quoting Ahmadinejad as saying Iran wants to “wipe Israel off the map,” The Washington Post, The New York Times and other news organizations including, contradict his translation of Ahmadinejad’s speech in October, 2005. What Ahmadinejad actually said in Farsi was, “this regime occupying Jerusalem must disappear from the page of time.”[2]  He proclaimed a moral condemnation,  not a physical threat.  He anticipated the fall of Israel’s apartheid political structure, not the annihilation of the Jewish people.

Why should anyone give Iran the benefit of the doubt?  Because in 1982, when Iraq attacked Iran which began an eight year war, Iraq dropped poison gas on the cities of Iran. Yet, in spite of the fact that more than 10,000 Iranians were killed by the use of mustard and nerve gas, from which 90,000 still suffer to this day, and in spite of the fact the Iran had the capacity to produce such weapons, Iran refused to retaliate in like manner.  Their ultra conservative interpretation of the Koran which still governs the Islamic Republic of Iran views Weapons of Mass Destruction as a violation of Islamic morality.  For what its worth, there has never been an Iranian suicide bomber.  If Iran’s religion prohibits the use of chemical weapons because it is immoral to kill innocent people, surely, and here is the point, Iran’s fundamental commitment to Islam would not allow the use of a nuclear bomb. To do so is “forbidden by God.”

Are not all the reasons we are given as to why we must invade Iran; WMDs, violations of human rights and sponsoring terrorism not the same reason we heard ten years ago as reasons why we must invade Iraq?  Israel has been declaring for the last 20 years that Iran is only a year or two from acquiring nuclear weapons and that it is an unbelievably horrible place to live.

Then why, in spite of diaspora groups offering $30,000 per family on top of Israel’s governmental incentives, Iran’s Jewish community, the largest in the Middle East outside Israel, refuse to leave Iran to emigrate to Israel?

Today, Jews in the Islamic Republic vote like other Iranians for president and for deputies to represent their cities and towns in parliament. But the Jewish community is also constitutionally guaranteed a seat of it own in the Majles, (Parliament), even though it is much smaller than a normal parliamentary district. There are at least two dozen functioning synagogues (some with Hebrew schools), 21 kosher restaurants, and a Jewish newspaper in Tehran, there is a 20,000 volume Jewish library, a Jewish hospital and Jews serve in the Iranian army.[3]

The question is, why don’t we try doing things to remove from Iran the motives for wanting war, such as:  lifting sanctions, curtailing Israel’s assassination of Iran’s young scientists and why don’t we muzzle Netanyahu?

Of course, our economy, especially for the wealthiest of the wealthy,  also depends upon having enemies out there. But have we not created enough enemies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt and Palestine to satisfy the hunger of our own military industrial complex?  Do we really want a war with Iran too?

Just something to think about.

                                                                                    Thomas L Are
                                                                                    October 11, 2013

[1] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sept. 21, 2013. p. A-3
[2] See Going to Tehran, By Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett,   (Metropolittan Books, 2013.) p.19. Washington Post, October 5, 2011;  The New York Times, June 11, 2006;, May 26, 2007
[3] Going to Tehran, By Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett,   (Metropolittan Books, 2013.) p 93..

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