WASHINGTON — Why was there an IsraelGaza war in the first place? Resistance to the occupation, say Hamas and many in the international media.

What occupation? Seven years ago, in front of the world, Israel pulled out of Gaza. Israel then declared its border with Gaza to be an international frontier, meaning that it renounced any claim to the territory and considered it an independent entity. In effect, Israel had created the first Palestinian state ever, something never granted by fellow Muslims — neither the Ottoman Turks nor the Egyptians who brutally occupied Gaza for two decades before being driven out by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel wanted nothing more than to live in peace with this independent Palestinian entity. After all, the world had incessantly demanded that Israel give up land for peace.

It gave the land. It got no peace.

The Gaza Palestinians did not reciprocate. They voted in Hamas, who then took over in a military putsch and turned their newly freed Palestine into an armed camp from which to war against Israel. It has been war ever since.

Hamas first killed Jews with campaigns of suicide bombings. After Israel built a nearly impenetrable fence, it went to rockets fired indiscriminately at civilians in populated areas.

What did Hamas hope to gain from this latest round of fighting, which it started with a barrage of about 150 rockets into Israel? To formally translate Hamas’ recent strategic gains into a new, more favourable status quo with Israel.

Hamas has gained strategic strength from changes in the regional environment. It has acquired the patronage and protection of important Middle Eastern states as a result of the Arab Spring and the Islamist reversal in Turkey.

For 60 years, non-Arab Turkey had been a reliable ally of Israel. The vicious turnaround instituted by its Islamist prime minister, Recep Erdogan, reached its apogee on Monday when he called Israel a terrorist state.

Egypt is now run by Hamas’ own mother organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is simply the Palestinian wing. And the emir of Qatar recently visited Gaza, leaving behind a promise of a cool $400 million.

Hamas’ objective was to guarantee no further attacks on its leaders or on its weaponry, launch sites and other terror and rocket infrastructure. And the lifting of Israel’s military blockade, which would allow a flood of new and even more deadly weapons. In other words, immunity and inviolability during which time Hamas could build unmolested its arsenal of missiles — until it is ready to restart the war on more favourable terms.

Yet another ceasefire, this one brokered and guaranteed by Egypt and Turkey, regional powers Israel has to be careful not to offend. A respite for rebuilding, until Hamas’ Gaza becomes Hezbollah South, counterpart to the terror group to Israel’s north, with 50,000 Iranian- and Syrian-supplied rockets that effectively deter any Israeli pre-emptive attack.

With the declaration of a ceasefire on Nov. 21, Israel seems to have successfully resisted these demands, although there may be some cosmetic changes to the embargo. Which means that in any future fighting, Israel will retain the upper hand.

Israel has once again succeeded in defending itself. But, yet again, only until the next round, which, as the night follows the day, will come. Hamas will see to that.

 

Ethnic cleansing advocate Alan Dershowitz is not at all happy. He is devastated by the media and international community’s failure to distinguish between the Israeli military and ‘Hamas terrorists’ (this is how he refers to Palestinian freedom fighters). Last week, Haaretz lent its pages to the Talmudic spin-meister – and I was delighted because Dershowitz’ arguments throw new light on the depths of Jewish ideological and political morbidity.

“As Hamas continues to target Israeli civilians in their homes, Israel continues to target terrorist leaders and other legitimate military targets.” It seems that Dershowitz has found the magic formula that distinguishes between the ‘Jew’ and the ‘Goy’ in this conflict. The Jew is always a ‘civilian’ who happens to be a ‘victim’, while the dozens of babies, children and women murdered in the last week by Israel, they must have been ‘terrorist leaders’.

Dershowitz argues that the Hamas policy is “designed to sow terror among the Israeli population.” This is a peculiar argument. Due to its limited means, Hamas is confined to the use of primitive rockets. If Hamas had cruise missiles at its disposal and still used them to target civilians, then I would be the first to agree with Dershowitz and even support his argument. But the contrary is true: It is the IDF that possesses the most sophisticated weaponry and is capable of targeting military targets with precise, even astonishing accuracy. So, with that in mind, every Palestinian civilian casualty caused by the Jewish state must be counted as an Israeli attempt at massacre and therefore, nothing short of a vile war crime.

Dershowitz justifies Israeli barbarism by pointing at Article 51 of the United Nations Charter that clearly refers to the ‘right of self-defence’. But the Harvard spin-doctor forgot to mention that the Gazans are actually living under Israeli occupation in IDF-controlled concentration camps. As such, it is the people of Gaza’s right to resist that is clearly protected by International Law.

I have proved numerous times, the Jewish ethnic campaigner Dershowitz is no Jewish sage and his advocacy of mass murder is very problematic. Dershowitz clumsily falls into traps he himself foolishly sets. “What would Egypt do if Hamas or Islamic Jihad suddenly began to lob deadly shells in the direction of Cairo suburbs? What would any country do?” says this Zionist mouthpiece.

Let’s just examine his Hasbara logic. Would Dershowitz be similarly outraged if he had found that, back in the Spring of 1944 a bunch of heroic, militant Jewish, Auschwitz inmates had managed to launch a few long range missiles towards Berlin? Would Dershowitz see them as ‘war criminals’ attempting to murder German civilians? Would Dershowitz support Hitler’s decision to unleash his wrath against those Jewish inmates and their ‘terrorist’ militant leaders? No he would not because Dershowitz’ tribal ethics are, above all, flexible – he fiddles around with his arguments hoping that no one will read him carefully enough to notice.

“There are some who argue,” says Dershowitz, “that all targeted assassination is unlawful, since it constitutes ‘extrajudicial killing.’ But all military deaths are extrajudicial killings, as are deaths caused in the civilian context by individual acts of self-defense or by the police shooting a dangerous fleeing felon.” Someone should remind dear old Dershowitz that Palestinian militants are living and operating within an Israel-controlled open air prison. This means that the IDF is operating as a police force and its first duty is to attempt to bring the so-called ‘criminals’ to trial. The attempt to equate Hamas leaders with ‘fleeing felons’ is pathetic, for Hamas was democratically elected by the Palestinian people. Furthermore, neither Israel nor USA, Britain or any state I can think of would deploy a F16 against any ‘fleeing felons’. If Israel really insists on exercising its judicial power, it should send police forces into Gaza to capture those it regards as threat – and then charge them in court.

“Israel’s response to the Hamas rockets must of course be proportional, but proportionality does not require that Israel wait until a large number of its civilians are actually killed or seriously injured. Israel’s response must be proportionate to the threat faced by its civilian population.” Thus Dershowitz manages to empty the notion of proportionality of any meaning at all. Would Dershowitz also argue that we equally pursue the leaders of AIPAC for pushing America into war with Iran? Clearly, such a conflict could escalate into world war, should we wait until a large proportion of humanity is reduced into dust?

“It is the obligation of every sovereign state, first and foremost, to protect its civilian population from terrorist attacks,” parrots Dershowitz, but I thought that, according to the Geneva Conventions, an occupying force is responsible for the protection of the civilian population living within the occupied territory. Israel starves, abuses and, when it deems it necessary, murders its occupied population. Israel is obviously a criminal state, its leaders are war criminals and their enthusiastic advocate Dershowitz is the ultimate embodiment of Zionist filth. The fact that Dershowitz holds a podium in Harvard is just one more manifestation of the devastating transformation of American academia into just one extended Yeshiva.

Gilad Atzmon, now living in London, was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He is the author of The Wandering Who and one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe. He can be reached at:atz@onetel.net.ukRead other articles by Gilad.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/11/alan-dershowitz-devils-advocate/

 

Some observations as the Gaza crisis continues to unfold:

1. The Iron Dome anti-rocket and missile defense system seems to work better than most people expected. Israel is becoming very good at shooting down missiles.

2. Israel also seems to be getting better at not killing civilians in Gaza. The numbers are of course too large, and this could change in an instant, but right now the casualty rate is much lower than in Operation Cast Lead. And yes, of course, much smaller than the numbers from the American drone war in Pakistan. Hamas, of course, is trying to maximize civilian casualties. Which brings me to:

3.The media is biased against Israel. Yes, got it. Yes, Israel is being judged harshly. Yes, I know that probably 300 people have been murdered in Syria since this Gaza affair started, and no one cares. An acquaintance of mine, a Syrian living in Beirut, wrote me in frustration about this last night. „We get very little interest from the international press compared to the Palestinians. What should we do to get more attention?” 

My advice is to get killed by Jews. Always works. That said, what do pro-Israel people want? And what does Israel itself want? Israel is more powerful than its Palestinian adversaries, and the press almost axiomatically roots for the underdog. There is much greater sympathy for the Palestinian cause than before, which is partially Israel’s fault – if Israel didn’t appear to be a colonizer of the West Bank, it would find more sympathy. Jews, and certainly a Jewish state, are never going to win popularity contests, but the situation wouldn’t seem quite so dire to Israelis and their friends if people plausibly believed that the Netanyahu government was interested in implementing a two-state solution.

4. Barack Obama hasn’t turned against Israel. This is a big surprise to everyone who has not paid attention for the last four years, or who had decided, for nakedly partisan reasons, to paint him as a Jew-hater.

5. Israel’s media campaign – Gamify? – is disgraceful. David Rothkopf just pointed out to me that people are most influenced by their enemies. In this case, the braggadocio of the IDF is beginning to resemble the braying of various Palestinian terror outfits over the years. All death is tragic, even the deaths of your enemies.   

6. I’ll be asking the same question over and over again the coming days: What is Israel’s long-term strategy? Short-term, I understand: No state can agree to have its civilians rocketed. But long-term, do Israeli leaders believe that they possess a military solution to their political problem in Gaza? There is no way out of this militarily. Israel is not Russia, Gaza is not Chechnya and Netanyahu isn’t Putin. Even if Israel were morally capable of acting like Russia, the world would not allow it. So: Is the goal to empower Hamas? Some right-wingers in Israel would prefer Hamas’s empowerment, because they want to kill the idea of a two-state solution. But to those leaders who are at least verbally committed to the idea of partition, what is the plan? How do you marginalize Hamas, which seeks the destruction of Jews and the Jewish state, and empower the more moderate forces that govern the West Bank? 

Here’s one idea: Give Palestinians hope that Israel is serious about the two-state solution. And how do you do that? By reversing the settlement project on the West Bank. It is not unreasonable for Palestinians to doubt the sincerity of Netanyahu on the subject of the two-state solution, when settlements grow ever-thicker. There’s no way around this: The idea of a two-state solution will die if Israel continues to treat the West Bank as a suburb of Jerusalem and Kfar Sava, and not as the future location of the state of Palestine.

UPDATE: 

7. Hamas also lacks coherent thinking. Here is David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on where Hamas went wrong in this latest round of violence: 

Hamas seems to have miscalculated on several fronts. First, it may have believed that Israel would avoid major action for fear of antagonizing the new government in Cairo, given Gaza’s proximity to Egypt and Hamas’s close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. It may also have believed that recent shows of regional solidarity (including the Qatari emir’s visit to Gaza last month and ongoing support from Turkey) would raise the diplomatic cost of Israeli action to prohibitive levels.

In addition, Hamas may not have expected an attack against a high-profile target like Jabari, which was a change from Israel’s pattern of sporadic retaliation to rocket fire. Indeed, Israel considered him a leading terrorist – he was responsible for overseeing at least one suicide bombing in the late 1990s and was key in Hamas operations during the second intifada, when the group carried out numerous suicide attacks. And when Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, he organized its fighters into a military force with companies, battalions, and brigades. Jabari is also believed to have overseen the detention of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, allowing himself to be photographed when Shalit was swapped for Palestinian prisoners last year.

  http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/11/the-iron-dome-press-bias-and-israels-lack-of-strategic-thinking/265360/

http://middleeastatemporal.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/thousands-of-idiotic-christians-march-in-jerusalem-in-support-of-israel/

 

 

 

by URI AVNERY

Once upon a time, President Richard Nixon wanted to appoint a certain lawyer to the US Supreme Court.

“But the man is a complete moron!” one senator exclaimed.

“So what,” answered another, “There are a great many morons in the US, and they have a right to be represented in the court as much as any other sector of society.”

Perhaps the United Morons of America have a right to elect Mitt Romney president. But for the sake of the US and Israel, I hope that this will not happen.

Some people say that Israel is the 51st state of the Union. Some say that it is the first among the 51. Whatever, our lives – and perhaps our deaths – depend to a great extent on the man in the White House.

So, with all my misgivings (and I have a lot) about Barack Obama, I very much hope that he will be reelected.

* * *

IN HIS latest seizure of wisdom, Romney did not only disclose that 47% of Americans are parasites, but also that “the Palestinians” want to destroy Israel. According to him, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has no solution, it will go on forever.

I wonder where he got this last piece from.

In Nazi Germany there was a certain Herr Doktor Otto Dietrich, a functionary of the Ministry for Propaganda.  Every day, he would gather the editors of the important newspapers in Berlin and tell them what their headline and editorial were going to be the next day.

That was before the Internet and fax. Nowadays, the Prime Minister’s office faxes a daily ‘page of messages” to Netanyahu’s ministers and other stooges, telling them what messages they are to spread.

I strongly suspect that Romney read this page of messages just before he met his audience, composed of billionaires (or mere millionaires). After all, he couldn’t have invented these astounding pieces of insight all by himself, could he?

* * *

“THE PALESTINIANS” means “all Palestinians”. All  nine million of them in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, Israel, not to forget the refugees around the world.

Well, I suppose that if by divine intervention Israel were to disappear from the globe, very few Palestinians would shed a tear. Neither would many Israelis shed a tear if, again by divine intervention, all the Palestinians disappeared. Quite a few Israelis would even volunteer to help God Almighty in this task. Who knows, if Romney’s evangelical friends pray enough, their God may dematerialize all those Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians and assorted other miscreants.

Alas, such fantasies belong to the realms of dreams and nightmares. In the real world, peoples do not disappear even after gruesome genocides, nor can states which possess nuclear bombs be eradicated by foreign enemies.

I know quite a number of Palestinians, and not one of them believes that Israel can be annihilated. Since Yasser Arafat decided in late 1973 that he must come to terms with Israel, the great majority of Palestinians want a deal that will enable them to set up a state of their own in a part of historical Palestine. This is called the “two-state solution”.

The present government of Israel does not want this, because they are not ready to give up the 22% of historical Palestine which would become the State of Palestine. Since they have no viable alternative, the government’s spokespeople assert that “this conflict has no solution”.

One of the fathers of this slogan is Ehud Barak. After the failed 2000 Camp David meeting, Barak, then Prime Minister, famously declared that “we have no partner for peace”. Since Barak was the main cause for the meeting’s failure, I dubbed him “peace criminal”.

Netanyahu gratefully picked up Barak’s cry, and now the great majority in Israel believes this message implicitly. (Recently I was interviewed by a Danish journalist. I told her: When we finish, stop the first taxi. Ask the driver about peace. He will tell you “Peace would be wonderful. I am ready to give back all the territories for peace. But unfortunately the Arabs will never make peace with us,” An hour later the journalist excitedly called me: “I did as you told me, and the driver repeated your words one by one.”)

“No solution” gives an impression of “everything will remain as it is”. That is a mistake. Nothing remains as it is. Things move all the time, settlements expand, Palestinians will rise up, the world is in flux, the Arab world changes, some day an American president will put the interests of the US ahead of those of Israel. Where will we be then?

* * *

THE GIST of Romney’s message is that the two-state solution is dead. This reminds me of Mark Twain’s famous: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

It is now in fashion to say so. Quite a trend. However, different people have different reasons for believing that the two-state solution is dead.

Parents, teachers, pedophiles and cannibals all say they love children. But their motives are not the same. This is also true for the would-be undertakers of the two-state solution. They include:

One: Idealists, who wish for people of different nations to live together in harmony and equality in one state. (I would like them to study the history  of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Sudan, and the present situation of the French in Canada, Scots in Britain, Flemish in Belgium and Basques and Catalans in Spain.)

Two: Arabs, who really believe that this is a peaceful way to get rid of Israel.

Three: Settlers, who want to turn the whole of historical Palestine into their dominion and, if possible, “cleanse” the country of non-Jews.

Four: Israelis, who believe that the settlements have created a situation that is “irreversible”. (Meron Benvenisti, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, coined this phrase already in the early 1980s, when there were less than 100 thousand settlers. I told him then that nothing was irreversible except death. Situations created by human beings can be changed by human beings.)

Five: Anti-Zionists, including Jewish anti-Zionists, who hate Zionism indiscriminately, with all its good and bad aspects, and for whom the very existence of a “Jewish” state is an abomination.

Six: Muslim fanatics, who believe that Palestine is a Muslim waqf(religious grant), so that allowing any part of it to non-Muslims is a deadly sin.

Seven: Jewish fanatics, who believe that all of Eretz-Israel, from the Nile to the Euphrates, has been promised to the Jews by God, so that conceding any part of it to non-Jews is a deadly sin.

Eight: Christian fanatics, who believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be possible only after the ingathering of all the Jews in this country (with no place in it for anyone else.)

Sorry if I have forgotten someone.

Some of these people have invented something called the “one-state solution”. That is an oxymoron. There is a one-state problem, there is no one-state solution.

From time to time it is worthwhile to come back to the basic facts of our life:

There are two peoples living in this country.

Neither of the two will go away. They are here to stay.

While the Arab Palestinians living in the country are still a minority, they will constitute the majority quite soon.

Both peoples are intensely nationalistic.

The two peoples have different cultures, languages, religions, historic narratives, social structures, standards of living. At present, after some 130 years of continuous conflict, there is intense hatred between them.

The possibility that these two peoples could live peacefully in one state, serving in the same army and police, paying the same taxes and abiding by the same laws enacted by the same common parliament, is nil.

The possibility that these two peoples could live peacefully side-by-side in two states, each with its own flag and its own elected government (and its own soccer team), does exist.

Such co-existence can take different forms: from a loose confederation with open borders and free movement to closer forms of evolving structures, like the European Union.

I hope that this is not too complicated for Mitt Romney to understand. But this may become irrelevant if – as I fervently hope – he is not elected.

I would hate for an ignoramus to be given the opportunity to learn world affairs on our backs.

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

 http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/09/21/romney-and-netanyahu/

By Nima Shirazi

„Would I counsel, necessarily, a preemptive strike on Iran? I’m not sure. I would be very careful about that.” –Benjamin NetanyahuSeptember 12, 2002

September 21, 2012 „Information Clearing House” – Journalist Jim Lobe has done a tremendous service to those of us who follow the warmongering propaganda of American and Israeli officials over the Iranian nuclear program.  This week, Lobereminded us of the testimony then-former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight on September 12, 2002 in which he marshaled nearly every hackneyed talking point about weapons of mass destruction, support for terrorists and the benefits of regime change in an effort to push the United States to illegally invade and occupy Iraq.

Six months later, he got his wish.

While Lobe has already masterfully laid out the ignorant assumptions, egregious lies, hysterical hasbara, and shameful bellicosity of Netanyahu’s performance, it should also be noted that, when it comes to trying to bully the United States into setting „red lines” or even perhaps initiating a war of aggression, thereby committing once again – in the words of theNuremberg Tribunal – „the supreme international crime,” Netanyahu has stuck to the same script for a decade now.

Of course, as we all know, then it was Iraq and now it is Iran.  In his frenzied and frustrated warmongering efforts, Netanyahu has apparently forgotten to come up with some new zingers, instead hoping that what worked for him in 2002 would work again in 2012 (spoiler: it won’t).

Here are some of his greatest hits.

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

„[I]t is simply not reflecting the reality to assume that Saddam isn’t feverishly working to develop nuclear weapons, as we speak.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, April 18, 2012:

„Today, the regime in Iran openly calls and determinedly works for our destruction. And it is feverishly working to develop atomic weapons to achieve that goal.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

„How imminent is it [the threat from Iraq]? Look, do you want to wait and find out?  The answer is no.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 11, 2012:

The world tells Israel, ‘Wait, there’s still time,’ and I say, ‘Wait for what, wait until when?‘…The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002

„[Iraq] happens to be one of the two – now, as we know, one of the three – regimes that is racing to build nuclear weapons.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 16, 2012:

„And for me, the issue is, as the prime minister of a country that is threatened with annihilation by a brutal regime in Tehran that is racing to develop nuclear bombs for that and, obviously, we cannot delegate the job of stopping Iran if all else fails to someone else.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:
 

„Today the United States must destroy the same regime because a nuclear-armed Saddam will place the security of our entire world at risk.

Benjamin Netanyahu, March 5, 2012:

„For fifteen years, I’ve been warning that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave danger to my country and to the peace and security of the world.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

Every indication we have is that he [Saddam] is pursuing, pursuing with abandon, pursuing with every ounce of effort, the establishment of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 16, 2012:

„Come on. We know that they’re working towards a weapon. We know that. It’s not something that we surmise. We have absolutely certainty about that. And they’re advancing towards that nuclear program.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002

There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons — no question whatsoever.”

During a March 7, 2012 interview on Fox News, Greta Van Susteren asked Netayahu about the case for illegally attacking Iran in light of what the world now knows about the lies that led to the invasion of Iraq.  „Do you have any doubt they [Iran] have a nuclear weapons program?,” Van Susteren wondered.  The Israeli Prime Minister replied: „I think there is no question.”

Van Susteren continued, „[I]n 2003, with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there was so much certainty and it turned out, our intelligence was wrong on that. So I am trying to balance the two.”

The response from Netanyahu was immediate.  It was also confounding, considering his testimony to Congress ten years ago.  He told Van Susteren:

First of all, there is no question. There is no comparison. In the case of Iraq, I was on the Israeli cabinet when we discussed this issue. We didn’t know. We couldn’t say that they didn’t have a nuclear weapons program, we couldn’t say if they did. In the case of Iran there is absolutely no question.”

Over the past decade, Israel has made great strides in recycling.  In regurgitating his jingoistic talking points from a decade ago urgin an illegal military assault on yet another Middle Eastern nation, there is no question Netanyahu is leading that charge.

Nima Shirazi – Brooklyn, NY, U.S. Minor Outlying Islands – Staunch humanist. Opinionated egoist. Skeptical solipsist. Frustrated optimist. Hobbesian idealist.

Wide Asleep in America

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32513.htm

Analyzing Tuesday’s surprise announcement of a national unity government in Israel, Charles Krauthammer suggests a parallel to 1967, in which Israel formed a unity government shortly before launching a pre-emptive strike on the massed forces of Egypt.

“Everyone understood why,” Krauthammer writes. “You do not undertake a supremely risky preemptive war without the full participation of a broad coalition representing a national consensus“:

Because for Israelis today, it is May ’67. The dread is not quite as acute: The mood is not despair, just foreboding. Time is running out, but not quite as fast. War is not four days away, but it looms. Israelis today face the greatest threat to their existence — nuclear weapons in the hands of apocalyptic mullahs publicly pledged to Israel’s annihilation — since May ’67. The world is again telling Israelis to do nothing as it looks for a way out. But if such a way is not found — as in ’67 — Israelis know that they will once again have to defend themselves, by themselves.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of apocalyptic mullahs publicly pledged to Israel’s annihilation” would obviously represent a serious threat to Israel, but it’s worth unpacking this statement and examining each of its three claims.

First, with regard to an Iranian nuclear weapon, while Iran still has yet to answer key questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about the nature of its nuclear work, the current position of both U.S. and Israeli intelligence is that the Iranian government has not yet made a decision to obtain a nuclear weapon. In an interview last month, Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said Iran “is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn’t yet decided whether to go the extra mile.” Surveying the enormous pressure being brought to bear on Iran, Gantz continued, “I believe he [Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei] would be making an enormous mistake” by manufacturing a nuclear bomb, “and I don’t think he will want to go the extra mile.”

Second, while Twelver Shia theology does speak of an End Times scenario (as do other faiths), there’s no evidence that a desire to trigger the apocalypse is driving Iranian policy. In the same interview, echoing former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, Lt. Gen. Gantz said, “I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people.” This isn’t to diminish Iran’s various aggressive actions, such as its continuing support for terrorism, only to point out that the evidence strongly suggests that Iran’s leaders are very much focused on the here and now, and not the afterlife.

 

Third, while Iranian leaders have made offensive and threatening statements about Israel, the last few months have seen Iranian leaders specifically walking back a number of those statements. Asked in March about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s oft-cited claim that Israel would be “wiped from the page of history,” Mohammed Javad Larijani, a key adviser and spokesperson for Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameneidisavowed Ahmadinejad’s remarks, saying they were “definitely not” meant in a military sense and that such a move was not “a policy of Iran.”

Similarly, in an April interview, former Iranian president Ali Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was recently re-appointed by Khamenei as head of Iran’s Expediency Council, clarified a 1999 statement about Israel’s vulnerability in a nuclear-armed Middle East, saying it was mistakenly interpreted as a threat against Israel. “Having nuclear weapons is not even in Israel’s interest,” Rafsanjani explained. “We deeply believe that nuclear weapons must not exist, and this has been part of our policy.”

Of course, given their record of deception on the nuclear issue, the Iranians shouldn’t simply be taken at their word, which is why getting them to satisfactorily address the IAEA’s questions is a top goal of the current P5+1 negotiations. And none of this is to diminish the very real and legitimate concerns that Israelis and others in the region have over the prospect of an Iranian nuke. But, as retired Israeli Big. Gen. Shlomo Brom noted in March, efforts to prevent that outcome are not helped by making wild claims about the nature and imminence of the threat. (It’s also worth noting that quite a few Israeli commentators have doubted whether the creation of a unity government has much to do with Iran at all.)

Finally, Krauthammer’s rendering of Israel standing alone against a gathering threat is simply not accurate. Not only has the Obama administration extended U.S. military support and deepened intelligence cooperation with Israel over the Iranian nuclear issue, it has also forged, with considerable diplomatic effort, a broad and durable international coalition toward addressing that issue. There may be disagreements as to the exact timing and strategy, but Israel is in no sense on its own. As Lt. Gen. Gantz put it, “The state of Israel is the strongest in the region and will remain so. Decisions can and must be made carefully, out of historic responsibility but without hysteria.”

http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/05/11/482470/deconstructing-krauthammer-iran/?mobile=nc

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