That Israel’s government sees Iran and its nuclear program as an ominous threat to Israel’s existence is not news. That Israel makes this view known to American political leaders is also not news. But the extent of the campaign, its intrusiveness, and the forms it has taken might make people sit up and take notice.
Jeremy Issacharoff, Israel’s deputy chief of mission at the D.C. embassy, recently wrote a dire op-ed piece, Iran Must Be Stopped, for the Washington Times in which he advances the rather dubious notion of Iran as an aggressive regional power eager to dominate the region. Here is a sampling of his fevered prose:
Iran is placing itself in a position where it could severely impact the flow of global energy supplies and pursue a destabilizing, hegemonic role in the region.
This serves the readership of the Washington Times well though I’m not sure it will persuade anyone outside its orbit.
He attempts to argue that Iranian influence could prove decisive in Gaza in support of Hamas. In truth, while Iran clearly supports Hamas, the level of such support has been questioned by analysts. No doubt Iran has made attempts to support Hamas and will continue to do so. But how MUCH support this amounts to and of how much benefit it is to Hamas are open questions (though not to Issacharoff).
This essay is part of a media offensive to awaken America to the imminent threat Iran poses to the world.
How far Israel might be willing to go in pursuing its claims against Iran can be seen in this passage from Issacharoff:
Any overall strategy regarding Iran should be a combination of red-line diplomacy accompanied by an international determination to use other means should diplomacy fail.
In his column, the author makes clear that he believes diplomacy has not worked and doubts that it can. Thus, at the end of the day, only one option remains viable from Israel’s perspective: a military solution.
Israel predicts Iran will get a bomb sometime this year, which is wildly at variance with other intelligence estimates from this country and other sources.
Dennis Ross’ appointment is undoubtedly satisfying to the Iran hawks in Israel and elsewhere and it will ensure that Israel’s perspective will be felt in policy discussions.
On a different subject, Forbes Businesswire reports that the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy has filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Trade Representative revealing that a business group, the U.S. Bromine Alliance, accused Aipac and the Israeli government of being in possession of a secret U.S. government report containing privileged commercial secrets about production of a flame retardant chemical compound TBBPA. If Aipac will collude with the Israelis to steal commercial secrets why do we doubt that Steve Rosen would do the same regarding government documents about Iran policy with Larry Franklin’s help??
Richard (not Silverstein) says
If I was an chess-playing Iranian, I would be thinking several moves ahead:
1) Israel bombs Natanz and Bushehr, and, since they must have flown over Turkey, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia I will retaliate against the one of those that is most likely, Iraq. I will simply ask my Iraqi friends to cut off the American occupation force from its Big Macs, and other stuff, like gasoline, and so on, and send in a few of our Iranian Revolutionary Guards to make sure this is done.
2)Then I ask my friends, Hizbollah and Hamas, to re-start their rocket attacks, and make sure they hit something militarily important , or publicly dramatic. I will tell them to aim away from Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, or any other places of religious significance, and aim towards Tel Aviv, which is nothing more than a sand pile.
3)At the same time, I will ensure an Iranian rocket across the bow of ANY ship coming through the Hormuz Strait, and if any don’t stop, I will blow up a couple.
4)Then I will ask my other friend, Russia, if they’re happy with their investment in Bushehr being blown up.
I’m not an Iranian, and I don’t play chess very well, but I’m sure they’ve worked out what their Chinese oil-dependent clients might have in mind.
And I would do all this if the ‘Prime Minister’ of that ‘shitty little Levantine country’ ever did something more substantial than crying ‘ wolf’.
Iran supports PA too it seems (at least behind doors)
AIPAC’s policy conference should be very interesting come this weekend. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1239710832357&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter
Oh, I forgot to mention that the same site (debka) was behind the claim that Iran will have the bomb by summer.
Richard (not Silverstein) says
If dear old Uncle Abu Mazen is talking to the Iranians, then maybe he’s being given a bit of sense. He’s been effing about for years, and needs a sense of direction.
If he get on the same wavelength, he’s got a chance. If he carries on like he mostly does, he hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell.
richard not silverstiein turkey is not going to allow israel to fly over it to attack iran becuase turkey and iran have a very strong trading partners with each other ( oil, gas and exa) . also hezbolah and hamas are not zombies who do what ever iran tell them to do . as for iran and russia being friends its like saying greece and turkey are freinds of each other.
this is of topic but obama keeps saying iran should unclinch theri fists which they should but my quastion is if iran unclinches its fists ( by giving up support for hamas and hezbolah )
will obama unclinch his by lifiting the clintonian sanctions he renewd a week before he went of tv for persian newyear or not.
“…to awaken America to the imminent threat Iran poses to the world.”
How, I wonder, do they intend to do so. We’ve had precipitating events in the not so recent past. I wonder if there is some Wizard of Oz planning going on – perhaps we’ll receive hints that Iran is testing biological warfare with influenza? Some type of metaphorical shock and awe? Or more of the same, again – terrorism in the streets of some capital of power and industry? (Totally unsupported supposition, this last.)
Meanwhile, there is always urban renewal, Israeli fashion.
Zhu Bajie says
“How, I wonder, do they intend to do so. ”
By appealing to the Religious Right. John Haggee, et al., have not gone away, nor have they given up (yet) on provoking the Rapture. When they do, they’ll doubtless blame Israel.
have you seen this!?!?! (off topic, sorry) http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1082375.html
charges dropped against the two israeli spies!!! how bad does THIS look????
IMREP is Grant Smith’s organization. I wouldn’t put too much creedence into what he writes. His evaluation of the AIPAC case was completely wrong, as was yours. If he’s your secret source, it’s no wonder you got everything wrong.
Richard Silverstein says
Assaf Oron says
I wonder if you can bring links to the story about trying to bring American (I presume Jews) scientists to Israel.
Whether or not this is a real plan, it is beyond ridiculous. At this point the Israeli government has completed nearly a decade of choking academic budgets. Perhaps even longer than a decade, dating to the 1st Bibi govt. Academia itself has gotten used to a lazy wait-for-when-the-kids-want-back-home and then pick-only-the-biggest-stars (the ones who can get a job *anywhere* in the world but want back home). The net result is a huge brain drain from Israel’s own. I know this story first-hand, of course. Hardly anyone in Israel is serious about trying to stop this drain – beyond tsk-tsking lip-service, that is.
And they seriously think they can bring American Jewish stars when they have no plan and no system in place for retaining their own?
A sad joke.
Richard Silverstein says
This story isn’t based on an online source, but rather on a source I have.
I didn’t think about what you wrote when I wrote my post but of course you’re right.
Perhaps in order to keep themselves within the law, they were talking at least in part about trying to bring back to Israel, Israeli-born scientists who’ve made the U.S. home. But the irony of this is perfectly obvious as you write. Force the best to go abroad for an education by starving the Israeli educational budget, allow the U.S. to give them the finest technical education in the world, then cherry pick the best and persuade them to abandon the U.S. for Israel.
Zhu Bajie says
America does not produce many of its own scientists. It imports them from places like China. As it becomes harder for a Chinese scientist, etc., to become a postgrad in America (and stay), there will be fewer for Israel to recruit. (Not that anyone in China cares.)
Which occurs because some in the US, like Israel, aren’t interested in educating the populace, but in harvesting the best, who are then educated. Education is fundamental to success; between those who dismiss it as a tool for exploitation and those who are willing to dismiss any consideration toward individuals who are the wealth of the nations, education in the US seems in dire straits.
Your convoluted thinking never stops amazing me.
The Israelis plan to have a bad education system so their best and brightest go abroad. What about the rest. The ones who are not the top 1%, they just get a bad education and stay in Israel? What guarantees does Israel have that the top students will return?
If the Israeli education system is so bad why does every major hi tech firm set up shop there? To get badly educated workers?
Maybe it’s all a spy nest run by Rosen and Weissman. The Israelis send over student spies to get the research work at the major universities, send it through Rosen and Weissman to Israel.
I’m sure Grant Smith, Justin Raimondo and Philip Weiss will back up this theory.
Crimson Ghost says
Where do we go from here?
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam (Source: bitterlemons-international.org)
Make no mistake about it. The overtures that President Barack Obama has made to Iran since his election in November 2008 are momentous. In his first sit-down interview, which he symbolically gave to the Arabic satellite network al-Arabiya, Obama addressed Iran directly, asking the leaders of the country to “unclench their fist” so that they can shake hands with the “international community”. On the occasion of the Persian New Year celebrations in March 2009, he reiterated his willingness to talk to Iranian leaders, setting a markedly different tone than his predecessor George W. Bush. Although his administration has not followed up rhetoric with policy yet, Obama has set the stage for rather less raucous engagements between the two countries. This may yield a “cold peace” characterized by diplomatic rivalry rather than militaristic coercion.
On the other side of the cognitive divide, President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad became the first Iranian leader in three decades to officially congratulate a US president-elect, a gesture acknowledged by Obama at a news conference in January 2009. So there is a lot of politics involved at this stage, including backdoor messages via third parties (e.g., Turkey and Switzerland) and a good dose of “veiled” or clandestine diplomacy. In general, many are hoping that things are moving in a better, rather more conciliatory direction.
This salutary moment of hope, intermittently suspended when Ahmadinezhad usurps center stage such as during the recent UN racism conference in Geneva, should not distract from the real strategic issues that threaten to keep the US and Iran apart. The strategic preferences of the two countries continue to clash along three issues: a) the pro-Israel policies of the US versus Iran’s subversion of Israeli power within the region and beyond; b) US efforts to contain populist Islamist movements such as Hamas and Hizballah versus Iran’s support for them; c) and the United States’ opposition to populist leftist movements, especially in Latin America, which clashes with Iran’s close cooperation with them.
So, on the one side we have Iran, which perceives itself as an ideological superpower poised to export the revolutionary call for empowerment and independence to receptive agents in the international environment. On the other side, the United States (including Obama) firmly believes in the Americo-centric configuration of world politics. These self-perceptions are in many ways mutually exclusive. But that does not mean that the US and Iran need be perennial enemies. What we can realistically hope for in the short run is a “cold peace” that can be achieved within three interrelated contexts and along three mutual interests. In Iraq, both the US and Iran support the stability of the al-Maliki government and the unity of the Iraqi nation-state. This mutual interest has already led to some low level diplomatic engagements throughout 2008. In Afghanistan, an equally important strategic theater, both states oppose the resurgence of the Taliban and support the government of Hamid Karzai politically and economically. And on a global scale, both the US and Iran are opposed to al-Qaeda type movements that are virulently anti-American and anti-Shi’ite/anti-Iranian.
Tehran will pay particular attention to US initiatives vis-a-vis the nuclear issue. More specifically it will measure the policy-value of Obama’s conciliatory speeches with an assessment of its actions in the United Nations Security Council. Thus far the Obama administration has not shown any willingness to move away from the rather aggressive sanctions policy pursued by successive US administrations, which has done nothing but alienate the pragmatists in Iran. Yet an emphasis on “positive” rather than gunboat diplomacy is required in order to prepare the way for trust-building measures between the countries. For at the center of Iran’s concern is an understandable insecurity dilemma that needs to be addressed in any negotiations, given that the country is geo-strategically located at the heart of a conflict zone that extends from Palestine/Israel in western Asia, over Iraq and Afghanistan to Pakistan/India in southern Asia. To put it simply: a state that does not feel threatened would not think about nuclear weapons in the first place.
These are some components for a positive-sum game between the two countries that would ensure that both parties benefit from dialogue and acknowledgement of each other’s interests within a context of mutual respect and engagement. It would seem to me, therefore, that any efforts from the neo-conservatives in the United States and their brothers in arms in Israel to entangle us in a confrontation with Iran must be understood not as a recipe to prevent the country from going nuclear, but rather as incitement to surreptitious aggression and a prelude to war. And that is exactly what we do not need.
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam is the author of, most recently, “Iran in World Politics” (2008) and “The International Politics of the Persian Gulf” which has just been republished by Routledge as a paperback.
Published 30/4/2009 © bitterlemons-international.org
A RELATED ARTICLE: “Israel recruits gay community in PR campaign against Iran” – By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, 04/20/09
(EXCERPTS)…The new campaign, to be overseen by the Foreign Ministry, aims to appeal to people who are less concerned with Iran’s nuclear aspirations and more fearful of its human rights abuses and mistreatment of minorities, including the gay and lesbian community….
…The campaign plans to recruit the international gay community, which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed in 2007 when he said there were no homosexuals living in his country….
…About NIS 8 million have already been budgeted for the new campaign…
…Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman want to broaden the PR campaign on the subject of Iran in the wake of increasing international willingness to negotiate with Tehran over its nuclear program….
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1079589.html
Zhu Bajie says
Are Israelis gay-friendly? That’s not my impression.
RE: “Are Israelis gay-friendly?”
BBC NEWS: “Israeli MP blames quakes on gays” – 02/20/08
(EXCERPT) An Israeli MP has blamed parliament’s tolerance of gays for earthquakes that have rocked the Holy Land recently.
Shlomo Benizri, of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas Party, said the tremors had been caused by lawmaking that gave “legitimacy to sodomy”.
Israel decriminalised homosexuality in 1988 and has since passed several laws recognising gay rights.
Two earthquakes shook the region last week and a further four struck in November and December…
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7255657.st…
Zhu Bajie says
Ah, Shas! At least they labelled A. Liebermann satanic, probably correctly.
RE: “At least they labelled A. Liebermann satanic, probably correctly.”
MY COMMENT: Yes, they might be right about that. Avigdor strikes me as ‘Pricky Dick’ Cheney’s evil twin.
RE: “Are Israelis gay-friendly?”
HAARETZ ARTICLE: “Shas MK blames gays for recent earthquakes in the region” – By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press – 02/20/08
(EXCERPT) Shas MK Shlomo Benizri blamed gays Wednesday for the earthquakes that have shaken the region in recent months, telling a Knesset plenum debate on local authorities’ earthquake preparedness that government action on homosexuality would do much to prevent the tremors.
Benizri said the government should not make do with reinforcing buildings, but should instead pass less legislation that encourages homosexuality and other “perversions like adoptions by lesbian couples.”
The ultra-Orthodox party MK invoked passages from the Talmud and the Gemarrah to support his claims. “Why do earthquakes happen?” said Benizri. “One of the reasons is the things to which the Knesset gives legitimacy, to sodomy.”
“A cost-effective way of averting earthquake damage,” he added, “would be to stop passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the State of Israel, which anyways causes earthquakes.” …..
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/956334.html
Very interesting post indeed. You wrote:
Here is Khalid Meshal on Talk to AlJazeera of 5 March 08 (YouTube video) denying all Iranian involvement in Hamas (relevant comments between 2:50 and 4:30). In essence he says, ‘Let the Americans produce the evidence of Iran arming Hamas’.
I find it quite credible, given the rather low level of armaments of Hamas (et al.)
Amy Johnson says
Gert, here’s how the 2 state solution can work.
The Jews keep their state, and the Arabs give up 21 of their 22 states,
leaving them with one state, and then we would have a two-state SOLUTION!
Richard Silverstein says
You right-wing pro Israel types keep those wonderful ideas coming. You’re bound to come up with one that will solve the Israeli-Arab conflict sometime in the next 1,000 years if you really try hard enough.