Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers the lifting of the Iranian nuclear threat his life’s mission. Before coming to power, he had mentioned that such an operation might cost thousands of lives, but the price was justified in view of the threat’s severity.
–Aluf Benn, Haaretz
“My job is first and foremost to ensure the future of the state of Israel … the leadership’s job is to eliminate the danger. Who will eliminate it? It is us or no one.”
–Bibi Netanyahu quoted in Haaretz
Recently, Jacques Chirac confirmed that George Bush, in telephone calls leading up the Iraq war, attempted to persuade France to join the coalition of the willing by invoking the Biblical war of Gog and Magog. While Americans generally knew their president had a evangelical zeal in both his religious beliefs and political stances, even this revelation takes our breath away. So saith George, the Lord’s avenger:
“This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins”…
Bush had reportedly said to the Palestinian foreign minister that he was on “a mission from God” in launching the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and was receiving commands from the Lord.
We didn’t know just how far gone this man was in his religious fanaticism.
The closest political leader to Bush on today’s political stage is Bibi Netanyahu, as the above Haaretz passages make clear. In addition, there are Bibi’s references to Iran being Amalek, implying Israel’s duty to smite the mullahs a terrible blow lest they first strike Israel in an nuclear attack.
There is always a question, when considering the words of Israeli politicians, of sincerity and conviction. Unlike politicians of other western democracies, Israel’s tend to bend and sway with the political winds. What a politician says on any given day could be annulled or modified on the next day–or even the next hour. So how much Bibi believes in what he is saying about Iran and how much is political posturing is an open question.
But Aluf Benn credits Bibi with firmly held beliefs as does Jeffrey Goldberg (not that Goldberg is my arbiter of truth by any means). So we must at least credit some conviction to Bibi. In doing so, we have to concede that the fervor with which he leads Israel to war against Iran is frightening in the extreme.
We have the example of George Bush to guide us. He too believed he was on a mission from the Lord to tidy up the Middle East. What good did such religious fanaticism do him? What good will similar zeal do Netanyahu? Aren’t we more likely to end up after an Israeli attack on Iran with the same mess to clean up as the one Bush left in Iraq?
And haven’t we learned any lessons about those who allow religion to drive political decisions? Think West Bank settlers, the Taliban, the Terry Schiavo debacle, etc. This ends up giving a bad name to religion AND politics. I’d much rather enjoy my religion and my politics in separate courses, rather than on the same plate.