Today, an Israeli wrote to me that the Knesset’s new anti-Nakba law had her more depressed than she’s been about Israeli politics in a long time:
When authorities start attempting to regulate and control thoughts/feelings/narratives, I feel that the end is really in sight…
While I certainly share her outrage at such anti-Arab extremism, it got me to thinking that perhaps such an outrageous political agenda might be a good thing after all. I remember during the last Israeli election campaign, Jerry Haber wrote a post in which he advocated, “Vote Bibi!” I was shocked when I read it. It seemed the utmost cynicism since I felt at the time that a Livni-Kadima victory might show promise for peace when combined with the prodding of our president-elect (at the time) Barack Obama.
But Jerry was right perhaps in ways he wasn’t totally aware at the time: Bibi and his rightist government are a horror show. They put Israel in the worst possible light in the rest of the world, and most crucially in Washington, D.C. where U.S. policy is made. The more extreme and outrageous the policies advocated by Jerusalem, the lower Bibi’s stock will sink here and everywhere outside Israel.
So I say let them vote to ban Nakba. Let them vote to compel a loyalty oath. Let them ban Palestinian students from studying in Israel. Let them rant about Iran being Amalek and toppling the mad mullahs. Let them do their worst. I say: “Knock yourself out.” Give it your wingnut all.
I’m tempted to write something even more radical: let Israel bomb Iran or at least do everything but bomb Iran. An Israeli attack on Iran will unite the entire world against this Israeli government. It will focus the mind mightily on the need for resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict. In fact, it will almost guarantee a peace agreement even if it has to be imposed on Israel.
While attacking Iran would be an immense tragedy and I do not wish to see people needlessly suffer for any reason–even for peace, are circumstances not so desperate that we need to exploit every possible opportunity to transform our current predicament? Can we not turn such a catastrophe into a redemptive act? Hey, if Herman Kahn could think the unthinkable, can’t I contemplate how to turn a horror show into a way out of the Israeli-Arab miasma?
Gideon Levy, in his latest column, says it quite well, envisioning a Tzipi Livni prime ministership:
All this [her tenure as PM] would end in tears. Time more valuable than gold would be wasted for nothing. Livni would not have taken any tangible steps – no evacuation of settlements, no release of prisoners, no lifting of the siege and no reconstruction of Gaza, all of which are much more vital than any declaration of negotiations. In contrast to the Netanyahu era, the U.S. and world would once again have allowed this masquerade ball to take place. They even would have taken part.
Thankfully, Livni was not elected. True, with her, things would have been much more pleasant, but this would be a deceptive charm. With Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the world may wake up and end the sleight of hand. Who knows, maybe some Israelis will follow its lead and wake up as well.
But even if Pres. Obama prevents Israel from a lunatic military adventure against Iran, there will still be plenty of wingnuttery possible in the Knesset. I say, bring it on baby!
Alex Stein says
Of course you don’t mind how bad things get; you don’t actually live here, so it won’t effect you. Those of us that do live here, though, care very much. Tikkun Olam indeed.
Richard Silverstein says
The problem with you is you’re a liberal incrementalist, but the time when incrementalism could solve the Israeli-Arab conflict is long gone. Radical surgery is the only thing that will work. Piecemeal efforts won’t. Am I willing to see a modest amount of pain in return for decades or generations of peaceful co-existence? You bet.
You forget that your nation has made a bollocks of things for the past 40 years at a minimum. You have the nerve to suspect whether I have the right to call my blog Tikun Olam when Israel has the record it does?! Puh-leeze.
Richard (not Silverstein) says
I totally agree with you. Give Netanyahoo and Leiberman enough of their own rope and they will hang themselves.
The two new laws, anti-Nakhba and loyalty oath, are quite outrageous, and I hope at least some American MSM note them, although I wouldn’t count on it.
When Lieberman is marched off to prison (like Olmert?) for corruption, I might begin to believe a little something
Then the Israeli Bakery (mafia) just might fall apart.
“Can we not turn such a catastrophe into a redemptive act?”
Most respectfully: NO
RE: “I say, bring it on baby!”
MY COMMENT: Sadly, I must reluctantly agree as to nonviolent actions. However, an attack on Iran would be a war crime.
Douglas Carpenter says
While it is certainly true that the Netanyahu-Lieberman thing is unmasking the cold realties of the Jewish and democratic state in ways that would never happen with any Israeli government that had enough politically cynical common sense to just pay lip service to the two-state solution while continuing to make any plausible scenario for such a resolution completely implausible. Any attack on Iran – even a very limited attack – could almost certainly trigger a whole series of events that might very well send the entire Gulf region up into flames.
Given that even the Obama Administration would probably be very hesitant to directly interfere with an Israeli attack once actually initiated, even a limited attack on Iran would quite likely provoke Iranian retaliation against American interest in the Gulf thus triggering an entire cycle of events. American military power would almost certainly move very quickly to protect their forces and interest in the Gulf from Iranian retaliation.
Much of the Gulf such as Bahrain and the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is Sunni ruled with Shiite majorities, a people who feel a great deal of affinity toward Iran who are ruled by governments highly fearful of Iran.
Still with the need for Gulf state facility and air space by U.S. forces to protect their own forces and interest – further Iranian retaliation hitting directly into the Gulf States or oil tankers moving through the Striates of Hormuz is all but inevitable.
Although Iran does not have particularly sophisticated weaponry compared to America or their Gulf state allies, they do have vast supplies of relatively unsophisticated short and medium range missiles deeply embedded in hostile and unapproachable terrain – weaponry more than capable of causing massive damage, crippling oil production and transport and possibly knocking out the desalinization plants which supply the eastern Gulf state port cities with much needed potable water.
Imagine the global consequences of oil prices hitting two to three hundred dollars a barrel in the current global economic atmosphere.
Even a very limited Israeli attack on Iran carries with it very plausible Road to Armageddon scenarios.
Looks like Israel’s PR war has already begun:
Israeli diplomats told to take offensive in PR war against Iran
“…The goal, according to a senior Foreign Ministry official, is “to show the world that Iran is not a Western democracy” in the run-up to the country’s presidential election on June 12.
About a week ago, the head of the ministry’s Task Force on Isolating Iran sent a classified telegram to all Israeli embassies and consulates, titled “Activities in the Run-up to Iran’s Presidential Election.” It detailed things Israeli representatives should do before, during and after the election….
In a nutshell, the goal is to “blacken Iran’s international reputation….”
Alex Stein says
Well it’s the first time anyone has ever called me a liberal incrementalist.
I thought you were a Zionist? Does that not mean that you also have a certain amount of emotional involvement – and even responsibility – in this place? As for the puh-leeze, it would be interesting to compare the death and destruction that Israel has caused over the last 40 years with that caused by America (and, before you complain about the comparison, remember your compare and contrast when it came to the issue of people working for the security services).
My point, though, was that if you were living here, you might – for example – come with me and Combatants for Peace to help out in South Hebron on Saturday. Or should I sit at home and say, nah, let the settlers do their worse, it’ll only do harm to Israel’s image abroad, and then they’ll really clamp down on us.
Richard Silverstein says
I’ll take that bet. At 50 times the Israeli population, I’d wager that the level of violence perpetrated by Israel dwarfs whatever heinousness the U.S. has perpetrated if you could figure this out on a per capita basis.
Good. I’m glad you’re going. But this is entirely a non sequitur for what we’re discussing. Besides if we can figure out how to topple the pro-Occupation political regime then not only won’t you have to protect Palestinian farmers from lunatic settlers, there won’t be a danger of war with Iran. We each work in our own way–you in yours and me in mine. If the work I’m engaged in doesn’t satisfy you that’s your problem, not mine.
Would you support another 9-11 if it would bring justice to Palestine? Would you support suicide attacks if they would bring justice to Palestine? Having read your blog for a while, I doubt it. If not, why would you support the murder of Iranians? If your problem would be with the word “justice” in the above, feel free to substitute whatever word you think would make it worth it.
Alex Stein says
I’ll take that bet too. Now this is just on the basis of overt US actions (so it excludes stuff like involvement in Latin America etc). Vietnam, 1st Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanisatan, 2nd Gulf War – that leads a total minimum civilian casualty rate of 2,865,144.
Taking the maximum estimate of civilian casualties caused in Israeli wars etc (Six Day War, Lebanon, Intifadas, Gaza etc) is a total of 28,416.
The difference is 100 fold, and that’s based on minimum US estimates and max Israeli estimates, and by excluding Latin America etc etc.