In an interview in The Nation, David Grossman, Israel’s leading novelist and moral conscience, expresses the conviction that Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak want a war against Iran:
…He said he had “a very bad feeling” that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were going to order an attack, even against America’s wishes. “There is a dynamic to all these warlike declarations,” he said.
I’ve written often in the past about David Grossman as an admirable, but attenuated figure. As a liberal Zionist who is a moral bellwether for Israeli centrist and leftists, but one who is constrained by many of the limitations inherent in those defending major elements of the Israeli status quo. With Grossman, the glass is always both half empty and half-full. He is someone always willing to sound the alarm about the worst depredations of the rightist governments who have afflicted Israel for the past decade or more. But he is also someone who never wants to be too far ahead of his countrymen. He is one of them, and feels their moral confusion and remains constrained, as they are, about Israel’s predicament and how to get out of it.
The good news is that Grossman has launched an assault on Bibi and Barak’s plan to assault Iran. He’s gone so far as to accept that an Iran with a nuclear weapon would be far less bad than an Israeli attack on Iran in order to prevent this outcome.
In both Larry Derfner’s Nation interview and Grossman’s own Haaretz op-ed (Hebrew), he’s offered cogent analysis of the thinking of the Israeli leadership. He’s especially good at placing their mindset in the context of Jewish history:
He [Netanyahu] has this idea that we are the people of eternity, am ha’netzach from the Bible, and our negotiations, as he sees it, are with eternity, with the primal currents of history and mankind, while the United States, with all due respect, is just another superpower like Rome or Athens or Babylon, and we’ve survived them all,” said Grossman. “I’m afraid that this way of thinking might encourage Netanyahu to take the step” of attacking Iran.
In the Haaretz interview (translation mine) he amplifies on this subject:
The prime minister makes many speeches these days. Before our eyes, he fires up his listeners and himself with frequent references to the Holocaust, the Jewish fate and the fate of the generations to come. Opposing this rhetoric of apocalypse and catastrophe, there are moments when one asks whether Netanyahu distinguishes between the very real dangers Israel faces and the echoes and shadows of these past traumas [i.e. the Holocaust]. This is an important, indeed fateful concern because the confusion between the one and the other could sentence Israel to relive those echoes and shadows.
This world view also characterized several periods of Jewish history in which leaders arose who asserted that violent resistance against tyrants was preferable to continuing to live under their yoke. Revolts like the two against the Romans (the first in 66 and the second in 132 CE) featured Jews like Bar Kochba and Elazar ben Yair, whose nationalist zeal led them into adventures that cost the Jewish people of the day dearly in lives and suffering. While such resistance is certainly admirable and heroic, it threatens the sense of self-preservation of a relatively small, vulnerable people historically surrounded by nations far stronger and more powerful. I say beware those leaders who see visions and hear voices of Jewish destiny. They can, in many cases, lead us down the path to national self-destruction.
One of Grossman’s great strengths in the face of ultranationalist grandiosity is his pragmatic way of looking at the threats facing Israel. In fact, he’s willing to live with a nuclear Iran if necessary and advocates a policy Barack Obama just forcefully renounced–containment:
“I don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons, but I think that if the sanctions do not work, Israel and the whole world, painfully, will have to live with it,” Grossman said, warning that bombing Iran would set in motion “a nightmare that’s hard to describe.”
…Grossman said that if sanctions and diplomacy could not stop the Iranian nuclear program, trusting to deterrence was less dangerous than starting an open-ended war.
But amidst all of Grossman’s admirable qualities as a moral and political seer, he also has serious limitations. Here he explains why he has held back in denouncing the government’s plans to attack Iran. Note how many factual errors about Iran beset him here:
Asked why he hasn’t, until now, spoken out on this matter when he’s been so vocal in his dissent against past Israeli wars and the occupation of Palestinian territories, Grossman said he is beset by the same doubts and hesitations that have quieted the public at large, including the peace camp.
“We are dealing here with the most crucial existential problem that the State of Israel may ever have faced in all its history,” he said, “and most people are reluctant to express their opinions because they feel they just don’t have all the necessary information.
“Remember,” he said, “we are talking about fanatic, fundamentalist leaders in Iran who have declared openly that they want to eradicate Israel. And they may come into possession of nuclear bombs. It’s important to face the complexity of this dilemma—it’s not an abstract moral debate, but something very, very concrete.”
Is Iran the “most crucial existential problem” Israel has faced in all its history? No, that’s buying into the Bibist narrative. Iran is a problem no greater than the prospect of China getting a nuclear weapon in the 1960s or Stalin getting a hydrogen bomb in 1949. Looking back, were these the most crucial existential moments in American history? They would have been only if one or the other leader had made a critical miscalculation that led to nuclear war. Luckily that didn’t happen and I hope it will not happen today.
Note, that Grossman repeats the erroneous claim that Iran’s leaders have “declared openly they want to eradicate Israel.” They of course have done no such thing. You would think that Grossman, with all the linguistic and literary resources at his disposal, would be able to discover the truth by consulting Persian speakers who could set him straight.
Grossman also claimed that Iran has “chemical and biological weapons,” a point which I’ve never heard any analyst say. It is possible that Iran does have such weapons, but I’ve never read of any proof of this in any credible publication or from any credible source.
In everything he writes about Iran, there isn’t any recognition of the fact that Israel has played any role in drawing Iran’s hostility. There is only the perception that Iran’s leaders are near psychopaths with whom a supposed moderate, secular middle class is saddled and even imprisoned. This is the typical myopia that afflicts liberal Israelis who appear to want to understand the motivations of their Arab neighbors, but who are ultimately stymied by their myopia in not recognizing the impact Israel has on them for better and mostly for worse.
The Israeli author closes his interview by offering powerful advice against a war:
The author said that while it may be possible to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, it was impossible to destroy the knowledge of how to recreate it. “And the people who have that knowledge will rise from the rubble after we attack,” he said, “and they will start to create a new nuclear infrastructure, only this time they will be heavily loaded with humiliation, hatred and desire for revenge, and this time they will have the support of the entire Iranian people.”
Citing the large presence of “more secular, educated, realistic” people in Iran, masses of whom protested bravely in 2009 against the regime, Grossman said this face of Iran held out the hope of a future leadership that might be less hostile to Israel. But he warned that this hope would be destroyed, too, in an Israeli attack.
“If Israel bombs Iran,” he said, “I think it will be seen as an arrogant, megalomaniacal, violent nation even by the most sober, moderate Iranians.” Israel’s hope for peace, or even just quiet, with a future, better Iranian government “would be eradicated for generations.”
In Haaretz, Grossman asks another important (rhetorical) question. In reading it, keep in mind that his beloved son was killed only hours before a ceasefire was declared in the 2006 Lebanon war:
Can there be any real purpose to this war? Such that it would guarantee life and tranquility to Israel for many years? And create the will to accept it sometime in the future as a legitimate partner and neighbor? One which can transform in the long run, this chapter regarding the nuclear weapons of Israel and others into something redundant?
He closes his op-ed with this moving statement in which he implores Israel not to attack Iran, even if it means it will attain nuclear weapons:
An Israeli attack on Iran would be based on a wild, rash bet, one which will change our future irreparably. I daren’t even imagine it. Yes, I can imagine it, but my hand hesitates to write the words.
Tonight, 60 Minutes will feature Meir Dagan’s first foreign interview since he left the Mossad. He speaks with Lesley Stahl about Iran (of course). Here is a small taste of what you’ll hear tomorrow night:
david trimmell says
Re: the video. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does not have control over the Military, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei does. I hope this mistake will someday be understood.
It looks as though even David Grossman can come under the influence of propaganda. But a wise man always chooses a path leading to peace, although the cost may be high.
” “Israel,” said Grossman, “is a deeply traumatized community that finds it very difficult to separate between real dangers and echoes of past traumas, and sometimes I think our prime minister fires himself up in mixing these real dangers with those echoes from the past.” …”
Symptoms of Psychotic Delusions?
“…the United States, with all due respect, is just another superpower like Rome…”
While Rome burned it was relatively isolated. We now live in a world not isolated, but interconnected in so many ways.
RE:“Israel,” said Grossman, “is a deeply traumatized community that finds it very difficult to separate between real dangers and echoes of past traumas, and sometimes I think our prime minister fires himself up in mixing these real dangers with those echoes from the past.”
Symptoms of Psychotic Delusions? ~ david trimmel
SEE: Israel’s Defense Chief OK’s Hundreds of Israeli Deaths, By Ira Chernus, CommonDreams.org, 11/11/11
ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/11-2
ALSO SEE – Iranophobia: The Panic of the Hegemons, by Ira Chernus, Tikkun Magazine, November/December 2010
LINK – http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/iranophobia-the-panic-of-the-hegemons-3
Israel is not a large country surrounded by natural barriers. Israel is a very, very small country surrounded by hostile neighbors. Every inch of Israel can now be targeted for rocket attack and Hezbollah now appears to be the greatest conventional threat that Israel has ever faced.
A robust, aggressive defense appears to be Israel’s only option for the foreseeable future.
Sticking our heads in the sand isn’t the answer.
Richard Silverstein says
Israel is a country surrounded by neighbors whom it has often done its best to anger, provoke & attack. If it faces hostility it is often of it’s own making. Israel does not engage in “defense.”. It’s only mode is offense, even in defense.
If you honestly believe what you just posted, and at your age; then you are a very foolish man!
Richard Silverstein says
I do so enjoy right wing commenters who deal purely in substance. Makes for such a bracing debate, don’t you think?
Indeed. Israel is a violent country.
Its aggression has pushed its peace loving, enlightened neighbours into defending themselves. So much, that Israel’s aggressive decision to accept the UN partition plan in 1947′ forced 6 armies to drive the Jews into the sea. They failed, and now many dubious bloggers have a hobby to keep them occupied during the day.
Deïr Yassin says
Wow, you’re a new one around here. Your recycled hasbara crap has been debunked hundreds of times, also by major Israeli historians.
And don’t waste your time trying to convince us. We’re far too educated on the subjetc 😀 and you’ve already shown us with your Olmert Peace Plan and your deliberate manipulation of Sa’eb Erekat’s words that you’re a plain liar.
Richard Silverstein says
Israel didn’t “accept” the Partition Plan. In fact it conquered significant territory that was not assigned to it in the Plan. Also, it knew that declaring a state before any agreement had been reached w the other side would cause war, which it did.
Once the Arabs have decided on an alternate partition plan, one that partitions Jews into the Mediterranean, the Yishuv thought it prudent to disagree with the gesture, being as many Jews lack the ability to remain submerged underwater for extended periods of time.
Certainly, colonialism at its worst!
Yes, let’s just ignore the Balfour Declaration that makes it dispositive that the new entrant into the land was the Israeli faction, one that didn’t exist in any majority beforehand. Thus, ANY partition plan of land that wasn’t Israel’s in the first place is a whole benefit to Israel and a forceful detriment to the indigenous people.
The Palestinians had zero obligation to accept the forceful usurpation of land they lived on for 2000 years. And even though the Balfour Declaration declares that the rights of the indigenous Palestinians are to be protected, the declaration is nothing but an announcement of a colony.
I will leave out who the co-signatory to that declaration was (big banking family, has its name all over Israel) so as to avoid anyone labeling me unjustly as a conspiracy theorist (equipped exclusively with provable facts btw lol)
“The Palestinians had zero obligation to accept the forceful usurpation of land they lived on for 2000 years.”
It is exactly this rejectionist, all-or-nothing attitude that got that Palestinians where they are today: A fragmented, stateless society with many of the Palestinians still living as second class citizens in squalor in countries that use them for political gain. Your way of thinking is anachronistic and a thing of the past. Most Palestinians realize today that prosperity lies in state-building and compromise, rather than blind, self-destructive rage directed at Zionists at Jews.
Let’s talk shop and make peace. Not out of love, but because it’s the only pragmatic solution.
I would say that what got Palestinians to where they are today are imperialistic hegemonic powers that have exploited the people and the land for centuries.
The Palestinians were Jews before the crusades and Ottoman conquests.
Also, don’t take my stance as an absolutist one. No one is saying that to correct a wrong in 1948, another one should be wholly committed. Indeed, what I am asking for here is that peace be made so that all wrongs be STOPPED once and for all.
“what I am asking for here is that peace be made so that all wrongs be STOPPED once and for all.”
I can agree with that.
No, but making peace is.
to understand the cover you have to know the cloth. so how much of Netanyahu’s (and Barak’s) bluster is self delusional aggradizement, the arsonist posing as the firefighter first on the scene to save the day.
As to Grossman: Does he ever (or always) denounce the Israel settlement program as contrary to international law and a human-rights violation (and abomination)? This is the first test — in my view — of human decency w.r.t. I/P. The first “baby steps”.
After that, the “second baby step” (maybe not so easy inside Israel!) is to CALL FOR REMOVAL OF SETTLERS, call for DISMANTLEMENT OF WALL, call for ending of SIEGE OF GAZA.
Both these steps are personal, not political. The third step is to join other people in demonstrations, political parties, etc.
I don’t see that it makes sense to call anyone a “conscience” unless he does at least the first baby step, and better, both baby steps.
BTW: The notably and enormously praiseworthy Jews who joined MLK in the American South in the 1960s faced down the local society and risked their lives. I hope and trust that facing down the settler regime in Israel is not that bad — but let me know (and let the world know)!
So in order to be humanly decent, Israelis (including David Grossman) must conform to a set of 3 criteria that you set in place.
Are those standards in place for Israelis only, or for Jews in general?
And what of us Israelis who fall short of your yardstick? I wonder where we fall on your humanity scale?
““chemical and biological weapons,”
I don’t know if Iran has them or not, but chemical weapons, at least, are no more dangerous pound for pound than conventional explosives or so I’ve read. link They are banned and that’s good (I always approve when one particular method of inflicting horrible death on human beings is outlawed) but a missile with a chemical warhead is not a WMD. It’s a nasty thing that could kill civilians, but so is a missile with TNT packed in its nose.
Iran leads the way for global disarmament of chemical weapons having suffered over a million casualties at the hands of Saddam Hussein.
Fred Plester says
Why purchase 10,000 tons of VX precursor chemicals from China, then?
And, if there’s a Chinese Advocate out there, why be silly enough to actually ship an order of this nature?
evidence for this claim?
Piotr Berman says
Perhaps he mean chlorine?
Fred Plester says
And many others. There were reports in several UK newspapers in the past couple of years based on the original German intelligence work, rather than the above, which is a pressure group. I qoute it below mainly because pressure groups make the information easier to find, not because I necessarily agree with their slant. This refers to 2005, since then there’s been a bigger shipment of the actual precursor chemicals; necessarily, the equipment to handle these preceded this order and so far, it’s mostly the equipment that Chinese firms have bene sanctioned for. The precursor which the UN seeks to control is a complex organic chemical, sometimes known as “dichlor” which is not the same thing as elemental chlorine at all. The other precursor is propanol alcohol, which is too widely used to be controlled.
Dichlor is reputed to be as toxic as strycnine even before it’s combined with the other precursor to make VX. Ie: already several times as toxic as chlorine.
It’s always been a source of wonder to me why the Israelis worry so much about nukes and so little about nerve gas; perhaps a misplaced confidence in gas masks and atrophine injections? Quote below.
Foreign assistance has been vital to Iran’s chemical weapon effort. China, Russia and India have been Iran’s primary suppliers of chemical equipment and precursor chemicals. Companies in Germany, Israel and the United States have also been involved.
According to the CIA, Chinese entities have been among the most active suppliers of CW-related equipment and technology. Iran has obtained precursor chemicals, glass-lined vessels and special air filtration equipment—all of which can be used in the production of chemical agents—from Chinese firms. Iran has also purchased Chinese technology that would enable it to manufacture such chemical weapon production equipment on its own.
In many cases, these Chinese firms have been repeatedly singled out for punishment by the U.S. State Department. In May 1997, the State Department sanctioned one Hong Kong company, two Chinese companies and five Chinese individuals for “knowingly and materially contributing to Iran’s chemical weapons program.” These entities and persons were “involved in the export of dual-use chemical precursors and/or chemical production equipment and technology.” One of the Chinese companies, Jiangsu Yongli Chemicals and Technology Import and Export Corporation, reportedly helped Iran build a plant for manufacturing dual-use chemical weapon equipment. Jiangsu Yongli was sanctioned again in June 2001, reportedly for enabling the Iranians to get the facility “up and running.” One of the Chinese individuals sanctioned in May 1997 was Q.C. Chen. In a March 2005 address, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker expressed concern that “the Chinese authorities have been unable to halt the proliferation activities of Q.C. Chen…who has repeatedly provided material support to the Iranian chemical weapons program.” Zibo Chemical Equipment Plant, one of the only firms in China capable of manufacturing large-size glass-lined chemical equipment, has been sanctioned three times since May 2002 for proliferation activities with Iran.
Oded Rozen says
There is an Israeli guy Nahum Manbar who spent 14.5 years in prison for selling ingredients of chemical weapons to Iran.
Richard Silverstein says
Manbar was singled out & made an example of by the Israeli security state. His case is much more complicated than you make out.
Oded Rozen says
Would you care to elaborate ?
Destroying peace for generations is exactly what Israelis have in mind, it’s exactly what they want, and here’s why…
We are down to the endgame with the Palestinian state and the Palestinians becoming capable of suing Apartheid out of existence at the ICC – Israel is out of options and out of luck and so opts for generations of war and a 1000 yr struggle against Islam, rather than face the music
It is in the interest of Israel, as calculated by Bibi, to involve the world in an endtimes conflagration, a 1000 yrs of AIPAC-directed war against Islam, simply because the dissolution of the Apartheid state is the only other alternative to look forward to as an Israeli
This is Israeli cynicism at it’s worst – and it is only because they are desperate and only see the dismantling of the Apartheid state as the only other course of action
This is Israel’s political Samson Option writ large…
Ah yes, an exceptional people/race, burdened origins and history, destiny of supremacy, etc. etc.
Yeah, those Jews, they control the world. And let’s not get started about the vast empire of Israel, spanning across 0.01% of the Middle-East.
No one made embellishments of the delusional nature you did. Get real or get lost.
Didn’t you just write that Israel controls the US congress through its super-powerful “Lobby”?
Actually, I do agree with that thesis. But, what I did was reference you to Professor Stephen Walt (Harvard) and Professor Mearsheimer’s stance that espouses the same.
Don’t forget the use of pressure groups like ADL. Did you read the Steve Rosen publicly available court filings against his former employer, AIPAC? His legal rebuttal, was literally and in effect, “How can you fire me for being a spy when you are an ORGANIZATION OF SPIES?”
Does AIPAC control Congress? 93% of all elected representatives across parties signed a sworn oath to a foreign country’s defense. You tell me. Actually, you know what? Ask the person who was the second in the world to ever even recognize Israel, the Shah of Iran. He made it very clear. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kySR3fpa5s
Now if you can tell me why the Shah would say that, it would be appreciated.
Richard Silverstein says
Not quite. AIPAC controls Congress’ Israel-related agenda. That ain’t anti- Semitic bub, that’s God’s honest truth.
Deïr Yassin says
I think that was a great picture. A couple of weeks ago, the hasbara posted a footage by MEMRI of Palestinians – I think Fatah-members – doing the same gesture during a ralley in Lebanon. It was of course supposed to ‘prove’ that Palestinians are really the new Nazis, bus as Asad Abu Khalil (The Angry Arab) pointed out: it’s an old gesture in the Middle East.
Just as the Svastika is prior to the Nazis in South East Asia.
I’ll definitely keep the picture for the next The-Palestinians-are-Nazis-mantra.
The “Israeli Empire” has at least one satellite state thousands of kilometres away: the US Congress, and since last month also the new Jewish European Parliament, residing in the building of the European Parliament in Brusells. What do you think the purpose of such a European Jewish Parliament is ?
I’ll help you: the first official trip of the leaders is to …. Israel.
[… rant about Zionist world control …]
You know, you’d expect that a country that controls the entire free world would be able to bring down the price of its cottage cheese. I guess we’re too busy ruling the world to take care of such minor issues.
Anyway, where can I sign up for the Jewish conspiracy? I feel so left out.
Richard Silverstein says
This is stupid mindless snark & the next time you try it you’re gone. The implication that this blog or the comment threads are anti Semitic is a huge comment rule violation. You’re on notice.
Do accept my sincerest apologies.
Deïr Yassin says
Well, if you’d asked me last year I would have said Dominique-Every-Morning-I-Wake-Up-And-Ask-Myself-What-I-Can-Do-For-Israel-Strauss-Kahn (DSK) but since he’s out in the cold, I would suggest Bernard-I-Did-What-I-Did-Concerning-Libya-As-A-Frenchman-But-First-Of-All-As-A-Jew-And-For-Israel-Henry-Lévi (BHL).
BTW, as far as I’m corcerned, “Jewish conspiracy” is antisemitic language, and I know too many great Jews to fall into your trap !! And I felt some ironic undertones in Persian Advocate’s commentary, but maybe that was too sophisticated for you to grasp ….
“BTW, as far as I’m corcerned, “Jewish conspiracy” is antisemitic language”
Well then, let us just replace the word ‘Jewish’ with ‘Zionist’ and put your politically-correct sensitives at ease. After all, accusing the Jews of world domination is anti-semitic. Accusing Zionists of the exact same thing – is “progressive”. You are a beacon of humanity, you are.
Overlook, you are too extremist in your opinions and your counterargument is to exaggerate the just argument advanced here.
Read Professor Stephen Walt and Dr. Mearsheimer’s highly acclaimed book, “The Israel Lobby”, and tell us if you can point out something that the John F. Kennedy Professor of International Relations and Diplomacy and another highly accredited professor from Univ. of Chicago Law do not know. It is quite apparent that there is a strong and undue Israeli influence in America. Most Americans still have a little vomit in their mouth from how our Congress adores someone so willing to kill Americans, Iranians and others as cannon fodder to satiate his false messianic complex and delusions of grandeur. The PM even insults our President. The PM is a foreigner and should know many Americans have actually called DHS asking to deport the terrorist from our country.
Oh you didn’t know? 18 USC 2339A-B make it completely illegal for the Israeli government to be providing material support and assistance to listed FTOs like Jundullah and MEK. Netanyahu should be in Gitmo.
“our Congress adores someone so willing to kill Americans, Iranians and others as cannon fodder”
Kill Americans? What’s that all about Persian?
Fred Plester says
Both Israel and Iran have regimes that cannot run a non-siege peacetime economy.
It isn’t just the military in Iran where the Ayatollahs have an override on political control: the Revolutionary Guards also “license” ie; “tax” areas of business. This not only raises revenue independently of political control, it means that some businesses are effectively controlled by the Guard and not by shareholders.
Israel doubtless has equivalent forms of economic subversion, which a citizenry not preoccupied by the threat of war would probably sniff out and put an end to.
I see no one around here picked up on the racist element of the Leslie Stahl interview of Dagan during which she makes allusion to Dagan’s incredible appetite for eating Arabs for breakfast or his ability at separating an Arab from his head. Talk about dehumanizing Muslims! It appears that Dagan’s prolific assassination of Arabs and Iranians turns her on, cause she behaved like a giddy schoolgirl even referring to him as Superman and the killing sprees during his time as Mossad Chief as “daring AND exquisitely executed”.
Gee, who would have thought that the gratuituous murder of Arabs and Iranians would be glorified on 60 Minutes and that the executioner and his “glory days” would be the object of Stahl’s enthrallment.
This is how low our media has sunk under the Z-influence.