A Haaretz reporter has just published a fascinating theory (and English) in which Bibi Netanyahu, with the connivance of Sheldon Adelson, is provoking not just war with Iran, but a U.S. war with Iran. Sefi Rachlevsky writes that Netanyahu believes that if he attacks Iran a few weeks before the election that Obama will have two choices: either he will join in the attack, in which case both Bibi and Adelson will have gained their supreme objective, the dismantling of the Iranian menace. If Obama refuses and leaves Israel in the lurch, so Rachlevsky’s theory goes, the incumbent president will lose the election to Mitt Romney, who will then be able to finish the job once he assumes the presidency.
I don’t know if Bibi is stupid and callow enough to believe this. But what is most interesting is the Haaretz reporter’s claim that Adelson is willing to use his billions in service of this grand scheme. The language here is strong, provocative, disturbing, but worth considering seriously:
We’re not talking about an independent Israeli attack. Precisely the opposite. All of Adelson’s billions are meant for this moment: dragging America into a war to save Israel. Netanyahu succeeded previously in restraining American pressure for peace. But dragging America to war using the methods of Pollard and the Protocols, that’s a different planet altogether.
…These things must be said clearly. No leadership has the right to send the IDF [to war]–endangering thousands of soldiers and civilians–into a war it [Israel] doesn’t have the ability to win on its own. No one has the right to gamble with Israeli lives. Legetimitately involving the U.S. in war against Iran should only be done by a government following a policy of moderation. A government which failed in this effort would not gamble that it could drag the U.S. into war if it only sacrificed enough Israeli lives in the process.
…IDF chief Benny Gantz and the army’s leadership are obligated NOT to carry out such an order [to attack Iran]. Giving such an order should be prohibited. It should be prohibited to execute it as well.
Adelson will spend infinitely, both in order to make Mitt president and to ensure war with Iran. That part of the theory I find much more convincing. I have no doubt that Adelson may believe in this double-edged strategy. If he does and there is an Israeli attack before the election, I’d expect a massive campaign blitz in favor of “helping Israel finish the job.” To Adelson’s mind, he’s performing a double-mitzvah (at least): getting Mitt elected and obliterating Iran as a threat to Israel. Someone having the warped thinking of the casino magnate could easily think this way.
In the true Olympic corporate spirit, perhaps the Las Vegas Sands can become a proud corporate sponsor of the next war. Maybe we’ll call it ShellyWar. Just as Adelson’s Macau casino draws its high-stakes gamblers via Chinese middle-men who bring their charges in organized charter trips, perhaps Adelson can get special war-privileges for his customers. Maybe flying wingman on an F-16 jetting its way to Natanz. Maybe holding the drone joystick that attacks Iranian targets, pulling the trigger to fire missiles at an Iranian nuclear facility. That should be business almost as good as what a Chinese oligarch might lose in a night in Macao.
Rachlevsky calls his piece The ‘Bad Business’ Syndrone. Eysek Bish (“bad business”) refers to Israel’s failed bit of covert sabotage in 1954, seeking to prevent a British withdrawal from the Suez Canal. Israeli covert operatives bombed various American targets in Egypt in order to gin up hostility by the Americans against a western withdrawal (and against Nasser himself). This may’ve firmed up Pres. Eisenhower’s resolve when, after Israel, France and Britain invaded in 1956, he sternly demanded that they withdraw–which they did. In a similar way, the Haaretz reporter sees Adelson and Bibi’s high stakes gamble concerning Iran as even more an act of deceit against both an unsuspecting U.S. and Israel. It also explains his reference to the Protocols.
To tell the truth, when I first read the above passage it brought to mind the accusations of that nasty book to which Rachlevsky refers. But the horror of what Sheldon Adelson is doing is that it is precisely a caricature of that anti-Semitic tract. Here you have a billionaire American Jew who not only wants to buy a U.S. presidential election, but a war against Iran to boot. Is there no more anti-Semitic a notion? Yet when a Jew acts in the ways an anti-Semite might predict, we still have an obligation to call him out. He doesn’t get a free pass because he’s an anti-Semite’s dream.
American Jewish leaders and oligarchs should consider carefully the model that Adelson is offering them. If you spend hundreds of millions to achieve your political and corporate goals, you run the risk of fueling anti-Semitism. This, of course, is aside from the infinite harm you do to the American body politic. There is a reason why for centuries Jews trode lightly in their host countries, why they made their impact felt in the most subtle of ways. There is a reason for humility in such things.
Oren Persico and Noam Sheizaf have uncovered an amazing tidbit that was censored from Rachlevsky’s article. In 1998, when Saddam was losing his grip on power and under a U.S. no fly zone, he threatened Israel with attack. Then prime minister Netanyahu ordered the arming of Israel’s Jericho ballistic missiles. Such an order hadn’t even been given during the Yom Kippur War. Then, Netanyahu received a meeting from three key figures: Ariel Sharon, former IDF chief Rafael Eitan, and then IDF chief Amnon Lipkin. They told Bibi to “relax, take a pill” and stop this nonsense:
There are things even a prime minister doesn’t do. Will even one among them be Ehud Barak [this time around]?
This passage was censored for two main reasons: first because it mentions Israeli preparation to fire its Jericho missiles, a highly classified issue within Israel; second, because it makes Bibi appear to be an unstable, frightened rabbit when it comes to life and death issues. It doesn’t augur well for coming days when Bibi may actually order those same missiles (or similar ones) to launch against Iranian targets.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.