Reuters reports that a “senior IDF officer” has broken ranks with Bibi Netanyahu and supports a nuclear deal with Iran. The story doesn’t identify the official. But a knowledgeable Israeli source informs me that it is the same individual who was the focus of my last post, Chief of Staff, Gadi Eizenkot. Further, the remarks about the Iranian nuclear deal were part of the same briefing in which he promised 1.5-million Lebanese refugees during the next war against Hezbollah.
Here is how the news agency portrayed his remarks:
…An unnamed senior military officer said that if agreed by its June 30 deadline, the deal would provide clarity on the direction of Iran’s nuclear program.
The officer said that for now, measures sought by world powers such as stepped-up international inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities and scaling back of its uranium enrichment “allow for the supposition that, in the coming period of years, this is a threat in decline.”
Though horrified by the future war crimes Eizenkot promised in one portion of his briefing, I’m gratified that the most senior officer in the Israeli army is willing to break with his boss and say he can live with what promises to be a nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran. Though there is much that is wrong with the IDF, we can say at least in this instance that it is willing to go against the politicians when it thinks they’re wrong. The current chief’s predecessor, Benny Gantz, also defied the political hierarchy in saying much the same thing. But in that instance, then defense minister gagged the army’s leader. When called before a Knesset committee to testify, Barak refused to allow him to.
That may be why Eizenkot chose to make his remarks in a briefing in which his identity was concealed (at least somewhat). The fact that the general did make the remarks at all tells me that his bosses, Yaalon and Netanyahu, may realize the jig is up. They won’t have Iran to beat up on much longer once a deal is signed.
Remember that in this same briefing the IDF chief pivoted to threats closer at hand. That’s how the promise to depopulate southern Lebanon came up. Israel’s army is smart enough to look at the history of conflicts over the past thirty years and the ones that most recur are with Lebanon and Gaza. Since Hamas is not a true military threat, that leaves the IDF with its most potent enemy, Hezbollah.
Eizenkot knows who his next adversary will be. He knows he must prepare the Israeli people for the next war; for the bloodshed; for the war crimes. He must offer the justifications that allow Israelis to feel they’re defending themselves when they’re invading a foreign state in violation of international law.
Pivot to BDS
Netanyahu and his new rightist government are making a different pivot. Instead of the usual suspects, Bibi wants a more urgent and immediate target: BDS. Whereas Iran used to be Existential Threat #1, BDS is now described in precisely the same terms used previously against Iran: terrorism, anti-Semitic, elimination of Israel.
The far-right throughout history can be defined, in part, by a need for an enemy. Sometimes the enemy is foreign, sometimes it is domestic. Netanyahu has no real ideas of his own. He has no philosophy or political platform. He exists to rule. To continue ruling, he must find an enemy to make the public fear and vote for him. After he leaves the scene (and may it be soon), his only legacy will be fear.
Now that he’s about to lose Iran, he needs a new bogeyman who will make Israelis quake with fear. Before, Israeli schoolchildren could have nightmares of screaming bearded Ayatollahs. Now, their nightmares will involve BDS protesters around the world waving placards and screaming for Israeli blood (so to speak).
Here in America, Bibi’s fat-cat pro-Israel elite gathered in Las Vegas at the behest of Sheldon Adelson, Clinton funder and Israeli intelligence asset, Haim Saban, and ex-felon Adam Milstein. There they announced that Adelson’s capo di tutti, Shmuley Boteach, was to command a new anti-BDS initiative. Miriam Adelson gave it the bizarre title, Campus Maccabees Summit. As if fighting BDS was akin to a great Biblical battle against Hellenists and God knows what other enemies threatening the Jewish people.
The idea that the guy who invented Kosher Lust was going to lead a campus crusade against BDS has veteran Jewish leaders aghast. You can tell by the anonymous comments they made about the event that they think the idea is whacked out:
“Shmuley should stay out of our bedrooms, out of our foreign policy and away from our campuses. He misunderstands and disrupts all three.”
But no one can say this about Shmuley to someone worth $30-billion who can buy and sell your organization in half-a-millisecond.
Those of us who support some or all of the tenets of BDS realize that Adelson and his cronies are taking Israel and the Jewish people down a dangerous road. One that will likely lead to a car crash. There’s little we can do to avoid it except warn them as they come careening past. It doesn’t give me any pleasure to know that Jewish leaders are off the rails. But in the struggle for Israel, when your opponent persists in making a fool of himself, far be it from you to stop him from going down in flames.
Orange Sees Red
Since I mentioned Haim Saban, let’s talk about his own minor BDS debacle over the past day or so. He owns the Israeli telecom, Partner Communications. It provides cell phone service in Israel under license from the French company, Orange. Its CEO told an audience in Egypt that the relationship with his Israeli partner was a pain in the neck and he wanted to be rid of it as soon as possible.
It’s not clear to me whether the French company is ending the business relationship imminently or will wait till its contract expires. It’s not even clear what is that date.
But the very notion that a company Saban owns might be harmed directly by BDS has made him apoplectic. Which is of course delightful. For BDS to be effective it must be not just a moral movement or based on abstract principle. It must hit people in their pocket books. Although Saban is worth billions, even a small loss like this will have an out-sized impact on morale.
Saban, Adelson and Netanyahu may rail against BDS all they want, but they have no one to blame but themselves. The farther rightward Israeli politics moves, the stronger BDS becomes. And no, BDS will not topple Israel’s Occupation. At least not by itself. But it will be a lightning rod that concentrates the anger of the world against Israeli injustice.
On a related topic, a few days ago I published a Seattle Times op-ed warning Mayor Ed Murray not to pinkwash Israel when he gives a keynote address at a Tel Aviv conference celebrating Israel and gay rights there. I’m pleased to say that KUOW devoted a segment (it’s roughly 27 minutes into this audio stream) in its weekly new review show to Murray’s trip and included a short clip of an interview with me. Today, a public interest journalist published new information on the trip revealing that the city will pick up the tab for the Mayor’s security in Israel. Seattle police officers will accompany him there and it will cost taxpayers $25,000!
When I informed my Times editor about these developments, he told me that my article vied for most popular article on the Times’ site today, and for a short time it even eclipsed Taylor Swift! For a nanosecond, pinkwashing outshone musical celebrity! I expect to publish an expanded version of the op-ed here tomorrow which will include some new research I’ve uncovered.