Netanyahu’s nauseating parody of himself
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his warmongering compatriots are incensed at the prospect of a deal between Iran and the Western powers that would ease some sanctions on Iran in return for Tehran scaling back its nuclear programme.
In fact, it’s fair to say that Netanyahu is turning into a parody of his already ridiculous and nauseating self.
Speaking after a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry at Ben-Gurion airport on 8 November, Netanyahu said:
“I urge Secretary Kerry not to rush to sign, to wait, to reconsider, to get a good deal. But this is a bad deal, a very, very bad deal… it’s a very dangerous and bad deal for peace and the international community.”
According to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu told Kerry that Israel was not bound by any nuclear deal the West makes with Iran. “This is a very bad deal. Israel utterly rejects it… Israel is not obliged by this agreement,” he said.
A day earlier, on 7 November, Netanyahu told a conference of so-called “diaspora” leaders: “I believe that adopting [these proposals] would be a mistake of historic proportions. They must be rejected outright.”
Writing on his blog, Middle East historian Juan Cole gives seven reasons for Netanyahu’s and the Israeli right’s faux and hypocritical outrage – “Iran has no nuclear weapons programme, but Israel has hundreds of nuclear warheads” – at the prospect of a deal between Iran and the West:
1. Since they broke their word to President John F. Kennedy and went for broke to produce their own bomb, the Israeli leadership can’t imagine that Iran won’t cheat on any deal. This is an example of mirror thinking. But Iran is being inspected, unlike Israel, and no country under active UN inspection has ever developed a bomb.
2. A US-Iran deal that involves the UN Security Council would make it impossible for Israel unilaterally to attack Iran. It would therefore reduce Israel’s range of options and detract from its position as Middle East regional hegemon.
3. A remaining Iranian nuclear programme would always imply a “break-out” capacity for Tehran. Being known to be able to make a nuclear weapon has some of the same deterrent effects as actually having one, increasing Iranian clout in the region. (This is on analogy to Japan in East Asia).
4. Israel’s Likud Party still has designs on annexing southern Lebanon, deeply regretting Ehud Barak’s 2000 withdrawal, but is blocked by Hezbollah backed by Iran. An Iran with a break-out capacity would permanently end Israeli expansionist ambitions to the north and permanently deny Israel the waters of the Litani River, which its leaders covet.
5. Much of the Israeli public isn’t that wedded to being in Israel, a big problem for hawks like PM Binyamin Netanyahu. Probably a million or so first and second generation Israeli immigrants live in Europe and North America; it is not even clear that some of them aren’t being counted in the 5.5 million Israeli Jews claimed by Israel. Around 20,000 Israelis now live in Berlin! Nearly a third of Jewish Israelis have said in polling that they would consider emigrating if Iran developed a nuclear weapon. Keeping Iran weak is key to winning the hardliners’ psychological war in the Middle East.
6. Netanyahu uses the supposed threat of Iran, a poor weak global South country with a military budget somewhere between that of Norway and Singapore, to distract attention from Israeli colonization of Palestinian territory. A Western deal with Iran would throw the spotlight on the Palestinian West Bank, where Netanyahu is engaged in grand larceny on a cosmic scale.
7. If Iran is widely viewed by the international community to have stepped back from nuclear ambitions, Israel’s own nuclear arsenal will come to the fore as a focus, since it is the only Middle Eastern country with an arsenal of warheads, and that arsenal clearly drives a regional arms race (starting with Iraq in the 1980s).
One could only hope that Netanyahu’s faux and hypocritical outrage has now reached such a preposterous crescendo that it can be ignored even by the spineless, Zionist-lobby-prone Western politicians.