One has to raise one’s hat to the nerve, nay effrontery, of Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu after seeing him operate in the United States and in his own country over the past few weeks. Not only did he openly challenge, indeed oppose, the United States talking to Iran along with the members of the P-5 countries regarding its nuclear programme, he went home and made not one but two incendiary and dangerous statements.
In the United States, he was invited by the Republican majority in Congress to address a joint session with nary a word to the executive branch in the White House, in which address he attempted to speak down to the President of the very same country that supports Israel to the hilt in the United Nations, and other world fora. He also made light of France, China, the United Kingdom and Russia by suggesting that the deal they were helping the United States make with Iran would somehow not be adequate.
‘No deal’ is what he was saying which would prompt one to ask, what then, Prime Minister? An all-out assault on Iran in an attempt to destroy its nuclear installations which have so far proved to be decades away from even nearing the capacity to build a nuclear weapon? Do you want another war in the Middle East which is already reeling with the effects of the last one, which mark, is still raging? Instead of making strenuous efforts to come to a peaceful, verifiable agreement that will open Iran’s nuclear programme to international inspectors, do you want another conflagration, in a country of 80 million people?
And in an area already in the grip of terrorism as the result of which tens of thousands of people have been killed and many more thousands horribly maimed in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Indeed, an all-out war right next to a country where 10,000 American troops will be stationed for the next two years, most probably longer? Indeed, does Mr Netanyahu really believe Israel would benefit in any way from an attack on Iran? Who will mount the attack anyway? Israel by its lonesome self? A coalition comprising which countries? Does the Israeli prime minister really think Iran is such a push-over?
It boggles the senses to see that no lessons have been learnt despite the spectacle that presents itself daily in the shape and form of what is happening in the so-called ‘failed’ states: Libya; Syria and Iraq, the first two of which experienced the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, and the third which was assaulted by the ‘allies’, principally the United States and the United Kingdom, on what can politely be called ‘unreliable information’. How well one remembers the embarrassed Colin Powell pointing to a container truck and calling it a mobile chemical weapons factory or some such.
But back to the Israeli/Republican Party’s collusion over the Iran deal. I will quote the venerated Israeli writer and former politician Uri Avnery in his The consequences of Netanyahu’s victory, Counterpunch March 23, 2015: ‘…. (then) there is Netanyahu (Bibi)’s obsession with the Iran question and US negotiations with that country. Bibi will no doubt feel emboldened by his electoral victory, and once he forms his coalition and consolidates power, the White House can expect him to resume his nagging and nay-saying ways on this issue. Once the deal with Iran is struck (and I think it will be), one can anticipate Netanyahu’s collusion with the Republicans to undermine and, if they can, ultimately sabotage President Obama’s one notable contribution to a more peaceful and stable world’.
Back home, Netanyahu, alarmed at polls just prior to the elections that he would lose the election to Isaac Herzog said two things, both of which he withdrew after winning. In the first instance he said, in so many words, that there would be no two-state solution for the Palestinians as long as he was prime minister, and in the second, that ‘droves of (Israeli) Arabs’ were voting and so putting fear into the hearts of ordinary Israelis to vote for his hard right Likud party.
In the words of Avnery again: ‘Netanyahu stoked this fear with warnings of a massive Arab Israeli turnout and other examples of racist-tinged propaganda, and this led many Israeli Jews to decide, in the privacy of the voting booth, that they were more afraid of Palestinians than of poverty. At the same time, most of these voters refused to face the fact that much of this fear is self-induced. Israel has evolved into one of the most racist countries on earth and at the heart of its racism is the ideologically driven desire for a state reserved primarily for Jews. To accomplish this, Israel as a nation has dispossessed and oppressed the Palestinians. This practice has prevailed for so long that 60 per cent of Israeli Jews cannot envision an end to the resulting struggle. So fear of Palestinian resistance, with its implied threat of destruction, or at least transformation, of the Jewish state has always been their ultimate security issue’.
As pointed out earlier, Netanyahu withdrew both of his statements, apologising to the Israeli Arabs, and saying that he was still for the two-state solution. Most commentators are putting both of these statements/retractions down to his usual cynical politicking.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch the former Indian Chief of Army Staff, General VK Singh, now Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, put both his feet into his mouth by tweeting #Disgust and #Duty after visiting the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi. This was right after the extreme hard right television channels led by Times Now (which still owes me money for appearing on it several times many years ago!) and its fire-spitting Arnab Goswami criticised him for going to the function at all.
Many Indian ‘scholars’ (one in Washington, DC) made it worse by saying he probably meant he was ‘holding his nose’ while at our High Commission! As I tweeted, Singh retired as a Full General, not as a Subaltern! Shameful and unsoldierly, what V K Singh said. He has ‘offered’ to resign; he should be moved to Defence Procurement!
Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2015.