For Israel to launch a military strike against Iran would simply be madness and have repercussions far beyond Israel and the Gulf. Such an attack would of course be an act of war, but that has never bothered Israel, which seems to think that the fact of the Holocaust grants her the right to violate international law and take whatever action she might deem necessary to her security. And the unqualified support of the United States, caught in a seeming stranglehold because of Israel’s immense influence in American elections, allows her the power and protection to act as she pleases, even if it is clearly against the interests of the United States.
Iran, however, is not Syria or Lebanon or Iraq and is very likely to defend her national sovereignty and honor by retaliating. This might be of little concern to the world at large if this simply meant a war between Israel and Iran, although in the unlikely event that Israel is desperate she would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons, which would be disastrous. But able to reach Israel only with a few missiles Iran is almost certain to assert herself as a victim of aggression by employing irregular forces to attack US interests around the world and cause a shutdown of the oil passing through the Straits of Hormuz, which Gulf would send the price of oil skyrocketing and quite possibly turn the global recession into a full scale depression. Further, America is bound to come to the aid of Israel if she is attacked, apparently regardless of why, and the result would be another costly and unjustified war for the US and a disaster of Biblical proportions for Iran.
It appears from the events of recent decades that America has fully adopted the international mechanisms and attitudes pioneered by the Israelis (and sundry loathsome states before them): contempt for the national sovereignty of other states, disregard for international law when it is inconvenient, the murder of individuals considered enemies and the acceptance of outright military aggression if there is perception of some future threat. These are of course the positions taken by the very people responsible for the Holocaust.
Implicit in the support of a subservient America and European countries with guilty consciences is that Israel is a “good guy,” living in a neighborhood inhabited by various “bad guys,” of whom Iran is clearly one. Israel is a tiny democracy whose very existence is continually threatened by surrounding autocracies. Unmentioned is the fact that Israel is also an outpost of understandingly attractive western culture (even if Jewish) in a sea of supposed inferior Arab culture. Further, completely missing from the established image of evil and predatory neighbors is the righteous indignation of the locals at having an essentially European state established on their homeland by an organization – the UN – created and controlled by westerners bent on assuaging their guilt.
A tiny Jewish David surrounded by Muslim Goliaths, that has been portrait of Palestine. Yet, even in 1948 the American OSS predicted that the new state of Israel would have no problem defeating the invading Arabs, and in 1967 the successor CIA estimated it would take the Israelis no more than two weeks to crush their opponents, which they in fact did in half that time. Today of course Israel has the most powerful military in the region, limited only by the need of resupply by the Americans, but she still presents the strategic arguments of the mid-twentieth century: “We must control the
West Bank because Israel is so tiny and vulnerable” or “We must retain the Golan Heights because from there Syrian artillery could pound Tel Aviv.” It does not take any serious military education to understand how obsolete and nonsensical such propositions are; the high ground and other territorial considerations become irrelevant if you have complete control of the air, which Israel has maintained since the Six Day War.
As yet it is too soon to tell if the Arab Spring will actually produce functioning democracies, but it is certainly clear that Israel is something less than completely democratic. At heart is the contradiction inherent in the very nature of Israel: it claims to be both a democracy and a Jewish state. What exactly does that mean for the 25% of the Israeli citizen body who are not Jews? It means discrimination of course, a discrimination exacerbated by the fanaticism of the “settlers” and the growing political influence of the ultra-orthodox sects, who do not even like most of their fellow Jews. The Israeli Foreign Minister has actually publicly called for the expulsion of non-Jews, the sort of ethnic cleansing normally associated with especially vile governments.
Finally, one might ask by what right do Israel, America, Britain and
France require that Iran produce no nuclear weapons and back up that demand with the threat of military action. Behind this blatant double-standard there is clearly the arrogance of power: we have the military and economic resources to bar you from the nuclear club. At least the Athenians were more honest when they justified their unjust and immoral bullying of the tiny island of Melos: “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” That Israel itself has nuclear weapons and has never even been asked by the US to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty must strike others in the region as a particular example of American hypocrisy.
After six decades an understandable Israeli concern for security has evolved into an almost irrational paranoia fed by incredible arrogance and self-righteousness. Hearing a head of state call for your annihilation must certainly be unnerving, but is the Israeli government so foolish that it takes the utterly simplistic view that the outlandish rhetoric of Ahmadinejad actually represents the policy of a state in which the centers of power lie elsewhere? Are the rulers of Iran so completely idiotic or suicidal that they would seriously threaten Israel with a nuclear weapon, knowing it would mean the complete destruction of their country?
The government of Iran is obviously repressive and champions a religious ideology unpleasant for most westerners and hostile to the Sunni autocrats beloved by the west for their oil, but there is an Iranian point of view. In 1941 the western allies invaded and occupied Iran as a staging area for supplying the Russians, and in 1953 Britain and America conspired to overthrow the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh and replace it with the autocratic and ultimately terror-filled rule of the Shah. Since 1979, when the Revolution overthrew the hated Shah, America has maintained a constant hostility towards Iran and has become even more identified as the enabler and protector of Israel. And the Iranians are not likely to forget who supported Saddam Hussein in his invasion of Iran.
Because of the embedded image of Israel as the “good guy” and the cowardice of the American political establishment in the face of the Israeli lobby, there is little official attention is given to the non-Israeli perspective in the Middle East. Could it be that the other states in the region fear Israel as much as she expresses fear of them? Israel after all possesses several hundred nuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them and has shown an increasing lack of restraint in resorting to military action. In her modern history Iran has never attacked her neighbors, while Israel feels free to assault anyone she deems hostile or an obstacle to her policies, including even the Americans (the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967). Iran may support groups unfriendly to Israel, but at the same time Israel feels free to murder any individual considered an enemy, most recently Iranian physicists. Finally, what other state in the area is engaged in actual territorial aggrandizement and colonization?
Unfortunately, seeing the other guy’s point of view has never been an American strong suit.