FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Netanyahu’s Real Fear

by AKIVA ELDAR

A recent skit on the sketch comedy “Eretz Nehederet” featured a “debate” about the Iranian nuclear program between U.S. and Israeli leaders.

After some discussion, U.S. President Barack Obama accedes to the position of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and he urges them to attack Iran. Netanyahu and Barak exchange frightened glances and plead with Obama to stop them.

Here’s an idea for a different version of a sketch on the same subject: After the talks that began on Saturday between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, Obama tells Netanyahu and Barak that Iran has agreed to restrict its uranium enrichment and open its nuclear facilities to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors. Bibi looks at his defense minister with a crestfallen expression and mutters angrily: “What are we going to do without the Hitler of Tehran? Who will we say is threatening us with a second Holocaust?”

It has recently come to seem increasingly likely that this scenario could become more than just satire. Take the ruling by Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, banning the production, storage and use of nuclear weapons. Or the Washington Post opinion piece by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, in which he said Iran has already expressed its opposition to weapons of mass destruction. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has promised “good news” at the end of the talks between Iran and the six powers. It appears that the sanctions campaign and/or the fear of a military assault are liable to push the Iranian nuclear issue off the Israeli and international agenda.

From Netanyahu’s perspective, the suspension of the Iranian nuclear threat could become a Pyrrhic victory: The world powers will turn toward other crises in the Middle East – including, of course, the Israeli occupation and its injustices. Without having to fear an Iranian nuclear bomb, Israelis are liable to get involved in the demographic and democratic issues in their own country. If the prime minister doesn’t cut down on settlements and accept the June 1967 lines as the basis for a two-state solution, he will go down in history as the leader who contributed to the isolation of Iran while simultaneously intensifying Israel’s isolation. For how long will Israel be able to close its doors to peace activists or hide behind the childish argument that the human rights situation in Syria is much worse than in the territories occupied by “the only democracy in the Middle East”?

An agreement with Iran on uranium enrichment and IAEA inspectors monitoring the Fordo underground nuclear facility near Qom could turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory from the perspective of Israeli deterrence as well.

The (justified ) Israeli argument that attempting to contain an existing Iranian nuclear bomb would be the signal for a nuclear arms race in the Middle East has been heard. Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, and Sam Nunn, a former U.S. senator who now heads the Nuclear Threat Initiative – which is aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons – are calling on the United States, Europe, Russia and NATO to promote the vision of “a nuclear-weapon-free world,” as they wrote in a New York Times op-ed Friday. In so doing, Schmidt and Nunn are joining their voices to those of former U.S. secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, and former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry.

He who seeks to part his neighbor from nuclear weapons must expect that he will be asked to open his home to nuclear inspectors. What will Israel do if Iran follows through on its “threat” to participate in a conference, scheduled to be held in Helsinki late this year or early next year, focused on turning the Middle East into a nuclear-free zone? After 45 years of occupation, it’s tough to hold on to that victim pose and get a pass on certain things because of that victimhood. It could be that this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day will be Netanyahu’s last chance to say Auschwitz and Fordo in the same breath without raising the question “And what about Dimona?”

What would happen if Obama were to tell Netanyahu and Barak that the Iranians are willing to give up, totally and finally, not just on their nuclear program, but also on their incitement against the Zionist entity? In return, Israel would have to give up, totally and finally, on its plans for more settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and support the establishment of a Palestinian state. “Essentially,” Obama will remind Netanyahu and Barak, “you yourselves say that if you don’t get out of the territories, we’ll have to say Kaddish for the Zionist entity.”

Akiva Eldar writes for Ha’aretz, where this column originally appeared.

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
Susan Babbitt
Don’t Raise Liberalism From the Dead (If It is Dead, Which It’s Not)
Uri Avnery
Palestine’s Nelson Mandela
Fred Nagel
It’s “Deep State” Time Again
John Feffer
The Hunger President
Stephen Cooper
Nothing is Fair About Alabama’s “Fair Justice Act”
Jack Swallow
Why Science Should Be Political
Chuck Collins
Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt
Aidan O'Brien
While God Blesses America, Prometheus Protects Syria, Russia and North Korea 
Patrick Hiller
Get Real About Preventing War
David Rosen
Fiction, Fake News and Trump’s Sexual Politics
Evan Jones
Macron of France: Chauncey Gardiner for President!
David Macaray
Adventures in Labor Contract Language
Ron Jacobs
The Music Never Stopped
Kim Scipes
Black Subjugation in America
Sean Stinson
MOAB: More Obama and Bush
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Minute Musings: On Why the United States Should Launch a Tomahawk Strike on Puerto Rico
Tom Clifford
The Return of “Mein Kampf” … in Japan
Todd Larsen
Concerned About Climate Change? Change Where You Bank!
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Brexit: Britain’s Opening to China?
John Hutchison
Everything Old is New Again: a Brief Retrospectus on Korea and the Cold War
Michael Brenner
The Ghost in the Dream Machine
Yves Engler
The Military Occupation of Haiti
Christopher Brauchli
Guardians of Lies
James Preece
How Labour Can Win the Snap Elections
Cesar Chelala
Preventing Disabilities in the Elderly
Sam Gordon
From We Shall Overcome to Where Have all the Flowers Gone?
Charles Thomson
It’s Still Not Too Late to Deserve Your CBE, Chris Ofili
Louis Proyect
Documentaries That Punch
Charles R. Larson
Review: Vivek Shanbhag’s “Ghachar Ghochar”
David Yearsley
Raiding the Tomb of Lubitsch
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail