The Big Bang: Israel’s Path to Self-Destruction

Photograph Source: Chenspec – CC BY-SA 4.0

In striking at the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1 Bibi Netanyahu has made himself an April Fool. Israel has been bombing Syria for years with no provocation or retaliation by Syria. For years it has bombed its airports which disrupted humanitarian aid to Syria’s civilian population who were suffering in its long civil war. Iran responded to the Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate by asking its allies, the Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and Hamas in Gaza, to refrain from their retaliatory strikes on Israel and let Iran make a military retaliation by itself. This was to ensure that Israel got the message. In the future, Iran will not rely on its proxies but will itself attack Israel. Israel and the US intercepted all but a few of the Iranian drones, and Israel trumpeted this as a victory for it and a defeat for Iran. But in fact the Iranian response was a political and strategic victory.

Netanyahu has been spoiling for a war with Iran for a long time, and since October 7 he has seeking ways to drag the US into another war in the Middle East.  While Biden said the US would fully back Israel in its confrontation with Iran, he also cautioned Netanyahu. A CNN story said this:

Biden sought to frame Israel’s successful interception of the Iranian onslaught as a major victory:  — with the suggestion that further Israeli response was unnecessary…Biden told Netanyahu to consider Saturday a win because the US assessed Iran’s attacks had been largely unsuccessful and demonstrated Israel’s superior military capability, Biden made clear that the US will not participate in any offensive operations against Iran in response, a senior administration official told CNN.

In the meantime, US Senator Tim Kaine who was Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential candidate has spoken up about the US relationship with Netanyahu and his rightwing government. Kaine is a close ally and is a member of the Senate foreign relations and armed services committees. Kaine said, “Joe Biden now understands that Benjamin Netanyahu ‘played’ him during the early months of the war in Gaza but ‘that ain’t going to happen anymore.’[i] Netanyahu’s strategic blunders in the Gaza war and now the strike in Damascus have got him in quite a pickle. His major concern is to stay in office to avoid looming criminal prosecution. His quandary is not unlike that of his friend Trump. If they are friends—if either really has any friends. Each in psychiatric terminology is mentally ill with what is diagnosed as ‘malignant narcissism.’ Each is willing to sacrifice anything to save himself. Kaine said as much of Netanyahu in his interview:

“He’s going to end up being one of the most successful politicians and most destructive public servants to be on the world stage in the last quarter century, because he’s successful if you measure it by maintaining his own position but, in terms of what he has done … has made Israel less safe and less secure.”[ii]

Benny Gantz, the ‘moderate’ Israeli politician who joined the war cabinet after October 7 has spoken of how the reaction to Iran’s attack showed the unity of Israel and its western allies. He said, “Israel against Iran, the world against Iran. This is the result. That is a strategic achievement which we must leverage for Israel’s security.” Whether he actually believes this I do not know. But if he does he is deluding himself. The key event was not Iran’s retaliation but the Israel’s strike on the Iranian consulate. That event only reinforced the view of its western ‘allies’ and almost all the other nations of Israel as a rogue state, whose now increasingly reckless actions in Gaza and Syria threaten to bring a wider war to the Middle East—which no one wants, except it seems Netanyahu and his neo-fascist cabinet.

That means that if Israel goes to war against Iran it will go alone. If it continues to provoke the Hezbollah in south Lebanon, it will find itself fighting on two fronts which it doesn’t have the military capacity to do. The last time Israel confronted Hezbollah in 2006, it lost. Since then Hezbollah has acquired more advanced weaponry and, what is more, its soldiers are battle-hardened veterans from their combat in alliance with the Syrian army in the decade of civil war. The reservists Israel called up for the attack on Gaza would be no match for Hezbollah fighters. Netanyahu has painted himself into a corner with the Damascus strike. For a long time the EU—especially France—has tired of Israel’s aggressions in the Middle East. Now its last ally the US has apparently had enough too.

Israel was designed by its Zionist founders to be an aggressive state, a new Jewish ghetto really But an aggressive one. They saw it as a necessity. Israel needed to be at war lest the Jewish settlers be assimilated into the Arab people all around them.

The slogan ‘from the river to the sea’ now denounced by some people in the US as ‘anti-Semitic’ was actually also a part of the Likud Party’s original charter which Netanyahu helped write. It is rarely mentioned in the mainstream media that Israel helped start Hamas. It is well-documented that when Netanyahu became prime minister, he and others in Likud channeled money to it through Qatar in order to weaken Fatah with a fundamentalist party that wanted to obliterate Israel thus giving Netanyahu and his backers a way to claim that there was no one to negotiate with. This was simply a cynical delaying tactic while the Israeli settlements metastasized throughout the West Bank. But on October 7 the folly of Netanyahu’s connivance in the creation Hamas was apparent. How clever he was—until he wasn’t.

The foundation of Israel in 1948 was in a way the big bang of the post-war Middle East. The humiliating defeat of the states created out of colonial designs of Britain and France led to revolutions in the Arab world.

The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a non-starter for some years. Israel has stolen too much land in the West Bank for a viable Palestinian state. It is still touted by the US and most of the EU. It does serve one purpose, however. It makes apparent that the real obstacle to a peaceful settlement of the conflict is solely Israel. The only possible solution is a single secular state of Palestine where Arabs and Jews are equal citizens. Hamas and the radical Jewish fundamentalists in Netanyahu’s administration will have to deal with it from the sidelines—the majority of Israelis and Palestinians are not religious fundamentalists. The Turkish foreign minister Hakan Fidan met with Hamas’s political leader Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar. Fidan said according to Turkish news media. “In our political talks with Hamas for years, they have accepted a Palestinian state to be established within the 1967 borders.”[iii]

While Netanyahu is the driver behind Israel’s latest gambles in Gaza and elsewhere, he’s simply explicitly mouthing Israeli aims—expansion and ethnic cleansing.  He has espoused and worked purposefully against the two-state option. He has tolerated and even collaborated with Hamas. He is the most arrogant and duplicitous politician in the world. Biden should never call him again. He should call for his arrest and imprisonment not only for fraud breach of trust and bribery—the charges pending in Israel—but for crimes against humanity.

That said, the miserable theocratic imams of Iran have done the world a favor. They have put the US between a rock and a hard place, and forced Biden to say, Enough, we won’t support any further action of Israel against Iran. Which will also increase greater anxiety in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and will expose them for the shits they are.[iv]

The strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus was to distract the world press from the genocidal assault on Gaza. Israel responded with a missile attack on Iran itself. Iran’s retaliation to that attack that showed that Iran—is more cautious. It seems now not likely to retaliate to the Israeli strike.

On the other hand, Netanyahu has already drawn blunt criticism for the Israeli strike on Iran. Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir—who was convicted by an Israeli court of supporting terrorism—said the Israeli attack on Iran was “lame.” after Tehran thwarted a small IDF drone strike early on Friday. Netanyahu is under attack even by members of his own cabinet. As they say down South, he’s up to his waist in alligators. Netanyahu is caught now in a vise of his own making between the assault on Gaza and the strike on Damascus. It was bound to happen ever since 1948. He is simply the catalyst who finally brought it on. With the US finally drawing a line, Israel’s last ally is saying enough is enough. AIPAC is now challenged by another Jewish lobby, J Street, and American politicians are taking note of AIPAC’s diminishing power. It’s power politics and Bibi is losing.

The American decision not to veto a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza was another shock to Netanyahu—it was a first for a US administration. Netanyahu’s response was to cancel a planned Israeli meeting with the Biden administration in Washington. Israel is now more isolated more isolated than ever in the international world. Hamas is outfoxing Israel at every step. Israel is learning the hard way that an empire will sacrifice the interests of a small piece of it to the greater interests of the empire.

Yair Lapid, who is the leader of the opposition Yesh Atid party, said the resolution was “dangerous, unfair, and Israel will not accept it.” Minister Hili Tropper, a close ally of Netanyahu’s rival Benny Gantz — who polls say would win handily if an election were held today —said, “The war must not stop.” These comments did not differ greatly from the angry reactions by extreme-right leaders such as Bezalel Smotrich or Itamar Ben Gvir.

More people in the Israeli security establishment are saying that eliminating Hamas is not an achievable goal. Former IDF spokesman Ronen Manelis was quoted recently saying. “To say that one day there will be a complete victory in Gaza — this is a complete lie. Israel cannot completely eliminate Hamas in an operation that lasts only a few months.”

The near-unanimous rejection of a ceasefire shows the cross-party support for an invasion of the Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. But Netanyahu is holding off after the US allowed the resolution. Also figuring in his calculations is the call by thirty members of Congress including Nancy Pelosi for a suspension of military aid to Israel.

Likewise in the UK, opposition parties and parliamentarians from the governing Conservative Party, and hundreds of lawyers and judges have called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to stop the sale of weaponry to Israel.

At the same time the families of the Israeli hostages are becoming more critical of Netanyahu’s failure to cut a deal with Hamas to free the hostages. The futility of continuing the war has become clear—the goals of eliminating Hamas and freeing the hostages are conflicting. Hamas has politically won the war.

Before October 6, most Israelis thought that a resolution of the Palestinian issue could be put off indefinitely. October 6 shattered that illusion.

There are only two responses to the collapse of the status quo after October 6. One is to recognize the presence of Palestinians and their right to a state. The other is a genocidal war. Israel had chosen the latter. Its slaughter of over thirty-four thousand people, almost all of them innocent civilians (the IDF counts all adult males in Gaza as members of Hamas) its denial of food, water and medicine—all these acts have increased the anger and disgust with it all around the world. The recent murderous assault on the World Kitchen Central—the WKC—is the latest outrage. Israeli’s claim that it was an accident is not believable. It was intentional. The death of an American aid worker simply brought it to the attention of the mass media in America. Israel has been killing aid workers of such organizations as the International Rescue Committee and Médecins Sans Frontières since the beginning of its assault on Gaza—in the case of the WKC it didn’t reckon on one of the victims being an American. If all of these actions are not genocidal then the term has no meaning.

“WCK [aka WFK] is not just any relief organization,” wrote Jack Mirkinson in The Nation magazine. He said of José Andrés, “Andrés is a global celebrity with ties to the international political establishment. WCK had been working closely with the Israeli government both in Gaza and in Israel proper. It would be difficult to think of a more mainstream, well-connected group.” It was as if Israel were showing off, Mirkinson added, “flaunting its ability to cross every known line of international humanitarian law and get away with it.”[v]

Were more evidence needed to support Mirkinson’s description of Israel’s actions, a recent story in the Washington Post confirms it.

The story describes how on January 29 a six-year-old girl, Hind Rajab, was calling for help on her cell phone—when she was intermittently conscious—from the backseat of a car near a Gaza City gas station. She told the emergency dispatchers that ID tanks were getting closer. Her cousin Layan took the phone and told a cousin that Israeli soldiers and were firing at it.  Everyone in the car was dead except her and Rajab. They told her that paramedics were on their way. Hind Rajab and all the paramedics were killed. The paramedics notified an IDF agency COGAT that they were going to rescue wounded children and COGAT told them the safest route to take. The paramedics never made it to Hind Rajab. Their ambulance was destroyed Israeli tank fire—they probably would have been safer if they had not notified COGAT. It was twelve days later that family members could make their way to the scene. The car was riddled with bullets as were the bodies of Hind Rajab and her family members. Again despite the statement of the IDF that they would ‘look into it,’ the story in the Washington Post makes it clear with a mass of forensic evidence that the IDF murdered the paramedics and Hind Rajab and her family in cold blood.[vi]

A video posted recently on various news sites showed an endless line Palestinians walking on al-Rashid Road next to the sea, returning to the north of Gaza defying the Israeli warning that they should remain near Rafa. Their home are mostly rubble now but one Palestinian woman said, “If I have to die I want to die in my home.”

As I write Monday April 22, The US has imposed sanctions on the IDF’s Netzah Yehuda battalion, which has been accused of serious human rights violations against Palestinians in the West Bank. It’s now deployed in Gaza. What’s more, The Israeli paper Haaretz has reported that the US was also considering similar moves against other police and military units. What took so long?

When people mention Israel to me—“the Zionist Entity” as its Arab foes call it—I think of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem founded by the Crusaders in 1099. It lasted until 129I when Saladin took Jerusalem. I want to say to them, ‘Where is the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem?’ The Palestinians will win simply by staying in Palestine while Israel atrophies as the apartheid state of South Africa did. It won’t take two centuries as Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem did.

October 7 was a war crime but a relatively minor one when set in the context of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006 and the US invasion of Iraq—which caused the deaths of somewhere between half a million to a million Iraqis. But now Bibi’s blundering response to the Hamas assault has resulted in another Big Bang. Global condemnation of Israel.


[i] “Tim Kaine: “Biden knows Netanyahu ‘played’ him in early months of Gaza war.” The Guardian, April 10, 2024.

[ii] Ibid.


[iv] See this article about Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states:

[v] Ellen Cantorow: “Dead on Arrival.”, April 17 2024. The Jack Mirkinson article, “The Ghoulish Ostentatiousness of Israel’s Latest War Crimes, cited by Ellen Cantorow appeared in The Nation on April 4, 2024.

[vi] Meg Kelly, Hajar Harb, Louise Loveluck, Miriam Berger and Cate Brown. “Palestinian paramedics said Israel gave them safe passage to save a 6-year-old girl in Gaza. They were all killed.” Washington Post, April 16, 2024.

Daniel Beaumont teaches Arabic language & literature and other courses at the University of Rochester. He is the author of Slave of Desire: Sex, Love & Death in the 1001 Nights and Preachin’ the Blues: The Life & Times of Son House. He can be contacted at: