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July 22, 2010

Israel hiding behind the "Iranian threat"

With the recent formation of The Emergency Committee for Israel, the neoconservative and Likudnik characters on the American right have stepped up their anti-Iranian lobbying efforts. Among other things, they have again brought up how a nuclear Iran would pose an "imminent threat" that would tear the region apart.

This renewed exaggeration of an Iranian threat to Israel comes at a time when Israel is clearly being shown to be a strategic liability to the U.S., a fact the Israel Lobby has so far concealed with great success.

Israel’s obsession with Iran, though, is two-sided. While some perceive a nuclear Iran to be a major existential threat, others on Israel’s far right cite pragmatic, if not cynical, reasons for this rancid rhetoric.

The government of Benjamin Netanyahu is undoubtedly using the threat of Iran to create a climate of fear that will distract world attention from The Gaza Massacre and the Flotilla incident, both of which have seriously undermined Israel’s standing in the world.

This tactic also reinforces the rhetoric about Israel’s “scared bond” with the U.S. in the war against “Islamic Terrorism,” while not having to answer for its own nuclear arsenal

Since Israel’s American-backed arsenal of nuclear weapons does not receive nearly as much attention as does Iran’s attempts to acquire nuclear power, it might be useful to look at things from Iran’s perspective.

For its part, the U.S. has managed to have weak, but still damaging, sanctions imposed on Iran, while Israel, a genuine nuclear power, constantly shouts about bombing it.

Recently, the U.S. navy shipped missiles and more than 300 “bunker busters” to the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which is within striking distance of Iran. Furthermore, several of the countries that border Iran have U.S. troops.

Considering these factors, along with the fact that Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, even hawkish analysts within the Israeli establishment have noted Iran’s need to have at least the option of a nuclear deterrent.

Israeli strategist Martin Van Creveld, for example, has noted that Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is “not crazy at all,” and that he would essentially do what Ahmadinejad is doing if he were in his position.

Furthermore, Iran can cite UN Security Council Resolution 1887, which states that threats of force are illegal when settling nuclear disputes.

No amount of anti-Iranian hysteria, though, can hide the fact that Israel is at a crossroads.

Its only chance of preserving a Jewish state is through a two-state solution with the Palestinians, but settlement-building throughout the years has pretty much destroyed that option.

Israel’s unpopularity is also costing the U.S. all kinds of strategic leverage in the region and precipitating hatred toward both countries. Given its need for oil, a complete lack of U.S. allies in the Middle East would prove disastrous.

Confronted with an insoluble domestic problem and the possibility of having no friends in the world, we see why Israel is forced to hide behind the “Iranian threat” to prove its “strategic worth” to the U.S.

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