Friday, July 25, 2008

Hussein in Yarmulka



Among the dismaying news items from yesterday, July 23, were these two:

1) a photo of presidential hopeful Barack Obama at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, wearing a yarmulka—the skull cap worn by Jewish men on occasions deemed culturally or spiritually significant;

2) an interview on NPR with distinguished Israeli historian, Bennie Morris, concerning the op-ed piece he wrote in the July 18 New York Times predicting that “Israel will almost surely attack Iran’s nuclear sites in the next four to seven months.”

            Consider the Morris prediction first. Despite all the talk about a new effort by the United States to engage Iran diplomatically, the war threats from Israel have never really ceased. Coming from Bennie Morris—a historian who was among the first to publicize the true story of the 1948 ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Israelis, including the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin, and so one who knows intimately the grave crimes committed by his country—this was grim news indeed. So were his reasons for why Israel cannot count on diplomacy to stop the Iranians from “getting a nuclear weapon,” and the reasons why Israel is certain that Iran with a nuclear weapon would mean an Iran which would drop a nuke on Israel. Simple, said Morris: “the Iranians are not rational people.” They are controlled, he said, by religious zealots who are irrational; they “threaten Israel with destruction every day.” Here, once again, we have the purposeful distortion of what Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, which was not so much a threat as a prediction:  “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”—and one that Iran scholar Juan Cole says “does not imply military action or killing anyone at all.” By contrast, it is Morris’ article that contains the real threat, for what he concludes it with is this: Iran should hope that Israel’s conventional strike succeeds, for though it would mean “thousands of Iranian casualties and international humiliation,” the alternative—Israel being forced to use its nuclear weapons on an Iran that did succeed in building its own nuke—“is an Iran turned into a nuclear wasteland.” 

            Isn’t this rich? Here we have an Israeli scholar who has researched the international crimes his nation has committed and continues to commit. He also must be aware that his nation is controlled by a Zionist ideology which is nothing if not zealous, racist, and ruthless in its admission that in order for it to survive, it must rid Palestine of all Palestinians, and perhaps Iran of all Iranians. He also must know that his nation is animated by a sense of its own superiority—that is, the superiority of even a single Jewish life over the lives of thousands of Palestinians or Arabs or Muslims—indeed, a nation whose leaders have routinely referred to Palestinians as insects or worse. Finally, he clearly, in the very op-ed piece under discussion, threatens Iran with a nuclear holocaust. And he is calling the Iranians “irrational.” He is saying that the Iranians are so “irrational” that they cannot be trusted with a single nuclear weapon (ignoring the fact that the best U.S. evidence indicates that the Iranians gave up their nuclear program in 2003).

            "But doesn’t Israel have nuclear weapons itself?" asked the NPR interviewer. “Yes,” said Morris, “but they have never threatened anyone with their use.” In other words, unlike the irrational Iranians, the Israelis are MORAL people; they would NEVER use nuclear weapons, or even threaten to use them (again, forgetting his own words). But wait: who has been at war for virtually its entire existence as a nation? Who has attacked and continues to attack a population with virtually no weapons, and certainly none comparable to the American-supplied planes, tanks, rockets, and ships possessed by armed-to-the-teeth Israel? Who has just written an entire essay that is essentially a threat of nuclear destruction? And from the other side, who has Iran ever attacked in modern times? No one, unless we call Iran’s defending itself from Iraq’s aggression in 1980 an “attack.” No, what Iran has done is make the supreme error of taking over its own oil fields. It has made the supreme error of getting rid of its U.S.-backed and-created dictator, the Shah. It has made the supreme error of telling the western powers, including Israel, that it doesn’t need them and their exploitation. And in the lexicon that pertains today in Israel and the United States, that translates into that dread word: “irrational,” which justifies not only a pre-emptive strike, but a nuclear holocaust.

            The sad part of all this is that Barack Obama has made irrational statements agreeing with such propaganda. As I noted in a previous blog, Obama, groveling before the rabidly pro-Israel minions at the recent AIPAC conference in Washington, DC, said:

“Now, there's no greater threat to Israel or to the peace and stability of the region than Iran…. The Iranian regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists. Its president denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.”

            Then yesterday, he continued his groveling, attending sit-downs with no less than half a dozen Israeli leaders, topping it off with his yarmulka-enhanced photo op at the Wailing Wall. This is truly disturbing stuff. For it not only indicates the lengths to which Obama now seems willing to go to demonstrate his fealty to Jewish Americans and the money they contribute to Democratic Party candidates, but also his fear of the concerted power of Jewish-controlled opinion in the United States and the West. This is a serious situation indeed. For where Obama has been at great pains to downplay what would seem to be his logical concern for his own people in his own country—the African Americans who are supporting him almost universally and who need his help—he does public prostrations meant to announce in bold type his willingness to “go to the wall” on behalf of a foreign nation that has been at the center of international conflict for its entire existence, and now threatens a neighboring nation with a nuclear holocaust.

            Any hope, therefore, that an American president would finally take a look at history and conclude that the United States places itself and all its people in peril by supporting a nation that condemns entire peoples and religions to sub-human status, must be abandoned. Absent growing outrage from Americans themselves, and that includes condemnation of the powerful forces in this country, like AIPAC and other Jewish organizations, which exist to bludgeon politicians into undying support for Israel regardless of its actions or its threats, we can expect more of the same, with the consequent rising frustration and hatred from Arab and Muslim nations.

            What a terrible irony for a man whose middle name is “Hussein.”            

Lawrence DiStasi

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