In recent weeks I have received a barrage of “alerts” about an article by Peter Beinart entitled “I no Longer Believe in a Jewish State.” There have been follow ups like an article by Joshua Leifer which refers to the “Two-State Solution” as a “Liberal fiction.” After reflecting carefully on what they had to say, I reached the conclusion that the attention that they had garnered would be more aptly named, “Much Ado about Nothing.”
When you really look at Beinart’s piece, it is a supremely slippery bit of work. He says in his title he no longer believes in a “Jewish State.” If you pay close attention you find that first, he no longer believes in a “two-state solution,” but (and this is hardly a surprise), what he really means is he doesn’t believe in a Palestinian state. So, at the end, he talks about a “Jewish home” and (more concerning) a “Jewish society.” He never clarifies how, in real practice, these things don’t translate into a “Jewish state” (only in a softer, more beguiling way). After all, political systems usually reflect (and are supposed to reflect) the attitudes of their wider society. Of course, he could have dropped the qualifier “Jewish,” but he didn’t. Many societies include people of different faiths and races. “Jewish Society” obviously means something really special. Something quite different from mere “society,” let alone “multicultural society,” or “democratic society.”
So in the end you just have two people who describe themselves as “liberal Jews” who don’t really want the Palestinians to have their long promised state. Is there anything real, new or newsworthy in that supposed revelation? A few years back I had a conversation with a rabbi who described himself as a “liberal Zionist.” The term seemed frankly oxymoronic to me and I asked him what he meant. He insisted that Zionism was about far more than a Jewish state. To his mind it was a project of the spiritual rebirth of the Jewish people. Well, I tend to like that spiritual sort of thing, but I just failed to see how anyone could link anything spiritually uplifting with the project of depriving a peaceful people of their land, homes, goods, and way of life.
However, my main point here is quite different from all that. The fact is, it appears that almost three weeks ago Israel finally launched its long-threatened war against Iran. The puzzling thing is that this naked aggression has failed to really make front page news. On July 16, 2020, Mitch Prothero published this article in the Business Insider.
Let me just quote the opening of that article: (the full link is included below)
“Israel blows up military targets in Iran, hoping to force a confrontation before American election, sources say.
Iran has suffered a series of bombings and fires at military facilities in recent weeks, including at a major missile-production and nuclear facilities.
This is part of a wider campaign to damage Iran or even pressure it into military confrontation before the November election, when President Donald Trump could be voted out, sources told Insider.
A former Israeli defense official told Insider it was common knowledge that at least some of the latest attacks in Iran were done by Israeli intelligence.
An EU official also told Insider that they fear Israel is planning to provoke Iran into military confrontation “while Trump remains in office.”
Israel would not be able to engage in such high-pressure operations if Joe Biden were in office, the EU official added.
Israel is involved in an extended campaign to pressure or damage Iran before President Donald Trump could be voted out in the November election, a former Israeli defense official and a current EU intelligence official have told Insider.
Israeli intelligence has been responsible for a series of bombings and fires at Iranian military facilities in recent weeks, including an explosion that destroyed much of a major nuclear centrifuge installation.
Iran has seen weekly incidents including explosions at a missile-production facility on June 22; the Natanz nuclear facility, Iran’s largest uranium-enrichment facility, on July 2; and an important shipyard in the port city of Bushehr on Wednesday.
These attacks have put the country on edge, with nearly daily reports of fires, explosions, and other mishaps treated as potential foreign sabotage.
Israeli officials told The New York Times in July that their intelligence services were responsible for the nuclear facility explosion, and implied that other attacks would be forthcoming.”
It is quite clear that this is naked military aggression. Since it is done covertly, without a formal declaration of war, it would be more proper to call it state-sponsored terrorism. If any country other than Israel did it against any country other than Iran, it would be called that—and it would probably be headline news.
There is another even more troubling element to it. In the heyday of the “war on terror” we knew Al-Qaeda lacked the means to make a real nuclear weapon. It was, however, possible for them to obtain radioactive material and spread radiation with a conventional explosive device. This was a so-called “dirty-bomb.” The use of such a device was considered nuclear terrorism. If you follow that logic, then any attack on a nuclear facility, even if only with conventional weapons, would essentially replicate the effects of a “dirty-bomb” –and should therefore also be called by its true name: nuclear terrorism. This is clearly what Israel is toying with.
Interestingly, it is not clear that any radiation has been released. That, though, raises another key question. If the Iranians don’t have a weapons program, why has Israel for so long warned that they do? The book “A Manufactured Crisis” by Gareth Porter makes a convincing, well documented argument that Iran never had a weapons program at all. If they don’t, why is Israel attacking them? And if the radioactive material they have around is part of a peaceful energy program, it is perfectly legal. But that doesn’t mean that Israel’s sabotage campaign will not replicate a dirty bomb…
All in all, this is about as serious as it gets in terms of an international crisis. Why, then, is there no real outcry about it? Are we just too distracted by Covid-19, the economic collapse, the re-mergence of racial tensions in the US, Peter Beinart’s change of heart…
So far, Iran has shown great forbearance. Like Syria (which received a barrage of equally illegal Israeli attacks over the last few years) they are well aware that Israel is trying to goad them into a response that Israel can then use as an excuse to escalate the whole affair into open war. Israel’s clear military superiority belies the claim they are in any real danger from their neighbors.
Israel’s Netanyahu might have several goals in mind: to punish Iran before Biden is elected and stops him, to bolster his own faltering political position, or even to give Trump the chance at an “October Surprise” war to boost his re-election chances. He might even just want to burden a new Biden presidency with yet another GOP created war in the Middle East. These are all supremely ugly calculations.
America’s founding fathers warned us that eventually, some deplorable man would try to abuse the powers of the presidency, violate the constitution, and abuse power for his own personal gain. As a result of our complacency, we have certainly seen Trump do all that.
The founding Fathers also warned us strongly against getting involved in “entangling” foreign alliances. They didn’t mean any alliance was bad, only ones which turned into the kind of “special relationship” we now have with Israel. We just give them a pass on any behavior, no matter how reprehensible. I expect we will eventually pay a high price for that complacency as well. Admittedly, there is a lot going on at the moment, still it seems like our priorities in reporting these stories are seriously out of whack with reality.