Thursday, March 08, 2012

Netanyahu's target is Obama, not Iran

David Seaton's News Links
It cannot be denied that the Holocaust theme has served Netanyahu well politically. As many commentators have pointed out, Netanyahu has succeeded in reframing political discourse on the Middle East: this visit to the U.S. was the first in a long time in which the Palestinian issue was completely off the table. Nobody even raised the question of settlement construction or the old question how to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiation table. Instead of being on the defensive on the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu is now on the offensive on Iran. By invoking the allied power’s failure to disrupt the Nazis sending millions to concentration camps in 1944, he is reminding the Free World of a horrible mistake, and demanding that this mistake not be repeated. Carlo Strenger - Haaretz
Observing Netanyahu's continuous invocation of the Holocaust and the imminent threat of Iran annihilating the Jewish people, it is passing curious to note that much of the most qualified Israeli military and intelligence community is openly against attacking Iran and neither are most Israelis.
Most Israelis believe that if the United States does not attack Iran's nuclear facilities, Israel must no try to do so alone, according to a Haaretz poll.
This lack of enthusiasm by informed Israelis and the Israeli street at such a moment of declared existential threat,  makes me suspect that Iran is not really Bibi's true objective, that is to say, this hysterical lead up to war is merely a tactical "feint" to distract world attention from his true strategic objective.
I believe that the prime strategic objective of Netanyahu, and the hard Israeli right wing that he represents, is to prevent, at any cost, the  final delimitation of Israel's borders. Because any "two state" solution of the Palestinian problem, however modest and fudged it might be, would create a Palestinian state in "Judea" and "Samaria", whose boundaries would be sanctioned by the United Nations. This would mean kissing goodbye, or putting on ice, any hope of finally creating the ultra-right dream of "Greater Israel".
What is Greater Israel? Lets look at this map from Wikipedia Commons:
"Greater Israel" - Wikipedia Commons
As you can see from the map or from the Wikipedia article, we are talking here about "Biblical" Israel.
The Bible contains three geographical definitions of the Land of Israel. The first, found in Genesis 15:18-21, is vague. It describes a large territory, "from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates", comprising all of modern-day Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and Lebanon, as well as large parts of Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. The proportion of current Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey included in this territory is debatable. The other two definitions are found in Numbers 34:1-15 and Ezekiel 47:13-20 and describe a smaller territory
Now, polls usually show that most Israelis would accept, perhaps welcome, a two state solution, based on the 1967 frontiers, with "minor adjustments"(the devil being in the details). That being so, it isn't difficult to see that a lot of the pressure to keep a settlement of the Palestinian problem from being solved is coming from outside Israel. In fact, much of the sound and fury is coming from right wing, American, Jewish people, who are doubly adamant supporters, having, as many Israelis note, no actual skin in the game. This reminds me of how rich Irish-Americans used to raise money to finance and arm the IRA.
A prime example of this group of "more Zionist than thou" Americans would be casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who someone no less than George W. Bush, described as a "crazy Jewish billionaire". Adelson, the third richest man in the USA, who according to The New Yorker, "is fiercely opposed to a two-state solution", is bankrolling the campaign of Newt Gingrich to the tune of millions upon millions of dollars, in order to have him describe the Palestinians as an "invented people". Gingrich is not going to be the Republican candidate, but he is setting the tone: no Republican would like to appear less pro-Israel than Newt Gingrich in an election year, all of them are accusing Obama of selling out Israel. With Netanyahu feeding the hysteria these attacks and calls for war with Iran, will become even more shrill.
Well, obviously the President of the United States, today Barack Obama, is going to come into any issue touching foreign affairs, but why would the Israel Lobby and Netanyahu have any beef with such a malleable pragmatist as Barack Obama, someone who is easily as adept as any other American politician in swearing eternal fealty to Israel?
The first reason is that he is on track to win a second and final term as president.
The first two years of any US president's second term of office is famously/notoriously the only time when he is free to lead, or get anything important done. In his first term, he spends four years running for reelection and during the last two years of a hypothetical second term he is considered a "lame duck" who becomes daily more irrelevant as the excruciatingly, interminable American presidential cycle kicks in once more and begins to dilute and drain out his power and relevance. The sixth and seventh year of a US presidency are the dangerous years, this is when a president might actually do something in the genuine public interest. Some of these people even begin to think about their "legacy", like an aging lady of the evening who begins going to church, presidents suddenly aspire to virtue... Very dangerous that legacy stuff.
So from the point of anyone who influences politics by funding politician's election campaigns, first term presidents are to be greatly preferred to second term presidents. Obvious, right? So Obama, despite all his professed love for Israel, has that against him from get-go this year.
This takes us back to the Middle East and the second reason for trying to derail Obama.
As you may have noticed the Middle East is on the boil, and how to stabilize the most important oil and gas producing region on earth is a  priority for everybody, everywhere, now, with the world economy teetering on the brink of a great depression. 
After, supporting tyrannical Arab regimes for decades, invading Iraq and botching up the occupation and never missing a chance to kowtow to the Israelis, America's credibility at present is as low as a snake's abdomen. Except for killing people and blowing things up, nobody is expecting much from the USA these days in the Middle East.
There is one thing that has worldwide support and universal approval,  something, which would at least give the USA a minimum of credibility and that something would be to finally "solve" the Palestinian problem and give them a state of their own... and the six and seventh year of a second term American president would make that something look doable
Now cynics among you will point out that all the versions of that proposed state that the USA has ever put forward added up to miserable little unarmed bantustans cut up by Israeli security roads, without control over the water under them and without sovereignty over the airspace above them... And I doubt if even the most "liberated" version of Barack Obama would ask for much more than that. And even something that mild and decaffeinated would probably justify his heretofore absurd Nobel Peace Prize and refurbish his tattered image as "The One".
Why should this be such a huge problem?
Because, even such a pitiful, Swiss cheese, scrap of a state would finally and unambiguously establish the frontiers of Israel and put paid to the dream of Eretz Yisrael Ha-Shlema  (greater Israel).
And in my humble opinion, it is the fear of that, and not the fear of a nuclear Holocaust that is behind Netanyahu's hysterical push toward war. He is trying to create a damned if you do and damned if you don't scenario for Barack Obama to see if he can derail his reelection and get himself another first term president to manipulate at will. DS

No comments: