Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The real danger to Israel's survival is not Iran, it's IT and globalization

The selling point of starving or beating Iran into submission has always been that if they had even one atomic bomb they would use it to attack Israel, a nation which has from 80 to 200 such weapons, many of them in the form of long range missiles mounted on submarines, which guarantees Israel an invulnerable "second strike capability" .

The idea that Iran is planning to turn Israel, its Jewish inhabitants and a considerable number of Palestinian Muslims into a radioactive Auschwitz in exchange for having their entire nation and its 75,000,000 people turned into ashes is totally absurd. The Persians, though notably strict in their religious practice, are eminently rational and have been for thousands of years. They are just as rational as Khrushchev's USSR was. They would not start an atomic exchange that would mean the annihilation of their country.
The biggest problem brought on by the Iranians having a bomb would be that all the other countries in the region would want one too. That sounds terrible, but even if (Allah forbid) the Islamic State took over Saudi Arabia, I doubt that, (nutty as they are), even they would want to see the Kaaba, Mecca and Medina turned into molten glass on their watch. And I would think that the Egyptians (about the only existing nation older than Persia) are certainly as rational as the Persians.

So an atomic-weaponized Middle East would not mean a nuclear free for all, but it would mean that Israel's and America's freedom of action to behave like a colonial power "punishing the natives", would be forever curtailed.

It would be impossible for the USA to encourage Israel to continue a war like the one against Hezbollah in 2006 until it "finished the the job" or for America to have invaded an atomic weaponized Iraq for that matter either.

With atomic weapons in the mix, any action taken by Israel that could remotely set off a general war in the Middle East, where so much of the world's oil is, one with even the remotest possibility of an atomic exchange, would have to be snuffed out at the first whiff of smoke.

Lobby or no lobby, the USA would have to keep Israel on a very tight leash indeed and Israel and their lobby know that.

It is the fear of not being able to sufficiently cow the Muslim population of the Middle East, not any fear of Israel's perishing in a nuclear holocaust, that is at the bottom of Israel's drive to eliminate any vestige of Iran's nuclear program.
A climate of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) in the Middle East would certainly cramp Israel's style, and many Israelis would find that restraint intolerable and a significant number of the "best and the brightest" of Israel's technological elite, who could find work anywhere in the world on 24 hours notice, men and women who are essential to Israel vibrant tech economy, might very possibly take their families and head out for safer climes... Of course they plan on coming right back, but one thing leads to another... you know how it is.

Is this idea of a reverse Aliyah of geeks from Israel pure fantasy? Remember that for many hundreds of years the greatest source of Jewish wealth has always been right there between their ears, where it always was, and still is, eminently portable.
"Jews know that they can land on their feet in any corner of the world. The real test for us is to make Israel such an attractive place--cutting edge in science, education, culture, quality of life--that even American Jewish young people want to come here. If we cannot do this, even those who were born here will consciously decide to go to other places. This is a real problem." Ehud Barak
A recent survey by the Jerusalem-based Menachem Begin Heritage Center found that 59% of Israelis had approached or intended to approach a foreign embassy to ask for citizenship and a passport.(...) Insofar as Israel is very much a part of the global economy, it is no longer unusual for Israelis to commute to work in Europe and even the United States. A European or American passport renders the commute that much easier. A second-generation Israeli of Polish extraction might want a Polish passport so she can study and work freely throughout the E.U. for a few years. And an Israeli doing business in the Arab world would definitely need a second passport. And then there’s this: Despite the aspirations of Zionism to create a safe haven for the world’s Jews, Israel is hardly the safest place in the world. Can we blame Israeli parents for wanting their children to have another option, an insurance policy? The Forward
Helen Thomas, who for many years was the ancient mother superior of White House correspondents was immolated in a firestorm of her own making when she suggested that Israelis get out of the Middle East and return to Poland, Germany and America. I'm sure that one of the reasons the reaction to her off the cuff remarks was so violent was that she touched a nerve. Because as you can see from the quotes of Ehud Barack and The Forward above, quite a few Israelis are prepared and equipped to do just what she said.

Scientists, computer and aerospace engineers and the other practitioners of  the "cutting edge" technologies that make up the backbone of Israel's new information-society prosperity are in great demand in Europe and the USA and can find jobs in those countries at the drop of a hat and all that they need to continue working, without missing a beat, can probably fit onto the hard disk of a laptop computer.
Transferring them and their technology from one place to another would only take a matter of days. Overwhelmingly this elite is of European or American origin.

In short, if things got too rough, if the tension built up beyond a certain point the crème de la crème of Israel could be gone in a week... with nice jobs, nice homes and good schools for their children waiting for them wherever they went.

Now, of course, not all Israelis are from Poland, Russia, Germany and America, in fact over half of the Jews of Israel are "Mizrahim" or "Oriental" Jews, originally from places like Yemen, Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, etc. To cut to the chase, they are the poorest people of Israel, the least educated, with the fewest marketable skills, whose countries of origin wouldn't welcome them back, even if there were any jobs to be had in those places.

So even if a full scale war never finally broke out, if the tension became too nerve wracking, too constant, went on too long, Israel could experience a crippling brain drain and  gradually more elite Ashkenazim would take Helen Thomas's advice and at that point the vast majority of Jews left in Israel would be the less educated oriental Jews or the fundamentalist Haredim who don't even do military service. Israel would quickly be converted into a poor Middle Eastern country bordering Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.
Where the tipping point would be is impossible to know, but I am sure that this is what Netanyahu loses sleep over, not the physical destruction of Israel and its people by rogue ayatollahs. DS

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