Saturday, February 7, 2009

Israel to Obama: Get Iran to blink, or . . .

OK, the Israel-first neocons are out of the White House, and Mr. Obama seems so far to be tough enough to push back when it's warranted. And if pushing back was ever warranted, it's now - or very soon, if this report is to be taken seriously. Personally, I have no real doubt that it ought to be . . . and more so now than a few months ago. Why?

1. The Israeli press has been full of analyses and commentary about how an Iranian nuclear threat is both impending and existential. The feeling seems to be that the world had better do something about Iran, and soon, or else . . .

2. Probably more than at any time in recent years, people in Israel are feeling the oats of bellicosity. In their eyes, the IDF's devastation of Gaza has resurrected the image of its invincibility. With such an instrument of righteous might, why not go after Iran?

3. Speaking of righteous might, that seems to be what frighteningly many IDF officers and troops are feeling. An increasing number of them are of hawkishly Orthodox bent - in stark contrast to the more secularist orientation of the IDF of only a decade or so ago. And now, ultra-religious rabbis who (as recent reports from Israel have shown) are filling their already receptive minds with the will to wreak divinely-sanctioned (yea verily, divinely commanded) wrath upon the non-believers.

4. Also probably more than at any time in the last 40 years, and specifically because of how most of the world is reviling Israel for what it is doing to the Gaza Palestinians, Israelis have re-engaged in a kind of defiant proclamation of "it's us against the world." I've seen various commentators in the Israeli press raise the spectre of the "new Holocaust" (which Iran allegedly intends to commit against Israel), or rail against accusations that the IDF committed war crimes in Gaza as a new "blood libel," hearkening deliberately back to the malicious accusations and consequent pogroms that European Christians inflicted on Jewish communities, with hundreds slaughtered.

5. The next Israeli government (after this Tuesday's elections) will likely be even more hawkish than the current one, very much a reflection of the bellicosity now surging through so much of the Israeli electorate. And if Benjamin Netanyahu indeed accedes to the prime ministership, it will bring to that office a savvy, experienced politician well schooled and well prepared to bring his message to the American public. He is well known to American TV audiences; he speaks perfect, unaccented English (he lived and went to school in the US); he sports both a charming smile and a powerful build; and he knows how to push the "terror button."

Add to that the Israel-philia and Iran-phobia that infect the vast majority of the Senate, Congress, and mainstream media, and it ought to be clear that President Obama will have his hands full if he's to fend off an Israeli demand for a green light from the US to attack Iran's nuclear installations. But it is imperative that he do so, and forcefully, if he is to serve US interests as he should. The article linked to below puts it well:

Israelis are haunted by the Holocaust, alarmed at Iranian rhetoric and enmeshed in the narrow calculus of survival, not the global strategic considerations of their U.S. ally.

Israel to Obama: hold Iran's feet to fire, or else |

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