Is a war with Iran inevitable? I don’t have the answer to that question. But I do feel a sense of déjà-vu when I scan the headlines. Iran is capable of assembling a bomb within a year, Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, told CBS News recently. Though not as outlandish, his “warning” carried a chilling reminder of Tony Blair’s claim that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.
One especially unsavoury aspect of the debate around Iran is how it is being driven by “public relations” professionals, who try to dress up their bloodlust in respectable clothing. Without exception, these “opinion-formers” are supporters of Israel, a state founded on ethnic cleansing, wedded to apartheid and addicted to war. Followers of Zionism, a racist ideology, are unable to offer objective analysis; yet few in the media bother to question the motives of such people or highlight the egregious double standard of demanding robust action against Iran’s nuclear “ambitions”, while keeping mum about the nuclear warheads that Israel has already amassed.
Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), issued a comical statement in December last. It referred to “reports” – the source of which went unmentioned – that Iran may be preparing to strike Germany in response to an American attack on Iranian nuclear installations. “Whether or not these reports are valid is beside the point, we know certain facts and they are that Iran sees much of Europe as its enemy,” he added.
Can someone who makes a big hullabaloo about new “reports” and then argues it’s irrelevant if they are accurate be regarded as credible? Of course, he can’t. Yet Kantor enjoys the kind of access to political leaders that most lobbyists can only dream of. His organisation’s website tells of how he has spent years bending the ears of senior figures in all of the European Union’s institutions about the “threat” from Iran.
It should be emphasised that the EJC does not represent all Europe’s Jews, despite how it purports to do so. I have a number of Jewish friends and acquaintances who disagree sharply with its agenda.
Emanuele Ottolenghi is another Zionist hawk who has carved out a niche for himself as an “Iran expert”. Formerly the Brussels director of the American Jewish Committee, he now works for the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies, a neoconservative outfit that includes Richard Perle, a cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq, on its board of advisers.
“Israel might act alone”
In a recent article for Standpoint magazine, Ottolenghi asked: “Is Israel’s air force – the one that bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and the Syrian one in 2007 – gearing up for the most daring airstrike in aviation history?” He concluded his piece by arguing that the “international community” (translation: the US and its cronies) has until the Spring of 2012 to “stop Iran”. After that, Israel might act alone.
I am tired of reading about how David Cameron risks leaving Britain isolated in Brussels. The truth is that the UK has an unhealthy level of clout in European and international affairs and shows no sign of repenting in any meaningful way for its blood-stained history.
The “experts” who are so adamant that democracy be brought to Iran usually neglect to remind their readers and listeners that it was Britain and the US which destroyed democracy in Iran. In 1953, Mohammed Mossadegh, Iran’s elected prime minister, was overthrown in a coup staged by the West. The reason why he was toppled was simple: Britain felt it owned Iran’s oil and could not tolerate Mossadegh’s decision to nationalise this resource.
Fast forward to December 2011, when George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was guest of honour at the Conservative Friends of Israel annual lunch at a plush London hotel. Osborne was interviewed onstage by the right-wing pundit Danny Finkelstein, who asked his views on the “threat” from Iran. “Well, first of all I think Israel is right to identify this as one of the greatest threats to peace and human life in the world at the moment,” Osborne replied, before speaking of “this government’s determination to use all the tools at our disposal to stop Iran getting a nuclear weapon.”
Stop macho posturing
Pause for a moment and consider those lines. Osborne thinks Israel is right to identify Iran as one of the greatest threats to world peace. If he believes his own baloney, he should brush up on world affairs. Iran is not occupying the land of another people. By contrast, Israel occupies the West Bank and Gaza, as well as parts of Lebanon and Syria. Iran’s most recent war was with Iraq in the 1980s. Israel attacked Gaza as recently as the past few weeks.
Iran may be less than candid about its nuclear ambitions but it has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel has not.
True, Iran’s human rights record is deplorable. It was the world’s second highest user of the death penalty in 2010. But invoking that as a casus belli would be grossly hypocritical, when one considers that the US was at number five on the global executions table.
My (sadly unrealistic) wish for 2012 is that Europe’s leaders stop their macho posturing towards Tehran and that they address a bigger threat to world peace. The name of that threat is Israel.
●First published by New Europe, 9 January 2012.