Sunday, April 06, 2014

William O. Beeman Commentary on Thomas Friedman "Sheldon: Iran's Best Friend" NY Times April 5, 2014: Crude and Inaccurate on Iran

Sheldon: Iran’s Best Friend
APRIL 5, 2014

Commentary on this article by William O. Beeman

Tom Friedman's characterization of Iran's current attitude toward Israel is both crude and inaccurate. Iran has never threatened to "destroy Israel." This is a piece of cant that has been repeated so often that it constitutes "truth by repetition." Mr. Friedman's piece uses a cheap rhetorical ploy to make his point. It is indeed "cute" to juxtapose Adelson and Iran and thus play to mistaken cultural stereotypes.

Iran has championed the Palestinians and their mistreatment by Israel. It has also defended the Shi'a population in Southern Lebanon that has been attacked in over-the-border raids by Israel in violation of international law. If Israel would resolve the Palestinian issue, Iran would gladly resume diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv, since Iran has no quarrel with the Israeli people, or indeed with Jews. It may be that Sheldon Adelson may destroy Israel by promoting crude right-wing politics directed at the Palestinians, but Iran would applaud the granting of equal rights and independence for Palestinians, and this would effectively end Iran's objections to Israel.

A final point: Iran conducts considerable sub rosa trade with Israel through third parties, and Iranian Jews (and indeed others) can travel to Israel via third countries. The large Iranian Jewish population in Israel are still Iranian identifying with Iranian culture and civilization. There is far more that unites Iranian and Israeli society, but the Palestinian issue is a continual obstacle.
IT occurred to me the other day that the zealously pro-Israel billionaire Sheldon Adelson and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, actually have one big thing in common. They are both trying to destroy Israel. Adelson is doing it by loving Israel to death and Khamenei by hating Israel to death. And now even Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey inadvertently got drawn into this craziness.

What’s the logic? Very simple. Iran’s leaders want Israel destroyed but have no desire, in my view, to use a nuclear bomb to do it. That would expose them to retaliation and sure death. Their real strategy is more subtle: Do everything possible to ensure that Israel remains in the “occupied territory,” as the U.S. State Department refers to the West Bank, won by Israel in the 1967 war. By supporting Palestinian militants dedicated to destroying any peace process, Tehran hopes to keep Israel permanently mired in the West Bank and occupying 2.7 million Palestinians, denying them any statehood and preventing the emergence of a Palestinian state that might recognize Israel and live in peace alongside it. The more Israel is stuck there, the more Palestinians and the world will demand a “one-state solution,” with Palestinians given the right to vote. 

The more Israel resists that, the more isolated it becomes.

Iran and its ally Hamas have plenty of evidence that this strategy is working: Israel’s 47-year-old occupation of the West Bank has led it to build more settlements there and in doing so make itself look like the most active colonial power on the planet today. The 350,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank reinforce that view by claiming their presence in the West Bank is not about security but a divinely inspired project to reunite the Jewish people with their biblical homeland.

The result is a growing movement on college campuses and in international organizations to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish state because of this occupation. This “B.D.S. movement” — to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel — is gaining adherents not only among non-Jews on American campuses but even within some Hillels, campus Jewish centers.

Iran could not be happier. The more Israel sinks into the West Bank, the more it is delegitimized and isolated, the more the world focuses on Israel’s colonialism rather than Iran’s nuclear enrichment, the more people call for a single democratic state in all of historic Palestine.
And now Iran has an ally: Sheldon Adelson — the foolhardy Las Vegas casino magnate and crude right-wing, pro-Israel extremist. Adelson gave away some $100 million in the last presidential campaign to fund Republican candidates, with several priorities in mind: that they delegitimize the Palestinians and that they avoid any reference to the West Bank as “occupied territories” and any notion that the U.S. should pressure Israel to trade land for peace there. Both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney took the money and played by Sheldon’s rules.

In case you missed it, the R.J.C., the Republican Jewish Coalition, held a retreat last weekend at an Adelson casino in Las Vegas. It was dubbed “the Sheldon Primary.” Republicans lined up to compete for Adelson’s blessing and money, or as Politico put it: “Adelson summoned [Jeb] Bush and Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin to Las Vegas. ... The new big-money political landscape — in which a handful of donors can dramatically alter a campaign with just a check or two — explains both the eagerness of busy governors to make pilgrimages to Las Vegas, and the obsession with divining Adelson’s 2016 leanings.”

Adelson personifies everything that is poisoning our democracy and Israel’s today — swaggering oligarchs, using huge sums of money to try to bend each system to their will.

Christie, in his speech, referred to the West Bank as “occupied territories” — as any knowledgeable American leader would. This, Politico said, “set off murmurs in the crowd.” Some Republican Jews explained to Christie after he finished that he had made a terrible faux pas. (He called something by its true name and in the way the U.S. government always has!) The West Bank should be called “disputed territories” or “Judea and Samaria,” the way hard-line Jews prefer. So, Politico reported, Christie hastily arranged a meeting with Adelson to explain that he misspoke and that he was a true friend of Israel. “The New Jersey governor apologized in a private meeting in the casino mogul’s Venetian office shortly afterward,” Politico reported. It said Adelson “accepted” Christie’s “explanation” and “quick apology.”
Read that sentence over and contemplate it.

I don’t know if Israel has a Palestinian partner for a secure withdrawal from the West Bank, or ever will. But I know this: If Israel wants to remain a Jewish, democratic state, it should be doing everything it can to nurture such a partner or acting unilaterally to get out. Because, I’m certain that when reports about the “Adelson primary” reached the desk of Supreme Leader Khamenei in Tehran, a big smile crossed his face and he said to his aides: “May Allah grant Sheldon a long life. Everything is going according to plan.”


Anonymous said...

Hey, not only have various Iranian leaders threatened to destroy Israel, they have actively worked to achieve this goal by supplying munitions and money to the terrorists on Israel's borders.
You keep repeating your nonsense so often it seems as though you actually believe it.
As for Friedman, his POV is that of a minority of Americans and Jewish Americans.
Who's next on your hit list, John Bolton?

William O. Beeman said...

Again you are utterly wrong about Iranian threats to "destroy Israel." If you want to prove that you are not just blowing smoke again cite actual chapter and verse by people who might actually have the power to do this. (You can't). I can cite lots of Israeli right wingers who express the desire to destroy Iran, but only the pronouncements of real officials such as Netanyahu or Barak really need to be taken seriously. Same with Iran. Remember we are talking about threats to destroy Israel

Anonymous said...

I see. Your position is "don't bother me with facts. I've made my mind up."
However, you notably did not address the the proposition that Iran is supplying munitions and aid to its proxies on Israel's borders.
Who is blowing smoke?
Other challenges for you:
Defend Iran's imnvolvement in the Syrian conflict.

Anonymous said...

Do the words "Israel is a cancer that must be removed from the region" seem familiar to you? They should. It was the big guy speaking (Khameni). He added that Iran would support those who would work to carry out that goal.
Don't bother to spin those comments to indicate anything other than what they represent- an existential threat.
Now if you haven't figured it out yet the Israeli hawks you refer to have expressed the desire to destroy the Iranian nuclear program, not Iran, although I do believe one of those hawks may have indicated that if Iran attacked directly the response would be to turn Iran to toast. Thus, for the time being Iran works through its proxies. I doubt that this is a surprise to you, but if it is you need to spend more time in the middle east to catch up on developments.
Still waiting to hear from you about Iranian involvement in Syria. I suspect you will deny that it takes place in a significant way, In which case I will be right back in your face.

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