Evil usually hides its face, because the sight of it repulses all but the depraved. However, in the case of Benny Morris, writing in Friday’s New York Times, we see something new: a proud evil, glorying in pure malevolence. His piece is a cold, calculated attempt to simultaneously shock and intimidate, one that succeeds at the former but fails miserably at the latter.
Here’s the shocker, really a double jolt: "Israel," he avers, "will almost surely attack Iran’s nuclear sites in the next four to seven months." Either that, he writes, or else Israel will eventually have to launch "a preemptive nuclear strike." His message to the West: take out Iran, or we’ll nuke ’em!
The Israelis have been threatening to strike for the past six months, so nothing new there, except for the tone of certainty. Morris is no fringe nut-job flailing away on his obscure blog; he’s a prominent Israeli historian writing on the most noted opinion page of them all, a veritable bulletin board for governing elites worldwide. As such, he is almost certainly speaking with some insight into Israeli government plans. It is, in any case, almost inconceivable that he wrote his piece without the foreknowledge and consent of Israeli government officials.
As to whether he and they are bluffing, well, I wouldn’t count on it. With all this talk of Iran’s alleged attempt to build nuclear weapons which our own intelligence services say was abandoned years ago Israel is the one country in the region we know is armed to the gills with nukes. Given their history, the increasing extremism of their leadership and polity, and their fanatical devotion to the doctrine of preemption indeed, they invented it, while George W. Bush merely adopted it the Israelis are far more likely than any other member of the nuclear club to actually use nukes, as Morris makes all too clear.
In what has to be the most widely circulated blackmail note ever written, Morris announces, "It is in the interest of neither Iran nor the United States (nor, for that matter, the rest of the world) that Iran be savaged by a nuclear strike" so take out the Iranians, or we will. To be fair, he also says it won’t be a good thing if "both Israel and Iran suffer such a fate," but since Iran has no nuclear weapons and has given up all attempts to make them, this is just window-dressing for a genocidal agenda.
Morris’s rationale for mass murder is oddly hollow and formulaic: Well, you see, "Every intelligence agency in the world believes the Iranian program is geared toward making weapons, not to the peaceful applications of nuclear power." To begin with, this has got to be a misprint. Surely what Morris meant to say was that every Israeli intelligence agency thinks Iran is on the verge of acquiring nukes. Why else are the Israelis slated to make a series of trips to the U.S. to convince their American counterparts that they are right, and the Americans’ National Intelligence Estimate on Iran is wrong?
Aside from that, there is a dispute as to where to draw the "red line," the point-of-no-return, the passage of which acts as a tripwire provoking military intervention. The Israelis have a far tighter timeline, as you might imagine, and their forecast "one to four years" is wildly improbable. It is based on the development of the ability to weaponize nuclear processes in a purely theoretical sense, quite aside from the problems posed by construction, possible detection, and delivery.
Reading the Morris screed, one wonders how he came to write such an unimaginative apologia for what would rank among the worst crimes in human history: "everybody knows" the Iranians are trying to build nukes (where have we heard that before?), the sanctions aren’t working, the Russians and the Chinese won’t cooperate, oh, and "the American public has little enthusiasm for wars in the Islamic lands."
As anyone with the least amount of historical or common sense could easily figure out, even if Iran did develop a nuclear weapons arsenal, it would create a nuclear stalemate analogous to the Cold War standoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Morris claims this example doesn’t apply, due to "the fundamentalist, self-sacrificial mindset of the mullahs who run Iran." Aside from the ruling by Iranian Shi’ite religious authority Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the real leader of Iran that forbids the development, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons, what about his own genocidal mindset, which glories in the prospect of ethnic cleansing? No Iranian personage of any prominence has called for the nuclear extermination of Israel in quite the same terms as Morris, not even Iranian President Ahmadinejad, whose vague remark about Israel "disappearing from the page of history" has been interpreted as a threat to use nukes.
Morris neither knows nor cares about Iran’s alleged nukes. Lurking behind his mundane laundry list of complaints is, I fear, a darker motive: sheer bloodlust. Morris simply wants to kill as many Muslims as possible, so why doesn’t he just come out and say it? After all, it isn’t like he hasn’t said it before:
“There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing. I know that this term is completely negative in the discourse of the 21st century, but when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide the annihilation of your people I prefer ethnic cleansing.”
It isn’t very often that we get to see pure, unmitigated evil, in all its Satanic darkness, expressed openly on the printed page. Morris and the Times have given us one of the rare modern examples of the genre. One might compare it to Hitler’s maleficent vision in Mein Kampf, but that would be giving Morris too much credit. Unlike the Nazis, who blamed their victims for the horrors visited upon them, Morris also blames Israel’s friends and allies the West, and specifically the antiwar American public, which "curtails the White House’s ability to begin yet another major military campaign in pursuit of a goal that is not seen as a vital national interest by many Americans."
We must forget our national interests and go to war for Israel’s sake, or else the Israelis will unleash their illegal and unaccounted-for nukes, killing tens of thousands, poisoning the atmosphere, and forever scarring human history with the mark of their heinous crime. This is like one of those hostage dramas in which a mad gunman grabs someone and uses them as a human shield, braying his demands to horrified onlookers.
Americans must reject this attempt at moral blackmail with the contempt it deserves and perhaps begin to reexamine the "special relationship" that enables Israel to even contemplate such crimes against humanity. As for Morris, he should be shunned by every decent human being, although perhaps that description doesn’t apply to the editors of the New York Times.