Backtalk, August 7, 2007

Israel’s Jewish Problem in Tehran

This article is extremely naive and one-sided. Believing that the Arab world will be peaceful if left alone is as naive as Dubya’s thinking Americans would be viewed a liberators in Iraq. It completely ignores the the history of the region and its leaders.

Simply look at the Iraq-Iran war to see how brutal the region is. Or, for a more up to date example, look at Hamas’ murder of Fatah prisoners.

As far as Israel’s treatment of Arabs, one has to wonder what the U.S. would do if Mexican freedom fighters blew themselves up in southern California markets demanding the return of what is now the U.S. Southwest. It is doubtful the response would be nearly as restrained as Israel’s.

Down to the specifics.

The article states:

“There is an interesting problem with selling the ‘Iran as Nazi Germany’ line. If Ahmadinejad really is Hitler, ready to commit genocide against Israel’s Jews as soon as he can get his hands on a nuclear weapon, why are some 25,000 Jews living peacefully in Iran and more than reluctant to leave despite repeated enticements from Israel and American Jews?”

This statement shows a complete lack of understanding of history.

In The Destruction of the European Jews, Raul Hilberg established what today has become orthodoxy in Holocaust historiography: the increasingly intensifying historical stages leading to genocide. Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews, Hilberg argued, began relatively mildly through political-legal discrimination and the appropriation of Jewish assets (1933-39). Then followed ghettoization: the isolation of Jews in, and their confinement to, ghettoes (1939-41). The final stage, Hilberg concluded, was the destruction itself, the continental annihilation of European Jews (1941-45).

Clearly, threats such as Ahmadinejad should be taken seriously. In fact the world’s response to such statements may well have saved the Jews in Iran.

If the world had responded in such a fashion to Hitler, instead of the shameful St. Louis affair, history would have been very different.

~ Mark R.

Jonathan Cook replies:

Where to start? As in most examples of Western racism, Mark’s starting point is that Arabs (and he presumably includes Persians, too) are biologically or culturally prone to violence, with the barely concealed implication that they are therefore inferior to “us.” So when left to themselves, the Arabs plunge into fighting – unlike the West, of course, which when left to itself launched two “world wars.”

Mark also ignores the well-known role played by the U.S. in encouraging, and arming, both Iraq and Iran during their war of the 1980s, doubtless with the U.S. hoping that the two countries would exhaust each other and thereby be prevented from posing a threat to America’s two regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, the latter nominally in charge of an oil cartel, OPEC, that keeps several U.S. clans, including the Bushes and Bakers, immensely rich and powerful. The West even supplied Saddam with chemical weapons, which he used against Iranian soldiers, so that he might believe he could take on and defeat his larger neighbor. After Saddam emerged victorious and strong, we all know what happened next. He overplayed his hand by invading Kuwait, and the U.S., rather than helping the Arab League negotiate a withdrawal as it wanted, rushed into a war in which fleeing Iraqi troops – mostly conscripted Shia and Kurds – were butchered by American forces.

Then, Mark gets to his real point, which is to justify Israel’s continuing and illegal occupation of the Palestinians. The comparison is phony, as he knows: whatever double standards the U.S. employs toward Mexico, and there are many, it isn’t trying to ethnically cleanse Mexico and steal its land; if it were, Mexicans would be entitled under international law to wage military resistance against the U.S.

Then “down to the specifics” and, oh dear, Mark rather gives the game away. As he explains Hilberg’s”historical stages of genocide,” what am I reminded of? Well, not Iran’s treatment of its Jews, who, as I pointed out in my article, face almost exactly the same kinds of discrimination as Israel’s 1 million Arab citizens. Does Mark want to argue that Israel’s Arab citizens are facing an imminent genocide from Israel?

Instead there are more important lessons to be learned from Hilberg. He tells us that the process of genocide starts with political and legal discrimination, then moves on to appropriation of assets, then confinement into ghettoes and finally annihilation. The Palestinians living under Israeli occupation have endured three of the stages; let us hope the fourth can still be averted.

Hillary’s Late Hit

Patrick Buchanan argues that our rulers would be wise to talk with foreign leaders once in a while, even if those persons have been dubbed enemies by our government and media. To make this point, he assigns the standard pejoratives to several foreign political figures, concluding with this: “If Bush can bring Libya’s Muammar Gadhafi, who was responsible for Pan Am 103, the Lockerbie massacre of American school kids, in from the cold, why cannot we talk with Hamas and Hezbollah and Assad and Ahmadinejad? What has any of them done to us compared to what Gadhafi did?”

Alas, trotting out this particular conspiracy theory at this late date may presume too much upon the ignorance of the parochial American media consumer. Pat Buchanan is obviously well informed. He knows that by repeating a libel he makes it his own. Why is he telling American readers this stuff about Libya and Lockerbie a month after the whole matter was exposed in media at the scene as a fairy tale? …

Although this news apparently has not managed to cross the Atlantic in this age of instant digital information, British law enforcement authorities have conceded that the trial of an alleged Libyan agent for the Lockerbie bombing was rigged with bogus and planted evidence (see “It Is Time to Put Right the Wrongs“). Undaunted by these revelations, various official sources are now making a fresh attempt to re-jigger the whole thing as a case of mistaken terrorists. We are now being told it was probably Iran, not Libya, and certainly not the folks who manufactured the bogus trail of evidence in the first place. When is this media myth-making going to stop?

~ E. Roby

Hayek’s Insights Apply to Iraq War as Well

Leon Hadar,

The war in Iraq is a capitalist war for control of oil. The U.S. Congress and presidency are controlled by war mongering capitalists. To argue otherwise is delusional.

~ Tom Manuel

Leon Hadar replies:

Tom Manuel,

The war in Iraq is a war for the control of the Middle East. The U.S. Congress and presidency are controlled by two political parties that reflect the interests of members of the political and economic elites. To argue that is just common sense.

Bush’s Next War of Aggression

“The Kushab reactor – if used to produce tritium – would produce enough to boost perhaps 20 or so small sophisticated fission weapons, with design yields of up to 100KT.

“But White House threats to ‘go in’ to those ‘tribal areas’ can only magnify the already serious threats, to Musharraf’s life, as well as to his control of Pakistan and its arsenal of ‘Islamic’ nukes.”

Why would Musharraf have to be overthrown for a nuke to “fall” into al-Qaeda’s hands? Pakistani military intelligence could give a small nuke to al-Qaeda right there in Pakistan or Afghanistan now, with Musharraf in power, and then blame its use on Iran through false-signal intelligence. Remember, al-Qaeda is the deadly enemy of the Shi’ites. It may be an understatement to say that al-Qaeda has had “assistance” from Western, Saudi, Jordanian (Zarqawi), and Pakistani intelligence services in the past.

The greatest potential threat often comes from the unsuspected direction. In this case the threat is from our “ally,” the government of Pakistan, while American fools are focused on a government-manufactured, media-enhanced, nonexistent threat from Iran.

~ A. Elishewitz, Baltimore

This Is How Empires End

Pat is right that the U.S. embassy will, in a few years, be in ruins or in Arab hands.

But he doesn’t actually come out and say that there is really no option. It is implied, but not stated.

The military situation at this point is disastrous. American forces can stay indefinitely, but only at unacceptable cost financially and in blood, and for no purpose, since they will eventually have to leave anyhow.

It is not at all clear, however, that his prediction of greater bloodshed after a U.S. departure is correct. It would well be that a peace would be forged under pressure from Iran and the Shia majority. The Sunni minority might will decide it would be better to reach a compromise than to try to break away with a piece of land but no oil. And it is the Sunnis primarily, who are the educated elite that a future Iraq would need to prosper.

Besides, prior to this war, Sunnis and Shia were getting along pretty well, intermarrying easily, living together, and so on.

In any case, there really is no alternative. The U.S. must leave.

Let the recriminations against the madmen who began this war begin!

~ Dave Lindorff, author, The Case for Impeachment

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