Israel’s Dr. Strangelove

Dr. Uzi "Strangeglovitch" Arad mocked proponents of a Palestinian state and taunted advocates of an Israeli/Palestinian peace process this week in a revealing interview published on Friday, July 10 in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz. Arad also made provocative remarks about blockading Iran and retaining much of the Golan Heights.

Uzi Arad is the national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is considered to be one of the most influential foreign policy advisers and powerful voices in the current Israeli administration. In the interview, Arad sarcastically alluded to any possible Palestinian state as an entity that would be limited to producing its own stamps, parades, and carnivals.

When interviewer Ari Shavit summarized Arad’s derogatory and dismissive characterization of a future Palestinian state as "an American peace event with Hollywood trappings," the security adviser did not contradict the description, but rather bemoaned the lack of a capable Palestinian leadership and claimed that "even the moderates among them do not want a settlement." Dr. Arad then expressed a ludicrous, racist view that Palestinian leadership is "genetically" incapable of understanding the conflict from Israel’s point of view. He further described the late Yasser Arafat as "vulgar."

Uzi Arad is a Princeton-educated acolyte of Herman Kahn, a man Arad calls the original Dr. Strangelove, a "Jewish American genius," and a "salient nuclear hawk" who advocated the "feasibility of nuclear wars." Arad, who describes himself as a devotee of Kahn, which includes being a nuclear hawk, wrote a paper in the ’70s for the U.S. Pentagon about the planning of a limited nuclear war in Central Europe.

Arad, who is now in charge of the Iran portfolio, told Ha’aretz that previous Israeli administrations erred in their Iran policy. According to Arad, there was a "gross failure" in government policy between 2003-2007 in not devoting sufficient attention to the threat from Tehran. During the interview, Arad advocated a maritime blockade against Iran that would cut off its oil supply. If Iran were to challenge the blockade, Arad menacingly threatened, "from here the road to escalation is short." A naval blockade is considered an act of war according to international law. And the current official American policy is to engage Iran diplomatically in an attempt to resolve the nuclear issue.

In addition to his inflexibility on the Palestinian and Iranian fronts, which is music to the ears of his government’s right-wing supporters, Arad also took the opportunity in the interview to discourage those who thought a peace deal with the Syrians was possible. In contradiction to positions taken by past Israeli governments and to what has been the starting point for past Damascus/Jerusalem negotiations, Arad explicitly stated that Israel will not withdraw from much of the Golan Heights. That position precludes any negotiation with the Syrians, who have for decades insisted on the complete return of the Syrian land that Israel has occupied since 1967.

Apparently alarmed by the reckless and provocative performance of his close adviser and the effect Arad’s bellicosity might have on the Americans, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu distanced himself from some of Arad’s opinions. On Sunday Ha’aretz reported that Netanyahu’s office released a statement in which the prime minister expressed pointed disagreement with Arad’s claim that previous Israeli governments did not do enough to halt the Iranian nuclear program. In specifically addressing Arad’s insulting remarks about Palestinian leaders, his vision of a future Palestinian rump state, and his opinion that an Israeli/Palestinian peace is unlikely, Netanyahu’s reactions were less direct. According to the government office: "The prime minister stands by, with the greatest of seriousness and responsibility, what he said on the subject in his speech at Bar Ilan university." In that speech Netanyahu (belatedly) expressed his willingness to work toward a Palestinian state, but he appended a number of unreasonable conditions that were immediately rejected by the U.S.-chosen Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Netanyahu probably agrees with Arad’s aggressive attitude toward Iran and his rejection of the possibility of a peace with the Palestinians. However, the Israeli prime minister realizes that these attitudes, publicly expounded, are not conducive to good relations with the current U.S. administration, whose declared policy is to open a dialogue with Iran and facilitate a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Netanyahu has publicly, although reluctantly, supported both of these American policies.

In the interview, Uzi Arad is described as a short-tempered man and an advocate of the use of "brute force." In response to this description, Arad smiled and explained that he "prefer[s] to direct the brute-force energies within [him] at the goyim [non-Jews]." Expounding on his penchant for the use of force and his lifelong dedication to the feasibility of nuclear warfare, Arad implied that he would not hesitate to "punish" those who attacked Israel with a devastating nuclear assault. He insanely described this nuclear revenge as a type of Jewish charitable act (tikkun olam), which would serve as a deterrence to future aggression against Israel!

It is understandable that President Obama and special envoy George Mitchell, who are promoting regional peace, want to characterize the Israeli government, their close ally, as willing to compromise and pursue peace despite the many statements and actions of its leaders indicating that the opposite is true. The fact that Arad chose to publicly express his views, which range from belligerent (toward the Palestinians) to insane (about nuclear war), at such a sensitive time is a sure sign that the extent to which Israel actually shares a vision of peace with any of the goyim, including the Obama administration, may be vastly overestimated.

Author: Ira Glunts

Ira Glunts first visited the Middle East in 1972, where he taught English and physical education in a small rural community in Israel. He was a volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces in 1992. Mr. Glunts lives in Madison, N.Y., where he operates a used and rare book business.