As Israel Assaulted Gaza, Its Supporters Pushed for Assaulting Iran

For 50 days in July and August Israel assaulted Gaza, slaughtering at least 2104 Palestinians, of whom 70 percent were civilians, including at least 504 children and 253 women. Israel’s aggression was condemned by a vast number of people, groups and governments (except, of course, by the Obama administration), including human rights advocates, and antiwar and anti-imperialism pacifists, ranging from Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa to Richard Falk of Princeton University and former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Iranian investigative journalist and human rights advocate Akbar Ganji (who has received 12 international awards for his work), and others.

So, one would think that Israel’s supporters and lobby in the United States and elsewhere would be very busy trying to "justify" Israel’s possible war crimes and even genocide in Gaza, and present a more positive image of Israel after the carnage in Gaza. But, that was not the case. Israel’s supporters continued to push for more military war against, as usual, Iran, as well as sanctions – a harsh form of economic warfare – the casualties of which, as sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s demonstrated, can far exceed those of military wars. Consider the following.

"It is time to bomb Iran’s nuclear capabilities. It is time for the United States; if we are not going to stop Iran’s nukes, then let Israel do it. A friend will not put another friend in this kind of jeopardy."

Who do you think made this insane statement? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or one of his neo-fascist ministers, such as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman or Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett, or another loony on the far right of the Israeli politics? None of them. Those words were uttered by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX). And, guess when he uttered those words? Before the Geneva Accord of November 2013 when Iran and P5+1 – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – reached an interim agreement to freeze Iran’s nuclear program and continue to negotiate for a comprehensive and long-term agreement? No, Gohmert made the demand on July 22, exactly one day after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certified that Iran was living up to its obligations under the Geneva Accord, and in the midst of Israel’s bloody assault on the Palestinians living in Gaza, the day the number of Palestinians killed reached 630, more than seventy percent of whom were civilians, including 146 children at that point in time.

Then we have Jennifer Rubin, bastion of objectivity and truthfulness and blogger for the Washington Post. In her blog of August 28, Rubin lied brazenly, claiming that “the interim [Geneva] agreement the administration signed on to…includes a sunset clause promising eventual freedom to do whatever Iran likes free from inspectors and restrictions).”(emphasis mine). The italicized statement is simply a lie. Even after the comprehensive agreement expires, Iran, like any other IAEA member state, will still be subject to comprehensive inspections. Rubin also questioned Iran’s fundamental rights to peaceful use of nuclear technology, asking rhetorically, "Where in the world would the mullahs have got such an idea [that Iran is entitled to peaceful use of nuclear technology]?" I guess Rubin has never heard of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty that gives its signatories, including Iran, but not Israel which is not a signatory, such rights.

Rubin then cast doubt on another positive decision by Iran: "News reports suggest Iran is also "redesigning" its heavy-water plutonium plant at Arak. The regime says this change would produce less nuclear material than it previously did at Arak. Hmm. This smacks of another ploy." I do not believe Rubin even knows anything about the Arak reactor, how it works, and why Iran decided to construct it in the first place. Rubin is interested only in deceiving her readers with exaggerations, half-truths, innuendoes and even lies. For the record, the Arak reactor is a research reactor that will replace the 47 year old Tehran Research Reactor, producing medical isotopes for close to one million Iranian patients every year. Iran is redesigning the reactor, postponing its operation, so that it will produce much less plutonium in its spent fuel, hence addressing a major concern of P5+1.

Then, we have Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts, and the darling of the progressives, the supposedly anti-Hillary Clinton whose hawkish foreign policy is being praised by the neocons. She defended her vote in July to send Israel $225 million for its "Iron Dome" system, and has consistently taken hawkish positions against Iran, including the false claims that, "Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons," and "Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is unacceptable because a nuclear Iran would be a threat to the United States, our allies, the region, and the world.” Warren has also consistently supported the crippling and illegal economic sanctions that the U.S. and its allies have imposed on Iran that have imperiled tens of millions of ordinary Iranians. As Glenn Greenwald put it, when it comes to Israel and Iran, Warren "sounds like [Benjamin] Netanyahu."

As soon as the war in Gaza ended, the propaganda war against Iran intensified, in order to distract attention from what had happened there. Henry Kissinger, the war criminal who, despite having one foot in grave, is still very much active in his anti-Iran crusade ever since his friend, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was toppled in 1979, has claimed that “Iran is a bigger problem than ISIS.” It is apparently lost on Kissinger that ISIS is a byproduct of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US and NATO intervention in Libya in 2011, and the support that US allies in the Middle East (namely, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Jordan) provided to the jihadist forces fighting in Syria. Never mind that Iran is not a threat against any nation in that region, and as the Pentagon‘s July assessment of Iran’s military put it, “Iran’s military strategy is defensive” and designed to “deter an attack, survive an initial strike, retaliate against an aggressor and force a diplomatic solution.”

Then, we had the "report" by Fredrik Dahl of Reuters and its alarming title, "Iran fails to address nuclear bomb concerns." It reads as if Iran is actually working on the bomb. But, even the latest report by the politicized International Atomic Energy Agency and its Director-General Yukiya Amano, a minion of the West, did not refer to bomb making, but to the allegations that Iran might have carried out some research in the distant past related to explosives, which Iran recently explained to the IAEA its use in civilian applications, and calculating nuclear explosive yields that has never been substantiated. As usual, Dahl had an anonymous diplomatic source in Vienna who told him that the IAEA’s report is "worrying." This is the same Dahl who, together with Louis Charbonneau, claimed last February that the IAEA had hidden a report critical of Iran, forcing the Agency to deny the allegation.

Barbara Slavin of the Atlantic Council and the website Al-Monitor also published a piece in which she repeated all the allegations by the politicized IAEA about Iran’s past activity, without even briefly mentioning the responses to the allegations, claiming that the report "may hamstring deal" between Iran and P5+1. As usual, she only spoke to the pundits that have long advocated a tough Iran policy, in order to buttress her arguments. The possibility that if the deal is indeed hamstrung, it may be due to excessive and unreasonable demands by the US does not even occur to Slavin.

Iran has lived up to its international obligations regarding its nuclear program that has so far remained completely peaceful. In particular, it has delivered its part of the Geneva Accord. But, even when the threat that the ISIS is posing to the Middle East is spreading, and at the time when Iran is perhaps the only country in that region that can meaningfully contribute to the containment and defeat of the ISIS, not only has the pressure on Iran by the warmongers not been reduced, it has continued to rise. Just last week, the US imposed new sanctions on Iran, in violation of the spirit of the Geneva Accord, if not its letter. The US and Israel should be "grateful" that when everything else fails for them, they still have Iran to beat up on.

Muhammad Sahimi, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and the NIOC Chair in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California, is co-founder and editor of the website, Iran News & Middle East Reports.