Not for the first time, I’ve been upstaged by the Ha’aretz editorial writer. Lying in bed last night, fueled by one ouzo too many, I worked out the outlines of a piece about the sheer vulgarity of Bibi’s speech to AIPAC earlier in the week. But Ha’aretz got there before me, with a very good editorial published this morning. I urge everyone to read it.
The uncomfortable truth, despite the appalling spectacle that Israel’s prime minister made of himself this week, is that Bibi has won the first battle of the Iranian War. The global debate about the nuclearization of Iran is being conducted on his terms and within a frame of reference that he, Bibi, dictated. Barely a year ago, he sat in the Oval Office and twitched with extreme discomfort as Obama shat on him about settlements and the occupation. This year, settlements weren’t even on the agenda. It was all Iran.
Much as it twists my gut to give Bibi credit for anything, credit is due. Well over six years ago, the then-former prime minister set out to alter perceived reality. The world didn’t like the settlements, but Bibi was not prepared to give them up; so the only solution was to create a reality in which the world’s attention would be deflected away from the settlements and onto something far grander and more evocative; something … like the Holocaust, for example.
Enter the Iran, nuclearization and Holocaust trifecta. In November 2006. I wrote of how Bibi was using (and abusing) the Holocaust to push his Iranian agenda. In the years since, with the kind assistance of Ahmedinajad and the Ayatollahs, Bibi’s personal crusade became a national project; a Zionist enterprise on a par with draining the Hula or killing the Dead Sea. Since becoming prime minister for the second time, Bibi has devoted the resources of the state to persuading America and the West that Iran is where their attention should lie.
The disappearance of the settlements from the White House meeting last week was not due to mere forgetfulness on the part of Obama. It was the result of a carefully planned Israeli media campaign that mobilized Israeli intelligence agencies, the Foreign ministry, tame journalists, pro-Israel think tanks, lobbyists and deliberately leaky politicians to convince western governments that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and that those weapons pose an existential threat to Israel.
Despite many indications that the Israeli version is, at the very least, exaggerated (the CIA position remains that there is no evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon), the west has largely bought into the Bibi line. The wide consensus on harsh sanctions and Obama’s “every option is on the table” are the vindication of Bibi’s work. The first stage of the Iranian War is over and Bibi has succeeded. A strike against Iran is firmly on the table and the settlements … what settlements? Who said anything about settlements?
An emboldened Israel is unlikely to stop there. Puffed up and intoxicated by his own bombast, Bibi is entirely capable of launching an attack against Iran and I, for one, expect that he will do so. Bibi is an actor who falls in love with the characters he plays, and right now that character is the savior of the Jews from the next Holocaust. A delusional savior, to be sure, but in his own fevered mind a savior nevertheless. I can’t see him resisting the Hamlet of his career.
The good news – though for those of us who are going to be the targets of Iranian missiles it is a hardly good – is that it is likely to be the last character that Bibi ever plays (complete with a gory death scene, probably.) The consequences of an Israeli attack on Iran will be devastating, both locally and internationally. The Jews that Bibi purports he wants to save will be endangered like never before since the Holocaust (the real one) and the Zionist enterprise will finally be recognized for what it has become: the pathological and reckless pursuit of an exceptionalist Jewish fantasy.
In that sense, and that sense only, some good may come out of the current madness, though I and my family and my dog may not be around to enjoy it.
When the catastrophe finally comes, we Israelis will have no-one to blame but ourselves. We built a society that values only money, security and land. We occupied and then brutally suppressed our neighbors and we elected megalomaniacs to lead us. We chose to ignore the opportunities we have had (does anyone remember the Arab peace plan?) to haul ourselves out of the hole we have spent many decades digging.
But what of the good people of AIPAC, whose cheers get louder as Bibi’s clowning gets ever more frantic (remember the ducks?) Obama, I can understand, at a push; with a tanked economy and brain-dead Republicans breathing down his neck, the last thing he needs is a suicidal Israel. But AIPAC is meant to be the cream of the American Jewish crop; the bastion of those who have the interests of Israel at heart. Do they not understand that Bibi is playing them for fools? Do they not see that we are on a course to disaster?
I can only assume that this mad virus that has infected us is a Jewish, rather than a specifically Israeli, thing; a sort of virulent Tay-Sachs that we all inherited from some God-addled ancestor long ago and against which we have no antibodies. The genetic Jewish response to Israeli hubris.