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Avnery on the Iran Deal

November 30th, 2013 · 1 Comment · Iran, Israel

DimonaDimona Nuclear Reactor, Negev Nuclear Research Center

Uri Avnery

November 30, 2013

The Debacle

THE GREATEST danger to Israel is not the putative Iranian nuclear bomb. The greatest danger is the stupidity of our leaders.

This is not a uniquely Israeli phenomenon. A great many of the world’s leaders are plain stupid, and always have been. Enough to look at what happened in Europe in July 1914, when an incredible accumulation of stupid politicians and incompetent generals plunged humanity into World War I.

But lately, Binyamin Netanyahu and almost the entire Israeli political establishment have achieved a new record in foolishness.

LET US start from the end.

Iran is the great victor. It has been warmly welcomed back into the family of civilized nations. Its currency, the rial, is jumping. Its prestige and influence in the region has become paramount. Its enemies in the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia and its gulf satellites, have been humiliated. Any military strike against it by anyone, including Israel, has become unthinkable.

The image of Iran as a nation of crazy ayatollahs, fostered by Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad, has disappeared. Iran now looks like a responsible country, led by sober and shrewd leaders.

Israel is the great loser. It has maneuvered itself into a position of total isolation. Its demands have been ignored, its traditional friends have distanced themselves. But above everything else, its relations with the US have been seriously damaged.

What Netanyahu and Co. are doing is almost unbelievable. Sitting on a very high branch, they are diligently sawing through it.

Much has been said about the total dependence of Israel on the US in almost all fields. But to grasp the immensity of the folly, one aspect in particular must be mentioned. Israel controls, in effect, the access to the US centers of power.

All nations, especially the smaller and poorer ones, know that to enter the halls of the American Sultan, in order to get aid and support, they have to bribe the doorkeeper. The bribe may be political (privileges from their ruler), economic (raw materials). diplomatic (votes in the UN), military (a base or intelligence “cooperation”), or whatever. If it is big enough, AIPAC will help to gain support from Congress.

This unparalleled asset rests solely on the perception of Israel’s unique position in the US. Netanyahu’s unmitigated defeat on US relations with Iran has badly damaged, if not destroyed, this perception. The loss is incalculable.

ISRAELI POLITICIANS, like most of their colleagues elsewhere, are not well versed in world history. They are party hacks who spend their lives in political intrigues. If they had studied history, they would not have built for themselves the trap into which they have now fallen.

I am tempted to boast that more than two years ago I wrote that any military attack on Iran, either by Israel or the US, is impossible But it was not prophesy, inspired by some unknown deity. It was not even very clever. It was just the result of a simple look at the map. The Strait of Hormuz.

Any military action against Iran was bound to lead to a major war, something in the category of Vietnam, in addition to the collapse of world oil supplies. Even if the US public had not been so war weary, in order to start such an adventure one would not only have to be a fool, but practically mad.

The military option is not “off the table” – it never was “on the table”. It was an empty pistol, and the Iranians knew this well.

The loaded weapon was the sanctions regime. It hurt the people. It convinced the supreme leader, Ali Husseini Khamenei, to completely change the regime and install a new and very different president.

The Americans realized this, and acted accordingly. Netanyahu, obsessed with the bomb, did not. Worse, he still does not.

If it is a symptom of madness to keep trying something that has failed again and again, we should start to worry about “King Bibi”.

TO SAVE itself from the image of utter failure, AIPAC has started to order its senators and congressmen to work out new sanctions to be instituted in some indefinite future.

The new leitmotif of the Israeli propaganda machine is that Iran is cheating. The Iranians just can’t do otherwise. Cheating is in their nature.

This might be effective, because it is based on deeply rooted racism. Bazaar is a Persian word, associated in the European mind with haggling and deception.

But the Israeli conviction that the Iranians are cheating is based on a more robust foundation: our own behavior. When Israel started in the 1950s to build up its own nuclear program, with the help of France, it had to deceive the whole world and did so with stunning effect.

By sheer coincidence – or perhaps not – Israel’s Channel 2 TV aired a very revealing story about this last Monday (just two days after the signing of the Geneva accord!) Its most prestigious program, “Fact”, interviewed the Israeli Hollywood producer, Arnon Milchan, a billionaire and Israeli patriot.

In the program, Milchan boasted of his work for Lakam, the Israeli intelligence agency which handled Jonathan Pollard. (Since then it has been dismantled).  Lakam specialized in scientific espionage, and Milchan did invaluable service in procuring in secret and under false pretences the materials needed for the nuclear program which produced the Israeli bombs.

Milchan hinted at his admiration for the South African apartheid regime and at Israel’s nuclear cooperation with it. At the time, a possible nuclear explosion in the Indian Ocean near South Africa mystified American scientists, and there were theories (repeated only in whispers) about an Israeli-South African nuclear device.

A third party was the Shah of Iran, who also had nuclear ambitions. It is an irony of history that Israel helped Iran to take its first atomic steps.

Israeli leaders and scientists went to very great length to hide their nuclear activities. The Dimona reactor building was disguised as a textile factory. Foreigners brought to tour Dimona were deceived by false walls, hidden floors and such.

Therefore, when our leaders speak of deception, cheating and misleading, they know what they are talking about. They respect the Persian ability to do the same, and are quite convinced that this will happen. So are practically all Israelis, and especially the media commentators.

 ONE OF the more bizarre aspects of the American-Israeli crisis is the Israeli complaint that the US has had a secret diplomatic channel with Iran “behind our back”.

If there were an international prize for chutzpah, this would be a strong contender.

The “world’s only superpower” had secret communications with an important country, and only belatedly informed Israel about it. What cheek! How dare they?!

The real agreement, so it seems, was not hammered out in the many hours of negotiation in Geneva, but in these secret contacts.

Our government, by the way, did not omit to boast that it knew about this all the time from its own intelligence sources. It hinted that these were Saudi. I would rather suspect that it came from one of our numerous informants inside the US administration.

Be that as it may, the assumption is that the US is obliged to inform Israel in advance about every step it takes in the Middle East. Interesting.

PRESIDENT OBAMA has obviously decided that sanctions and military threats can only go so far. I think he is right.

A proud nation does not submit to open threats. Faced with such a challenge, a nation tends to draw together in patriotic fervor and support its leaders, disliked as they may be. We Israelis would. So would any other nation.

Obama is banking on the Iranian regime-change that has already started. A new generation, which sees on the social media what is happening around the world, wants to take part in the good life. Revolutionary fervor and ideological orthodoxy fade with time, as we Israelis know only too well. It happened in our kibbutzim, it happened in the Soviet Union, it happens in China and Cuba. Now it is also happening in Iran.

SO WHAT should we do? My advice would simply be: if you can’t beat them, join them.

Stop the Netanyahu obsession. Embrace the Geneva deal (because it is good for Israel). Call off the AIPAC bloodhounds from Capitol Hill. Support Obama. Mend the relations with the US administration. And, most importantly, send out feelers to Iran to change, ever so slowly, our mutual relations.

History shows that yesterday’s friends may be today’s enemies, and today’s enemies can be tomorrow’s allies. It already happened once between Iran and us. Apart from ideology, there is no real clash of interests between the two nations.

We need a change of leadership, like the one Iran has begun to embark on. Unfortunately, all Israeli politicians, left and right, have joined the March of Fools. Not a single establishment voice has been raised against it. The new Labor Party leader, Yitzhak Herzog, is part of it as much as Ya’ir Lapid and Tzipi Livni.

As they say in Yiddish: The fools would have been amusing, if they had not been our fools.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Poo

    “Never tell a fool he is a fool. All you’ll have is an angry fool.”…Yiddish Witticism

    I know, I know, I said I’d never bother to comment again on this loon Avnery. I wouldn’t have accept for the inference that everybody is, was and forever will be stupid except for him and the hapless Obama.

    The President has an excuse, his much beloved mirror, mirror on his wall has cracked along with his Domestic and Foreign policies, such as they were. He is frantic to find something to hang his Legacy on now that the Obamacare website has proven to be the ACA’s best feature. Domestically, he has been reduced to augmenting the old tax and spend philosophy with simply just printing more and more money. Can you even call running up more debt than ALL previous Presidents combined a Legacy? Only in America, I guess. What has been laughingly called his Foreign Policy has been reduced to please, appease and spend some more. Untrusted even by America’s friends, Obama has reduced American influence to that of a paper tiger. Tony the Tiger is has more world-wide support. From world power to world cower in less than 5 years! The next 3 years are really going to be something. Is it still possible to blame everything on Bush and racism? From what I read, the answer appears to be yes, yes, yes. To steal a line from Afred E. Neuman, “What me worry?” Maybe it can be crafted onto the Presidential seal.

    Avnery puts himself on the same level as an American President which would normally seem like his vaunted egomania running completely amok again but in this case it merely underscores the paucity of his thoughts. The world’s largest sponsor of state terrorism will never be welcomed back into the family of “civilized nations” unless it is by the U.N. which is populated by enough terrorist states, dictators and anti- democratic autocracies to render the term “civilized” completely nonsensical. Iran is at home there if not quite” civilized.”

    The amount of alcohol and/or chemical substances Avnery must inject into each and every one of his orifices in order to dream Iran as “a responsible country, led by sober and shrewd leaders” would kill a cow, no a herd of cows, big ones and a few bulls as well. Can he honestly say this stuff aloud and if yes where, under his bed?

    Avnery has no grasp of political realities as they exist outside his bedroom. American Presidents, like English and Canadian Prime Ministers come and go but our systems of government, our laws, constitutions and the common decency of our peoples continue. Israel will NEVER be even a tiny “loser” with us. Current governments which support Israel will be replaced by governments that support Israel, some to an even stronger degree. The only “loser” is Avnery. If we disagree with him, he calls us names, oh boo hoo. The only “hack” is Avnery, banging his one note drum because he lacks the skill to play a piano.

    Everyone with access to an Atlas, Google Maps or a brain knows the situation at the Strait of Hormuz, the weak American President and the war weary populace. But then everyone also knows the China Sea, yet there is the U.S. flying and boating about in a hostile dance. It is never a good thing to dare. What is “off the table” today can soon be put back on by a new government or a new situation.

    Look, it is not a call for a choice between love-ins or wars. Everything is not black and white except to Avnery in which case it is, “I am right. You are stupid!” While world oil supplies might be severely damaged by any extended war with Iran, their complete lack of cash and supplies would starve them into surrender. The situation would go far beyond mere sanctions as the American navy’s 5th fleet would control the waters while the NATO air forces controlled the skies. The armies would seal their borders. Iran would be completely isolated not partially as they are now. And what does “extended” mean? The secret pipelines and fuel trucks that provide much needed cash to Iran would cease to exist. And for the record, both the U.S., thanks to permits issued by Bush and bragged about by Obama, and Canada are oil and natural gas rich and getting richer as new discoveries come on line seemingly weekly. Import shortages would be quickly compensated for and short term cutbacks would be little hardship. I myself will give up driving and walk everywhere. I almost do anyway. See? Remember, North America would also stop exporting too so oil and gas would not disappear around here. And we would still have money, clothing and food. What would Iran have? Sand? We would not need to be as “mad” as Avnery thinks nor even as “mad” as he is. Understand, I am not advocating war or anything close to it. All I am saying is that North America can be as self-sufficient as we need to be and in short order too. How would that work for Iran? They haven’t seen sanctions yet, think total blockade. Israel need not do anything.

    Ali Husseini Khamenei, neither changed the regime nor installed a new president. He just asked a known liar to smile. I note that Avnery omitted the words ‘democratic’ or ‘elected’ and chose ”install” instead. Sounds pretty “civilized” to me.

    I do not blame any country for keeping secrets. It is their country and their right to conduct themselves as they choose behind their own borders. However, when you threaten another country with extermination or annihilation and you supply, arm and encourage terrorists outside of your own borders you cross into the rest of the world. We don’t like that. Civilization does not just entail centuries of existence; it is common courtesy, character and above all, credibility. I guess honesty and trustworthiness should be in there somewhere too. If Iran was any of those things, they’d still have an embassy in Ottawa. I hope they don’t miss us. We don’t miss them. They say it is good to keep contact, to keep talking. Well, we have phones here and computers too. I’m sure Iran has our number. We’ve certainly got theirs.

    As to Israel’s nuclear capabilities, guess what? It has never been much of a secret or a threat. It has never been bragged about either. Surrounded by less than friendly neighbours, Israel wisely tends to keep their military secrets quiet. Cripes, I hope we keep ours!

    All of America’s allies worry about where Obama stands on any issue, in front of or behind a back. Super Power or no, nations have questions and they are entitled to ask. Pick a country, read a paper, hello! Now whether the Super Power gives you an answer is an entirely different story. They have secrets too!

    It strikes me as funny but when it is reported here that Canada received information on an issue from the U.S., the worst that is said is that it came “via an unnamed source.” Paranoid Avnery believes what Israel gets comes only from “intelligence sources” or “informants.” He should take a flashlight under that bed. It must be scary under there.

    President Obama cares no more for Iran than he does for Syria. He is looking for Legacy. Heaven knows what Avnery is looking for. An Iranian deal for 6 months is no deal at all. A bigger deal will fail once Iran gets what it wants. Obama won’t care; it will be on the next President’s watch. He can blame him. President Obama is desperate to change the subject and his Socialite of State is desperate to make a name for himself. France in a charitable moment called it a “sucker’s deal.” Vive la France!

    Economic sanctions have cut deeply into everyday life in Iran. Their currency has collapsed, inflation is rampant and the regime feels itself threatened and rightly so. Regime survival is the one thing the Ayatollah and his flunky mullahs value above nuclear weapons. The West weakens sanctions in exchange for nothing that weakens Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. We pay, Iran promises. Well, maybe not we. Three cheers for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird who released a statement through spokesperson Rick Roth.

    “We remain deeply skeptical of the Iranian regime’s commitments to reform as their nuclear program continues unabated, they continue to fund terrorist networks in the region including the murderous Assad regime, now implicated for war crimes, and they continue to ignore their abysmal human rights record.”

    I’ve never heard of “King Bibi” but I know those Foreign Affairs guys in Ottawa. They were the ones that cancelled relations with Iran, threw their representatives out of the country and froze their assets. We in the Great White North know a wolf in sheep’s clothing when we see one. We know a wolf in any clothing actually.

    Yup, Iran has really changed. Avnery says so. They’ve got Twitter and everything. What more evidence could you want from a state that jails dissidents, sponsors terrorists and flagrantly flouts international agreements? Oh, I don’t know. How about an influential Iranian cleric allowed to speak publically who has warned President Obama not to include Israel in any nuclear negotiations. Why? Because the Jewish state must be destroyed.

    “What is visible is that Obama has agreed to include the fake Zionist regime (Israel) in future negotiations,” said Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts.Experts at what?

    “However, we firmly believe, [Israel] must be wiped off the face of the earth and we don’t recognize [its existence].” Khatami said according to IRNA, the official news agency of the Islamic Republic.

    This guy is a cleric? I’d like to read the Iranian definition of cleric. Sounds more like a terrorist or war monger to me.

    Smiling Rouhani, Iran’s new and improved President, bragged back in June on Iranian state television during his pseudo election campaign that he and the regime utterly flouted a 2003 agreement with the IAEA. They promised to suspend all uranium enrichment and certain other nuclear activities. They did not. Iran did issue a joint statement with visiting EU ministers, in October 2003, setting out its pledged obligations under the Tehran Declaration.

    “We did not let that happen,” Rouhani said.
    A man of his word from his own mouth. Let’s make a deal with this guy! What could possibly go wrong? He went on to state proudly that the Iranian heavy water reactor at Arak was also developed under his watch, in 2004.

    “Do you know when we developed yellowcake? Winter 2004.” Do you know when the number of centrifuges reached 3,000? Winter 2004.” Rather than bow to international pressure and agreements, “We completed the technology.”

    Well hey, this a guy we can all enjoy following on social media. Who needs actors and singers?

    Avnery doesn’t like it when Netanyahu quotes from Rouhani’s 2011 book. Why not? It’s a book. The man wrote it. Maybe Avnery should read it.

    “While we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in Isfahan. By creating a calm environment — a calm environment — we were able to complete the work in Isfahan.”

    Those are Smiling Rouhani’s own words, in his own book.

    Rouhani’s new cabinet is replete with the same “clerics” and thugs who have run the Islamic Republic since 1980. For example, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, his justice minister, was a former high official in the Ministry of Information during the bloody and violent 1980s. He was one of those primarily responsible for the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. In the ministry’s foreign intelligence operations in the 1990s, his notable “achievements” included the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and the assassination of dissidents in Iran as well as around the world. Good qualifications for a minister of justice, don’t you think? Apparently that wanker Avnery does. While Rouhani was smiling and lying his way around the U.N. with his fellow terrorists, more than 30 Iranians were executed without due process of law. That’s your new minister of justice hard at work.

    Rouhani’s team did not go to Geneva after a profound epiphany and deep self-analysis. Naw, Iran returned to negotiations because the Ayatollah wants, read needs, economic sanctions lifted. Sanctions have destabilized Iran’s currency, slowed the oil and gas industry and under-mined international trade and investor confidence. The people have suffered more than their leaders. It was ever thus. Sure, illicit trade goes on all the time and eases, at high prices, some of the country’s needs but three decades’ worth of sanctions have forced Iran’s leaders grudgingly back to the negotiating table. They really didn’t want to but they had little choice.

    On state television in Tehran on September 10, 2013, President Obama’s pen pal, Smiling Rowhani, warned world powers that the timeframe for resolving a showdown with Tehran over its nuclear ambitions is not unlimited. Not what I would call a charm offensive but then I don’t write for the New York Times. If Iran has no intention of developing nuclear weapons, why does it continue to enrich uranium to weapons grade? Why is it still developing missile systems that are specifically designed to carry nuclear warheads? Why does it need 19,000 centrifuges? And why I’m on the subject of ‘whys’, why does Iran continue to supply Hezbollah and assorted other terror groups? Why is the sky blue Mommy?

    It was no coincidence that Iran’s overtures came in the aftermath of Obama’s dismal “red line” performance during the recent Syrian gas-attack crisis. His failure to follow up on his ultimatum encouraged the rogue regime in Iran to try its hand at testing Obama’s resolve. No country has crossed more “red lines” than Iran. It is their national sport.

    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, has the final word on any and all nuclear agreements. The Iranian people love nuclear, the Ayatollah loves nuclear and he likes things just as they are. He has accurately calculated that Obama needs a deal with Tehran, any deal just to get him through his final 3 years and another step closer to his longed for Legacy. It is a good strategy on the Ayatollah’s part, 6 months at a time. Obama was not prepared to act in Syria against a dictator who gassed his own people. He is unlikely to concern himself with Iran’s plans to acquire a nuclear weapons. Nothing will happen until he is out of office. Then it will be somebody else’s fault. It won’t be a new line for Obama.

    This interim six-month agreement makes no sense to thinking people with any familiarity with the negotiating process. If you can’t get a deal to hobble the nuclear program when Iran is on its knees, how on earth will you get one once they are on their feet and with your money? Kerry and Obama have rescued the Ayatollah and his mullahs. That’s some negotiation. Why can’t I ever get to negotiate with Obama or Kerry, on anything?

    The deal widens permissible trade in oil, gold and auto parts. It releases frozen Iranian assets which will increase Iran’s foreign-exchange reserves by 25%, effectively doubling them. An inflow of cash such as this will have a somewhat more than a positive effect on Iran’s near dormant economy. Inflation will lower, thereby reducing shortages and boost the country’s flagging morale. Maybe the Twitterverse will lighten up. The lifting of sanctions and the possible resumption of trade already has foreign oil and other interests circling.

    And what did master negotiators Obama and Kerry get for all this largesse, what? Is Iran giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons? I mean, isn’t that what the negotiations were about? Apparently not, that proved to be too tough. OK, (Obama/Kerry), simply said OK. No centrifuges will be dismantled nor will any facility that manufactures them be touched. Huh? Iran’s nuclear infrastructure remains intact. Double Huh? Iran gets to keep every one of its 19,000 centrifuges. This number, by the way, is more than 50% higher than what is needed for peaceful nuclear purposes. The 19,000 even includes some 3,000 second-generation machines that produce enriched uranium at five times the rate of first-generation centrifuges. Boy, OK sure punished those poor bastards.

    In Syria, the machines that made the chemical weapons were destroyed right off. Next came the stockpiles. Duh! Otherwise, it is an exercise in futility like say, in Iran who retains their 3.5% uranium, which can be enriched to 20% in a month, maybe less as they also get to keep their plutonium facility at Arak, an alternate path to a nuclear weapon. As stated, this massive OK give-away leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure untouched. It bears repeating. Iran will always be just a few months away from going nuclear. Can you say Kaboom! Iran will also be given the “right” to enrich uranium thereby legitimizing their status as a threshold nuclear state.

    Do you know a couple of drunks who could do worse at the table than the OK team? Of course, Avnery could do as much on his own but who else? He’s not stupid, you know. Even Avnery knows what the desperate OKs apparently do not. You can say sanctions are reversible but Good Luck with that. Think about the U.N. Security Council and the Veto votes of Russia and China. The Ayatollah did. The Europeans spend a generation to make any decision at all. The Ayatollah knows that too. The sanctions are out of the box. Try to imagine getting a consensus to put them back in the minute Iran goes off the rails, which it will. It is what they do. No wonder Rouhani is smiling. It’s all he can do to keep from laughing out loud while rolling around on the floor.

    The interim agreement gives political and economic relief to Iran instantly if not sooner. The Ayatollah, the mullahs and Smiling Rouhani no longer have any incentive to conclude any meaningful agreement but they will talk. Ho Hum. It’s another shovel for the hole Obama has dug for his Legacy.

    I can offer only this from Goethe. It suits both Avnery and Obama well.

    “When ideas fail, words come in very handy.”
    Blah, Blah, Blah!

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