The Madman of Tehran

maimonidesMoses Maimonides, the famous Jewish physician and theologian of Medieval Cordoba, had a tendency to refer to the Muslim Prophet Mohammad as “the madman.”  Maimonides had reasons abundant to use this term.  The Jews of Cordoba lived for a long time as dhimis before being forcefully expelled by their Islamic rulers.  Granted, had he lived a few centuries later on the Christian conquerors would have given him much the same choice as the Almohades: conversion, exile, or death.  He traveled across Africa, to the Holy Land, and eventually ended up under the protection of the remarkably tolerant Kurdish Sultan of Egypt, Saladin.

I think Maimonides may have given a similar nickname to the current Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Jeffrey Goldberg has a good round-up of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statements on Israel.  The “Madman of Tehran” has a nice ring to it, and Maimonides would be quite correct in leveling at him were he with us today.

October, 2005: “Our dear Imam said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine… I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world. But we must be aware of tricks.”

October, 2006: “This regime (Israel) will be gone, definitely…”You (the Western powers) should know that any government that stands by the Zionist regime from now on will not see any result but the hatred of the people…The wrath of the region’s people is boiling… You should not complain that we did not give a warning. We are saying this explicitly now…”

October 5, 2007: “Canada and Alaska have vast lands, why don’t you relocate them over there and keep helping them over there with (aid of) 30 to 40 billion dollars per year for building a new existence over there?”

And there’s much, much more.  Diplomat he is not.  Orator and propagandist, certainly.  His demagoguery, however, is of the blatant and – quite frankly – laughable variety.  Madman, perhaps, but also national buffoon.  He is one of those men who can stir the embers of national discontent but is otherwise generally harmless.  The blustering and bloviating are fit more for conservative talk radio than any substantive national platform.  Like many of his contemporary demagogues, he is mostly boring.

Besides that, he is little more than a figure-head; a dancing puppet for the Supreme Leader.  Inasmuch as he speaks for Khamenei, Ahmadinejad is dangerous.  Mostly, however, he plays the part of PR man, or prancing monkey.  Few take him seriously, and even his hard line on nuclear weapons is not too terribly out of line with Iranian popular opinion.  It is his views on Israel that are so extreme, and though they are reflective of Iranian popular opinion, it is nevertheless likely that normalized relations with the United States could ease this up a great deal – leading maybe not to Iranian/Israeli friendship, but perhaps at least a cold peace.

Diplomacy is not quite a lost art.  There is time yet to normalize relations with Iran, though it must be done with delicacy and care.  There are more than a few problems when negotiating with a prancing monkey, a clerical despot, and a nation whose security apparatus is wound up with at least a few terrorist and nationalist movements across the region; all of which doesn’t even speak to the fact that Iran is a clear and present danger to virtually all of its Arab neighbors, many of whom are our allies.

Nevertheless, it must be done.  We may not be at a point where reigning in the Persian Bomb is even possible.  It is likely only a matter of time now.  But normalized relations could prevent a war between Israel and Iran (and possibly the United States, threadbare as our military may be).  Nothing perfect comes from diplomacy, of course.  It’s doubtful the unwinding of Iran’s many militant ties would be at all swift; even more doubtful that the over-the-top rhetoric against the United States and the “evil Zionists” would die down very quickly.

The sad truth is that all of this could have been achieved more easily with Obama in office, a man obviously committed to serious diplomacy; but there is little doubt that the ascension of Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman in Israel will muddy this process.  The two may not be able to match Ahmadinejad in demagoguery, bluster for bluster, but they are both much more dangerous.  Lieberman’s no puppet and despite his divisive politics,  he’s secured a good deal of real power, especially with Netanyahu at the helm.  Neither man seems at all committed to dismantling the settlements, and both view the use of unrelenting force as the answer to the Israel/Palestine territorial dispute.  Lack of resolve in their predecessors, they believe, is largely responsible for the current state of affairs.  Whether or not they are right or wrong on this point is immaterial: times have changed, and the time for the sort of bold, cruel action that could indeed have put an end to all of this years ago – say, the expulsion of the Arabs entirely from the occupied territories and Israel – is past us now.

mexicoAmerica needs stability badly at this point, as does Israel.  The unrest, missile tests, and economic crisis are all illustrations of exactly why we need this stability.  And bloating our defense budget and stretching our forces out is not the best way to achieve this.  We are incapable of fighting all the bogeys we believe are out to get us, no matter how many billions we pour into our defense budget.  We can barely keep the seems together in Iraq; in Afghanistan, despite the promised troop influx, our efforts are faltering; and regardless of what foreign policy experts may have to say about North Korea, it would be pretty difficult to finish the two wars we’ve already begun and take on the full might of the North Korean military – especially if we become entangled, at the behest of Israel, in a fight to the death with Iran.  All of which misses the larger points – 1) Pakistan is the real nexus of global insecurity right now; and 2) we’ve got more than enough to keep ourselves occupied at our own southern border.  None of this is for lack of funding, I’m afraid.

All these madmen and dancing fools are just distractions, and meeting them with force is a mistake. We’re being hoodwinked by the hawks and idealogues.  This extension of force is unsustainable and puts us in a much weaker, less defensible position.  Let’s look to America first for once, and not fall once again for this neoconservative vision of an American Century.  Obama’s liberal military globalism has the potential to be just as disastrous as his predecessor’s, should he choose that course instead.  The time for diplomacy, no matter how futile it appears now, is upon us.

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30 thoughts on “The Madman of Tehran

  1. Why is Maimonides “infamous” in your world?

    If you were prime minister of Israel and responsible for the lives of millions of people, would you be dismissing Ahmadinejad as “bluster”? Would you ever win election with this kind of “policy?” Would the constant genocidal declarations, plus the power to realize them with nuclear weapons, along with the potential to put these weapons in the hands of Hizbollah and Hamas concern you at all?

    How is it possible that Netanyahu is “much more dangerous” than Ahmadinejad? If Ahmadinejad has been threatening global catastrophe, what danger does Netanyahu pose? If you were Jewish, would you be concerned that, once again, Jews are being represented as a threat to the world?

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  2. Netanyahu is more dangerous because I believe he’s more than all talk, like Ahmadinejad.

    Maimonides is a famous historical figure.  He’s one of the most famous Jews in history, and certainly one of the most brilliant minds of the Medieval period.  That’s good enough for infamy in my book.

    And no, obviously the Israelis can’t simply dismiss the Iranians as all bluster, but the key to moving forward for the United States is through diplomacy.

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  3. Infamous means “well known for some bad quality or deed : an infamous war criminal.
    • wicked; abominable : the medical council disqualified him for infamous misconduct.”

    How does this apply to Maimonides?

    You simply assume, without any evidence whatsoever, that Ahmadinejad is “all talk.” Netanyahu doesn’t have the luxury of sitting safe in Flagstaff, Arizona, and making safe assumptions about Iran.

    I’m repeating my last question: If you were Jewish, would you be concerned that, once again, Jews are being represented as a threat to the world?

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  4. Fair enough on the first point, Roque.  I’ve changed it.  I suppose I’ve always been one to use words like that somewhat ironically but I suppose it just doesn’t translate.

    Ahmadinejad has no real power – he’s a puppet, so he’s all talk by the nature of his office.

    And I’m not sure how “Jews are being represented as a threat to the world” at all.  Israel, to my mind, poses only a real threat to itself by maintaining stupid policies in regards to the settlements.  I suppose they also pose a real threat to their enemies – which is only natural – but how this transfers to a global threat is beyond me.

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  5. <blockquote>And I’m not sure howJews are being represented as a threat to the world” at all….how this [i.e., stupid policies in regards to settlements] transfers to a global threat is beyond me.“</blockquote>

    You must be playing dumb. This can’t be reduced to whatever opinions you have about the settlements. I assume you see the global threat involved in a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear capacity.

    The whole reason why Goldberg reproduced the list you excerpted was to show that Netanyahu had a rational concern about Iran’s acquiring nuclear power so as to expand upon his interview with him, which carried the headline, ”
    “Netanyahu to Obama: Stop Iran—Or I Will.”
    On his blog, Goldberg quotes an advisor to Netanyahu saying, ” if we have to act, we will act, even if America won’t.” Then, he quotes Netanyahu saying, <blockquote>”‘Iran has threatened to annihilate a state or to have a state wiped off the map of the world. In historical terms, this is an astounding thing. It’s a monumental outrage that goes effectively unchallenged in the court of public opinion. Sure, there are perfunctory condemnations, but there’s no j’accuse – there’s no shock and there’s a resigned acceptance that this is acceptable practice. Bad things tend to get worse if they’re not challenged early. Iranian leaders talk about Israel’s destruction or disappearance while simultaneously creating weapons to ensure its disappearance.’

    I followed this statement with a question: Is there any chance that Iran could be stopped through non-military means? Netanyahu responded: ‘Yes I do, but only if the military option is left on the table.‘”</blockquote>

    You say that Netanyahu and Lieberman are “both much more dangerous” than Iran’s leaders yet they have never threatened to exterminate any state.

    So—I repeat my question once again: If you were Jewish, would you be concerned that, once again, Jews are being represented as a threat to the world?

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  6. Again, you miss the point.  Tehran is all talk.  I’m quite sure that they will never, ever risk war with Israel; Israel, on the other hand, might.  My goal is to avert war.  Thus Netanyahu is more dangerous than Ahmadinejad – to Israelis as well, who will perhaps win the war, but at great cost.  Too great a cost, when diplomacy might work.  Jews are not being represented as a threat to the world, but Israel would certainly be viewed that way if they attacked Iran and disrupted world stability.  That’s not at all – AT ALL – the same thing as ‘representing Jews’ as a threat to the world.

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  7. If the point is that Tehran is all talk, then I’d love to see some evidence of that. But that can’t be the point, because you admit that Israelis cannot simply dismiss the Iranian leaders as all talk like you do. If there was evidence, then Israelis would be expected to do so, wouldn’t they? The point is that Iran is a threat, not Israel. Israel is in the position of having to defend itself against a genocidal regime.

    If your goal was to avert war, why are you not harping on the threat that Iran poses, since it just doesn’t matter that you think—or better said, that you have faith—that Iran “will never, ever risk war with Israel” because the Israelis cannot make this unfounded assumption themselves—as you admit.

    Instead, you harp on the danger that Netanyahu poses. He is a Jew as are the people who voted for him. I’m sure you have some pretzel logic that shows that this is not the same as portraying Jews as a threat to the world. Whatever. Iranians don’t use such logic themselves, nor do Muslims in general.

    All I’m asking is for you to have a little empathy with Jews: If you were Jewish, would you be concerned that, once again, Jews are being represented as a threat to the world?

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  8. You’re really sinking to new lows with this last one, Roque.  Do you have evidence that Iran is not all talk? 

    Instead, you harp on the danger that Netanyahu poses. He is a Jew as are the people who voted for him. I’m sure you have some pretzel logic that shows that this is not the same as portraying Jews as a threat to the world.

    Uhm…well, let’s pretend that the point is not that Jews are a threat, but rather the policies of a particular government.  Let’s pretend that this is akin to the notion that should an Arab government act out of aggression not all Arabs are suddenly “threats to the world” anymore than should a European government act aggressively suddenly all Euro’s are threats.  Anyone who really does think that way is probably racist or stupid.  But why are you arguing that point here?  Where you know that’s not my point or the point I’m trying to make?  Of course Jews have lots and lots of reason to be worried about how they are perceived.  All the more reason not to support bad policies; like in America we’re often perceived as the “ugly American imperialist” – well, all the more reason not to support imperialist policy.

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  9. You ask me, Why are Iran’s leaders not all talk? And then you accuse me of sinking to some kind of “new low.” Isn’t there some rule in logic about negative proof? In other words, isn’t the burden on you to show why they are all talk? You’re saying that your proposition is true only because I haven’t shown it to be false.

    I can explain why I take Iran’s leaders seriously when they proclaim their intention to destroy Israel: “Iran’s stance has always been clear on this ugly phenomenon (Israel). We have repeatedly said that this cancerous tumor of a state should be removed from the region,”—Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

    There are “Death the Israel” rallies every week in Iran. Iran uses proxies like Hizbollah and Hamas to attack Israel. Both these organizations have proclaimed their genocidal intentions with respect to Israel.

    Declarations by Iran’s president, former president, Supreme Leader, former Supreme Leader;
    Public hate-fests against Israel;
    Official indoctrination of antisemitism;
    Support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Therefore, I say that Iran is serious about wanting to destroy Israel.

    I’m looking forward to your explanation as to why they are all talk, like you say they are.

    Of course I never said that you were implying that all Jews are suddenly threats to the world. You’re really sinking to new lows here. Israel is Jewish state. You consider them more dangerous than Iran. Yet Israel has never sworn to destroy anyone, like Iran has.

    Of course, to reverse your statement, Arabs and Muslims have lots and lots of reasons to be worried about how they are perceived. All the more reason not to support bad policies, like calling for the extermination of Israel.

    What “bad policies” have Jews supported that would be equivalent to this? Settlements? This would justify all the hate called down on them by Arab and Muslims according to you? Besides, Israel is committed to dismantling the settlements as part of a peace agreement.

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  10. Isn’t there some rule in logic about negative proof? In other words, isn’t the burden on you to show why they are all talk? You’re saying that your proposition is true only because I haven’t shown it to be false.

    No, actually.  The absence of evidence supports my claim as there has been no war made by Iran on Israel; Israel, on the other hand, has shown a willingness to go to war both in Lebanon and in Gaza.

    By the way, it’s pretty ironic that Israel laments constantly Hamas and Iran denying their right to exist while they – at the very same time – deny by force the right of a Palestinian state to exist.  Do you see the irony there?

    No, the Israelis in my opinion never deserved the hatred they received from their neighbors.  There was a real opportunity for peace to be made from the get-go, and the Arabs dropped the ball.  But that ball is now in the Israeli’s court, and they will have to dismantle the settlements to achieve peace – really do it, not just be “committed” to doing it…

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  11. You still haven’t explained why you think Iran is all talk, after all this. What’s the matter there?

    In 1941 there had been no war made by Germany on the USSR. But if someone said that they took Hitler’s threats seriously, then would you have said that he was all talk just because there hadn’t been a war to that point? You’re really sinking to new lows here.

    Israel does not deny by force the right of a Palestinian state to exist since the Oslo process began years ago. So I don’t see any irony there at all, although I did see it back in the ’70s and ’80s. In fact, they abandoned Gaza completely and therefore made it possible. They were planning to abandon the West Bank as well until the rocket attacks from Lebanon and Gaza made that impossible.

    It’s just unreasonable for you to insist that Israel dismantle the settlements in the absence of a general peace agreement. They’re committed to doing so, without your so-call ironic quotes.

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  12. In 1941 there had been no war made by Germany on the USSR. But if someone said that they took Hitler’s threats seriously, then would you have said that he was all talk just because there hadn’t been a war to that point? You’re really sinking to new lows here.

    Right.  Because Iran has conquered half of the Middle East.  Just like 1941 Germany.  Oh wait – Iran hasn’t invaded any of her neighbors?  Looks like somewhere along the line that analogy sort of dried up, Roque.

    However, I never said they shouldn’t take the threat seriously.  I said that America needs to use diplomatic means to assuage the threat and attempt to avert war.  The current Israeli leadership, I fear, will attempt to preempt diplomacy.  This is not because they are “bad” – this is simply how they view the conflict and what they think the best resolution is.  They are “dangerous” to the peace process, in my opinion, because they are wrong not because they are wicked.

    Also, it’s just not possible to believe that Gaza has any hope of being a “Palestinian State” all on its own without the West Bank; blockaded; essentially dependent on Israel as a lifeline.  It’s just not reasonable to assert that this was Israel giving them a chance.

    And my overarching point, which I make again and again, is that the first step to peace – in the end – will out of necessity be Israel dismantling their settlements.  Then the Pali’s can fight it out amongst themselves.

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  13. Here‘s what I’m talking about. Government incitement to hatred. Why can’t this kind of thing be the greatest threat to peace—if anything—instead of the government of Israel?

    Ok. 1941 is a bad analogy. Then consider Germany in 1933. Germans hadn’t conquered anyone and yet Hitler’s threats to invade the USSR were still there. But why quibble so much? Why don’t you just explain why you say they’re all talk, which was the whole point of your post?

    Of course I never said that Israel was giving Palestinians a chance when they abandoned Gaza. They did that for their own reasons. But Palestinians could still have tried to make a go of it instead of whatever they have today, which is nothing but rejection. You’re really sinking to new lows here.

    While we’re on the subject, why don’t you explain why dismantling the settlements will have such a magical effect on the peace process? If I were Israeli, I’d say the effect would be just the opposite, given the experiences of withdrawal from Lebanon and Gaza. Palestinians would take it as sign of weakness and increase their attacks.

    These attacks could include some sort of nuclear weapon supplied by Iran, which is the whole point.

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  14. The item that got me to scratch my head…

    When Israel left Gaza, there was an article I read somewhere that the Palestinians burned down a former synagogue.

    Israel made a stink about it, of course. I read a handful of opinions that it was really rich for the Israelis to make a stink about a desanctified synagogue and, anyway, what did they expect? The Palestinians are a historically oppressed people, etc.

    I just thought that the synagogue could have been dismantled and made into a different building. Hell, it could have been left standing and transformed into a “Palestinian Holocaust Museum” where tourists could see pictures of Israel atrocities and olive seeds behind glass cases with placards telling the stories of olive trees that predated Jesus that had been bulldozed by Israel.

    Nope, the Palestinians burned the synagogue.

    I find it difficult to give the benefit of the doubt to cultures that have “start a fire” as a first resort. I find it difficult to give the benefit of the doubt to cultures that give the benefit of the doubt to these cultures.

    I’m sure that that is just my privelege showing.

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  15. The concern is not that Iran will launch a nuclear strike against Israel.  The concern is that Iran will give a small terrorist organization a nuclear warhead or warheads to launch at its discretion–preventing Israel from retaliating against Iran while doing massive damage to Israeli infrastructure/populace.

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  16. Max: “The concern is that Iran will give a small terrorist organization a nuclear warhead or warheads to launch at its discretion–preventing Israel from retaliating against Iran while doing massive damage to Israeli infrastructure/populace.

    Which is just what I’ve been saying: “These attacks could include some sort of nuclear weapon supplied by Iran, which is the whole point.

    Which is just what ED Kain says is “just talk” and declines to explain why he has such certainty about it that he can advocate that Israel put itself at risk.

    That is, until they unilaterally dismantle the settlements and evacuate the West Bank. This will somehow cause peace to occur—but again ED Kain declines to explain why or how this could ever happen.

    What would happen is that Hamas/Iran would be within ten miles of Tel Aviv and 75% of the Israeli population—close enough for the concern that Max explains to materialize.

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  17. Jaybird:
    The Palestinians—a pathetic bunch (ED Kain dixit) destroyed more than synagogues. The evil settlers left a lot of infrastructure that could have served to create an economy, but which was systematically looted and destroyed. That’s what I meant when I said that “Palestinians could still have tried to make a go of it” in spite of everything.

    In fact, this is exactly what Israelis have done throughout their history: taken what they could and made it grow. That’s why they have a strong and prosperous nation today.

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  18. ED Kain: “The [Palestinians will] never be the ones to make the right first move.  Not gonna happen.  It’s going to be up to Israel in the long run.

    This is amazingly fatalistic on your part and it even borders on the sort of “soft racism of lowered expectations” that Bush spoke about. Where did you ever learn such an attitude?

    Aside from the fact that Israel has made a whole series of “first moves” in the past, you’re saying that Palestinians are incapable. I reject this completely.  They are and have been in the throes of one gangster-like clan after another since Zionism began, from the Husseinis before the partition to today’s Hamas. According to Benny Morris, there were enough Palestinians who wanted to live in peace with Israel from the beginning to have formed a state alongside them if it hadn’t been for Arab clan politics.

    US policy should be to convince them that they have lost and that Israel is here to stay. This is what Goldberg calls
    « A smart idea: …Perhaps it is nevertheless worthwhile talking to Hamas – not about its contribution to peace but rather about what is stated in its covenant. Perhaps those who espouse the view that we must talk with Hamas will first talk with it about these subjects? Who knows, perhaps it will change its principles? I do not expect this to happen exactly, but I am certainly curious to know what those who think Hamas is the key to peace in the Middle East will say about these things»

    I for one agree on both counts: Hamas is the key to peace and they must change their principles. ED Kain wants to drag the settlements across the trail but until this happens—settlemente or no settlements—there will be war.

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  19. Look – the bomb transferred from Tehran to the terrorists is a real problem, but I don’t see how war with Iran will prevent it.  Iran won’t crumble easily, and what’s to be done in the aftermath of that war?  Honestly, does anybody have a post-war plan this time around?

    Diplomacy, however much we have lost faith in it, is a better option because maybe we stand some chance of real deterrence.  And the reason I push for dismantling the settlements is because only when the Palestinians have their own state can they truly, fully take accountability for their part in the peace process.

    I refer to them as “pathetic” not necessarily in a purely pejorative sense, but in the sense that a people as beat up and fractured as the Palestinians are bound to be ineffectual and essentially incapable of forming their own destiny – especially when at their helm for decades now have been one terrorist group or another, of either the religious or nationalist variety.

    This is not a matter of fatalism, but simple acceptance of the fact that the Palestinians are in no condition and will probably remain in no condition to decide their future in this current state of affairs.  I would love to see more Arab involvement in all of this, but the only way to really persuade any of the Arab states to help would be concessions in the settlements.

    The “smart idea” from Goldberg is certainly worth trying, but it’s hard to say to an organization “You have no right to say Israel should not exist” while at the same time basically denying them a right to a Palestinian state.  Regardless of the differences of intent etc. this sort of reasoning will simply not play out well…

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  20. yeah, ED, I agree with you that the counterargument is that it’s not at all clear how military action against Iran actually shuts down a nuclear program.  I just wanted us to keep our eye on the ball w/r/t the danger posed by that program.  Nobody is suggesting (perhaps outside of Netanyahu, and in his case I will also play the ‘it’s bluster’ card) that Iran would be stupid or crazy enough to directly strike Israel.  The problem is Iran’s lengthy and deadly history of passive-aggressive fueling of terrorist groups that are barely under its control.

    As an exercise, you might extend the same level of disbelief to Netanyahu.  (I’m not sure why you’re including Lieberman in this discussion.  I understand that you don’t like him, and I share your feeling, but he has nothing to do with Iran; in Israel, foreign policy and defense policy are totally separate, and you can rest easy that Iran falls fully into the latter category.)  It doesn’t seem unfathomable to me that Netanyahu’s violent, somewhat illogical rhetoric is a message sent to Iran that reads something like this: “I don’t care if you launder a nuke through ten shadow groups before it lands in Israel.  We’re still crazy enough to hit you directly.”

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  21. Thanks Max, Roque.  Lots to chew on in this debate; I just wonder if Netanyahu is all talk – the Israeli’s for better or worse have often been full of enough resolve to take real action….

    Besides that, I think taking steps to normalize relations between as many Arab – non-Persian, in other words – states as possible would be a security boost for Israel and the Arabs.  No love has been lost between Iran and the Arabs, after all.

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  22. The Palestinians are, indeed, a pathetic bunch.

    What path should we then take? I know, maybe we can get rid of the Israeli influence and the Palestinians can make a Zimbabwe North or something. Once inflation hits 2000000% and everybody gets cholera, we can start discussing about how the Israelis should have done more to help and how people who disagree that Israel truly has a deep, deep responsibility to the pathetic Palestinians are far, far too quick to start throwing around the whole “anti-semitic” slur.

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  23. [P]eople who disagree that Israel truly has a deep, deep responsibility to the pathetic Palestinians are far, far too quick to start throwing around the whole “anti-semitic” slur.>/i>

    Just to give you a taste of the situation, here’s Phase I of the Roadmap:

    Ending Terror And Violence, Normalizing Palestinian Life, and Building Palestinian Institutions
    In Phase I, the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence according to the steps outlined below; such action should be accompanied by supportive measures undertaken by Israel. Palestinians and Israelis resume security cooperation based on the Tenet work plan to end violence, terrorism, and incitement through restructured and effective Palestinian security services. Palestinians undertake comprehensive political reform in preparation for statehood, including drafting a Palestinian constitution, and free, fair and open elections upon the basis of those measures. Israel takes all necessary steps to help normalize Palestinian life. Israel withdraws from Palestinian areas occupied from September 28, 2000 and the two sides restore the status quo that existed at that time, as security performance and cooperation progress. Israel also freezes all settlement activity, consistent with the Mitchell report.
    At the outset of Phase I:
    * Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israel’s right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel.
    * Israeli leadership issues unequivocal statement affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel, as expressed by President Bush, and calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians everywhere. All official Israeli institutions end incitement against Palestinians.

    That’s why I say that Palestinians have a responsibility for their own pathetic lives.

    Why don’t you explain to me why I’m “throwing around the whole ‘anti-semitic’ slur?”

    Accusations of antisemitism are accurate once a person starts blaming Zionists/Israelis/Jews for the whole problem. Here’s why: there’s a great European tradition of such Jew-blaming going back a thousand years. People then are correct if they see such attitudes in the current situation.

    The Palestinians have now rejected a state six times in the last eight years: in 2000 at Camp David; in 2001 with their rejection of the Clinton Parameters; in 2003 with their refusal to implement Phase I of the Roadmap; in 2005 when they received all of Gaza to show they could live side by side in peace, and turned it into a staging area for rockets and tunnels into Israel; in 2006 when they elected a terrorist government dedicated to Israel’s destruction; and in 2008 when they rejected Olmert’s plea to accept his last best offer in the Annapolis process.

    The above doesn’t even consider their rejection of a state in 1937, 1947… How’s that for patethic?

    Like I said above, “They are and have been in the throes of one gangster-like clan after another since Zionism began, from the Husseinis before the partition to today’s Hamas. According to Benny Morris, there were enough Palestinians who wanted to live in peace with Israel from the beginning to have formed a state alongside them if it hadn’t been for Arab clan politics.”

    That’s why the Roadmap emphasizes Palestinian institution-building.

    I know I’m talking to the wall here, but I can’t help myself.

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  24. “Why don’t you explain to me why I’m “throwing around the whole ‘anti-semitic’ slur?””

    The sentence you quoted did not begin with the word “people” but with the word “Once” (it’s even capitalized!).

    Read the sentence again. Your opinion of it may, indeed, change.

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  25. The sentence you refer to has two independent clauses, i.e., it’s a compound sentence; i.e., it’s composed of two sentences joined by the word and. I quoted the second clause/sentence accurately. That’s why I put the capital P in brackets: to indicate that I had modified the original, which is an accepted convention in writing.

    I left out the first clause/sentence to be kind to you [here comes a subordinate clause] because it’s just an absurd hypothetical. Inflation never reaches two million percent and it never happens that everybody gets cholera, no matter how serious an epidemic. What difference does it make, anyhow?

    I don’t know of anyone who “disagree[s] that Israel truly has a deep, deep responsibility to the pathetic Palestinians.” This strikes me as more hyperbole in the service of your poorly-expressed beliefs. People just disagree on the limits of such responsibility.

    Again, from the Roadmap[and I’m just quoting Phase I for illustration purposes]:

    such action should be accompanied by supportive measures undertaken by Israel. Palestinians and Israelis resume security cooperation based on the Tenet work plan to end violence, terrorism, and incitement through restructured and effective Palestinian security services. [Emphasis added to show that Israel accepts its deep, deep responsibility]

    Why isn’t it acceptable to you that one can show one’s deep, deep feelings of responsibility by insisting that Hamas change its covenant and accept Israel’s existence, especially since this is a sure-fire way to restart the peace process and possibly reach a final-status agreement?

    Why don’t you quit critiquing my citation practices and explain to me why I’m “throwing around the whole ‘anti-semitic’ [sic] slur?”

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  26. I was saying, obliquely, that if the Palestinians were left to their own devices that they would turn into Zimbabwe.

    Zimbabwe had, at one point, an inflation rate of 231 million percent.

    They currently are undergoing a cholera epidemic.

    This is seen as preferable to rule by Ian Smith and his ilk.

    I was saying that those who sympathize with the Palestinians will not be happy until Palestine is Zimbabwe North… with seven-digit inflation (I underestimated by two orders of magnitude) and cholera and, when called on this, will complain, once again, about Israelis.

    And, of course, then go on to complain about being called “anti-semitic”.

    Jeez o petes. It’s a wonder how people with skin as thin as yours ever leave the damn house without a suit of armor.

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  27. Now I see your point. It was my fault for being so slow. I didn’t know about the inflation in Zimbawe, so it’s again my fault.

    But Palestinians already have such a situation. Isn’t this just the post colonial situation in general, with varying economic debacles and causes of high mortality? Consider Algeria today, for example–one of the first anti colonial struggles. “This is seen as preferable” to French rule, etc etc. India and Pakistan are interesting contrasts in this regard: India preserved as much of British culture as they could, while Pakistan–the modern world’s first Islamic state–started a fire as a first resort. On top of all this, one of the Arabs’/Muslims’ major issues with the modern world is precisely its being fractured into so many weak post-colonial nation-states, in contrast to the Islamic doctrine of the community of believers. One has to sympathize with them as today’s losers, but when they have to bomb thousands of innocent people to prove their point, they lose my support.

    So, in spite of everything, I doubt that your distopic projections are relevant.

    When you talk about “people who sympathize with the Palestinans” you lose me completely. I sympathize with them myself and I’m the last one to blame Israelis for their problems. I hope I made myself clear above that I accept the US/EU Roadmap strategy, which includes creating an acceptable level of governance and economy in Palestine and all the rest. Also, I made the point to distinguish the Palestinian masses from the leadership, which has consistently betrayed them for decades. I’m still naïve enough to think that a critical mass of Palestinians exists who would be happy to live in their own state peacefully alonside Israel. There were many such poeple and communities before the Huseinnis (I don’t remember the spelling) clan polarized everyone. It’s notable that Arafat was a member of this clan.

    The main reason why I say that whatever bleak future you can imagine for Palestine is irrelevant is that (I’m sorry have to say) a lot of the “sympathizers” you refer to do not have a Palestinian state as their major goal–that goal would be the destruction of Israel.

    As for my thin skin–you’re damned right! Armor–never leave home without it! Why should I?

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