As the deadline for a deal with Iran approaches, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues his very public meltdown – and it gets more revealing every time he opens his mouth.
At the latest Israeli cabinet meeting Netanyahu reported that his American vassals are all lined up to scotch any agreement:
“I just came from speaking with the Republican leader in the Senate, Senator [Mitch] McConnell, and over the weekend I spoke with the Democratic leader in the Senate, Senator Harry Reid. I heard from both of them strong and robust bipartisan support for Israel, which is, of course, very important. I expressed to them my deep concern regarding the emerging agreement with Iran in the nuclear talks. This deal, as it appears to be emerging, bears out all of our fears, and even more than that.”
“In Yemen,” he averred, “the proxies of Iran are taking over large parts of the country and they are attempting to seize control of the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb strait.” Lumping all his enemies into a single sinister amalgam, Bibi went ballistic:
“After the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad axis, Iran is conducting a pincer movement to the south to conquer the entire Middle East. The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is very dangerous to humanity, and must be stopped.”
The “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis”?
This is the ultimate expression of the paranoia – the sheer outright craziness – represented not only by the Israeli Prime Minister but by the ultra-nationalists who have come to dominate Israel’s political landscape. It is the logical extension of orthodox Zionist ideology, which claims that Jews can only find safety in Israel – because the whole world is plotting against them.
After all, who is represented in Lausanne? The P5+1: the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany, the world’s major powers. In Bibi’s fantastic formulation, both the West and the East are aligned with Iran in an “axis of evil” – to utilize Bush speechwriter David Frum’s phrase – against the Jewish state.
After pouring billions of taxpayer dollars into Israel, after granting them unconditional diplomatic and military support for many years, after endless reiterations by US politicians – including Barack Obama – of America’s undying allegiance to Israel’s security – this is what we get. We’re part of the “axis of evil,” along with Iran, Syria, and North Korea!
That is where years of kowtowing to Tel Aviv have gotten us.
Since we’re on the subject of alliances, however, let’s talk about whom and what Israel has aligned itself with. If we’re part of the “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis” what axis is Bibi canoodling with?
The official story is that Israel stands alone, a brave little David standing up to multiple Goliaths, slingshot at the ready. Unappreciated, outnumbered, persecuted by anti-Semites, and now betrayed by Washington, the Jewish state is supposedly facing an “existential threat,” a crisis that has the potential to culminate in a second Holocaust.
As is the case with most Israel propaganda, the truth is the exact opposite. That slingshot is nuclear-armed, and the Israeli military – thanks in large part to US support – is a formidable opponent no one in the Middle East can hope to match.
The idea that Israel is utterly isolated, without a single friend in the world, is belied by the facts. Never mind the vast resources funneled to Israel by its American patron: the Jewish state is actively engaged with the very worst actors on the world stage, and always has been.
The Israeli connection to South Africa’s apartheid regime prior to its collapse is well-known. Israeli support for Latin American caudillos and right-wing death squads in El Salvador, Guatemala, and throughout the region during the cold war era helped prop up some of the worst regimes in modern history, as well as leading to the deaths of many thousands.
Today, the Israelis have a strategic alliance with the two worst actors on the world stage.
Bibi’s evocation of an “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis” sounds like something that might have come out of Riyadh. While the Saudis are careful to maintain their traditional anti-Israeli stance in theory, in practice the reality is that the two nations are on the same side. Both target Iran as the main danger to their national interests, and both are pressuring Washington to give up any thought of a deal with Tehran. Furthermore, this complementary relationship has taken on a military aspect in Syria, where the Israelis are now openly supporting Islamist rebels of the Al-Nusra Front – although so far they have only publicly acknowledged giving wounded Nusra fighters medical aid and releasing them across the border. Meanwhile, support to al-Qaeda affiliated fighters is pouring in from the Gulf states.
In the religious civil war tearing the Muslim world apart, the Israelis are clearly rooting for the Sunnis – led by the Kingdom. When it comes to the conflict in Yemen, Israel’s chief concern is alleged Iranian influence – the presence of al-Qaeda is never mentioned. Israel’s surrogates in this country have spent the last few years demanding US support for Islamist rebels in Syria, most of whom have ties to al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda, for its part, has never laid a glove on Israel. For all the ranting against “the Zionist-Crusader alliance,” the heirs of Osama bin Laden have been remarkably pacific when it comes to attacking Israel proper. Bin Laden always advocated generally ignoring the “near enemy” – Israel and the Arab despotisms – in favor of attacking the “far enemy,” the United States – a strategic orientation that suits the Israelis just fine.
And although Bibi and the Islamists would seem to be polar opposites, there is an odd congruity going on there: as long as medievalists such as al-Qaeda predominate in the Arab world the entire region will be stuck in the Dark Ages, backward and riven with religious conflict. The Islamists, on the other hand, need the Zionist bogeyman as a convenient ideological hate object, without which their appeal would be considerably lessened.
This weird symbiosis has given rise to what might be called the axis of Tel Aviv, Riyadh and al-Qaeda – an informal de facto alliance of converging interests. And it’s no accident that its main targets are not only Iran but also the United States. Both the Saudis and their Sunni Islamist proxies hate America on general ideological grounds: we’re infidels, after all, and some day when the secret twenty-eight pages of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 are finally released the true extent of Saudi anti-Americanism and collusion with terrorism will be known.
Israeli anti-Americanism is another matter. That it is now a major factor in Israel’s internal politics should not be at all surprising: the patron-dependent relationship is bound to cause resentment on the part of the latter. Yet as I have pointed out many times in this space, objective conditions since the end of the cold war have been pointing in this direction for years, and the rise of Islamist terrorism has greatly exacerbated this trend. American attempts to reach out to the Muslim world and find allies against extremism have run up against Israeli resistance: an increasingly isolated Tel Aviv envisions the US and Israel arrayed against Islam per se.
When this became increasingly unlikely, and with the very real geopolitical split between Washington and Tel Aviv all too apparent, Israeli anti-Americanism escalated from a transitory mood to an all-out campaign against Washington. Now that an agreement with Iran is on the horizon, Tel Aviv’s hatred for its former unconditional cheerleader is taking on all the signs of a vicious lover’s quarrel, a vendetta that Israel’s amen corner in the US is personalizing into a hate campaign aimed at an American President. That’s why we see increasingly in right-wing propaganda Obama depicted as an outright Iranian agent, a secret Muslim intent on destroying Israel.
Many were surprised by Netanyahu’s backdoor deal with Speaker of the House John Boehner to address Congress, but this is just the latest development in Israel’s war on America: after all, the Soviets had a well-organized fifth column in this country during the cold war, as did the Germans in the run up to World War II. It’s a classic tactic used by America’s adversaries ever since the British plotted with New England Federalists to secede from the Union during the War of 1812.
The Israelis have just begun to fight. If and when a deal with Iran is signed, I would advise you all to fasten your seat-belts – to paraphrase Bette Davis – because it’s going to be a bumpy night.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN