Israel's War Deadline - Iran in the
Crosshairs, by JAMES PETRAS
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF?
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005
Netanyahu, leader of the Likud Party and candidate for Prime Minister,
stated that if Sharon did not act against Iran, "then when I form the new
(after the March 2006 elections) we'll do what
we did in the past against Saddam's reactor."
In June 1981 Israel bombed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq.
From: Jeff Blankfort <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is an important article by James Petras which challenges the notion that
"official" Washington and Israel's global an security interests are one and the
same. That the push for war against Iran by the scores of pro-Israel lobbying
groups has been totally ignored by the anti-war movement as their push for war
against Iraq was equally ignored and, since, vigorously denied, is
unfortunately, another testament to how deeply support for Israel or the fear of
provoking "antisemitism" by its "leadership" and within its ranks has left the
movement, such as it is under the circumstances, not only useless, but an
impediment to bringing the issues that Petras describes below to the American
NOTE: If we don't get a grip on reality,
learn from history, and network the Truth of both this crisis and it's solution
like our lives depend on it. It may! -CR
- "The principal result will be a huge escalation of
war throughout the Middle East. Iran, a country of 70 million, with several
times the military forces that Iraq possessed and with highly motivated and
committed military and paramilitary forces could be expected to cross into
Iraq. Iraqi Shiites sympathetic to or allied with Iran would most likely
break their ties with Washington and go into combat. US military bases,
troops and clients would be under fierce attack. US military casualties
would multiply. All troop withdrawal plans would be disrupted. The
'Iraqization' strategy would disintegrate....
- "Here in the United States there are few if any
influential organized lobbies challenging the pro-war Israel lobby
either from the perspective of working for coexistence in the Middle East or
even in defending US national interests when they diverge from Israel.
Although numerous former diplomats, generals, intelligence officials,
Reformed Jews, retired National Security advisers and State Department
professionals have publicly denounced the Iran war agenda and even
criticized the Israel First lobbies, their newspaper ads and media
interviews have not been backed by any national political organization that
can compete for influence in the White House and Congress.
- "As we draw closer to a major confrontation with Iran
and Israeli officials set short-term deadlines for igniting a Middle East
conflagration, it seems that we are doomed to learn from future
catastrophic losses that Americans must organize to defeat political lobbies
based on overseas allegiances."
Weekend Edition December 24/25, 2005
Israel's War Deadline - Iran in the Crosshairs
By JAMES PETRAS
Never has an imminent war been so loudly and publicly advertised as Israel's
forthcoming military attack against Iran. When the Israeli Military Chief of
Staff, Daniel Halutz, was asked how far Israel was ready to go to stop Iran's
nuclear energy program, he said "Two thousand kilometers" ? the distance of an
More specifically Israeli military sources reveal that Israel's current and
probably next Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered Israel's armed forces to
prepare for air strikes on uranium enrichment sites in Iran According to the
London Times the order to prepare for attack went through the Israeli defense
ministry to the Chief of Staff. During the first week in December, "sources
inside the special forces command confirmed that 'G' readiness ? the highest
state ? for an operation was announced" (Times, December 11, 2005).
On December 9, Israeli Minister of Defense, Shaul Mofaz, affirmed that in view
of Teheran's nuclear plans, Tel Aviv should "not count on diplomatic
negotiations but prepare other solutions". In early December, Ahron Zoevi
Farkash, the Israeli military intelligence chief told the Israeli parliament
(Knesset) that "if by the end of March, the international community is
unable to refer the Iranian issue to the United Nations Security Council, then
we can say that the international effort has run its course".
In other words, if international diplomatic negotiations fail to comply
with Israel's timetable, Israel will unilaterally, militarily attack Iran.
Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud Party and candidate for Prime Minister,
stated that if Sharon did not act against Iran, "then when I form the new
Israeli government (after the March 2006 elections) we'll do what we did in
the past against Saddam's reactor." In June 1981 Israel bombed the Osirak
nuclear reactor in Iraq.
Even the pro-Labor newspaper, Haaretz, while disagreeing with the time and
place of Netanyahu's pronouncements, agreed with its substance. Haaretz
criticized "(those who) publicly recommend an Israeli military option" because
it "presents Israel as pushing (via powerful pro-Israel organizations in the US)
the United States into a major war." However, Haaretz adds "Israel must go about
making its preparations quietly and securely ? not at election rallies." (Haaretz,
December 6, 2005). Haaretz's position, like that of the Labor Party, is that
Israel not advocate war against Iran before multi-lateral negotiations are over
and the International Atomic Energy Agency makes a decision.
Israeli public opinion apparently does not share the political elite's plans for
a military strike against Iran's nuclear program. A survey in the Israeli
newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, reported by Reuters (December 16, 2005) shows that
58 per cent of the Israelis polled believed the dispute over Iran's nuclear
program should be handled diplomatically while only 36 per cent said its
reactors should be destroyed in a military strike.
All top Israeli officials have pronounced the end of March, 2006, as the
deadline for launching a military assault on Iran. The thinking behind this date
is to heighten the pressure on the US to force the sanctions issue in the
Security Council. The tactic is to blackmail Washington with the "war or else"
threat, into pressuring Europe (namely Great Britain, France, Germany and
Russia) into approving sanctions. Israel knows that its acts of war will
endanger thousands of American soldiers in Iraq, and it knows that Washington
(and Europe) cannot afford a third war at this time.
The end of March date also coincides with the IAEA report to the UN on Iran's
nuclear energy program. Israeli policymakers believe that their threats may
influence the report, or at least force the kind of ambiguities, which can be
exploited by its overseas supporters to promote Security Council sanctions or
justify Israeli military action.
A March date also focusses the political activities of the pro-Israel
organizations in the United States. The major pro-Israel lobbies have lined up a
majority in the US Congress and Senate to push for the UN Security Council to
implement economic sanctions against Iran or, failing that, endorse Israeli
On the side of the Israeli war policy are practically all the major and most
influential Jewish organizations, the pro-Israeli lobbies, their political
action committees, a sector of the White House, a majority of subsidized
Congressional representatives and state, local and party leaders. On the other
side are sectors of the Pentagon, State Department, a minority of Congressional
members, a majority of public opinion, a minority of American Jews and the
majority of active and retired military commanders who have served or are
serving in Iraq.
Most discussion in the US on Israel's war agenda has been dominated by the
pro-Israeli organizations that transmit the Israeli state positions. The Jewish
weekly newspaper, Forward, has reported a number of Israeli attacks on the Bush
Administration for not acting more aggressively on behalf of Israel's policy.
According to the Forward, "Jerusalem is increasingly concerned that the Bush
Administration is not doing enough to block Teheran from acquiring nuclear
weapons" (December 9, 2005).
Further stark differences occurred during the semi-annual strategic dialog
between Israeli and US security officials, in which the Israelis opposed a US
push for regime change in Syria, fearing a possible, more radical Islamic
regime. Israeli officials also criticized the US for forcing Israel to agree to
open the Rafah border crossing and upsetting their stranglehold on the economy
Predictably the biggest Jewish organization in the US, the Conference of
Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations immediately echoed the Israeli
state line. Malcolm Hoenlan, President of the Conference, lambasted Washington
for a "failure of leadership on Iran" and "contracting the issue to Europe"
(Forward, December 9, 2005). He went on to attack the Bush Administration for
not following Israel's demands by delaying referral of Iran to the UN Security
Council for sanction. Hoenlan then turned on French, German and British
negotiators accusing them of "appeasement and weakness", and of not having a
"game plan for decisive action" ? presumably for not following Israel's
'sanction or bomb them' game plan.
The role of AIPAC, the Conference and other pro-Israeli organizations as
transmission belts for Israel's war plans was evident in their November 28, 2005
condemnation of the Bush Administration agreement to give Russia a chance to
negotiate a plan under which Iran would be allowed to enrich uranium for
non-military purposes under international supervision. AIPAC's rejection of
negotiations and demands for an immediate confrontation were based on the
specious argument that it would "facilitate Iran's quest for nuclear weapons" ?
an argument which flies in the face of all known intelligence data (including
Israel's) which says Iran is at least 3 to 10 years away from even approaching
AIPAC's unconditional and uncritical transmission of Israeli demands and
criticism is usually clothed in the rhetoric of US interests or security in
order to manipulate US policy. AIPAC chastised the Bush regime for endangering
US security. By relying on negotiations, AIPAC accused the Bush Administration
of "giving Iran yet another chance to manipulate (sic) the international
community" and "pose a severe danger to the United States" (Forward, Dec. 9,
Leading US spokesmen for Israel opposed President Bush's instruction to his
Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khaklilzad, to open a dialog with Iran's Ambassador
to Iraq. In addition, Israel's official "restrained" reaction to Russia's sale
to Teheran of more than a billion dollars worth of defensive anti-aircraft
missiles, which might protect Iran from an Israeli air strike, was predictably
echoed by the major Jewish organizations in the US.
Pushing the US into a confrontation with Iran, via economic sanctions and
military attack has been a top priority for Israel and its supporters in the US
for more than a decade (Jewish Times/ Jewish Telegraph Agency, Dec. 6, 2005). In
line with its policy of forcing a US confrontation with Iran, AIPAC, the Israeli
PACs (political action committees) and the Conference of Presidents have
successfully lined up a majority of Congress people to challenge what they
describe as the "appeasement" of Iran.
Representative Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), who has the dubious distinction
of being a collaborator with Cuban exile terrorist groups and unconditional
backer of Israel's war policy, is chairwoman of the US House of Representative
Middle East subcommittee. From that platform she has denounced "European
appeasement and arming the terrorist regime in Teheran". She boasted that her
Iran sanctions bill has the support of 75 per cent of the members of Congress
and that she is lining up additional so-sponsors.
Despite pro-Israeli attacks on US policy for its 'weakness' on Iran, Washington
has moved as aggressively as circumstances permit. Facing European opposition to
an immediate confrontation (as AIPAC and Israeli politicians demand) Washington
supports European negotiations but imposes extremely limiting conditions, namely
a rejection of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows uranium enrichment for
The European "compromise" of forcing Iran to turn over the enrichment process to
a foreign country (Russia), is not only a violation of its sovereignty, but is a
policy that no other country using nuclear energy practices. Given this
transparently unacceptable "mandate", it is clear that Washington's 'support for
negotiations' is a device to provoke an Iranian rejection, and a means of
securing Europe's support for a Security Council referral for international
Despite the near unanimous support and widespread influence of the major Jewish
organizations, 20 per cent of American Jews do not support Israel in its
conflict with the Palestinians. Even more significantly, 61 per cent of Jews
almost never talk about Israel or defend Israel in conversation with non-Jews
(Jerusalem Post, Dec 1, 2005). Only 29 per cent of Jews are active promoters of
Israel. The Israel First crowd represents less than a third of the Jewish
community. In fact, there is more opposition to Israel among Jews than there is
in the US Congress. Having said that, however, most Jewish critics of Israel are
not influential in the big Jewish organizations and the Israel lobby, excluded
from the mass media and mostly intimidated from speaking out, especially on
Israel's war preparations against Iran.
The Myth of the Iranian Nuclear Threat
The Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Daniel Halutz, has categorically
denied that Iran represents an immediate nuclear threat to Israel, let along the
United States. According to Haaretz (12/14/05), Halutz stated that it would take
Iran time to be able to produce a nuclear bomb ? which he estimated might happen
between 2008 and 2015.
Israel's Labor Party officials do not believe that Iran represents an immediate
nuclear threat and that the Sharon government and the Likud war propaganda is an
electoral ploy. According to Haaretz, "Labor Party officialsaccused Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and other defense officials
of using the Iran issue in their election campaigns in an effort to divert
public debate from social issues".
In a message directed at the Israeli Right but equally applicable to AIPAC and
the Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations in the US, Labor member of the
Knesset, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer rejected electoral warmongering: "I hope the
upcoming elections won't motivate the prime minister and defense minister to
stray from government policy and place Israel on the frontlines of confrontation
with Iran. The nuclear issue is an international issue and there is no reason
for Israel to play a major role in it" (Haaretz, December 14, 2005).
Israeli intelligence has determined that Iran has neither the enriched uranium
nor the capability to produce an atomic weapon now or in the immediate future,
in contrast to the hysterical claims publicized by the US pro-Israel lobbies.
Mohammed El Baradei, head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA), which has inspected Iran for several years, has pointed out that
the IAEA has found no proof that Iran is trying to construct nuclear weapons. He
criticized Israeli and US war plans indirectly by warning that a "military
solution would be completely un-productive".
More recently, Iran, in a clear move to clarify the issue of the future use of
enriched uranium, "opened the door for US help in building a nuclear power
plant". Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, stated "America
can take part in the international bidding for the construction of Iran's
nuclear power plant if they observe the basic standards and quality" (USA Today,
Dec. 11, 2005).
Iran also plans to build several other nuclear power plants with foreign help.
This Iranian call for foreign assistance is hardly the strategy of a country
trying to conduct a covert atomic bomb program, especially one directed at
involving one of its principal accusers.
The Iranians are at an elementary stage in the processing of uranium, not even
reaching the point of uranium enrichment, which in turn will take still a number
of years, and overcoming many complex technical problems before it can build a
bomb. There is no factual basis for arguing that Iran represents a nuclear
threat to Israel or to the US forces in the Middle East.
Scores of countries with nuclear reactors by necessity use enriched uranium. The
Iranian decision to advance to processing enriched uranium is its sovereign
right as it is for all countries, which possess nuclear reactors in Europe, Asia
and North America. Israel and AIPAC's resort to the vague formulation of Iran's
potential nuclear capacity is so open-ended that it could apply to scores of
countries with a minimum scientific infrastructure.
The European Quartet has raised a bogus issue by evading the issue of whether or
not Iran has atomic weapons or is manufacturing them and focused on attacking
Iran's capacity to produce nuclear energy ? namely the production of enriched
uranium. The Quartet has conflated enriched uranium with a nuclear threat and
nuclear potential with the danger of an imminent nuclear attack on Western
countries, troops and Israel. The Europeans, especially Great Britain, have two
options in mind: To impose an Iranian acceptance of limits on its sovereignty,
more specifically on its energy policy; or to force Iran to reject the arbitrary
addendum to the Non-Proliferation Agreement and then to propagandize the
rejection as an indication of Iran's evil intention to create atomic bombs and
target pro-Western countries.
The Western media would echo the US and European governments position that Iran
was responsible for the breakdown of negotiations. The Europeans would then
convince their public that since "reason" failed, the only recourse it to follow
the US to take the issue to the Security Council and approve international
sanctions against Iran.
The US then would attempt to pressure Russia and China to vote in favor of
sanctions or to abstain. There is reason to doubt that either or both countries
would agree, given the importance of the multi-billion dollar oil, arms, nuclear
and trade deals between Iran and these two countries. Having tried and failed in
the Security Council, the US and Israel would, on the scenario of the War Party,
move toward a military attack. An air attack on suspected Iranian nuclear
facilities would entail the bombing of heavily populated as well as remote
regions leading to large-scale loss of life.
The principal result will be a huge escalation of war throughout the Middle
East. Iran, a country of 70 million, with several times the military forces that
Iraq possessed and with highly motivated and committed military and paramilitary
forces could be expected to cross into Iraq. Iraqi Shiites sympathetic to or
allied with Iran would most likely break their ties with Washington and go into
combat. US military bases, troops and clients would be under fierce attack. US
military casualties would multiply. All troop withdrawal plans would be
disrupted. The 'Iraqization' strategy would disintegrate.
Most likely new terrorist incidents would occur in Western Europe, North
America, and Australia and against US multinationals
Sanctions on Iran would not work, because oil is a scarce and essential
commodity. China, India and other fast-growing Asian countries would balk at a
boycott. Turkey and other Muslim countries would not cooperate. The sanction
policy would be destined to failure; its only result to raise the price of oil
Here in the United States there are few if any influential organized lobbies
challenging the pro-war Israel lobby either from the perspective of working for
coexistence in the Middle East or even in defending US national interests when
they diverge from Israel. Although numerous former diplomats, generals,
intelligence officials, Reformed Jews, retired National Security advisers and
State Department professionals have publicly denounced the Iran war agenda and
even criticized the Israel First lobbies, their newspaper ads and media
interviews have not been backed by any national political organization that can
compete for influence in the White House and Congress.
As we draw closer to a major confrontation with Iran and Israeli officials
set short-term deadlines for igniting a Middle East conflagration, it seems that
we are doomed to learn from future catastrophic losses that Americans must
organize to defeat political lobbies based on overseas allegiances.
[If we don't get a grip on reality and do something
about it NOW. -CR]
James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology
at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50 year membership in the class
struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina and
is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed). His new book with Henry
Veltmeyer, Social Movements and the State: Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and
Argentina, will be published in October 2005. He can be reached at: email@example.com
---------- related article:
Israeli Lobby AIPAC criticizes Bush for not confronting Iran
Date: Tue, 27 Dec 2005 09:23:50 +1000
By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, December 25, 2005; A09
After years of unwavering support for the Bush administration, the powerful
pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC has begun to sharply criticize the White House
over its handling of Iran's nuclear program.
In lengthy news releases and talking points circulated to supporters on Capitol
Hill, AIPAC describes the Bush administration's recent policy decisions on Iran
as "dangerous," "disturbing" and "inappropriate." One background paper suggests
that White House policies are actually helping Iran -- a sworn enemy of the
Jewish state -- to acquire nuclear weapons.
The tough words from one of Washington's most well-connected and influential
lobbies come at a difficult time for President Bush, who has been struggling
with low poll numbers and growing public discontent over the war in Iraq.
Bush raised AIPAC's concerns in a recent telephone conversation with British
Prime Minister Tony Blair when the two discussed Iran, U.S. officials said.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has tussled with past
administrations -- Democratic and Republican -- but not with Bush, who has
staked his presidency on a vow to bring democracy to a region dominated by
Israel's enemies -- chiefly Iran, Iraq and Syria.
At issue for AIPAC is Bush's decision last month to hold off on pushing to
report Iran's nuclear case to the U.N. Security Council. The president and
Israel have favored reporting it for the past two years. But with little support
from other key U.S. allies, Bush reversed course and endorsed a Russian offer
that would allow Iran to conduct some, but not all, of the nuclear work it says
it needs for an indigenous nuclear energy program.
Iran has not been receptive to the Russian offer. Iranian diplomats met with
their European counterparts in Vienna on Wednesday to discuss the offer.
Diplomats said there were no breakthroughs, but the parties agreed to meet again
If Iran accepts the terms, it would be allowed to produce unlimited quantities
of converted uranium. That material would be shipped to Russia for enrichment
and then returned to Iran to fuel a nuclear power reactor.
In a statement to members of Congress, AIPAC said that it "is concerned that the
decision not to go to the Security Council, combined with the U.S. decision to
support the 'Russian proposal,' indicates a disturbing shift in the
Administration's policy on Iran and poses a danger to the U.S. and our allies."
National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley said he hopes the plan "may
provide a way out" of a two-year crisis over a nuclear program that Iran
says is peaceful but was secretly built over 18 years.
Critics of the Russian plan, including some inside the administration, argue
that it would allow Iran to master a critical component that could be diverted
for atomic weapons work. Converted uranium, if enriched to bomb-grade, can be
used for the core of a nuclear device.
U.N. nuclear inspectors are on the third year of an investigation of Iran's
nuclear program. They have not found proof of a weapons program, but mounting
evidence suggests that the Iranians have spent the past two decades acquiring
the knowledge and technology that could be used to build an atomic bomb.
"This decision will facilitate Iran's quest for nuclear weapons and undermines
international efforts to stop Iran from achieving such a capability," AIPAC told
supporters and policymakers in a paper circulated after Thanksgiving. The
position paper urged the Bush administration to work quickly toward reporting
Iran's case to the Security Council, where it could face sanctions or an oil
AIPAC, which describes itself as nonpartisan, has criticized nearly every
administration's Middle East policies, often speaking out when Israeli
government officials express private frustration with U.S. policies.
But the news releases mark the first major criticism of the Bush White House and
come as the administration is focused on problems in Iraq and has no clear path
At the same time, Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has become
increasingly hostile toward Israel. In October, two months after he took office,
Ahmadinejad said that Israel should be "wiped off the map." Earlier this month,
he told Iranians in a nationally televised speech that the murder of 6 million
Jews at the hands of the Nazis during World War II is "a myth."
[It is! See "Holy Holocaust!" by Edgar
"AIPAC is taking the public statements seriously. They're alarmed by a nuclear
capability, and the administration appears to be adopting an approach that isn't
changing Iranian behavior," said Dennis Ross, a U.S. envoy to the Middle East
during the Clinton administration.
Ross said the criticisms, though serious, are unlikely to lead to an all-out
rift between AIPAC and the administration. "At the end of the day, every
administration does what it needs to do, but obviously they will have to pay
attention to this," he said.