If Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had undergone an intense course in method acting under the finest method acting teachers that money can buy, he could not have depicted a raving lunatic bent on starting a major conflagration in the Middle East more convincingly than he did during his appearance in front of the UN General Assembly.
Armed with the crude childlike diagram of a bomb, Mr Netanyahu sought to press home to the delegates in attendance the necessity of joining him in his mission to take military action against Iran before it get its hands on a nuclear weapon. This is despite the fact that as yet there is no concrete evidence that Iran, which continues to assert its right to develop nuclear energy, is in the process of developing one, at least according to intelligence of both the US and Russian governments.
However, none of this is good enough for Netanyahu and other hawks within the Israeli government and security apparatus. On the contrary, they are determined that Iran's nuclear capability is destroyed before it gets any more advanced, pushing the doomsday scenario that was offered by Israel's prime minister in front of the General Assembly.
Here we see the fruits of decades of the militarism by which Israel has been able to assert its military dominance over its neighbours and continue to conduct a policy of apartheid, occupation, and expropriation of the long suffering Palestinian people. A key aspect of this balance of power has been Israel's own though undeclared nuclear arsenal, thought to consist of between 2-400 nuclear warheads. What Netanyahu and his cohorts fail to understand is that the more bellicose and aggressive the rhetoric and policies which emanate from Tel Aviv, the more likely that Tehran will feel threatened and compelled to develop its own nuclear deterrent.
But the truth is that Israel and Iran are already at war. At present it is being conducted covertly with the targeted assassinations of various Iranian nuclear scientists and technicians and cyber attacks on its computer network. Again, all this will have succeeded in accomplishing is a deepening of the threat being posed to Iran and its natural consequence in a ramping up of Iranian preparations for all out war.
As a political strategy, Netanyahu's extraordinary performance at the UN was clearly aimed at the American people, who in just over a month go to the polls to elect a new president. Both candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, have been nothing if not diligent in cultivating the all important Jewish vote during their respective campaigns, and it is a matter of record that the pro-Israel lobby within the US exerts a disproportionate influence within the US. However, when it comes to Israel it would be a mistake to interpret this constituency as one monolithic bloc. Over recent years a significant section of the pro-Israel lobby has been vociferous in its opposition to the policies being followed by the Netanyahu government, including its hawkish stance when it comes to Iran.
Indeed, it is hard to think of a more extreme Israeli government than the one currently led by Benjamin Netanyahu. It is likewise hard to recall one more bent on war with its neighbours, in this case Iran, and intransigence when it comes to the question of the Palestinians. Significantly, in the same week as the Israeli prime minister was regaling the world with his impersonation of Dr Strangelove, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appeared before the same General Assembly to push a Palestinian bid for non-member status. This comes after last year's failed bid to secure full member status at the UN due a lack of support by the Security Council.
In his address to the General Assembly, Abbas warned of a new Nakba facing the Palestinian people if the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements continued. Describing the plight of the Palestinians, Abbas told the General Assembly that "attacks by terrorist militias of Israeli settlers have become a daily reality, with at least 535 attacks perpetrated since the beginning of the year." He went on to assert that Israel had demolished 510 Palestinian homes over the past 12 months, displacing 770 people.
Abbas said: "We are facing relentless waves of attacks against our people, our mosques, churches and monasteries, and our homes and schools; they are unleashing their venom against our trees, fields, crops and properties, and our people have become fixed targets for acts of killing and abuse with the complete collusion of the occupying forces and the Israeli government."
This desperate appeal for justice by the leader of a stateless and oppressed people, one heard year after year, was eclipsed by the appeal for war by Netanyahu. The irony should not be lost.
The pressing issue facing the world today is not Israel's security, it is justice for the Palestinians. Indeed, the former remains inextricably linked to the latter.
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