It’s no wonder the Israeli Foreign Ministry initially held back from releasing a transcript of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the UN General Assembly: Bibi’s wackiness doesn’t bear close scrutiny. Perhaps “wacky” isn’t quite the right word for his 40-minute peroration, during which he pulled out a bomb “diagram” and a red marker to illustrate where he would draw a “red line” defining the outer limits of Iran’s nuclear program. Cartoonish is more like it. The cartoonish quality of the bomb drawing underscored the content and tone of the speech, which was the jeremiad of a radical ideologue rather than anything one would expect from a statesman:
“Today a great battle is being waged between the modern and the medieval. Israel stands proudly with the forces of modernity. We protect the right of all our citizens, men and women, Jews and Arabs, Muslims and Christians, all are equal before the law.”
Israel, which privileges its priestly caste, has a state religion, and bases its national mythology on a “promise” from G-d, is as medieval as any of its neighbors. Aside from being a lie, however, this statement is interesting because it evokes the very same supremacist spirit that animates the controversial pro-Israel public relations campaign launched by the Jewish state’s extremist American supporters. Posters in the public transport system, from New York to San Francisco, proclaim:
“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.”
No wonder the Israeli consulates in New York and San Francisco won’t disavow those vile subway posters: Pamela Geller is the new public face of Israel.
Yes, Israel protects the rights of all citizens – unless they’re Palestinians who happen to own property coveted by the “settlers,” in which case it doesn’t. And the key word here is citizens: of course, the Palestinians in the occupied territories are not citizens, but helots, with no rights, and no protection from fanatical Jewish fundamentalists who have launched hundreds of attacks on their homes, and sought to displace them at every opportunity, with the active complicity of the Israeli government.
This idea that Israel represents “modernity” is rich, considering that every day Israeli society is sinking lower into the morass of religious and cultural fundamentalism, a regression that has not gone unnoticed in the West. Bibi opened his speech with biblical references, describing Jersusalem as the “eternal capital” of Israel and declaring that “the Jewish state will live forever.” Yet as we secularists know, nothing lives “forever,” and the idea of a city being the “eternal” capital of anything is a metaphor, at best, at worst a dangerous delusion. If this is the “modern” then one wonders how much it differs from the “medieval.” But let’s not linger too long over the obvious. Bibi rants on:
“Militant Islam has many branches, from the rulers of Iran with their revolutionary guards to al-Qaeda… but they’re all rooted in the same soil. It’s not whether this fanaticism will be defeated, but how many lives will be lost before it’s defeated. Nothing could emperil my country more than arming Iran with nuclear weapons. To imagine what the world would be like with a nuclear Iran, imagine what the world would be like with a nuclear al-Qaeda. There’s no difference.”
The Israeli Prime Minister may have been addressing the UN General Assembly, but he was really talking to the Americans, whose fear and loathing of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks can always be counted on to raise them to new levels of hysteria. Outside that context, however, equating the Iranians with Al Qaeda makes about as much sense as likening the late unlamented Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden – and, hey wait, didn’t we hear that equation made endlessly in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq? Yet this was not a time for subtlety from the Israeli Prime Minister – the cartoon “bomb” ended all hope of that – but for the crudest sort of propaganda, which is, of course, war propaganda.
Imagine if Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who addressed the UN that day minutes before Netanyahu took the stage, had said: “Militant Judaism has many branches, from the Washington offices of AIPAC to the center of Jewish power in Tel Aviv – but they’re all rooted in the same soil” of intolerance? Picture him conjuring images of violent Jewish “fanaticism” – not a hard task, given what is happening in Israel today. If he had done so, Abbas would have been denounced in every Western capital as the 21st century incarnation of Hitler.
October 2, 2012
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.
Copyright © 2012 Antiwar.com