by Uri Avnery The Progressive Common Dreams September 27, 2013
(The new Iranian President Hassan) Rouhani is the very opposite of his predecessor. If the Mossad had been asked to sketch the worst possible Iranian leader Israel could imagine, they would have come up with someone like him. An Iranian who recognizes and condemns the Holocaust! An Iranian man who offers sweetness and light! An Iranian who wishes peace and friendship on all nations – even hinting that Israel could be included, if only we give up the occupied Palestinian territories! Could you imagine anything worse?
I am not joking. This is deadly serious! Even before Rouhani could open his mouth after his election, he was condemned outright by Binyamin Netanyahu. A wolf in sheep’s clothing! A real anti-Semite! A cheat out to deceive the whole world! A devious politician whose devilish aim is to drive a wedge between Israel and the naive Americans! This is the real Iranian bomb, far more threatening than the nuclear one that will be built behind the smokescreen of Rouhani’s sweet talk! A nuclear bomb can be deterred by another nuclear bomb. But how do you deter a Rouhani?
Yuval Steinitz, our failed former Minister of Finance and at present responsible for our “strategic thinking” (yes, really!), exclaimed in despair that the world wants to be deceived by Iran. Binyamin Netanyahu called it a “honey trap. Commentators who are hand-fed by official circles” (i.e., the Prime Minister’s Office) proclaim that Rouhani is an existential threat. All this before he had uttered a word.
When Rouhani at long last made his Grand Speech at the UN General Assembly, all the dire forebodings were confirmed. Where Ahmadinejad had set off a stampede of delegates from the hall, Rouhani packed them in. Diplomats from all over the world were curious about the man. They could have read the speech a few minutes later, but they wanted to see and hear for themselves. Even the United States sent officials to be present. No one left. No one, that is, except the Israelis. The Israeli diplomats were instructed by Netanyahu to leave the hall demonstratively when the Iranian started to speak.
That was a stupid gesture, as rational and as effective as a little boy’s tantrum when his favorite toy is taken away. Stupid, because it painted Israel as a spoiler, at a time when the entire world is seized by an attack of optimism after the recent events in Damascus and Tehran. Stupid, because it proclaims the fact that Israel is at present totally isolated. Netanyahu and his crew behave exactly as the Arab diplomats used to do a generation ago. Meaning, they are stuck in the past. They don’t live in the present.
Living in the present needs something politicians are loath to do: thinking again. Things are changing. Slowly, very slowly, but perceptibly. It is far too early to say much about the Decline of the American Empire, but one does not need a seismograph to perceive some movement in that direction.
How does Israel fit into this changing scene? First of all, we must start thinking, much as we would prefer to avoid it. New circumstances demand new thoughts. In his own US speech, Obama made a clear connection between the Iranian bomb and the Israeli occupation. This linkage cannot be unlinked. Let’s grasp it.
The US is today a bit less important than it was yesterday. Russia is a bit more important than it was. As its futile attack on Capitol Hill during the Syrian crisis shows, AIPAC is also less powerful. Let’s think again about Iran. It’s too early to conclude how far Tehran is moving, if at all. But we need to try. Walking out of rooms is not a policy. Entering rooms is. [This is the concluding segment of a long article]Uri Avnery, a founding member of the independent peace movement Gush Shalom, is a peace activist, journalist, and writer. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/27-8