“Israel Can Stand Up for Itself” – Zev Chafets

361687982_6803db2264 "..in exchange for assistance, Washington would naturally (and rightly) demand a very strong say in Israeli policies. A misstep, after all, could embroil it in a nuclear exchange. Within a very short time, Israel’s sovereignty and autonomy would come to resemble Minnesota’s. This is not a bad thing if your country happens to border Iowa. It works less well in Israel’s neighborhood.

I’m not questioning American friendship. But even friendship has practical limits. Presidents change and policies change. George W. Bush, the greatest friend Israel has had in the White House, hasn’t been able to keep a (relatively easier) commitment to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It is a good thing that Israel didn’t build its deterrence on that commitment.

What’s more, it is fair to say that Israel is not a weak country. It has developed a powerful set of strategic options. In the best case, it would be able to act on its own to degrade and retard the Iranian nuclear program as it did in Iraq (and, more recently, Syria). In a worse case, if the Iranians do get the bomb, Iranian leaders might be deterred by rational considerations. If so, Israel’s own arsenal — and its manifest willingness to respond to a nuclear attack — ought to suffice."  Chafets


"Commitment?" To Israel?  When was this commitment made?  I was under the impression that Bush’s opposition to the putative Iranian weapons program was sui generis.  (irony alert)  In other words, I thought that this was a policy decided on in the context of internal American debate.  Does this mean that that this policy was a concession to Israel?

Chafets doesn’t believe that the US is a reliable ally.  In other words he agrees with De Gaulle’s opinion that America could not have been relied on to go to war against the Soviet Union in order to save Europe.  That is why France withdrew her forces from NATO command.  The Germans and the other NATO countries did not agree with De Gaulle’s view in this.

Chafets also thinks that Israel can deal with its security issues alone.  If that is so, then why is the US providing Israel so much budgetary support at present? 

Chafets specifically rejects Krauthammer’s idea of a written American commitment to retaliation on behalf of (or perhaps in memory of) Israel.

There will be opinions here I am sure.  pl


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38 Responses to “Israel Can Stand Up for Itself” – Zev Chafets

  1. arbogast says:

    From a comment on Chafets book “A Match Made in Heaven”:
    What I was particularly not expecting to find was the author’s energetic defense of the passionate support American Evangelicals show for the State of Israel. While “A Match Made in Heaven” lacks any theological investigation or defense of “Christian Zionism,” the author makes a strong pragmatic case. As he explained to a New York Jewish woman aghast at the revelation Chafets voted for George W. Bush in 2004 (although a long-time resident of Israel he retains his American citizenship), “why wouldn’t I as an Israeli Jew support the most pro-Israel, pro-Jewish president in US history?” As he relates stories of Iraqi Scud missiles falling on his family’s Tel Aviv neighborhood, it’s not hard to understand why Chafets is willing to accept the Evangelicals’ well-demonstrated support for Israel almost regardless of what motivates it.
    Pretty succinct.

  2. Cieran says:

    There will be opinions here I am sure.
    Now that’s what I call an understatement. How’s this:
    Somebody needs to make some more kool-aid, because the effects of the neocon-zionist-MSM reality distortion field are beginning to wear off. Chafets doesn’t seem to need any, but others are starting to notice reality intruding its way into US/Israeli relations.

  3. b says:

    pl: In other words he agrees with De Gaulle’s opinion that America could not have been relied on to go to war against the Soviet Union in order to save Europe. That is why France withdrew her forces from NATO command. The Germans and the other NATO countries did not agree with De Gaulle’s view in this.
    That is not really true.
    There was a situation where Germany did not trust the reliability of the U.S. as an ally.
    The NATO Double-Track Decision in 1979 was made because the German chancellor Helmut Schmidt doubted very much that the U.S. would hit back with its strategic force onto the Sowjet Union in the case that the Sowjet Union would do a first strike with mobile midrange missile (SS20) on western Europe.
    He had good reasons for such doubt.

  4. J says:

    at least we’re not to the point of becoming a north america’s union or israel’s second state, yet anways. right, please say right, right? what ever happened to our politicans putting america first and foremost at the forefront of their craniums? if they had done so, wouldn’t we have avoided some of history’s worst blunders? and have prevented the deaths of so many of our military personnel who had to clean up our politicos’s messes. just some food for thought.

  5. Montag says:

    Israel faced the same problem when Saddam’s scud missiles were landing in Israel. Although they made noises about going after the launchers themselves, they knew that if they did they probably wouldn’t do any better than the Allies and they would be giving Saddam exactly what he wanted, by entering the war. So they blamed everything on the Americans. “Oh, the wicked Americans won’t give us the IFF codes or whatever, otherwise we could do six impossible things before breakfast.” They wisely decided that it was better to make excuses for not trying than to have to find excuses for not succeeding–like Olmert’s government. This is more of the same, no doubt.
    He neglects to mention the $2 billion in Danegeld that the U.S. pays to Egypt in foreign aid every year to neutralize their military threat to Israel. Israel has found that it is cheaper to buy off the Egyptians than to fight them. The trouble is that whenever an Israeli government throws its sword onto the scale and declaims, “Woe to the vanquished!” they’re talking about the long-suffering U.S. taxpayer.

  6. arbogast says:

    I would say that there is some coffee that needs to be smelt here.
    Bush was the greatest President the Jews have ever had. Much like Greenspan was the best Fed Chairman the Jews have ever had (although Bernanke is trying very, very hard). We’ll omit any mention of the rest of the citizens of the United States.
    I would say that McCain and Clinton are owned lock, stock, and barrel by AIPAC (can you say, “Joe Lieberman and Mark Penn?”) and one of them is going to be President.
    The Presidency has been made Imperial by Bush and assorted items before him.
    We have seen the “Power of Congress” up close since the 2006 election. There isn’t any.
    Guess what? There is very little likelihood that the US is going to cease being the 51st State of Israel any time soon.
    Yes, guys like CK sound like they’re panicking. They should relax.
    The only thing that could possibly change any of this is 30% unemployment. That has the ability to change a lot of things. I admit that it’s a possibility, but I certainly don’t wish for it.

  7. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I don’t get it; if Israel can defend herself and does not need any help from any one then why are they whinning so much?

  8. stanley Henning says:

    If “W” is the greatest friend Israel has had in the White House and Mr. Chafets isn’t questioning American friendship, I certainly am. I also would not want to see Israel’s sovereignty and autonomy come to resemble Minnesota’s, nor do I want to see America treat it as such.

  9. Ryan says:

    “In response to the news from Iran, some supporters of Israel have started to suggest that the failed efforts at prevention be replaced by assured American deterrence: any Iranian nuclear attack on Israel would be treated as an attack on the United States. Charles Krauthammer, a Washington Post columnist, recently referred to this as “the Holocaust doctrine.”
    Why in the hell does the US have to do this? Krauthammer really doesn’t address that question in his column.
    I would think that with 200+ nuclear weapons Israel can publicly declare this on their own. Everyone knows they have nuclear weapons, so why deny it? Anyway, this is policy, sometimes called “the Samson option”.
    People like Zev Chafets with his arrogance are a large reason why I regard Israel to be more of a cinderblock around the neck of the US as verses an ally.

  10. David W says:

    iirc, the bulk of US aid money to Israel is ‘wingnut welfare’ money that flows back to US arms manufacturers.
    Regarding Egypt, my sense is that Mubarak handles our aid there the way that Musharraf did in Pakistan. While Bush will probably crow about Egypt’s ‘democratic’ elections, the fact is that most of the Muslim Brotherhood candidates were jailed or otherwise barred from running. While the supression of the MB has been successful for a long time, the most worrisome event for Mubarak is the recent food rioting; both Mubarak and the Israelis deepest worries are that their high-tech armies and munitions would not be of much use against a human wave of angry, hungry Egyptians.
    Regarding Mr. Chafets lame analogy, being from Minnesota, I can tell you that no matter how peaceful they may seem, the Iowans would indeed fight back if MN started expanding into Iowa, or invaded Iowa while chasing a group of Hawkeye supporters. Not to mention dropping cluster bombs all around Lake Okoboji.
    Regarding the Israeli dilemma, I’d like to quote Ray Davies, the leader of the British Invastion:
    Paranoia may destroy ya!
    Like whiskey, a little bit of paranoia, and attention to security, is a good thing–too much, however, leads to ruin. My take is that the likudniks and neocons became fatally obsessed with absolute power, and the desire to control via overwhelming military superiority. They’ve passed the natural limits of such a strategy, however, as shown by Gaza and Lebanon; their desperation is shown by a willingness to commit war crimes such as cluster bombs and DU ammo, not to mention targeting civilian facilities. That they are now openly discussing nuclear options (the way the Bush administration discussed torture), shows signs of both a moral and strategic bankruptcy.
    Iran is clearly a bridge too far for these lunatics, and their desperate attempts to spark a war with Iran appear to me to be a distraction from the siege in Gaza, and a madman’s reaction to the situation Israel has created for itself. The Zionist project is sinking under the weight of its leaders’ desire for expanded Dominion, their wish to believe in the 100% military solution, and their preference for historical justifications over rational analysis of the ‘facts in the ground’–as in, if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging, because you ain’t gonna make it to China!

  11. Walter Lang says:

    If the West Germans (as a political entity as opposed to individuals) did not think that the US was willing to go to war with the Soviet Union to protect them, why did Germany remain in NATO? Is this the notion (which I have heard before)that NATO was merely the instrument of American domination of Europe and that the Europeans were kept in NATO through American trickery and bullying? A corollary of that which was recited to me by a German of the post war generation was that NATO was an unnecessary alliance since the USSR had been so badly hurt in WW2 that they would never have started a war in Europe. That line of belief leads to the idea that US created the Cold War.
    Is that your thing? pl

  12. Mark Pyruz says:

    I remind you that the Israeli Air Force was not the first to hit the Osirak reactor in Iraq. The IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) struck the very same target some eight months earlier than the IDF/AF, using F-4 Phantom fighter-bombers.

  13. J_B_V says:

    “…budgetary support at present.”
    So much old fashioned (ancient?) forms of patronage and corruption masquerading as ‘the moral choice.’
    Until USA gets ‘self interested’ in a healthy, rational way vis a vis Israel the choices will become evermore grim and dim indeed.

  14. b says:

    If the West Germans (as a political entity as opposed to individuals) did not think that the US was willing to go to war with the Soviet Union to protect them, why did Germany remain in NATO?
    That wasn’t the scenario and the question.
    There was, at that time, a strategic balance between the USSR and USA with intercontinental rockets – Mutal Assured Destruction.
    In Europe there were mostly fixed nuclear stuff on the NATO side and with the introduction of the SS20 a mobile midrange USSR nuclear capacity giving it first-strike capacity.
    The USA told the Europeans “Don’t worry. If the USSR makes a first strike hit that takes out every nuclear NATO asset in Europe, we will use our strategic force and risk the USA to be nuked by the Russians too.”
    The problem was that this was hard to believe. With Munich, Cologne and Hamburg nuked and a clear communication from Moscow that it would not attack the US, would the US really answer with a MAD strike that would certainly mean hits on NYC, DC and LA?
    Sure, it would risk a few divisions it had in Europe, but would it risk a huge hit on its “homeland”?
    So would the US be a reliable ally?
    Chancellor Helmut Schmidt didn’t believe so and urged for a NATO response to the SS20 deployment.
    That response was the NATO Double-Track Decision, essentialy the same tactic as the USSR earlier used to get US midrange nukes out of Turkey (Cuba crisis).
    Double-Track threatened (and did) deploy midranged nukes in Germany that would mean no warning time for USSR assets. A few years later everybody got a grip and midrange nukes were banished Europe. (Bush deploying “missile defense” in Poland is trying to revert that.)
    If the US had not agreed to Double-Track I am quite sure Schmidt would have started to build a German nuclear force (the capability was and is there), even if that would have undermined NATO and probably would have meant leaving NATO. He has hinted at that on several occasions.
    Is this the notion (which I have heard before)that NATO was merely the instrument of American domination of Europe and that the Europeans were kept in NATO through American trickery and bullying?
    That would be simplistic, so no. But if anyone wants to know why this thought comes up for some google “operation gladio”.
    NATO was an unnecessary alliance since the USSR had been so badly hurt in WW2 that they would never have started a war in Europe
    Not unnecessary but much overdone.
    The trauma of having lost 20+ million in WWII was and is still very alive in Russia. There was little chance that they would have attacked a somewhat defended western Europe. What for?
    That line of belief leads to the idea that US created the Cold War.
    Again – too simplistic.
    There was a need for NATO in the late 1940s/1950s by 1970 that was largely gone.
    The “bomber gap” and “missile gap” were “Team B” and “Wohlstetter” neocon phantasies. They didn’t exist but were used to build up an immense NATO capability that the reasonably paranoid USSR had to counter.
    The cold war was already there when that happened, but it was much exaggerated by some nefarious interests.
    BTW – we see a repeat of that right now versus China.

  15. jamzo says:

    “pl: In other words he agrees with De Gaulle’s opinion that America could not have been relied on to go to war against the Soviet Union in order to save Europe. That is why France withdrew her forces from NATO command. The Germans and the other NATO countries did not agree with De Gaulle’s view in this.”
    was this degaulle’s belief or his justification for acting independently?
    what did he have to lose by aligning with the rest of europe in a common defense?
    did he think he could avoid the consequences of a soviet invasion on his own?
    when george bush said that he was attacking iraq because it was a threat to the united states, was this his belief or his justification for going to war?
    the cold war is over and we are talking about the us nuclear umbrella?
    does bush support israel because he wants to protect and nurture it or does bush support israel because they support his war in iraq and his emnity for iran?

  16. Paul says:

    Balderash. It is good to hear that the U.S. is not a good ally. Maybe we should stop sending money and assistance there. Another Israeli phony. Let the Congress also pass a law that forbids dual citizenship for U.S. government officials for this is the very reason that the “duelie” neocons spawned all the troubles in the Middle East.

  17. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    This NYT screed looks like a different marketing strategy of the Wurmser option, simply done under a different packaging and label.
    In a similar vein, and for those who take a cumulative approach: FOX news has offered more evidence that Gen. Petraeus seeks some type of military action against Iran. The evidence? They are running a hagiography (via a documentary) of Petraus.
    The above conclusion is based upon the following assumption: FOX producers would not elect to aire such a hagiography if he supported the 07 NIE. FOX producers are more inclined to extol Petraeus if he supports military action against Iran.
    But dissecting the Petraeus documentary — particularly at the sub textual level — offers insight into how to oppose those who increasingly support military action against Iran. After spending a few minutes watching the documentary, I offer the following for consideration: our best hope will have to rely on the Vietnam War vets who support the findings of the 07 NIE. One image — which was footage from the 1960’s — really jumped out at me and appeared to suggest that those who oppose Petraeus will be branded Nazis.

  18. Walter Lang says:

    I am happy to see that you so elaborated your position.
    I will leave it to others to comment on it. pl

  19. Andy says:

    Well, I guess Bush has come a long way from what’s elaborated on here.
    And I’ll offer up some additional analysis I found of a future Iran-Israel nuclear war. The short version is that Iran would lose and lose badly.
    I’m frankly amazed that many, like Chafets, hold up the Osirak attack as some kind of success. Have they forgotten that it simply drove Iraq’s program underground where it remained completely hidden until after the 1991 Gulf War? Iraq was 1-2 years away from a weapon and had it not been for Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Israel would have faced another nuclear power with the capability to existentially threaten it. Mr. Chafets and many others now argue, based on the “success” of Osirak, that a strike on Iran’s program is a good idea. Rubbish. They learned the wrong lesson from Osirak.

  20. Bobo says:

    Sounds like Mr. Chafets is seeking a call to (political) arms within the USA. Why the NYT lets these Bozo’s on its opinion page is beyond me. I guess its opinion.
    Israel needs to treat its neighbors in the same charitable manner that they care to be treated. Then we may see one of the cancers removed from the ME.
    Anyone that wants to play the game of duel citizenship needs to decide, which side they are playing on. Then we know where they stand and they should keep that stand forever or be considered duplicitous.
    Nothing derogatory considered here though I could be considered one of the “bitter ones”.

  21. TomB says:

    Col. Lang said:
    “‘Commitment?’ To Israel? When was this commitment made?”
    Colonel, if I’m not mistaken Mr. Bush and/or Mr. Cheney have appeared in Israel and/or in front of pro-Israel groups here in the U.S. and have categorically stated any number of times in such venues (as well as in other more domestic venues) that the U.S. will not allow Iran to get nukes. I don’t know that they have expressly said they were “committing” this to Israel, but it seems to me not an entirely unfair reading of it by Chafets, just as I suspect you know this and were being a bit smilingly rhetorical.
    Given that Bush and Cheney and Co. must know that even if they were trying the Iranians could never get a nuke by Jan. 2009 when they gotta vacate the WH though, it could seem to be a cheap pledge on their part, and possibly a devious one. That is, once made, no doubt any future Pres. that seeks doing anything else is certainly going to be accused of violating a Presidential pledge.
    Just like that letter Sharon’s lawyer Dov Weisglass got out of Bush saying that because of their size any final agreement with the Palestinians is going to have to accept the Israeli’s hanging on to some remaining settlements. Weisglass went back to Israel and gave an interview to Haaretz crowing that:
    “out of 240,000 settlers, 190,000 will not be moved from their place. Will not be moved.”
    And that:
    “There is an American commitment such as never existed before, with regard to 190,000 settlers.”
    And that:
    “what I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns.”
    Doesn’t take a genius to see that any attempt on the part of any future President to push the Israelis into giving up any more than “190,000 settlers” is going to be called a Munich-like betrayal of Bush’s “committment.” Especially since there was no repudiation of Weisglass’ remarks by the U.S. after he made them.
    As I think you’ve observed before, words over there in the ME don’t mean the same as they do here.

  22. condfusedponderer says:

    I remember hearing Helmut Schmidt commenting in an interview that the European NATO allies had to pressure the US to get the Pershing II deployed.
    Interesting to remind oneself with which US partners he was dealing at the time – Nixon, Ford and Carter. As Schmidt’s contribution span an entire decade, it would be interesting to learn more about the US deterrent posture and views on nuclear strategy of the time. Anyone?
    In a sense it is interesting to see that indeed in a security agreement, even where one partner (Germany) isn’t even really sovereign and much weaker politically and militarily, the weaker partner can in fact through successful diplomacy be the tail wagging the dog. Not out of the smaller partner’s arrogance but the weaker partner’s rational self interest. The smaller partner has much more to lose.
    From what I remember, while for the US a European nuclear war was a thing that US planners hoped to be able to perhaps ‘regionally isolate to the European Theater of Operations’, for Germany it would have meant something like the annihilation of the German nation. It is pretty clear that such smug talk of ‘limited nuclear’ war must have been utterly abhorrent to Schmidt and his contemporaries who had the devastation of WW-II fresh in mind. I presume that today Israeli considerations and concerns run along similar lines.
    Interestingly, SDI had the same corrosive effect on the trust of the European allies, because it promised the US a concrete technological means to achieve that strategic isolation. In that respect today’s US missile shield isn’t any different.
    That is interesting in respect to the proposed US-Israeli alliance and to the Iraqi-US alliance that Bush wants to see implemented.

  23. Bill D says:

    The unmentionable problem for CK and the other zionists is that once the Middle East’s moslems even begin to say the word, “atomic”, the idea of protecting the Jewish people by gathering mostly in greater Tel Aviv no longer makes much sense. Nothing really terrible has to happen for this to cause Israel problems. Once the Arabs start building nuclear power plants, the Israeli opposition will never stop using this as a club to beat the government.
    The Israeli leaders worry that their “best and brightest” will look at this situation and decide that the best way to protect the tiny part of the Jewish people that call them “Daddy” is to take a job with Phillips in Eindhoven. Then say “screw twenty years patroling Nablus in the reserves, screw the Arabs, screw the settlers, screw the whole freaking Middle East!”
    This is also why Israeli leaders refuse to consider living with Iran in a long MAD standoff. About 60% of Israelis hold other passports. The leaders fear that a tie in the tactical nuclear contest will lead to a strategic demographic defeat.

  24. arbogast says:

    I wonder if everyone is missing the obvious.
    Iran has not yet been bombed by the US despite being named one of three members of the “Axis of Evil” by Bush in 2002, six years ago.
    No one can fail to appreciate the degree to which Iran has benefited from the Iraq “war”.
    All this must be placed in the context of the extraordinarily close relationship between Iran and the US dating from the Reagan Administration and before:
    The Iran-Contra Affair was a political scandal occurring in 1987 as a result of earlier events during the Reagan administration in which members of the executive branch sold weapons to Iran…After the weapon sales were revealed in November 1986, President Ronald Reagan appeared on national television and denied that they had occurred. A week later, however, on November 13, 1986 Reagan returned to the airwaves to affirm that weapons were indeed transferred to Iran, but were not exchanged for hostages. On March 4, 1987 in a nationally televised address to the nation he took full responsibility and admitted that “what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages.”
    If Iran is not bombed, or if the bombing of Iran is done with a minimum of force and effect, then I truly wonder what is going on?
    Is, in fact, Iran the secret ally of both the US and Israel? I would not be surprised, at all.

  25. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Some biographic data on the subject:
    “Zev Chafets (born 1947[1]) is an author and columnist who was born and raised in Pontiac, Michigan. After graduating from the University of Michigan, moved to Israel. He spent a decade in the army, government service and politcs,working for the the Liberal Party in the Likud. In 1977, he was appointed Director of the Government Press Office, a post he held for five years during the administration of Prime Minister Menachem Begin…”
    Notice of subject’s wife as indicated by Wiki:
    A selection of subject’s columns:

  26. Richard Whitman says:

    Interesting positioning of this article right after “A Paradigm Shift”. The fact remains that regardless of the Bush-Cheney support during the last 7 years, Israel is much less secure now than it was in 2000. There were no threats from Hisballah, Hamas or Iran to amount to anything then. How much did the US contribute to the present insecurity and how much did the Israelis do to themselves.

  27. David Habakkuk says:

    Bill D,
    I think you are absolutely right about the real threat to Israel being the possibility of the ‘best and brightest’ leaving — and this is a threat to which ‘deterrence’ is of limited relevance.
    In his article The Next Act in late 2006, Seymour Hersh quoted revealing remarks from the Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Efraim Sneh:
    ‘The danger isn’t as much Ahmadinejad’s deciding to launch an attack but Israel’s living under a dark cloud of fear from a leader committed to its destruction. . . . Most Israelis would prefer not to live here; most Jews would prefer not to come here with families, and Israelis who can live abroad will . . . I am afraid Ahmadinejad will be able to kill the Zionist dream without pushing a button. That’s why we must prevent this regime from obtaining nuclear capability at all costs.’
    (See http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/11/27/061127fa_fact)
    Whether he is right about the affects an Iranian nuclear capability would have I do not know. But in any case, the same effect is highly likely to occur if increasingly accurate and long range missiles can be fired at Israel from Gaza or from Lebanon. Given the small distances involved, these missiles are going to be able to threaten Israel from the new line of fortifications Hizbullah has been constructing north of the Litani.
    A similar anxiety haunts Olmert, if what Amos Elon had to say in the New York Review of Books back in February is accurate:
    ‘According to Haaretz, he told an American delegation recently that in “Israel there are perhaps 400,000 people who maintain the state, leaders in the economy, in science and in culture. I want to make sure they have hope, that they’ll stay here.” His own two sons, it is well known, live in New York.’
    (See http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21015)
    In the light of this vulnerability, it is not surprising that there has been so much enthusiasm among American Zionists for dealing decisively with Hizbullah, Iran, and Syria. But the strategy has quite patently failed. Moreover, attempting to support this agenda by arguing that Israel’s security interests are identical with those of the United States clearly involves dangers for American Jews — as the claim is patently false, and is inherently liable to make ‘dual loyalty’ an issue. Still more self-defeating is the attempt to silence criticism of the strategy by accusing critics of anti-Semitism. The inevitable effect of the attempt to employ the taboo on anti-Semitism in this ultimately cynical way is inevitably to weaken the taboo. Quite patently, this is already happening.

  28. arbogast says:

    I would say that a rational man, basing his opinions on information available to the public, would not be able to grasp accurately what is going on between Iran, Israel, and the United States at this time.
    Please note that Hillary is vying to be a better friend to Israel than Bush. Nothing will change. The question is: what is the nothing that will not change?
    Iran was the second country (after the United States) to formally recognise the establishment of the State of Israel.
    As of 2005, Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel; the Iranian Jewish community is guaranteed one seat in the Majlis, currently held by Maurice Motamed. A larger population of Iranian Jews reside in Israel with the former President of Israel Moshe Katsav, former Chief of Staff and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and Israeli hip-hop star Subliminal being the most famous of this group.
    Israel viewed Iran as a natural ally due to its position as a non-Arab power on the edge of the Arab world, in accordance with Ben-Gurion’s concept of an alliance of the periphery.
    Declassified reports exist which show Israel supplying Iran with weapons during the Iran-Iraq war. Iran is said to have purchased weapons valued at $2.5 billion from Israel through third party intermediaries during the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s and 1990s.
    In 1998, Israeli businessman Nahum Manbar was sentenced to 16 years in prison in Israel for doing business with Tehran, and in the course of the investigation, “hundreds of companies” were found to have illegal business dealings with Iran. The fall-out reached the United States as some transactions were alleged to have been part of the Iran-Contra scandal.
    According to the report of the U.S. Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair issued in November of 1987, “the sale of U.S. arms to Iran through Israel began in the summer of 1985, after receiving the approval of President Reagan.”
    At the funeral of Pope John Paul II in April 2005, Khatami was seated close to Israeli President Moshe Katsav, who is from the same province as Khatami. Katsav said that he shook Khatami’s hand and the two had a brief conversation about Iran (Katsav was born in Iran).

  29. Walrus says:

    Occam’s razor suggests to me that the Israelis are going to attack Syria, in the hope that Iran will follow through on their mutual defence obligations.
    Israel’s objectives:
    1. Destroy Syrian and Lebanese infrastructure.
    2. Destroy as much as possible of the Syrian Army.
    America attacks Iran with limited objectives. These are: 1. Destruction of their nuclear program. 2. Excision of the Iranian oil fields near the border with Iraq.
    The intended benefits:
    1: “Security” for Israel.
    2: Control of the bulk of middle East oil reserves.
    3. Profit.
    It will be sold as a war not of our own making, conducted in sorrow rather than anger, it will involve “surgical strikes” and the Iran incursion will be portayed as the creation of a “security buffer zone” for Southern Iraq…and the usual pundits will spout their usual drivel.
    The only decison left to a new President will be where to put the bases.

  30. Montag says:

    Walrus, this plan reminds me of the underwear-stealing Elves on “Southpark.” Their plan was:
    1. Steal underwear.
    2. ???????????????
    3. Profit!
    This fellow Chafets obviously knows the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, one of which goes: “Small print leads to large risk.” No doubt any vaunted U.S. nuclear guarantee of such an untrustworthy partner as Israel would have small print up the wazoo–to whit:
    “* If we feel like it.
    ** If Isreal hasn’t pissed us off TOO badly recently.
    ***Not in this lifetime.
    **** Well, what did you EXPECT them to do about it?”

  31. David W says:

    I think China is relevant to this discussion as well. According to Wikipedia:
    China finds Iran as a permanent source for its exports and growing energy demand. In March 2004, Zhuhai Zhenrong Corporation, a Chinese state-run company, signed a 25-year contract to import 110 million metric tons of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Iran. [1] This was followed by another contract between Sinopec and Iran, signed in October of the same year. The deal worth $100 billion, adds an extra 250 million tons of LNG to China’s energy supply, extracted from Iran’s Yadavaran field over a 25-year period.
    In 2001, Iran-China trade volume stood at $3.3 Billion [2], and in 2005, the volume of Iran-China trade hit $US 9.2 billion. [3] China currently holds the second rank among top exporters to Iran (2005) with 8.3% of the total market, after top ranked Germany. China’s exports to Iran have particularly seen a rapid growth rate in the past five years, replacing Japan, which held second place. Iran’s imports from China rose by 360% between 2000 and 2005. Aside from China’s inexpensive products, Iran is also buying more from China for strategic reasons.
    China also does plenty of business with Syria too, and like Iran, trade with both has boomed since 2000.
    Walrus, do you believe that China would stand by and let the US and Israel trash one or two of its key markets and a major strategic energy partner?

  32. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Bill D:
    My understanding was that something close to a quarter of people with Israeli citizenship live abroad.
    On the other hand, I also understood that Hitler and others of his ilk in Europe were quite willing to let the Jews leave Europe and go elsewhere; except that no body wanted them: not the English in their colonies, not the Candians, not the Americans (North or South), not any one. The existence of a sovereign Jewish homeland could have saved millions.
    But, on the other hand, if certain virulently anti-Communist & equally stolid & stupid English arsitocrats had not sabotaged Litvinov’s USSR-UK-France Alliance proposal there would not have been a WWII and the Shoah.
    As for living with a nuclear-capable Iran; that is not Israel’s main problem; it is living in peace with the World of Islam.

  33. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Ayatullah Khomeini was opposed to the State of Israel from its inception – certainly from 1950s based on his writings. Many of his followers and later leaders of the Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Republic shared in that sentiment.
    Therefore, I cannot give credence to any secret cabal of Iran-US-Israel working together – no doubt to destroy (Sunni) Arab Nation.
    If you believe that I have 2 bridges to sell to you.

  34. Curious says:

    well. This is turning potentially nasty. Italy is putting Burlisconi again. UNIFIL command is Italian.
    What I am afraid of: Israel-Syrian clash will get a nod by Burlisconi.
    Israel – Syria border tension has risen several times in the past few years.
    This is not going to do any good for record oil price.

  35. Farmer Don says:

    Sorry to be off topic.
    But this story is one of the top ones in the AP news line up.
    “Iraq’s Financial Free Ride May End
    AP Photo
    WASHINGTON (AP) – Iraq’s financial free ride may be over. After five years, Republicans and Democrats seem to have found common ground on at least one aspect of the war. From the fiercest foes of the war to the most steadfast Bush supporters, they are looking at Iraq’s surging oil income and saying Baghdad should start picking up more of the tab, particularly for rebuilding hospitals, roads, power lines and the rest of the shattered country. “I think the American people are growing weary not only of the war, but they are looking at why Baghdad can’t pay more of these costs. And the answer is they can,” said Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.”
    This story raises a lot of questions. What free ride has Iraq been given?? Where has it’s oil money been going up until now? How much money is the US spending on reconstruction? Is the war now going to start paying for it self as was first envisioned?

  36. johnf says:

    “Is, in fact, Iran the secret ally of both the US and Israel? I would not be surprised, at all.”
    From The Guardian last week:
    Israel’s Tehran connection
    Israel, while supposedly observing an ironclad boycott of all things Iranian, is happily buying Iranian oil.
    “Israel imports Iranian oil on a large scale even though contacts with Iran and purchasing of its products are officially boycotted by Israel. Israel gets around the boycott by having the oil delivered via Europe. A reliable Israeli energy newsletter, EnergiaNews, reported this last week [March 18] …
    “EnergiaNews got the information about the Iran trade from sources with ties to the management of Israeli Oil Refineries Ltd … According to EnergiaNews the Iranian oil is liked in Israel because its quality is better than other crude oils.
    “The report by EnergiaNews editor Moshe Shalev states that the Iranian oil reaches various European ports, mainly in Rotterdam. It is bought by Israelis and the necessary European bill of lading and insurance papers are supplied. Then it is transported to Haifa in Israel. The importer is the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co (EAPC), which keeps its oil sources secret.”

  37. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Someday we’ll run out of the money required to maintain our empire. Isreal better be preparing for that day soon since we’ll be deciding between Social Security/Medicare and global hegemony over the coming decade. My guess is that SS and Medicare will take precedence for most Americans, and we’ll return to our more isolationist roots.
    I’ll bite at the comment about 1970s Germany, NATO and the USA. It’s moot. We deployed the GLCMs and Pershings and balanced the power.
    There was a huge uproar in the UK about these folks:

  38. Hey, I was born in Minnesota. Let’s state the obvious, at least 20% of Minnesotans don’t qualify for US passports. But at least 20% of Israelis have US passports. Never the twain shall meet? Or shall they?

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