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Commentary :: International
Israel's Missile Shield, the Iranian Threat, and the Palestinians
02 Oct 2009
This article presents a good argument that Israel's concern about
the threat of the Palestinian population to the Jewish state is actually
behind the alleged Iranian nuclear threat.
Israel has developed, what an article in the "Washington Post" (Sept. 19) by
Howard Schneider calls, "one of the world's most advanced missile defense

What does this mean in regard to the alleged existential nuclear threat to
Israel from Iran? Schneider's article continues: "Defense Minister Ehud
Barak said this week that he did not consider Iran's nuclear program an
'existential issue' because 'Israel is strong.' Part of that strength lies
in its nuclear capabilities -- never acknowledged but widely presumed to
exist -- and part in the assumption that the United States would stand
behind Israel if it came under attack. But it also rests in the calculation
that enough of the country's air bases and other military facilities would
survive a first strike to retaliate effectively." This is a considerable
understatement since Iran does not even have a nuclear weapon, while Israel
is estimated to have an arsenal of 200 to 400 nuclear warheads. Even
though Israel is a small country, it would likely take more than the few
nukes that the Iran could develop in the near future to even knock out
Israel's land-based capacity to retaliate. But Israel also has
nuclear-armed submarines that would be virtually impossible for Iran to
destroy in any hypothetical first strike. In addition to Israel's own
missile shield, Obama has a new plan of a ship-based missile defense system
in the Mediterranean, which is in lieu of the now abandoned plan to put
missiles in Eastern Europe. This new positioning would greatly enhance the
ability of American missiles to protect Israel.

While war propaganda wails that the Iranian leaders are so insane as to
launch a suicide attack on Israel regardless of the consequences, there is
not a shred of evidence of any reckless adventurism in Iran's military
activities; rather, the Islamic Republic has been quite cautious in this
regard. It certainly aids militant groups in other countries, not unlike
the policy of the United States, but, unlike the U. S., it has not engaged
in direct military warfare (except when attacked by Iraq in 1980). While the
American conventional wisdom would have it that the U.S. only supports
freedom fighters while Iran only backs terrorists, it is instructive to
remember the adage: "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

Even in its rhetoric, Iran has not said that it would attack Israel, despite
Western media reports to the contrary. Ahmadinejad's 2005 statement, as
reported in the Western media, that "Israel must be wiped off the map," has
been trumpeted by critics of Iran as advocating the nuclear annihilation
of Israel. In response to the world outcry, the Iranian government
maintained that Ahmadinejad's words did not mean genocide as the Western
media implied. As a number of commentators pointed out, the Western media
actually had mistranslated Ahmadinejad's speech to make it seem that he
sought to annihilate the Jewish people in Israel by using nuclear weapons or
some other drastic means. Instead, Ahmadinejad was referring to the Zionist
regime, not the Jewish people, and a better translation of his words would
have been "vanish," not "wiped off the map." Ahmadinejad was speaking of a
one-state non-Zionist solution to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict--presumably allowing for the return of Palestinian refugees and the
creation of a Palestinian majority state. This could be interpreted as a
call for a type of "regime change," but certainly one that would be
anathema to most Israeli Jews and the supporters of Israel in the United
States. Since Iran supported the Palestinian resistance to Israel,
especially Hamas, it would seem reasonable to conclude that Ahmadinejad
believed that some degree of violence would be necessary to bring about the
downfall of the Zionist regime (i.e., Israeli state apparatus), but it did
not mean an all-out suicidal attack. It would seem that the Israeli
government and its American supporters have distorted and hyped the Iranian
danger for the purpose of propaganda. Obviously, far more Americans are
willing to protect the Jewish population of Israel from a nuclear holocaust
than they are to guarantee continued Jewish dominance over the Palestinians.

It is the Iranian support for the Palestinians that is the fundamental
concern of Israeli leaders, not any offensive Iranian nuclear threat to
Israel's existence. The military disparity between Israel and Iran is far
greater than ever was the case between the United States and the Soviet
Union during the Cold War. The Palestinians, however, do pose such an
existential threat. The Palestinians are a demographic threat to the Jewish
exclusivist nature of the state of Israel-that is, a threat to Israel's
raison d'ĂȘtre. Obviously, in a one-state solution in the area west of the
Jordan River, or in Israel proper if Palestinian refugees and their
descendants were allowed to return, the Palestinians would be a very large
minority or even a majority of the population, which would rule out the
possibility of an exclusivist Jewish state.

But even a fair accommodation to the Palestinians in an actual two-state
solution (in which Palestine would be a viable state) would make the
continuation of a exclusivist Jewish state tenuous. So far, Israel has
offered the Palestinians something far short of a viable state in its
"peace" process; instead, Israel has essentially offered the Palestinians
only an unarmed entity (defenseless against potential Israeli military
incursions such as the attack in Gaza) consisting of a congeries of
non-contiguous Bantustans interspersed with Jewish settlements and Israeli
roads and with an Israeli security zone along the Jordan River border. Of
great significance, but rarely mentioned in the Western press, is the fact
that Israel has never said it would allow the Palestinians to control the
West Bank aquifers, which Israel now depends on for its water supply. Israel
uses far more water per capita than the Palestinians, which not only
provides for intensive agriculture but also for the amenities of a Western
lifestyle - regular bathing, swimming pools, green lawns. Although the
Israeli people could physically exist without those water resources, they
would not be able to live the type of Western lifestyle to which they are
accustomed--which would make it difficult for Israel to attract and retain
a Westernized Jewish population. A slowly diminishing Jewish population in
Israel itself could mean the end of a Jewish dominated and exclusivist

With the Palestinian population being an existential threat to the Jewish
nature of the Israeli state, many Israelis, especially the Israeli Right,
view the elimination of that population, or its significant diminution, as
essential. Since outright expulsion is politically impossible except in the
fog of war, the goal would seem to be to get the Palestinians to leave
voluntarily by making their existence miserable and hopeless. This
condition could be realized if the Palestinians would ever accept the type
of non-viable state that Israel has been willing to offer. So far, the
Palestinians have rejected that offer but their resistance has been
receiving outside support, both moral and material. Without outside
support, the isolated Palestinians, seeing their liberation as impossible,
would be likely to accede to the "peace" solution that the Israelis offered
as the best deal possible. In such a non-viable state, with poor economic
and physical conditions, and with the hope of a viable future Palestinian
state eliminated, many Palestinians would be apt to give up hope for their
homeland and simply think in terms of individual survival. Many,
especially the young, would emigrate in the search of economic betterment
and a decent life. Thus, the Palestinian demographic threat to the Jewish
state would be greatly diminished or eliminated. This scenario appears quite
realistic, but even if it is not, it does reflect the thinking of many
Israelis, particularly of the Israeli Right. For example, Baruch Kimmerling
writes in his book "Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War Against the
Palestinians" that Sharon's fundamental policy was "designed to lower
Palestinian expectations, crush their resistance, isolate them, make them
submit to any arrangement suggested by the Israelis, and eventually cause
their 'voluntary' mass emigration from the land." (p. 211)

Thus, in the eyes of Israeli leaders, Iran, instead of being a direct
military threat to Israel, is, nonetheless, a grave threat because it
enables the Palestinians, the real existential threat, to maintain their
resistance. Thus, the Israeli goal is to have an Iran that is completely
defenseless against a potential Israeli attack. Not only must Iran be
without a deterrent force, but it must not have any type of defensive system
that would enable it to withstand an Israeli attack. As Jason Ditz wrote
recently on "Israeli officials seem much more concerned with
Iran acquiring defensive systems to thwart their ability to attack than with
the largely illusory specter of Iran using its very limited collection of
missiles to launch an attack which would certainly provoke a devastating

In short, a defenseless Iran could be intimidated into abandoning support
for the Palestinian resistance. Even better, an Iran whose infrastructure
was destroyed by a United States attack and/or fragmented into warring
ethnic and sectarian statelets would be unable to provide significant
support to the Palestinians. With the elimination of Iranian support to the
Palestinians, along with the elimination of all other outside support, the
Palestinians would be more apt to cave in to the Israeli "peace" offers,
which are predicated on maintaining the security and exclusivist Jewish
nature of the state of Israel.

(Israel and the Israel lobby's current position on Iran fits the neocon
Middle East war agenda, which I describe in my book-"The Transparent Cabal:
The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National
Interest of Israel" )


Amazon: <>;

My recent article "Afghanistan: Back Door to War on Iran" has been edited
and posted at:

This work is in the public domain
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