This is cross-posted from Huffington Post Monitor
Huffington Post blogger Andrew Levine, who usually doesn’t write about Israel and related manners, jumped headlong into the topic with a long diatribe titled “The ‘Existential Threat.'” On the surface it looks like he criticizes the way that Israel and its allies are approaching the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.
The truth is much uglier. It becomes clear by the end that Mr. Levine simply hates Israel, its existence and its nature as a home for the Jewish people. Which of course calls his whole standpoint toward the Iranian nuclear program into question, when someone who holds similar views to Ahmadinejad is out there speaking, how are we supposed to think of him as objective? So I thought I would fisk his article.
Let’s take a look at the topic of the “existential threat:”
“In reality, of course, there is nothing in the offing emanating from Iran or occupied Palestine that rises to the level of an existential threat in either sense, notwithstanding some remarks of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. According to conventional wisdom, the Iranian threat is the more serious one; in reality, it is the more fanciful. Even were Iran to succeed in building a nuclear device — an unlikely prospect in the short term, since, according to all available evidence, they are trying only to build the capacity, not the weapon itself — they would have to be suicidal to use it against Israel for any purpose other than deterrence.”
I’ll be honest. I’m not sure that I consider a nuclear Iran to be an existential threat to Israel either. But that doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Levine seems to be intentionally thinking inside a very small box for the purposes of defeating a strawman argument. Here are just a few things that Iran can do with nuclear weapons:
1) A nuclear attack. Mr. Levine doesn’t think that is likely, and neither do I, but even the possibility is problematic.
2) A nuclear attack by proxy. It is not completely far-fetched for Iran to “accidentally” pass a nuclear weapon to Al Qaeda who then detonates it outside of Israel’s coast, or something. Or uses it in some other way to spread mischief. Just think the Sum of All Fears.
3) It can embolden radical Islamists throughout the world, including terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. Thousands of rockets flying into Israel from all sides very much can pose an existential threat to Israel, especially if they can’t respond because…
4) Iran can throw its weight around and threaten nuclear war against Israel if Israel tries something like Cast Lead.
5) This can lead to overthrows of secular governments like in Egypt and replacing them with Islamists. This can break current peace treaties with Israel which in turn can lead to a fourth Arab-Israeli war.
Mr. Levine, if I can come up with all of these ideas just sitting at my computer, just imagine what Iran can come up with given the time and inclination. You need to stop thinking so small. Israel cannot afford to, and neither can America.
Even worse for his point, consider that the UAE backs a strike on Iran. And other Arab states are nervous about a nuclear Iran as well. Why would they be, if the threat of Iranian nukes is simply “created” by Israel? Click below to continue, because Mr. Levine’s hate for Israel begins to take form.
“Israel could tolerate Bantustans under its control, but a viable Palestinian state with which Israel lives in peace would be unacceptable; a point Israel’s leaders, left and right, have always understood. It would undercut the state’s rationale and therefore, ultimately, its legitimacy.This is why peace has remained elusive, despite the fact that the general contours of a negotiated settlement, acceptable to all who believe in a two state solution, have been clear for decades. The details were spelled out at Taba in January 2001 during the final days of the Clinton administration”
That’s a pretty strong statement to make, but of course he doesn’t back it up with anything. Why would making peace with the Palestinians undercut the legitimacy of Israel any more than making peace with the Egyptians or the Jordanians? As you will see, what he is getting at is that Israel only exists as a refuge against anti-Semitism. See?:
“The animating principle of the Zionist movement from the 1890s on has been that Jews need a state to serve as a refuge in a world in which anti-Semitism is a force of nature. That thought never gained much traction before the Nazis took power in Germany, and even then it was resisted by secular Jews committed to universalist ideologies and also, for theological and philosophical reasons, by Orthodox and Reform Jews.”
Yep. Another anti-Zionist who doesn’t know jack about Zionism and embraces that ignorance. Zionism has always been an integral part of Judaism ever since the Jews were expelled from their homeland. The history of Zionism goes much further back than the 1890s and Israel was well on its way to being created before Hitler came to the power. In fact the Nazis probably delayed Israel’s creation instead of accelerating it. This is simply a lie, and it is easily debunked. It does make me wonder: It is really Iran’s nuclear program that Mr. Levin is interested in, or is it bashing Jewish nationalism?
“Meanwhile, as Jewish assimilation has proceeded at full throttle in the United States and other Western countries and with anti-Semitism no longer much of a concern, Israeli nationalism has all but monopolized Jewish identity politics.”
It’s true that there is a lot of Jewish assimilation in the USA. Right now. But of course as Elder of Ziyon noted, there is a lot of anti-Semitism as well. As for elsewhere, just look at Malmo, Sweden. Like a typical pundit, Mr. Levine is simply ignoring what he doesn’t want to hear: That the lives of Jews as Jews are not perfect around the world, and even if they were the Jewish people are still a nation no matter how much he doesn’t like it. Israel is not required to defend its existence against him or anyone else.
We’ll skip some more generic bashing of Israel and skip right to the Holocaust cynicism:
“There is, of course, still the memory of the Nazi Judeocide, and Zionists exploit it for all it’s worth. But as time passes, that memory becomes less serviceable; and not all the Holocaust museums in the world can maintain its effectiveness. The Zionist movement succeeded in appropriating moral capital from the devastation Nazi Germany wreaked upon European Jewry, but it has spent that capital recklessly, and there is not much of it left.”
I would be curious to know who exactly Mr. Levine thinks these “Zionists” are, but I know I would not get an answer. But as I have said before no one except outsiders think that Israel “uses” its past to justify anything it does. Not even its existence. The second Great Anti-Zionist Strawman is being used to full effect here. How informative. Let’s continue.
“Enter Iran’s bomb. If that existential threat did not exist, it would have to be invented, as indeed it has been. The Palestinians’ demographic bomb does not have to be invented. But its specter is hardly scary enough to do the job on its own.”
Another typical anti-Zionist viewpoint. If Israel has enemies who hate it for simply existing, those enemies either aren’t real or Israel had a hand in making them. Again I would be interested in hearing Mr. Levine’s reasoning behind this. It wasn’t Israel who asked Khomeini or Ahmadinejad to make their endless calls for their destruction, nor did they want them to pursue nuclear weapon. So where exactly is Mr. Levine getting his information that it was “invented?” I’m guessing from the same place he got his history of Zionism. And like I said before, that doesn’t explain why Arab countries are nervous about Iran as well.
“In the end, it probably will become clear to almost everyone, in Israel and out, that the Zionist idea is unworkable. Then, despite itself, Israel will either become a normal state — a state of its citizens, with a large Jewish population — or, more likely, most of its Jews will depart for places many of them would rather live anyway. But these welcome changes won’t happen without a fight, and without imperiling the world.”
He really hits all the anti-Zionist high notes here, doesn’t he? How many anti-Zionists have said that the Jews, and only the Jews, cannot have a state? So far Israel seems to be getting along pretty well. As for the scaremonger “threat” about population depletion, that’s pretty funny as well. I can’t understand how all of these AZs seriously think that six million Jews are just going to pack their bags and leave their homes for…well, I don’t know who would take them in but I guess they haven’t thought that far ahead.
It sounds like Mr. Levine is just like the Iranian leadership: He can’t accept that Israel exists and continues to hope that it will disappear. Maybe that’s the reason why he tries so hard to convince us that the “existential threat” isn’t real? Because he wants Israel gone just as much as Khomeini?
Oh, and I also find it hilarious that he seriously puts into writing that Israel’s continued existence “imperils the world.” As if the Palestinians really have that big of an effect beyond their own lives. But then again, Jewish existence is a threat to the entire planet? Where have we heard that one before?
Here’s the grand finale:
“Israel must be forced to make peace, whatever the implications for its ethnocratic character; and Israeli paranoia about Iran must be quashed. If not, it will be Israel itself that poses the ultimate existential threat – not just to itself, but to us all.”
Right. Jews, simply by being Jewish in the Jewish homeland, and wanting to stay that way, pose an existential threat to the entire world. That is what passes for legitimate journalism in this day and age. If this is not helping to create a hostile environment to Jews both in America and in the world, then I have yet to see it. And anti-Semites the world over should thank the Huffington Post for making it all possible!