To paraphrase George Orwell, some arguments are so self-evidently stupid that only Guardian columnists can believe them.
To boot, an article in the Guardian by their veteran columnist (“Shadow warrior: Benjamin Netanyahu takes a dangerous gamble with Iran”, April 18) opened with the following:
In a region famous for warmongers and tyrants, who is the most dangerous man in the Middle East right now? Not Bashar al-Assad, the isolated gauleiter of Damascus. Not disgraced Mohammed bin Salman, the princely Saudi executioner. Not even Turkey’s misogynist-in-chief, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the local neighbourhood bully. Step forward Benjamin Netanyahu, easily the most convincing contender for the “danger man” title. Israel’s prime minister has outdone himself of late, threatening war with Iran, ordering one-off attacks, assassinating a top scientist, sabotaging international fence-mending, and defying the US, his country’s indispensable ally.
First, let’s very briefly unpack Tisdall’s opening dossier on the man who ‘most threatens peace’ in the Middle East.
Tisdall claims that Israel, under Netanyahu, assassinated a “top scientist”.
However, the man in question, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was not just a “scientist”. He was Iran’s leading nuclear weapons scientist and member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a U.S.-designated terrorist entity that has trained terror groups like Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, provided shelter to Al-Qaeda and murdered U.S. servicemen and women.
The source for Tisdall’s claim that Netanyahu threatened Iran with war is a Guardian article by their Mid-East correspondent Martin Chulov which said nothing of the sort. The article (“Israel appears to confirm it carried out cyberattack on Iran nuclear facility”, April 11) merely quoted the Israeli leader thusly:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said later Sunday that “the struggle against Iran and its proxies and the Iranian armament efforts is a huge mission”.
“The situation that exists today will not necessarily be the situation that will exist tomorrow,” he added, without elaborating.
That’s hardly amounts to a threat of war.
Moreover, to accuse Israel of threatening Iran with war is a complete inversion of reality, as it’s the political and military leaders within Iran’s theocratic republic who have repeatedly threatened to annihilate the Jewish state. There are countless examples of such explicit threats which, in fact, date back to the Islamic Republic’s founding ideology. Just last year, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called Israel a “cancerous tumor” that needs to be destroyed, a variation of ‘Eliminate Israel’ rhetoric he’s employed repeatedly on social media.
Yet, for Tisdall, Khamenei, who has engaged in Holocaust denial whilst inciting for another one, is evidently within the moderate camp of Iranian politics, as you can see by this sentence in the article:
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, overruled hardliners and instructed negotiators not to walk out of the Vienna talks.
In contrast to Tehran’s annihilationist rhetoric, and terror activity throughout the region, Jerusalem’s military actions, as well as the words of its political leaders, have focused entirely on preventing Iran from increasing its military presence along its borders and, of course, building a nuclear weapon – an Israeli goal broadly shared by the international community..
According to reports by the US State Department, including during the presidency of Barack Obama, Iran has been the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world, which includes their “support for Hizballah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various groups in Syria, Iraq, and throughout the Middle East”, and various other terror acts which “create instability in the Middle East”.
Here’s a snippet from the most recent State Department report:
The [Iranian] regime was directly involved in plotting terrorism through its IRGC and Ministry of Intelligence and Security, including plots in recent years in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Tehran also continued to permit an al-Qa’ida (AQ) facilitation network to operate in Iran, sending money and fighters to conflict zones in Afghanistan and Syria, and it still allowed AQ members to reside in the country. Finally, the Iranian regime continued to foment violence, both directly and through proxies, in Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen
In the UK, a report of the Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee concluded that the actions of Iran’s IRGC “meet the criteria for proscription in the Terrorism Act 2000, due to its clear and enduring support for terrorists and non-state actors working to undermine stability in the region“, and recommended “proscribing the organisation in its entirety”.
As the decidedly left-wing, pro-Iran Deal think tank, Center for American Progress’ succinctly put it: “Tehran’s fingerprints can be seen on virtually all of the region’s conflicts“:
It supplies missiles and rockets to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian Territories, which are then fired at Israel. Iran supplies the Assad regime with money, Iranian troops, and a supply of foreign Shia militiamen and backs sectarian militias in Iraq that undermine the authority of the government in Baghdad. More recently, Tehran has been accused of supplying arms to the Houthi rebels who have seized control of much of Yemen
So, what does Tisdall say about Iranian sponsored terror in the region and threats to annihilate the only Jewish state? Nothing, absolutely nothing. There literally isn’t a word in his column devoted to either issue.
What we wrote in 2010 – about Tisdall’s Guardian column defending Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir, charged with genocide for directing the mass killing and rape of civilians in Darfur, risibly suggesting he was a victim of anti-black and anti-Muslim racism – is just as true today in his ‘Israel is the Middle East’s misfortune’ propaganda:
The Guardian, we wrote, “which aims to become the world’s leading liberal voice shows itself, time and again, to promote voices viscerally hostile to a democracy under siege in a region dominated by despots yet has a soft spot for decidedly illiberal tyrants”. “Something is profoundly wrong”, we concluded, “if the media outlet’s ideological fellow travelers can’t find the courage to call such moral blindness for what it is – a tragic and dangerous distortion of everything it ever meant to be called a liberal”.