In the coming months we can expect to witness an increasing number of speeches and articles demonising Iran, along with a growing number of ‘serious incidents’, that will be used to justify reneging on the nuclear deal. The phoney war on Iran has entered a new phase. The Likud party led by Netanyahu, the Trump administration, supported by the Wahhabi backed princeling in Riyadh…have absolutely no interest in collaborative solutions in the Middle East. Their goal is regime change.
The phoney war
“I also have a message today for the people of Iran: You are not our enemy; you are our friends…One day, my Iranian friends, you will be free from the evil regime that terrorizes you…and when that day of liberation finally comes, the friendship between our two ancient peoples will surely flourish once again…Israel knows that in confronting the Iranian regime, we are not alone. We stand shoulder to shoulder with those in the Arab world who share our hopes for a brighter future.” – Benjamin Netanyahu – Speech to the United Nations General Assembly, 19th September 2017.
“It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction…Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbours. The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change…
…We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it. Believe me” – Donald Trump – Speech to the United Nations General Assembly, 19th September 2017.
“We know we are a main target of Iran… we are not waiting until there becomes a battle in Saudi Arabia, so we will work so that it becomes a battle for them in Iran and not in Saudi Arabia” –Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi TV Interview – May 2017.
Modern warfare doesn’t ‘just happen’ – it is premeditated and planned. Wars are pre-positioned in the minds of the population long before the first violent assault. Bush & Blair’s war on Iraq was a decision made independently of any responsibility for 9/11, and without any evidence of WMD – there wasn’t any of either.
The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria were not fought for ‘democracy’, for humanitarian relief, or for any of the other noble causes presented to western populations in order to justify the slaughter – they were fought for territory, resources, and the projection of power. State sanctioned murder is big business, particularly in the US, which needs war, or the threat of war, to justify $700 billion a year in the ‘defence’ budget.
For example, do you know why the US is still in Afghanistan? Because:
- Afghanistan has vast untapped mineral wealth.
- US military presence justifies huge quantities of ‘defence’ spending.
- Afghanistan’s geographical position is vital if the US is to control and/or thwart the development of China’s silk road.
- The CIA controls the opium trade.
History has also made a couple of things glaringly apparent about the nature of the people attracted to ‘power’:
a) The acquisition of power is highly attractive to psychopaths, and we have had more than a fair share of those.
b) Even when a politician is merely an egotist, as most of them are, prolonged exposure to power tends to drive them ‘crazy’. Bush and Blair were perfect examples of this – two self-obsessed windbags who became ‘legends in their own lunchtime’ long before they set fire to the Middle East.
In 2017, the forces coalescing in the Middle East, and the personalities involved, are far more dangerous than George Bush and Tony Blair.
The goal is regime change.
a) The Likud party led by Netanyahu, along with the neoconservatives & their latest puppet in the oval office, supported by the Wahhabi backed princeling in Riyadh…have absolutely no interest in collaborative solutions in the Middle East. Their goal is regime change. The three groups each suffer from a common delusion – they believe themselves to be ‘exceptional’. The only thing they truly have in common is that they are dangerous ideologues, utterly without compassion for the people who stand in their way.
b) Likud is not ‘Israel’; Likud is not ‘the Jews’ – Likud is an apartheid organisation with a vision of a single state that is the regional power. Similarly, the neoconservatives & liberal interventionists in Washington are not ‘America’ – they are a collection of vested interests that feed off state sponsored slaughter. And the Saudi family are not ‘Arabia’ – they are a family of pampered tyrants, placed in power to keep ‘order’ by the British, & kept there by the US in order to maintain the petrodollar. In what is clearly emerging as a strategic alliance against the Shia, this triad is WW3 waiting to happen – Russia and China will not stand quietly by whilst Iran is dismantled.
c) So long as citizens of the United States and the wider international community accept (or fail to even notice) the pre-supposition that every aggression committed by ‘us’ is a reaction to terror committed by ‘them’…and so long as we keep quiet for fear of being called a traitor, a troll, a racist, or something worse…we can expect more of the same – much more.
d) In the coming months we can expect to witness an increasing number of speeches and articles demonising Iran, along with a growing number of ‘serious incidents’, that will be used to justify reneging on the nuclear deal. The phoney war on Iran has entered a new phase.
It starts and ends with propaganda
Wars are justified with propaganda. Anyone who has studied history knows this to be true. And yet, when it comes to our wars…we are never guilty of it. Even if we know we did such things in the past, we tell ourselves that it doesn’t happen now. It does, and it’s been right under our noses for decades – it’s called ‘Palestine’.
“It doesn’t matter if justice is on your side. You have to depict your position as just” – Benjamin Netanyahu.
It is a rare to witness something that I find deeply disturbing, and yet realise in the same moment that I am not surprised – that it confirms something that I already knew.
I had such a moment last week, when I watched a film that was released in May by the Media Education Foundation: ‘The occupation of the American Mind – Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States’ – Parts 1 and 2.
The film opens with a view from a static camera that is pointing at a building about thirty yards away. Then we hear an ominous whooshing sound that heralds the arrival of an incoming rocket…the sound closes in very quickly and culminates in two massive explosions…the building ‘evaporates’, and a cloud of dust engulfs the camera. We are in the Gaza Strip:
“On July 8th 2014, Israel launched a devastating military attack on the Gaza Strip. Over the course of 51 days the Israeli military dropped nearly 20,000 tons of explosives on Gaza – a densely populated area the size of Philadelphia, killing over 2000 Palestinians and wounding tens of thousands more. The overwhelming number of these casualties, were civilians” – Roger Waters, Narrator.
I will not attempt to trace all the ground covered in this film – that would be impossible in a written piece. Neither will I attempt to convey the full gravity of the interview clips, which include Noam Chomsky and other people willing to speak truth to power. My purpose is to disturb you sufficiently for you to watch the film for yourself…so you can make up your own mind. I doubt you will receive similar encouragement from your government, and hell will be serving piña coladas before the mainstream media gives this film the attention it deserves.
Here are some issues that the film raises:
1. The Israeli government’s agenda is to make its occupation of Palestinian land into an irreversible ‘fact on the ground’.
Since its victory in the six-day war in 1967, from which it gained territory from Egypt and Syria, Israel has systematically and progressively occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This is in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 242, which states:
“Emphasising the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war…calling for the withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”
The programme of Israeli settlements is also in contravention of the 4th Geneva Convention, which specifically prohibits any state from transferring civilians into territory it occupies. The policy of settlement has been accelerated since the election of Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister, and it is clear to anyone who looks at the situation honestly that this strategy is ‘for keeps’ – that land is gone from the Palestinians – forever.
What does this mean in international law? It means that Israel is in breach, and that Palestinians are resisting an illegal occupation.
2. This agenda is ‘covered’ with a carefully managed narrative: Palestinian violence is ‘terrorism’. Violence carried out by the Israeli government is ‘self-defence’.
During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which was commenced in order to destroy members of the PLO situated near the border, Israel occupied almost 50% of the country, killed 17,000 Lebanese & Palestinian Arabs, and wounded in the region of 30,000 people, almost all of whom were civilians. This was an unmitigated PR disaster for Israel, particularly after the IDF were implicated in the massacre of Arab refugees at a camp in Beirut, photographs of which were televised throughout Europe, but more importantly, in America.
This led to a conference in 1984, which included PR and advertising gurus from across the globe, and the formulation of a policy known as ‘Hasbara’ (roughly translated as ‘explain’). As one participant put it:
“Israel is no longer perceived to be ‘little David’, but Goliath steamrolling across the map.”
Another delegate, Martin Fenton, was unhappy with the Hebrew word ‘Hasbara’. He suggested another word:
“Propaganda is not a dirty word…Face it: We are in the game of changing people’s minds, of making them think differently. To accomplish that we need propaganda.”
And what is the central message of the propaganda?
The occupation does not exist – all Palestinian resistance is terrorism – we are the innocent party – we are merely defending ourselves, which is our right.
Here is Phyllis Bennis from the Institute for Policy Studies:
“There have been horrific Palestinian terrorist attacks – and I use that word very specifically…what terrorism means is attacks on civilians for political purpose…those are horrific attacks which should be condemned, they are violations of international law – period. But the problem is that Israeli violence is assumed to be legitimate because it is always self-defence.”
And here is Youseff Munayyer, from the US Campaign to end the Israeli Occupation:
“And so this becomes the framing of the situation: Israel is defending itself, Israel is not the aggressor here. That doesn’t square with the reality on the ground, and we know that. You have the right to defend yourself, you don’t have the right to occupy people, deny them their human rights and then cry foul when they resist. That’s not the right to self-defence; that’s the right to repression. That’s what Israel is asking for here: let us do away with these Palestinian dissenters, and call it defence”.
3. The modus operandi for dealing with criticism is to move the debate – ‘Always make it about terror, never about territory’.
“What exists today must remain as a permanent arrangement in the west bank” – Moshe Dayan, Israel Minister of Defence, 1968.
At the Oslo Peace Conference of 1993, it was agreed that Israel would withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, which would have meant 78% of the land for Israel, 22% for the Palestinians. At that time there were 200,000 Israeli settlers living in occupied territory. Since 1993 that number has more than tripled to 650,000.
A particularly revealing part of the film is private footage of Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the home of Israeli settlers in 2001. He is seen talking to a group of them in a house on occupied territory:
Netanyahu: “They asked me before the election if I’d honour the Oslo accords. I said I would, but I’m going to interpret the accords in such a way that will allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the ’67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what ‘defined military zones’ were. Defined military zones are security zones. As far as I’m concerned the entire Jordan valley is a defined military zone.”
Israeli Woman: “But the world will say ‘how come you’re conquering again?”
Netanyahu: “I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction.”
In 2009 the Israeli government hired Frank Luntz, an American political consultant, to advise on how to reinforce its narrative, particularly in the US. Luntz created a document entitled ‘The Israel project – 2009 Global Language Dictionary”. Here are some extracts:
“The settlements are the single toughest issue for Israel…a strong majority of Americans (58%) agree with the simple statement that Israel should give back the land it captured in 1967…when you talk about land in terms of 1967, you can completely flip public sentiment against you. But if you call into question the danger of terrorists shooting down planes, you shore up support…The fight is over IDEOLOGY – not land; terror, not territory.”
The report goes on to recommend that politicians & spokespeople should constantly refer to the Hamas Charter, a document written by a group of Palestinian ideologues in 1988 calling for the destruction of Israel. The strategy of constant repetition was employed successfully, despite the fact that the Hamas Charter had been formerly dropped from their manifesto three years prior to the release of The Israel Project, in January 2006 – as reported here in the Guardian:
“Hamas has dropped its call for the destruction of Israel from its manifesto for the Palestinian parliamentary election in a fortnight, a move that brings the group closer to the mainstream Palestinian position of building a state within the boundaries of the occupied territories.”
More recently the strategy has shifted to cast Hamas as part of the al-Qaeda & ISIS network. This has been repeated time and time again by Netanyahu and other ministers…and faithfully parroted by US news anchors & political analysts. But it is a comparison that does not bear scrutiny. Here is US Military Central Command:
“Putting them (Hamas & Hezbollah) in the same sentence, (as al-Qaeda) as if they are all the same, is just stupid…the CENTCOM team directly repudiates Israel’s publicly stated view – that the two movements (Hamas & Hezbollah) are incapable of change and must be confronted with force…failing to recognise their separate grievances and objectives will result in continued failure in moderating their behaviour” – US CENTCOM, 2010.
Of course, privately Netanyahu knows that the comparison is ‘stupid’, as does anyone else who is aware that ISIS has attacked Hamas on a number of occasions. Here is the Guardian from 2015:
“Islamic State insurgents have threatened to turn the Gaza Strip into another of their Middle East fiefdoms, accusing Hamas, the organisation that rules the Palestinian territory, of being insufficiently stringent about religious enforcement.”
By contrast, Israel has never attacked ISIS, which it allows to shelter in the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan Heights, whilst ISIS attacks Syria.
The MO could not be clearer – ‘make it about terror, not territory’. Meanwhile, the stated position of the government is clearly stated in a document that is current. Here is what is says in the official document of the Likud Party – ‘The Likud Platform’:
“The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.”
The meaning of this could not be clearer – Likud has absolutely no intention of respecting UNSCR 242, no intention of drawing back from Palestinian occupied territory, and no intention of allowing a two state solution. This isn’t about terror – it’s about territory – and it always has been…
Death is a price they are prepared to pay – yours not theirs.
Leslie Stahl: “We have heard that half a million children have died (from the Iraq sanctions). I mean that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice. But the price–we think the price is worth it” –
From ‘60 minutes’, 12th May 1996.
It will not end with Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or the failed attempt at regime change in Syria. The main event still is, and always has been – Iran. They will kill however many people is necessary to achieve their aims…they will tell the world that it is entirely the fault of the evil Iranian government…and then they will claim that it saddens them that they were forced to do so.
Warmongering politicians always ‘regret’ civilian casualties. Bush did, Blair did; every government thug that has ever ordered an attack or a full-scale war always regrets the civilian casualties. They also never admit that any of it is their fault:
“We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children” – Golda Meir, Former Israeli Prime Minister, ‘A land of our own’, 1973.
Such an attempt to cast the killing of children as the act of a noble victim is just about as insidious as it gets…but denial is not the exception with politicians…it is the rule. If citizens want the perpetual warfare to cease, we are going to have to get off our backsides and make more noise…a lot more noise.
I am aware that what I’ve presented here is so out of kilter with the narrative of western governments and the mainstream media, that some may find it necessary to dismiss it as ‘conspiracy theory’, or perhaps even ‘anti-Semitism’.
That would be sad, but not surprising – it is one of the goals of propaganda to shield itself from criticism with such labels. When repeated often enough, people start to believe it.
But it does nothing to change the lives of Palestinians or Israelis; nor does it aid the many Jews around the world, some of whom are friends and colleagues of mine, who despise the policies of Benjamin Netanyahu and do not want them carried out in their name. And it will not stop the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia launching a totally unnecessary war on Iran.
As regards ‘conspiracy theory’ – for those who can’t bring themselves to believe that any so-called democratic government could carry out such policies, I’ll leave you with a question: Given that human political history is a 5000 year old tale of greed, corruption, lies, propaganda and warfare…does anything that ‘modern’ governments do really surprise you?
Please watch the film.
Mark’s blog is www.MarkGB.com & you can find him on Twitter @MarkGBblog