Monday, November 17, 2008

Emanuel Sr., Ahmadinejad and common sense

In a recent contribution to Harry's Place, Ben Cohen, the editor of Z-Word Blog, takes on those who saw the appointment of Rahm Emanuel to the influential post of Chief of Staff in Barack Obama's future administration as the continuation of the George W. Bush Administration’s pro-Israel policies. Emanuel is the son of Benjamin Emanuel, an Israeli medical doctor and former member of the rightwing Irgun paramilitary group that carried out countless atrocities against Arabs in the 30s and 40s.

Before actually writing the magic words "conspiracy theorists," Cohen lambasts critics of the appointment in the following terms:

Perspectives like these echo the basic thesis of Mearsheimer and Walt’s flawed book “The Israel Lobby” - that the disproportionate representation of pro-Israel individuals and groups in the upper echelons of US government determines why the US does what it does. And that, perhaps, is a more comforting explanation than the more obvious conclusion, namely that the basic values and strategic goals of the US and Israel spectacularly coincide.

It's beautiful to believe in values in foreign policy, but it's also somehow naïve. Countries are markedly egoistic when it comes to dealing with other countries. Also, one has a hard time grasping how supporting the tyrannical monarchy in Saudi Arabia can be a basic value, or even a coincident strategic goal, of the US and Israel.

That aside, it's worth it to pay a look at the conspiracy theorists' evidence. Rahm Emanuel is said to be an Israeli citizen. While I haven't found conclusive evidence to support this claim, very respectable sources have upheld it. Also, he worked as a civilian volunteer at an Israeli Army base during the first Gulf War.

Does this mean he'll tilt Obama's administrarion towards Israel's interests? One very significant person seems to believe so -- Rahm Emanuel's father. According to the Jerusalem Post,

In an interview with Ma'ariv, Emanuel's father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, said he was convinced that his son's appointment would be good for Israel. "Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel," he was quoted as saying. "Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."

Although Rahm was quick to disengage himself from the racist overtones of his father's statement, he didn't deny the part of influencing Obama in Israel's favor. Still, believing in Emanuel Sr.'s words about his own son is considered by Ben Cohen and similar pundits to be theoretically conspirative, or, in more worldly language, antisemitic.


We all know Iran plans to get nukes, don't we? They're refining uranium, and they said that they want to destroy Israel. This they expect to achieve by dropping a nuclear bomb on Tel Aviv, for instance.

Although I can't use the words "conspiracy theory," since they're a trademark registered by someone else, I'm entitled, as a citizen of the free world, to ask for some evidence for the claims.

Is there any? While we are day in and day out bombarded with information about Iran's rhetoric about wiping out Israel, the fact is that there has been no announcement that Iran itself will do the annihilation. On the contrary, in a story earlier this year the official news agency IRIB clarified that:

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that the Zionist regime is inherently doomed to annihilation and there is no need for Iranians to take action.

My emphasis. These words should have brought relief to the international Zionist community, but for some reason they were not given the same relevance as other Ahmadinejad statements.

The clown who rules Iran (or, at least, serves as its president; the true rulers are the mullahs) may have talked, thus, about the obliteration of Israel (or of the Zionist regime, which is not the same; but I won't pretend to know Farsi), but he has also clearly stated that the destruction will come about spontaneously and it's not Iran's business to speed it up. This is "spectacularly coincident" with Iran's proven history of never having attacked another country.

Also, no evidence has been provided by any agency that Iran currently pursues nuclear weapons. As Prof. Gerald Steinberg reports:

The U.S. government's latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has concluded that Iran froze its active efforts to manufacture nuclear weapons in 2003, and will not have such a capability until at least 2012.

So, how can we say that Iran wants to get nukes to bomb Israel with?

The only answer is common sense. You see, if Iran hates Israel, and Iran is enriching uranium, it logically follows that Iran will try to get a bomb for use against its declared foe.

But, if we are going to be led by common sense, it's also logical to think that an ardent Zionist who collaborated with the Israeli army, whose father is Israeli and who may himself hold Israeli citizenship will try and tilt the Obama administration towards Israel's interests, like his father says -- even when a neutral stance would be more convenient to the US's interests.

But for some reason, using common sense in the case of Rahm Emanuel is considered antisemitic. And NOT using common sense in the case of Ahmadinejad (and asking for solid evidence for the nuclear-weapons-pursuit claim) is also considered antisemitic.

It's sort of boring when you're an antisemite no matter what.


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