America easily takes top honors, followed by Israel, Britain, and France, the real axis of evil.
In Israel’s case, it’s easy to see why. It’s been top regional rogue state for decades. No other Middle East nation matches it.
A new European Commission poll rated 15 countries. Respondents called Israel the biggest threat to world peace. So did past surveys, including a previous 2003 European Commission one.
New developments provide added reasons for concern. On November 2, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) headlined, “Israeli Government Grants A Green Light to Gaza Offensive,” saying:
Air and ground attacks depend on if resistance fighters resume firing rockets. They respond to premeditated Israeli bombing and/or shelling. Israel calls it terrorism. International law calls it self-defense.
Egypt tried brokering peace. On and off ceasefires followed. “Israeli sources stated that no shells were fired into southern Israel Tuesday, and the army decided to postpone what it called ‘stepping up its retaliation.’ ”
Others call it premeditated aggression, bogusly claimed to be self-defense. Further Israeli belligerence depends “on the severity of Palestinian attacks.”
Army forces were authorized to strike Gaza “and will not need to wait for another government decision….” However, no action’s planned while Egypt negotiates with Gazans.
On November 2, Haaretz headlined, “Netanyahu trying to persuade cabinet to support attack on Iran,” saying:
He and Defense Minister Ehud Barak favor military action. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Iran poses the most dangerous threat to world order. His comments are extremist rants, not thoughtful reason.
Cabinet opponents outnumber belligerents. Despite recent attention on Gaza, “political leaders have diverted their attention to arguing over a possible war with Iran.”
No decision was reached, and if made announcing it won’t follow. As long as media reports discuss internal debates, war remains unlikely. On June 7, 1981, when Israel destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, it wasn’t suggested in advance. The element of surprise was maintained. Enemies aren’t alerted to prepare.
On October 28, journalist Nahum Barnea discussed the possibility, saying Israel’s military/intelligence leaders oppose it. He also explained how Israeli political and military officials operate, saying:
“….(T)he political echelon decides, the operational level implements….But the process is more complex than” what’s commonly believed. Israel’s “professional level is an equal partner in discussions (on) every relevant subject” under consideration.
“In actual practice, the prime minister cannot make a decision that entails risks if (all or most top officials, including) the defense minister, the chief of staff, the Mossad director, and the GSS (General Security Service) director” oppose it.
Even with majority cabinet support, “he would not dare.” If he failed, he’d be held accountable. On major issues like war, as close to consensus as possible is needed to act.
Despite no evidence suggesting an Iranian nuclear weapons program, Netanyahu told Knesset members on October 31 that its regional power and influence is growing, saying:
“One of those regional powers is Iran, which is continuing its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. A nuclear Iran would constitute a grave threat to the Middle East and the entire world, and, of course, it is a direct and grave threat on us.”
Omitted was admitting Israel is nuclear armed and dangerous. On November 2, reports said it successfully test fired a ballistic missile from its Palmahim airbase.
Britain earlier confirmed it has intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear capability. An acknowledged regional menace, Israel threatens preemptive nuclear attack if endangered.
In contrast, Iran hasn’t attacked another nation in over 200 years and threatens none now, including Israel. Cooler heads there know it. Claiming an Iranian threat is political posturing and rhetoric to incite fear.
Nonetheless, former defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer fears a “horror scenario” attack. Warning of a “rash act,” he said he hopes “common sense will prevail.”
That and politics rarely mix. Sometimes dire consequences result. Armed to the teeth, Israel is a modern day Sparta. Belligerence often becomes first option.
Rhetoric aside, attacking Iran seems improbable. Unlike Gaza and Lebanon, it can strike back forcefully with considerable damage. It’s hard imagining Israel would risk it.
On October 2, Haaretz said “Iran’s military chief warned Wednesday that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear development sites will come at a heavy price,” according to the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA).
Iranian Joint Chiefs of Staff head Hassan Firouzabadi warned Israel and America against belligerence, saying:
“The US officials know that the Zionist regime’s military attack against Iran will inflict heavy damages to the US seriously as well as the Zionist regime.”
At the same time, Israel’s Air Force conducted comprehensive long range attack drills from NATO’s Decimomannu air base in Sardinia. Another one took place last week with six different type squadrons participating.
Normally these drills last two weeks. This one ended after five days. Some suggested a possible planned mission. Conspiracists mentioned Iran. Others call it unlikely.
Israel Responds to UNESCO Admitting Palestine
Anything harming its interests or causing embarrassment draws harsh responses. After UNESCO admitted Palestine, Netanyahu halted Palestinian Authority (PA) tax revenue transfers, pending whether to stop them altogether.
He also banned UNESCO missions to Israel. Other responses are being considered, including revoking VIP privileges for Palestinian officials to pass freely through military checkpoints.
IMEMC said Netanyahu also ordered significantly expedited settlement construction in East Jerusalem, Maaleh Adumin and Gush Etzion.
Abbas spokesperson Nabil Abu Rodeina said doing so deters restarting peace talks, and withholding tax revenues constitutes “theft as this money belongs to the Palestinian people.” At issue is $50 million monthly for essential operations.
Palestinian officials called Israel’s actions “outrageous and a slap to the international community.” They asked Quartet members to intervene on their behalf.
In August, OCHA said Israeli settlements violate international law, including Fourth Geneva. A September UN report called Gaza’s siege illegal. It focused on humanitarian crisis conditions caused. It provided testimonies of victims and eye witness reports.
It acknowledged great harm done to education, health, housing, employment, reconstruction, and overall human development and welfare. It called the situation for children “alarming,” explaining:
“Having familiarized itself with the situation in Gaza, the Special Committee is convinced that Israel’s oppressive policies constitute a form of collective punishment of civilians.”
“Israel’s regime of closures and the practices by which this regime is enforced are having disproportionate impact on civilians. It is in this light that Israel’s siege must be adjudged to be in violation of international humanitarian law and to result in the violation of a wide range of Israel’s obligations under international human rights law.”
As a result, the Committee called on Israel “to lift its illegal siege….and to ensure a regular, sufficient supply of food, medicines, and other basic supplies and services, in line with Security Council resolution 1860 (2009).”
The Committee also wants Israel to end its three nautical mile limit for Palestinian fishing by “bring(ing) its policy into line with what it agreed as part of the Oslo Accords, namely a 20 nautical mile limit for Gaza’s fishermen.”
Palestinians also deserve much more, including full de jure UN membership, freedom from occupation, and world community protection to end decades of lawless oppression and attacks.
In other words, they want what most other states enjoy. It can’t come a moment too soon.
* Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon.