Sunday, 29 April 2012

Putsch in Israel?

A week after Israel’s army’s chief of staff opined that the Iranian leadership was “very rational” and expressed doubt that Iran would continue to develop its nuclear weapon to completion, Netanyahu and Barak, the duo that leads Israel into a collision course with Iran, were given another blow, this time by the former head of shabak, Israel’s internal secret service.

Yuval Diskin, until a year ago, head of the shabak, has just come out with an unusually strong-worded warning. Diskin warned of the risk posed – not by a possible Palestinian terror attack but - by no less than Netanyahu and Barak, the country’s prime minister and minister of defence.

Diskin said: "I don't believe in either the prime minister or the defence minister. I don't believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings." According to him, Barak and Netanyahu are misleading the public and unfit to hold power.

He is not alone. Meir Dagan, until a year ago, a feared and well-respected head of Israel’s mossad, is also making his voice heard against an Israeli attack of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Dagan referred to such an attack as “stupid”, explaining that it would be ineffective and that it could lead to an all out war.

These people are evidently worried.  

It is not a putsch, but it is an – in all likelihood - concerted attempt by heads and former heads of the security establishment to prevent Israel’s democratically elected government from carrying out its policy vis-à-vis Iran, by warning the Israeli population and the world about the mental state of Barak and Netanyahu. 

Only in Ireland

For years, Belfast was best known for mutual killing and maiming – Catholics and Protestants, Nationalists and Loyalists killed each other and made everybody’s life hell.

Things have quietened down since the Good Friday Agreement but Northern Ireland evidently wants to continue to be known for disaster. It perhaps misses the reputation it had during the bloody years. The wise men of Northern Ireland have come up with a brilliant idea: They spent 100 million Euros to build a sort of Titanic amusement park and named it The Titanic Experience. We are now being invited to “visit the birthday of the Titanic and experience the story”. 

Who the hell wants to experience the Titanic story? 

Well, evidently some do. Some Irish couples are said to be booking “Titanic themed wedding nights.” Can I suggest prenuptial agreements stipulating who gets the place in the lifeboat? 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Grass II – The Question not Asked

The Dutch coffee shop owner told me that as he has never heard of Gunter it couldn’t be high quality. Whatever the quality, Günter Grass’ anti-Israel stanza has caused much excitement, especially in Germany and in Israel.

Grass may be a fading old writer hankering after publicity. Maybe anti-Semitism has also played a role. Stupidly or maliciously he suggested that in a pre-emptive strike, Israel would annihilate the Iranian population. This is an outrageous accusation. He could have posed a morally tougher question:

The purpose of Israel’s nuclear weapons is for its enemies to believe that under certain circumstances they would be used. If Israel’s existence would be at risk, it would make use of these doomsday weapons.

For that to be an effective deterrent, it must be understood that an attack on Israel could lead to mutual destruction.

I expect that Grass, like many other non-Israelis if asked whether Israel should use its nuclear weapons AFTER it was attacked – would say NO. They would condemn the country that destroyed Israel, they would offer condolences to the bereaved, but they would not accept a counterattack.

Grass’s moral issue should have been the possible use by Israel of U-boats supplied by Germany to accomplish such an eye-for-an-eye.

Yishai on Grass is not Potty

Eli Yishai, Israel’s minister of the interior, a man who has probably never heard of, let alone read Günter Grass, has announced that Grass would not be permitted to enter Israel. This hysterical and populist announcement makes Israel more similar to Iran than to the West, it so very much hopes to be part of.
Shas, Yishai’s party, with its ten out of the 120 members of Israel’s parliament, has remarkable parallels with Iran: ultraorthodox, hatred spreading and homophobe. Like Iran, there is a man who runs government and there is a supreme spiritual leader. Rabbi Ovadia Joseph, Shas's supreme leader himself, is not a member of Israel’s government. He leaves that to Yishai and his colleagues who in turn obey their spiritual leader's instructions.
And now, the physical similarity: Israel’s Rabbi with his Deputy Prime Minister Yishai and Iran’s Ayatollah with President Ahmadinejad.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Günter Grass

In a poem published yesterday, Günter Grass has informed the world that he is worried about Israel’s possible use of German supplied U-boats to fire nuclear missiles at Iran. I hope that the Iranians share his worry, although, I also would not want Israel to initiate an attack on Iran.

At a time, when Iran is being pressurised to give up its nuclear ambition, an important question is whether it is morally right for Israel to possess nuclear weapons. Not one of the (other) eight countries that currently have nuclear weapons has enemies threatening them with extinction. Yet, Israel, from the first day of its existence, has been under the threat of destruction. The world stood by when Arab countries threatened to wipe out the “Zionist entity”, as they used to call Israel, and it stands by with Iran promising that the Jewish state would disappear.

Israel has never conceded to having a bomb and therefore has never threatened anyone with its nuclear power. But, would it not be legitimate for Israel to make it clear that before its existence would be in jeopardy, it would use its nuclear weapons?

Grass speaks of Israel the nuclear power that endangers world peace; of Israel that could in a pre-emptive strike wipe out the Iranian people. He does not define Iran as a country that endangers world peace. Iran, whose existence is not in danger nor has it been threatened, is working towards becoming a nuclear power. Why?

Grass makes much of what he says was his own difficulty in speaking out against Israel. In his own version of “some of my best friends are Jews” Grass assures us that he is committed to the Land of Israel (mind you, he speaks of the land not the state). I have no idea and that is not the issue, but there have been suggestions that anti-Semitism is rearing its head out of the Grass.

He would have been on safer ground had he attacked Israel on its occupation of the West Bank and the settlement of Israelis in the occupied territories. Unlike the Iranian question, this is an issue that has nothing to do with survival or security. It is just morally wrong. But in his poem, Grass dealt with his own angsts rather than with issues of morality.