Israel’s real fear about the Iran deal: It puts pressure on the occupation
By James North and Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss
Saturday, Jul 18, 2015
For years we have been warned that Iranian nukes would be a threat to Israel’s very existence. But now that there’s a deal on the nukes, the mask has slipped a little. The problem isn’t really Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The real problem is that Iran is challenging Israel in the region.
Netanyahu gave a statement yesterday where he said what Israel really wants is regime change, because of Iran’s “aggressive behavior.”
The leading international powers have bet our collective future on a deal with the foremost sponsor of international terrorism….
Amazingly, this bad deal does not require Iran to cease its aggressive behavior in any way.
“Aggressive behavior” doesn’t mean a threat to Israel’s very existence. It’s the fact that Iran opposes the Israeli occupation of Palestine and has proxies that create enormous resistance, some of it violent, to that military occupation. Netanyahu focused in his speech on Hezbollah.
Netanyahu doesn’t have all that much to worry about, though. Israel’s allies in the United States seem to understand that the Iran deal is inevitable, and they’re working now to try to limit the damage to Israel’s regional power.
In fact, President Obama is selling the deal by saying it is only about Iran’s nukes. Speaking to Tom Friedman of the New York Times, Obama pointed out that Netanyahu once claimed to care about nukes:
“We are not measuring this deal by whether it is changing the regime inside of Iran,” said the president. “We’re not measuring this deal by whether we are solving every problem that can be traced back to Iran, whether we are eliminating all their nefarious activities around the globe. We are measuring this deal — and that was the original premise of this conversation, including by Prime Minister Netanyahu — Iran could not get a nuclear weapon. That was always the discussion.”
Iran is still evil in our eyes, Obama assured Friedman. But trying to change the Iranian regime is like Ronald Reagan trying to change the Soviet regime:
“[W]here I completely admire [Reagan] was his recognition that if you were able to verify an agreement that [was negotiated] with the evil empire that was hellbent on our destruction and was a far greater existential threat to us than Iran will ever be,” then it would be worth doing.
Obama is signalling to Senate Democrats like Chuck Schumer that he will continue to support the rightwing Israel lobby agenda: No pressure on the occupation. This means that when the French resolution comes up in the U.N. to create a Palestinian state this fall, Obama will come out against it, as part of his political bargaining to get support for the Iran deal.
Hillary Clinton is sending the same signal. Her support for the Iran deal is only to the extent that it is focused on Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s backing of Israel’s enemies remains her main concern — the fight against “Iran’s other bad actions” must continue, she says. Daily Beast:
“I think this is an important step that puts a lid on Iran’s nuclear programs,” she concluded, “and it will enable us to turn our attention, as it must, to doing what we can with other partners in the region and beyond to try to prevent and contain Iran’s other bad actions.”
Clinton has already indicated to her rich friends in the lobby that she is going to oppose any effort to condemn Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
That is one of the big payoffs of the Iran deal for those of us in the growing movement for justice in Israel/Palestine. It will remove a huge distraction that Israel has used for years to justify the occupation: the “existential threat” of Iran. Now more and more people will be able to look at the real problem, the fact that half the people Israel rules over have second class citizenship or no rights at all, because they’re not Jewish, and this situation has become a giant grievance across the Arab and Muslim world. That is something Americans need to talk about. The Iran deal makes that conversation more likely.
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