Benjamin Netanyahu is visited the White House in order to put an end to the Iranian Accord and to “change the subject” of his criminal indictment.  He insists that Iran is a mortal threat to the State of Israel and a supporter of terrorism in the Middle East.  However, under Orthodox Judaism, this requires that Netanyahu word can only believe at "the mouth of two witnesses.”

Ronen Bergman in Rise and Kill First (2018) posits that the Mossad is a unit of the prime minister's office, and, under national law, reporting on any of its activities is subject to censorship.  On his last day as director of the Mossad Meir Dagan, he launched into a vehement attack on the prime minister of Israel.  Benjamin Netanyahu, Dagan claimed, was behaving irresponsibly and, for his own egotistical reasons, leading the country into disaster.  "That someone is elected does not mean that he is smart" was one of his jibes.

Netanyahu was showing him the door, and Dagan, whose life's dream had been to hold the position of Israel's top spy, was not going to stand by with folded arms.  The acute crisis of confidence between the two men had flared up around two issues, and both of them were intimately connected to Meir Dagan's weapon of choice: assassination.

Eight years earlier, Ariel Sharon had appointed Dagan to the Mossad post and put him in charge of disrupting the Iranian nuclear weapons project, which both men saw as an existential threat to Israel.  Dagan acted in a number of ways to fulfill this task.  The most difficult way, but also the most effective, Dagan believed, was to identify Iran's key nuclear and missile scientists, locate them, and kill them.  The Mossad pinpointed fifteen such targets, of whom it eliminated six, mostly when they were on their way to work in the morning, by means of bombs with short time fuses, attached to their cars by a motorcyclist.  In addition, a general of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who was in charge of the missile project, was blown up in his headquarters together with seventeen of his men.

These operations and many others initiated by the Mossad, some in collaboration with the United States, were all successful, but Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, had begun to feel that their utility was declining.  They decided that clandestine measures could no longer effectively delay the Iranian nuclear project, and that only a massive aerial bombardment of the Iranians' nuclear facilities would successfully halt their progress toward acquiring such weapons.

Dagan strongly opposed this idea.  Indeed, it flew in the face of everything he believed in that open warfare should be waged only when "the sword is on our throat," or as a last resort, in situations in which there was no other choice.  Everything else could and should be handled through clandestine means.

"Assassinations," he said, "have an effect on morale, as well as a practical effect.  I don't think there were many who could have replaced Napoleon, or a president like Roosevelt or a prime minister like Churchill.  The personal aspect certainly plays a role.  It's true that anyone can be replaced, but there's a difference between a replacement with guts and some lifeless character."

Avraham Burg in The Holocaust Is Over (2007) writes from a historical point of view about Netanyahu as then former prime minister.  Burg writes that our beloved Israel has fallen into the fatality trap: us, "the good" against "them," the demons, the ultimate enemy.  When every enemy is the absolute evil and every conflict is a war to the death, all is justified in our eyes.  We do not distinguish between levels of hostility nor do we view our enemies as rivals with possibly legitimate needs: they are all against us all the time, and all we can do is defend ourselves.  Even our armed forces, who specialize in attacking and taking initiative, are still called the "Israeli Defense Forces."  [Then] former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced to the U.S. Senate a few days after 9/11 that the attack was a turning point.  He said that critical war was imminent, in which the United States, led by George W. bush, would be the keeper of the gate.

Burg writes that Netanyahu is without doubt an expert propagandist on Israel in recent decades, and he aimed for his target.  He was speaking in Washington, D.C., but his audience was his own party in Israel [the Likud].  The press release from his office reported that Netanyahu presented the Associated Press with photos that showed body parts strewn among pizza from a suicide attack at a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem.  "Fifty years ago we defeated the Nazis with the consensus that the Nazis should be condemned.

When Hamas won the Palestinian elections [engineered by Condi Rice and Ariel Sharon], in January 2006 Netanyahu rushed to announce that we had a new tzorer, a term used to describe the very worst of Israel's historic enemies, like Hitler.  All Netanyahu's enemies are super enemies, and he and [then] President Bush lead the free world against these frightening creatures.  Many years of propaganda like this, using historically laden terminology, have resulted in perpetual hysteria: everything is a sign of fate and we are hanging in the balance, between existence and annihilation.  Propaganda tells us that we await total destruction or salvation, with nothing in between.  The war of 1948 was as significant as the ones in 1956 and 1967.  Who could deny the similarity between three weeks of anxious siege preceding the Six-Day War and the Shoah's ghettos and camps?  Was the country's fate not hanging in the balance in the Yom Kippur War of 1973?  When the Egyptians seized some Israeli posts on the Suez Canal in October 1973, defense minister Moshe Dayan, the great general, talked about the possible destruction of the Third Temple!  Netanyahu operates on prepared, cultivated ground, saturated with absolute evil, where the Jews are perpetually fighting for their survival.

Burg posits that Netanyahu follows the footsteps of many other talented, emotional speakers.  When we attacked Lebanon in 1982, launching a war of deceit, folly, and futility, Prime Minister Menachem Begin sent us out to fight Yasser Arafat, the "two-legged beast."  It was the same expression he had used thirty years earlier to describe Hitler.  He also liked to compare the Palestinian national Charter to Hitler's Mein Kampf.  "Never before in human history was such a despicable, wicked, armed organization formed--except for the Nazis," begin once said, referring to the Palestinian Liberation Organization.  Following the attack on Arafat's headquarters in Beirut, according to the Israeli historian Tom Segev, Begin told President Ronald Reagan that he felt as if he had sent the IDF to Berlin to kill Hitler in his bunker.  His cabinet secretary at the time, Arye Naor, testified that Begin persuaded his cabinet to launch the war in Lebanon with these words: "You know what I have done and what we have all done to avoid war and bereavement, but our fate in the Land of Israel is such that there is no choice but to fight and sacrifice.  Believe me that alternative is Treblinka, and we have decided that there will be no more Treblinka."  "Hitler is already dead, Mr. Prime Minister,: novelist Amos Oz retorted in the magazine Yediot Aharonot two weeks after that unnecessary war broke out.  "Again and again, Mr. Begin, you show the public your strange urge to revive Hitler in order to kill him anew in the form of terrorists.  The urge to recreate and re-eliminate Hitler again and again is the fruit of distress that poets are obliged to express, but for a statesmen this might lead to dangerous results."


The political debate between Oz, the prophet of the left, and begin, the icon of the right, was not about form but about substance, about the way of influencing history.  It was a struggle between the poet's distress and the politician's psychosis; it was a wrestling match between value systems, in the arena of words, over the use of language, in the case laundered language.  A harsh reality needs harsh words to describe it, live it, and survive it.  Laundered words allow to perceive soiled realities as clean.  We did not invent this method, but we improved it, as if we learned nothing from the evil ones who had laundered words before us.

Journalist Details Israel's 'Secret History' Of Targeted Assassinations


Ronen Bergman says that while Israel's shootings, poisonings, bombings and drone strikes against its perceived enemies were "tactical successes," they were also diplomatically harmful.


Trump Says He's Considering Attending Controversial Jerusalem Embassy Opening

President Trump and Melania Trump meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu, who visited the White House on Monday.

Evan Vucci/AP

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced snowballing corruption allegations at home, President Trump said, during the Israeli official's visit to Washington, that the relationship between the two nations is better than ever.

Trump said he is considering attending the mid-May opening of the controversial U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv is controversial because Palestinians also consider Jerusalem their capital. Indeed, as NPR's Jerusalem-based correspondent Daniel Estrin reported, Palestinian political leadership are currently boycotting the Trump administration because of the embassy decision.

On Monday Netanyahu effusively praised the embassy move, as he has before, saying that it will be "remembered by our people throughout the ages."

The leaders appeared eager to showcase their close bond, even as both face political tensions at home.

"We are very close in trade deals, we are very, very, close on military and terrorism and all the things we have to work together on. The relationship has never been better," said Trump as he sat with Netanyahu and their wives. Likewise, Netanyahu said that the relationship has "never been stronger" than under Trump.

The Associated Press reported that on Monday, a close confidant of Netanyahu agreed to turn state's witness in one of the cases, adding to the pressure already on him. Daniel previously outlined the allegations against Netanyahu on Weekend All Things Considered:

"Last month, police recommended Netanyahu be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two different corruption cases. He's suspected of accepting expensive gifts from a Hollywood producer and an Australian businessman in exchange for favors. He's also suspected of making a backroom deal with an Israeli newspaper publisher to help him with business in exchange for getting favorable coverage in his newspaper.

"And then, on Friday, just before Netanyahu left for Washington, police questioned him and his wife for several hours about suspicions that he gave regulatory favors to a major telecom company in exchange for positive coverage on a news website that that company owns."

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing, as Daniel has reported, and "he's questioned the motives of law enforcement, he's accused the media of a witch hunt."

Before departing, Netanyahu described this as a "very important visit." It's his fifth with Trump since the U.S. president took office last year. And Netanyahu said that Iran was on the top of the agenda.

"Iran must be stopped, that is our common challenge," Netanyahu said.

Conspicuously low on the agenda is discussion of any possible "peace deal" with the Palestinians, which Trump has previously stated is a goal of his.

"Trump administration officials led by Jared Kushner have spent this year drafting a proposal for Mideast peace. And they say they're going to present it very soon," Daniel reported this weekend.

Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, has recently had his security clearance downgraded and it's not clear how that has impacted his efforts. Trump reiterated Monday that a peace deal would be a "great thing."

During this visit, Netanyahu is also set to meet with AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group. The prime minister's goal, Daniel has reported, is to use the visit to shore up support as he faces mounting challenges at home.

Burg declares that Netanyahu has dreams of Empire just as strong as Hitler's.  Burg states that there was a time when the sun never set on the British Empire It was a political as well as a natural phenomenon--the territory was so vast that it included all the world's datelines.  The new German empire of Emperor Wilhelm II and Reichskanzler Otto von Bismarck envied Great Britain.  The Germans also wanted a United Kingdom, elevated international status, and colonies to enrich their domestic economy at the expense of distant peoples basking under an imperial sun.  Thus the German empire developed a rhetoric that that expressed its entitlement to a "place under the sun."  This was thanks to a combination of an inferiority complex in the face of Great Britain's might, a dash of German hot-tempered quarrelsomeness, and, above all, a willingness to fight and sacrifice to get that place in the sun.  When their rhetoric ripened and was ready for action, Germany launched occupation wars in Africa and elsewhere.

One generation later, there was no empire or emperor, just a weak and defeated Weimar Republic.  The rhetoric remained, but the reasons had changed.  Germany was feeling claustrophobic within its borders.  The demagoguery of place fell on willing ears, and Germany felt compelled to create a Lebensraum, living space, for itself in the East.  Lebensraum was one of Hitler's two obsessions; the other was the Jews.  Poland, perceived as a thorn in Germany's side, was the challenge, a seductive prize for the Nazi hunters.  Late in 1939 Hitler began his campaign to erase Polish "nationhood," including its intelligentsia, the standard-bearers of Polish nationalism.  Hitler hoped to annex Polish lands to Germany and to populate them with Volksdeutche, Aryans, and ethnic Germans who lived in the Baltic States and Eastern Poland.  "A place under the sun," in the Judeo-German lexicon means something very specific and sinister.

Burg asks, Why then, did Binyamin Netanyahu name his book (in Hebrew), of all names, A Place Under the Sun?  Is it because the narrative speaks of the rightest, paranoid belief in nothing but power and settlements to counterbalance the Arab demographic threat?  Is this subliminal admission that with the expansion to the east and de-facto annexation--an Anschluss--of Judaea, Samaria, and the Golan, an Israeli Empire was born?  Is it a manifestation of claustrophobia pangs in the Jewish ghetto mindset that seeks relief by breaking out into a broader living space?  It may just be literary insensitivity on Netanyahu's part, another instance of the endless paradoxical expressions that Hitler and the Shoah left us to struggle with.

Views: 78

Comment by mary gravitt on March 19, 2018 at 12:04pm

Sometimes your friends are your worst enemy.  Trump is so me-me that he cannot even hold his wife's hand.  Little things mean alot--a lot?

Comment by koshersalaami on March 19, 2018 at 2:29pm

Netanyahu is a putz, and I’m telling you this as probably the most prominent Zionist on the site. His addressing Congress without bothering to inform President Obama about it up front was one of the most disgraceful things I’ve ever seen. I have disagreed with almost anything he’s ever done regarding the West Bank, not to mention a whole lot within Israel, both in terms of breaking promises to the liberal Jewish (religious) movements, to which I belong, and in terms of treatment of Arab Israelis, by which I mean citizens. 

A lot of guys in the Israeli government have a nasty tendency to use Holocaust language. They overuse it, certainly, and for political reasons they tend to exaggerate threats. 

However, the rest of the world tends to underestimate threats, and also exaggerate guilt compared to any other country or entity in the world. This would take a much, much longer conversation, which I realize is difficult to have with you because of your limited internet access. But I’ll touch on two points here because they came up in your post.

The first has to do with Iran. Israel did not reach conclusions about an Iranian threat simply because of their working on nuclear weapons; they reached such conclusions because of Iranian arming, training, and directing Hezbollah against Israel. Make no mistake about it: Iranian actions have resulted directly in Israeli deaths. When the last fighting with Hezbollah took place, the Israelis hadn’t crossed the Lebanese border for six years when Hezbollah struck. Also, Iranian rhetoric about Israel has been over the top for years, including their holding military parades with Israeli destinations written on their missiles. The head of Israeli intelligence may have stated, correctly, that Netanyahu overestimated the Iranian threat, but don’t think for a minute that the threat didn’t exist or that the threat didn’t originate with Iran rather than with Israel. Coverage of Israel’s actions without coverage of Iran’s is not good coverage. Netanyahu may be exaggerating threats but I’m afraid he’s not fabricating them. 

The second has to do with Jerusalem. I could get into the history of Jerusalem including where the Jewish Quarter was and for how long, but I’ll keep it way simpler than that: The Israeli government predates 1967 by quite a bit, so the government buildings were constructed in West Jerusalem. Where the embassy is likely to go is within 1967 borders, for one thing because vehicular access to the old city isn’t easy for a large group of commuting workers. Why anyone objects to anything within 1967 borders is an interesting question, because that’s what everyone talking about Israel uses as a guideline, unless of course they’re not serious about Israel’s continued existence, which I’m afraid makes Netanyahu right about existential threats. 

When dealing with the Israelis, it really helps to understand who they are and what their experience looks like. Basically, damned near the entire Jewish population has either experienced persecution firsthand or is closely descended from people who have. The Soviet Jews couldn’t be Jewish according to the government, and if you want to know how Russians are about that, look at Putin recently alleging that maybe Jews in Russia were responsible for the American hacking. The Mediterranean and Arab state Jews ended up in hostile climates, in some cases after living where they’d lived for a ridiculously long time - the Iraqi population, threatened into leaving by the Baathists, had been there for two and a half millenia, and that still wasn’t long enough to be fully accepted. The other (non-Soviet, though these populations overlap) European Jews had most of their population wiped out, literally one out of every three Jews in the world, and got no significant help from any other nation at holding these numbers down, either by taking in refugees or doing something as simple as bombing rail lines to the concentration camps. When people threaten, they listen, because they know the cost of not listening and that those not directly experiencing threats can afford to be a whole lot more sanguine about safety that applies to other people. There hasn’t been a single minute since 1948 when some surrounding country wasn’t talking about destroying them. Including Iran. 

It also helps to look at comparative consequences of losing wars. Egypt and Syria at least have lost two wars with Israel. What were the consequences? Really, for countries that lost wars, pretty much nothing. No Israel taking over their government, no regime change at all, no reparations, nothing. If Israel loses, that’s not remotely a likely scenario. IF you think it is, you need to look up what Hamas and Hezbollah say about Jews. 

It further helps to understand the size of the country. You live in a state that dwarfs all of Israel. The distance between the Golan Heights and the Mediterranean is basically a commute, and not all that long a commute. That’s how far an army has to cross to cut the whole country in two. This is by nature a very insecure place. Being a very insecure place, they take threats way more seriously than we’re used to anyone taking threats because they understand viscerally that they can’t afford not to.

I’m not saying this to justify whatever they do in the West Bank. I think they’re wrong nearly 100% of the time there and also with how they treat internal minorities (a totally different issue). However, when you deal with people whose policies you want to change, you have to know what worries them, not just why you can’t stand them. They see themselves as very isolated and, in many respects, they’re right, not just because of their conduct, but because they are held more responsible for their conduct than most other nations or groups are held for theirs. I’m afraid this is just true. If the Israelis talked about Muslims like the surrounding populations talked about Jews, we’d never hear the end of it, but we don’t hear about how Muslims in the surrounding populations talk about Jews because it isn’t reported. You can be Muslim and in the Israeli parliament but you can’t be Jewish and a PA citizen or, without special dispensation, even a visitor to Saudi Arabia. Far more Palestinians have been killed in Syria than in Israel but you’d never know it because it isn’t reported. Asymmetry in standards is guaranteed to result in paranoia, but to scream about paranoia while ignoring its causes is hypocritical. 

I can’t stand the Israeli government, but I understand very well why the people are susceptible to rhetoric about the Holocaust. Most of the world is complicit in that susceptibility. 

Comment by mary gravitt on March 19, 2018 at 2:41pm

This is why an understanding of history is so important.  Because Americans don't like history, most of us cannot see that we are being led back into the 19th century and into a war we thought were assigned to the history books.  Fresh Air had an interesting show today and introduced a book called Semitism.  I hope to review it.

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on March 19, 2018 at 3:14pm

Holy fucking hell, KB...  I don't know where to start on that hot mess you just commented!

I guess I'm just going to have to pick and choose (or else my comment will be as long winded as your's)

Iranian actions have resulted directly in Israeli deaths.

Israeli assassins have resulted directly in Iranian deaths!  If Israel can attack, others DO get a right to defend.  Hezbollah is both an Irani and Syrian defense against even MORE Israeli land theft (Golan Heights LAND THEFT much, KB?) and the constant threat of Mossad assassins who are VERY willing to blow up innocent people just to kill the one the want to MURDER!

No Israel taking over their government, no regime change at all, no reparations, nothing. If Israel loses, that’s not remotely a likely scenario. IF you think it is, you need to look up what Hamas and Hezbollah say about Jews. 

Wow...  now THERE is some bullshit!  Israel took over a large part of Syria, FFS!  They have continued to both covertly and overtly attack Syria with their puppet ISIL and US furnished F-16s.  If both Hamas and Hezbollah say Israel is a bunch of land stealing, blood thirsty murderers who have no right to 99.9% of the land they CONTINUE TO STEAL I agree with them!

You can be Muslim and in the Israeli parliament...

Sure you can...  you just don't ever dare speak or THEN you get thrown out...

Far more Palestinians have been killed in Syria than in Israel but you’d never know it because it isn’t reported.

What YOU are failing to report is that those Palestinians (which are in Syria in the first place because they were driven out of their homes and lands by Zionists who refuse to allow them back) were predominately killed through Israeli military actions and/or by Israeli's ISIL puppet that they both helped to create and who they aid and support!

Comment by koshersalaami on March 19, 2018 at 6:22pm

Iran’s backing of Hezbollah predates Israeli assassinations. You put the cart before the horse. It’s Israel who was defending. 

If you think Israel took over a large part of Syria, you either don’t know how to read a map or don’t know what “large” means. As to why, I spoke to people working in a kibbutz below the heights who used to be subjected to Syrian sniper fire while farming in the fields. Israel, on the other hand, gives medical aid to people wounded near their border. Either side, civilian or military, no questions asked. Your sources don’t talk about that, do they?

Even with the horrific bullshit happening to Arab Knesset members now, Arabs in Israel are still more welcome than Jews anywhere in the area, emphatically including the PA, in spite of the fact that there are Jews who are religiously opposed to the existence of Israel. Ultra-Orthodox Jews. No comparison, even now. Of course, we know the LGBT comparison, but you seem to feel free to ignore that. And please don’t start about Pinkwashing again. It’s awfully easy to Pinkwash when Hamas leadership executes a senior military leader for being gay. Your silence was deafening. I at least don’t excuse everything the Israelis do.

There’s an awful lot of disagreement about ISIL., and I’m being generous here. Destabilizing the area in favor of Muslim fundamentalists doesn’t do Israel any good, so that’s not the most realistic of assessments. The Assad’s may be murderous, but they’re at least sane and predictable. ISIL is neither. 

Comment by mary gravitt on March 21, 2018 at 1:11pm

History is the only thing we can rely on.  I don't mean the history that is written by the West.  We have to see how the Balfure Decision has crippled the Middle East.  Until the British want to break the Ottoman Empire to its own benefit, Arabs and Jews got along in Palestine.  It was the West that abused the Jews.  All this came about because the European pagan leader saw Christianity as power.

Comment by koshersalaami on March 21, 2018 at 5:44pm

Arabs and Jews got along in the Middle East as long as Jews knew their place. 

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on March 21, 2018 at 5:55pm

Arabs and Jews got along in the Middle East as long as Jews knew their place. 

Wow, KB...  just Wow.  

P.S.  Propagandize much???

Jewish life in Iran was 'always better than in Europe'

Iran is frequently at odds with Israel, despite having the second biggest Jewish community in the Middle East. DW's Theresa Tropper spoke with the director of Tehran's Jewish Committee, about why that is the case.

BTW, Siamak Morasadegh, who was interviewed for this article, is a doctor, member of parliament and director of Tehran's Jewish Committee.  That means he actually knows what he is is talking about, as opposed to hasbara spewers like KB.


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