Wiping another Country off the Map: Israel does it to Palestine

By Juan Cole

Back when the warmongers had hopes of ginning up a war between the United States and Iran during the Bush administration, one of their propaganda talking points was the Iran had “threatened to wipe Israel off the map.”

When we look at Gaza’s before and after pictures (below) it becomes clear that the charge is more appropriate to Israel itself.

The late Christopher Hitchens, who went off the deep end at the end of his life, joining with the Neoconservatives in hoping for Iran to be so targeted, was furious with me for questioning this underpinning of the war effort.

I pointed out that there is no such idiom in Persian and that the phrase was a quotation from Imam Khomeini in the 1980s, quoted by then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What Khomeini had said was “This Occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” Ahmadinejad said he hoped the Zionist enterprise would collapse just as had the rule of the shah in Iran or that of the Soviet Union. Iran’s then president (who is not head of the armed forces) had no authority to order tanks to roll on Israel. There were several countries in between, so Iran cannot attack Israel militarily even if it wanted to. Israeli fighter jets would make mince meat of a conventional Iranian invasion, and anyway Israel has several hundred atomic bombs, which are rather a deterrent.

The argument from Ahmadinejad’s use of the Khomeini quote was based on a bad translation. But it was also a logical fallacy, belonging, I think, to the family of “irrelevant appeals.” The Iranian leadership does not like Zionism or Jewish nationalism, and wishes it would fade away and collapse (“vanish from the page of time”). This rhetorical hatred, however, has nothing to do with military threats. Iran has no air force or navy to speak of and its military budget is in the same ballpark as Norway and Singapore. Equating hateful speech to an intent to launch aggressive warfare is silly.

Note that the current president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, elected last summer, doesn’t engage in over the top rhetoric and so there have been no attempts to demonize him and use him as a pretext for attacking Iran. Iran has the same regime, so the real difference in only that propaganda via ad hominems has become more difficult.

But after the last three weeks it is clear, in any case, who is in the business of actually wiping other countries off the map. The RT report below shows UN aerial photos showing entire neighborhoods in Gaza razed by the Israeli military. Over 5,000 building have been destroyed and over 26,000 have been damaged. This is a significant proportion of Gaza’s housing stock, and the Israelis want to make sure that the damage cannot be repaired. As the Gandolfo article makes clear, water sewage treatment plants aren’t working because the Israelis bombed the power station (this was deliberate; they knew exactly where it was). Babies have died in Gaza hospitals because their incubators ceased functioning.

Related Video

RT: “Satellite footage: Gaza destruction before & after Israel’s bombs”

15 Responses

  1. When one looks at the four historical maps, sometimes reported here, that show the growth of Jewish areas and the reduction of Palestinian areas in what is now Israel+occupied territories (including Gaza), it is obvious who has been engaged in wiping someone off the map (with help from the U.S.). I’m often amazed by the extreme rhetoric, and the extreme reversal employed by Zionists. I recall Sharon ridiculing Palestinians who wanted to return to their homes before they died, “like salmon swimming upstream.” This from the leader of a nation that says its fundamental basis is the right of people who never lived there to “return.” The Zionists accuse their critics of being racist, this from a group based on race (or religion . . . the terms vary depending on what is convenient for the argument). To the extent that it is not consciously done, I suppose this is “projection.” But I have to think it is mostly a consciously used technique . . . like “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” using lies to attack Kerry’s bravery, when their own candidate “served” during the Vietnam war by partying and working in his daddy’s campaign.

  2. Where is your criticism of Obama in this? If Bush or any other Republican were president, you would be hammering him nonstop. Obama is presiding over this massacre of Palestinians, but you are soft-pedaling his role in acquiescing to Israel. This shows your Democratic Party bias. It doesn’t matter who is president. Israel does what it wants and the U.S. is silent. As long as this continues, Palestinians suffer because the U.S. is not an honest broker. The Israel lobby is in control regardless of who is in the White House.

    • During operation “Cast Lead,” in late 2008, the incoming Obama administration didn’t utter a word of protest–not one. They used the excuse of non-being in office yet. Netanyahu ended Cast Lead just days before Obama was inaugurated.

      A Republican president would have also been “hammered nonstop” if he escalated drone attacks or the war in Afghanistan. Obama could have stopped these wars as soon as he took office in Jan. 2009.

      Unlike George, Obama is a VERY CLEVER “War President.”

      • Obama could have stopped these wars as soon as he took office in Jan. 2009.

        Except for Obama’s pledging fealty to Israel and its lobby at the AIPAC convention in 2008.

      • Operation Cast Lead commenced on December 27th, 2008 – just two days after Christmas. This would serve two purposes –

        (1)it would not interfere with the Christmas tourism season in Israel;

        (2)Western governments were largely closed down for the holidays.

        Further, George W. Bush was in the post-election lame duck segment of his second term and had little reason to restrain Israel from committing wholesale war crimes as would occur and be found by the Goldstone Commission.

        Operation Cast Lead ended on January 18, 2009 – two days before the Obama inauguration – so the Obama administration would not be burdened with the need to be adversarial with Israel in an attempt to achieve a cease-fire.

        “Netanyahu ended Cast Lead just days before Obama was inaugurated.”

        This is erroneous. PM Ehud Olmert was the head of the Israeli government during Operation Cast Lead and his Kadima party was facing upcoming elections – Hamas publicly declared that Cast Lead was initiated for the purpose of advancing the Kadima Party in those election races. As it turned out, Netanyahu had a significant rise in polling during this military operation and would eventually be elected as prime minister within a few months and the Likud making a very strong showing.

        • I stand corrected about Olmert heading the Israeli govt. during Cast Lead. The incoming Obama administration refused to make any comment, so it all worked out very nice and neat.

          Today, this captured Israeli soldier might give Obama another out so Netanyahu can go all in. I don’t think Bibi will go nuclear but it depends on WHICH WAY THE WIND BLOWS.

  3. Exactly why is it ‘hateful’ to hope for an Apartheid regime to vanish from the pages of history?

    • I had much the same question. After all, it isn’t just an apartheid regime, but one largely based on taking land from the former inhabitants, expelling some of them, and oppressing those who remain. Perhaps the answer lies in perspective. From the perspective of Israel, it is hateful for these truths to be spoken. From the perspective of an objective observer, they are merely truthful statements. Being perceived as “hateful” by the perpetrator doesn’t mean it is “hate speech.” And Professor Cole didn’t say that it is.

  4. The Israeli state project from the first has been both exclusionary and revolutionary: to create and maintain a majoritarian Jewish state that has the social and economic dynamism of the most advanced countries of the West, but while the latter have become inclusive and multi-cultural to the point of being nearly post-majoritarian, Israel perceives this same possibility as an existential threat that must contradictorily be countered by the incessant and spiraling revolutionary force of Western extra-limitality in the service of a prophetic, Babylonian-era identity. Such schizophrenia writ large to the level of atomically-armed national identity cannot realistically be viewed as anything other than the most maladaptive madness, considering the insolubly obstructive demographic and sectarian realities of the region–there can be no return to the Israeli empire of 1000 BCE, except, it seems, in the exclusionary yet hegemonic teleology of Israel’s present leaders and planners.

  5. We have to conclude wars are meant to hurt civilians. Not as “collateral”, but as the main focus. No grand strategy ir tactics, no military prowess, just brute force and cruelty. You have to de-humanize your adversary to avoid remorse and your own de-humanization. A normal human being forced yo take part in that horror will develop mental disorders.

  6. An excellent article, and to the point. The “underlying cause” of this warmongering is that Israel was established to be a profit center for war, not a “safe haven” for anybody.
    link to consortiumnews.com

    As long as the profits are rolling in, they won’t stop.

  7. Wiping another Country off the Map? it did not just start now. And it’s frustrating how inept the pro-Palestinian PR has been in debunking Israel’s whining about the Hamas charter.

    Zionists vowed to destroy the Palestinians long before Hamas even existed: “A land without people for people without land” has been their slogan all along. For Zionists, Palestinians are not even people and this Zionist slogan has been Israel’s recipe for genocide and ethnic cleansing for a loong time.

    I never heared a pro-Palestinian say that on TV, and I watch TV a lot!

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