Netanyahu slips, Reveals reason for Opposition to Iran Deal

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) –

US television news isn’t very good and it has clearly gotten worse over the past 20 years. In the aftermath of the Kerry-Zarif initial framework deal on nuclear energy in Iran, it seems obvious that an interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would be newsworthy. But to my knowledge none of the networks or major cable news shows had him on.

Or you could have talked to the British, French, German, Russian or Chinese foreign ministers, all of whom were principals and all of whom would have had interesting insights.

Instead, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was given repeated access to millions of Americans to talk trash about the deal over the weekend and to make mostly false allegations about its contours. Israel is a small country of 8 million with a gross domestic product in the range of Portugal. Netanyahu isn’t a party to the deal. He doesn’t have more riding on it than Britain or France. Israel isn’t even threatened by Iran, since Israel has several hundred nuclear weapons and submarines to deliver them. Iran has only old, conventional weapons. Even if it someday had a nuclear weapon, which its leaders say would be un-Islamic and that they don’t want it, Israel has a powerful deterrent.

So what is really going on? Netanyahu let it slip in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday:

“Secondly, Iran is going to have sanctions lifted, including crippling sanctions, pretty much up front. And that’s going to have billions and billions of dollars flow into the Iranian coffers, not for schools or hospitals or roads, but to pump up Iran’s terror machine throughout the world.

And it’s a military machine that’s now engaged in conquest throughout the world in Iraq and Syria and Yemen, around the borders of Israel elsewhere.”

In other words, Netanyahu wants to keep Iran poor and undeveloped. He wants to make sure that “crippling” sanctions aren’t lifted. He wants to keep Iranians in grinding poverty.

Is it true that the Iranian state would not spend the money that it garnered through a lifting of sanctions on schools or hospitals?

Look, I am no fan of the Islamic Republic or its system of government or its censorship and authoritarianism. But let us say that Netanyahu, in standing for permanent military rule over 4 million stateless Palestinians, and in launching disproportionate military campaigns with disregard for non-combatant life, is not obviously superior.

And, as far as social spending goes, Iran is in principal as progressive as Israel, though not as rich per capita. The Iranian state has built enormous numbers of schools since 1979, especially in rural areas, and [pdf] has brought literacy among the over-15 population from 65% in 1990 to 90% today. In the 15-25 age group, literacy is fully 98% and there are nearly 4 million university students. Iran has done better in educating its women than most other Middle Eastern countries, and a majority of Iranian college students is women.


Literacy rates were low in the 1970s and relatively few Iranians went to university then. You can’t produce an impressive change in literacy that way without investing substantially in schools.

The crippling sanctions on Iran that make Netanyahu’s mouth water so much have badly hurt the 60,000 Iranian students studying abroad, making it difficult for them to transfer money and causing the value of the riyal to plummet. Those students are not politicians and ought not to have their futures held hostage to geopolitics.

As for health care, Iran has universal health care, unlike the USA, and it is mandated in the Iranian constitution. The Islamic Republic has spent substantial sums making it more available to the population, including in previously neglected rural areas. Crippling sanctions over the long term would certainly pose severe health risks to ordinary Iranians.

So it simply is not true that the Iranian state does not spend on schools and hospitals, as Netanyahu alleged. His purpose in making this false claim is to deflect an obvious critique of “crippling” sanctions, which is that they harm ordinary people, not just the state.

His allegation that an Iranian commander pledged to destroy Israel is unlikely to be true. The Iranian leadership doesn’t like Israel, but they have a no first strike policy and don’t have the slightest intention of attacking anyone with conventional military forces. Iran is too far away to attack Israel and it would be madness to strike at a nuclear power. Typically Iranians say things like “the Occupation regime must end,” and people like Netanyahu interpret that to be a threat to roll tanks (Iran has actually made no such threats, whatever you have been told).

As for his charge that Iran is using its oil money to spread terrorism or conquer the Middle East, this claim is mostly also for the most part not true. Netanyahu counts a national liberation organization that fought Israeli occupation such as Lebanon’s Hizbullah as a “terrorist organization.” What he really means is that it interfered with Israel annexing 10% of its neighbor Lebanon’s territory (which it held 1982-2000). He counts Iran’s help to Iraq in fighting Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) as a “conquest” of Iraq! in all this verbiage, the major legitimate knock against Iran with regard to its foreign activities is that Iran has helped the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria to survive, something it has done through odious practices such as barrel-bombing its own population. But Netanyahu doesn’t even say anything about that except to complain that Iran is active near Israeli borders with Syria.

“Crippling” sanctions haven’t in any case stopped Iran from arming Hizbullah and there is no reason to think they ever will. Moreover, given the weakness of the Lebanese military, someone needs to keep the Israelis from trying to annex Lebanese territory again.

Netanyahu has showed his hand. He wants to use the USA and the Treasury Department to sanction Iran into penury, to keep its middle classes small and shrinking and to cut people’s income, education and health care. He wants a total war on Iran, including on Iranian women, children and non-combatants. It isn’t a plausible aspiration, and it isn’t a worthy one.


Related video:

USA Today: “Netanyahu and Obama miles apart on Iran nuclear deal”

69 Responses

  1. Love your work, Juan, yet in the 8th paragraph,

    “And, as far as social spending goes, Iran is in principal as progressive as Israel”

    should probably be “And, as far as social spending goes, Iran is in principle as progressive as Israel”

    not to nitpick a thoughtful article, or anything …

  2. Basically Netanyahu wants the USA to help Israel do to Iran exactly what Israel has done to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. No wonder Netanyahu hates this deal. It is the only model in his head regarding what can be done in the ME. All he seems have is a hammer so every hot spot looks like a nail and he might even get the USA to use it’s bigger hammer. Since Americans don’t get to vote for or against this warmonger I want him to stay completely out of our foreign policy.

    • I agree. During my visit to the West Bank , it was obvious that the Palestinians are every bit as intelligent, motivated and entrepreneurial as Israelis. They are just as devoted to the education and advancement of their children and young people. It was obvious to me that one of the motivations in the mistreatment and subjugation of the Palestinians was to prevent economic competition just as it is one of the main motivations of the moves against Iran. Israel fears loss of its economic preeminence in the area almost as much as loss of military superiority.

      • If Israel is afraid of the economic competition from Palestine and Iran, among other States, that is just all the more reason to use BDS against Israel to get their attention

  3. liked the article, Netanyahu wasn’t very gracious about this success. The current leadership in Iran appears to be much more moderate. It is time to give the leadership a chance. If Netanyahu is concerned about war, he might want to be concerned by countries such as Saudi Arabia, which have more than a few jets and has a sect of Islam which isn’t particularly progressive. Now some may say Iran isn’t either, but its way ahead of Saudi Arabia and other countries. When it comes to being ungracious about the success of the negotiations Canada was right there with Bennie but then both harper and netanyahu like to win their elections using fear. It keeps citizens from looking at other things which are wrong in their countries

    • It’s easy to be hardline when you demand Washington do all your killing for you. Iran doesn’t have any friends like that right now – maybe we should not put it in a position where it must find some.

      • super390 2015.04.08 04:26 Reply

        It’s easy to be hardline when you demand Washington do all your killing for you. Iran doesn’t have any friends like that right now – maybe we should not put it in a position where it must find some.

        Exactly, but no one should have friends like that as a matter of principle. And we aren’t even close to being in that category with Israel. You and I know it. All of us here know it. Congressmen taking AIPAC’s money pretend not to. Joe Sixpack is capable of knowing it but he’s got to have courageous leadership.

        Regarding Israel this distortion as been the result of the American people’s status as provincials and political victims. For example, we don’t have to be delicate about the impact of the Israel Lobby on American policy regarding matters of war and peace. To the extent that we’ve done awful things for Israel in the Middle East, they have not been due to friendship. We all know that. That’s the most bogus idea floating about in the ocean of lies and misleading propaganda which the American people are subjected to. In fact those violent acts of “friendship” have very largely been accomplished through unprecedented political brutality and manipulations in the mainstream media in the United States. Everyone here has seen aspects of it described lucidly by Professor Cole. Everyone here has read it in an irrefutable monograph by political Scientists Mearsheimer and Walt, and by respected public intellectuals all over the country. Until now, no American government since Jack Kennedy’s has been capable of acting upon these obvious truths though legal pathways, eg., the inernational community and FARA. It’s a matter of guts and principle. Defending Israel as she should be defended in our discretion is the easy part.

        We will have far greater long term respect and improved relationships with almost every country when we stand up in public and tell the truth about the destruction of our ability to pursue our actual national interests in the Middle East, precisely how that has happened and what we are going to do to change the situation decisively. The applause will be thunderous.

        I believe it would indeed be a decisive moment in the 2016 election cycle and a good moment. Its equivalent in terms of candor and political courage will never have been seen before. And think of the effect it would have on Ms. Clinton, she of the Brooklyn headquarters, who is also legacy conscious and must be seen as both principled and courageous.

  4. Excellent article. How typical of the American media to rush to interview Netanyahu rather than FM Zarif. Perhaps this is because this would shatter the false image of Iran’s leadership as a bunch of fanatics that can’t be reasoned with.

    I think Netanyahu – and many in the US government – oppose lifting the sanctions because they know that with its young, largely liberal and well educated population, Iran has the potential to become an economic powerhouse. This would, of course, threaten Israel’s ambitions of regional domination, as well as America’s desire for global hegemony.

    • You’re right. He’s a smart, articulate and impressive, even in English. On Al Jazeera and a (very) few other places there are people as eloquent, but they’re non-existent in the US. On the other hand…..

      Zarif is hardly someone those running things are going to allow to speak directly to Americans aside from perhaps a prudently selected and edited sound bite here or there.

  5. It has always looked like Netanyahu/Israel could not stand the thought of a Muslim nation progressing, or even getting strong militarily. Israel wants to be the only kid in the neighborhood with rich parents, who keep buying him new toys. There is envy showing when Netanyahu attacks Iran sometimes. Netanyahu wants all Muslim nations in his neighborhood to be living in poverty and not progressing. Israel a johnny come lately nation cannot boast of a history or culture that goes back centuries, like Iran. Even Lebanon was bombed back to the stone age, when it began to pick up and show progress. If one looks at the number of Muslim nations that have been bombed by US/Israel, it is shocking to see that only Muslim nations have been attacked during the past few years. Some nations were attacked after false intelligence was shown, and it seems a willing zionist media ran with the lies.

    Juan Cole is absolutely right. I never saw a single official from the other nations being interviewed over this deal, I never saw the Iranian Foreign Minister, a major player in this deal, being interviewed or given some air time, but I did see the world’s biggest trouble maker, Netanyahu, his supporters, and the Israel firsters of America, from Congress and the AIPAC paid officials, being interviewed and given plenty of time, to spew the propaganda. US media has gone from bad to the worst.
    Is it that hard to be a balanced and fair news publication, and do we really have a US media infested with pro zionists in every publication or news channel? It seems the US media has not learned a lesson from the Iraq debacle, and are doing the same mistakes again – helping the war mongers sell their war, but this time by going against their own President.

    Israel wants to treat all Arab/Muslim nations in the neighborhood, just like it treats the Palestinians. They must all live underdeveloped, in poverty suffering, and unable to progress.

    Evil is as evil does.

    • And yet Israel seems to tolerate Saudi Arabia’s growing strength, just as Saudi Arabia pretends to not notice Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Both countries have wealthy oligarchies massively invested in US business and in Treasury debt. What is the end game for those two? Has God/Jehovah/Allah already been supplanted by Mammon?

  6. Yep. He really is a spectacularly odious little human being.

    No wonder he gets along so famously with the dingbat wing of the Republican Party.

    • And unfortunately for Canadians, with the Reformist Conservative and dogmatic Stephen Harper, the friendliest-to-Netanyahoo prime minister who goes on bombing sprees on Libyans, Iraqis, Syrians (coming soon…), besides participating to a long and costly operation in military personal in Afghanistan… And he has lately learned to tell Canadians that his first priority is to ensure their security from the very dangerous terrorists (his warmongering’s own creation)… That way he hopes to keep hiding his poor budget results for having based Canada’s economy solely on Alberta’s environmentally poisonous tar sand oil… What business did Harperland, Canada, have in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan? Besides, he can’t stand the UN and skipped his first official UN General Assembly and went instead for a coffee and donuts at the Tim Horton’s nearest to the UN in NYC. His special attitude towards the UN, his pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol, etc. had for result that Canada was not chosen in the latest Security Council for the first time in Canadian history.

  7. Anyone recall Sarkozy being grilled in the US media for calling N-yahoo a liar in an open mike moment whilst meeting Obama at a summit? I think we should believe Sarkozy now. Everything NYahoo says about Iran and Palestinians is a lie.

  8. Excellent article. The comment or observation on US TV news is obvious and puzzeling as to why so many Americans still watch this.

  9. Good points all. Like the proverbial boiled frog, I’ve been immersed in the U.S. MSM so long that I haven’t noticed a change. The idea that the networks would be–could be–interested in any perspective other than Israel’s had not entered my mind.

  10. Professor if you keep making points like this….how do you ever expect to be invited on Meet the Press?

    Seriously, I watched Face the Nation and saw the same faces defacing the Iranian deal we saw promoting the invasion of Iraq. We do not have a free press or news programs that will stand up to the israeli lobby and that means perpetual war.

    • The political shows and the media seem hellbent on trashing the deal. It seems to get worse day by day.

  11. I see no chinks in the armor of your arguments. Well done.

    Good point about Syria: if there were any grounds for Netanyahu’s outrage directed towards Iran, it would be over Iran’s aid to the Syrian regime. But Netanyahu is silent on that.

    • Hey Tom,

      In what ways are the current Syrian government worse than the current Israeli regime?

  12. Elucidated

    Netanyahu has played his card. And now the world’s leaders are blowing off this war monger who wants the US to bomb Iran. Simple.

  13. Saudi Arabia has softened its position. They want to “see what happens in terms of details.” Saudi Arabia doesn’t have an Iron Dome so they would be far more vulnerable to a nuclear armed Iran. Other than the U.S., Netanyahu will end up isolating Israel from other nations.

    Bibi Netanyahu is scheduled to appear on both Meet the Press and Face the Nation every week until the Iranian NUKE BOMB crisis has been resolved in his favor.

    • FYI – “Iron dome” is more like “rust dome.”

      ALL anti-missile systems are very limited in functionality and capacity with terrible economics.

      An “iron dome” battery consists of three launchers with 20 missiles each for a total of 60 per battery and an acquisition and control system. Each battery costs about $50 million, while each of the Tamir interceptors cost as much as $100,000. After the 60 missiles are launched, the battery is worthless until it is reloaded several hours later.

      Basic physics determines that about 75% of the iron dome missiles fail.

      Of course Iran has a simple solution to Iran dome and similar anti-missile systems – make thousands of very inexpensive but reasonably accurate missiles and “swarm” (overload) the defensive systems.

      Israel has 10 iron dome batteries which means, with extremely optimal conditions (never possible) it can stop a maximum of 600 incoming missiles. This means that over 49000 of the missiles the IDF says are pointed at Israel would get through. The situation in Saudi Arabia would be no better.

      • IMO, Iran would be foolish to ever attack Israel because they would retaliate by using nuclear weapons— hydrogen bombs. As Hillary Clinton put it, Iran would be “totally obliterated.” Bibi Netanyahu and his Republican friends would like nothing better than an excuse to get into another war, but the Iranians are far too smart to fall into that trap.

        • The Iranians are smart, they know that if Israel bombs them, so what, Iran still wins. The only way that the US and Israeli right wingers could win, would be to destroy everything, and the rest of the world is saying hey US and Israel, “we don’t see any upside to that”. I mean, it would be better just to have Mossadegh back in there raising taxes on the oil companies 25% than destroy everything, guys.

        • Look down-wind of Iran.

          Israelis can be really dumb sometimes, but I suspect if they think about it, they will realize what countries are downwind and how they will react to having Israel contaminate their citizens and food supplies with radioactive debris from attacking Iran.

          Hint: China has nukes and the missiles to deliver them to Israel. India has nukes and the missiles to deliver them to Israel. Pakistan has nukes but no missiles to deliver them to Israel, BUT they woudl find a way to retaliate against Israel.

          In REALITY, first strike nukes are ONLY good for one thing . . . committing suicide.

      • Spyguy, your second comment makes a comment about nuclear war being suicidal. Although not usually suicidal, even conventional wars of aggression are no longer particularly successful — too many complications get in the way.

        These days, only conventional defensive wars seem to have a chance of being reasonably successful. This is a point often missed by today’s neocons and their right wing Republican allies (though they still delude themselves that word games can make a war more acceptable).

        • While Tom Friedman gets a LOT wrong nearly 100% of the time, but he is VERY CORRECT that the world is flat when it comes to technology. When very efficient 32-bit computers cost US$35 and 64-bit multi-core computers will soon be less than US$100, and most of the earth is tied together by a very efficient digital communications network, every part of the earth has access to all of mankind’s technology and information. There are no secrets.

          Since all weapons are based on science and technology, that means that everyone on earth has pretty much the same weapons and the same battle knowledge.

          This means the natives that used to be at a disadvantage compared to the “global” powers are no longer at a disadvantage. The locals can now very effectively kill the invaders with AK-47s (currently there is one for every 50 humans on earth) and IEDs (you would be amazed at what people can do with stuff from Walmart).

          This is the problem the “global” powers (and Israel) are hitting like a brick wall. The USA, Israel and other invader nations are at their limits and can no longer win even if they are willing to kill all of their own citizens in the process.

          This is where the delusions of the neocons and Israelis is so dangerous. They really believe they can still “win” and therefore do extremely foolish things. Even after losing very decisively in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans still think they can win the next war. I do not know just how badly the USA is going to have to lose before Americans understand they are only a small part of the globe and can not push other nations around.

          Unfortunately it appears that the Israelis egos are far too large, the hubris far too extreme and the delusional myths are so in grained, that Israelis will not give up until they lose everything.

  14. Juan, have you tried to get a spot on the PBS Charlie Rose program. I would cherish an interview with you about the Iran deal and what it means to the middle east. And Charlie is known for interviewing people on all sides of an issue. The truth about this hopeful Iran deal must get out there before it is hijacked by right wing Israeli and USA Republican interests.

  15. I, too am upset that all we hear are folks saying ‘no to the framework, or it’s a bad deal.’ Our media has again fallen very short on providing an unbiased coverage….where are the media reporters in UK, Germany, France, etc meeting with the framework negotiators in those countries asking for their comments. After all, they too approved of the framework.
    Mr Cole, I heard that on the senate sanctions agreement passed few years ago, the legislation gave president the final say on lifting the sanctions.

    If this is the case, wonder why Obama is allowing senate so much room to create havoc.

  16. It’s tragic that one Las Vegas casino mogul is driving Republican foreign policy in the Middle East. It wouldn’t surprise me if after they take his money many Republican pols say to themselves that they can’t stand the old SOB. Most likely Adelson is so thick skinned that he doesn’t care what people think of him as long as they follow his orders. I truly worry what kind of a country is going to be left to my grandchildren.

  17. Re: Dr. Cole:
    While I have no disagreement with the informed substance of your observations in the body of this writing, I do believe that the two basic prongs of your seemingly intended thesis, the unbalanced bias of U.S. corporate media and intentional lack of veracity and dishonesty of Netanyahu, are somewhat overwhelmed by lengthly digressions.
    At the onset of your article you alluded to a pertinent part of the statements made by Netanyahu on Sunday that have, at this writing, been published and broadcast by virtually every major U.S. corporate media outlet.

    “Secondly, Iran is going to have sanctions lifted, including crippling sanctions, pretty much up front. And that’s going to have billions and billions of dollars flow into the Iranian coffers, not for schools or hospitals or roads, but to pump up Iran’s terror machine throughout the world.
    And it’s a military machine that’s now engaged in conquest throughout the world in Iraq and Syria and Yemen, around the borders of Israel elsewhere.”

    To me, the most flagrant, and likely intentional, mischaracterization is “..Iran is going to have sanctions lifted, including crippling sanctions, pretty much up front.”
    Of course, as you correctly attest, such propagandistic misinformation could possibly be exposed and debunked by a more informed, fair, and unbiased media; BUT simply and haplessly beating that rhetorical drum does not, and will not, alter the media landscape in any meaningful way; especially if the, ostensibly more enlightened, alternative media continues to allow itself to be constrained by parameters set by private interests.
    Simply stated, Netanyahu’s characterization of the effect of the tentative agreement on sanctions is an intentional lie; he knows it, the corporate media pundits and “experts” know it, and, of course, all of the parties involved know it. This lie can not be debunked by delving into Netanyahu’s imagined nonsense about how Iran is going to spend the fake windfall he claims the agreement provides; this digression is nothing more that allowing he, and his syncophants to control the narrative.
    We need an enlightened and informed Progressive journalism to form and colless around the reporting of unvarnished factual information and opinions; one that inspires and evokes informed and intelligent responses from its viewers and readership, not one that is merely a collection of tribal fan clubs masquerading as viable alternatives.
    As Usual,

  18. Some time back western news media used to drum beat “Islamic Atomic Bomb’ Islamic atomic Bomb”. No other bomb has religion.

    Afterwards mantra changed to “Terrorist will got hold of it, Terrorist will get hold of it”.

    Nothing happened there either.

    Now, the emphasis is on Iran’s non-existing bomb that it is “existential threat to Israel”. Just as non existing threat of Saddam’s WMD’s, were a threat to the world”.

    After making sure that Iran does not have a Bomb, I hope Israel may not attempt to Bomb Iran, as was done to Iraq.

    I hope what president Obama is trying to achieve with this Nuclear deal with Iran, May bring peace in the ME & once again Netanyahu & media proven wrong about the existential threat. .

    • On September 9, 2002, Judith Miller’s aluminum tube article in the New York Times was key propaganda during the buildup to the invasion of Iraq. Parts of U.S. government often uses print and television media to influence public opinion. That’s the reason I watch it.

      Nuclear Iran is basically a Democratic and Republican split. Iraq WMDs was mostly one way. If Netanyahu hadn’t purposely develop a hate relationship with Obama, he might not be in such a weaken position today. Bibi spoke to Congress and tinkled all over the POTUS when he did it. Obama just pissed back with a fire hose.

  19. Professor, I disagree with your assertion that Bibi has received too much media access. In America, this man is revered. Who is more admired than Bibi? Prince Charles? Prince William? I don’t think so, although these are valid comparisons. Tom Brady? Nah. Bush family members, or the Clintons? The Kardashian family? None would get dozens of standing ovations before Congress, like Bibi. He would be president if he could run. Bibi is Royalty! Bibi is the King. The King of America, and If it were America’s will, he would be King of the world.

    • Absolutely. He got standing ovations and a welcome fit for a king, by his loyal servants in Congress. Non wonder his wife has boasted that HE should be the President of the United State – right now it certainly seems the Congress and media treat him like one, even disrespecting and betraying their own President.

  20. I wonder if Netanyahu is now regretting his little Punch and Judy show in Congress.

    After all, he sailed into Congress and let fly with every broadside he had, and it achieved….. nothing.

    I suspect he regrets expending so much of his ammo in a stunt that – let’s face it – everyone has now forgotten.

    Perhaps he would have been much better off conserving that ammo and getting up to the podium NOW. Would have served him much better, and would have sucked the air out of Obama.

    But as it is…. Bibi looks like he wants two bites of the apple, and he’s not getting it.

  21. To get the REAL news, contrary to our state-sponsored broadcast media, we need to watch RT and Aljazeera America. The latter sometimes tries too hard to please the host country, still it’s far more objective than CNN, ABC and the other MSM.

  22. The other subject that goes uninvestigated and unreported is the nature and extent of Israel’s own nuclear weapons. Why can they, as a very militarily aggressive nation, have nuclear weapons and their neighbors not? I think no one should have nuclear weapons, but the imbalance is ominous.

    • …and why can’t we have an agreement by all countries of the world to eliminate nuclear weapons? Oh, because not all countries would agree will apparently be the answer. America will never dump America’s stockpile. Nor will Israel. I am surprised that Iran does not make a non-negotiable offer that it will never go for nukes, so long as America, Israel, et al quit their nukes, combined with open inspections by an international organization.

  23. Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif issued a joint statement in Switzerland 6 days ago, a statement approved by all parties to the negotiations, and that is the only valid summary of the current state of the negotiations regardless of what anyone else says. As for the sanctions, their effects on the Iranian population should be viewed in the context of the broader economic circumstances in the US, the EU and elsewhere rather than some Norman Rockwell fantasy of employment, prosperity, peace and integrity.

  24. Benjamin Netanyahu is like Mark Twain’s cat that once sat on a hot stove lid–and afterwards, would never sit down on a hot stove lid, but also would never sit down on a cold one either.

    Netanyahu’s hot stove is the history of his people; it’s the Holocaust and the 1967 war where he fought as a soldier and the loss of his brother in a 1976 IDF raid.

    Netanyahu wants to live in a house where the stove is always cold. If that means never having a warm supper, he is OK with that.

    Perhaps he has PTSD and re-lives horrors every night when he tries to sleep. That is why he will never trust Iran. He believes that Israel will only be safe if it is surrounded by weak nations that could not possibly, no matter what deranged cretin comes to power, ever be a threat to Israel.

    He wants to have what the United States got: the last of the Mohicans. Only he wants it to be the last of the Palestinians (and Iranians, Lebanese, and anyone else who might pose a possible threat).

    Years of psychotherapy would probably not persuade him that his view may discourage Arab neighbors from maturing into fellow nations more interested in commerce and development than in war–and that his view may bring about precisely what he most fears.

    He is, alas, deeply traumatized. He doesn’t have the vision that many of the rest of us have, of a world where Arab and Jew and Christian all live side by side, worshiping as they please, and focused on improving life for all of us together, as kinfolk within the larger shtetl called Earth.

  25. Boris Smus

    “In other words, Netanyahu wants to keep Iran poor and undeveloped” – Your paraphrasing of the original quote is incorrect.

  26. Great article. I agree in many ways Iran is progressive it just puzzles me why they will not recognize Israel’s right to exist and why in their schools they teach anti-semitism. You can’t expect peace if you are teaching hate., that is just simple math. So let’s be fair and demand better from all sides.

  27. War hysteria always plays well for Republicans so it makes no difference really where the perceived trouble spots are in the world as long as it serves the military industrial complex interests. War rhetoric such as mushroom clouds and ISIS coming to America to, as Lindsey Graham shrieked, “Kill all of us” is another winner. Even if the media tires of the war du jour blather there’s always the threat, real or imagined, of another Ebola pandemic which achieves the raw visceral emotion of Fear.

    Has Benjamin Netanyahu shown any concern for the North Korean threat of nuclear attack against South Korea or Japan? It’s only if there are windmills in Netanyahu’s own backyard that he will meet with the pliable Republican congressmen who have always been putty in his hands to do his bidding.

    In the meantime we will keep multitasking with our smart phones and try to keep our eyes on the road lest …

  28. Very good observation. Netanyahu is leader of Israel and needs to stay home and take care of them. what was a legitimate concern, to be watchful has devolved into an obsession. The facts are there for all to see. If he does see or understand them he needs to be educated in the matter. The US news- spends so much on the Olympics cannot rightly address a matter as important world peace maintained? –

  29. “right to exist” has Iran really said that? Or it is a translation of Farsi that is twisted? If it is truly a comment made, Why not ask the Iranians why they think Israel does not have a right to exist. I’d like to hear that.
    Our great friend (try omitting the r letter if you dare) Mr B. N. is a master of existential language, and if you don’t know what existential language is you can’t understand what “existential threat” is either. Like just what is meant?
    Existential threat sounds really threatening but what is it?
    Someone pointed out to me that what B N is really worried about is the birth rate of the Palestinians. Of course, by depriving them of food he’s working on that.
    Thank you Mr. Cole for your real insights (not existential ones, btw).

    • No country on earth has any “right to exist.” Counties simply exist until they don’t.

      The USA has no “right to exist.”

      The UK has no “right to exist.”

      Russia has no “right to exist.”

      China has no “right to exist.”

      Just like every other country on earth at this moment (it will change over time), Israel has no “right to exist.”

      It is generally accepted that INDIVIDUAL HUMANS have a “right to exist,” but that does not apply to the groupings that those humans may adopt time to time.

      It is easy to turn Israel’s vapid argument on it end and then demand that Israel MUST agree to that Palestine and Iran have a “right to exist,” but Israel will never agree to that.

      Over the last 50000 years humans have created thousands of city/states and most of them have disappeared (for example the Hebrews ceased to be a state thousands of years ago – that is just what happens throughout history).

  30. A lot of good points here to which I would like to add a few things. Perhaps one reason why Zarif isn’t interviewed is that he would be an excellent spokesman in destroying the Israeli propaganda. Interestingly, Zarif went to San Francisco State for his B.A. and got a Phd. at University of Denver. Since they have an excellent school of international relations (Maedeline Albright’s father taught there), I assume Zarif has his Phd. in that subject.
    Secondly, re progressive policies, Iran has certainly delivered more to its populace than has Egypt under its dictators, yet Israel had no problem entering into an agreement with Egypt, even after 3 conflicts between the two. Nor has Egypt’s regressive dictatorship stopped the US from giving them billions in aid every year and maintaining a close friendship.
    Regarding Hezbollah, that organization exists solely because of the Israeli incursion into Lebanon. Iran had nothing to do with its creation and it did not exist until Israel had laid waste to Lebanon. Israel created the terrorism against itself through barbaric policies.
    Netanyahu is like an American neocon. He craves political power above all else, favors a permanent war economy and foreign policy and thinks nothing of impoverishing millions. He will lie in order to spread fear to gain support.

  31. The U.S. mainstream media has another opportunity to educate the American public about the facts having to do with the P5+1 negotiations, U.S. history with Iran, Israel’s and special interest groups interfering with U.S. Iranian negotiations (behind the scenes) for years and presently. They failed miserably in the run up to the unnecessary, immoral and deadly invasion of Iraq to have guest on their programs who were questioning the validity of the Bush administrations WMD intelligence etc. Sad to say that the Mainstream media has another opportunity to have middle east experts on their programs. Professor Juan Cole, former weapons expert Scott Ritter, Hillary Mann Leverett (Melissa Harris Perry has had her on six times since last summer) etc.

    Only time will tell. Let’s hope they do not fail the American public and their professions once again.

  32. Great read, thanks for sharing. Here’s to hoping for peace and stability in that region of the world.

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