Douglas Murray sure seems to have an axe to grind.
In his most recent article for the Wall Street Journal he disgorged his typical rhetoric about how most if not all of the blame for the violence in the Middle East lies at the feet of Islamic terrorists such as Hamas and Hezbollah aided by the state of Iran. I do not in any way dispute that Iran has aided and will continue to aid these groups; nor do I dispute the venomous language that is often veritably dripping from the tongues of Iranian officials in regards to the very existence of the state of Israel. I would counter that the United States is arming and aiding the state of Israel. I assert that Israel is terrorist regime, and one bent on the near eradication of the Palestinian people.
I dispute the way Mr. Murray tries to frame the conflict. He is all too happy to place the blame for the continued violence between Israel and Palestine squarely upon the Palestinians and the Iranians. He selectively uses the political buzzword of the twenty-first century, terrorism, only to refer to activities that are perpetrated by Islamic fighters. He also, laughably I would say, attempts to pinpoint direct causality in terms of retribution for this or that specific strike by one side or the other. The oppression of the Palestinians is constant, and thus is a constant cause for retribution.
First let’s explore the word terrorism. Merriam Webster defines terrorism as the “systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective.” By this definition Israel and the United States are the leading terrorist countries in the world. The U.S. and Israel drop bombs on people all the time. They target ‘terrorists,’ ‘militants,’ ‘extremists,’ ‘radical Islamists,’ and even political leaders. There is often collateral damage, meaning unintended civilian casualties. These bombings are done with a political purpose in mind, destroying the morale through fear and destroying the leadership capabilities of ‘the enemy.’ The fact that Mr. Murray insists on portraying only the ‘other side’ as terrorists or employing terrorism exemplifies his bias.
Now let’s explore why Iranians are so angry with Israel. To do so let’s review a bit of pertinent history. This Israel-Palestinian conflict goes back to the partitioning of Palestine in 1947. The Jewish State was carved out of the land of Palestine after the atrocities of World War II. This was a mistake, it was immoral, and it created more problems than it solved. As Mr. Ahmadinejad has asked, “why is it that the Palestinian people are paying the price of an event they had nothing to do with? The Palestinian people didn’t commit any crime. They had no role to play in World War II. They were living with the Jewish communities and the Christian communities in peace at the time.” Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Furthermore, what claim did the Jewish people have on that land beyond their religious claim? This claim is substantiated only by a book that is literally taken as the word of God by most of the Western world. How did that claim triumph the religious claim of the Muslims and their own religious book? Since when has religious belief legitimately determined political lines?
OK, let’s put that aside. What happened next? The newly created Jewish proto-state proceeded to take much of the land that was not explicitly given to them in the UN Partition by force in the Israeli War of Independence. This war ended in 1949 with Israel occupying one third more land than was given to them in the 1947 UN Partition. Israel annexed the northern portion of the UN Partition. The Gaza Strip was left under the protection of Egypt, and the West Bank was left under the protection of Jordan.
Next came the 1967 war. A war initiated ‘preemptively’ according to Israel, though there is no way to prove this, nor little evidence that Egyptian forces were about to attack Israel. The Egyptians were then joined by the Syrians and the Jordanians. In six days Israel took control of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. Except for the Sinai peninsula the rest of this land is still being occupied by Israel. Yet again, this was a war in which Israel was the aggressor and it took land by force. Shortly afterwards the UN issued Resolution 242 in which it stated that the acquisition of land by force is inadmissible by international law and ordered Israel to withdraw from the territories occupied in the war. Israel eventually returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt (under a U.S. brokered deal), but has yet to withdraw from the rest of the territories it occupied in 1967 in defiance of UN resolutions and international law.
After the 1967 war the Israeli state steadily encroached upon the land they had left to the Palestinians by building settlements that crisscross the Western Bank. This is part of a policy most eloquently described by Israel’s Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 1973 when he said: “We’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them. We’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlement in between the Palestinians and another strip of Jewish settlement right across the West Bank so that in 25 years’ time neither the U.N. nor the U.S., nobody will be able to tear it apart.” And his plan has succeeded, at least insofar as the U.S. has any influence, and it does.
So, back to the original question, why are the Iranians so irate about the Israeli-Palestinian issue? Because of the continued injustices perpetrated by the Israeli’s against the Palestinian people. Why is it that Iran is such a bellicose spokesman for these people? Because they, unlike almost every other Middle Eastern country, are not under the thumb of the United States. Iran has already been repeatedly sanctioned by the international community for its nuclear ambitions, and is finding ways to circumvent these sanctions. So at this point they have little to lose internationally by pushing for a resolution to these continued atrocities and much to gain domestically.
Mr. Murray’s writing implies that he expects Iran to nuke Israel ASAP. If you think about it critically though, this is not realistic. The United States has guaranteed the security of Israel since the Kennedy Administration. Iran is surrounded by U.S. military allies. The U.S. has military bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Pakistan, and a CENTCOM forward base in Qatar. The U.S. would surely invade Iran after such an attack. The international community would willingly line up behind Israel and the U.S. if an Iranian nuclear attack were ever to occur. The idea that Iran could go toe to toe with the United States (and its allies) after nuking Israel is ridiculous. Israel itself may even simply unilaterally blow Iran off the map with its own nukes.
A nuclear attack against Israel would be suicidal for the Iranian regime and the ensuing war would surely cost the Iranians at least ten lives for every one it took from Israel much less the U.S. Admittedly, for the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to say that his job “is to set Israel on fire” is extreme (and beyond reason – since when is the primary job of any country’s leader to destroy another country?); but unless he is truly a madman, the statement still translates into little more than extremely inflammatory, even genocidal, but ultimately toothless rhetoric.
Mr. Murray’s assertion that the International Community seems unwilling to pressure Iran on its nuclear ambitions is completely contrary to the facts. The EU and the US have both sanctioned Iran’s oil exports. The IAEA is constantly poking into the Iranian nuclear program. The UN sanctioned Iran in 2006 and again in 2010. Enough said there I hope.
Let’s call Mr. Murray’s article what it is. It’s another call to arms. It’s another attempt to rile public sentiment against Iran for being anti-Semitic with the effect (intended or not) of giving Israel some cover to continue its policies. Instead of trying to shame Iran, sanction them, or attack them why don’t we try something different.
Let’s (the U.S.) act as truly neutral mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Let’s (the U.S.) allow the UN security council to start sanctioning Israel for their continued land grabs, terrorist attacks, and human rights violations against the Palestinians. The actions of Israel against the Palestinians are a corollary to the actions of the United States against the Native Americans. Both countries actions are tantamount to genocide. I guess when put into that framework it is understandable that the U.S. would be hesitant to recognize the Israeli occupation for what it is. Acknowledging and acting to stop the continued oppression of the Palestinians will take away any legitimacy the Iranians have when they say the Palestinians aren’t being treated fairly. This will hopefully erode the regime’s support both internally and abroad as it might actually have to talk about domestic issues instead of being able to focus on the legitimate concerns in Palestine and banging the war drums against Israel and the United States.
I think it is obvious that everyone would be better off without the current Iranian regime. I don’t want to capitulate to Iranian demands. I’m not trying to be an apologist or an appeaser. I want to see rogue regimes that oppress people everywhere eradicated. Both Israel and Iran are on this list. Anyone who says otherwise is clearly biased.
Furthermore, isn’t it logical for Iran to pursue nuclear capabilities if for no other reason than defensive purposes? The United States has executed a successful coup against the Iran in the past, has encircled the country with military bases in the present, and the publicly left open the option of a war in the future. In fact, both Israel and the U.S. have repeatedly threatened to attack Iran. Once a country has nuclear weapons the deterrent to war against them becomes great. That is not to say that I advocate nuclear proliferation. What I am advocating is objectivity, reason, adherence to International Law, and human rights for all. Is that really revolutionary? What do you think?