Bibi Netanyahu is coming home. Well…technically he is Israeli, but one can forgive the perception that the United States is his home based on the way he carries himself, who his friends are, who primarily donates to his campaigns, and the number of times he has addressed Pat Robertson’s ghoulish 700 Club TV show.
Bibi is coming home, and he is on a mission. The mission is to mobilize apocalyptic dread among the more naïve Christian Zionists in Congress, but that is easy enough. Iran has been only a year or two away from a nuclear weapon for the past fifteen years according to Bibi, but no one seems to notice a discrepancy here. More importantly he wants to excite the GOP and shame his enemy Obama, who has shockingly surpassed Clinton as his number one enemy at home—err, abroad.
Bibi is coming home, a prophet in the wilderness. Or Congress. Whichever. He has the word of some god or gods flowing through him, and an election to win. Oh, did I neglect to mention that he was in the midst of an election and sees this dramatic gesture as a way to garner votes from the ultra-right? Well, that is the case, but never mind. We’ve got an apocalypse to manufacture.
The truth of the matter is this will ultimately be a side show in regards to the “bedrock” US-Israeli cooperation, but sideshows often portray the monstrous—in the literal Latin sense of the word as “unformed” and instructive—underbelly of society. This whole affair has been punctuated by spokespersons of major media as well as both the Democratic and Republican parties making the claim that Netanyahu is undermining the unprecedented bipartisan unity that Israel enjoys in Washington. Why does a foreign state enjoy the uncritical support of both parties forever and always? Is this not an odd state of affairs? No other foreign power enjoys such a relationship, even the crucial powers of “Old Europe” (who have been promoted once again to “New Europe” by John Kerry for their zeal in anti-Muslim sentiment).
Furthermore, the visit highlights the role of the nefarious American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in Congress, one which no major politician has ever gone up against and survived (and for that reason, most make it a non-issue). Why does a foreign power have a lobbying arm that rivals and in most cases surpassed domestic industries and interest groups? Is this not also an exceedingly odd state of affairs?
It has also highlighted growing divisions among American Jewish people, as there is an increasing divide in a once solid block of pro-Israeli opinion, represented most dramatically by the rise of Jewish Voice for Peace. After the shock of the Holocaust and the confusing days of Israel’s founding, most American Jews felt that Israel could do no wrong and that if they did do wrong, it was best to overlook it for the greater good. Few Knew the details of Israeli settler colonialism, and even fewer heeded the words of the 1919 King-Cane Commission report, which concluded that, “…the American people as a whole should realize that if the American government decided to support the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, they are committing the American people to the use of force in that area, since only by force can a Jewish state in Palestine be established or maintained.” Now, after decades of apartheid, colonial wars and occupations, and the ubiquity of new media, Jewish Americans are starting to wise up to the reality on the ground—Israel is an settler colonial state with a strong apartheid policy.
Netanyahu’s electioneering is heightening these contradictions as well as highlighting them in the mass media. His goal for some time has been to be the tail which wags the dog—a feat much harder to accomplish than some leftists and Anti-Semites suppose—and to force the US into a military confrontation with Iran. The facts are this: for Washington, the goal is to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons and to reach some sort of rapprochement in order to avoid further war, shore up the Baghdad regime, and bring some sort of settlement to the Syrian Civil War while simultaneously destroying Daesh (“ISIS”); for Tel Aviv, the goal is to prevent Iran from possessing the technological capacity to develop a nuclear weapon. In other words, any development of nuclear power is off the table for Netanyahu.
Consequently, any outcome of the negotiations is a fundamental compromise of Israeli security in his mind. The rest of the Israeli elite are divided on this issue. Though all of them would gladly see Tehran burn, the Mossad has consistently put out intelligence suggesting that Netanyahu’s claims are completely unfounded and even pushed these in the Israeli media at critical points to undermine him. In spite of the desire to see a fourth or fifth or whatever Persian Gulf War, most in the Israeli elite feel that mutually assured destruction coupled with the need to maintain the US’s uncritical relationship is paramount. Few have forgotten that the US ultimately turned on its South African apartheid ally under enormous pressure, and they rightly fear the same outcome for Israel.
For now, Bibi has come home to Washington to peddle his anxieties and apocalyptic fears. Never mind that, for the most part, the Christian Zionists who support the Israeli regime do it in the hopes that one day the Antichrist or Christ or some monstrous horde from the Abyss will slaughter the vast majority of the Jewish people for not submitting to Christianity. Never mind that Israel’s belligerence has placed its back against the wall on the world scene. Never mind that it has created the very situation it decries by its steadfast refusal to make peace, its utter hostility to democracy, and its belligerent aggression against Arabs, Muslims, and anyone who gets in their way.
In the end, Netanyahu’s desire is for the Republicans to take the Presidency in 2016 (he and the people around him were the only ones who really thought Romney was going to win in the last days of the 2012 election) and to get behind his push for escalating the regional war in the Middle East into something like a world war. Bomb Iran while bombing much of Iraq and Syria to defeat the fascist Daesh forces; but then also bomb Assad, the Baghdad government, and Hezbollah because they owe their political existence to Iran and probably bomb somebody else in between. Under the cover of this meltdown, settlements can expand, annexations can continue apace, and the racist dream of “Greater Israel” can push onward.
This is not a prediction or fear mongering. This is the kind of stuff they talk openly about in the Israeli press. This is the kind of strategy pursued by a settler colonial state whose benefactor is a consolidated settler colonial state (that is, the United States). And remember…at the moment, Netanyahu represents the political center in Israeli politics.