by Mordechai Kedar
Read the article in the original עברית
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
Read the article en Español (translated by Shula Hamilton)
As one would expect, the Israeli media took great interest in Netanyahu's speech at the United Nations Security Council. In the Arabic media, the situation is more complex: the morning after Netanyahu's speech, lines from the speech were cited, even in banner headlines, but Netanyahu's words - despite their importance to the listeners in Israel, Teheran and the White House - were seen in a wider context in the Arab media, because of the complexity of the way the global picture appears to the Arab world, which is naturally centered around itself.
The newspaper "al-Quds al-Arabi", which is published in London, devoted its main headline of the morning following the speech to Israel's options: "Netanyahu: We are ready to act to prevent Iran from having nuclear arms". The newspaper also added later in the article: "The Iranian-American rapprochement worries the Gulf countries". The connection that the newspaper makes between Netanyahu's pronouncements about Israel's willingness to act and the fears of the Gulf countries creates the impression that the last hope of the Gulf countries - since they have given up on the Americans - is that Netanyahu will deal with the Iranian nuclear program.
But Netanyahu's words are put into the wider context of Israeli relations with the United states: indeed, the White House is leading a policy of appeasement and negotiations with Iran, but on the other hand, Obama's statement that "all options are on the table and the United States will demand actions, not only words" is also emphasized. This statement is intended to calm the Israelis and tone down Netanyahu's explicit threats toward Iran. Therefore, it is not at all clear if the United States will indeed support Israeli military action if such action is carried out without the prior agreement of the White House.
In the background, it is also possible that the American Congress with a Republican majority will take a stand against the White House's position. "Al-Quds al-Arabi" tells its readers that the day before Netanyahu's speech in the UN, he visited the American Congress and met with a "small group" of members of Congress. From this, the newspaper assumes that Israel will try to influence White House and State Department policy by using American pressure groups, in Congress and in pro-Israeli organizations, to change the conversation with Iran from an approach of appeasement to that of making specific requirements, from an easing of sanctions to stricter supervision of the nuclear program through crippling sanctions.
"Al-Quds al-Arabi", a newspaper that usually takes clear and radical anti-Israeli positions, lists the four Israeli requirements that Netanyahu raised regarding the Iranian nuclear project - to stop uranium enrichment; to remove all of the enriched uranium from Iran; to close the Fordo enrichment plant and to dismantle the advanced centrifuges in Natanz; and to stop the plutonium reactor in Arak that uses heavy water. The newspaper emphasizes that although there are explicit and well defined Israeli requirements, it is still not clear what Obama and Kerry will demand from Iran.
The newspaper notes that Obama promised the Gulf countries that the United States will consult "with its friends in the Middle East" concerning the negotiations with Iran. The writer of these lines believes that this American statement is meant to calm Israel and the Gulf countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, so that the United States will be able to progress in their contacts with Iran undisturbed, and without the United States having to make difficult demands.
The newspaper "al-Hayat", also published in London, assigned an important place to Netanyahu's speech, and quotes the Israeli prime minister's statement that "Rouhani is nothing but a wolf in sheep's clothing and we are ready to stand by ourselves against Iran". The newspaper quotes verbatim a significant parts of Netanyahu's speech. The fact that Netanyahu's speech was given generous and honorable coverage is significant. In Wednesday morning's issue there were still no articles of commentary on Netanyahu's speech, but the fact that many citations from the speech were included may mean that the newspaper's editors - who are guided by the Saudi agenda - understand that Netanyahu's words are important and meaningful, especially because of Obama's and Kerry's intention to come to an agreement with the Iranians at any price, from a position of weakness.
The al-Jazeera channel gave Netanyahu's speech limited coverage, and in its Internet site - which is full of reports about the military revolution in Egypt against the legitimate regime of the Muslim Brotherhood - it is difficult to find any reference to the speech. This is apparently because the channel's content editors do not trust Netanyahu, since they do not believe that there is actually anything credible in the Israeli threat against Iran. For years, the channel has been saying that Israel will not carry out an attack Iran by itself, for a number of reasons: 1) The distance between Israel and Iran, which prevents Israel from transporting bombs and soldiers secretly, so that Israel could mount a surprise attack; 2) To carry out an attack, Israel would have to pass over the territory of enemy countries; 3) The danger that Iran may begin a missile war against Israel; 4) The Israeli fear that Hizb'Allah will launch thousands of rockets over the entire territory of Israel; 5) The fear in Israel that the United States and Europe would object to the Israeli military action and cut it off prematurely, by means of harsh anti-Israeli resolutions of the Security Council before Israel will have succeeded to achieve any of its goals. Therefore it seems that the al-Jazeera channel does not regard Netanyahu's speech and his threats seriously, which explains the limited coverage of his speech.
The Iranian attitude toward Netanyahu's speech was as expected. The foreign minister of Iran called Netanyahu a "liar", although he gave no reason for calling the prime minister of Israel this name. How could he counter the citations that Netanyahu brought from Rouhani's book, in which he boasts that he had fooled the world? Besides, the Iranians do not need to try hard, because the West is in their pocket anyway, owing to a few smiles, interviews and moderate speeches that Rouhani has given lately. The Iranians are laughing all the way to the bomb because they know that the world will not allow Netanyahu to spoil the party when Obama, Merkel, Cameron and Hollande all sit around the campfire together with Rouhani and sing "Kumbaya".
The Israeli Diplomatic Failure
Despite all the well-deserved respect that the Israeli people have for the prime minister on account of the brilliant speech that he gave at the UN this year, and also for the speech that he gave last year, we can not ignore the fact that all of Netanyahu's speeches, all of the messages that prime ministers of Israel have sent to world leaders, all of the delegations that Israel has dispatched throughout the world and all of the briefings that leaders and politicians hosted by Israel have received about the danger that Iran poses to Israel and the peace of the region and the world, all of this could not stand up against a few smiles and pronouncements from Rouhani, including the talk about the phantom fatwa that supposedly cites a religious prohibition against the creation of nuclear weapons. How can it be that after all of these diplomatic efforts and explanatory information, that Iran, in the space of only one month and with a series of smiles and soft talk, manages to change from a Pariah country to the darling of the international community, from a nuclear threat to a partner for negotiations, without giving up one iota of its diabolical plan?
Of course, one could cast blame on the world, saying that just as the world stood by when millions of Jews were led to slaughter in the years of the forties, the same world is not too upset about the possibility that Iran will try to carry out another holocaust on the people that dwells in Zion. Because what is the difference between then and now? Doesn't the same anti-Semitism that existed then still exist today?
We could blame Russia and China as well, who used their veto power in the Security Council to overturn the decisions against Iran, frustrating the efforts of the international community to carry out any resolution against Iran and its nuclear project. We could blame the world's addiction to oil and gas from Iran and say that it's all money, and economic interests take precedence over ethical considerations.
We could also point to the West's eagerness to straighten things out with Iran as an excuse, due to the fear of what Iran might do to the oil installations in Saudi Arabia and the oil Emirates, if and when, as a result of the hardships resulting from the sanctions, the internal situation in Iran gets to the point where the Ayatollahs break down and act irrationally.
It is also possible to view the world's leniency toward Iran as a lack of will and the downright weariness of the West in general and especially the United States, to cope with dictators in the only way that they understand - the use of force, and to conclude that as the situation with Iran shows, the West has become a paper tiger, whom no one in the Middle East takes any account of.
This is all correct, but it is not the whole picture. We must search for the source of the Israeli failure in ourselves as well, not only in others. And when I say failure, I am referring to the fact that Israel apparently has not really convinced the world that Iran is a danger, for several reasons:
One reason is that Israeli spokesmen tend to speak mainly about the existential threat that Iran poses to Israel, not the world, despite the fact that the world does not really care about the fate of Israel, whose residents are about the same number as the residents of a small town in China. Is the world interested in the fate of tens of millions of Chinese who are forced every year to leave their cities and villages because of dams whose water floods fields, cities and villages? Did the world go mad when millions of people were killed in Biafra, in Rwanda, and the Iran -Iraq War, in Algeria and in Syria? So why would the world be moved when a few Jews in Israel yell "Help"?
Israeli spokesmen do not like to tell non-Israelis about the explicit words that Iranian leaders say about imposing Islam on all of the people of the Earth , because it is not "politically correct" to expose the truth about Islam as a religion of conquest and domination, as a culture that aspires to subjugate all of the people of the globe to Islam, which sees itself as the only religion that is "din al-Haq" (the "true religion") while all of the other religions are "din al-Batel" ("false religion").
In his speech, Netanyahu spoke about the Jewish people's historical and religious right to the Land of Israel and related it to the Jewish people's right to defend itself against the Iranians. How many Israeli spokesmen do this on an ongoing basis? Do the professional spokesmen of the State of Israel usually speak about the historical right of the Jewish people on the Land of Israel? About the Bible as the source of this right?
The official spokesmen and the legal consultants of Israel have caved in to the Arab rhetoric and immediately after the end of the Six Day War in 1967, adopted the false catchphrase that the territories of Israel that were liberated in this war are "occupied territory". And since many, perhaps most, of the world leaders do not differentiate between the "occupation of 1948" and the "occupation of 1967" they can accept the Arab idea that the entire State of Israel is actually "occupied land" so it is really not so terrible if the Iranians want to liberate the "occupied territory".
Israel's legal consultants, and especially those who were previously judges in the High Court, have never recognized the right of the Jewish people to all parts of the Land of Israel as it was determined by the founding documents of modern international law - documents from the San Remo Conference in the year 1920, documents of the Mandate in 1923 and the Anglo-American Agreement in the year 1942 - documents that are still valid today, and their power is stronger than any UN resolution. And if Israel does not know how to stand up for these rights, then why does it expect that the nations of the world will be more Zionist than Israel is?
And at least equally as grievous: 20 years ago Israel signed the Oslo Accords and with open eyes, established the Palestinian Authority that, according to the prime minister at that time, Yitzhak Rabin, was supposed to fight Hamas without being bothered by the High Court or human rights organizations. He also promised that there would be no rockets from Gaza. Meanwhile, as a result of these accords, an entity has emerged whose Gazan part is an Islamic terror state, and its other part might also become an Islamic terror state with territorial contiguity from the outskirts of Be'er Sheva to the hills overlooking Afula, and Israel still promotes this idea, which everyone knows might put all of Israel in great danger. So can Israel be believed when she claims that her security is important to her?
Some countries of the world support the Arab effort to establish a Palestinian terror state with money and UN resolutions, and the State of Israel does nothing against the billions that flow into its territory for the purpose of establishing a terror entity as a Trojan horse within its territory (according to Arafat's definition). So if the State of Israel so disregards the security of its citizens and permits its neighbors to establish a terror state on lands within its own territory, then why would the nations of the world take the Israeli cries of existential danger posed by Iran, which is located a thousand kilometers away, seriously?
Israel cannot expect the world to be concerned if Israel does not regard itself, its existence and its rights with urgency and determination. This is the true and profound reason that the Israeli message about Iran did not touch the hearts of the world's leaders, and the guilty party is we ourselves, the collective Israeli, we, the Right and the Left together, each one because of its acts of commission and its acts of omission as well.
There are too many Israelis who go out into the world and spread the idea that the State of Israel is an occupier, is illegitimate and has no right to exist. In Israel we do nothing to those people, and they continue to receive their salaries from the academies or from the Israeli film industry, meaning, from the citizens of Israel. They with their words - even if not explicitly - justify what Iran wants to do to us, and we continue to pay them their bloated salaries. So who is to blame if the nations of the world do not think it so horrible if Iran will have nuclear weapons to destroy Israel with?
And worst of all, Israel's chief negotiator stands in a conference in the United States and defends the idea of establishing a Palestinian state on Israeli land, without her having any promise that this country will not become a Hamas state, whether by means of elections, as happened in January of 2006 or by a violent takeover as happened in June 2007. So with such a negotiator, who calls to establish a terror state within the Land of Israel that will threaten the coastal land and Jerusalem from the hills of Judea and Samaria, is anyone surprised that the nations of the world do not take Israel's security claims seriously?
When Israel relates to its rights and its security more seriously regarding the Arabs, the world might listen more to our security worries concerning the Iranians. Anyway, the world does not think that there is any difference between Arabs and Iranians.
Dr. Kedar is available for lectures
Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.
Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.
Additional articles by Dr. Kedar
Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the author.