Ahead of a conference in the capital of Poland last week, the Israeli prime minister tweeted that its aim was “war with Iran”. The tweet was subsequently deleted, on the basis that it had been “mistranslated”.
Perhaps it was just a Freudian slip. Or, more likely, an attempt by Benjamin Netanyahu to convey to his electoral base, following in the footsteps of his friend Donald Trump, an idea that would resonate ahead of the April 9 elections.
His hosts couldn’t care less about that, even though they had no inherent reason to gang up on Iran. Poland, after all, was all too happy to accommodate CIA black sites — torture chambers, in other words — in the heyday of the so-called war on terror. But it thought Netanyahu went too far in claiming that Poles were complicit in the Holocaust. That, in fact, is the least of Netanyahu's excesses. It's not just Poles, though: the Nazis found willing collaborators in their anti-Semitic project right across every nation they occupied, from France to the Soviet Union. And Poland stood out for its antipathy towards Jews both before and after the Second World War.
Last year, the Polish government instituted a law that made it a crime to insinuate local involvement in the extermination of the nation's Jews, which was watered down when Israel strongly objected. But the upshot of last week's events was that a scheduled Visegrad summit, bringing together some of the most deplorable right-wing regimes in eastern Europe in Israel, was cancelled after the Poles pulled out.
Netanyahu has been taken to task even by some right-wing Israeli politicians for embracing some of the most anti-Semitic European politicians, including Hungary's atrociously Islamophobic Prime Minister Viktor Orban. But he is in desperate straits domestically, and only too happy to collaborate with the worst international entities, including several Gulf states, as long as their anti-Semitism remains semi-concealed. It is, inevitably, quite a different matter when Israeli agents or dupes go on the warpath against the likes of Jeremy Corbyn or Ilhan Omar when they dare to criticise the brutal subjugation of Palestinians.
There are innumerable grounds on which the regime in Iran can justifiably be criticised 40 years after the revolution, many of whose finest daughters and sons were lost if not to the bloodlust of the Shah then to the perversity of the ayatollahs who replaced him. The instances of its brutality keep piling up, notwithstanding proclamations that its animosity is aimed against the Israeli regime rather than the followers of Judaism, or that the time-honoured slogan of "marg bar Amreeka" applies to Trump and his associates, not Americans as a whole.
Iran's internal and external follies over the years — and even in the present environment, when US-led sanctions are debilitating its struggling economy and European efforts to bypass the American hostility are unlikely to bear fruit — cannot lightly be dismissed. Any solution, though, must be internal, rather than via an intervention masterminded by the US in collaboration with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Around 60 nations were represented last week in Warsaw, picked as a venue after more influential European nations refused to play host to the misguided gathering spearheaded by the US and Israel. The highest US representative was Vice-President Mike Pence, whose declared sect of evangelicalism Christianity deems all Jews to be doomed to eternal hellfire unless they convert. That obviously does not prevent him, alongside so many other prominent anti-Semites, from perceiving Israel as a shining ideological exemplar.
The attempted new Warsaw pact was also thwarted by low-level Western European participation in the anti-Iranian coalition, given the most prominent members of the European Union remain keen to cling on to the nuclear deal concluded with Iran under the Obama administration in 2015. They are, however, finding it hard to maintain mutually beneficial economic relations in the light of typically imperialist US constraints.
The current masterminds of US foreign policy — Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and, informally, Marco Rubio — are bent upon regime change not just in Iran and Venezuela but, as a part of the latter plot, in Cuba and Nicaragua. The Wall Street Journal recently cited anonymous government sources in spelling out the Latin American scenario, which is unconfirmed but all too plausible as a part of the madness gripping Washington. Tehran, Managua, Caracas and perhaps even Havana are worthy of criticism in some respects. There can, however, be little doubt that direct or even direct US intervention would be disastrous in every instance, as is already clear from the events unfolding in Venezuela. If "marg bar Amreeka" is too extreme, "Yankee go home" remains a viable slogan.
By arrangement with Dawn...