Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Doing the Time Warp Again

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference on Monday, March 5.

Although beginning with a funny ("I'd like to talk to you about a subject no one has been talking about recently... Iran"), towards the end of his speech a strange thing happened.

The lights suddenly dimmed, flickered and went out for the briefest of moments, and before the assembled AIPACers (who included more than two-thirds of the US Congress!) knew what was happening they had been transported, by some mysterious magic, from Washington DC, 2012 to Auschwitz, 1944!

But stranger still, Netanyahu didn't so much as bat an eyelid! It was as though time travel of this kind was somehow normal for him. No, he just carried on as though nothing had happened:

"As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live under the shadow of annihilation. Some commentators would have you believe that stopping Iran from getting the bomb is more dangerous than letting Iran have the bomb. They say that a military confrontation with Iran would undermine the efforts already underway, that it would be ineffective, and that it would provoke even more vindictive action by Iran. I've heard these arguments before. In fact, I've read them before. In my desk, I have copies of an exchange of letters between the World Jewish Congress and the US War Department. The year was 1944. The World Jewish Congress implored the American government to bomb Auschwitz. The reply came 5 days later. I want to read it to you: 'Such an operation could be executed only by diverting considerable air support essential to the success of our forces elsewhere... and in any case would be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not warrant the use of our resources...' And here's the most remarkable sentence of all. And I quote: 'Such an effort might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans'. Think about that - 'even more vindictive action' - than the Holocaust."

Seriously now, the man's mad. Bonkers. Loopy as. And yet did this realisation occur to any US congresscreature or government official within earshot?

Back in 1982, after the Israel Offence Forces, under the direction of then Likud prime minister Menachem Begin, had reduced large parts of West Beirut to what one Western diplomat described at the time as "truly a scene from Dante's Inferno," American, and even some Israeli, officials began to question the man's sanity.

Mind you, incredibly, it wasn't so much what the maniac had done, as his justification for it that caused the penny to drop:

"Contemplating the destruction of Beirut, Israel's prime minister sees a historical parallel. In his response to Reagan's birthday cable, Menachem Begin talked about Berlin. 'I did feel as a prime minister empowered to instruct a valiant army facing Berlin where, amongst innocent civilians, Hitler and his henchmen hide in a bunker deep beneath the surface'. A couple of days after the 'Berlin' message reached Washington, some senior US government officials genuinely seemed to question Begin's mental health. Even in Jerusalem, the disturbing thought has occurred to some Israelis that their prime minister is gripped by a 'dark and macabre fantasy'. 'He is now living in a surreal world', said a professor from the Hebrew University. 'Sometimes I think he is fighting the Warsaw ghetto all over again. He sees the PLO as Nazis and Arafat as Hitler in his bunker'. Ze'ev Mankowitz, teacher of holocaust studies in Jerusalem, described the prime minister's message to Reagan as 'a dangerous and delusional analogy'." (Beirut: The liquidation of a city, Robin Wright et al, The Sunday Times, 8/8/82)

Dangerous and delusional?

Yet who in authority today, in the US, in Israel, anywhere, dares say this of Netanyahu? Must Tehran become a scene from Dante's Inferno before anyone speaks out?

If ever proof were needed that we do indeed live in strange times, one need go no further than this month's AIPAC conference, with its preponderance of congressional sycophants, Obama's obscene grovelling and Netanyahu's hysterical rant.

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