Thursday, August 07, 2008

Israeli academics oppose war on Iran

ISRAELI academics and peace campaigners this week issued a significant public warning against their state going to war on Iran. Their declaration came as pro-war, anti-Islamic propaganda in the West once again used a misreported speech by President Ahmadinejad to claim that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and is bound to use them against Israel as a Jewish state.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose popularity at home has slumped below that of his predecessor Tony Blair and Tory Margaret Thatcher, used his trip to Israel last month to beat the war drums in the Knesset and promise support for Israel in its stand for "liberty"(!)

The fact that US military commanders have counselled against attacking Iran, and British MoD sources say Britain is not ready for such a war, may increase the danger that Israel will be used to launch it, claiming it is a pre-emptive strike, and relying on hysterical claims that the Iranian government is planning a second Holocaust.

This effort to condition the public for war is firmly rejected by educated Israelis.
Their anti-war declaration says:

There is no military, political or moral justification to initiate war with Iran
A constant flow of information bears witness to the fact that the Israeli government is seriously considering attacking Iran, in order to disrupt its nuclear plans. We do not disregard irresponsible actions by the Iranian government - we also oppose atomic weapons in principle and support the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction from the region. However, it is clear that the main source of the immediate danger of a new, widespread war stems from the policies of the Israeli government and the flow of threats from it, backed by provocative military maneuvers.

After serious consideration, we reiterate our position that all the arguments for such an attack are without any security, political or moral justification. Israel might get caught up in an act of adventurism that could endanger our very existence, and this without any serious effort to exhaust the political and diplomatic alternatives to armed conflict.

We are not certain that such an attack will occur. But the very fact that it is being weighed as a reasonable option, makes it imperative that we warn and caution against the destructive results of an offensive strike against Iran.

Coordinating Group: Prof. Gadi Algazi; Judy Blanc; Prof. Rachel Giora; Prof. Anat Matar; Prof. Adi Ophir; Prof. Yoav Peled; Reuven Kaminer, Prof. Haggai Ram; Prof. Yehuda Shenhav; Prof. Oren Yiftachel.

It is reported that hundreds of people have added their signatures to this statement.

Earlier, long-standing campaigner Reuven Kaminer had warned that while the US military had persuaded Washington to modify its stand in Geneva talks, "There are very powerful forces in the US administration who do not like the idea of waiting around until it might be even more difficult to get an attack off the ground. These forces will try to exploit the to-be-expected difficulties in the Geneva talks as evidence to the effect that Teheran is not getting the message.
When the attempt to ratchet up economic sanctions will prove ineffective, as it must in the given conditions, the hawks will be able to argue that it is time to proceed, quickly but surely, to the final option on the table. Even
with the Geneva gambit, the basic line of the US administration (with Obama in tow) is that armed intervention would be legally and morally justified, because Iran ­even without actually building the bomb - is a new "ticking bomb" in the region. The more aggressive the forces pushing for war in Washington, the deeper their coordination with Israel".

Reuven Kaminer says Barack Obama is doing Israelis no favours by going along with what he hears from their leaders and from the hawks in Washington. "Barack Obama had told friends that his impression from talks in Israel was that it had no faith in the sanctions track. " We might note that, ironically, one hole in the anti-Iran sanctions is Israel, which is purchasing oil from Iran via Europe.

A case of "Don't do as I do, do as I say!"

Looking at some diplomatic danger signs, Reuven Kaminer warns:
"There is no end of signs that the idea of an Israeli strike is being
carefully weighed. General Mullen felt it necessary to repeat, just last
week, an earlier warning on the danger of such a strike, for the second time this month. Olmert explained to Obama that time is running out since the Russians are going to upgrade the Iranian air defense system by the end of the year. Defense Minister Barak and MK Mofaz, who holds a portfolio named Strategic Coordination with the US, held talks in Washington this week.
Mofaz is the darling of the oil speculators for his constant flow of
declarations that war is inevitable. This Saturday, MK Hanegbi, chair of the powerful Foreign Affairs and Security Knesset Committee, called for the establishment of a national unity government to deal with the Iranian

He continues:
"Many of my readers share with me a decided lack of enthusiasm for the
policies and the rhetoric of Ahmadinajad and his circle. Without in any way ignoring the harm and the danger of some of the declarations coming out of Teheran, we must also admit that the Israeli propaganda is very adept at converting whosoever is its current adversary into a "new Hitler". It should be recalled that both Abdul Nasser and Yassir Arafat were cast in the Hitler role, though their real core positions did not justify such a designation. In truth, their basic political platform created ample room for rational political responses which could have defused "inevitable"clashes.

"Nasrallah figures, with Ahmadinajad, as the current, not to be appeased, enemy. But there are abundant signs that Nasrallah knows how to do business responsibly and there is good reason to believe that the current leadership in Iran could be influenced by serious and thoughtful politics. It would certainly be helpful if the "rational" West offered total regional disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction (including Israel's stockpile) to the "irrational and inscrutable" Iranian leadership. Perhaps, the Iranian leadership has cause to ask its critics as to why they consider it is perfectly acceptable that Israel and Pakistan are legitimate members of the nuclear club and why Iran must accept an inferior status. Even if the US and its allies are not ready for anything as fair and logical as regional disarmament, other sets of realistic and patient policies based on mutual respect could go a long way to prevent tensions from getting dangerously out of hand".

It has suited Ahmadinejad to play the bad boy with Western media so as to divert the focus from popular disillusion and repression inside Iran. He probably did not mind his speech about erasing "the regime occupying el Kuds" being interpreted as a "threat to wipe Israel off the map"; and he played a dangerous game with Holocaust revisionism and hypothetical nuclear weapons, neither of which are of any use to the Palestinian people whom Iranians should rightly want to help. He has probably calculated that hostility from the West and Israel could shore up his declining popularity by appealing to patriotic resolve at home.

But Ahmadinejad is not Iran, he does not even have the power as president to take his country to war, and yet if war comes the people to suffer most from any attack would be ordinary Iranians, many opposed to his regime. Among them are the 72,000 Iranian Jews, the largest number in the Middle East outside Israel. Their presence alone gives the lie to claims that Iran is "like Nazi Germany", or that Islamic ideology means Iran must "kill all Jews". It is the Israeli government that says Jews should leave Iran, but so far they have declined offers of "rescue". Could it be Israeli leaders find this embarrassing, as they plan to bomb Tehran?

Several Jewish campaigners and organisations, including Concerned Jewish Canadians, Jewish Voices for Peace (USA) and European Jews for Just Peace. are raising their voices against war on Iran too.

In Britain, the Jewish Socialists' Group at its annual conference earlier this year passed a resolution making clear its opposition both to imperialist war and to the Islamicist regime, thereby solidarising itself with left-wing Iranians too:

"This conference of the Jewish Socialists' Group is alarmed at the growing threat of war against Iran, expressed by Western politicians and in the media, and unabated by reports that the Iranian regime has neither nuclear weapons nor plans to acquire them.
We are concerned that despite the disastrous results of war in Iraq and unending bloodshed in Afghanistan, attempts are being made to accustom the public to these conflicts and make another, even more destructive war, seem inevitable.

We also concerned that such efforts as the British and US governments purportedly make to revive the Middle East peace process may have the limited aim of making it easier for the Saudi and other Arab governments to support war on Iran; and that secure in this knowledge, the Israeli government can persist in aggressive policies towards the Palestinians and Lebanon, pretending its war is with Iran, regardless of the risks entailed for the Israeli people if this became so.

Our opposition to war, and the death and destruction this would inflict on the Iranian people in no way removes our duty to denounce Iranian president Ahmadinejad, whose irresponsible demagogy plays on the external threat, and who has disgraced his country by hosting a racists and Holocaust deniers.
Our solidarity with the Iranian people requires opposition to the repressive Islamicist regime, with its reactionary treatment of women, gays and minorities, as well as the workers' movement. Such policies can only undermine the Iranian people's ability to withstand imperialist attack, and defence of the regime can only weaken and discredit the peace movement.

The Jewish Socialists' Group declares its solidarity with the Iranian people against imperialist war, and with the working people, women, students, gays and minorities in their struggle for social justice and democratic rights.

We demand that the British government which claims to uphold democratic freedoms stops deporting people to face persecution in Iran.

We call for a nuclear weapon-free Middle East, as urged by Mordechai Vanunu, and a ban on all weapons of mass destruction in the area, as a step to removing them from the world.
We demand an end to Israeli occupation in Palestine, and the withdrawal of all imperialist forces from the Middle East.

Conference notes that this is broadly the same position as Hands off the People of Iran(HOPI), and that this campaign has facilitated democratic participation by varied Iranian and other left-wing activists and groups. Conference therefore instructs the national committee to affiliate the JSG with Hands Off the People of Iran(HOPI), and to seek ways in which the JSG can work with Iranians and others to to advance these policies among Jewish people, and in the wider labour and anti-war movement.

Hands off the People of Iran

Jewish Socialists' Group

What's Iran got to do with it?
Joel Beinin article

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At 1:11 PM, Blogger Infantile and Disorderly said...

Your posts are always really informative, thank you, charlie. The anti-war declaration you have posted is a very good thing

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Chris S said...

Excellent news on the affiliation.

The article itself is also very good. A lot of the crap going around the internet about Israeli's being up for a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities at the moment and this is a welcome opposition to such crap.

I have added you to my blog roll comrade.


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