Thursday, July 6, 2017

What could the bond between Modi and Netanyahu, who seem to have a degree of unquestioned authority within their countries, be?

Sukumar Muralidharan,

image (not from article) from
In recent times, Netanyahu has not had a very easy time with his western allies. After years of indulgence for Israel’s expansionist urges, the West is showing a faint glimmer of awakening to the disastrous denial of Palestinian rights. In circumstances where Israel’s intent to render Palestinians into a state of permanent displacement are abundantly clear, global civil society has stepped up to shame weak-kneed governments. The “boycott, divestment and sanctions” (BDS) movement was launched by a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society actors, to hold Israeli entities to account – where culpability was proven – for the occupation and the daily violations of the human rights of Palestinians. Since the call went out from Palestine in 2005, BDS has gained traction especially in Israel’s traditionally unquestioning allies in the West.
Israel’s response has been to deploy the jaded political insult of “anti-semitism” against the BDS campaign, to rudely rebuff even the friendly advice of western allies, and double down on the moral righteousness of its claim to the whole of Palestine. It has unleashed a propaganda barrage, dignified as public diplomacy or hasbara, which Netanyahu has emerged as the principal exponent of, with his slick manner and fluent American-accent.
Didactic lectures in history suffused with claims of Israel’s Biblical antiquity as a nation, have been a regular part of Netanyahu’s propaganda effort. This is usually accompanied by dire warnings against conceding any ground to radical Islam. The Palestinian struggle for recognition is wrapped within the global menace of terrorism, which in turn is traced to a number of sources, though none more malign than Iran. After the elaborate contrivance of spotting an Iranian hand behind every evil stalking the world, an obsessive warning is sounded that the menace could soon acquire a nuclear dimension.
These anxieties of the Zionist state really sharpened after the US invasion of Iraq produced the partly anticipated outcome of vastly boosting Iran’s regional clout. Reflecting on how the US in Iraq had transformed relative stability into nightmarish confusion, two respected American political scientists, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, authored a landmark paper titled ‘The  Israel Lobby’ in 2006. With solid and rigorous reference to fact rather than myth, Walt and Mearsheimer argued: “The Israeli government and pro-Israel groups in the United States have worked together to shape the (US) administration’s policy towards Iraq, Syria and Iran, as well as its grand scheme for reordering the Middle East…. Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was critical”. ...
The Walt-Mearsheimer critique was banished by a vast and orchestrated campaign attacking it as “anti-semitic”; and then the authors of the Iraq fiasco went back to the same old playbook: demonising the leaders of a country seen as adversarial, characterising them as irrational beings unamenable to normal diplomatic practices. Netanyahu has in the course of his annual exertions in the cause of hasbara in the UN, described an incumbent Iranian president as a “madman” and his successor as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. ...

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