Hands up all those who like taking free trips to Israel organised by the Zionist lobby?
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Lenore Taylor does and her recent column simply “reported” alarmist Israeli comments over the supposed threat of Iran. It wasn’t journalism; it was very effective stenography. No alternative voices were offered.
Today, in Murdoch’s Australian, there’s Greg Sheridan (who doesn’t acknowledge who held his hand throughout the trip ie. the Zionist lobby) and he simply republishes large swathes of predictable ramblings by Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister and former ambassador to Washington.
Quick summary: Iran is a massive threat. The occupation of Palestine doesn’t exist. The Palestinians have themselves to blame for not being independent. Australia is a wonderful ally that backs everything Israel does.
One day, and this day isn’t that far away, Israel and its sycophantic Western backers will have much explaining to do. How the hell has the Zionist state become so loathed because it continues to brutalise Palestinians?
The world is moving towards a decision point on Iran and a key player in any decision will be the government of Israel. I have just spent 10 days in Israel and every discussion there – almost every thought – is infused with Iran.
Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister and former ambassador to Washington, thinks some decisions will be made in a matter of weeks. Everything is in the balance. The possible consequences are stark and enormously disquieting.
They include: a nuclear-armed Iran, an explosion of global terrorism and a new war in the Middle East. All are possible.
I met Ayalon for a long discussion in a small ante-room in Tel Aviv’s Bar-Ilan University, oddly enough over haddock and mayonnaise.
The central question asks itself: will the world succeed in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons? “I would say it’s touch and go,” Ayalon says. “Iran is a threat not just to Israel, but to Sunni regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the (Persian) Gulf countries, countries in North Africa.
“A nuclear Iran would have a disastrous effect on the entire world order.”
Ayalon, steel-grey-haired, sober, judicious and diplomatic of demeanour, then lists some of the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran: “Iran could control the oil supply and dictate oil prices.
“Anyone who says don’t rock the boat because it will jack up oil prices should try and imagine what will happen under a nuclear Iran.
The Iranians “will also have complete protection in their aggressive actions in terrorism around the world”.
“They are increasingly penetrating into Latin America through Venezuela. They are influential in Lebanon through Hezbollah, in Syria, among the Palestinians through Hamas, in Africa, where they are looking for uranium.”
It is impossible to get Israeli government figures to say what the red line is for Israel with Iran, whether Jerusalem would take pre-emptive military action to destroy or at least retard Iran’s nuclear program.
Both Jerusalem and Washington have studied intensely both the risks and the opportunities of striking Iran’s nuclear program.
And there are endless reports, which Israelis will never comment on, of Israeli and US efforts to sabotage and disrupt Iran’s nuclear program by non-military means.
In Israel these are life and death matters. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has famously called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Ayalon offers a measured and mixed assessment of the effectiveness of efforts, especially sanctions, to constrain Iran.
“Probably in a matter of weeks we will have to sit down and reflect on how effective the sanctions have been,” he says. “Notwithstanding the technical problems Iran has, it’s touch and go. The sanctions were effective on the Iranian economy, and in undermining the self-confidence of the Iranian leadership. But these efforts have not yet changed the Iranians’ behaviour. The Iranians were surprised by the UN resolution (on sanctions) and by the extra measures a number of nations, such as Australia, took. This is the first time the Iranians are paying a price for their international defiance.