When it was announced in October that the largest delegation ever of politicians and journalists were going to Israel in December I predicted the focus would be Iran. Screw the Palestinians.
Well, you can imagine my deep shock to read over the weekend one of the supposedly serious reporters on the trip (Lenore Taylor of the Sydney Morning Herald) writing all about…Iran.
It’s an utterly embarrassing piece, talking openly about the “nuclear arms aspiration of Iran” and repeating uncritically a litany of Zionist “experts”. No dissent is offered (and indeed, there is no evidence of Tehran getting the bomb but who cares about mere facts and hard evidence?). And why? Because Taylor would not have been introduced to any of them and therefore didn’t think of finding them. That’s not journalism; it reeks of stenography:
Eight years after my first visit to Israel, one of the most striking things about the discussions during this week’s Australia Israel Leadership Forum has been the extent to which the increasing regional dominance and nuclear arms aspiration of Iran is overshadowing and enmeshing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
How would Gaza, controlled by Iranian-aligned Hamas, fit in to any peace deal struck between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?
Would any deal be possible if both Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon were emboldened by the backing of a nuclear-capable Iran?
Israeli politicians, of all persuasions, saw Iran’s growing influence as both the biggest threat to Israel and the world and also a factor making a peace deal far more elusive.
Isaac Herzog, who is one of a number of declared challengers to Ehud Barak, the current leader of Israel’s beleaguered Labor Party, was clear that Iran posed ”the world’s biggest challenge”.
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, warned about the sheer unpredictability of a radical Islamist state with the bomb.
But most thought that at the very least sanctions have to be combined with the credible threat of a military strike to be effective.
In fact, many senior figures argued that the only way to force Iran to halt the development of nuclear weapons was to convince the regime that the West had the stomach to launch a military strike.
But the rapidly looming question is what to do should all else fail and a nuclear-armed Iran appear inevitable, a situation analysts say could arise within months and is extremely likely to arise within years. Could the region, could the world, live with the nuclear arms race in the Middle East that would then ensue? Could Israel live with the emboldened Iranian-backed states around it? And, given the extreme reluctance of the US to get involved in any more conflicts in the region, would Israel act alone?
The questions are even tougher than those that have dogged the Arab-Israeli peace process for years, and there is far less time to find an answer.
Such hyperbolic nonsense plays directly into the hands of those longing for an Israeli/American attack on Iran. The job of a real journalist, if one takes a free trip to another country, is not to forget one’s critical faculties. Taylor, like virtually every reporter on such visits, has pleased her hosts and sponsors no end.