|Illustration by DonkeyHotey.|
Uri Avnery is without doubt the most intellectual, philosophical, prescient leftist Israeli seer I have ever met. Like TS Eliot, he has a habit of using the fewest words to tell the greatest truth. Every essay he writes, this reader always says the same thing: Exactly! Yet, for the first time in 40 years, I disagree with the great man.
He has just suggested that Benjamin Netanyahu’s agreement to address the US Congress at the invitation of Republicans tomorrow – two weeks before an Israeli general election – and Barack Obama’s decision not to see the old rogue, has destroyed Israel’s bipartisan support in America. For the first time, says Uri, Democratic politicians are allowed to criticise Israel.
Congressmen of both parties have grovelled and fainted and shrieked their support for Bibi and his predecessors with more enthusiasm that the Roman hordes in the Colosseum. Last time Bibi turned up on the Hill, he received literally dozens of standing ovations from the sheep-like representatives of the American people, whose uncritical adoration of the Israeli state – and their abject fear of uttering the most faint-hearted criticism lest they be called anti-Semites – suggest that Bibi would be a far more popular US president than Barack. And Bibi’s impeccable American accent doesn’t hurt.
And his aim – to earn votes for himself and to destroy the one foreign policy achievement within Obama’s grasp – will have absolutely no effect at all on Israeli-US relations. When Bibi made himself the laughing stock of the UN Security Council – by producing an infantile cartoon of an Iranian bomb with a red line in the middle, indicating that Iran could build nuclear weapons by the end of 2013 – his charade was treated with indulgence by the American media. These mythical deadlines have been expiring regularly for more than a decade, yet still we are supposed to take them seriously. Obama is struggling to reach an agreement with Iran which would protect the world from any nuclear weapon production by the Islamic Republic.
Bibi wants to destroy this opportunity. He wants more sanctions. He wants to win the Israeli elections on 17 March. He might even bomb Iran – which would bring an immediate military response against the United States.