Goldblog's Straw Man, Ctd

Jeffrey replies to my inference that he wants a war with Iran:

I am opposed to a military strike on Iran for the foreseeable future. Last week, I wrote, of the Stuxnet virus that has apparently slowed down Iran's centrifuges: "It is too early, obviously, to assess how much long-term damage the virus has done to the Iranian enrichment program, but I think it is possible to say that Stuxnet might be the best thing to happen to the Jewish people since the discovery that Scarlett Johansson is an M.O.T."... I believe, with some relief, that we are farther now from a military confrontation with Iran than we were six months ago, when I wrote my cover story on this subject, in part because of the subterfuge program, and in part because of the sanctions regime put in place by President Obama.

I take him at his word, and he has a right to veer back and forth on this as events and circumstances change. That's called exercizing practical judgment, even if it can be confusing for some readers over time. But in addressing his ugly claim that I believe

it is a group of warmongering Jews -- alone -- who seek to ignite World War III.

he now merely writes:

What is pleasing about the Wikileaks dump to me is that it disproves the narrative perpetrated by Andrew, and others, that it is only Israel advocating for war against Iran. This is an argument he has been making obsessively for more than a year. These documents seem to prove that, all the while, the most strident lobbyists for war against Iran have been Arab leaders, not Jews. I can understand why Andrew is so upset.

Notice something about these two passages. Jeffrey interchangeably uses "Israel" and "Jews" in the paragraph above, when it suits him, which makes anyone's commentary on Israel at any particular time indistinguishable from some grand ethnic or racial statement about "Jews". For me and most people, there is, of course, a distinction. There is also a distinction between Israel and any particular Israeli government. And that is why strongly resisting the arguments and actions of any one Israeli government is not about Israel as such or "Jews" or "the Jews." It is about my good faith belief about US interests. By conflating these things so casually, Jeffrey keeps the anti-Semite card fully on the table, chilling criticism of Israel as if it were indistinguishable from bigotry. This rhetorical game really does have to stop.

As for the substantive issue, I am not upset, just amazed at how shamelessly many neocons dance from one position to another - now seeking to destabilize the Arab autocracies, now citing them as allies in their campaign for World War III.

And it is simply a fact that I have not argued that Israel alone wants war, although Israel has obviously been the main public champion. I have long fully understood and acknowledged that the Arab Sunni dictators are deeply hostile to Iran's nuclear weapon development, and would love to crush the "Shiite trash" they despise and fear, especially if someone else can take the blame. Since Jeffrey actually witnessed my taking on the King of Jordan in this respect, and since it is integral to my most detailed argument about Israel and Palestine here and here, it is particularly disingenuous of him to maintain the canard that I have denied this in some fashion.

The Israeli government and the Arab dictatorships, for different reasons, want military action sooner rather than later. We all know this. All the Wikileaks cables prove is how gutless, cynical and two-faced the Arab dictators are in public. Again: not exactly news. When they openly campaign for war on Iran in public, when they join hands with the Israelis in demanding action on the world stage: that will be news. And it will matter.

And, by the way, if you want to read an analysis of the Iranian nuclear crisis that truly is focused almost solely on Israel's existential fears and push for war, try Jeffrey's cover-story. Yes, he acknowledges in an aside that

moderate Arab regimes ... fear an Iranian bomb with an intensity that in some instances matches Israel’s

as I have as well. But the narrative Jeffrey has been promoting is exactly that Israel more than any other country cares about the Iranian nuclear program - and for good reason. I agree with him. But it is a little rich for him now to accuse me of the very narrative he has been pushing, when almost everyone has been pushing it, and when it logically does not exclude the fact that privately, cynical and self-serving Arab autocrats are as hostile to Iran as Israel.