This article is part II of The Greater Islamophobia: Bombing, Invading, and Occupying Muslim Lands (I).
Read Part I first.
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg is a prominent establishment journalist who helped push the country to war against Iraq: he famously claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, was on the verge of going nuclear, and was linked to Al-Qaeda and 9/11. These were all lies, nothing short of alarmist war-propaganda.
Jeffrey Goldberg is at it again, but this time against Iran and Pakistan. This is part of his overall warmongering ideology, one that involves advocating what I call the Supreme Islamophobic Crime: bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands. The justifications used to wage war against Muslims are steeped in hypocrisy and double standards, which are very prevalent in Goldberg’s articles.
In part I, I responded to Goldberg’s claims that Iran should be attacked because it is supposedly on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. I pointed out the hypocrisy of the U.S. and Israel in this regard, both of which also have nuclear weapons and are either in violation of the NPT (the U.S.) or refuse to sign it (Israel). As George Orwell famously said in his critique of nationalism: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”
For the record, I am a strong believer in complete nuclear disarmament. However, either all countries should get rid of nuclear weapons or all countries have the right to acquire them. There cannot be a double-standard in this regard. If the United States and Israel possess them, then Iran–which is under constant American and Israeli threat of not just conventional warfare but nuclear strike–not only has the right to obtain them, but–as Glenn Greenwald notes–“nothing is more rational than Iran’s wanting a nuclear weapon” (note: that is, if Iran secretly wanted to do so).
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Here in part II, I will tackle the rest of Goldberg’s article, which is filled with typical Zionist, neoconservative, and warmongering rhetoric. Each of his pro-war arguments can be equally applied to America and/or Israel, reinforcing Orwell’s statement.
First, Goldberg writes:
The leaders of Iran are eliminationist anti-Semites; men who, for reasons of theology, view the state of the Jews as a “cancer.” They have repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction… Iran’s leaders are men who deny the Holocaust while promising another.
Goldberg is repeating multiple falsehoods against Iran. Here, he is referring to an infamous statement that was uttered by the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which he supposedly said “Israel must be wiped off the map.” In fact, this was a case of blatant mistranslation by the Western media: what he really said was:
The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.
Ahmadinejad was calling for regime change, not for Israel’s destruction or the annihilation of Jews. Certainly, the two greatest proponents of regime change–the United States and Israel–should be the last to equate regime change with genocide.
In fact, the Iranian leadership, while reserving the right to defend itself if Iran is attacked, has never threatened to initiate an attack against Israel, let alone “repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction” as Jeffrey Goldberg imagines. Once again, quite ironically, it is Israel that has repeatedly threatened to initiate an attack against Iran. Remember: actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.
Goldberg’s claim that the Iranian government has “promised another [Holocaust]” is absolutely bogus; therefore, his claim that “[t]he leaders of Iran are eliminationist anti-Semites” is also completely contrived. They are anti-Semites, but they are not eliminationist anti-Semites. Do we bomb people for being anti-Semites? To put the shoe on the other foot, would any sane person call to bomb Israel for their leaders being anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and/or Islamophobic? One cannot help but reiterating the Orwellian mantra: actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.
Meanwhile, it is Israeli leaders who have not just endorsed but actively enacted a policy of “driving the Palestinians out of Palestine.” The Israeli leadership has, for well over half a century, supported the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, euphemistically called “forced transfer.” For example, the current prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, expressed support for ethnic cleansing by famously saying that Israel should “carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories.” (In fact, a majority of Israelis support the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.) Worse yet, Netanyahu has not just supported ethnic cleansing by mere words, but is right now engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
In a previous article, I pointed out how misleading it is to focus on Iranian rhetoric over Israeli action. While the Western media obsesses over whether or not Hamas or Iran may have called to wipe Israel off the map (mere rhetoric), Israel has literally wiped Palestine off the map (actual action)–it has been and is currently in the process of wiping the land of pesky Palestinians as well. This is the difference then between word and deed: if one looks at a map, Israel is on it and Palestine is not. Who has wiped out whom? That this obvious absurdity is not ever pointed out in the Western media speaks volumes.
Yes, the Iranian leadership has called “the Zionist regime” a “cancer.” So, now we are invading countries for simple name-calling? If the Venezuelan government calls the United States and everything it represents a “fulminating disease” or even a “pile of human feces,” are we justified in attacking it? If that is the case, then would Iran be justified in attacking the United States and Israel for all the things it has been called? We dubbed Iran to be part of the “Axis of Evil.” That’s just as bad as being called a “cancer.” Can Iran attack us on that basis? Here exists another double standard: we freely label Iran with the label of “Axis of Evil” but if Iran did the same to us, that would be proof of their innate belligerence. This is because actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.
There is no doubt that denying or downplaying the Holocaust is morally repugnant, but how could such a person as Jeffrey Goldberg, who throughout his career has justified, downplayed, and denied the Palestinian suffering, be up in arms about Iranian leaders doing the same with the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust? More importantly, would any sane person apply the logic to Israel, arguing that denial of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe)–the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948-1949–is reason to attack Israel? Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them. (Note: Denying either the Holocaust, the Catastrophe, or any other such crime against humanity should be considered completely unacceptable.)
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Then, Jeffrey Goldberg uses every Zionist’s favorite go-to trump card: “Hamas and Hezbollah!” He writes that Iran has been
providing material support and training to two organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, that specialize in the slaughter of innocent Jews.
Prof. William Beeman of Brown University argues that the Iranian links to Hamas and Hezbollah are exaggerated. Aside from this, however, there is a profound double standard at play here: Israel supports Mujahedin-e Khalq, a militant group inside Iran that even the U.S. State Department designates a “terrorist organization”:
It is widely known within intelligence circles that the Israelis use the MEK for varied acts of espionage and terror…
If it is justified to attack Iran on the grounds that Iran supports Hamas and Hezbollah which in turn commit acts of terrorism against Israel, then would our opponents argue that it is justified for Iran to attack Israel because Israel supports the MEK which engages in terrorism against Iran? Such double standards are never pointed out in the U.S. media, but they certainly do not go unnoticed in the Muslim world and elsewhere. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.
If Iran is to be attacked for its “material support” of groups that commit acts of terrorism, then wouldn’t the Iranians be more justified in attacking Israel, which has committed not just “material support” but actual acts of terrorism within Iran? Israel has been implicated in several terrorist acts within Iran, including “bombings” and “assassinations” of Iranian scientists. Just a couple weeks ago, the Israeli intelligence agency orchestrated a terrorist bombing within Iran, “in which 17 people were killed” including a prominent Iranian scientist.
One can only imagine the reaction within pro-Israeli circles–and the absolute indignation of the American media–if “stealth jihadists” of Iranian descent bombed an MIT lab and killed a dozen and a half civilians along with a prominent research professor. Do you think the mainstream media would be silent about this string of terrorist attacks if they were against American targets and perpetrated by Muslims? Remember: Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them. (This media double standard explains why most Americans believe the lie that nearly all terrorist attacks are committed by Muslims.)
The Guardian reports:
Israel has been linked to several previous incidents in Iran similar to Saturday’s explosion, including an explosion at a Shahab facility in south-western Iran in 2010 and a bomb attack earlier that year in Tehran, in which Iranian physicist Masoud Ali Mohammadi was killed.
One need not look back to two weeks ago to prove Israeli terrorism in Iran: just a few days ago it was reported that an Iranian power plant was bombed in an Israeli terrorist attack. JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer rejoiced, calling this terrorist attack “good news” and saying that “[t]his calls for some champagne.” Similarly, Jeffrey Goldberg gleefully reported the news that Iran is under attack, showing once again how the Goldbergs and Gellers (in this case, Geller’s partner-in-crime) agree on advocating the Supreme Islamophobic Crime of bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim countries.
What do you think Spencer or Goldberg’s reaction would have been had it been a “stealth jihadist” who bombed an American power plant? Recall the absolute rage of Islamophobes, neoconservatives, Goldbergs, and Gellers–as well as Americans in general–over the Fort Hood Shooting. In that incident, Nidal Hasan killed U.S. soldiers on a military base as they were about to be deployed to go to war against Muslim countries. At that time, it was wondered: how could Muslims be so bloodthirsty that they would do such a thing? Yet, when Americans or Israelis kill Iranian scientists, then this is either brushed off as a necessary casualty in the War on Terror or even gleefully rejoiced over as yet another “success” in the War on Terror.
Of course, such double standards abound in our national discourse, without anyone pointing out the obvious. This is because, repeat after me, actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.
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Goldberg then tries throwing the kitchen sink at Iran, arguing that we should attack Iran because it is lead by a “messianic, apocalyptic cult”:
[I]t isn’t too much to imagine that some of Iran’s more mystically minded leaders, mesmerized by visions of the apocalypse, would actually consider using a nuclear weapon on Israel — a country so small that a single detonation could cripple it permanently.
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who once told me he believes that Iran is led by a “messianic, apocalyptic cult,” is correct to view Iran as a threat to his country’s existence.
Here, we see another example of Goldberg’s double standards. While it is true that some Iranian leaders dabble in “messianic, apocalyptic” dribble, there is an equally pernicious ”messianic, apocalyptic” impulse among Israelis, which Jeffrey Goldberg himself acknowledges. Should this be legitimate grounds for another country to attack Israel? Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.
The only recognized sect of Judaism in Israel is Orthodox Judaism, the most prominent sect of which is Religious Zionism. Rabbi Abraham Kook, considered the father of modern Religious Zionism, argued that “Zionists were agents in a heavenly plan to bring about the messianic era.” According to this messianic group, the congregating of the Jews in Israel will bring about the end times, meaning the wheels are already in motion.
Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, doesn’t seem to have a problem with “messianic, apocalyptic” Religious Zionists; in fact, Netanyahu proclaimed:
The religious Zionist public is part of every major way of life in Israel and it is time it was part of the ruling party
Netanyahu not only reached out to put such messianic Jews in “the ruling party” but also “affirm[ed] Christian Zionists”, a nutty “the End is Near” Christian group. He has himself engaged in messianic babble, and the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an article entitled “Netanyahu’s messianism could launch attack on Iran“.
There is another underlying irony here. As noted above, Israel supports Mujahedin-e Khalq, which is a “revolutionary cult.” Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.
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Jeffrey Goldberg gives four more reasons why President Obama should lob missiles at Iran. The first:
First, Iran and the U.S. have been waging a three- decade war for domination of the Middle East. If Iran goes nuclear, it will have won this war. American power in the Middle East will have been eclipsed, and Obama will look toothless.
This is a complete non-sequitur. How does Iran having nuclear weapons in the region equate to “domination of the Middle East”? Israel would still have tens or hundreds of times as many nuclear weapons as Iran, and the United States would have Iran surrounded. What it would do is even out the scales of power a bit, making Israel think twice before nuking any of its neighbors. What Zionists like Goldberg do not want, and will seek to prevent at any cost, is Iran to balance out the scales of power. Goldberg et al. want American and Israeli “domination of the Middle East.”
Goldberg’s statement is very telling, because he accidentally reveals what every Arab and Muslim in the region knows: “[T]he U.S. [has] been waging a three-decade war for domination of the Middle East.” Hmm….I wonder why do Arabs and Muslims in the region hate us? It’s such a big mystery to me.
How would Americans feel if some other country was “waging a three-decade war” to dominate them? But, of course, such comparisons–putting the shoe on the other foot–must never be discussed in the national discourse–and anyone who does so should be ignored, marginalized, and vilified.
Then, Goldberg says:
Second, every U.S. ally in the Middle East — Israel, the Gulf countries and Turkey, especially — fears a nuclear Iran. The president would have their complete support.
Here, we have another glimpse into the imperialist mind. The reality of Arab street is thus:
According to the Brookings Institution’s 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll, 77 percent regard Israel as the biggest threat, 80 percent regard the United States as the biggest threat, and only 10 percent regard Iran as the biggest threat. Fifty-seven percent think the region will be better off if Iran had nuclear weapons.
The same is the case in Turkey:
Some 43 percent of Turks perceive the United States as the country’s biggest threat, followed by Israel, according to a broad survey carried out in December…
The survey asked “From which country does the biggest threat come?” with 43 percent of Turks saying the U.S., followed by 24 percent who indicated Israel, 3 percent for Iran…
The percentage of Arabs, Muslims, and Turks who would support an American or Israeli attack on Iran would be, one can reasonably assume, even lower.
What Goldberg is saying then is that the American-supported stooge dictatorships–those same ones that the democratic Arab Spring has been shaking off–would support such a move against Iran. To any good colonialist, what the people of a nation want does not matter: simply install a subservient client regime and through it thwart the will of the people. I wonder why they hate us? It is an absolute mystery to me.
Goldberg goes on:
Third, the president is ideologically committed to a world without nuclear weapons. If Iran gets the bomb, it will set off an arms race in the world’s most volatile region. At the very least, Saudi Arabia and Turkey will seek nuclear weapons. It would mark a bitter defeat for Obama to have inadvertently overseen the greatest expansion of the nuclear arms club in recent history.
The irony of the president of the United States–leader of a country that has the most nuclear weapons in the world, the only one to have ever used them (not once, but twice), one that is in violation of the NPT, one that still actively plans on how to use nuclear weapons in future wars, and one that comes to the swift defense of Israel when it opposes a nuclear free Middle East (see part I of my article)–claiming to be “ideologically committed to a world without nuclear weapons” should not be lost.
In fact, President Barack Obama–unlike Iran’s leaders who have steadfastly pledged never to use nuclear weapons against anyone–came up with a list of conditions under which the U.S. could use nuclear weapons (see this article by The New York Times). Obama argued that any restrictions on nuclear weapons would simply not apply to “outliers like Iran and North Korea.” He also reserved the right to use “nuclear retaliation against a biological attack” by any country (or even by a non-state actor, one assumes). Obama refused to issue a “blanket statement that the country would never be the first to use nuclear weapons.” Therefore, the United States effectively rejects a “no-first use” policy.
To be sure, the NYT article article mentions that Bush had an even more militant position; he “reserved the right to use nuclear weapons ‘to deter a wide range of threats,’ including banned chemical and biological weapons and large-scale conventional attacks.” In other words, the Republican party is even more militant than Obama in this regard, giving an almost carte blanche to use nuclear weapons.
To sum it up: America reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, but is dedicated to restricting nuclear arms to, in Goldberg’s words, “the nuclear arms club”–with the U.S. being the leader of this exclusive club. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.
Goldberg’s obsession with Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons contrasts sharply with his indifference or acceptance of Israel’s known nuclear program.
Goldberg’s last reason to attack Iran uses typical Zionist exploitation of Jewish suffering coupled with alarmist fear-mongering to justify war:
Finally, the president has a deep understanding of Jewish history, and is repulsed by Iranian anti-Semitism. He doesn’t want to be remembered as the president who failed to guarantee Israel’s existence.
Does Israeli bigotry towards Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims give Iran the justification to attack Israel? Or does this, like all of Goldberg’s other reasons, apply only one way? Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.
Jeffrey Goldberg completes his pro-Israel propaganda by invoking the mandatory Hitler reference, arguing that a “nuclear Iran poses the gravest threat since Hitler to the physical survival of the Jewish people.” As Greenwald noted:
No discussion of any of this is complete without noting that it was endlessly claimed that it was Saddam who was the New Hitler in order ratchet up fear levels and justify an attack that country, too. How many times can we be persuaded to attack the New Hitler?
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Glenn Greenwald’s recent article, George Orwell on the Evil Iranian Menace, is an absolute must read. The United States has been hard at word portraying the Iranians as “the Aggressor, the Modern Nazis, a True Menace” and itself (and Israel) as Iran’s “innocent peace-loving victims.” This is of course placing reality on its head, which is completely obvious if one puts the shoe on the other foot.
Imagine, for instance, if Iran militarily occupied Canada and Mexico, if Cuba and other islands near the U.S. mainland were Iranian client regimes, if a massive Iranian naval fleet were stationed nearby on both East and West Coasts, if Iranian sky robots were flying over American soil targeting and killing U.S. citizens, if Iran committed acts of terrorism on U.S. soil such as blowing up power plants, if Iran assassinated American scientists, if Iran launched sophisticated cyber-attacks against the U.S., if Iran lobbied for crippling sanctions against America, and if Iranian leaders routinely called for war against America–what do you think the American reaction to all this would be?
After noting that the U.S. has done all this whereas “Iran has not invaded, occupied or air attacked anyone”, Greenwald writes:
Given the extensive violence and aggression the U.S. has perpetrated, and continues to perpetrate, on numerous countries in that region, one might think that not even our political culture could sustain the propagandistic myth that it is Iran that is the aggressor state and the U.S. that is its peace-loving victim. But, of course, one who thought that would be completely wrong. Not only is it a widespread belief, but it’s virtually mandated orthodoxy. But none of that should be at all surprising or confusing, given that 66 years ago, George Orwell — in his 1945 Notes on Nationalism— explained exactly the warped form of thinking that creates this mindset:
All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. . . . The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
This is not to say that the Iranian regime is benevolent; there is no question that it is domestically oppressive. Oppression of Bahais and other minorities is something that should not be downplayed. (This is why I hope that, like other Arab dictatorships that have been toppled by the people themselves, the same happens in Iran. This is also the reason I supported the Iranian Green Movement against the Iranian regime and ayatollah-ruled theocracy.)
But, as Greenwald pointed out:
Iran, to be sure, is domestically oppressive, but no more so — and in many cases less — than the multiple regimes funded, armed and otherwise propped up by the U.S. during this period.
I would also point out that this line of argumentation cannot reasonably be used by Goldberg and other Israeli apologists because Israel itself is domestically oppressive to its significant Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim population. This, as we see, is another argument that seems to only work one way, because the moral of the story is that actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.
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In conclusion, every single one of Jeffrey Goldberg’s reasons to go to war against Iran are hypocritical. He, like Islamophobes everywhere, uses profound double standards, applying one standard to Muslims (Iranians, in this case) and another for America and Israel. This is the Greater Islamophobia, which revolves around the Supreme Islamophobic Myth: radical Islam is the greatest threat to world peace. This is something that both Jeffrey Goldberg and Pamela Geller strongly agree with, and they advocate the Supreme Islamophobic Crime: bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands.
The disagreement between Jeffrey Goldberg and Pamela Geller just has to do with a difference of opinion with regard to P.R.: Goldberg believes that the Lesser Islamophobia gives the Greater Islamophobia “a bad name”, whereas Geller believes it helps create popular support for it. In reality, both of them are correct: Goldberg gives the Supreme Islamophobic Myth the Seriousness it needs in order to be taken Seriously by policy-makers and Serious People, whereas Geller helps create popular support for such warlike policies among the masses. The Goldbergs and Gellers of the world work hand in glove.