War with Iran: The Disastrous Aim of Israel and the Republicans

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters would love to see a series of military assaults on Iran. In particular, they are hoping for assaults that would decisively undermine Iran’s ability to develop nuclear power, even for peaceful purposes. Netanyahu has felt this way for years, but after the disastrous war with Gaza in 2014, it was strategically clever for him to put the issue of Iran on the world’s agenda in order to shift global attention away from the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Netanyahu’s discussion of possible assaults by Israel or its sole ally, the United States, on Iran succeeded in steering Israeli voters away from discussions of Palestine in the run-up to the March 2015 election.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq, which was encouraged by Netanyahu and a spate of neoconservatives working with the Bush administration, unleashed sectarian warfare between Sunni and Shi’a groups that has left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and maimed and that has forced millions to abandon their homes and live as refugees, either in Iraq or in surrounding countries. Many Muslims in the Middle East, like many others (including Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu fundamentalists) who have held on to the values of traditional societies (a blend of communitarian commitment to mutual well-being along with sexist, homophobic, and coercive practices) have long nurtured a deep resentment against capitalist values. This resentment is understandably directed toward the Western countries that have planted multinational corporations inside the Middle East, bringing in their wake the materialistic, ultra-individualistic, community-destroying values that lay the foundation for a fundamentalist counterrevolution. The emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Nigeria’s militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, is a product of these factors combined with huge resentment of Israel’s repression of Palestinians and Western powers’ exploitation and domination of the Middle East.

Very few Israelis want their own soldiers to go to war with Iran. What they want most is for the United States to fight that war, which many Israelis believe is necessary in order to remove the threat to Israel’s existence that Iran is thought to constitute.

Those Israelis who seek to encourage the United States to fight this war, as Benjamin Netanyahu did quite eloquently—though deceitfully—in his address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on March 3, 2015, have a powerful ally in that quest, namely the Republican majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Most of these Republicans have never seen a war that they didn’t yearn to get into, motivated in part by their funders in the military-industrial complex and in part by a lingering desire to reestablish the United States as the undisputed and sole major power of the world.

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Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun, co-chair with Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls in San Francisco and Berkeley, California. He is the author of eleven books, including two national bestsellers—The Left Hand of God and Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation. His most recent book, Embracing Israel/Palestine, is available on Kindle from Amazon.com and in hard copy from tikkun.org/eip. He welcomes your responses and invites you to join with him by joining the Network of Spiritual Progressives (membership comes with a subscription to Tikkun magazine). You can contact him at rabbilerner.tikkun@gmail.com.

Source Citation

Lerner, Michael. 2015. Israel and the Republicans: Hoping for a U.S. War with Iran. Tikkun 30(3): 10.

tags: Editorial, Israel/Palestine, Spiritual Politics   
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