I posted this diary on Daily Kos on Nov 11, 2006, and I am reposting it here today for its relevance to the recent missile tests in Iran, because it seems pertinent to understanding how serious politicians from Israel seem bent on avoiding a nuclear capable Iran. At the time, only a year and a half ago, it was pure propaganda, perhaps a vehicle of intimidation. Iran, however, never bought into it. Still, it shows the seriousness with which Israel views the problem of not being the only nuclear power in the Middle East.

The BBC and Israeli Propaganda is the actual subtitle of an article, Israel’s Plan for a Military Strike on Iran, by JONATHAN COOK, a British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. It was published in CounterPunch on October 12, 2006 and is reproduced again by permission. At the time, there was an upsurge of interest in Iran’s “threat,” but the immediate circumstances are not now clear.
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The last few days have seen quite a number of diaries posted on the topic of Israel’s expected attack of Iran in order to stop its nuclear program, so far announced by the Iranians to be for peaceful purposes. Not widely publicized in the US, the Israeli government commissioned Israel’s leading film maker, Noam Shalev, to execute a documentary about the Iranian threat, whose content lends further weight to the likelihood of an Israeli attack.

The Middle East, and possibly the world, stands on the brink of a terrible conflagration as Israel and the United States prepare to deal with Iran’s alleged ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. Israel, it becomes clearer by the day, wants to use its air force to deliver a knockout blow against Tehran. It is not known whether it will use conventional weapons or a nuclear warhead in such a strike.

At this potentially cataclysmic moment in global politics, it is good to see that one of the world’s leading broadcasters, the BBC, decided this week that it should air a documentary entitled “Will Israel bomb Iran?” It is the question on everyone’s lips and doubtless, with the imprimatur of the BBC, the program will sell around the world.

Although Cook enumerates various slighted points not covered in the film, 1) that such an attack would be a gross violation of international law, 2) that Israel’s own nuclear arsenal is unmonitored by the IAEA, 3) that Israel is perceived as a threat by its neighbors and may be fuelling a Middle East arms race, 4) that the consequences of an Israeli strike would cause instability and violence across the Middle East, including in Iraq, where British and American troops are stationed as an occupying force, or 5) that it is certain to provoke a steep rise in global jihad against the West, it is the words of various Israeli officials and politicians, who appear in the film that loom ominous.

….the program dedicates 40 minutes to footage of Top Gun heroics by the Israeli air force, and the recollections of pilots who carried out a similar, “daring” attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor in the early 1980s; menacing long shots of Iran’s nuclear research facilities; and interviews with three former Israeli prime ministers, a former Israeli military chief of staff, various officials in Israeli military intelligence, and a professor who designs Israel’s military arsenal.

All of them speak with one voice: Israel, they claim, is about to be “wiped out” by Iranian nuclear weapons and must defend itself “whatever the consequences”.

They are given plenty of airtime to repeat unchallenged well-worn propaganda Israel has been peddling through its own media, and which has been credulously amplified by the international media: that Iran is led by a fanatical anti-Semite who, like Adolf Hitler, believes he can commit genocide against the Jewish people, this time through a nuclear holocaust.

Other Israeli misinformation, none of it believed by serious analysts, is also uncritically spread by the film-makers: that Hizbullah in Lebanon is a puppet of Iran, waiting to aid its master in Israel’s destruction; that Iran is only months away from creating nuclear weapons, a “point of no return”, as the program warns; and that a “fragile” Israel is under constant threat of annihilation from all its Arab neighbors.

But the program’s unequivocal main theme — echoing precisely Israel’s own agenda — is that Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is hell-bent on destroying Israel. The film makers treat seriously, bordering on reverentially, preposterous comments from Israel’s leaders about this threat.

Shimon Peres, the Israeli government’s veteran roving ambassador, claims, for example, that Iran has made “a call for genocide” against Israel, compares an Iranian nuclear bomb to a “flying concentration camp”, and warns that “no one would like to see a comeback to the times of the Nazis”.

Cabinet minister Avi Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet domestic security service, believes Israel faces “an existential threat” from Iran. And Zvi Stauber, a former senior figure in military intelligence, compares Israel’s situation to a man whose neighbor “has a gun and he declares every day he is going to kill you”.

But pride of place goes to Binyamin Netanyahu, a former prime minister and the current leader of the opposition. He claims repeatedly that the only possible reason Iran and its president could want a nuclear arsenal is for Israel’s “extermination”. “If he can get away with it, he’ll do it.” “Ayatollahs with atomic bombs are a powerful threat to all of us.” A nuclear Iran “is a threat unlike anything we have seen before. It’s beyond politics”

As to the matter of a conventional versus a nuclear attack, Ehud Barak provides abundant hints:

“Ultimately we are standing alone,” he says, in apparent justification for an illegal, unilateral strike. Iran’s nuclear research facilities, Barak warns, are hidden deep underground, so deep that “no conventional weapon can penetrate”, leaving us to infer that in such circumstances Israel will have no choice but use a tactical nuclear strike in its “self-defense”. And, getting into his stride, Barak adds that some facilities are in crowded urban areas “where any attack could end up in civilian collateral damage”.

“Apart from a brief appearance by an Iranian diplomat, no countervailing opinions are entertained in the BBC program; only Israel’s military and political leadership is allowed to speak.” Juxtaposing the above remarks are those from a poorly translated speech by Ahmadinejad. He is quoted as saying: “The regime occupying Jerusalem should be eliminated from the page of history”. This is at least an improvement on the original translation, much repeated in the program by Netanyahu and others, that “Israel must be wiped off the map”. According to Cook, “the program makers infer from their more accurate translation the same diabolical intent on Ahmadinejad’s part as suggested by Netanyahu’s fabricated version.”

“But, as has now been pointed out on numerous occasions (though clearly not often enough for the BBC to have noticed), Khomeini and Ahmadinejad were referring to the need for regime change, the ending of the regime occupying the Palestinians in violation of international law. They were not talking, as Netanyahu and co claim, about the destruction of the state of Israel or the Jewish people. The implication of the speech is that the current Israeli regime will end because occupying powers are illegitimate and unsustainable, not because Iran plans to fire nuclear missiles at the Jewish state or commit genocide.”

The film further informs that,

Iran’s nuclear weapons…are already in existence and present.

Evidence for this claim, however, is not provided.

Another notable comment quoted by Cook was,

“With America unlikely to take military action, the pressure is growing on Israel’s leaders to launch a raid.”

Cook’s article is too long to post in its entirety, but is highly recommended for its look at Israel’s use of propaganda to lay the groundwork for what could be the next explosive political situation in the Middle East, one that could drag the US into yet another confrontation.

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LINK HERE for the full article.

It is not clear if the documentary ever played in Britain; it has not played in the US. Perhaps it sounds too hysterical for any reasonable audience. Still, these were Israel’s leaders talking and it is not clear what their thinking is today.

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