Opinion

It's Israel's Interest to Stop American Belligerence

Iranians set a U.S. and an Israeli flag on fire during a funeral procession for military commander Qassem Soleimani, Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and other victims of a U.S. attack, Tehran, January 6, 2020.
AFP

On Friday I said that if American bullying costs the lives of Israelis, it will be because of U.S. President Donald Trump and his friend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. My words were immediately criticized, and it was even said that I identify with the enemy. In the face of the ignorance, the lies and the incitement, I have decided to explain.

The Iranian regime is an evil, extremist and cruel regime. It is evil and cruel mainly to Iranian citizens. The Revolutionary Guards Quds Force of Qassem Soleimani, the emissary of Iranian spiritual leader Ali Khameini, really is responsible for killing and destruction. It was not in his name, not for his stake and not for his successors that my friends and I, confronting almost unanimous political agreement, said: No. This assassination is American belligerence, an injustice that will exact a price in blood.

Targeted assassinations, as they are euphemistically called, don’t solve a thing. They perform good service for the public relations of the assassin, in this case Trump in an election year, but in terms of long-term influence they do not change anything substantial. Already on the day of the assassination a replacement was appointed, Soleimani’s deputy, and in the long run Iranian activity will continue. Perhaps with even greater intensity.

In quite a few instances it has even turned out that the assassination of one leader led to the rise of a another who was even more militant. For example, Hassan Nasrallah, who replaced Abbas Mousawi as the leader of Hezbollah. As in the story of the Hydra in Greek mythology, here too when one head was removed, usually two heads grow, stronger and more aggressive.

The Iranian regime of the ayatollahs is a product of American intervention – a local counter-reaction to the regime of the murderous shah, who came to power at the initiative of the United States and Great Britain in 1953, in order to serve their economic needs and geopolitical interests. Later the Iranian people rebelled and brought Khomeini to power. Thus the road was paved for extreme religious despotism, which received its initial public mandate primarily in the name of justified opposition to American imperialism and its puppet governments.

The present chaos in the Middle East also began with the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and is a product of U.S. activity in the region. Soleimani murdered; America murdered more. The Quds Force caused killing; the United States was more criminal than they when it came to sowing destruction and violence.

For years Israeli governments, and that of Netanyahu in particular, encouraged the imperialistic policy of the United States in the region. The U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran in 2018, with Netanyahu’s encouragement, is the most recent cause of the escalation and the situation in which war with Iran looks closer than ever.

The agreement prevented Iran from arming itself with nuclear bombs, and Trump and Netanyahu destroyed it. The result is likely to turn Iran into a nuclear power and to increase the potential for conflagration in the region. Such a disaster is closer today than ever. The causes are two heads of state who put their own public relations first, and only then, if at all, do they think about the citizens of their countries.

Assassinating Soleimani is placing millions in the line of fire – mainly in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. But will Iran dare to attack Israel? Khamenei is threatening outright to do so. If Iran attacks, all those in Israel who celebrated – headed by Netanyahu, followed by a series of imitators – will understand that they have embroiled all of us in a pointless, dangerous war that will carry a high price.

After we kick Netanyahu out of the Prime Minister’s Residence, his successor will have to demand of the Americans to stop playing with fire aimed directly at us. That isn’t a foreign interest, but a regional and Israeli interest of the first degree.

Cassif is an MK for the Hadash party in the Joint List.