EDITORIAL: Why Netanyahu has a soft spot for Ahmadinejad

Why Netanyahu has a soft spot for Ahmadinejad

“The election on Tuesday will be about one issue — whether this place will remain in our hands or will be handed over to Hamas and Iran,” Benyamin Netanyahu roared to adoring supporters in Beit Aryeh, a small settlement in the West Bank last Friday.

A few days earlier the Likud leader had warned the world’s economic and political leaders gathered at Davos that the risk of a nuclear armed Iran was a greater danger than the economic crisis that currently threatens the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people around the globe.

So, as politicians such as Netanyahu believe that they are blessed with the moral clarity to discern the gravest threats that should captivate Israel’s and the world’s attention, two obstacles have emerged.

First comes President Obama’s willingness to reach out to those who unclench their fists and now from the very direction in which he was looking comes a realistic possibility that the Iranian fist might indeed start to unclench.

The announcement by former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami that he will run against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June’s presidential election should be welcome news to all those who have perceive Iran’s regional dominance as a threat. Right?

Maybe not.

A victory by Muhammad Khatami in the upcoming Iranian presidential elections would likely derail international efforts to stop Iran’s race toward nuclear power, a top Israeli defense official involved in those efforts has told The Jerusalem Post

“People tend to forget that Khatami as president also promoted the nuclear program,” the official said. “If he wins, he would succeed in laundering the program in the eyes of the international community. In comparison to Ahmadinejad, he appears more moderate.”

So what’s this supposed to mean? Every Iranian leader is an extremist but some appear more moderate than others?

If this accords with Netanyahu’s view — and all his pronouncements about the threat Iran, no qualifications required, indicates that it does — then as Iran’s presidential election approaches, Israel under Netanyahu’s leadership, will have a vested interest in the outcome. Better the enemy who is easy to vilify than the eloquent, philosophical, moderate-sounding cleric who has long been a champion of a dialogue among civilizations.

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3 thoughts on “EDITORIAL: Why Netanyahu has a soft spot for Ahmadinejad

  1. William deB. Mills

    You make a very important general point with a marvelous specific example, the general point being that extremists need each other. Just as Ahmadinejad builds his aura by rhetorically challenging U.S. and Israeli neo-con militarists, Netanyahu also needs Ahmadinejad to justify his own extremism. All the posturing is a much easier way to win votes than actually governing.

    The serious message of your essay is that Khatami’s entry creates a very dangerous window for those who want a war on Iran. Considering that Iran has been in the crosshairs now for seven years and all the expense of the Iraq adventure to lay the groundwork, we can expect considerable pressure to carry the Imperial policy through to the end before it is too late.

    If others see any evidence that Obama will prove capable of resisting such pressure, I’d like to hear about it because I see a somber future. Too many people–including both Ahmadinehad and Netanyahu–are depending on tensions (if not war) for their careers.

  2. News Nag

    When Khatami was president previously, he offered a comprehensive detente with the United States. This was in 2003 and 2004. As part of this, Khatami offered to suspend Iran’s nuclear enrichment, and Cheney-Bush rejected the offer immediately and soon included Iran in its ridiculous ‘axis of evil’.

    The neocons and Likudites don’t want peace. They want to dominate the oil-producing nations such as Iran, no matter how mutually beneficial a friendship could be. Fearmongers are always warmongers. Netanyahu in this way is no better than a redneck war-swilling yahoo from the backwoods or any darkened doorway in the American Enterprise Institute.

  3. ProudPrimate

    First time here — interesting site. I’m a former NPR Liberal who lost my innocence hearing Terry Gross interview Stephen Kinzer in June 2003, over his new book, “All the Shah’s Men”, then saw behind the veil reading Michael Meacher’s article in the Guardian that September, “This War On Terrorism Is Bogus”, and am convinced the JFK, RFK, MLK assassinations, OKC, WTC 93, and 9/11 were as much inside jobs as Iran/Contra, the USS Liberty, the Lavan Affair, and all those Overthrows listed by Kinzer and William Blum.

    I laugh with scorn at “Lone Nut Theorists” amd “Coincidence Theorists” in the face of so much evidence of conspiracy.

    I wholly agree with all of the above, especially “Fearmongers are always warmongers.” and Mr. deB. Mills’ point that Iran has long been the ultimate target.

    I see you advertise a book by Tim Weiner. One of my favorite all-time books is his “Blank Check”.

    We are in a crucial time frame right now. If we look at the past 8 years as a heat-treat furnace, we are potentially in a position to convert the United States and the world into some of the finest steel imaginable, if we quench them properly.

    Naomi Klein’s very perceptive “Shock Doctrine” is a two edged sword, and damn us all for fools if we let the chance pass to make every citizen of the world come to a clear, hair-raising understanding of what the real fruit is of tyranny, of state secrecy (we had a scare this week — are we really changing?), of blatant unblushing stonewall nonstop lying, of Mockingbird complicity by media in these crimes, of fractional reserve lending, of historical revisionism (such as Herzl’s “a land without a people for a people without a land”).

    Hamlet Sr.’s ghost claimed to have a tale that would make the son’s hair to “stand upon end like quills upon the fretful porpentine”. Surely the forces arrayed against peace and freedom are such a sight, were the West not blind(ed) to them.

    It’s up to us to force the world to face them and see them.

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