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When Israel is used as a political wedge in contemporary campaigns, it is always done so dishonestly. For as last night's foreign policy debate again demonstrated, nothing engenders bipartisan uniformity than the topic of Israel.

However, sometimes, those among my tribe unfortunately go beyond using Israel as a political wedge, and into the abyss of less-than-helpful fear mongering.

Such is the case with an opinion piece by Varda Epstein now making the rounds entitled "Save The Six Million – Pull A Different Lever" in the English-language Times of Israel, a right-leaning publication that primarily targets Americans.

Now, as a writer, I'm tempted to stop for a moment and tisk-tisk the title's capitalization errors, but that's likely not Varda's fault. What is her fault? Asserting as fact-based that voting for Mitt Romney will avert a second Jewish Holocaust:

Voting for Obama essentially means game over. Voting for Obama means we will soon have a nuclear Iran: an Iran that has vowed to take out Israel and then the U.S. with nuclear weapons.

Voting for Romney, on the other hand, means a show of military might. And that’s all Israel wants really: a show.


[W]e know that voting for Romney means that the red line will be drawn. Iran will be shown that its race for the bomb will not be tolerated.

All Americans need do to prevent a nuclear Holocaust of 6 million Israeli Jews is to pull a different lever on Election Day.

Nevermind the unfortunate angle for her pitch. And nevermind that she intimately knows the internal mechanisms of U.S. diplomacy or the closed-door deliberations in Netanyahu's cabinet about as well as she knows what a squirrel is thinking when zigzagging across a busy street. (I include myself in that camp, by the way.)

What's critical to point out is this: such scare tactics, while motivated by historical demons that are quite real, have no place in any sort of rational political discourse, and should be disavowed on site.

And such is what I'm doing at present.

Author's Note:

It's too bad Varda didn't focus her piece on the crippling sanctions against Iran and its impact on civilians there, something she mentions in passing. For such a focus would have been reality-based and valid.

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Comment Preferences

  •  save 6 million dead people? (6+ / 0-)

    by baptizing them as Mormons, maybe?

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 03:52:31 PM PDT

  •  Whoops! I voted early yesterday... (8+ / 0-)

    ...and it wasn't for Romney.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 03:59:44 PM PDT

  •  Sanctions hurting the innocent (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ask, ramara

    Whatever we may think of Ahmadinejad, it is morally wrong to hurt the most weak and vulnerable of any given society.

    And the Iranian sanctions are hurting the weak and vulnerable

    Washington-based sanctions attorney Eric Ferrari said food and medical exports to Iran are being blocked, even though those items are technically exempt from sanctions. According to the NIAC:

    He said he has encountered numerous scenarios—an attempted export of a $250,000 of burn medicine, a multimillion dollar export of prosthetic limbs, exports of food supplies—in which goods that had a license from the U.S. government, a willing exporter, and a willing importer, still were blocked because no foreign bank was willing to take the risk to facilitate the transaction. The reason, he said, is that the U.S. government has announced broader and broader penalties for any foreign bank dealing with Iranian financial institutions, while making no distinction between prohibited and authorized transactions with those banks.  The result is fewer and fewer channels for legal, humanitarian, food, and medical transactions.

    Yet there is no credible evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons:
    Iran denies it is developing nuclear weapons and no credible evidence has been offered by either US or western intelligence agencies to contradict that claim. The EU has asked Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, but Iran reminds them that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treay, it is entitled to nuclear technology for medical research and energy purposes.
    •  Shawn, there are two sides to this... (6+ / 0-)

      ... the sanctions would not be in place if the Iranians opened their nuclear facilities and allowed the world (not just the US) access to insure that there aren't any surprises in the next 2 years.  

      So I think that Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollahs care less for their people than they do for whatever they have in those centrifuges.  The sanctions could be ended quickly, and that aid could be received by those who need it if Iran valued its people.

      I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

      by Hey338Too on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:35:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You want Iran to open up it's country for (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shawn Russell

        weapons inspections just like Saddam did for his supposed WMD's? Inspectors combed the country, top to bottom, looking for WMD's. When they didn't find any, the US said it was hidden.

        The US continues to move the goalposts in Iran just as they did in the run-up to the Iraq war. Maybe Netanyahu should start looking under his office furniture as Bush did. He's been saying Iran will have breakout quantities of enriched uranium to make a bomb in "six months" for well over a decade now.

        Iran has repeatedly stated it would stop enrichment if it could be assured a foreign source of 20% enrichment for it's peaceful nuclear facilities. This was turned down, time and again. This is all about regime change in Iran, selling oil off the US$ and the IP pipeline interfering with the TAPI pipeline to pass through Afghanistan.

        Make sure you this entire report:
        IAEA Report Shows Iran Reduced Its Breakout Capacity

        WASHINGTON, Sep 1 2012 (IPS) - The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report made public Thursday reveals that Iran has actually reduced the amount of 20-percent enriched uranium available for any possible “breakout” to weapons grade enrichment over the last three months rather than increasing it.

        Contrary to the impression conveyed by most news media coverage, the report provides new evidence that Iran’s enrichment strategy is aimed at enhancing its bargaining position in negotiations with the United States rather than amassing such a breakout capability.

        The reduction in the amount of 20-percent enriched uranium in the Iranian stockpile that could be used to enrich to weapons grade is the result of a major acceleration in the fabrication of fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor, which needs 20-percent enriched uranium to produce medical isotopes.

        That higher level enriched uranium has been the main focus of U.S. diplomatic demands on Iran ever since 2009, on the ground that it represents the greatest threat of an Iranian move to obtain a nuclear weapon capability.

        When 20-percent uranium is used to make fuel plates, however, it is very difficult to convert it back to a form that can enriched to weapons grade levels.

        •  no, because the difference is: (4+ / 0-)

          In the Bush Admin, the inputs from the CIA and weapons inspectors were filtered through a political office staffed by party hacks with an agenda.  Remember that?  

          President Obama is squarely grounded in reality.  When the CIA and the United Nations inspectors tell him that all elements of a nuclear weapons program have been dismantled, he will believe the evidence and act accordingly.  

          "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

          by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 05:29:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree about the 'filtering'. Also, Obama is not (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            like 'Bobble-head' Bush. He has his own brain and knows how to use it.

            Unfortunately, the MSM is brainwashing the public with all the phoney rhetoric about Iran. It may be more difficult to deal with the irrationality of many Americans than to deal with Iran.

    •  We already saw (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shawn Russell, ramara

      what sanctions over an extended time can do to a population. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children died because of such a regime.

      Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid. You step out of line, the man come and take you away. - S. Stills

      by ask on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:52:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Condemning the blockade (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shawn Russell

      against might bring attention to the  blockade of Gaza, and we definitely don't want to do that.

      Does the noise about a nuclear Iran remind anyone of similar noise (and similar sanctions) against Iraq?  Don't forget that when asked why he lied about having WMDs, a deposed Saddam Hussein said he thought it would make his country less vulnerable to attack.  That sure worked well.

      Republicans want to make government small enough to fit in your vagina..

      by ramara on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 05:02:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  there is truly no way to enact sanctions.... (3+ / 0-)

      ... that a determined dictatorship can't turn into mass suffering by the poor and weak.

      Paradigm case: North Korea.  We sent massive food aid, and where did it go?  To feed the Party cadres, while the North Korean masses were learning the delights of eating Kim Stew: boiled tree bark with sparrow meat.  This wasn't an instance of sanctions, it was an instance of enormous generosity, but none the less the result was that the masses continued to suffer.

      The moral fault is not with us for enacting sanctions on Iran: the moral fault is with the leadership of Iran for putting their own people in that position in order to build atomic bombs.  

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 05:26:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sheldon Adelson is buying the Ha'aretz plant (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ask, JeffW, beltane, ramara, G2geek, remembrance

    I wonder if this allows him to influence the Times of Israel.

    Is Sheldon Adelson Destroying Israel’s Newspapers?

    According to the Israeli financial website Globes, Sheldon Adelson is in advanced negotiations to purchase the Ha’aretz printing plant. The deal is believed to be in the order of $25 million dollars.

    Over the past few months, Adelson’s free daily, Yisrael Hayom, has been searching for a new printing facility to replace the Ha’aretz plant where it currently prints its daily freesheet. Ha’aretz’s plant handles the printing for a number of different newspapers.

    I met him a long time ago when he ran Comdex, I never imagined he would have the influence he has now.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:02:27 PM PDT

  •  Not to pick nits with this Varda Epstein person, (0+ / 0-)

    but isn't Israel's population closer to 8 million?

    If Bush and Cheney had wanted Bin Laden dead they would have fucking killed him.

    by here4tehbeer on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:05:03 PM PDT

  •  Does anyone really believe these people... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, ramara, G2geek

    want just a show of military might?

    Voting for Romney, on the other hand, means a show of military might. And that’s all Israel wants really: a show.
    These people are freakin' incredible.

    "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." ~ Aldous Huxley

    by markthshark on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:05:20 PM PDT

    •  and we already have a good show of.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      .... military might:

      The US Navy has ships on patrol in the Strait of Hormuz.  Those ought to be cause for pause on the part of anyone in Iran who thinks we're not willing and able to commit forces if the need truly arises.  

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 05:32:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I haven't said this often, because I'm not Jewish (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and I suspect it may not be my concern. But it does seem, regardless of party, the Jewish 'vote' and people in American seem to derive way to much 'Heat'. That may seems good, and maybe I'm worrying about nothing. But frankly, I actually worry a bit as to what it all means in the long run. Not in the Jews control the world sort of way, but more in the what if all these extreme manifestations of emmotional interest in the Jewish people stop being postivie and become negative one day. (Right now, I'm getting kinda a stalker vibe from American politics visa-vie Israel, and you know how quick stalker situations can turn ugly.) Either way, I think it's something everyone of all backgrounds should consider.  

    Just my two cents.

    •  you do have a point there: (0+ / 0-)

      There is a sector of society that, for whatever reason, seems to obsess about Jews, in a manner that has a vaguely icky feeling about it.  

      Some of them are overt anti-Semites, some deny being anti-Semites, but in any case, something doesn't feel quite right about them.   I can't pinpoint it more closely than that, but I'll keep my eyes open for it in the future.  

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 08:57:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That is an absolutely (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, bluezen, ramara

    shocking piece of fear mongering.

    Another disturbing headline in the Israeli press today:
    Survey: Most Israeli Jews would support apartheid regime in Israel

    I wrote a diary on it this morning:
    Israel and Apartheid

    Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid. You step out of line, the man come and take you away. - S. Stills

    by ask on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:16:21 PM PDT

    •  Rec'd. I was going to diary on this poll as well, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ask, ramara, whizdom, G2geek

      though some of its results were unfortunately mis-characterized by Gideon Levy (who I admire greatly).

      Nevertheless, it's a troubling footnote of Israeli public opinion, but not one that should be surprising to anyone who understands contemporary Israel.

      I'm "THE" Troubadour," and not "Troubadour" without the article. We're different people here at DK :)

      by David Harris Gershon on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:26:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, and please do (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        a diary on it with your own analysis of the survey findings. I would really like to see your take on what in my view were disturbing attitudes.

        Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid. You step out of line, the man come and take you away. - S. Stills

        by ask on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:38:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  not surprising: the cold equation. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Israeli birth rate is 2.8, Palestinian birth rate is 5.5, and sustainable birth rate is 2.2.

        The total land area in question here is about the size of Rhode Island, and water is also a strictly limited resource.

        Two culturally distinct populations competing for limited resources that grow more limited as the populations grow larger.

        Everything else follows from there.

        "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

        by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 09:28:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not surprising. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Just a few years ago a survey of Israeli Jewish high school students showed a very large percentage didn't think that Israeli Arabs deserved full citizenship.

      Part of this I think is the segregation of Israeli schools, which goes unquestioned, and the fact that for some years the Ministry of Education has been run by members of the greater zionism faction.  Gershom Gorenberg discusses this in his latest book.

      Republicans want to make government small enough to fit in your vagina..

      by ramara on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 05:12:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The segregation is desired by all parties (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        volleyboy1, ramara

        Jews want to go to school with Jews of similar religious observance, and Arabs in Israel want instruction in Arabic, not Hebrew.

        I've criticized this situation more times than I can count.

        •  With a language difference (0+ / 0-)

          maintained things are dicey.  I went last year to a talk by an Israeli Arab (Bedouin) who works in the diplomatic corps.  When I asked about education, he looked at me as if I were talking a foreign language.

          Segregation usually is supported by the parties involved.  Personally, I think both groups should be educated bilingually.  But I'm not Israeli.  But a kind of inertia sets in with social systems as with physical.  Because people feel this way, we should keep the system that keeps them feeling this way.  

          Republicans want to make government small enough to fit in your vagina..

          by ramara on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 09:21:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  ...the negro kids want to go to school with other (0+ / 0-)

          negro kids!....  please.  :(

  •  Didn't Israeli Intelligence already conclude (5+ / 0-)

    that Iran was not presently working on a nuclear weapon?  Didn't our intel community issue a similar finding?  I could have sworn I saw that a few months back.  And what Netanyahu has asked for is far from just a show, but looks a lot more like yet another ill-conceived attempt at regime change.

  •  Wilkerson very afraid if Romney gets elected (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whizdom, G2geek
    JAY: Larry, there was an interesting line from Romney where he says, you can't just kill your way out of this situation, talking about the Middle East and Pakistan and such. Of course, he supported the drone strikes and all the killing, but he says you have to have diplomacy and economic development and all of this. It was a kind of a rhetorical center that I guess he needed to adopt to avoid being—looking like an extremist. But if you look at the foreign policy grouping, the people around Romney and the people around Obama, do you think there is a difference?

    WILKERSON: I think there is. And that's one reason why when I go into the booth, I'm probably going to vote again for Obama. I'm really frightened by the people who are around Romney. And by that I mean the John Boltons and the people who we characterize as neoconservatives who are ready to defeat every enemy in the world with other people's blood—chickenhawks we call them in the military. They bother me. They truly trouble me.

    I think, for example, the delisting of the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq, the MEK, put into play another INC/Ahmed Chalabi group. Just as that group worked for war with Iraq, the MEK, now delisted and able to lobby in Washington, will work for war with Iran. This is the same road we walked down with Iraq, and I'm really amazed that the neoconservatives haven't even changed the sheet of music. Most of the tune is the same. The road looks the same. The ruthlessness of their strategy looks the same. They want war with Iran, and they're going to push for Romney, if he's elected—I'm not sure he's of this mind, but I don't think George W. Bush was, either, when he first came in—they're going to push for war with Iran. They're going to make sure that the options all dry up and that the only option left is military. And then the president's painted himself in a corner because he said all options are on the table.

    More at The Real News
    •  if Ahmed Chalabi is in the mix, that's news. (0+ / 0-)

      Keep in mind that Chalabi's great accomplishment in the midst of the Iraq war, was to sell to Iran the information that the US had successful broken Iranian military and diplomatic encryption systems.  

      That should have put him in prison for the rest of his life.  

      Somehow he wiggled out and lived to make trouble for another day.  But the man is a traitor in the most specific technical sense of the word: a US person (while he was on US soil or under US jurisdiction) who provided highly sensitive military and intelligence information to a hostile country.  

      If he's in the mix with Romney, in any capacity, even one of supporting his candidacy, that should be NEWS and it should be spread far and wide.  

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 09:48:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was with you until the "author's note" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Of course sanctions hurt innocent people. The sanctions against South Africa hurt black people there. The sanctions against Japan during WW2 caused food and energy shortages. The sanctions against Germany during WW1 caused hunger. They are doing exactly what they are supposed to do.

    The alternative is Yet Another War. Which may still be necessary, because allowing a rogue state like Iran to have nuclear weapons simply must not be allowed to happen. Iran could end the sanctions tomorrow.

  •  In an unscientific survey (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of over three dozen guests over the Sukkot holiday, about 2/3 expressed support for Obama over Romney. Most were Orthodox and supporters of Israel.

    I would not worry about this right wing propaganda. I'd worry about Ohio.

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