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A Mean-Spirited Israel Rejects Iran's Olive Branch

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By Sherwood Ross

Israel's mean-spirited response to Iran's olive branch actually illuminates its own aggressive posture. Along comes Hassan Rouhani, the new Iranian president, and instead of applauding his initiatives to meet with President Obama and resolve outstanding issues by diplomacy, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz says "there is no more time for negotiations."

And although Rouhani only just took office last month, his appeal for negotiations was dismissed by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu as a deceitful "charm offensive." "One must not be fooled by the Iranian president's fraudulent words," Netanyahu said. "The Iranians are spinning in the media so that the centrifuges can keep on spinning."

Yet, as Andrea Germanos of Common Dreams neatly summarized, "Iran has repeatedly said its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, and while the U.S. and Israel have repeatedly referred to Iran's "nuclear weapons program,' there is no proof that exists."  

Consequently, we have the spectacle of Israel, atop a veritable mountain of perhaps 300 nuclear weapons that it will not allow the International Atomic Energy Agency inspect, calling for the U.S. to escalate its threats against Iran, which has exactly zero nuclear weapons. We also have UN member Israel threatening, and urging the U.S. to threaten, another UN member with military force, a violation of the UN Charter.

Yet, Rouhani appears to be actively demonstrating he means what he says, and UN members are looking forward to his speech tomorrow. In an editorial, The New York Times noted Iran's "recent flurry of remarkable gestures: Iran's leadership has sent Rosh Hashana greetings to Jews worldwide via Twitter, released political prisoners, exchanged letters through the Swiss with President Obama, praised "flexibility' in negotiations and transferred responsibility for nuclear negotiations from conservatives in the military to the Foreign Ministry."

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And Israel is not going to give him a chance? The man only just assumed office! Israel's response shows how far it has strayed from its own philosophy of non-violence, which dates back to the Jerusalem Talmud of the third century A.D. As Wikipedia notes, under Jewish doctrine, "the requirement is that one always seek a just peace before waging war." Not so today!

While President Obama maintains Iran's unproven nuclear military buildup may threaten Israel, the fact is that, compared to Israel and America, Iran is a peace-loving society that has not attacked another nation in hundreds of years. Since WWII alone, the U.S. has struck militarily, or overthrown by force and violence, some 50 nations. One of them, of course, was our unprovoked CIA overthrow of Iran in 1953. And where the U.S. spends about $700 billion a year on the military and Israel spends $14 billion, Iran spends $9 billion, yet the U.S. and Israel, projecting their own warlike instincts, claim Iran is a military menace. A bit more objectively, Professor "Juan" Cole, the University of Michigan historian and Middle East authority, points out that Iran has not attacked another nation in modern times.

It is the U.S. today that has emerged as the world's most dangerous country. What other nation is making drone strikes across the Middle East, Africa and even in the Philippines, killing  "terror suspects" and civilians alike without a pretense of legality? (President Obama openly says he takes responsibility for these atrocities as if this admission alone does not qualify him as a war criminal.) It is the U.S., that has surrounded Iran with 40 military bases, not the other way around, just as it is the U.S. that operates more than a thousand bases globally while Iran has none. It is the U.S. that has spread its atomic arsenal around the globe. It is the U.S. that used radioactive ammunition in its wars against Iraq, just as it used Agent Orange in its war against Viet Nam. And, according to recently declassified CIA files, the U.S. even played a role in Iraq's chemical attacks on Iran during their bloody war.

The American public has a vital stake in the outcome of any peace negotiations that may follow President Rouhani's UN speech Tuesday. Reducing tensions in the Middle East could deprive the Pentagon of the rationale for its horrendous spending spree and allow taxpayers to divert their money to their needed domestic agenda. Instead of senseless killing, it might even save some lives for a change. Fancy that!  #



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Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more...)
 

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