Why The Israeli Left Should Reconsider Protesting Against an Israeli Attack on Iran

Because Israel should attack Iran!!!!!!! Shplaargh!!!!

Just Kidding. It shouldn’t.

On a serious note, though, I have recently begun to seriously question whether the Israeli Left should be spending time protesting a potential Israeli attack on Iran.

There have been a kabillion headlines lately about Iran, its nuclear capacity/non-capacity/capacity-to-have-capactiy, about a potential Israeli strike, how likely it is or isn’t, the US factor, the elections, et cetera.

It is sometimes good to read the news. But it is also extraordinarily important to remember, especially in contexts like the Will Israel Bomb Iran Context, that “The News” is not a series of a objective oberservations on political reality made by unaffiliated/uninvested neutral and/or omnipotent bodies. In other words, almost everything we read on the news- and perhaps everything in contexts wherein the “news” is not much more than a series of thoughts about what a handful of politicians may or may not be thinking/planning/believing- everthing we read, we are meant to read. Ie., We are not being “let in on” government secrets when we digest these flurries of headlines. Ie., The government wants us to read these headlines. Ie., We have no idea what these politicians are actually thinking/planning/believing, except to the extent that we can read into what we think they want us to think they are thinking via the headlines they feed us.

This week, Tony Karon wrote a piece in Time Magazine entitled “Why Do Israeli Media Keep Predicting War With Iran?” In this piece, Karon cast a critical eye on Israeli media treatment of the To Bomb or Not to Bomb Issue. He writes:

“The front pages of the four main Israeli dailies last Friday reflected what appeared to be a concerted campaign to create the impression that Israel is preparing itself to start a hot war with Iran sometime over the next 12 weeks…”

He points out, though, that nothing on the ground has dramatically changed. His conclusion, thus, is that:

“Clearly, someone wants Israelis and the world to think Israel is moving closer to launching a fateful attack on Iran. Whether such a scenario has really become more likely than it was two weeks or two months ago, or the agenda is part of some game of bluff designed to change either Iranian or Western behavior, there’s a growing danger that the Israeli public’s expectations of war are being raised to a critical point. “

 I think Karon is basically on point in his prognosis that (1) we don’t really have any idea whether or not Israel is actually going to bomb Iran in the near future and (2) we can reasonably derive from the sheer volume of headlines and editorials about the subject that “someone,” as words it, wants us to think that we do have an idea. However, I’m not as convinced as Karon is that this “someone” wants us to think that the answer is “yes.” I don’t know what we are wanted to think. What I am more convinced about is this: “someone,” or, presumably, many “someones”, in the Israeli leadership, want(s) us to think about this question. A lot. And why on earth would the Israeli leadership want us to think about this question?

Again, this is not something we can know for sure, but I’d be willing to bet that it has something to do with Israel’s continued Apartheid Activities in the Occupied Territories (includig but not limited to its recent decision to “legalize” Bruchin), with its complete and utter scorning of the economically-oriented Social Protests, with the reason governments usually start Talking War: to distract us and to frighten us. This is no time for human rights, for social justice, for the minutae of such mundanities. After all, there could be a second Holocaust just around the bend.

And this is where all of this turns to the Left, including the plans for a “daily protest” outside of Netanyahu’s home.

I believe in the power of the people, and in the importance of protests, but on this one, idealism needs to give way to open-eyedism: 300 people protesting outside of the Prime Minister’s house is not going to unharden his heart (if his heart has in fact been hardened on this one, which we also do not know).

What it is going to do, though, is this: It is going to lend more force to the discourse of Whether or Not, it is going to help keep the Iran Distraction at the center of the public dialogue, it is going to contribute to the idea that this is what we should be discussing, and it is going to sap energy from our tiny, tiny community and from protests that actually could have an effect on the future. And all the while, Israel will continue to fragment and decimate What is Left of Palestinian Territory, people inside of Israel will continue to live without homes or hope for homes, and definitely-happening injustice will continue to happen.

I am not sure that I am right. I am intrigued to hear disagreement. But for the sake of argument, I will make this case as strongly as I can, in this forum. If we on the Left want to fight against our government’s fear-mongering, injustice-enacting, et cetera, then here is what we should do with the Iran discourse:

Ignore it.