Israel supporters using Wikileaks to promote attack on Iran are ignoring Arab public opinion

Israel/Palestine
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Sever Plocker, a columnist for Yediot Aharonot, recently wrote with pride and some sadness that, “At least on the Iranian issue — and apparently on more than a few other matters — the leaders of the world, including the Arab world, think as we do [the Israelis], but are ashamed to admit it”.

Benjamin Netanyahu has praised the Wikileaks cable dump as vindication of his government’s bellicose pronouncements over Tehran. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg has written likewise.

Even Wikileaks founder and Australian citizen Julian Assange, in a strange comment to Time magazine, stated that the Iran-related documents would aid Middle East peace. Assange approvingly quoted Netanyahu when making this allegation.

Such news brings comfort to the Zionist world. The long-standing rule of the Middle East is my enemy’s enemy is my friend. Perhaps, but these are the kinds of friends the Zionist state is keen on making (via the UK Guardian):

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton.

“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups,” says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” she said. 

Just to clarify. Arab autocrats allegedly fear Iranian hegemony in the region. This has almost nothing to do with nuclear power but rather a serious challenge to the decades-old dominance of the American and Israeli umbrella that insulate dictatorships from popular opinion. The Iraq war, privately backed by many Arab states, allowed Tehran to assume a powerful position in the Middle East and Israel was more than happy to go along for the ride. True democracy is messy and unpredictable. It’s far easier to ensure continuity by backing reliable brutes that won’t argue with billions of dollars in annual aid.

These are Israel and Washington’s best mates.

The screwed geo-political “logic”  is almost comical. Israel and its followers claim Islamist terrorists are the greatest threat to the world (aside from Shia fundamentalists in Iran). But the biggest funders of these groups are the regimes that allegedly share Israel’s fear over the suspected Iranian nuclear bomb.

It’s tragic though unsurprising that most mainstream Zionists in the US remained either silent over the Wikileaks cable dump or were publicly pleased that other states in the Middle East wanted to incapacitate Iran. New York’s Forward editorialised disapprovingly of the release and was joined by the Australian Jewish News. Nothing was said about the kinds of friends Israel is keeping. Nothing about the support for the countries backing individuals who would like to kill Jews. And no comment about so closely aligning Israel with some of the most brutal regimes on the planet.

What was missed in so much of the Zionist cheering was the Arab people themselves. They don’t exist; their wishes and desires seemingly irrelevant. Unelected leaders are allowed to speak for them. Arab bloggers wrote copiously about the story but Arab public opinion is most instructive over the Iranian “threat”.

Shibley Telhami explained in The National Interest:

the biggest gap in the recent coverage of the story has been understanding Arab public opinion toward Iran and how this affects government calculations. In fact, Iran has the ability to play the Arab-public-opinion card and reach out to groups that threaten the control of Arab governments. And there is evidence that they have succeeded in doing just that, even beyond the rising power of their allies, particularly Hezbollah in Lebanon. In large part, Tehran benefits from Arab public anger toward Israel and the United States, and from the perceived paralysis of their own leaders: consistently, in the past several years, all the polls I’ve conducted at the University of Maryland with cooperation from Zogby International show that in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Morocco and Lebanon, the Arab public expressed views about Iran that highlighted just how different the public feels when compared to the elites.

Last August, I released the 2010 Arab public opinion poll results [4], which indicated that Arabs polled were more open to Iran’s nuclear program, including the possibility of nuclear-weapons production, than ever before. In an open question about the world leader Arabs admired most, Ahmadinejad was chosen by 12 percent of those questioned—landing him in third place, behind only Turkish leader Recep Erdoğan and Venezuelan demagogue Hugo Chavez. My own analysis of the results suggested that Iran is benefiting from the sentiment that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This was particularly visible when those polled were asked to identify the two states that posed the biggest threat to them: 88 percent identified Israel, 77 percent identified the United States and 10 percent identified Iran. While the results on this latter issue varied somewhat from country to country, the trend held across countries polled.

Moreover, Shibley analysed the Al-Jazeera online readers comments when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Lebanon this year. The results were hardly shocking; most people backed a leader who they thought stood up for Palestine and against Washington and Tel Aviv’s designs on the region. It’s unfortunate that Ahmadinejad rules over an increasingly despotic regime.

Israel has long sided with reliably compliant Arab states to further its aims. Egypt’s collusion in the Gaza siege is just the latest example. But something has changed in the last years. I’m reminded of something Robert Fisk told me soon after the 2006 Lebanon war; many in the Arab world no longer fears Israel and its major benefactor.

In fact the Wikileaks cables, despite Chas Freeman claiming otherwise in the New York Times last weekend, confirm that Israel and the US have constructed unsustainable coalitions in the Middle East that are ultimately leading to the rise of Islamist parties with mass popular appeal.

That’s quite an achievement by the US State Department, the Zionist lobby and Israel itself.

Antony Loewenstein (http://antonyloewenstein.com/) is a Sydney journalist and author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution

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