In a dangerous escalation, Israel last night attacked a military base near Syria’s capital, Damascus, using both warplanes and surface-to-surface missiles. News sources in Syria said the target was an Iranian installation near Al-Kiswa, 7 miles south of the city.
This attack — Israeli officials declined comment — is just the latest ominous sign from Israel that the unholy alliance of Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu and the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, may be planning to greatly expand war in the Mideast, targeting Hezbollah in Lebanon, and its ally and patron, Iran.
The veteran journalist Larry Derfner reports from Israel that “everybody here feels war is coming.” He adds, “There’s so much tough talk from Israel, and the Saudis would love Israel to fight a war for their interests, and the tension is very high — all this is in the news all the time.” Derfner does not believe Hezbollah or Iran would start the conflict, “because they know they’d get crushed.” He explains, “The only one I see starting it is Israel, because Israel is both strong and paranoid.”
Bradley Burston, a respected columnist in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, also could not have been more clear the other day. His opinion piece was entitled, “Netanyahu Needs a War. He Needs It to Be With Iran. And He Needs It Soon.” Burston argues that Netanyahu has several selfish reasons for wanting a conflict:
1) The Israeli political reality is turning against him. “He’s desperate now because he’s losing ground fast in the latest opinion polls.”
2) He sees he may be out of power soon, and he’s “obsessed by his place in history.” Burston writes, “Netanyahu still has no legacy beyond the number of all those many years in power.”
3) Netanyahu may also provoke war to distract from the ongoing probes into his corruption: “He’s desperate because police detectives and investigative journalists are closing in on him.”
Burston’s allegations are astonishing, especially the last one. Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon to attack Hezbollah cost it 121 lives, and more than 1000 other people also died, most of them Lebanese civilians. Would the Israeli prime minister really put his people at risk just to selfishly cover up his own (alleged) financial criminality?
Earlier this year, Larry Derfner (who has published a compelling memoir about abandoning liberal Zionism) warned in a New York Times Op-Ed article that Israel, not its neighbors, provokes the regular armed clashes. “Counterintuitive though it may be to Israeli and most Western minds, Israel, not its militant Islamic or brutal Syrian enemies, is the aggressor in these border wars.”
Anyone who only reads the U.S. mainstream press will be stunned to learn about this rising feeling in Israel that a wider war is coming. Meanwhile, Derfner reacted to last night’s Israeli strike against the Iranian base in Syria: “I oppose this latest attack just like I oppose all the others. They’re all part of Israel’s ‘neighborhood bully’ policy, which has been going on for decades. Nothing new here. The coming war won’t be anything new, either, except for all the new people who will get killed in it.”