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Bolton pushes United States to over-reach in Iran

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Washington DC, May 14—In the 13 months since he became Pres. Trump’s national security adviser, the extreme hawk John Bolton has successfully ramped up Washington’s tensions with Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and to some extent also Syria. But in the case of Iran, he may have met his match, since Iran’s government has a broad network of capable allies all across the Levant and plays a non-trivial role in 21st-century geopolitics, too.

Just one month after he appointed Bolton to his role, Trump withdrew the United States from the six-party Iran denuclearization deal (also known as the JCPOA) that Pres. Obama had signed back in 2015. Trump and his people started disentangling the United States from the deal almost immediately, reimposing on Iran several layers of the tough bilateral sanctions that the deal had earlier lifted.

Last month, the administration dug deeper, announcing tough new sanctions on Iran and other sanctions, for the first time, on third-party entities–including many in Europe–that do business with Iran. Last week, it announced that the aircraft carrier the USS Abraham Lincoln and its accompanying battle group would be redeployed from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. All these moves have been enthusiastically welcomed by (or were even, reportedly, suggested by) Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

The scene seemed to be being set for a big—and potentially extremely damaging—military showdown between the United States and Iran. Then last Sunday (May 12), officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reported that four oil tankers had been damaged (though not heavily) near the port of member emirate Fujairah…

Those incidents may well have been undertaken by the anti-Tehran provocateurs of the MEK group (with which Bolton and numerous other DC political figures have had lucrative and disquieting contractual relationships in the past.) But they did not, as many experts feared at the time, immediately jerk the hawkishly anti-Iran government of the UAE and its ally Saudi Arabia into the kind of anti-Iran “punishment” raid that many experts feared—and that would have upped the pressure on Trump and Bolton to also join those military activities.

There are many possible explanations for why that speedy escalation was avoided. Officials in Tehran were quick to distance themselves from the damage to the tankers. And all the commanders and planners of the anti-Iran military and naval forces in the Gulf—that is, the UAE, Saudi, and sizeable US forces deployed there– have a deep understanding of the high costs to all parties of any military confrontation with Iran, and of the high risk that any unplanned “small” encounter could rapidly balloon into a much more damaging war.

Those latter calculations may change a little once the Abraham Lincoln and its battle group arrive in the Gulf, but probably not by much.

For its part, the Israeli government may be eager to sound the trumpets of confrontation, hate, and militarism against Iran but it is probably very careful not to risk all-out regional war that might thereby be triggered. I have long maintained that Netanyahu and his cronies are usually eager to stir things up against Iran—but mainly as a way of distracting the world attention away from its persistent pursuit of colonization of Palestine while presenting itself as a stalwart “ally” for the west, rather than because they actually want to risk Israel getting into a battle to the death with that other significant (though distant) regional power.

But Bolton has his own priorities, and thus far he seems to have dragged Trump along with him.  Right now, the strategy favored by Bolton in Iran– as in Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and Syria—seems to be one of imposing and maintaining the tightest possible sanctions on the country with the goal of fomenting a popular uprising against its government. (There is no evidence from anywhere that this tactic actually works. Rather, it inflicts massive amounts of pain on the most vulnerable citizens of the country targeted—think of the 500,000 babies and children killed by Washington’s 1990s-era sanctions against Iraq—while entrenching the people connected to the government ever more deeply in their power and relative wealth.)

But in the case of Iran, Bolton, Trump, and company are tangling with a country that, as noted above, has numerous regional allies and a specific role in the current world system (not least because of the active participation of the Europeans, Chinese, and Russians in negotiating and co-signing the JCPOA).

In the Levant—the Eastern Arab world—Iran has close ties with significant allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen:

  • Inside Iraq, it deployed units of its “Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps” (IRGC) and some Iranian popular militias to help the government defeat the massive ISIS presence that erupted there in summer 2014; several of those units remain inside Iraq; and Iran has numerous ties with both the Baghdad government and with Iraqi militias and political forces, too.
  • In Syria, it has a longstanding alliance with the government; it sent IRGC and other units to help the government defend itself against both ISIS and the numerous Al-Qaeda-linked militias that still remain in control of the northwestern Idlib region.
  • In Lebanon, it has a longstanding alliance with Hizbullah, an authentically Lebanese movement represented in the country’s parliament and government, that originally grew up during the sturdy (and successful) resistance campaign that communities in South Lebanon waged against Israel’s 22-year occupation of their region, 1978-2000.
  • In Yemen, it has ties with the “Houthi” movement that has controlled a large portion of the country (including its capital, Sanaa) for several years now and that has withstood four years of extremely deadly assaults from the super-well-armed (by the United States) Saudi and UAE militaries.

Two things to note here. First, Iran would not enjoy anything like the influence it currently does in Iraq if the United States had not sent its military massively into Iraq in 2003 to topple President Saddam Hussein. Second, Hizbullah most likely would not even exist if Israel had not sent its military massively into Lebanon in 1978 and again in 1982 to dispel the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s fairly ragtag guerrilla forces from the country… What goes around comes around.

The current, very worrying standoff between pro-Iran forces and anti-Iran forces in the Levant runs a high risk of jolting the whole region into a catastrophic military conflagration whose dimensions, duration, and costs on the region’s peoples cannot be tabulated or even, really, imagined. But the standoff has implications far beyond that long-troubled region, too.

One crucial fissure this standoff has revealed is that between the United States and the three key European powers that signed onto the JCPOA: Britain, France, and Germany. These powers, known collectively as the “E3”, and acting in consort with the broader European Union, played a key role negotiating the JCPOA and were all horrified (as were Russia and China) when Trump summarily exited from the deal. The E3, Russia, and China, are all eager to have the deal survive in some form. And now, they feel their freedom to trade as they choose with Iran (and as the JCPOA specifically allows them to) is under direct attack from the latest round of “secondary” sanctions announced by Trump.

One major way that Washington has for many years now enforced the many sanctions it’s imposed on other governments has been through its domination of the world financial system. For 15 years now, this control has been exercised primarily through a mechanism called the SWIFT system, which allows US surveillance and control of international financial transactions. After Trump/Bolton exited the JCPOA, the E3 said they would create a separate system that would allow them to exercise their own supervision and control of the permitted forms of trade between their European companies and Iran. This one is called INSTEX, but it has taken the E3 a long time to get it up and running and it is not operational yet.  (The Chinese have also talked a lot recently about setting up their own international payments system, free from Washington’s control.)

The E3 governments all recognize that retaining some level of trade with Iran is in their interest, both because it will help their companies follow through on planned trade deals and because it might help keep Iran within the JCPOA system and prevent it from following through on threats to step up its enrichment activities. But meanwhile, two of these governments, Britain and France, have many problems of their own to deal with at home…

Early last year, before Bolton was named national security adviser, he gave a lavishly paid speech to an MEK gathering in Paris where he called for the Islamic Republic in Iran to be overthrown “before its 40th anniversary”. That anniversary came and went in February , without Bolton achieving that goal. But he still seems set on achieving regime change in Iran.

East of Eden

A little over 62 years ago, another powerful and somewhat deranged Westerner was set on achieving regime change in a sizable Middle Eastern country, and he went for broke to win it. No, I’m not thinking of the CIA’s 1953 coup against reformist Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. I’m thinking of Britain’s amphetamine-addled prime minister Anthony Eden, and his 1956 campaign against Egypt’s Gamal Abdel-Nasser.

Anthony Eden announces his resignation as Prime Minister, 1957.

That year, Eden conspired with France and Israel, and between them they cooked up a plan whereby in late October 1956 Israel would invade all of Sinai and the French and British would then speedily send in their forces to “secure” the Suez Canal, running north to south. Eden’s memoirs made quite clear that his goal was not only to regain British control of the Canal, which Nasser had nationalized two years before, but also that the humiliations of these defeats would lead the Egyptian army and people to rise up against Nasser and overthrow him completely.

It didn’t happen. Eden had believed that President Eisenhower would either support, or in any case not oppose, the invasion of Egypt. He was wrong. Once the tripartite invasion started, Eisenhower rushed to the United Nations and won a powerful resolution that condemned it outright and deployed UN peacekeepers immediately to the Suez Canal Zone. All the invading forces were summarily instructed to withdraw. (It took the Israelis a few months, but even they obeyed.)

Much more importantly, though, Eisenhower also immediately announced that the US Treasury would stop supporting the British pound.  As the pound tumbled on world markets, it was Eden who was humiliated and whose party moved swiftly to unthrone him.

All historians of the British Empire agree that Eden’s fatal over-reach in 1956 marked the death-knell of the empire.

So here we are again, with the levers of financial power being revealed today, as they were back in 1956, as playing a key role in world affairs. We do not know yet, of course, how the current US-Iran confrontation will play out. We don’t know whether there will be big war or a smaller war or no war; or whether the JCPOA will survive in some form.

And we don’t know yet–if Bolton does succeed in bringing about the big war that he seems set on provoking—whether that reckless and lethal adventure might turn out to be the same kind of Eden-esque over-reach that marks a significant turning-point for a previously powerful empire…

Stay tuned.

Helena Cobban

Helena Cobban is the President of Just World Educational (JWE), a non-profit organization, and the CEO of Just World Books. She has had a lengthy career as a journalist, writer, and researcher on international affairs, including 17 years as a columnist on global issues for The Christian Science Monitor. Of the seven books she’s published on international affairs, four have been on Middle Eastern topics. This new series of commentaries she’s writing, “Story/Backstory”, will have an expanded audio component published in JWE’s podcast series. They represent her own opinion and judgments, not those of any organization.

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89 Responses

  1. Steve Macklevore on May 15, 2019, 2:41 pm

    James Bolton is one of those people who looks as stupid as he is.

    • Citizen on May 15, 2019, 3:45 pm

      Is that why stupid Trump picked him?

      • Keith on May 15, 2019, 4:56 pm

        CITIZEN- “Is that why stupid Trump picked him?”

        After the Democrats gutted the early Trump administration with Russiagate allegations, Trump was vulnerable to allegations of being soft on Russia. Hence, the three warhawks of Pompeo, Bolton and Abrams were kind of insurance against these allegations. These three Ivy League lawyers were more than acceptable to the Democrats and the Deep State. As the Democrats rant and rave about Trump, is there any criticism about these three warmongers? We have a war cabinet, a war congress and a war media. Things are going from bad to worse.

      • Mooser on May 15, 2019, 5:52 pm

        “After the Democrats gutted the early Trump administration with Russiagate allegations…”

        The “early Trump administration” when the Republicans controlled the Senate and House, and the Presidency?

        “Allegations?” Don’t you mean “guilty pleas”?

      • Mooser on May 15, 2019, 7:00 pm

        Never mind, the King’s Landing Fire Safety Captain explained it to me:

        “You’re supposed to hate Democrats and consider Republicans to be the natural byproduct of Democratic failures, and their voters are merely socialists who have lost their way.”

      • Keith on May 15, 2019, 8:47 pm

        MOOSER- “The “early Trump administration” when the Republicans controlled the Senate and House, and the Presidency?”

        Yes, Mooser, after the Democrats/CIA/Deep State/media gutted the early Trump administration with Russiagate allegations. The allegations of possible treason along with the demonization of Putin and Russia was unprecedented.

        MOOSER- ““Allegations?” Don’t you mean “guilty pleas”?

        For what? Lying to the FBI in a phone interview which never should have taken place? So, are you happy with the consequences? You approve of Pompeo, Bolton and Abrams? When are you Democratic loyalists going to criticize these warmongers? I am sure that the FBI and CIA are pleased with their new found support among the Democratic “liberals.” And notice how the Democrats don’t criticize Trump over his warmongering, including Venezuela, except to claim that he hasn’t been forceful enough. So you just keep kicking Flynn and supporting the Democrats who support Pompeo, Bolton and Abrams. The Deep State/oligarchy runs the empire and they got their chosen warmongers in place. Congrats.

      • echinococcus on May 15, 2019, 10:38 pm


        I’m not opposing the presence of individual Democrats among supporters of Palestinian Resistance. After all, every kind of people are represented there, including (but let’s hope not limited to) religious fanatics, fascists, racists, toastmasters… Every sort is needed if we want the support of the general population as opposed to some Zio-manipulated controlled opposition. So, no opposition.

        But I still cannot, for the life of me, understand what makes (lowly peons of) this dominant US imperialist administrative machine that is the Dim Party, owner of the US forces of overt and covert aggression and repression including its spy outfits, live with the idea of supporting both the aforesaid and its victims. The same, of course, applies to its twin of lesser means, the American Republicans –provided one’s ready to swallow the fable that the Pukes are a different “party”.
        Is it guilt and the power of token atonement?

        After all, that’s working well in other quarters, where confession, a mea culpa and a couple quarters dropped on the collection tray on Sunday give the perp the force needed to go on with what he usually does for the rest of the week.

      • Mooser on May 16, 2019, 6:15 pm

        Yeah, that’n economic anxiety.

      • RoHa on May 16, 2019, 9:26 pm

        I’m not sure I want to be associated with toastmasters.

      • echinococcus on May 17, 2019, 8:16 pm

        And yet, RoHa, we bite the legendary bullet for the sake of the victims. As do the liberals and even Mooser, who willy-nilly get associated, horribile dictu, with anti-Zionist non-Democrats.

    • Misterioso on May 16, 2019, 11:05 am

      Along with other blood thirsty Zionist zealots, Sheldon Adelson, Trump’s principle paymaster, is demanding the U.S. attack Iran. And John Bolton is joined at the hip with Adelson. As is
      Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

      “John Bolton is the world’s worst nightmare”

      Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan, Truthdig, May 16/18

      “Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.” — John Bolton, in a March 26, 2015, New York Times op-ed headlined, ‘To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.’

      “President Donald Trump campaigned as an isolationist, criticizing foreign military entanglements. As far back as 2013, he tweeted, ‘Can you believe that the Afghan war is our ‘longest war’ ever -bring our troops home, rebuild the U.S., make America great again.’ He has made the point repeatedly as president. In an April 2018 press conference, discussing Syria, Trump said: ‘I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation. We will have, as of three months ago, $7 trillion in the Middle East over the last 17 years. We get nothing — nothing out of it, nothing.’

      “Despite his rhetoric, Trump’s every move in the Middle East now seems committed to conflict and potentially to war with Iran. John Bolton is clearly at the vanguard, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backing him up.

      “Iranian diplomat Seyed Hossein Mousavian is a former senior negotiator for Iran on the nuclear issue, and currently a research scholar at Princeton University. Mousavian expressed his concerns this week on the ‘Democracy Now!’ news hour:”

    • Jackdaw on May 21, 2019, 2:18 pm

      His name is John.

    • Mooser on May 15, 2019, 4:22 pm

      Remember Iran Air Flight 655.

    • RoHa on May 15, 2019, 9:45 pm

      Shan’t! And you can’t make me!

      • Mooser on May 17, 2019, 11:50 am

        Remember Mohammad Mosaddegh?

        “Mohammad Mosaddegh was the 35th prime minister of Iran, holding office from 1951 until 1953, when his government was overthrown in the 1953 Iranian coup d’état orchestrated by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency and the United Kingdom’s MI6.” (Wiki)

      • RoHa on May 18, 2019, 8:20 pm

        Yes, I’ll cheerfully remember him. Just don’t try tricking me into remembering the Maine.

  2. Keith on May 15, 2019, 5:24 pm

    HELENA COBBAN- “One major way that Washington has for many years now enforced the many sanctions it’s imposed on other governments has been through its domination of the world financial system.”

    Yes, and every time there has been a threat to that system, the empire reacted violently. Now is no different. The empire will go to war (it is what we do) rather than see alternatives put in place.

    One big difference between 1956 and now is that the US empire has transmogrified into the American led transnational corporate/financial empire, a truly global entity with its ganglia penetrating the various nation states such that the central banks of both Russia and China are, to a degree, sympathetic to this type of imperial control.

    Add to all of this is the fact that we are at the end of the hydrocarbon era and entering a period of extreme turbulence leading to some new global economy (neofeudalism?). If the global economy is about to collapse soon in any event, there may be advantages in precipitating and, to a degree, controlling the collapse. It may be that a global collapse will be relatively less harmful to the US than to China, Russia and Europe leaving the global empire relatively more powerful, the “competition” smashed to bits. The empire seems to be flaunting it illegal behavior as a message to all that the Godfather is ruthless and vindictive and that there is no protection whatever in international law.

  3. Bumblebye on May 15, 2019, 7:31 pm

    It would seem the UK is definitely not on board this mad rush to war with iran. It was discussed on bbcR4’s 10pm news tonight with the major interviewee being iranian. The bbc *is* establishment Britain and does its bidding faithfully. The iranian interviewee pointed out that Bolton had apparently noted that his intel came from israel and that it was only a matter of hours before the attacks on the tankers took place. Clear insinuation of false flag.

  4. Brewer on May 16, 2019, 1:31 am

    The comparison with the ’56 Suez affair is, I think, most apposite.
    On this occasion I believe the similarities are quite marked.
    Instead of American dissent there is European reluctance to get involved.
    No matter the outcome:
    The Straits of Hormuz would be closed for an indeterminate period creating chaos in World energy markets.
    Israel is risk-averse and vulnerable.
    Battle-hardened and better equipped Hezbollah and Syria would present three fronts to the IDF/IAF if Iran is attacked – ensuring serious losses. One could also envisage the Palestinians creating havoc within Israel during the distraction.
    It is anybody’s guess as to how Russia would respond but you can be certain there is already a well thought out contingency plan in place that may well hold some surprises. Certainly her energy resources would suddenly be at a premium.
    War with Iran is not nearly so politically viable within the U.S. since Iraq, Libya and Syria. Trump could go the way Eden went.

  5. HarryLaw on May 16, 2019, 7:04 am

    In my opinion US policy of zero sales of Iranian oil to anybody is already a declaration of war, since it means the collapse of the Iranian economy resulting in famine and many deaths [Albright considered the deaths of 500,000 children due to sanctions against Iraq] as a price worth paying. The test now is whether Iran can evade these sanctions [with the help of other states]. Of course if the US physically stop those exports, a shooting war will occur. Iran has said in that event Israel and the GCC states will suffer with the closure of the Strait of Hormus and the laying to waste of GCC oil and transport infrastructure and most likely [with Israel’s major vulnerability being its postage stamp size], and Hezbollah’s missiles alone numbering almost 150,000 [many now precision guided] means [in theory] approx 1000 missiles per square kilometre of Metropolitan Tel Aviv where most of Israel’s population and Industry is located, plus the vulnerable gas platforms and Dimona.
    The loss of so much oil to the world market would cause a huge worldwide depression. ” If” there are any sensible people left in Washington, they will know this and stop the warmongering. I am not holding my breath. In this interview Professor Marandi [at 8.48] describes what could happen in the event of war

  6. CHUCKMAN on May 16, 2019, 9:53 am

    Well said.

  7. just on May 16, 2019, 10:36 am

    From Democracy Now! :

    “Will John Bolton’s Dream to Bomb Iran Come True? Ex-Iranian Ambassador Warns About U.S. Escalation …

    … We are joined now by a former Iranian ambassador, Seyed Hossein Mousavian. He is a Middle East security and nuclear policy specialist at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. From 2003 to 2005, he served as spokesperson for Iran in its nuclear negotiations with the European Union. …

    SEYED HOSSEIN MOUSAVIAN: Yes, good morning. Actually, I expected such a situation after Ambassador John Bolton was nominated as national security advisor. I have written many op-ends, articles during last year that it’s going to happen. Because even this morning, if you look at USA Today, two high-ranking American congressmembers, Senator Murphy and Representative Himes, they have an op-ed saying that John Bolton and Pompeo are leading the U.S. into a war with Iran. Some days before, another two very high-ranking congressmembers, Senator Durbin, they had the same op-ed saying that John Bolton is taking the U.S. to a war with Iran.

    Therefore, it is clear John Bolton wrote an op-ed at New York Times calling for attacking Iran, bombing Iran as the only option, as he said. He was allied with the terrorist group of Iranian terrorist group MEK. He gave lecture. He invited them to rule Iran. He called for regime change. Therefore, everyone knows what is the strategy and the mindset and the plan of Ambassador John Bolton. This is not confidential issue.

    Second, the fact is that the Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu for many years has been pushing the U.S. to attack Iran. He has huge influence at White House. You remember when President Trump withdrew from Iran nuclear deal. Some days later, Bibi Netanyahu said, “I asked him to leave the JCPOA.” The Iranian nuclear deal. “It was me who made him to depart from the deal.” After President Trump designated Iranian army as a terrorist group, again, Bibi Netanyahu publicly said, “It was me who asked President Trump to designate Iranian army as a terrorist group.” Therefore, this is very obvious, well-known.

    The third issue is the fact bin Salman and bin Zayed, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and Emirate, they have been pushing U.S. for many years to attack Iran. You remember Secretary of State John Kerry three times revealed that in any meeting—he said—we had with Saudis, Israelis, the Emiratis, they were asking only to attack Iran, attack Iran, attack Iran. Therefore, the four B’s team—John Bolton, Bibi Netanyahu, bin Salman, and bin Zayed—now they have excellent position at the White House to push the U.S. the dream they have had for years and years and years—to drag the U.S. into a war with Iran.

    That’s why I would say what the American congressmembers have frequently warned, Iranians have warned, Europeans they have warned, is happening, unfortunately. That would be extremely dangerous for the U.S., for the region, for Iran, for international community. Because look at the situation in the Middle East today. What happened after the U.S. attacked Iraq? Who were encouraging the U.S. to attack Iraq? It was John Bolton. It was Bibi Netanyahu who came to U.S. congressmember and publicly, in front of hundreds of members of the Congress, said, “We have evidence that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and supporting [inaudible].” And they pushed President Bush to attack Iraq.
    And after that, everyone understood there was neither weapons of mass destruction nor evidence of any support of Saddam Hussein of [inaudible]. …”

  8. Misterioso on May 16, 2019, 10:44 am

    A war in the Strait of Hormuz would have no winners, only losers.

  9. James Canning on May 16, 2019, 12:30 pm

    Bolton supports the MEK terrorists in his shameless, foolish effort to destabilize Iran. Truly a warmonger of alarming proportions and a growing danger to the American people.

    • HarryLaw on May 16, 2019, 1:25 pm

      Yes James, but you do realize that the MEK are the United States “moderate terrorists”. /S

  10. Ossinev on May 16, 2019, 1:15 pm

    Of the two Bolton is far and away the most cartoonish character both in looks and demeanour and politics. Pompeo is more of a po faced Evangelical sermoniser. I think that Trump thinks Bolton is a joke but is happy for him to do the sabre rattling on his behalf. I am more worried about the “Rapturous” Pompeo who is still playing along with Bolton in the Iran brinkmanship war games and who is more likely to be listened to by Daffy Donald.

    As for the Democrats given the Iraq debacle one would have thought that there would be a lot more acroos the board criticism from them.

    So far it has stangely restrained. Got to be the Benjamins.

  11. Jackdaw on May 17, 2019, 8:37 am

    Iranian general makes clear who the real warmonger is.

    But you wouldn’t know it from reading Mondoweiss.

    • eljay on May 17, 2019, 3:26 pm

      || Jackdaw: Iranian general makes clear who the real warmonger is. … ||

      Yup, and every time those women chained in the basement scream out that they’re going to try to hurt that f*cker of a rapist, they make it abundantly clear who the real warmonger is.

      But you wouldn’t know it from reading anti-rape websites.

    • Brewer on May 17, 2019, 9:09 pm

      Absolutely Jackdaw.
      Netanyahu calls for war against Iran.
      Bolton calls for war against Iran.
      At your link, an Iranian General tells allies to prepare for a possible war.
      Easy to see who the warmongers are.

      • Brewer on May 18, 2019, 2:38 pm

        Armed conflict will not break out because nobody has any “illusions” about seriously going against Iran, the nation’s foreign minister said amid the recent escalation with Washington and its regional allies.

        “There will be no war because neither we want a war, nor has anyone the idea or illusion that it can confront Iran in the region,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told IRNA on Saturday, during a trip to Beijing.

  12. Tom Suarez on May 17, 2019, 10:50 am

    Helena, thank you for the excellent article. Regarding “It took the Israelis a few months, but even they obeyed” in vacating Egypt after Suez…
    That stand-off between Ben-Gurion and Eisenhower, with the latter threatening to stop signing the checks, and Israel eventually backing down with some face-saving PR, is as far as I know the only time a US president has stood up to Israel. Even Eisenhower, on previous issues, had ultimately caved to Israeli pressure.
    After Suez, the pressure on Eisenhower to yield to Israel was so great that on February 20, 1957, he appeared on national television to explain the obvious: that no nation should be allowed to seize and annex land by force of arms, or to impose conditions on its own withdrawal.
    Ben-Gurion claimed persecution of course — that Eisenhower’s demands “place me under great moral pressure … as a man and a Jew, the pressure of the justice for which my people were fighting.” Israel, he said, was being discriminated against “because we are few, weak and perhaps isolated.”
    But this one time, Israel did not get its way.

    • Jackdaw on May 18, 2019, 2:24 am

      Tom Suarez, whose book, State of Terror, is so heavily laden with lies, that you need a crane to help to turn the pages.

      What did BG really want in exchange for a withdrawal from Sinai?
      He wanted peace with his neighbors and a secure border. That’s all.

      “Although an important part of our aim has been achieved by the destruction, as a result of the Sinai operation, of fidayun gangs and of the bases from which they were planned and directed, we must repeat our urgent request to the United Nations to call upon Egypt, which has consistently maintained that it is in a state of war with Israel, to renounce this position, to abandon its policy of boycott and blockade, to cease the incursions into Israeli territory of murder gangs and, in accordance with its obligations under the United Nations Charter to live at peace with member-States, to enter into direct peace negotiations with Israel.”

      • Helena Cobban on May 20, 2019, 10:13 am

        Tom Suarez, whose book is so laden with actual documentation from the UK government archives that it requires….

        Tom’s previous book on Palestine was described by Publishers Weekly as “an impressive display of historical excavation.” This latest book is no less impressive!!

        Just to note that “Jackdaw” has no tangible argument at all but resorts only to unsubstantiated defamation. SAD!!!

    • Jackdaw on May 19, 2019, 9:24 am

      Tom Suarez, whose book, State of Terror, is so heavily laden with lies, that you need a crane to help to turn the pages.

      What did BG really want in exchange for a withdrawal from Sinai?
      He wanted peace with his neighbors and a secure border. That’s all.

      “Although an important part of our aim has been achieved by the destruction, as a result of the Sinai operation, of fidayun gangs and of the bases from which they were planned and directed, we must repeat our urgent request to the United Nations to call upon Egypt, which has consistently maintained that it is in a state of war with Israel, to renounce this position, to abandon its policy of boycott and blockade, to cease the incursions into Israeli territory of murder gangs and, in accordance with its obligations under the United Nations Charter to live at peace with member-States, to enter into direct peace negotiations with Israel.”

      • echinococcus on May 19, 2019, 11:44 am

        “What did BG really want in exchange for a withdrawal from Sinai?
        He wanted peace with his neighbors and a secure border. That’s all.”

        Sure: he didn’t also want to keep Palestine and cleanse it from its owners.

      • Tom Suarez on May 20, 2019, 8:53 am

        Hello Jackdaw, lol, maybe I can save you money on that crane if I point out that I completely agree: the quote and Israeli government url you supplied are, yes, indeed, the Ben-Gurion “line”.
        It does not, however, tally with what happened.
        Since you infer that you have read State of Terror, and since (unlike its main detractors***, who are never, never in error) I keep an online errata, you might let me know what is in error in my account of those events.
        *** Are you referring to Collier-Hoffman? If so, here is my response

      • Jackdaw on May 21, 2019, 3:47 am


        No, not Collier, Skyscraper.

        Anyway, let’s begin.

        On page 48, you discuss the Crane Commission without mentioning that Crane was a vicious anti-Semite who adored Hitler.

        At a dinner, Ambassador Dodd heard Crane express admiration for Hitler and learned that Crane also had no objection to how the Nazis were treating Germany’s Jews, telling Dodd: “Let Hitler have his way.”

        You also fail to mention that the Crane Commission was really a Christian missionary expedition skewed against Zionism from day one.

        Two down, thousands to go.

  13. Ossinev on May 18, 2019, 7:02 am

    “Iranian general makes clear who the real warmonger is”

    As in how dare they prepare to fight back when threatened with attack.

    • Jackdaw on May 18, 2019, 7:11 pm


      Three weeks ago, Suleiman told his Arab proxy armies to load their weapons.
      This week, he ordered his proxies to open fire.

      Your Persian friends, led by their god-king, Ayatollah Khameini, drew first blood.

      • annie on May 19, 2019, 3:55 pm

        Your Persian friends, led by their god-king, Ayatollah Khameini, drew first blood.

        oh please jack, nobody believes this crap.

        Escalating rhetoric in the region and in the US has raised fears of a confrontation between Iran and the US

        iran is a country that’s been around for centuries, they will not fall for this. this “escalating rhetoric” began with bolton and israel intel, their “reassessment” of old intel. it’s manufactured garbage designed to push the US public into accepting war with iran — and no ones buying it. but, you got your headline.

      • just on May 19, 2019, 4:39 pm

        Well said, annie. You have the stomach for it~ I don’t. My eyes glaze over when approaching comments by uberzios.

        I was more than irritated when I read Simon Tisdall’s opinion piece yesterday in The Guardian:

        “Old grudges, new weapons… is the US on the brink of war with Iran?

        While American hawks talk up an ‘imminent’ threat from Tehran with no hard evidence, echoing the start of the Iraq conflict, hardliners are in the ascendant in Iran …”

        The reason for my ire is the inclusion of this in his piece:

        “…Most of all, Iran’s growing regional power is seen by the US as a direct threat to Israel. Leading Iranian political and military figures, notably the former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have repeatedly threatened to wipe the country off the map. Iran is building military bases in Syria, within close missile range. And Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister and Trump buddy, remains convinced the mullahs, despite denials, are hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. …”

        Notice how he inserted the big LIE in that paragraph? Hint~ the sentence that starts with ‘leading’ and ends with ‘map’. It has been debunked over and over again, including by Jonathan Steele in The Guardian (2006):

        “Lost in translation

        “Experts confirm that Iran’s president did not call for Israel to be ‘wiped off the map’. Reports that he did serve to strengthen western hawks.

        My recent comment piece explaining how Iran’s president was badly misquoted when he allegedly called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” has caused a welcome little storm. The phrase has been seized on by western and Israeli hawks to re-double suspicions of the Iranian government’s intentions, so it is important to get the truth of what he really said.

        I took my translation – “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” – from the indefatigable Professor Juan Cole’s website where it has been for several weeks.

        But it seems to be mainly thanks to the Guardian giving it prominence that the New York Times, which was one of the first papers to misquote Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came out on Sunday with a defensive piece attempting to justify its reporter’s original “wiped off the map” translation. (By the way, for Farsi speakers the original version is available here.)

        Joining the “off the map” crowd is David Aaronovitch, a columnist on the Times (of London), who attacked my analysis yesterday. I won’t waste time on him since his knowledge of Farsi is as minimal as that of his Latin. The poor man thinks the plural of casus belli is casi belli, unaware that casus is fourth declension with the plural casus (long u). …”

        So anyway, it seems that the same old Israeli defenders/enablers are out in force~ both in the WH/Capitol Hill and in the media.

        Jonathan Cook writes this about Tisdall in 2013:

        “Simon Tisdall was once my boss at the Guardian. Either I’ve changed a lot since I left the paper more than a decade ago (undoubtedly true!), or he’s subsequently become nothing more than a mouthpiece for the US-Israeli security establishments (and there’s plenty of evidence for that!). …”

      • Jackdaw on May 19, 2019, 5:28 pm

        No Annie, you don’t believe that crap, because you live in the Mondoweiss, BDS cult echo chamber.

        BTW, Iranian proxies fired rockets into Baghdad’s ‘Green Zone’ today.

        First blood. Second blood.

      • traintosiberia on May 20, 2019, 5:26 pm

        Niger Forgery,
        Aluminium Tube misreprestnation
        Little anthrax vial
        Gas and gas and gases in Syrian cities
        Viagra flooding the “rape” market of Libya
        Red Cross Aid convoy burning in Venezuelan border town .

        Who gives a hoot to these lines written by warmongering Guardian?
        Even if it were true , Iran has now every right to retaliate because it has been under attack and assault from US and its beloved dogs and master for a long time.

      • Mooser on May 20, 2019, 8:20 pm

        “BTW, Iranian proxies fired rockets”

        There are proxies at the bottom of your garden, too.

      • annie on May 21, 2019, 3:40 pm

        Iranian proxies fired rockets into Baghdad’s ‘Green Zone’ today.

        “proxies” being the operative word. you don’t know who fired those rockets. but more likely to be bolton proxies for all we know.

        just, they just keep rehashing the same ol lies because that’s all they’ve got. propaganda.

  14. Ossinev on May 19, 2019, 12:56 pm

    “Tom Suarez, whose book, State of Terror, is so heavily laden with lies, that you need a crane to help to turn the pages”

    Now that got me thinking:
    “Danny Danon,whose book,the bible etc”

    You now that best seller of all time “non- fiction LOL” book:

    • RoHa on May 19, 2019, 7:55 pm

      “Danny Danon,whose book,the bible etc”

      So it was Danny Danon who wrote it! I’ve often wondered who the author was.

      • echinococcus on May 20, 2019, 1:58 pm

        “So it was Danny Danon who wrote it!”

        It figures. Finally a reasonable hypothesis.

  15. G. Seauton on May 20, 2019, 2:31 am

    Keith wrote: “The allegations of possible treason along with the demonization of Putin and Russia was unprecedented.

    No, Keith. That should be “The allegations … were …” Otherwise, I agree with you.

    I’m taking over RoHa’s job, correcting egregious grammatical errors. I’m starting with subject-verb agreement errors, which are ubiquitous these days.

    • RoHa on May 20, 2019, 6:45 pm

      Thank you for your support. It’s a daunting job, but someone has got to do it.
      Correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation will lead to a better, brighter, future for all.

      • Mooser on May 21, 2019, 11:24 am

        ” It’s a daunting job…”

        Yes, but you serve as a good example to people whose
        grammar is painful to your ears.
        There are even places where grammar completely disappears. In America, we haven’t used it for years.

  16. G. Seauton on May 20, 2019, 2:39 am

    Keith wrote: “The allegations of possible treason along with the demonization of Putin and Russia was unprecedented.

    No, Keith. That should be “The allegations … were … ” Otherwise I agree with you.

  17. HarryLaw on May 20, 2019, 9:47 am

    One of the most important aspects of the US over reaching itself in International affairs has to do with the sanctions it is handing out to all and sundry. Case in point, US threatening Germany over supply of gas from Nord Stream 2, the US Ambassador threatened German companies directly with sanctions, even before informing the German Government. Other counties are threatened with secondary sanctions if they buy Iranian oil, what this amounts to is the US dictating to the rest of the world unilaterally and against International law what they can buy, and who they can trade with. The French President was right when he said on Thursday that “France would not block Huawei. “Our perspective is not to block Huawei or any company, it is to preserve our national security and European sovereignty. But I think launching now a technological war or a trade war … is not appropriate,” Macron said at the Paris VivaTech event.”
    All those countries bending to the will of the US may gain, or retain good standing, and monetary gain in the short term by the US continuing to allow those countries to export to the US, but they will have lost self respect and just as importantly, sovereignty. They might just as well let Congress legislate for the whole world.

    • echinococcus on May 20, 2019, 2:04 pm

      “They might just as well let Congress legislate for the whole world.”

      And what else do you think they are doing anyway?

  18. Tom Suarez on May 20, 2019, 11:57 am

    I’d like to repeat my request to Jackdaw more visibly:
    You reject my summary of Israel’s post-Suez behavior by saying that my book, State of Terror, is “heavily laden with lies”. I therefore assume that you have read this book, yes? And so I await your explanation of what these “lies” are — just the section in question is fine (pages 318-323 in either of the current English editions).
    I await with pen and errata sheet in hand…

    • Jackdaw on May 21, 2019, 6:06 am


      Let’s do this! I’m stoked.

      On page 328, in your discussion of the ‘Petra tourists’ and the Suez Crisis, you fail to inform your readers that, about a dozen Israeli teenagers were killed attempting to illegally reach the ancient city of Petra; and in so doing, meeting the same fate as many Arab ‘infiltrators’ into Israel.

      You wrench the murders of 5 Bedouin Arabs by rogue Israelis out of context.

      To wit: [I]n the middle of February 1955 the sister of an Israeli commando named Meir Har-Zion’s, along with her boyfriend, were both captured, raped and murdered by Bedouin tribesmen from Wadi al-Ghar .

      When Meir Har-Zion heard of his sister’s death, he was inconsolable and vowed revenge.
      On March 4, he and three ex-members of the 890th Battalion, NOT, as you say, “an Israeli military patrol’, infiltrated Wadi al-Ghar, and captured six Bedouin from the Jahaleen and ‘Azazme tribes, the same tribe as the Bedouin who murdered the sister.

      The prisoners were interrogated and five of them killed, four with knives and the fifth was shot.

      Ariel Sharon, commenting on his friend Har-Zion going ‘rogue’ wrote that it was “the kind of ritual revenge the Bedouins understood perfectly.

      Are you sure you want to continue this expose in public? It may well prove embarrassing to you.

    • Jackdaw on May 21, 2019, 7:52 am


      You know, you have your ordinary lies, and than there are pernicious lies.

      Take page 328, where Tom discusses the lead up to the Suez Crisis. Tom says that Israel attacked Hebron on September 11, and killed 20 Palestinians .

      Well, that’s not quite true.
      Israel did ambush a Jordanian convoy of armed soldiers and policeman and killed twenty. See Benny Morris, Israel’s Border Wars, at page 408.

      So, Tom. Israel soldiers killed 20 Jordanian soldiers, not ‘ 20 Palestinians’.

      Oh, and why did Israel attack this Hebron convoy?
      Well, because he day before, on September 10, Jordanian National Guardsmen attacked 30 Israeli university students on a field trip in Israel, dragged some of the students back over the Jordanian border, cut the students balls off, and than slit the throats of six students. Morris, at 408.

      But you will never, never know this from reading Tom’s book.
      Right Tom?

      Right Tom?

  19. gamal on May 21, 2019, 5:42 am

    “What goes around comes around”

    who’s that writing …..naked and ashamed

  20. Tom Suarez on May 21, 2019, 9:07 am

    Thank you Eunice Kearnes (which is Jackdaw’s name according to his nice messages via my website).
    Yes, indeed, do continue in full pubic view, please. I’ll add anything valid to my errata — but so far, nothing, except as score-keeping for which “side” perpetrated what according to whom in response to what. This is all a distraction, a straw issue.
    The essential fact is that the Palestinian/Jordanian/Egyptian violence was in response to years of Israeli terrorism against the very people it continued to murder on sight if they attempted the radical act of going home. There is no “yes, but” to this, the core issue.
    Are you really still willing to argue about which act of violence caused which? If I point out the previous cause that you omit? So you can fill us in on the one before that? And on?
    Your arguments via my website about King-Crane (who bluntly state that they went to Palestine biased in Zionism’s favor, and where the one individual’s antisemitism you cite supported that position, rather than detracted from it, as you would like to rewrite it) are equally disingenuous.

    • Jackdaw on May 21, 2019, 10:41 am


      Thanks for respecting my anonymity here at Mondoweiss.
      FYI. My full name is Eunice Kearnes-Butz.
      (Get it?)
      Anyway, I never thought Tom was a gentleman to begin with.

      More lies in the re-hashing of that old ant-Zionist libel that Iraqi Jewery was bombed into flight by Zionists operatives.

      To that end, Tom Suarez cites a certified psycho like Naem Giladi while burying in the books bibliography the fact that the Tom had himself read (or not) the most authoritative book on that subject,’The Jewish Exodus From Iraq’ by Moshe Gat.

      Contra Tom and Naem Giladi, Gat effectively argued that there was little direct connection between the bombings and exodus. Gat convincingly demonstrated that the frantic and massive Jewish registration for denaturalisation and departure was driven by knowledge that the denaturalisation law was due to expire in March 1951.
      He also notes the influence of further pressures including the property-freezing law, and continued anti-Jewish disturbances which raised the fear of large-scale pogroms. It is highly unlikely the Israelis would have taken such measures to accelerate the Jewish evacuation given that they were already struggling to cope with the existing level of Jewish immigration.

      Gat also raises serious doubts about the guilt of the alleged Jewish bomb throwers.
      Firstly, a Christian officer in the Iraqi army known for his anti-Jewish views, was arrested, but apparently not charged, with the offenses. A number of explosive devices similar to those used in the attack on the Jewish synagogue were found in his home. In addition, there was a long history of anti-Jewish bomb-throwing incidents in Iraq.
      Secondly, the prosecution was not able to produce even one eyewitness who had seen the bombs thrown.
      Thirdly, the Jewish defendant Shalom Salah indicated in court that he had been severely tortured in order to procure a confession. It therefore remains an open question as to who was responsible for the bombings, although Gat suggests that the most likely perpetrators were members of the anti-Jewish Istiqlal Party.

      Many years later, the Zionist emissary Yehuda Tager stated that the main bombings were carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood.

      So why does Tom Suarez discuss these unfounded libels about Zionist plots, and give them crediblity, when he already knows from reading Gat that they weren’t true?

      Because Tom prefers the rants of Naem Giladi, a contemptible man who with only the flimsiest evidence, blames the 1941 Baghdad pogrom on the British, and not on the Palestinian Mufti and his Nazi-loving cronies.

      To bolster his bizarre theory, Naem Giladi quotes David Kimche, and falsely claims that Kimche was British Secret Service. what special knowledge could David Kimche have about the Baghdad pogrom anyway? David Kimche was fourteen years old and living in London when the Arabs murdered hundreds of their Jewish neighbors.

      Giladi was a Munchausan fabulist, but, Tom likes Naem Giladi, and that’s all that counts.

      Right Tom?
      That’s all that counts.

    • Mooser on May 21, 2019, 11:28 am

      “Eunice Kearnes”? “Jackdaw” is actually his mother that he mentioned? Probably his own grandma, too.

      • Jackdaw on May 21, 2019, 12:26 pm

        Eunice Kearnes-Butz, as in from where did Tom find the material for his pseudo historic book.

      • annie on May 21, 2019, 4:19 pm

        why does jack even bother with these nom de plumes? that’s what i want to know. and how many other characters does he play. goggling around, eunice doesn’t exist or has no internet footprint. maybe it’s josh block or some other TIP fanatic, or a british version or such for all we know.

        on the centennial of the king crane commission how fitting we get these charges:

        According to Larson, at a dinner, Ambassador Dodd heard Crane express admiration for Hitler and learned that Crane also had no objection to how the Nazis were treating Germany’s Jews, telling Dodd: “Let Hitler have his way.”[11]

        iow, according to a 2011 book by eric larson, ambassador dodd, who’s been dead for 80 years, heard expressions and learned what crane didn’t object too. i’m sorry, but is there anything reported or written down from anything closer to that era? because smearing crane due to the findings of the commission smells a lot like what was done to goldstone after his report. rather unconvincing. and now, in 2011, we have a hilter allegation based upon chatter over dinner. presumably backed up by a 2013 biography.

        Touring Syria and Palestine between June 10 and July 21, 1919, and soliciting petitions from local inhabitants, the commission found that a vast majority of Arabs favoured an independent Syria, free of any French mandate, and that, of about 1,875 petitions received, 72 percent were hostile to the Zionist plan for a Jewish national home in Palestine. Such findings, coupled with Zionist talk of dispossession of the Arabs, led the commission to advise a serious modification of the Zionist immigration program in Palestine.


        and because of this allegation we’re supposed to dismiss anything else crane ever said or did?

      • RoHa on May 22, 2019, 10:00 am

        “coupled with Zionist talk of dispossession of the Arabs, ”

        But the Arabs objected to Zionist immigration just because they hated Jews. No other reason.

  21. Tom Suarez on May 21, 2019, 10:57 am

    Hello Jackdaw,
    I did wonder whether you wanted the name used in your website comments posted here, but I (wrongly) assumed that you wouldn’t be giving it to me if you didn’t (and indeed didn’t know if it was your actual name or another pseudonym).
    Apologies for that — I should not have used it.

    • Jackdaw on May 21, 2019, 12:27 pm


      You are a crude man, and no amount of British polish can change that.

      • Mooser on May 21, 2019, 1:04 pm

        “You are a crude man, and no amount of British polish can change that.”

        Stop flirting, Eunice.

  22. Mooser on May 21, 2019, 11:17 am

    Oh look! Iran is backing down.

    Nice of them, and nice of the NYTs to let us know. I’m glad those missiles are off the boats.

    • RoHa on May 22, 2019, 3:04 am

      I didn’t notice them fronting up.

      • eljay on May 22, 2019, 8:34 am

        || RoHa: I didn’t notice them fronting up. ||

        You didn’t notice Iran failing to make proper obeisance to Isramerica? Such impudence cannot – must not! – go unpunished.

      • Mooser on May 22, 2019, 12:02 pm

        “Trump suddenly reverses course on Iran, says there is ‘no indication’ of threats” Truth Progress

        The power of the porn-stache cows the Iranians.

  23. Tom Suarez on May 21, 2019, 1:26 pm

    Hello Jackdaw,
    I am not going to get into a back-and-forth with you on straw issues, but I do want to point out that you misrepresent both me and Giladi, then simply go on with every Zionist opinion you can find in contradiction.
    First, neither in State of Terror (my book has has elicited this thread) nor in my recent Mondweiss article on the subject, do state as fact that the 1941 Farhud was a British false-flag operation. I carefully state the evidence as I found it, and leave it as still unproven, inconclusive, pending the release of British documents decades in the future.
    Secondly, you continue on about Giladi as though I were he. Actually there is much to criticize in his book Ben Gurion’s Scandals, which you should know if you really read mine. See, e.g, my endnote 126, where I checked out his claim about permits, the Jewish Agency, and the Patria tragedy, found no evidence for his allegation in British source documents, and say so. His book is invaluable when he deals with his first-hand experience.
    Thirdly, you even misrepresent Giladi, who for example never said (as you leave the reader to believe) that David Kimche, best known for his role in the Iran-Contra affair, was in Baghdad in 1941 — but rather that he was later in a position to “know the truth”. Was he? I doubt it. Was he in the British SS? No.
    But you go on about Kimche as though I were responsible, when I have never used him as evidence anywhere in any of my writing.

    • Jackdaw on May 21, 2019, 5:07 pm


      You had a choice.
      To go with Moshe Gat’s narrative, or to go with Giladi’s dubious narrative. You knew who Gat was and you knew who Giladi was, and you chose Giladi’s narrative.

      You relied on the fabulist Giladi, because Giladi’s false narrative about Iraq suited you. Haven’t you ever heard of ‘falsus en uno’?

      I brought up Kimche, because Giladi’s bizarre claims about Kimche prove what a clown Giladi is. Giladi made up things about Kimche from thin air, and I exposed Giladi as a fraud. You gave a clown credibility he doesn’t deserve and you failed to credit a real scholar like Moshe Gat.

      Shame on you.



  24. just on May 21, 2019, 4:52 pm

    What is this “first blood, second blood” krap, ‘Jackdaw’? You appear deeply troubled and delusional. NOBODY has affixed the facts to the acts. Are you privileged with top- secret information? Please do share and cite source and method. All of this could very well be false flag ops~ of course you are familiar with those. Meanwhile, your lying “god-king” is trying to subvert the Israeli Supreme Court to get immunity for his and his wife’s crimes…..

    “The Greatest Threat Facing Israel Isn’t Iran, Hamas or Hezbollah: It’s Netanyahu’s Desperation

    His plan to neuter the Supreme Court in order to avoid indictment risks constitutional crisis, social upheaval and a slide to authoritarian rule …

    The question of Netanyahu’s parliamentary immunity has captured most of the public and media’s attention, but it is nothing more than camouflage. For months, Netanyahu and his confidantes have been floating various proposals for new laws that would grant Netanyahu automatic immunity, ignoring the fact that under current law and with his rubber-stamp majority in the Knesset, such immunity is his for the asking. The greater challenge facing the prime minister is to ensure that the Supreme Court won’t revoke his immunity, no matter how unreasonable, unconstitutional and politically motivated it is deemed to be.

    This is where Netanyahu’s personal interests converge with the ideological goals of the annexationist right and of the ultra-Orthodox parties that make up a large part of Netanyahu’s coalition. He is seeking refuge from the law and they are yearning for freedom from the Supreme Court and the shackles of international law, human and civil rights, as well as principles of equality and decency that the court occasionally imposes on government policies and decisions.

    In exchange for placing Netanyahu above the law, as if Israel were a tin-pot banana republic, his coalition allies will be able to confiscate land, build new settlements, oppress Palestinians, deny equality, stifle internal dissent and impose religious rule with impunity and to their heart’s content.

    Netanyahu and his collaborators base their support for the so-called “override clause,” which would negate or at least severely restrict judicial review, on a series of bogus arguments that his supporters have swallowed hook, line and sinker. They speak of a “judicial dictatorship,” even though the Supreme Court has struck down a grand total of 18 laws in Israel’s 71 years of existence. They swear by the exitence of a “leftist junta” that supposedly controls the Supreme Court and persecutes Netanyahu – but have yet to produce a scintilla of proof for their claims. They compare Israel to countries in which the Supreme Court’s oversight authority is also restricted, ignoring the fact that such countries either have a completely different government system or are sliding towards authoritarianism, like Poland, Hungary and, increasingly, Israel itself.

    Their most disingenuous claim is that the Supreme Court is an obstacle to good governance and renders the government impotent to implement its policies, when in fact the Israeli government is already substantially more powerful than most of its counterparts in democratic countries. For years now, Israel’s three branches of government have dwindled to just two: The executive and the judicial. Just as the GOP has turned into Trump’s cheerleading squad and Congressional Republicans have abdicated their independence to bend the knee to the White House, so has Likud transformed from a vibrant political party with firm beliefs into a collection of groupies whose only measure is their worship for Netanyahu. And given that Likud takes orders from Netanyahu and the coalition is controlled by Likud, Israel’s legislative branch has become the prime minister’s personal fiefdom.

    Israel’s Supreme Court is the only remaining check on Netanyahu, his docile ministers and the kowtowing Knesset. And even though the court today is far more conservative and restrained than it was two decades ago, when the court’s then-President Aharon Barak’s so-called “constitutional revolution” was at its zenith, Netanyahu and his allies have succeeded in convincing the Israeli right that the court’s interventions are numerous and consequential, obstructing government policies and even imposing restrictions that endanger the lives of Israeli soldiers at the battlefront, as former Education Minister Naftali Bennett often claimed. Some of them are so persuasive, they’ve started to believe their canard themselves.

    A debate about the proper scope of the court’s authority to strike down Knesset laws and to revoke government decisions may have been possible and perhaps even desirable if Israel were a normal country and if its politicians were known for their calm and moderation. But Israel is far from normal for a host of reasons, including its 52-year occupation of undesignated territories and millions of disenfranchised Palestinians, as well as the subjugation of personal and religious life to the diktats of Orthodox Judaism. And far from sounding a voice of benevolence and reason, its government and parliament are increasingly nationalistic, ethnocentric and anti-democratic, not to mention shrill, divisive and, in some cases, downright demented.

    Neutering the Supreme Court so that Netanyahu can escape indictment is like throwing out the baby with the bath water or, given Sara Netanyahu’s love for the elixir, the pink champagne with the cork. It would give the government and the Knesset unbridled authority to carry out their policies, even if these collide with basic norms of fairness and decency, which they often do. Even worse, in times of security crises or national emergencies, it would allow right-wing politicians to run wild on their habitual outbursts of incitement and hysteria, which usually include proposals for harsh measures against their perceived enemies, from Palestinian terrorists to anyone, including former army chiefs of staff, who fails to worship the ground Netanyahu walks on.

    By their very nature, such heated battles, especially those that are part of overarching “culture wars,” usually polarize politics, radicalize public discourse and potentially deteriorate into violence. Netanyahu and his coalition will be sorely tempted to try out their new, Knesset-authorized, Supreme-Court free “license to kill” in order to stifle dissent and to rebuff the inevitable accusations of the extreme right about the government’s “weakness”. It is a vicious circle that can easily get out hand.

    And while one is cognizant of the personality cult that Netanyahu has fostered, which rewards absolute loyalty and punishes any deviation from his line, as well as the deep ideological hostility of the religious right towards the Supreme Court and other manifestations of liberal democracies, it is still dumbfounding to realize that Netanyahu seems assured of success. Right-wing lawmakers who support the “override clause” must believe they’ll rule forever, because otherwise their opposition will inherit the same draconian powers once it gains power, and turn them against their creators. Under the new rules, of course, and with nothing to stop them anymore, the current coalition could simply decide one day that elections are superfluous and that Netanyahu should remain in power for life.

    You might think that such a scenario is alarmist and inconceivable, which is how right-wingers describe the center-left’s warnings about the potential fallout of the “override clause” for Israeli democracy. On the other hand, if someone had said a few years ago that the Knesset would one day carry out what is essentially a constitutional coup d’état just to allow one prime minister to escape justice, you would have consigned them to the nut farm. Which is what Israel will become anyway, once Netanyahu’s time bomb detonates and obliterates what it used to be.”

  25. Tom Suarez on May 21, 2019, 6:22 pm

    Hello again, Jackdaw,
    This will be my final comment on this, no matter what.
    I will again correct you:
    Regarding my view of the perpetrators of the Farhud, as you would know if you actually read what I wrote, my very point was not to accept Giladi’s claim on faith, but to put it to the test. My conclusion: in State of Terror, the book that really seems to have driven you to high gear, my verdict, contrary to what you claim, is this (page 71): “none of the readable text [of the Kew documents I had declassified] actually states that staged anti-Jewish violence was the method used.”
    Now, please compare these, my actual words from my book, to your characterizations of it.
    And as regards my recent Mondweiss article that examines the subject in greater detail, my ending verdict is almost identical: The evidence that I examined “proves that Britain was planning regime change and sought a pretext, but gives no hint as to whether ethnic violence was to be that pretext.”
    Again, please compare these, my actual words, to your hysterical mis-characterization of them.
    I hope to live long enough to read declassified CO 733/420/19/1 in 2042. We should know more then, if it’s not too heavily redacted.

    • Jackdaw on May 22, 2019, 1:37 am

      Did you actually read Irwin Black’s, ‘Farhud’?

      Have you weighed the evidence that he amassed, evidence that proves that the Farhud was a Nazi-led, Nazi inspired, carefully organized pogrom carried out by Nazi loving, Jew hating Baghdad Arabs?

      You’ve included Black’s book in your bibliography, but apparently you didn’t read it very carefully, because you’ve discounted his narrative in favor of the Giladi, and speculative, spare, redacted FO documents which prove nothing.

      You’ve wisely opted out of this discussion, because it is quite apparent that your research is shoddy at best, and your conclusions are tenuous.

      And since you fled the field, that leaves me asking and answering the final question, which is, ‘Who threw the first terror bombs in Palestine?’

      Answer: With fatwa in hand, the Black Hand terror group began a terror campaign that began with the ambush and murder of three members of Kibbutz Yagur, 11 April 1931, a failed bombing attack on outlying Jewish homes in Haifa, in early 1932, and several operations that killed or wounded some four members of northern Jewish settlements.
      It climaxed with the deaths of a Jewish father and son in Nahalal, from a bomb thrown into their home, on 22 December 1932.

      First blood.

  26. Tom Suarez on May 22, 2019, 8:54 am

    Kindly stop pasting your manifestos into my contacts page. That’s not what it’s for, and my hard drive is only 4 terabytes. (I assume the funny-looking email address you leave is fake.)

    • Jackdaw on May 22, 2019, 11:29 am

      Dreadfully sorry.

      I mistakenly thought you wrote, “I keep an online errata, you might let me know what is in error in my account of those events.”

      You won’t hear from me again.

      • Mooser on May 22, 2019, 12:05 pm

        “You won’t hear from me again.”

        Promises, promises.

      • Jackdaw on May 22, 2019, 1:50 pm


        Don’t you aspire to being more than a ‘fluffer’ for anti-Zionism?

      • Mooser on May 22, 2019, 5:58 pm

        Eunice, don’t be such a yachneh.

  27. Tom Suarez on May 22, 2019, 5:03 pm

    Your rants do qualify as “corrections”. You do not even have the integrity to quote what I write without distorting it beyond recognition to suit your propaganda. Even when I reproduce the precise quote from my book, you ignore it and again repeat the mis-wording that suits your purpose.
    You like to quote Zionist apologists as gospel — except, of course, the Stern Gang, witnesses at the time, who you ignore because they don’t offer the answer you need. (They reported, independently, the same as Giladi.)
    Most hilarious of all, you say that the Foreign Office documents “prove nothing”. Really! The primary source? I worked hard to have declassified the very source documents that would hold THE “smoking gun” if Giladi were right — the secret correspondence of the very people whom Giladi accuses. I state not one iota more than what they prove, and make explicit what they do not prove.
    You are free to vent about my book and/or me in whatever embarrassingly desperate hyperbole you wish, but that, not “corrections”, is what you’ve been doing.

    • Tom Suarez on May 22, 2019, 5:31 pm

      [lol here’s a bona fide correction: word “not” obviously missing from 1st sentence written in haste]

      • just on May 22, 2019, 6:05 pm

        I knew that! ;-0

        Seriously, you are amazing! You are honest. You’ve obviously researched extensively and provided carefully sourced historical material. You are impossibly patient, professional, respectful (even when it is not warranted), and knowledgeable. You have lived and taught in Palestine.

        I appreciate your scholarship and your many contributions here @ MW.

        (I think that it is magic and a wonder that Tom Suárez and Jonathan Ofir are both talented musicians who contribute so much to the important conversations that must be held… 2 amazing writers and humans focused on justice!)

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