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U.S. mainstream media leaves Israel out of the worsening Iran/Saudi Arabia/Yemen crisis

Media Analysis
on 14 Comments

In theory, a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran over an awful civil war in Yemen should have nothing to do with Israel.

In fact, Tel Aviv is a major factor stoking a growing crisis that threatens to explode into an even wider war, and trigger a global economic slowdown.

Mainstream U.S. media accounts have bogged down in futile efforts to definitively assess responsibility for the audacious drone attacks that damaged Saudi oil facilities on September 14, sending plumes of smoke up into space. The U.S. press is less rigorous about looking into the Israeli connection to the crisis. Today’s lead article in the New York Times about the risk of “war with Iran” did not mention Israel or Benjamin Netanyahu a single time. Neither did a major report in the Washington Post.

First, Israel has been itself complicit in the terrible civil war in Yemen, in which at least 100,000 people have died, the world’s largest cholera epidemic has broken out, and millions more are threatened with starvation. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz back in February reported that:

Israeli cyber companies, gun traders, terror-warfare instructors and even paid hitmen operated by an Israeli-owned company are partners to the war in Yemen.

But Israel is even more deeply involved in the larger regional crisis, and Benjamin Netanyahu will not be satisfied until the U.S. actually attacks Iran. Israel has zero concern for the Iranian theocratic regime’s repression of human rights; Tel Aviv has excellent relations with General Sisi in Egypt, and its budding alliance with Saudi Arabia’s murderous Crown Prince Mohammed is further proof that it has no trouble working with regional neighbors who have bloody hands. Israel hates (and fears) Iran only because Tehran supports the two strongest armed forces in the region still resisting it: Hezbollah to the north in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza.

Bizarre personal dynamics complicate the scene:

  •  Donald Trump wants millions to pay for his re-election campaign, and pro-Israel mega-donor Sheldon Adelson has provided them. In return, Adelson imposed arch-hawk, invade-Iran-yesterday John Bolton as Trump’s national security adviser — until Bolton challenged Trump and got fired.
  •  Trump himself does seem hesitant to go to war, because he recognizes it will damage his re-election chances.
  •  At the same time, Trump and his family slavishly admire Crown Prince Mohammed and the Saudi royals, almost certainly because the Trumps have gotten large sums of money to cement that admiration. And just like Israel, Prince Mohammed definitely wants the U.S. to attack Iran.
  • These contradictory pressures surely explain Trump’s vacillating behavior over the past few days as the crisis continues.

None of this is reported clearly in the mainstream American media. 

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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14 Responses

  1. Marnie on September 17, 2019, 10:56 pm

    I would sure hope the zionist govt is paying billions of shekels for this disgusting protection by u.s. media, but of course they aren’t. amerikkkans are doing all the paying and always have, in blood and booty.

  2. edthespark on September 18, 2019, 1:57 am

    You mean large sums of money from epstein and the sacklers and adelsons las vegas country music shows.

    4 years and 4 days

    • Mooser on September 18, 2019, 12:23 pm

      “4 years and 4 days” “edthespark”

      Another count-downer. Sounds ominous! What are you counting down to, or counting up from?

  3. Boomer on September 18, 2019, 11:40 am

    It is good that you, at least, report on this.

  4. brent on September 18, 2019, 1:37 pm

    Understanding Donald Trump is something most everyone has developed a take on. However, it is always problematic to claim to know what is actually motivating another.

    It has been hard to miss that he has been under consistent attack by MSM and the deep state and has frustrated the warmongers who have pushed for war on Iran and cold war with Russia. He dealt a very heavy blow to the neocons recently in speaking about why he fired Bolton. Adelson and Netanyahu must be worried about what he has in mind.

    A common view has been that with Trump its all about the Benjamins. Another is he was so chaffed by Obama deriding him that his central objective is to undo all that Obama did, including the Iran deal. I am inclined to see his ego as his main driver with a desire to ultimately be viewed as the greatest President of all time. He said endless war, Adelson and Netanyahu’s strategy, is beneath a great nation.

    Early on he said he wanted to try and make the ultimate deal, something no other President has been able to do. That in his first term then full ME peace in his second. Dealmakers, especially those without principles or ideology, understand well the importance of leverage.

    It is logical Trump would set about creating leverage on Netanyahu who he observed and everyone knows, has no interest in a deal with the Palestinians. Hence abrogating the Iran deal Netanyahu fought so hard against. Appointing Netanyahu’s choices to key positions (Greenblatt, Friedman, Bolton). Moving the embassy. Granting the Golan. Talking about a common defense pact.

    Trump’s interest in a deal was evident in his first press conference with Netanyahu. He surprised Netanyahu saying he would be OK with a deal, whether one state or two, so long as both sides agreed. Abbas had said if Israel proved not serious, he’d go for one state.

    Trump has to realize he could not become the greatest by denying Palestinians both independence or equal protection under the law. He seemingly wants to negotiate with Iran, saying an agreement could come in 24 hours.

    • Mooser on September 18, 2019, 2:31 pm

      “Trump has to realize he could not become the greatest by denying Palestinians both independence or equal protection under the law. He seemingly wants to negotiate with Iran, saying an agreement could come in 24 hours.”

      “Brent”, just to be fair, it should be pointed out to you that all your comments are collected and accessible in an archive under your name. And will be there when events bear out their veracity and sagacity.

    • Jethro on September 18, 2019, 2:43 pm

      “It is logical Trump would set about creating leverage on Netanyahu who he observed and everyone knows, has no interest in a deal with the Palestinians. Hence abrogating the Iran deal Netanyahu fought so hard against. Appointing Netanyahu’s choices to key positions (Greenblatt, Friedman, Bolton). Moving the embassy. Granting the Golan. Talking about a common defense pact.”

      Wut. How is giving Netanyahu everything he wants and more “creating leverage?”

      It’s not.

      • eljay on September 18, 2019, 3:12 pm

        || Jethro: … Wut. How is giving Netanyahu everything he wants and more “creating leverage?”

        It’s not. ||

        Dunno. Trump’s already got a town (settlement / colony) named after him: Ramat Trump.

        It won’t be long before he gets a crown, sceptre AND a cape for his next appearance as “Grand Marshal of the Israeli Day Parade”.

        Dude’s got Bibi by the balls!

      • Mooser on September 18, 2019, 4:16 pm

        . “Appointing Netanyahu’s choices to key positions (Greenblatt, Friedman, Bolton” “brent”

        Do try and keep up, “brent”.

      • brent on September 18, 2019, 6:44 pm

        @Jethro
        Leverage, something every previous President has sought one way or another, was created by becoming Israel’s best, most trusted, friend thus making it more difficult for Netanyahu to say “No” to his “deal of the century”. Consider also Trump said he’d cut off the money, “All of it” if Netanyahu balked. I don’t recall any politicians saying that so bluntly.

        Unfortunately, Abbas and team, cut off their nose to spite their face, rebuked Trump, calling him “unfit” and turning their back to him. Essentially breaking relations and offending him very publicly. Pride and anger are destroyers. (not suggesting they had no reason to be offended and angry, rather short-sighted to lead on that basis)

        It’s my hunch, Abbas effectively threw a wrench in Trump’s plan, something he tried to reverse by declaring he wasn’t determining borders, sovereignty nor status of East Jerusalem.

        Probably, Abbas’ lack of sophistication and savvy, set Trump’s plan adrift and demonstrated to many, including Trump, that expecting him to be up to managing a state was unrealistic. My guess is Trump realizes now the secular state is the only plausible way forward and that may influence a positive response to the annexation plan, which kills the 2SS for all to see. If so, it will be done subtly. On the other hand, Trump may throw in the towel on a deal if Abbas keeps feeding Israel cards and remains clueless on how to engage with Trump and with Israel’s double game.

        Of course there is a possibility Trump has caved to Greater Israel, discrimination under the law, and another generation of war and is only pretending to want to rebuild America’s infrastructure…. only scheming on getting past 2020.

      • annie on September 18, 2019, 7:04 pm

        making it more difficult for Netanyahu to say “No” to his “deal of the century”. Consider also Trump said he’d cut off the money, “All of it” if Netanyahu balked. I don’t recall any politicians saying that so bluntly.

        Giving netanyahu everything he wants makes it difficult for him to say “no” to what? what has the US asked for in return? anything?

        Trump said he’d cut off the money, “All of it” if Netanyahu balked.

        balked at what? nothings been leaked about this plan that indicates it’s anything but netanyahu’s plan. hence, threatening to cut off funds if netanyahu doesn’t comply is not a threat, it’s a faux threat.

        Abbas and team, cut off their nose to spite their face, rebuked Trump, calling him “unfit” and turning their back to him.

        what are you talking about? once trump announced jerusalem, previously always hyped as a final status issue, just gave it up, why should they trust him on anything? you sound like all this was trumps plan, it wasn’t. it was netanyahu’s and friedman’s and kushner’s doing israel’s bidding.

        your entire comment is like some fantasy reality.

      • eljay on September 18, 2019, 8:24 pm

        || brent @ September 18, 2019, 6:44 pm ||

        So…in your assessement, Trump is either:
        – a proactive genius who will schmooze everyone into doing his bidding; or
        – a reactive dolt who is “only scheming on getting past 2020”.

        Can’t argue with that.

      • oldgeezer on September 18, 2019, 9:05 pm

        @brent

        “Of course there is a possibility Trump has caved to Greater Israel, discrimination under the law, and another generation of war and is only pretending to want to rebuild America’s infrastructure…. only scheming on getting past 2020.”

        And in what way would this be out of character?While he occassionally doubles down on stupid he caves frequently. He tries to cover that by lying about what he said he was going to and acheive or just lies about the outcome. All politicians up for it are looking to get past 2020 by now.

        You are incredibly naive or merely previewing the fable that’s been concocted for when the deal is a flop. Blame it on the Palestinians. They didn’t reject the deal. Trump did by his words and actions.

        @Mooser
        “Appointing Netanyahu’s choices to key positions (Greenblatt, Friedman, Bolton” “brent””

        I’m holding you responsible.I imeddiately had this vision of all 4. I know it”s Brett Kavanaugh but brent was close enough to top off that crew.

      • Mooser on September 19, 2019, 3:50 pm

        “brent was close enough to top off that crew.”

        Except there’s a big difference. “brent” is still around, the rest have left Trump. In fact, they all left the administration before “brent” wrote the comment including them!
        And that’s not to mention Netanyahoo.

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