The Economist misleads on American Jewish attitudes towards Israel and Iran

The narrative advanced by The Economist in a Nov. 25 story about the American political repercussions of the recent deal in Geneva between Iran and the P5+1 (‘Israel heads for a terrifying split‘) is clear towards the end of the opening paragraph:

APPEARANCES to the contrary, the Israeli government does not have a problem with the terms of the deal that was struck on Iran’s nuclear programme on Sunday. Rather, the Israeli government has a problem with the fact that a deal was struck on Iran’s nuclear programme on Sunday. Over the course of the negotiations, it has become abundantly clear that Binyamin Netanyahu and the conservative coalition he leads do not want a diplomatic resolution to the standoff over Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons on any terms that Iran would be willing to accept. That puts Israel at loggerheads with the majority of Americans; perhaps more important, it puts Israel at loggerheads with a large fraction of American Jews.

Then, to buttress the argument of an impending erosion of solidarity between Israel and American Jews the (anonymous) author of the story cites two polls.  

Here’s the first:

Meanwhilea poll of American Jews by the Anti-Defamation League early this month found that if Israel were to carry out a military strike against Iran, 48% thought America should take a “neutral” position, while just 40% would favour supporting Israel.

However, when you open the link it’s clear that the ADL poll gauged the views of all Americans, not specifically American Jews.  


So, if the intent was to show that American Jewish support for Israel – in the context of the current crisis – has declined, the poll cited (on the views, again, of ALL Americans) does not demonstrate this.

Now, here’s the second poll used in the same paragraph within The Economist report:

That stand-offishness was in line with a broad decrease in support for aggressive anti-Iranian positions that emerged in a poll by the American Jewish Committee in October, which found backing for American military action against Iran had fallen to 52% from 67% in 2012.

Unlike the ADL poll, the AJC poll does indeed gauge the views of American Jews. However, note how the author shifted gears from a question about the reaction to Israeli military action (in the first passage), to the reaction to American military action (in the second passage).  Indeed, if the two passages were to be consistent the latter one would have noted results in the same AJC poll cited showing that 67 percent of American Jews would support Israeli military action to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.


AJC poll of American Jews, 2012

Further, results from AJC’s two previous polls of American Jews show 72.5 percent supporting Israeli military action in such a scenario in 2012, with 67 percent supporting such action in 2011 – indicating relatively consistent support over the past three years for a potential Israeli attack.  

More broadly, a major study by Pew Global released this year demonstrated that about 70 percent American Jews are “emotionally very attached to Israel”, findings, Pew noted, which “closely resemble results from the last National Jewish Population Survey conducted in 2000-2001″.

So, it seems clear that – despite The Economist’s misleading characterizations of the polls cited – American Jewish support for Israel (including support for any future Israeli military action which may be required) shows no signs of wavering. 

Guardian’s Julian Borger warns of “minority elements” provoking US-Iran war

Julian Borger, the diplomatic editor of the Guardian, published a story on Nov. 9 titled “Iran’s strike on US drone demonstrates the fragility of uneasy peace“.

Borger’s piece provided analysis on an incident earlier in the week in which two Iranian jet fighters fired at a US Predator drone which was carrying out a classified surveillance mission 16 miles off the Iranian shore.

While other analysts echoed Borger’s broader theme that the episode highlighted the risks that encounters between American and Iranian forces could quickly escalate into a military confrontation, you get a glimpse into Borger’s unique angle by reading the strap line:

Western officials warn that minority elements on both sides have vested interest in triggering ‘spoiler’ incident that leads to war

So, who are the “minority elements” hoping for an incident which triggers a war?

Borger writes the following:

“Western officials are concerned that minority elements on both sides of the confrontation in the region have a vested interest in triggering such a clash. Some Israeli leaders would like to see Washington drawn in so that superior US forces could strike a crippling blow to Iranian nuclear facilities, while a “war party” in Tehran sees a conflict as a means of rallying support for the regime and cracking down yet further on dissent, officials say.” [emphasis added]

While we’ll never know which Western officials he’s referring to, perhaps he’d like to ask them how Israel could have anything to do with decisions by the United States military to deploy surveillance drones over the Persian Gulf, or anywhere else in the world.

Even if you accept the premise that Israel has a “vested interest” in a US war with Iran, Borger’s suggestion relating to this latest incident seems to rest on nothing more than the classic non-sequitur: Who benefits?

America’s political leaders and US security agencies are the only parties dictating US security policy, so if there are “elements” hoping to provoke a confrontation with the regime in Tehran Mr. Borger may wish to look to Washington, D.C., and not Jerusalem, for answers.

Guardian describes Iranian blast, which killed missile program architect, as “dangerous Israeli escalation”

We may, of course, never know with certainty if Israel was behind the recent explosion at Alghadir missile base at Bid Ganeh, Iran which killed seventeen of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, including a man described as the “architect” of the country’s missile programme, Major General Hassan Moghaddam.

However, the manner in which Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan framed the issue, in “Iranian missile architect dies in blast. But was explosion a Mossad mission?“, Nov. 15, was classic Guardian.

Though assigning blame for the blast on Israel is more than plausible, to characterize such an act, as Borger and Dehghan do, as “a dramatic [Israeli] escalation in a shadow war over the Iranian nuclear programme” is a classic Guardian style moral inversion.  And, it is thoroughly consistent with recent Guardian editorial lecturing the Jewish state on the folly of not only a pre-emptive missile strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities but even against covert action, cyber attacks, and economic sanctions.

Of course, opining that Israeli responsibility for the explosion is a “dangerous escalation” represents either remarkably myopia or willful blindness in the face of undeniable evidence regarding Iran’s role as one the biggest exporters of terrorism on the planet.

In addition to the Islamic Republic’s role in “continuing to fund, train, and provide weapons and ammunition to Shia extremist groups that carry out attacks against Iraqi and U.S. forces,” Iran, primarily through the efforts of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, continues to employ a sophisticated arms smuggling network through Syria to Hizballah in Lebanon, and to Hamas in Gaza – representing an Iranian proxy war against the Jewish state.

In fact, Iran has been so successful at re-arming Hezbollah after the 2nd Lebanon War that Israeli authorities estimate the Shiite terror group to have a rocket arsenal of over 50,000, many which could strike almost anywhere in Israel. 

Further, experts believe, in the next Lebanon war, Hezbollah could fire 400-600 rockets at Israeli towns per day.

Yet, strangely, Iran’s arming of terrorist groups who fire rockets at Israeli towns is, for some reason, not considered a “dangerous escalation” by the Guardian.

Further, evidently the moral and political experts at the Guardian are unmoved by an Iranian regime which both denies that the Holocaust, while inciting for another one against the Jewish state – what Irwin Cotler, former Justice Minister of Canada, terms “incitement to genocide.  Said Cutler:

“[We are] witnessing s incitement to genocide, we can see the unfolding of one case where there is a responsibility to act. This incitement, dramatized by parading in the streets, promotes the wiping of Israel off the map and religiously sanctioned genocide. The inflammatory epidemical metaphors used by Iran, are reminiscent of the Metaphors used by Nazi Germany. These metaphors are used by Ahmadinejad along side the denial of the Holocaust.

These calls of Ahmadinejad and other senior officials are also reminiscent of Rwanda government’s incitement to the elimination of the Tutsi.

The failure of state parties and the United Nations to act is a fatal blow to the corpus of international law and the United Nations, especially to the Genocide Convention. The international community must promote preventative action, accountability and not impunity for the sake of international peace and security.”

Not only don’t Guardian editors and journalists even marginally share Cotler’s concern, but a recent Guardian editorial decried the Israeli notion that it can, or should, engage in efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear aspirations as the foolish belief that “they can stop history.”

Israel, it seems, should listen to the sage advice from London, let history take its course, and just meekly accept their fate – a moral formula which, I assume we are to believe, has worked so well for the Jewish community throughout history.

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Why was this story in the Guardian’s Israel section?

While it may seem intuitive to many that Israel is likely behind the Stuxnet worm that’s apparently attempting to wreak havoc on computers at Iranian nuclear plants – and, I, for one, certainly wouldn’t lose any sleep if it that was indeed the case – there hasn’t even been, to the best of my knowledge, anyone who has even suggested that they have proof regarding who exactly was behind the virus.

Indeed, the Guardian article on Nov. 16, titled, “Stuxnet worm aimed to Sabotage Iran’s nuclear ambition, new research shows,” by Josh Halliday, doesn’t even attempt to make the case for Israeli culpability.  They do cite “Security Experts” who claim that “the attack was likely a state-sponsored case of “modern espionage”.  Ok, that seems fair.  But, couldn’t the state sponsor just as likely be the United States?  The article doesn’t address the possibility.  Another story on the topic in the Guardian, which appeared on Sept. 30, titled “Stuxnet worm heralds a new era of global cyber war“, by Peter Beaumont, quotes another expert, who claims that three counties “…had the motivation and capability to mount the Stuxnet attack on Iran: the US, Israel and the UK.”

(You know that tracing the origin of such computer worms is a maddeningly complicated task when the best an expert witness can do is offer his or her best guess on who likely had the motive and capacity.)

Yet, note where the story appears:

When  you click on the link, it takes you to the “Technology” section.

Yet, when I go to the Technology section’s main page, the story is nowhere to be found.

Interestingly, the only time Israel is referenced at all in Halliday’s piece is in this throw away line at the end, citing another security expert, who says:

“I think we will see more and more attacks which will be blamed on state-sponsored cyber attacks. There have been numerous attacks in the past which could be said to have possible military, political or economic motives, but it is very difficult to prove that a hack was ordered by Mossad or instead dreamt up by a Macclesfield student.”

We’ll see if, in the interest of fairness, the next story on Stuxnet appears in the Guardian’s Cheshire section.