The politics of veteran Guardian “journalist” Jonathan Steele are so off-the-charts that he’s accused Muslims who opposed Islamist rule in Tunisia of ‘Islamophobia’, written a spirited defense of the ‘tragically misunderstood’ Robert Mugabe and has even run interference for Kim Jong Un’s totalitarian cult in Pyongyang. And, not surprisingly considering the ideological package he shows fealty towards, he’s also warned darkly of the Zionist influence on the U.S. media.
So, whilst nothing he writes anymore can surprise us, it’s nonetheless important to note that his Nov. 11 ‘Comment is Free’ essay (Iran: don’t let the naysayers prevail) blatantly misrepresented Israel’s position on the current talks to reach an interim nuclear deal with Iran. Here’s the relevant passage:
In Saudi Arabia the reactionary monarchy has long been worried that calls for internal liberalisation will radicalise the large Shia populations who live in its oil-producing areas. Against all evidence it claims an Iranian hand behind their demands for justice. Riyadh also stands to gain from continuing sanctions on Iran and the higher world oil prices they bring. Whether they are cynics or victims of their own propaganda, the Saudi rulers, like Israel, want no deal with Tehran.
In fact, as the most rudimentary research would confirm, Israel is not opposed to a deal with Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has clearly made the distinction between what he calls a “bad deal” and a “good” deal, and has expressed strong support for the latter.
After meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Netanyahu said:
Iran is in economic distress and it is possible to get a better deal. Before easing sanctions we need to get a good deal, not a bad deal.
At his weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu stated:
This is a historic process and these are historic decisions. I asked to wait. It is good that this is what was decided in the end but I am not deluding myself – there is a strong desire to reach an agreement, I hope not an agreement at any price, and if there is to be an agreement then it needs to be a good agreement and not a bad agreement. I hope that they will reach a good agreement and we will do our utmost to convince the major powers and the leaders to avoid a bad agreement.
At the Bloomberg Fuel Choices Summit, Netanyahu stated:
With every passing day, Iran is under growing economic pressure. One need not be hasty to conclude a bad deal. The time that has been achieved must be utilized for a good deal which dismantles Iran’s military nuclear capabilities.
In an address to the Knesset, Netanyahu stated:
There are not just two possibilities on the Iranian issue: A bad deal - or war. This is incorrect. There is a third possibility – and that is continuing the pressure of sanctions. I would even say that a bad deal is liable to lead to the second, undesired, result. There is no reason to submit to Iranian diktat; neither is there any reason to be hasty. Iran is under very harsh economic pressure and the advantage is with those applying the pressure. It is possible to achieve a good deal to dismantle Iran’s military nuclear capability. This cannot be achieved by the proposal now being discussed in Geneva. That proposal would make a gaping hole in the sanctions through which the air could escape from the pressure of the sanctions.
In fact, even the Guardian implicitly acknowledged that Bibi is seeking ‘a better deal’ in an official editorial they published the day before Steele’s own CiF essay:
Israel considers a bad deal with Iran to be worse than no deal at all. “Bad” would be any deal which leaves the Iranian capacity for making enriched uranium intact – Israel wants Iran to surrender the centrifuges it has created to enrich uranium. “Good” would be anything that sets the enrichment clock back.
Whether Steele is ‘a cynic or a victim of his own propaganda’, let the record show that his claim that Israel wants “no deal” with Iran is categorically untrue.
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