By Iqbal Jassat
After all the hype surrounding calls for war on the Islamic Republic of Iran by Israel and its powerful US-based lobby AIPAC, it all came down to nothing more than bluster. Contrary to all expectations that President Obama would use the soapbox provided to him by AIPAC to announce America’s declaration of war alongside Israel, he went through the usual mumbo-jumbo talk of support but not what the lobbyists were waiting to hear.
In a subsequent press conference, Obama not only rubbished war-talk emanating from his Republican political foes, but in a veiled signal to Israel to back-off, he punted renewed talks with Iran as a wiser alternate to war. While it’s been clear to many political analysts that America’s appetite for war is at an extreme low given dismal failures in Afghanistan and Iraq and a range of other compelling factors, it boggles the mind that the Netanyahu-led regime of right wingers would believe otherwise.
While it may not be apparent yet whether this huge setback for Zionist lobbyists signals the beginning of a rift between Israel and America vis-à-vis Iran, it certainly raises many eyebrows. In the build up to the AIPAC conference and coverage of hostile war-talk by Israeli hawks like Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres alongside the shameless push for military strikes by some American commentators with neocon leanings, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Obama would say “Ready, Steady, Go!”
The rationale provided was that no president of America would venture to cross swords with Israel especially on the eve of his second term. The understanding is that during this sensitive period when president Obama is seeking re-election, he would be at his most vulnerable and thus hesitant, if not fearful to rebut Israeli goals.
The heightened expectation was also fuelled by reports that US-allies Saudi Arabia and the Gulf oligarchies were as keen as Israel to impose a regime change in Tehran via military means. Sensational revelations about secret meetings between the Qatari Emir and leading Israeli hardliners coupled with allegations of Mossad collusion with Saudi Arabia added to the hype for war.
As the debate simmers post-Aipac it’s becoming evident that some spin-doctors are anxious to curb any notion that may fuel anti-Israeli sentiments within American populace. “The last thing Israel or American friends of Israel – Jewish and Christian – want is to give their enemies a chance to claim that Israel is using its political clout to embroil America in a war that is not in its interest”, wrote New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman.
The ‘hasbara’ (propaganda) game now is to limit damage arising from the danger for Israel and American Jews being blamed or accused of dragging America into a war that could weaken an already frail world economy, cautions Friedman who admits that those calling for war at the Aipac conference received the loudest cheers.
– Iqbal Jassat is the chairperson of the Gauteng-based advocacy group, the Media Review Network. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.