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Triply troubling

Mar 05,2015 - Last updated at Mar 05,2015

Those of us who wish for a peaceful Middle East found Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the US Congress on Tuesday and the response to it by both the jolly congressmen in attendance and the un-amused Obama administration troubling on at least three counts.

The first has to do with Netanyahu’s hollow and ominous message, as well as his own record and actions in the region.

As the Obama administration has correctly pointed out, Netanyahu has neither said anything new nor brought any viable alternative to the US administration’s peaceful approach to the Iranian nuclear issue.

On the contrary, his intention is to escalate the confrontation with Iran and further destabilise the region.

Iran is committing a grave mistake by meddling in the affairs of a number of countries in the neighbourhood and by inflaming an already flammable situation.

Such flagrant interference and hegemony is condemnable.

Iran is a destablising factor, and this is utterly unacceptable.

But is the way to put Iran in its place, or to prevent it from making nuclear weapons, isolation or military action against it, which is what Netanyahu is ultimately saying? 

Not really.

Isolation and violence breed more radicalism, violence and chaos. We have seen this happen in many countries, and ought to have learnt the lesson by now.

Iran needs to be firmly contained within its borders and made to behave and respect its neighbours. 

This, however, can only be done through sober diplomacy, not rash militancy.

The Obama administration’s engagement of the Iranian regime on the nuclear issue may be a step in that direction, if managed well. And therefore, it should be given a chance. 

Throughout Netanyahu’s farcical speech, one could not keep wondering: Look who’s talking! 

Who has started and is now escalating violence in the Middle East, in addition to Iran? Who has obtained and is amassing nuclear weapons? 

None other than Israel.

Who is subverting peace efforts in the region and oppressing and crushing the Palestinians?

None other than Netanyahu.

If anything, Iran is emulating Israel’s behaviour, both with respect to destabilising and expanding in the region, and with respect to the nuclear issue.

But one is also troubled by the reaction to the speech by the congressmen in attendance.

A Facebook-book friend bitterly wrote: “The hilarious standing ovations in the US Congress reminded me of the farcical standing ovations in the Syrian People’s Council whenever Assad spoke. It is anything but rational or sobering.” And it is hypocrisy that bothers many people.

Did the congressmen who kept standing up and applauding the hollow rhetoric do that out of love for Israel?

If they cared about Israel’s security, they would not applaud or abet. Rather, they would advise Netanyahu to follow a different path. 

Presently, he and the radical extremists in Israel are on a self-destructive course.

Israel will live in security and peace in the region only if it reaches peace with the Palestinians and Arabs.

But these congressmen are doing what they are doing — in addition to vexing and embarrassing the Obama administration — simply because they are after the Zionist Jewish votes. It is out of a very selfish, hypocritical motive.

One is also extremely disappointed with the Obama administration’s response to the speech and blind support for Israel’s expansionist policies.

President Barack Obama keeps priding himself on the billions that his administration bestows on Israel.

These billions are the main cause of the Palestinian tragedy. By putting billions in the hands of a government that is hostile to peace and that is a prime violator of human rights, and by continually vetoing any Palestinian move towards statehood, the US administration is condemning Palestinians to the worst fate.

People in our part of the world have for decades found puzzling and troubled by the power Israel has over America. Most Americans have always denied that. 

The Netanyahu speech and the reaction to it are both an epitome and a reminder of such troubling power.

Food for thought for many Americans, I hope.

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