WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Washington Post writer David Ignatius recently wrote an Op Ed entitledIs Israel preparing to attack Iran?Ignatius states that former CIA Director and current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, "believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June…"
Since Ignatius' Op Ed appeared, other newspapers have picked up on this opinion and repeated it as though it is fact. The Telegraph U.K.wrote, "United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes there is a growing possibility Israel will attack Iran as early as April to stop Tehran from building a nuclear bomb..."
The NY Daily News wrote, "Leon Panetta said Thursday that Israel could launch attacks against Iran as early as April or May in effort to stop Tehran from building a nuclear bomb. Panetta made the initial remarks to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius…"
The problem with The Telegraph and other related stories about Panetta's “concerns” is that they are based upon an opinion piece that makes no reference to its source(s).
The inference that is drawn from Ignatius' Op Ed is that the concerns stated were Panetta’s but nowhere in the article does Ignatius quote him or name another source. In fact, when asked about it Panetta stated… "No, I'm just not commenting…What I think and what I view, I consider that to be an area that belongs to me and nobody else."
For all of the interest and attention that this story has created, it is not being discussed within a larger context that is as, if not more, troubling. On January 13, the owner of The Atlanta Jewish Times, Andrew Adler, published an Op Ed entitled "What Would You Do?" wherein he stated that Israel had three options to ensure its security.
The first option was to attack its enemies in Hezbollah and Hamas. The second was to attack Iran. The third option: "Give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States' policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies."
It is important to note that since publishing this piece, Adler has published an apology and is "relinquishing all day-to-day activities effective immediately…"
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement: "There is absolutely no excuse, no justification, no rationalization for this kind of rhetoric... These are irresponsible and extremist words…Irresponsible rhetoric metastasizes into more dangerous rhetoric."
Foxman is correct but his condemnation may ring hollow.
In a column in Israel's Haaretz, Chemi Shalev writes, "Jewish publisher is an idiot - but his hatred is shared by many… Adler's crazy and criminal suggestions are not the ranting of some loony-tune individual and were not taken out of thin air - but are the inevitable result of the inordinate volume of repugnant venom that some of Obama's political rivals, Jews and non-Jews included, have been spewing for the last three years."
In The Jewish PressofJune 24, 2009, an article stated, "In a poll of Israeli Jews conducted in mid-June by the Jerusalem Post, a mere 6 percent of respondents said they view Obama as pro-Israel. In stark contrast, a Gallup tracking poll in early May showed that 79 percent of American Jews support the president…
"Beyond Obama's agitation on the issue of Jewish construction, Israelis are dismayed by what they perceive as the generally hostile approach he has adopted in dealing with the Jewish state. This approach was nowhere more in evidence than in his speech to the Islamic world in Cairo on June 4."
On January 18 in The Wall Street Journal, Mark Halprin wrote an Op Ed calling for the US to "…fight an air and naval war derivative of and yet peripheral to the Iranian nuclear program," even though as Halprin writes, "…Iran is not yet in possession of a nuclear arsenal? Yes..." Halprin concludes by writing in part, "Any president of the United States fit for the office should someday, soon…order the armed forces of the United States to attack and destroy the Iranian nuclear weapons complex."
Andrew Adler's call for Israel to attack Iran or "Give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel…" is eerily consistent in timing and content with the drumbeat of war that too many officials are dancing to.
It also contributes to the innacurate narrative that President Obama is a threat to the security of Israel and is unfit to hold office. President Obama clearly stated in his State of the Union Address, “Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal...
"Our ironclad commitment -- and I mean ironclad -- to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.” With that being said and for as close as some believe the interests of the US and Israel to be; at the end of the day, Barack Obama is the President of the United States, not the Prime Minister of Israel.
Foxman from the ADL was correct, "Irresponsible rhetoric metastasizes into more dangerous rhetoric" and as such he should not just condem this vial rhetoric but should be calling for Adler's arrest.
According to Chemi Shalev's article referenced above, "Under Israeli law, Adler could be prosecuted for inciting to violence and could be sentenced to five years in jail." Also, Adler's call for foreign agents to assassinate the President should be viewed in the context of domestic terrorism.
The 2012 Defense Authorization Act Section 1021 allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens and/or anyone who commits a "belligerent act" against the U.S. Advocating for the assassination of the President should result in the indefinite detention of those who do so.
This game of brinksmanship is not new and is very dangerous. Former President George Bush 43' and members of his administration used the false pretext of a nuclear threat as one of their excuses to validate their illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq. We've seen this before and should not fall victim to it again. If Americans are not careful, not only will America find itself led into working with Israel to attack Iran; per Andrew Adler as confirmed by Chemi Shalev, Israel might also attack the White House.
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program "Inside the Issues with WilmerLeon," and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
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