Pitfalls of knee-jerk “blame Israel”

Submitted by AWL on 3 July, 2019 - 12:30
tanker

Morad Shirin (Solidarity 511) has casually speculated that Israel (or, perhaps, another regional power allied to the USA, but no other state is thought worthy of mention) is probably responsible for the attacks on the Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers.

No evidence is offered, but rather a Galloway-style deduction based on which state would benefit from the most obvious suspect being punished. It isn’t often, thankfully, that this type of argument is promoted in the pages of Solidarity.

“We have to ask: ‘Which state is going to benefit from delaying, or maybe even preventing, a deal?’ That state is not the Iranian regime but one (or more) of US imperialism’s local allies. A regional power like Israel (although others can’t be ruled out) is probably behind them.”

This looks like fairly standard false-flag conspiracy theory. The same type of argument that it probably wasn’t the Assad regime using chemical weapons in Syria, or that it wasn’t Russian agents poisoning the Skripals? More likely another state trying to make those states look bad and provoke action against them! Or a government trying to boost its own popularity by deflecting negative attention elsewhere!

There is no reason for a default assumption that every covert military attack is carried out by one power in order to frame its adversary. There are usually good reasons why such a course of action would be fraught with risk. In particular, why would Israel risk its trading and diplomatic relations with Norway and Japan by getting found out covertly attacking their oil tankers just to provoke a more combative US stance towards Iran?

The explanation is given as follows:

“.... The attacks justify... (Saudi Arabia’s) military intervention in Yemen; building new Israeli settlements like Trump Heights in the Golan and carving up more of the West Bank; and repression by all US allies (like Egypt) in the region.”
What a sweeping list of atrocious events that the tanker attacks will apparently “justify”! Obviously they are not justified in the mind of the writer, but how logically could even the most hawkish neo-con politician make such a justification? Israel has to build more West Bank settlements because Iran is attacking oil tankers?

Maybe they will try to make such a link. On the other hand, do they need to? The Saudi war in Yemen, the expansion of West Bank and Golan settlements by Israel, and the brutal repression in countries such as Egypt (and Saudi Arabia and other gulf states) have been going on for years, most of the above for decades, and with impunity. A new impetus is hardly needed now.

If there was evidence of Israel’s involvement then that would be a different matter — and obviously Israel is not necessarily above such things. However, no such evidence has been presented.

As it is, this appears to be cheap, unsubstantiated speculation about, in this case, a very familiar theme. The characterisation of Israel as the arch-conspirator par excellence – covert, secretive, nefarious, manipulative – is at the heart of modern antisemitic conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, this is the poisonous narrative promoted by this article.

Israel is indeed responsible for many atrocities and is engaged in ongoing brutal and inexcusable oppression of the Palestinians. We know this because the evidence is there for all to see.

Knowing this does not justify casual indulgence in suspicions (without any evidence) about Israel being behind covert military attacks in order to frame another state.

Editor’s note

We shouldn’t have run the original article without editorial comment — even labelled as from another political tendency, even with a mental note to have a response in the next issue. That’s because of context: we live in a left where it’s routine to “see” Israel or Mossad as the hidden hand behind a wide range of misdeeds (founding Daesh, the US’s invasion of Iraq, right-wingers’ attacks on Corbyn)... The idea that a tiny state is so world-controlling is a new version of the old “world Jewish conspiracy” theories. I should have paid more attention. MT

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