Israel Fails Its Own Iran Standard

From left to right: Yaalon, Regev, Bennet, Shaked, Ben-Dahan.

Israel has many attack lines in opposition to the Iranian nuclear agreement negotiated by the United States, France, Great Britain, Russia, China and Germany. One of the most widely touted claims is that Iran’s leaders exalt warfare and violence, openly express bigoted views, and dismiss international law and conventions.

No sane person would deny that the Islamic Republic of Iran is an authoritarian state with a leadership offensive in rhetoric and atrocious in its draconian rule.

But it is not Sweden that is making the case for Iranian isolation and opposition to the #IranDeal. And while Israel’s own leaders tut-tut against the Iranians, it is worthwhile surveying the rhetoric of Israeli officials and whether such individuals have the moral legitimacy to argue that Iran’s leaders are beyond-the-pale of polite company.

Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon

This hard-line former general raised the prospect of an atomic bomb-like attack on Iran and justified attacks on civilians during a talk at an Israel Law Center event (5 May 2015) (video):

“We are going to hurt Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family. We went through a very long deep discussion…we did it then, we did it in [the] Gaza Strip, we are going to do it in any round of hostilities in the future.”


“Of course, we should be sure that we can look at the mirror after the decision, or the operation. Of course, we should be sure that it is a military necessity. We should consider cost and benefit, of course.

But, at the end, we might take certain steps.

I do remember the story of President Truman was asked, How do you feel after deciding to launch the nuclear bombs, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, causing at the end the fatalities of 200,000, casualties? And he said, When I heard from my officers the alternative is a long war with Japan, with potential fatalities of a couple of millions, I thought it is a moral decision.

We are not there yet. But that what I’m talking about. Certain steps in cases in which we feel like we don’t have the answer by surgical operations, or something like that.”

Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Ben-Dahan

Oversight includes the Israel Defense Forces’ “Civil Administration” on the occupied West Bank (i.e. military government that rules the territory):

“[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human.” — Aug 1, 2013. (Hebrew)

“A Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile, even if he is a homosexual.” —  Dec 27, 2013. 

Minister of Education and of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett

In a conversation with then-National Security Adviser Ya’akov Amidror, Bennett suggested Israel do away with its already feeble, if non-existent, due process for Palestinians suspected of militant or terrorist activities. Israel already conducts assassinations of suspects without, of course, any formal charges and Palestinians are often held in “administrative detention,” which may last for years – some have been held for over a decade – without charge, trial or sentence. But for Bennett such standards are too generous for ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ (July 2013):

Bennett: “If you catch terrorists, you have to simply kill them.”

Amidror: “Listen, that’s not legal.”

Bennett: “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there’s no problem with that.”

Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked

During last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, Shaked posted (and later deleted) the following article from a former aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu onto her Facebook wall (July 2014):

What’s so horrifying about understanding that the entire Palestinian people is the enemy?

Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. Actors in the war are those who incite in mosques, who write the murderous curricula for schools, who give shelter, who provide vehicles, and all those who honor and give them their moral support. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.

Minister of Internal Security, Minister of Tourism & Cabinet Liaison to the Knesset Yariv Levin

The State of Israel is a Jewish country in which there is a democratic regime, not a country that belongs to all its citizens and infiltrators [i.e. 20% of Israeli citizens who are Muslim, Druze and Christian Arabs and African asylum seekers, respectively] (June 2014).

Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev

In the game of nationalist one-upmanship played by the Israeli right-wing, Regev is a stand out who boasted on Israeli TV that she’s “happy to be a fascist,” (November 2012) has used her position to intimidate cultural institutions into falling inline with the government’s agenda or risk losing funds, and told a right-wing rally organized against African asylum seekers that the presence of “the Sudanese were a cancer in our body” who should be sent “back where they came from” (May 2012). The rally descended into a street riot attacking Africans.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely

Hotovely convened a Knesset hearing on the “real problem” of Arab-Jewish marriages and conveyed her dismay that there are about  “92,000 families in Israel in which one of the partners is not Jewish.” One of the invited speakers is the head of Lehava; a far-right organization obsessed with preventing Arab-Jewish relationships, and whose members recently vandalized an Arab-Jewish school and have staged protests outside of Arab-Jewish weddings where “Death to the Arabs” was a common chant (February 2011).

Hotovely also supported a December 2010 letter organized by the wives of several rabbis stating, “the intermarriage phenomenon among Jewish girls and Arab men is dangerous for women, who suffer abuse and disconnection from their families after the marriage.”

. . . 

Without exception, all of the above are unqualified in their opposition to a Palestinian state and support interminable occupation and apartheid.

One may support or reject the #IranDeal, but it’s rank chutzpah for Israeli officials to play the self-righteous card against their Iranian counterparts while such individual support the disenfranchisement of millions, rail against mixed marriages, liken refugees to cancer, post calls for indiscriminate violence against a civilian population, support state murder of suspects without due process, casually contemplate nuclear strikes against a nation, and are pleased with fascism.

By its own standards, the serving Israeli cabinet should be shunned by polite company.