The Pfaffs Of the World By Hillel Halkin

The New York Sun

The Pfaffs Of the World
January 17, 2007


Besides oppressing the Palestinians, turning the Arab world against the West, being responsible for Islamic terror, and getting America into Iraq, Israel and the Jewish lobby, according to veteran International Herald Tribune columnist William Pfaff, are now doing their best to instigate an American attack on Iran.

Never known for his friendliness to Israel, Mr. Pfaff says in a recent column that the Jewish state has been conducting a "propaganda campaign against Iran, accusing it of developing nuclear weapons … to convince the American public that the United States should go to war against Iran to eliminate its power to threaten Israel." Israel, Mr. Pfaff believes, is about to sucker America again. Already, he writes, American "fleet units have been ordered to the Gulf, together with troops not part of the Iraq reinforcement. An admiral has been named theater commander. The Israelis are ready to go."

Mr. Pfaff is nothing if not a fast thinker. Notice how deftly he manages to squeeze three assumptions into two sentences. The first is that it is Jewish propaganda to accuse Iran, a radically Islamist, oil-rich country that needs nuclear energy about as much as Americans need more calories, of investing billions in a secret nuclear development program because it wants, perish the thought, to have an atomic bomb. The second is that when Israel and the Jewish lobby desire anything, Washington snaps to attention. And the third is that what Israel and the Jewish lobby most desire right now is for America to zap Iran's nuclear facilities.

All three of these assumptions are stupid and ugly, the third no less than the first two.

Indeed, if Mr. Pfaff would think a little faster, he would realize that what Israel most desires right now — desires desperately, as a matter of fact — is for America and the international community to implement the kind of sanctions against Iran that would stop it from building an atomic bomb without having to attack it militarily.

Because who exactly do Mr. Pfaff and his fellow Jewish-conspiracy buffs think is going to pay, not the oil price, which will be everyone's, but the blood price for such an attack? Will it be America?

No, it will not be. Iran does not have long-range missiles capable of hitting America with conventional warheads and would not fire them at New York and Washington if it had them.

It will be Israel, which the Iranians can and will hit if attacked, even if it is not Israeli planes that attack them, just as Iraq did in the 1991 Gulf War. With two differences. One is that the Iranians will fire a larger number of more destructive and better-aimed missiles than did the Iraqis. The other is that they will do all they can, which is a great deal, to get Syria and the Hezbollah in Lebanon to join in and, if possible, to start a ground war with Israel.

Large amounts of missiles, most or all bearing heavier payloads than the Katyushas fired at Israel last summer, raining down on Israeli cities; a possible full-scale war with Syria, thousands or tens of thousands of Israeli casualties — is this what Mr. Pfaff thinks Israel and the Jewish lobby want? Are Israel and its Jewish supporters not only the selfish, cynical manipulators that Mr. Pfaff thinks they are, but mad masochists as well?

And why, one would ask Mr. Pfaff, has Prime Minister Olmert been going from foreign capital to foreign capital — Berlin, Moscow, Beijing — and begging his hosts to do something about Iran's nuclear development program? Surely, Mr. Olmert knows that Europe, Russia, and China don't intend to join America in an air strike against Iran. If such a strike is what Israel is trying to provoke, why weaken its own efforts by arguing everywhere that a less violent alternative is still possible?

It is true that, faced with the second mass annihilation of Jews within a century, this time by atomic weapons, Israel would prefer that Iran's nuclear program be militarily destroyed rather than be allowed to continue on its present course. But this is not its first preference. It is its last preference. The problem is that it is thinking precisely like Mr. Pfaff's, which does not take the Iranian nuclear threat seriously, that is inexorably going to drive Israel, if America does not act first, to resort to its last preference.

So far, the international community has done next to nothing about Iran's nuclearization. In fact, one might say that it has done less than nothing, since by repeatedly threatening sanctions that have never been put into practice, it has given the Iranian government the message that it can get away indefinitely with no worse than an occasional scolding of "Naughty, naughty." The most recent scolding, the so-called "sanctions resolution" adopted by the Security Council on December 23, did little more than affirm the previous scolding of August 31, which affirmed a previous scolding establishing that date as a deadline for Iranian compliance with international demands, which affirmed previous scoldings. …

Mr. Pfaff does not even bother to scold Iran. He would rather scold Israel. He has already told us, in a column written a year ago, that Iran has every right to nuclear weapons of its own and that warnings of "rogue states" attacking Israel are "manipulation or propaganda." Nor does he seem at all worried by the fact that the rogue state known as Iran has repeatedly called for Israel's destruction. It is of course his prerogative to think that it is foolish to be concerned about such threats, just as he would no doubt have thought — as many political commentators no less wise than Mr. Pfaff did — that it was foolish to be concerned in the 1930s about the threats against the Jews made by Hitler. He should realize, however, that if Israel ever does have to attack Iran, it would be precisely because of people like him.

Mr. Halkin is a contributing editor of The New York Sun.