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Friday, April 22, 2011

Ira Chernus' agenda

In Salon and the Huffington Post, Ira Chernus pooh-poohs Israel's security concerns.

Chernus lists three "myths" about Israel's security. I will only discuss the first one. It should be enough to show that Chernus is not being intellectually honest, to say the least.
Myth Number 1: Israel’s existence is threatened by the ever-present possibility of military attack.
This is a straw man argument. I'm not aware of anyone who says that Israel's existence is threatened by any conventional military attack.

Israel's security posture is not aimed primarily at defending the existence of Israel. Rather, Israel's army is an almost unique position where it must defend its citizens from the threat of being wantonly attacked.

The US Army has no such worries. NATO members have no such worries. For them, all wars are far away and only soldiers are at risk. Israel is perhaps the only Western country in the world where every single citizen is under the credible threat of an attack in any given week.  


This simple fact, which Chernus ignores altogether, is the security issue that Israel faces. Chernus, for all his supposed analytical ability, does not even mention Hezbollah once in his article. It is as if the 2006 Lebanon war - where the hundreds of thousands of citizens in the northern part of the country were forced to become temporary refugees - never happened. Chernus downplays Hamas rockets and ignores the 40,000 more deadly and accurate rockets that are aimed, today, at Israel's population centers. And, as in 2006, it takes only one border incident to escalate into a full scale war.

Would such a war threaten Israel's existence? No. But such a war is still not acceptable. Concern about such a war is still a primary security issue. And those who cannot even acknowledge that this type of war is a possibility less than five years after the last one is either willfully blind or adhering to an agenda.

Chernus also downplays the possibility of a nuclear threat against Israel, with this almost unbelievable sentence:
While the Israeli government constantly sounds alarms about imagined Iranian nuclear weapons -- though its intelligence services now suggest Iran won’t have even one before 2015 at the earliest -- Israel remains the region’s only nuclear power for the foreseeable future.
Is Chernus really suggesting that a nuclear threat that is perhaps four years away is not a significant security concern? How can one take anyone who writes such a sentence seriously?

Moreover, only in 2007 did the world discover that Syria has a secret nuclear weapons program as well. Is Chernus so naive as to think that this is not a threat to Israel either? (Or does he believe that Syria just gave up, and is now a peaceful neighbor that can be trusted?)

In short, Chernus uses multiple false arguments to imply that Israel has no real security concerns.

So why is he purposefully mis-characterizing Israel's security posture?

The answer can be seen in how he sums up his article:

But what if the American public knew the facts...? What if every solemn reference to Israel’s “security needs” were greeted not with nodding heads, but with the eye-rolling skepticism it deserves? What if Israel’s endless excesses and excuses -- its claims that the occupation of the West Bank and the economic strangulation of Gaza are necessary “for the sake of security” -- were regularly scoffed at by most Americans?

It’s hard to imagine the Obama administration, or any American administration, keeping up a pro-Israel tilt in the face of such public scorn.
Chernus has an agenda - to turn the US against Israel.

That agenda is what drives his knowingly deceptive analysis. That agenda is what makes him downplay Iran's nuclear program and political program to surround Israel with Iranian satellites. That agenda is what makes him ignore Hezbollah's rockets and Syria's nuclear ambitions altogether.

And any analysis of Israel's security needs that is based on such an agenda is not worth the disk space it takes up.



Israel Matzav and Yisrael Medad have also written some criticisms of the piece, as did HuffPoMonitor in three parts:
http://hpmonitor.blogspot.com/2011/04/ira-chernus-and-more-myths-part-3.html
http://hpmonitor.blogspot.com/2011/04/ira-chernus-and-more-myths-part-2.html
http://hpmonitor.blogspot.com/2011/04/ira-chernus-and-more-myths-part-1.html