Netanyahu Shape-Shifts Iran Reality

When Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu visits Washington, he behaves like the master of all he surveys, his arrogance extending to his shape-shifting reality about Iran, with expectations of hearty applause for his claims and robust guffawing at his jokes, ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.

By Paul R. Pillar

Benjamin Netanyahu’s tiresome vilification of Iran has taken on the characteristics of a rote obsession that diverges farther and farther from truth, reality and his own ostensible objective. It is as if, in pursuing his real objective of keeping Iran ostracized, preventing any U.S. agreements with it, and keeping the specter of an Iranian threat permanently overshadowing everything else he’d rather not talk about, he has been reduced to a ritual, repetitive chant of “Iran bad, very bad” and does not care whether or not reflection on what he is saying shows it to make any sense.

Outside of the anti-Americanism that is heard so widely and often, it is hard to think of any other leader or government so dedicated to heaping calumnies unceasingly on another nation, at least one not currently waging war on the heaper’s country. Maybe some American Cold Warriors fixated on the Evil Empire came close.


Attacks on Iran occupied most of the first half of Netanyahu’s speech Tuesday to AIPAC. Haaretz accompanied a transcript of the speech with one of those graphics depicting the frequency with which particular words have been used. For the entire speech Iran was mentioned far more than any word other than Israel.

Maybe the relentlessness of this latest iteration of the chant reflects Netanyahu’s frustration over his recent failure to get the U.S. Congress to sabotage the nuclear negotiations with Iran by slapping on new, deal-breaking sanctions. Perhaps he also felt a need to amp up the attacks to bring attention back to the Iranian specter from the crisis in Ukraine.

Falsehoods continue to flow out of Netanyahu’s mouth on this subject. Maybe the technique of getting people to believe something if it is repeated often enough is working, as reflected by some of the same falsehoods coming out of the mouths of members of Congress.

He referred, for example, to the need for pressure to get Iranians to “abandon their nuclear weapons program.” No: according to the U.S. intelligence community, Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon, and Israeli intelligence does not disagree.

Netanyahu said that “Iran openly calls for our [i.e., Israel’s] destruction.” No: the former Iranian president who once made a metaphorical statement that got mis-translated into something along that line isn’t even around any more. Actually, the current Iranian government says if the Palestinian problem is resolved then it would be possible for Iran to extend formal recognition to the state of Israel.

Netanyahu asserted that Iran “continues to build ICBMs.” No: there is no evidence that Iran is building ICBMs or even intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Iran does have medium range ballistic missiles, but testing and development even of those has been quiescent lately.

In an opening sequence in the speech in which Netanyahu referred to medical and other humanitarian aid that Israel furnishes overseas, he said that Iran doesn’t do any such thing because “the only thing that Iran sends abroad are rockets, terrorists and missiles to murder, maim and menace the innocent.” No: actually Iran does provide medical and similar humanitarian aid.

The prime minister’s analytical assertions are similarly divorced from reality. In arguing for the deal-breaking, impossible-to-achieve objective of no Iranian enrichment of uranium, he said that “letting Iran enrich uranium would open up the floodgates” of “nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and around the world.”

But Iran already has been enriching uranium for some time, and no floodgates have opened. Even if Iran, contrary to its current policy, were to build a nuclear weapon, they still would be unlikely to open.

Netanyahu seemed to dare us not to take him seriously when, in a jarringly discordant note alongside all of the alarmism about a supposedly deadly and dire threat, he tried to crack a joke to accompany his falsehood about ICBMs: “You remember that beer commercial, ‘this Bud’s for you’? Well, when you see Iran building ICBMs, just remember, America, that Scud’s for you.” Hardy har har.

Glaringly absent from the tirade was any of the perspective of a person living in a glass house who should be careful about not throwing stones. For example, along with self-congratulation for medical aid Netanyahu said Israel has provided Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, there was no mention of the misery that Israel has inflicted on people living in the same territory through a suffocating blockade and military-inflicted destruction.

And alongside all of the alarums about a possible Iranian nuclear weapon there was of course no mention of Israel having the only nuclear weapons in the Middle East, totally outside any international control regime and with their existence not even admitted.

Nor was there any real application of logic to implications for policy, given that the most important policy fixture at the moment is the nuclear negotiation. If Netanyahu’s objective really were to assure prevention of an Iranian nuke, rather than assuring persistence of the issue of a possible Iranian nuke, the conclusion would be to support the negotiations rather than to try to sabotage them. Even if one believed all the calumnies, they are either irrelevant to the nuclear talks or all the more reason to hope they succeed.

Listening to a speech such as this, it is a wonder that many Israelis condone a leader who is offering his country unending conflict and confrontation. And it is a wonder that many Americans, including ones with admiration and fondness for Israel, are influenced by him. He is not acting in the best interests of the state they admire and love, let along in the interests of the United States.

The reciter of the primitive chants of hate against Iran has a narrower objective. As Henry Siegman observes, “To say that Netanyahu is not a visionary leader is an understatement. To be sure, he is a clever tactician who knows how to stay in office. That goal, which he believes is unbreakably linked to retaining his leadership of Israel’s political right wing, trumps every other domestic and international challenge that faces Israel.”

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

8 comments for “Netanyahu Shape-Shifts Iran Reality

  1. Giuseppe
    March 15, 2014 at 13:08

    The evidence shows is that Netanyahu was involved of poisoning Ariel Sharon, then the woman leader took over from Sharon went for a general election because the Ultra Orthodox clans wanted more money and refused to join the military as they Ultra Orthodox clans joined with Netanyahu who won his first ever election, than in his second election he became a lesser person; therefor, this Netanyahu shape-shifts can easily done on him in applying the same retarded mouth talk on Netanyahu as does on others and again you shall see him and others all crying foul!

  2. b
    March 12, 2014 at 19:20

    IDF: Iranian Arms Shipment Would Intensify Terror
    “For the first time, the IDF is releasing photos of Iran’s entire weapons shipment to Gaza terrorists. Iran attempted to hide its involvement, but the evidence is clear,” the IDF stated on Monday afternoon, when it exposed to the world the Iranian arms contained on the Gaza-bound ship that was intercepted last week by the Israeli navy.

    “We have solid information that proves Iran’s relationship with the shipment,” a senior IDF Intelligence officer said after a combined IDF task force from various units inspected the Klos-C ship and unloaded the weapons. Israel had blocked the shipment of Iranian arms, en route to Gaza, last week.

    “The containers were sealed in Iran and they have Iranian authenticity seals on them, including seals of the Iranian postal company,” he explained. “The cement bags that were used to hid the weapons were clearly marked as coming from Iran.”
    The Iranian arms shipment contained 181 heavy mortars, 400,000 bullets and dozens of M-302 rockets that have the capability to strike almost anywhere in Israel.

    “In the cargo hold of the ship, you can see that 100 out of 150 of the containers were transferred from Iran to Iraq,” the officer continued. “There they added additional containers and changed the loading form in order to make it look like the entire shipment came from Iraq. This can be cross-referenced with the documents that we discovered on the ship. Generally speaking, Iran was trying to hide its involvement in any form.”

    (Iran had denied its involvement after the ship was seized, with Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian saying that any claims of Iranian involvement were “baseless and false.”)

    The IDF report adds that the shipment would have equipped Gaza terrorist organizations with strike capabilities far exceeding those they currently hold.
    PM Netanyahu ), and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (L) examine dozens of mortar shells and rockets on display at military port in Eilat. (Photo: Ariel Hermoni/Flash90)
    “We’re talking about weapons that are out of the ordinary; different from previous smuggling attempts. These warheads are far larger than other rockets [currently present in] Gaza. Take the rocket from Operation Pillar of Defense that hit a home in Rishon Lezion. That rocket destroyed one floor. This warhead would have destroyed the entire building.”

    “I heard only isolated and weak condemnation of Iran from the international community regarding this deadly shipment,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, speaking from the Eilat port where the ship was unloaded.
    “By contrast, we are witness to smiles and handshakes of representatives of the West with representatives of Iran in Tehran at the very time that these missiles were being unloaded,” he added, apparently referring to EU Policy Chief Catherine Ashton’s weekend trip to the Islamic Republic for discussions.
    Citing “more evidence of the era of hypocrisy in which we live,” the Israeli leader said Iran’s “goal was to have rained down on the heads of Israel’s citizens…. We are revealing the truth behind the deceiving smiles of Iran, to expose the delusion that Iran is changing direction.

    “Just as Iran hid its deadly missiles in the belly of this ship, Iran is hiding its actions and its intentions in many of its key installations for developing nuclear weapons.”

    “This time there were long-range missiles in these containers. In the containers in the future Iran can arm nuclear suitcases that it can send to every port in the world,” the Israeli leader warned. “The world must wake up from its illusions before it is too late.”

    “My message today is simple,” Netanyahu stated. “Those engaged in self-deception must waken from their slumber. We cannot allow Iran to continue building nuclear weapons…. Tomorrow, the whole world could be involved.”

    Prime Minister Netanyahu sticks up for Israel and its survival against the rogue state of iran, which gets a free pass by all of the radical islam ass kissers.

  3. March 9, 2014 at 23:57

    the chosen people have affectively locked themselves in a cage

  4. gsr
    March 8, 2014 at 01:59

    Great article. And so brave to write so in the west. Just can’t understand the great love that whites, yes whites, have for Israel? Is it a racist thing? Biblical based Christian thing? Islamaphobia? Holocaust guilt?
    Other parts of world don’t care, but for whites of all stripes, dedication to Israel is an obsession!

    • JayDee
      March 19, 2014 at 10:42

      How many Americans did Israel “accidentally” kill on the “liberty”?

      We should get that many for free, at least. Plus a couple more GRATIS just for all the aggravation Israel has caused us over the years as thanks for our seemingly unlimited, unwavering, and always blind, support of the “51st State”. Which oddly still receives US taxpayer dollars from the “We Can’t Afford to Help Old People and Children, and We’ll Fight To The End The Slave Yoke of Health Care Coverage” US Government, which is busily de-funding the “other 50 states”.
      They say there’s just no money to spend on the actual citizens of THIS country. Well, to be sure, that’s not counting that trillion or so dollars for the Pentagon and their many contractors, doubly- burdened as they all are by the weight of their great responsibilities in operating on our behalf, and on behalf of, our soldiers. To which they respond in the best American business tradition, by defrauding us on an ongoing basis in the form of open-ended procurement contracts for their overpriced weapons, which we only need because their associates in the Intelligence Agency divisions of the government corporation, first helped engineer a “need” by creating a clusterf*ck somewhere, or evidence someone was planning to create one for us. Oh, and they also bear the burden of not paying much, if anything, in corporate taxes. Heck, sometimes we give ’em bonuses for creating less fraud than average, or incorporating sufficient quality into a system to allow it to perform the job for which it was designed without requiring daily maintenance.
      And those intelligence agencies, if they wanted to provided us actual usable “intelligence”, would just tell us they pretty much run the country’s foreign policy as a shadow government running independently of the regular puppet show. Creating rebellions and uprisings, committing the occasional assassination, creating false intelligence to manipulate citizens and Representatives into supporting someone or not. They can keep our focus on select agendas of their choosing, to better direct the flow and level of interest, resources, time, and most importantly, money, into the pockets of one or more of the corporate divisions of the regime, Arms, Oil, Agriculture, Media, Communications, and of course, Finance. Collectively, they pretty much constitute the replacement for our republic, and our freedoms, which we weren’t using much anyway when we had them. Not nearly enough.
      But we now know our place in the pecking order, so at least they’ve clarified that for us lowly non-millionaire US citizens who obviously don’t count because we don’t exist. Because they just really, really, really want us not to exist. Because we keep on insisting on stupid requirements, like on government actually fulfilling it’s mandate to serve the people. See, that just shows how naive we are, having obviously been taken in by those evil promoters of government largesse: ourselves, apparently, because we ask for something, anything, in return for our tax dollars other than another excuse as to why we must give it to somebody who has far too much already.

  5. W Johns
    March 6, 2014 at 11:31

    Why dose America not invade Israel and carry out regime change and save Israel from it’s self.
    I cannot believe the Israeli public are that stupid that they actually support this man do they really think the world is going to allow this situation to continue.

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