Israel Has a Choice

A military that initiated a conflict with an extreme act of aggression obviously has a choice about whether to escalate, writes Caitlin Johnstone.

Iranian consulate near the Iranian embassy in Damascus after an Israeli airstrike on April 1. (Rajanews, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to Tim Foley reading this article. 

In an article titled “Israel vows to retaliate against Iran for missile attacks,” Axios’ Barak Ravid reports that the Israeli defense minister has informed his American counterpart that Israel “has no choice” but to attack Iran for the retaliatory strike it launched in response to Israel’s deadly attack on the Iranian embassy in Damascus.

“Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant told Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Sunday that Israel has no choice but to respond to the unprecedented missile and drone attack launched by Iran over the weekend,” reads the report, which cites an anonymous U.S. official and another unnamed source.

The state of Israel has been churning out massive lies on a daily basis for the last six months, but this whopper could wind up being the most consequential.

Obviously Israel has a choice as to whether it continues to escalate a conflict it initiated with an extreme act of aggression. This fraudulent apartheid ethnostate is so accustomed to crying victim every minute of every day that it will even pretend to be the victim of its own conscious decisions.

 As professor Jason Hickel put it on Twitter,

“People need to understand that Israel *does not* need to retaliate. Iran’s action was a telegraphed response to Israel’s bombing of its consulate, which killed 16 people and violated the Vienna Convention. Iran says they now consider the matter closed. Israel must de-escalate.”

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri has made it clear that if Israel launches another attack against Iran, this time Iran’s response will be instantaneous instead of a 12-day grace period with Tehran giving neighboring countries and the United States a 72-hour advance warning to ensure minimal damage to Israel.

Predictably, the Biden administration is doing its usual phony schtick where it pretends to be a passive witness to all this, with White House National Security spokesman John Kirby telling the press that the administration’s White House plans to just “wait and see what the Israelis decide to do.” 

But as foreign policy analyst Tariq Kenney-Shawa noted of Kirby’s statement, “Israel will be using U.S.-supplied weapons, will have to coordinate with U.S. forces throughout the region, and will depend on the U.S. for missile defense when Iran responds.” 

So if the U.S. doesn’t actively plan the attack with Israel it doesn’t mean it won’t be involved in it on a fundamental level.

If Israel’s escalatory attack occurs, it will be because Washington allowed it to. 

If the U.S. informed Israel that it will instantly lose its pricey U.S. weapons supplies and Pentagon support if it attacks Iran, Israel would discover very quickly that it does in fact have a choice as to whether or not to proceed.

In an article for Foreign Policy, Netanyahu Wants War With Iran. Biden Can Prevent It.,” the Quincy Institute’s Trita Parsi argues that while U.S. President Joe Biden’s unconditional support for Israel is often described as a continuation of longstanding U.S. policy, it has actually been a rather dramatic break from the norm. 

Presidents such as Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have not hesitated to give Israel’s arm a twist whenever they found it necessary to advance U.S. interests in the region. 

This new policy of just letting Tel Aviv do whatever it wants while providing unconditional support is actually without precedent in the White House.

Both Israel and the U.S. are pretending to be powerless in this situation, when in reality they’re anything but that. They’re like two muggers getting ready to mug someone and saying “If only there was something we could do to stop this terrible mugging!”

Israel absolutely can choose not to accelerate toward a terrifying war between extremely powerful militaries, and the U.S. absolutely can choose to pump the brakes. The fact that neither of them is doing so is just what it looks like when you live under a globe-spanning empire that is fueled by human blood.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

15 comments for “Israel Has a Choice

  1. Realist
    April 18, 2024 at 02:44

    The planet’s future, or at least that of human civilisation, seems to be in the hands of two mentally deranged maniacs: Joe Biden, who is thoroughly demented by old age (actually he has always been quite mad, and evil, if you ask me) and Benjamin Netanyahoo, who exhibits a carbon copy of whatever mania it was that possessed Captain Ahab in the great American novel Moby Dick. Captain Yahoo has long been focussed, not on any whale or other species of marine life, but upon the destruction of Iran, though that country has never physically attacked Israel–or any other country aside from Iraq, which first attacked it! And at the behest of the United States, which sided with Saddam Hussein, until it spontaneously turned against Saddam, which the US then deceitfully blamed for the 9-11 attacks

    If Captain Yahoo cannot be dissuaded from his deep-seated resolve to demolish the entire civilisation of all Iran, plus the equally large collective population of the many Arab and/or Muslim states in the surrounding vicinity which his addled brain somehow mis-identifies as a place he calls “Greater Israel,” the whole world as we know it will surely come to an end in the nuclear cascade that Captain Yahoo virtually promises by threatening to use his well-larded stockpile of nuclear warheads… on Iran… which has no nukes… and renounced ever acquiring them. Honey badger don’t care and neither do Captain Yahoo.

    Theoretically, demented Lord Biden COULD at least try to stop Captain Yahoo from actually filling the role of the much promised and widely believed-in “Anti-Christ.” Find me a more plausible candidate for that role if he does succeed in destroying the whole cotton-picking world!? So far, Lord Biden has said to Captain Yahoo: No you may not escalate this any farther. Put the nukes away, get together with the mullahs and perform a miracle, i.e., settle your perfect little war without killing several (thousands? millions?, billions?) more Homo-sapiens. Will Captain Yahoo abide by his Lord Biden’s orders? Will his Lordship stick to his guns and remove the Captain from the equation, as he did with several gas pipelines? Well, that is what we are trying to find out. Will it be funny or ironical, as perhaps billions of us pawns on the chessboard of life may never learn the answer to that? (They say your entire nervous system is vaporised in the nuclear fireball before it can even transmit any signal from your pain receptors to the cognitive centers of your brain.)

  2. Roger Milbrandt
    April 17, 2024 at 19:35

    I nearly always share the sentiments Caitlin Johnstone expresses but I need to call the spade a space: this article is a poorly thought out.
    Johnstone makes two important claims: (1) Israel enjoys autonomy, for it can make its own decision on whether to retaliate to Iran’s attack of 14 April; and (2) Israel has no autonomy for the US can bully it by leveraging of its arms supply. I know that with a bit of legerdemain Ms. Johnstone will be able to square the conceptual circle but I think my observation points to a confusion about Israel and its relationship with the US that is not that easily dispelled. And she is by no means the only one lamed by this confusion.

    • Susan Siens
      April 18, 2024 at 16:35

      I think you are making this too complex — intentionally? Israel enjoys autonomy in one way — it can decide to escalate — but it is completely dependent upon the U.S. continuing to provide it with money (with which it then bribes U.S. politicians) and weapons. I can comprehend this paradox quite easily, but I know paradox is a difficult hurdle for those who don’t think.

      • Roger Milbrandt
        April 18, 2024 at 18:42

        I think you are making this too simple — intentionally.
        For starters, you are surely aware that the leverage Israel exercises over US action derives from many factors besides the only one you mentions, namely the use of grants from the US government to bribe US politicians.

  3. Mary Saunders
    April 17, 2024 at 15:55

    Independent exam of nukes has not happened, right? What the idf says about capability is on faith, right?

  4. Antonio Andolini
    April 17, 2024 at 14:18

    “Israel absolutely can choose not to accelerate toward a terrifying war between extremely powerful militaries, and the U.S. absolutely can choose to pump the brakes.”

    What are the chances of Israel behaving in a thoughtful and reasonable manner with respect to Iran, who they provoked beyond endurance with their cowardly attack on the Iranian consulate? Not very good, from where I stand. Especially when you consider that Israel has wanted war with Iran for decades, as long as they don’t have to fight them alone. No doubt, they are counting on the U.S. being drawn into the conflict to do most of the heavy fighting and to finish the job for them…that is the way they roll! Frankly, I think it is wishful thinking to expect the U.S. to “pump the brakes” in an attempt to prevent a very dangerous escalation in the middle east. And Iran has made it clear that if Israel attacks again their response will be instantaneous, with no advance warning in order to minimize the damage to Israel. If this conflict gets taken to the next level (and knowing Israel it will), it may end up involving the U.S., Russia, and China. The stakes will be too high for anyone to sit on the sidelines, as they all have vital interests in the region. Of course, this will lead us directly into WWIII, which, unfortunately, seems inevitable!

    On a more positive note, Iran striking back at the Old Testament savages with an assist from both Russia and China is a giant-step forward for the emerging BRICS alliance! For BRICS to succeed, Russia and China need to provide the same level of support for Iran that Uncle Sam and friends provide for the genocidal Zionist Jews of Israel. Iran is going to be severely tested in the days to come and they are going to need the support of Russia and China to weather the storm. If Iran goes the way of Iraq, BRICS will not succeed, and for the world to have any chance of freeing itself from the grip of the American led counterfeit Zionist empire BRICS must succeed. Failure is not an option!!!

    • J Anthony
      April 19, 2024 at 05:48

      It already IS WW3. It’s now a question of, can it end without a nuclear Armageddon, or not?

  5. Drew Hunkins
    April 17, 2024 at 12:36

    The biggest threat to the world right now is Israel’s 300 nuclear warheads and its professed Samson Option. If things get to this point we’re in a lot of trouble, all of humanity is in serious jeopardy. The Zionist lunatic sadists are reckless and arrogant enough, when push comes to shove, to exercise the ultimate choice.

  6. Vera Gottlieb
    April 17, 2024 at 10:27

    israel has been lying ever since it was founded…

  7. susan
    April 17, 2024 at 07:55

    Biden is a pro at doublespeak. He needs to stop this Israeli aggression right now or we will be entering WWIII. If Scott Ritter is scared about another Israeli attack on Iran – we should all be terrified!

  8. April 16, 2024 at 17:26

    “Lawrence Eagleburger, the State Department’s No. 2 official, flew to Israel in January 1991 with just a couple of days’ notice and a singular mission: stop Jerusalem’s far-right prime minister from hitting back at Iraq, even as that country’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, rained SCUD missiles down on Israel.


    Saddam’s SCUD missiles resulted in significantly more damage than the drones and missiles that Iran launched toward Israel Saturday, which caused no deaths and minimal damage. By the time Eagleburger arrived, the bombardment from Iraq had already killed 30 Israeli civilians.”


    But one big difference between 1991 and today throws into doubt any assumption that Israel’s response to Biden now will mirror its response to [George H.W.] Bush then. That difference is Israel’s leader.

    [Yitzhak] Shamir was, if anything, considered to the right of his hawkish predecessor, Menachem Begin. But no one ever doubted that his decision — whatever it turned out to be — would be totally independent from his own personal aims, and even his domestic political interests. Whether they agreed with him or not, most Israelis had faith that Shamir would make crucial strategic decisions based exclusively on his view of the nation’s best interest.

    Few have a similar confidence in Netanyahu.”

    Larry Cohler-Esses, “In 1991, Iraq Attacked. Israel’s Far-Right Leader Didn’t Retaliate. Is Netanyahu Capable of the Same Wise Choice?,” The Forward, April 15, 2024

  9. Caliman
    April 16, 2024 at 16:38

    Very, very well said.

    The gist of this is that:

    Israel is not special,

    Israel can no longer be allowed to play with special rules,

    The time for indiscriminately throwing weight around the world is over.

    It was always and ever a question of time. Nukes are an almost 80 year old technology now … rocketry and drones and AI are much more democratic weapons than the old days of expensive ships and planes. Nobody is out of reach and nobody is safe … we need to all be safe together.

    • Em
      April 17, 2024 at 09:24

      I get where you are coming from, but your paragraph comparing the applications of ’’Nuclear-age weaponry” to the effectiveness of political democracy as being more democratic!
      Are you serious?
      Bigotry is a latent potential in all of us, yet once it rears its ugly head, it tends to cause mental confusion in those afflicted and they begin to conflate apples with oranges.

      • Caliman
        April 17, 2024 at 18:04

        Well, as long as one side has modern weapons and the other not, you have tyranny and imperialism. One weapons are democratized between nations and peoples, there’s hope for better.

        • Susan Siens
          April 18, 2024 at 16:41

          I don’t even understand Em’s comment. Where’s the bigotry? Is it bigoted to state the truth about Israel? Does Em not understand that current warfare in Ukraine and the Middle East is being played very differently? How do the Houthis manage to drive a French warship from the Red Sea? (By constant harassment.) How do Hamas and the other Palestinian fighting organizations deal with the IOF? No, these guerrilla techniques cannot stand up to nuclear weapons and that is the concern; a rogue nation such as Israel can easily be pictured doing the unthinkable.

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