Blumenthal accuses others of naïveté, but it is he who is the naïf. He condescendingly accuses Aluf Benn, editor in chief of the left-wing Haaretz newspaper, of “underestimat[ing] the prime minister’s cynical gamesmanship” for failing to realize that the real purpose of Bibi Netanyahu’s “hysterical rhetoric” regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program was to take the world’s attention away from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. (Does anyone else in the world think Bibi was only kidding about Iran?)
"Only kidding" is a nice straw man. But has any one else postulated that Netanyahu’s focus on Iran serves to distract his public from the occupation? Have any serious people done so?
- David Rothkopf, CEO and Editor-at-Large of Foreign Policy, “The Great Distraction,” Foreign Policy, March 5, 2012:
For both the United States and Israel, whose leaders are meeting Monday to discuss how to handle Tehran’s nuclear program, Iran should be called the Great Distraction.By focusing on Iran, indeed by having some among Israel’s top leaders seemingly obsessed about it, Israel is ignoring (or seeking an excuse to ignore) the real existential threats on and within its own borders — demographic, social, and economic.
- Zehava Gal-On, chairwoman of the Israeli Meretz Party, quoted in the Jerusalem Post, June 16, 2013:
Netanyahu uses the Iranian threat whenever he wants to distract the public from the country’s real problems.
(Gal-On has said “the continued occupation” is Israel’s biggest problem.)
- Daniel Levy, former Israeli negotiator, “Maximum Bibi,” Foreign Policy, September 27, 2013:
There are other reasons for Netanyahu to oppose any developments that would allow Iran to break free of its isolation and win acceptance as an important regional actor with which the West engages. The current standoff is an extremely useful way of distracting attention from the Palestinian issue…
- Roger Cohen, columnist, “Bibi’s Tired Iranian Lines,” The New York Times, October 3, 2013:
Netanyahu’s credibility issue is rooted in the distorted priorities evident in a speech that was Iran-heavy and Palestine-lite. The real challenge to Israel as a Jewish and democratic nation is the failure to achieve a two-state peace with the Palestinians and the prolongation of a West Bank occupation that leaves Israel overseeing millions of disenfranchised Palestinians…Iran has long been an effective distraction from the core dilemma of the Jewish state: Palestine.