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How Netanyahu Seeks to Change US Elections By Pushing War with Iran

Although Obama has ruled out US participation in a strike against Iran before the election, Israel has already won by setting the lens that America sees the Middle East through.

Driven by fear that a second-term Obama administration won’t be as lenient towards Israeli expansionism and dispossession of Palestinians as a Republican (or even a first term Obama) administration, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to use Iran to change the course of the US election. While Netanyahu’s call for a strike against against Iran’s nuclear facilities has kept Washington silent on discussing Palestinians, he is looking to make that permanent by shepherding a coalition of right wing Western support to push America into another Middle East war.

In his effort to generate a GOP president in 2013, the Israeli PM is trying to create a US policy and discussion that sees the Middle East as a conflict zone between Tehran and Tel Aviv, where Ramallah and the future of Jerusalem are effectively erased. It is a policy shift that Netanyahu has seen it work in Canada and now he’s betting it will pay off at the big table.

Just ahead of his trip to Washington to meet with Obama and rally AIPAC to pressure Obama into supporting an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program, Netanyahu unveiled his government’s red lines for an Iranian strike in the halls of Canada’s Parliament. Amidst a backdrop of intertwined Canadian and Israeli flags, Canada’s conservative PM Stephen Harper repeated Netanyahu’s talking points on the perceived threat posed by Iran.

While expressing preference for a peaceful resolution -- a step down from Canadian pro war comments in the weeks prior, Harper ultimately gave Israel Canada’s public approval for a strike. “We, of course, recognize the right of Israel to defend itself as a sovereign state, as a Jewish state,” Harper said after expressing his hope that Israeli demands (which include Iran ending all domestic uranium enrichment) are achieved through sanctions.

“Certainly when push comes to shove and the Israelis decide to do something unilaterally, you won’t find Canada criticizing it,” said Rex Brynen, a long time Middle East analyst for the Canadian Government and Political Science professor at McGill University. “You will almost certainly find, I suspect, Canada making statements that are effectively supportive of it,” he added over the phone from Montreal.

Canada has traditionally exercised a foreign policy that has been in line with the US and when there were differences, like Vietnam and Iraq, Canada attempted to temper the impact of US military interventionism. Yet, since 2006 when Harper came to power and Israel went to war in Lebanon, Canada’s foreign policy has echoed the Israeli perspective louder than any other G8 country.

Despite being America’s largest trading partner and oil provider, Canada’s foreign policy perspectives on the Middle East carry little weight in Washington. However, Canada (a NATO member) does sit at a lot of international tables that Israel doesn’t and since Harper’s rise to power in 2006, Canada hasn’t been shy about pushing Israeli demands, even over US ones.

An emphatic supporter of Israel’s 2008-2009 war on Gaza, Canada has worked at the UN and international bodies it sits on to strengthen Israeli positions on the Middle East and provide cover for its continued repression and occupation of Palestinians.

Most notably this was seen during the 2011 G8 summit where Canada nixed any reference to the 1967 borderlines for a Palestinian state in a call for the resumption of Israeli/Palestinian negotiations. “That is probably the most significant thing we have done because it would have been unthinkable for Canada to torpedo a US diplomatic initiative on the Middle East in the past,” said Brynen who also specializes in peace-building and has consulted for the UN. “On Israel/Palestine, clearly this [Canadian] government shares the views of the Netanyahu government on dynamics and what the problem is,” he adds, referencing Israel’s perception of Iran and denial of the impact of its treatment of Palestinians.

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