Thursday, December 20, 2007

Boston Legal

An episode of Boston Legal that appeared recently on Israel’s HOT cable network had a scene with William Shatner playing the buffoon who runs an important law firm, and his younger alter-ego colleague played by James Spader. The two were ostensibly sitting on a balcony of their opulent offices overlooking Boston, smoking thick dark expensive cigars, discussing modern diplomacy and the US part in it. Bomb Iran, said Shatner, in the staccato dialogue that flies across the airwaves laden with innuendo and political commentary.

But was this show a commentary of how the US public thinks, or just the writers, or both.
In Argentina the Justice Department prosecutor Dr. Alberto Nisman revised an earlier ruling and issued a report that Iran, through its Hezbollah proxy, aided by Syria, was in fact responsible for the Buenos Aires bombings in the early 1990s that killed scores of people. In 1992 a bomb laden pick-up truck ran into the Israeli Embassy entrance, killing 29 and wounding 242, mostly Argentineans, including children, and Catholics in an adjacent church.

In 1994 a bomb destroyed the Asociacion Mutal Israelit Argentina (Argentine Israelit Mutual Association or AMIA) killing 85 people, injuring hundreds, in Argentina’s deadliest bombing in the worst anti-Semitic attack outside Israel since the Holocaust. Reportedly Iran was furious over Argentina's cessation of nuclear cooperation with the Islamic Republic.

Juan Jose Galeano, the original investigating judge, concluded that Iran was not responsible for the blasts, but rather a local maniac were tossed out when it became known the judge had paid $440,000 to a policeman to give false testimony. Testimony that exonerated Iran, and put the blame elsewhere.

Needless to say, if the judge investigating the case was making payoffs to cops, it was logically assumed he was dipping deep into Iranian oil money to line his own pockets. Nisman has received the okay from Interpol to issue arrest warrants for several leaders in Teheran, including former president Hashemi Rafsanjani for ordering the bombings. Former Argentinean President Carlos Menem is also under investigation for his part in the cover-up.

In an interview quoted in the Jerusalem Post, Nisman said Tehran “..was incensed that Argentina, under former president Carlos Menem, had suspended and ultimately stopped what had been close cooperation with the Iranian nuclear program, including the training of nuclear technicians and the transfer of nuclear technology. At first Teheran tried to cajole Argentina into reconsidering, he said. Then it issued threats. And finally, it employed terrorism.”

The recent US report that the Iranians are not trying to develop a nuclear weapon sounds like chalk screeching on a blackboard. As one analyst wrote, with Iran awash in oil, gas, and coal, why do they need nuclear energy? The investment will never be returned. The Iranians have not shown themselves to be tree-hugging liberals worried about the environment. So what, the analysts ask, is the Iranian motive in racing to develop nuclear energy if not to siphon off the uranium for nefarious purposes?

While Israel frets over this latest turn of events, Kassam rockets continue t fall on Sderot. On Thursday a boy was injured when a Kassam rocket fell on his school, crashing into his classroom. A few days earlier a woman suffered from shock when a Kassam smashed into her home.

Israel, under the leadership of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, has gotten rougher with those firing missiles from Gaza. On Monday Israeli missiles destroyed a car carrying one of the leading Islamic Jihad commanders, and six of his cohorts. Every day the IDF is responding to the missile threat with surgical strikes by helicopter and missiles, or by pilotless drones targeting known militants. The IDF has also conducted a number of raids into Gaza, pulling back into Israel with Islamic Jihad or Hamas prisoners.

Hamas has said it is ready for a “Hudna”, a cease-fire. Israel has spurned this entreaties. Pundits believe that Israel has heard enough of Hamas’ good intentions, which are more in word than deed. Israel and the US have tried to isolate Hamas, ignoring the terrorist group and their leaders as if they don’t exist. The PA’s Mohammed Abas is made out to be the leader of the Palestinians. He is to receive hundreds of millions of dollars from the US and the EU for the Palestinians. Hamas is to receive nothing.

Experts as how realistic is this approach? Hamas won an election, and now controls Gaza with an iron fist. The PA was easily defeated. The Palestinians, according to most surveys, still distrust the PA, believing it to be an ‘old boys’ network out to keep each other rich and in power with little or nothing filtering down to the people in the streets.

However a recent poll showed that Hamas was losing favor among the population. While Hamas began as a grass roots movement aimed at alleviating the suffering and poverty of the Palestinians, it is now perceived, much to the joy of the Israelis and US, as a ruthless dictatorship bent of controlling Gaza at any cost.

Yusuf, a Palestinian handyman from the Hebron area, said even under Arafat there
Arabs didn’t kill Arabs. But today Hamas kills anyone who disagrees with the party line.
The Palestinians in Gaza, according to the poll, who do not support Hamas now live in fear. The soup kitchens and charity work that made Hamas popular has stopped. Reportedly only Hamas activists receive the largesse dolled out by the party.

Does this mean a revolution is in the wings? Not likely. There is no one other than the Israeli army to take on Hamas. And Israel is of two minds about dealing with Hamas. Some politicians want to talk to Hamas, others want to invade Gaza and destroy the place.

Lebanon meanwhile simmers on the back burner of international attention. Hezbollah is still powerful, controlling the events in the south. Syria is still blamed for the assassinations of leading Lebanese politicians opposed to Syrian involvement in their country. So far nearly a dozen legislators have died violently, including the late Prime Minister Harriri. Anyone who tries to oppose Syrian moves in Lebanon is in danger of assassination, and they know it.

Iran is still a major force in the region, supplying military advisers, weapons and supplies to those who oppose Israel and the US. Some believe that Iran is the real catalyst to the disruption in the Middle East and would like to see a regime change.

William Shatner may even had been expressing his own views when he said, “Bomb Iran,” but with a neutralized Iran the flame under the boiling kettle called Islamic Fundamentalism would go down to a flicker, and the stuff inside the simmering pot may just well evaporate.