Israel Project Caught Faking Thousands of Names on Iran Petition

Comfeylovely, Viagra Kaufen Viagra, Porn Sex Video, Stupidwhiteman V., and Xbox 360 all signed the Israel Project’s petition for sanctions on Iran. Vince Vince was such a fan that he signed the  petition 220 times — from different states and a few that don’t exist. Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent breaks the story. The Israel Project’s founder and director, Jennifer Lazlo Mizrahi, claims they uploaded the “wrong file” for public viewing and will post the real one sometime soon.

Vince Vince signatures

The Israel Project made headlines this summer for the content of their debate guide, where they recommended pro-Israel supporters label the removal of settlements as “ethnic cleansing”! Since the American and Israeli publics both support the  removal of most settlements by huge margins — 60% – 70% — I don’t understand why the Israel Project is agitating keeping them.

This petition snafu is just another tool in the box of an organization that is underhanded in its support for Israel. If “support” is really what we can call these media tangles. I hope the Israel Project’s supporters see that at least under Mizrahi’s direction, the Israel Project hurts the future of Israel.

But is the Israel Project really in need of forging so many signatures to make the case for sanctions against Iran? If the Jewish community is indeed so in line behind sanctions, then why the fakery? Could it be that American Jews actually aren’t so single-minded?

I await the “real” list from Mizrahi.

41 Responses to “Israel Project Caught Faking Thousands of Names on Iran Petition”

  1. I’ll post the same thing I posted on a friend’s facebook account who had the same link.

    It seems as if this is not the Israel Project creating fake names. Rather, people signed the petition, with fake and inappropriate names, and the Israel Project was careless in advertising the numbers without playing close attention.
    Something like this: Jennifer: Look! We have 90,000 supporters. Jennifer’s co-worker: Great! You should promote that.
    Washington Independent: have you seen the names? Jennifer: crap, no.

    Careless, but not malignant. As for the issue with the settlements, I saw the report. It may have been in bad taste, but it wasn’t “please support the settlements.” It was rather “people have trouble supporting Israel because of the settlements. This is a way to make settlements palatable to people.” In my mind, it was saying that even if you oppose settlements, this is why their very existence isn’t as evil as you think. Again, I think it was in bad taste, and I am not saying I agree, but I don’t think the Israel Project is as evil as people try to paint them. (In fact, I don’t think they are evil at all, especially the ones I know personally).


    arie · December 12th, 2009 at 1:28 pm
  2. The U.S. should be applying sanctions on Iran, even if every single American Jew is against the idea.


    Jonathan1 · December 12th, 2009 at 6:38 pm
  3. arie — The Israel Project and/or their supporters are lying. In either case, it casts doubt on their work if this is what passes for management. I’ve run four campaigns before and never once did I not double-check the list of names for this very reason.

    Jonathan1 — In no foreseeable case will sanctions prevent Iran from getting a nuke. Sanctions is an attempt for you to make yourself feel good for “doing something.” Meanwhile, the average Iranian will blame the West for their economic plight and starvation while the Iranian leadership will get off free and still produce a nuke in a decade or sooner.

    The Jewish community is being childish and seeking to hurt Iranians rather than acknowledge that the time to do something about Iran’s nukes was 20 years ago.


    Kung Fu Jew · December 12th, 2009 at 7:34 pm
  4. The Jewish community is being childish and seeking to hurt Iranians rather than acknowledge that the time to do something about Iran’s nukes was 20 years ago.

    You’re probably right.


    Jonathan1 · December 12th, 2009 at 8:16 pm
  5. KFJ’s explanation of what motivates sanctions, the need to do something, is what also motivates many military actions. And the lack of thinking about how the sanctions would be used by the Iranian government as an excuse to crack down harder on reformers, also applies to military actions. We need to be more creative about “doing something” in these situations.


    r · December 12th, 2009 at 10:03 pm
  6. KFJ,

    You seem to have a thing for ascribing immorality and foul motives to people who disagree with you. If the Israel Project was really planning to “forge signatures” what’s the likelihood that they’d use names like “Comfeylovely, Viagra Kaufen Viagra, Porn Sex Video, Stupidwhiteman V., and Xbox 360″?

    What do you think? Wouldn’t it be a tad craftier to use, oh I dunno, semi-plausible names like “Robert Colleti”, “Mary Anderson”, “Kwaje Lejuene” and “Melanie Cohen”?

    There, that wasn’t so hard. I made up four names in 10 seconds. Think a deception-inclined TIP might be able to manage a similar feat? It’s hard for me to believe that you’ve genuinely never seen the vast amounts of spam that online forms and petitions are subjected to. Why not just wait for them to upload the proper file instead of loudly jumping out with accusations of “fakery”?


    Eric · December 14th, 2009 at 2:28 pm
  7. KFJ you said: “Jonathan1 — In no foreseeable case will sanctions prevent Iran from getting a nuke. Sanctions is an attempt for you to make yourself feel good for “doing something.””

    Which is why a combination of intelligence activity, sabotage, economic attacks, regime subversion and military operations will be required to prevent the Islamic Republic from building nuclear weapons and delivery systems. It’s correct that economic sanctions alone are unlikely to succeed. (Though sanctions combined with focused subversion might.)

    “Meanwhile, the average Iranian will blame the West for their economic plight and starvation while the Iranian leadership will get off free and still produce a nuke in a decade or sooner.”

    Nope — history indicates the opposite. Western sanctions against South Africa didn’t make South Africans anti-Western — they convinced the South African leadership that the national sociopolitical structure was unsustainable.

    There are strict Western sanctions on North Korea. North Koreans don’t hate the West; they’re desperate to find some way to go there.

    American and Western economic pressure (and outright economic attacks) against the Soviet and Communist economies only forced more popular pressure against Communist governments.

    Anti-Zimbabwean sanctions have only helped generate greater street pressure against the Mugabe regime; not anti-Western “blame”.

    There’s no indication that anti-Myanmar sanctions have made the Burmese people anti-Western or pro-government.

    The pattern goes on. The potential downside of anti-Iran sanctions is small. The Iranian people hate their rulers plenty — sanctions will give fuel to their emotions and an impetus to action while kicking at the legs of the regime’s political stability.


    Eric · December 14th, 2009 at 2:33 pm
  8. The pattern goes on. The potential downside of anti-Iran sanctions is small. The Iranian people hate their rulers plenty — sanctions will give fuel to their emotions and an impetus to action while kicking at the legs of the regime’s political stability

    Maybe Eric is right. Hell, the whole thing is so confusing and frightening that I thank HaShem that I don’t have to make the call on these questions.


    Jonathan1 · December 14th, 2009 at 2:46 pm
  9. No one, not even hard left peacenik liberals, are arguing that Iran is NOT building nuclear weapons. Everyone knows that they are. Everyone.

    Whatever KFJ is proposing – not even sanctions – is currently being tried by Obama, as Iran chuckles and builds.

    No military action. No sanctions. But we’ve still got MAD, right? Well, let’s find out.

    If Israel is nuked by Iran, is it just for Israel to obliterate the Iranian nation (70 million people) in a counterstrike?

    There goes MAD.

    Why don’t we just line Jews up and shoot each other in the head simultaneously, Massada style? The world will be so much simpler and more peaceful without Jews.


    Avigdor · December 14th, 2009 at 4:56 pm
  10. Nope — history indicates the opposite. Western sanctions against South Africa didn’t make South Africans anti-Western — they convinced the South African leadership that the national sociopolitical structure was unsustainable.

    Eric, there’s no hope of sanctions preventing a nuke, for several reasons:

    1. Russian and China will not sanction Iran to the degree necessary; they profit too much directly from America’s embargo.

    2. Impoverishing Iran’s public will unite the Iranian people, not divide them from their government.

    First, sanctions work when the major economic powers sanction together — presently America and Europe already sanction Iran. What is missing is China and Russia and it is against their national interests to do so. From Flynn and Hillary Leverett, former NSC members and Iran experts in the NY Times:

    For three years, Moscow has given just enough on sanctions to keep the nuclear issue before the Security Council, because Russian officials calculate that is the best way to constrain unilateral American action. But Russia has consistently watered down any sanctions actually authorized. Senior Russian diplomats continue to say that Moscow has not agreed to support any specific additional measures. Moscow may well acquiesce to a marginal expansion of existing sanctions, but it will not accept substantial costs to its own economic and strategic interests by supporting significantly tougher steps.

    China may also agree to a marginal expansion of existing sanctions, but will not endorse measures that hurt important Chinese interests. An Obama administration proposal that Saudi Arabia “replace” the oil China now imports from Iran completely misreads Beijing’s energy security calculus.

    China is not only continuing to buy large amounts of Iranian oil, Chinese energy companies are also now developing substantial investment positions there — justifiably confident that Washington will not sanction Chinese firms over energy investments in Iran. Chinese military officials are particularly focused on the potential for Iranian hydrocarbons to come to China through pipelines running across Central Asia, rather than through seaborne routes vulnerable to American naval interdiction. Iran is the only Persian Gulf country that can offer China such diversification of supply sources and transit routes.

    Second, because I have friends who were born and raised in Iran, it has been pressed into my head that Iranians — even wealthier, upper-class and globally-mobile Iranians — have no love of the “West,” even if they buy our music. The West is Britain and the US, who both profitted from Britain’s colonial control of Iran’s oil. Freeing themselves from Western exploitation is their national identity.

    Ahmadinejad has already maneuvered the West as scapegoats for everything from the democracy riots to processed gas shortages. Indeed, it’s a staple of Iranian politics to blame outside, Western/Zionist forces for everything bad that happens. And while a great many Iranians are skeptical of their government’s blame games, they (sadly) largely still hold antipathy for Britain, America and Israel. However much the Iranians dislike their own government, they do not hate them with any degree of passion that would ally them with America.

    If you’re going to make a list of cases where sanctions did work, you’ll need to make a list of cases where sanctions failed — and the list is much, much longer.

    Furthermore, there’s a few holes in your list:

    A) North Korea already has the nuke, the game here is containment, not prevention. You’ll note that one of the tightest sets of sanctions in history didn’t prevent them from building their nuke and who suffered from the sanctions — the little people, while Kim Jong Il’s government rode safe and sound. Neither are China, South Korea, Japan and Russia eager to do business with their non-existant oil fields and pipeline routes.

    B) The Soviet bloc fell for a whole cornucopia of reasons — one of the largest of which was economic mismanagement, the lesser among which was an economic blockade. You’re comparing apples to watermelons. And once again, this is not a case of nuclear proliferation!

    C) Zimbabwe and D) Mayanmar are cases where a significant domestic consituency is Neither are cases of nuclear proliferation. Neither are cases where major powers are vying for access to natural resources. Neither are cases where any world power has significant self-interest. I think it’s also worth noting that neither can claim great success on the fronts you credit them for.

    On the last matter, you’re far too glib about “potential downsides” of sanctions. The potential downside of anti-Iran sanctions is pretty dire actually — in a simulation at Harvard, the results of sanctions were the following:

    The U.S. team — unable to stop the Iranian nuclear program and unwilling to go to war — concluded the game by embracing a strategy of containment and deterrence. The Iranian team wound up with Russia and China as its diplomatic protectors. And the Israeli team ended in a sharp break with Washington.

    No where have we mentioned yet the consequences wrecked on the Iranian public. Like Mugabe, Kim Jong Il, and the Soviet rulers, the public will suffer while the rulers remain safe.

    Now if Iranians were openly calling for people to sanction or boycott their government, then we could agree to their recommendation. But by every measure of Iranian public opinion, they DO NOT support further impoverishment of themselves. I hear it again and again from my Iranian friends — the one factor uniting the Iranian political parties and the Iranian diaspora is opposing further sanctions. (The token Iranians found at the pro-Israel rallies are, amusing enough, advocates of reinstalling the Shah to power.)

    For all these reasons and more, I think sanctions is just you feeling good about yourself for “doing something.” Especially when the human rights activists in Iran are begging us to do anything BUT sanctions, lest we squash their whole movement through political idiocy.


    Kung Fu Jew · December 14th, 2009 at 5:25 pm
  11. For the record, I agree with KFJ. Sanctions are almost never effective. Despite wide claims to the contrary, we still don’t know exactly what effect sanctions had on South Africa (they have not yet declassified state files from that era). Sanctions have failed decisively with every major international pariah: North Korea, Cuba, Iraq… even Israel (if you consider the Arab/Muslim boycott of Israel a form of sanctions).

    Military action is more humane than sanctions. In a situation where military action is impractical, and where a state does not pose a threat to its neighbors, sanctions may have some limited value (as with Mugabe), but it is a bloody business.

    Iran qualifies for military action. Serious military preparations, such as deployment of several new squadrons of American aircraft in Iraq, including logistics, the prepositioning of naval assets and strategic bombing exercises in a friendly, nearby, mountainous nation (such as Georgia) would do more to help diplomatic efforts than any sanctions.


    Avigdor · December 14th, 2009 at 5:46 pm
  12. KFJ, apparently you didn’t read my comment. I agreed that sanctions alone are very unlikely to prevent Iran from building a nuclear arsenal.

    Hence I wrote: “Which is why a combination of intelligence activity, sabotage, economic attacks, regime subversion and military operations will be required to prevent the Islamic Republic from building nuclear weapons and delivery systems.”

    We’re in agreement: sanctions alone won’t succeed.

    My review of past sanction events specifically responded to your claim that because of sanctions “the average Iranian will blame the West for their economic plight and starvation while the Iranian leadership will get off free and still produce a nuke in a decade or sooner.”

    But that’s never happened before. The history of sanctions indicates that the scenario of mass Iranian resentment of the West, and support for their own tyrannical government, is unlikely. It hasn’t happened in dictatorships in the past and doesn’t happen today. It would not be a strong policy argument against sanctions.

    Most Iranians despise their regime and admire America. (Iran has the most pro American population in the Middle East.) Iranian popular anti-Britishism has never extended to the US and Iranians well understand that their government today tries to leverage anti-Britishism into a more general anti-Western/anti-American sentiment for propaganda purposes. They don’t buy it.

    I’m amazed that you throwaway the notion of Iran “produc[ing] a nuke in a decade or sooner”. A decade?! Do you have any idea how much time a decade would give Western countries and the Iranian resistance to demolish the Islamic Republic government once and for all? It would be a virtual miracle. If sanctions alone could accomplish a decade of lead time they’d be well worth pursuing.

    The more realistic course, however, is a holistic policy that includes sanctions as one element.

    Most of the published reports suggest Iran having a nuclear bomb within 12 months.


    Eric · December 15th, 2009 at 2:05 am
  13. Ah, the old “sign a petition you’re against with an ironic name” trick. Much like those people, apparently named “Boycott Saudi Arabia” who sign petitions to boycott Switzerland.


    Spiff · December 15th, 2009 at 2:51 am
  14. But that’s never happened before.

    Never? Where are you basing this magical infallibility?

    Most Iranians despise their regime and admire America.

    This just gets better. I’m going to have to show this to some Iranians. Maybe it will help them understand the Jewish community.

    Iranian popular anti-Britishism has never extended to the US

    Never? So Iranian students took 53 hostages at the US embassy in 1981 in retaliation for US support of the deposed Shah…because we spoke English? Maybe they confused our accents with the British.

    They don’t buy it.

    Please, Facebook an Iranian citizen and have a conversation. They may not “buy” it, but they see the world in entirely different roles of good guys and bad guys.

    A decade?!

    The most alarmist estimates count their nuclear horizon with an egg timer. Others forecast a decade. I chose to be inclusive.

    The more realistic course, however, is a holistic policy that includes sanctions as one element.

    Throw everything and the kitchen sink? If you read my post above, you’ll see that I’m making the case that sanctions will drive Iran into the arms of China and Russia, reduce America’s influence in the region, and separate Israel from the US. If Iran has a nuke, then I want positive relations with them, not a simmering WW III on Israel’s doorstep.

    If I could draw a political cartoon of the region, I would draw Obama teetering precariously on a balance beam with a glass Iraq in one hand and a glass Afghanistan in the other. Beside him on the floor would stand Ahmadinejad poking Obama’s knee with a nuke, saying “Go ahead, try to take it away…”

    Sanctions are an inappropriate tactic. They’re not going to accomplish the goal, they’ll be counterproductive, and they will harm innocents. It’s a no-go.


    Kung Fu Jew · December 15th, 2009 at 2:58 am
  15. Eric, you really should toss the pro-America stuff out the window. No one loves America enough to get starved or bombed over it. I don’t like Obama’s policies and I think his policies will destroy the American economy. That doesn’t mean I want China to nuke us first.

    What do you have, exactly, against bombing Iranian nuke sites?

    As for KFJ, if you think Iran is interested in a friendly relationship with the US on anything except its own terms – regional hegemon, end of support for Israel, etc. – you’re more delusional than Eric. Obama extended his open hand to the Iranians already, remember? They grabbed him by the wrist, flung him over one knee and appear to be engaged in a prolonged spanking session. The only thing Obama’s inaction is doing is throwing the Arabs into a panic that America’s security guarantees are worthless, which is something American allies around the world seem to be experiencing the last year or so.

    I have to give it to Obama. Either he masterfully pulls a miracle out of this heap of garbage of a foreign policy he’s got going on, or we and our (once upon a time) allies are about to get royally screwed in ways that will leave us with nothing but hope and change.


    Avigdor · December 15th, 2009 at 4:15 am
  16. Avigdor, I think the only proper course is a policy of containment. There isn’t anything that can be done about the nukes, in my opinion. If Iran will have them in 12 months, it’s waaaay too late.

    I’m really interested in this idea that when Iran gets the nuke, the sky will fall. Folks, PAKISTAN has the bomb and they’re a hell of a lot less stable than Iran. They have plenty of fundamentalists. What holds them in check? India. India has the nuke.

    I want to throw something out there:

    Iran gets the nuke. America extends Israel a nuclear umbrella. Israel can no longer invade neighbors with impunity. The Arab world feels more secure against Israeli unilateral actions. Israel’s military deterrance remains secure under America’s protection. Equilibrium is reached. No longer the sole regional superpower, Israel sees that peaceable/passable relations with neighbors is the only option left. A cold war with Iran ensues, certainly to be broken at some later date down the road. In the meantime, life goes on.


    Kung Fu Jew · December 15th, 2009 at 12:09 pm
  17. I’d like to chime in with a few points here:

    1> Iranian public opinion is not a zero-sum game, they do not either support their government or support the west. There is a whole spectrum in between, and Avigdor is quite right to assert that “no one [in Iran at least] loves America enough to get starved or bombed.”

    2> Contrary to Eric’s belief there is every indication that sanctions, alone or as part of a wider strategy, will be the kiss of death to the Iranian opposition. In this instance the domestic political arena inside Iran IS a zero-sum game; anybody who doesn’t speak out forcefully against the sanctions will be accused of supporting the deprivation and misery of the Iranian people. Sanctions will be the perfect policy option to promote universal statements of support from across the political spectrum for the position of the Iranian government. Do I need to remind you that the most recent nuclear deal fell apart because Ahmedinejad’s government was criticized BY ALL SIDES for trading away Iran’s Nuclear Rights?
    As for Iranian public opinion and the statement that, “The history of sanctions indicates that the scenario of mass Iranian resentment of the West, and support for their own tyrannical government, is unlikely. It hasn’t happened in dictatorships in the past and doesn’t happen today.” It is wrong, not really because of what it says but primarily because of what it omits. It fails to appreciate the particularities of the Iranian context, a situation that is full of justifiable mistrust of Washington’s intentions on the part of politicians AND the people.

    3> Finally, as to the James Bond option(Little bit of a Straw Man, I know. I just couldn’t resist); this idea that “a combination of intelligence activity, sabotage, economic attacks, regime subversion and military operations will be required to prevent the Islamic Republic from building nuclear weapons and delivery systems.” It’s simply misinformed, the consensus of the intelligence community in the US is that Iran has the industrial and technological capacity to build a nuclear bomb, and that they cannot be stopped if they chose to proceed. Damaging that capacity will only delay the eventual acquisition a little, if at all.


    Sean · December 15th, 2009 at 2:14 pm
  18. Sean, yes, Iran may have, in the near term, the technological and industrial capacity to develop a nuclear weapon and deploy it, but they don’t today. At the same time, I think it is incontestable that destroying even a portion of the exposed industrial systems Iran relies on will set their programs back. Furthermore, a serious operation that causes massive damage to core facilities, inflicting billions of dollars in damage on the Iranian program will certainly set a precedent to guide future Iranian behavior. I am not so convinced that the Iranians will keep investing tens of billions of dollars into facilities they know, with near certainty, will be destroyed. Saddam didn’t.

    The Iranians are calling the international bluff. They feel they have backed the West (and America in particular) in a corner. If America takes action, it assumes the risk of failure – and American leadership is today very risk averse. If America does nothing, the remaining restrains on Iranian behavior evaporate and the risks to what remains of regional stability proliferate exponentially. This is nothing more than a game of nuclear chicken. Will is everything. The Iranians have it. Obama doesn’t, yet. We’ll see.

    KFJ, I would argue that containing a nuclear armed Iran is an impossible task, for the same reason that preventing an Iranian nuke has become a near-impossible task. So long as the West is unwilling to take action – shock and awe style – Iran will keep calling our bluffs, because that’s all they are. No amount of sanctions will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Military force will.

    I want to throw something out there:

    I’ll go through it line by line.

    Iran gets the nuke.

    Let’s just be clear, they are not there yet.

    America extends Israel a nuclear umbrella.

    Why does Israel need America’s nuclear umbrella? Israel has a second strike capability. Mutually Assured Destruction has already been factored into Iranian planning. Extending America’s nuclear umbrella is prose, nothing more. On the other hand, the Iranians extending their nuclear umbrella over Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Shiite groups throughout the Gulf creates a different, serious and dire strategic reality that American foreign policy will be hard pressed to deal with.

    Israel can no longer invade neighbors with impunity.

    Great, so nothing will change. When has Israel invaded neighbors “with impunity”?! When it bombed an undeclared Syrian nuclear site? When it retaliated against Hezbollah for the murder and kidnapping of its soldiers on Israeli soil? When it retaliated against thousands of rockets launched against it by Hamas in Gaza? When it invaded Lebanon in ’82 to eliminate PFLP and PLO terrorist training camps, whose graduates were murdering Israelis in the north for a decade without reprisal? When it defended itself against a three front war in ’73 or ’67?

    KFJ, this word-smithing is not merely unjust, it is nonfactual, and you know better.

    The Arab world feels more secure against Israeli unilateral actions.

    Please name the Arab nations living in fear of unilateral Israeli actions. Again, this is pure hasbara, KFJ style. Israel has working security relationships with every Arab nation on its periphery, save Lebanon (which is a Syrian satellite), and then some. If anything, certain actors within the Arab world wish for Israel to be more aggressive, not less.

    Israel’s military deterrance remains secure under America’s protection.

    Israel’s military deterrence remains secure now. Israel does not require American military protection.

    Equilibrium is reached.

    If you think that Iran is developing nukes to reach a comfortable equilibrium, I think you have vastly misunderstood the situation. Iran may not use the nukes it builds, but it will leverage them for regional dominance to whatever extent it can. If that means leveraging Shiite groups throughout the region to destabilize or topple Arab governments, so be it. If that means continuing to support terrorist groups to destroy any prospect of Isreali-Palestinian peace, all the better. Iran is not aiming for equilibrium, but for power.

    No longer the sole regional superpower, Israel sees that peaceable/passable relations with neighbors is the only option left.

    Again, I disagree with this analysis completely. Israel has everything to gain from peaceable relations with its neighbors, and has been trying to achieve this outcome for 60 years. It is the Arabs who have nothing to gain from peace with Israel. Even those nations broken into submission by Israeli military power, such as Egypt and Jordan, have not culturally accepted peace, 35 years after the papers were signed. To pretend that Israel is to blame for this intransigence is negligent.

    A cold war with Iran ensues, certainly to be broken at some later date down the road.

    This is a fantasy. You’re simply dreaming. Iran is not building nukes to achieve parity. Iran is the regional aggressor. Nuclear weapons for Iran are a shield against retribution by its victims; an insulation against the consequences of even more risky, destabilizing regional behavior.

    In the meantime, life goes on.

    No, life won’t go on. People will die. Many, many people will die, and needlessly so.

    Iran can not be allowed to achieve a nuclear weapon. Its nuclear facilities should be bombed, again, and again as the need arises. This is the most humane, most just, most peaceful course of action that can be taken.


    Avigdor · December 15th, 2009 at 4:05 pm
  19. KFJ, how you turned a discussion about Iranian nukes – a prospect unacceptable to the US, French, British, German, Russian and Chinese governments – into a bid to force Israel into internationalist submission is beyond me. Tunnel vision much? :)

    You seem to really not care very much about Iran having nuclear weapons. You seem not to care if Hezbollah bombards Israel with tens of thousands of rockets as a consequence. You don’t seem to care if friendly Arab governments fall to Shiite revolts as a consequence. Your seeming one and only priority is to force a contraction in Israeli power, because you seem to believe that the exercise of Jewish sovereignty to be fundamentally unjust and immoral.

    If this is true, why can’t you just say that? Why must we play this game where you pretend to care about Iranian nukes, when all you seemingly care about is shrinking Israel and growing Palestine?


    Avigdor · December 15th, 2009 at 4:17 pm
  20. Avigdor, let’s pause the melodrama and consider the implications for the region with open-mindedness. The world will not explode after Iran gets fissile material. This sort of rhetoric was used before North Korea got one too. The political calculus changes, but the world continues. I understand the fear and uncertainty, but the hysteria I do not.


    Kung Fu Jew · December 15th, 2009 at 5:14 pm
  21. Fair enough, KFJ. Do you think inserting language about the benefits of America constraining Israel’s freedom of action to act in self defense helped or harmed your case that containment of Iran is good policy?


    Avigdor · December 15th, 2009 at 5:48 pm
  22. Bomb them….again, and again, and again for how long? I think you need to consider what the consequences of this option would be, realistically. Israel cannot do it alone and still be sure of success; as the operation would involve multiple sorties at the limit of their range, it will have to involve the United States. The time needed over the targets for repeated strikes would entail significant risks of losing multiple aircraft, unless you attack air defense installations as well as nuclear sites. So now we have an expansion, from bombing a few facilities around the country to attacking radar installations, surface to air missile batteries, command and control sites? That takes more aircraft. Not to mention the fact that you cannot be sure that every nuclear installation in Iran is known. So, you attack the ones we do know about with limited chances for success? And this is supposed to convince the Iranians to stop?


    Sean · December 15th, 2009 at 10:50 pm
  23. Avigdor, we’re going in circles. I answered your question about Iran with its relevant to Israel because we wouldn’t be talking about Iran if we weren’t really talking about Israel. Am I wrong?


    Kung Fu Jew · December 15th, 2009 at 11:40 pm
  24. Sean, I almost forgot to thank you for your contribution. If anybody is interested in the details of how 30% of Israel’s air force would likely be destroyed by an attack on Iran, you can read the details here.


    Kung Fu Jew · December 15th, 2009 at 11:42 pm
  25. KFJ, we would be talking about Iran regardless. Iran is a threat to core American interests in the region.

    Sean, everything you said is correct, but it does not negate the need for action. If military action against Iran were a low risk venture, it would have been done by now. However, the risks posed by a such an operation, both in terms of attrition, likelihood of success, and regional implications, pales in comparison to the risks posed by a nuclear armed Iran. Once you’ve eliminated sanctions and containment as scenarios for curtailing Iranian ambitions – both before and after they achieve nuclear status – the only alternative to preserve any semblance of stability that is in American, Israeli and Arab interests is military action.

    The limits to Israeli operational capability against Iran are clear. Furthermore, while you discussed Israeli attrition, you gave scant acknowledgment to Iranian counters, such as retaliating against Israel with missiles directly from Iran, reactivating Hezbollah’s missile arsenal in Lebanon, and mining the straights of Hormuz, thus preventing oil tanker traffic and sending global energy markets into a tailspin. That is the most devastating Iranian counter, and it is the one whose cost Israel cannot bear alone, which is why deference to American and international diplomacy has been the preferred coarse of action under three Israeli Prime Ministers, so long as Iran remains non-nuclear.

    However, to Israel, the existential threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon overrides all other concerns, and this issue has overwhelming public support in Israel. The Israeli air force exists to counter exactly such threats to the Jewish state. If 30% or 50% or 100% of Israel’s airforce is threatened with being downed over Iranian skies – G-d forbid – this does not negate the need to destroy Iranian nuclear assets, and the mission must proceed.

    If Israel launches sorties against Iran, the Americans will have three options. Shoot down the Israeli planes and usher in Iranian hegemony in the region. Do nothing and watch Iran mine the straights of Hormuz and send the global economy into a depression. Participate in the Israeli attack, thus ensuring the total destruction of known Iranian nuclear elements, target Iranian naval assets in advance, neutralizing Iran’s most effective counter, and threaten the Iranian leadership should it choose to escalate the conflict.

    If the Americans are conceptually committed to the third option, then inviting Israeli participation would only complicate their planning, and they will choose to handle Iran with their own, substantial, strategic bomber and naval assets.

    Obama is hoping desperately to avoid this outcome, but his attempts at negotiations, sanctions and piecing together a containment strategy are falling apart. His few harsh words are backed by nothing, and the Iranians are calling his empty bluffs, in front of the entire world, but especially in front of the Arabs. Either he deals with Iran, or Israel will force him to deal with Iran, but Iran will be dealt with.

    Whether the bombardment sets back the Iranian program one year, three years, ten years or forever is irrelevant. So long as Iran possesses the political will to use nuclear weapons as an instrument of state policy, it must be denied the capability to do so, diplomatically if possible, militarily if necessary.


    Avigdor · December 16th, 2009 at 5:47 pm
  26. the existential threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon overrides all other concerns

    Why? You’ve been very, very detailed about the wherefores and the whithertos about attacking Iran — but have not explained why risking the third war in the region is less deadly than Iran with a bomb? I think that is a big hole in the discussion. Anyone who believes Iran will nuke Israel immediately is living in la la land, but I’m interested in why well-versed people think attacking the owner of Hezbollah and Hamas will result in less lives lost.

    Really, seriously, I’m eager to listen.


    Kung Fu Jew · December 16th, 2009 at 6:40 pm
  27. KFJ, I think we should recognize that we are at war. Iranian missiles have rained down on Israeli cities, Iranian operatives have trained and equipped multiple terror armies throughout the region (one of which is now battling Yemeni and Saudi troops), Iranian agents and weapons have murdered American and Iraqi forces and threatened to overthrow Arab regimes. It is becoming increasingly untenable to deal with these violent appendages of Iranian foreign policy without dealing with Iran itself.

    The question is whether Iran will be allowed to deploy a nuclear capability and make itself immune to retaliation for increasingly bold acts of war.

    What I am suggesting is not a war of conquest, or even regime change, but a limited defanging of Iranian nuclear assets before they can deny us this option.

    In fact, I would argue that a successful operation against Iran would moderate Hezbollah and Hamas, as they would no longer see Iranian power as ascendant. Certainly an Iranian nuclear umbrella will only complicate efforts to mitigate future wars these groups feel free to initiate with Iranian backing.


    Avigdor · December 16th, 2009 at 7:38 pm
  28. Avigdor, you seem to keep coming back to the claim that there are actions that can be taken which will “ensur[e] the total destruction of known Iranian nuclear elements.” I would stress that even this outcome cannot be guaranteed, in the meantime the situation will just be made worse. I have to stand by the conclusions drawn in the NIE, the only thing that can stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon is their decision not to. However, to imagine that the use of force on the scale required would somehow bully the Iranians into backing down is to miss something crucial about human nature.

    As for the assertion that to “target Iranian naval assets in advance, neutralizing Iran’s most effective counter, and threaten the Iranian leadership should it choose to escalate the conflict” will do anything constructive is absurd. The kind of retaliatory capacity that Iran has developed in the region is precisely the kind that cannot be effectively defended against in advance. Not to mention the effect this kind of assault would have on the situation inside Iran; strengthening the government’s claim to legitimacy, further impoverishing the Iranian people, and killing of several hundred Iranian soldiers and scientists and engineers. This does not strike me as the kind of action that will deter weapons development, or improve circumstances. I would venture to say that the reaction will be quite the opposite, and the regime in Tehran would only grow more dangerous and militaristic.


    Sean · December 17th, 2009 at 3:58 am
  29. Sean, I’m afraid I can’t argue against your logic. We can’t confront Iran, you seem to be saying, because of how powerful they are. Thus, we should allow them to obtain nuclear weapons and become completely unstoppable.

    Is there any point at which military action against Iran would be justifiable, in your eyes, despite the cost? Let’s say, under a nuclear umbrella, Iranian tanks roll through Iraq, bring down the Kuwaiti and Saudi monarchies and take possessions of their respective oil fields. What, exactly, would you have us do at that point? Nothing?

    The defeatist, unrealistic attitude you espouse is precisely one that Iranians have been cultivating, which is why they are acting so stridently to destabilize along their periphery. However, the strategic challenge they pose is not solved by ignoring the Iranian nuclear program. That is but the most visible focal point of Iranian ascendancy. All the “retaliatory capacity” of which you speak will remain and grow after Iran achieves a nuclear weapon, and will be reinforced and sheltered by the nuclear capability.

    If containing Iran is futile today, then doing so when they have nukes will be a fool’s errand. Tehran is not sending ships full of bullets, rockets and bombs around the region because it is planning for peace. We are going to war with Iran, Sean. Their current trajectory is unmistakable. You are concerned about the cost of action now, but you are not considering the cost of action later.

    A serious, bloody conflict can be averted through firm action that targets the pinnacle of Iranian prestige – which is the nuclear program. The loss in equipment and personnel is not so easy to absorb as you suggest. There is a reason why it has taken Iran some two decades to attain just the raw materials for a single nuclear weapon. These facilities take years to construct, equip and test before they are operational, even assuming that Iran would rebuild them, knowing rebuild facilities would, too, be subject to future bombardment.

    Furthermore, the precedent such a move would set will seriously influence Iranian strategic thinking, and not in the way you suggest. Experience has shown that confronting aggressors earlier places constraints on their behavior later.

    I am willing to meet you half way, however. Instead of targeting the Iranian nuclear program, let’s take out the just the air defense facilities protecting their nuclear installations. That is a message Iran will understand. Such a strike shouldn’t be announced. It should simply be done by stealth bombers, and then strongly denied if the Iranians make it public. And if they choose not to publicize the strike – as Syria chose not to publicize Israel’s strike on its reactor – real diplomacy on Iran’s exposed nuclear program – based on the sober reality of Western capabilities – can proceed.


    Avigdor · December 17th, 2009 at 5:47 am
  30. Avigdor, if you cannot argue with my logic then what exactly about my position do you consider “unrealistic”? And please stop putting words in my mouth, to characterize my position as “defeatist” relies on reading more into what I said than was really there. By simply arguing against the kind of military action you propose I am not saying that we should take no action against Iran ever, no matter what they do. I am simply pointing out to you the likely results of the course of action you propose. To stretch my argument to cover the consequences of a hypothetical as outlandish as the one you propose, where Iranian tanks roll over Iraq, is a little dishonest. Either I am with you on this, or against you forever?

    My point here is that military action is unlikely to lead to a “victory,” to adopt your win-lose vocabulary. It will not stop Iran, it will create greater instability in the region, it will almost certainly result in the escalation of violence in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and possibly Pakistan as well. Arguing for the expedience of an attack now, and ignoring the repercussions does not seem to me to be a very wise course.


    Sean · December 17th, 2009 at 12:34 pm
  31. Sean, I apologize for putting words in your mouth. I feel I was taking your argument to its logical conclusions, while attempting to tease out your limits, which you still have not given. (It appears my snarky reference to your logic did not hit the mark.)

    Furthermore, to cast declared Iranian ambitions as outlandish – whether they use their own tanks, or indigenous allied forces under IRGC command matters little – is quite remarkable. I, too, am simply pointing out to you the likely results of the course of action you propose. My view of the situation is shared by most people in the region.

    The low cost solution is to militarily deny the Iranian nuclear capability, while we still can. I even proposed a lower risk option of targeting their air defenses in an attempt to focus their attention on diplomacy – which they have not pursued, except to buy time – and avoid further escalation.

    Arguing for the expedience of inaction now, and ignoring the repercussions does not seem to me to be a very wise course, either. Make no mistake, inaction is the current policy, and one both you and the Iranians are advocating.


    Avigdor · December 17th, 2009 at 12:51 pm
  32. My point here is that military action is unlikely to lead to a “victory,” to adopt your win-lose vocabulary. It will not stop Iran, it will create greater instability in the region, it will almost certainly result in the escalation of violence in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and possibly Pakistan as well. Arguing for the expedience of an attack now, and ignoring the repercussions does not seem to me to be a very wise course

    Sean and KFJ,

    I basically agree with you two that an Iranian nuclear weapon is a fait accompli. Frankly, that scares me to death–not because I think that this Iranian government will drop a bomb on Israel, but because it will probably begin an irreversible nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and it might ensure this Iranian government’s continued rule for the forseeable future.

    So, what should we do about this? I have no f-cking clue. What does everybody think we should do? Really. And don’t just say that I’m mindlessly being led by the war-mongering federation leadership, and an Iranian bomb is no big deal. Even if that’s true, for arguments sake, if an Iranian bomb is a fait accompli, how should Israel/the West deal with this?


    Jonathan1 · December 17th, 2009 at 1:00 pm
  33. Again, show me where I “advocated” for a policy; pointing out the pitfalls of a particular course of action, especially in a case where the negatives have been down-played and the positives over-sold, is far from advocating for something else. As for the logical extent of my argument, I am simply making a case for the need to conduct a careful realistic examination of the consequences of a military strike, before the bombs start falling. I happen to think that in this case, the intelligence available and a comprehensive analysis of the circumstances suggests the need to find a better course of action than simply initiating an air war against Iran (I think there is a pretty strong case that this will only make things worse). I have made no statements about what this alternative course of action might be, but I think to cast the entire spectrum of possible human action in terms of (1)to bomb or (2)to do nothing is a little myopic.


    Sean · December 17th, 2009 at 11:04 pm
  34. Ok. I stand by my reference to the costs of doing nothing. Nothing, my friend, is what you’re proposing, by your own admission. Furthermore, nothing – inaction – appears to be the policy of the US government. The notion that war is being thrust upon us by the “hawks” is absurd; war is being thrust upon us by a regime that has rebuffed any alternative. Sanctions and containment have failed. Negotiations have failed. The US President has removed the threat of force from the equation, and with it, the incentive for Iranians to moderate their belligerence.

    Smart diplomacy.
    Hope and change.

    Ok.


    Avigdor · December 18th, 2009 at 12:18 am
  35. Iran is thrusting war upon us? Because Iranians love to die, apparently.


    Kung Fu Jew · December 18th, 2009 at 4:07 am
  36. I thought we were leaving the theatrics aside, KFJ.


    Avigdor · December 18th, 2009 at 6:59 am
  37. These are the people who run Iran, KFJ. They authorize their underlings to rape children as an “aid to victory”.

    Anyone have more stories about the pragmatism and moderation of the Iranian leadership?


    Avigdor · December 18th, 2009 at 8:00 am
  38. I guess Sean and KFJ don’t have any ideas about where we should go from here. None of us seem to know. That’s the problem.


    Jonathan1 · December 18th, 2009 at 10:42 am
  39. Avigdor, your repeated assertions that I am advocating for inaction are completely baseless. I say to you once again, show me where I have advocated for doing nothing? Where, when in any of these postings did I say that NOTHING should be done? I am trying to have a more nuanced debate here about the realistic consequences of a particular course of action, I think those consequences suggest the need for a different course to be taken. A different course from the one you are openly advocating — an air strike against targets in Iran — that is all. There are more than two choices here, it is not simply a question of bombing Iran or doing nothing.


    Sean · December 18th, 2009 at 12:31 pm
  40. I’m sorry, Sean. I could have sworn that you haven’t actually advocated, or even offered, an alternate course of action, other than saying that this magical alternative to a host of other bad choices exists. Please enlighten me. Better yet! Forget me! Call up the White House and tell THEM, PLEASE! PLEASE!!!


    Avigdor · December 19th, 2009 at 11:30 pm
  41. [...] Project’s latest infographic. This is the same pro-settler advocacy group that brought you faked hundreds signatures on their last Iran petition and teaches their advocates to accuse Obama of “ethnically cleansing” Jews from Israel [...]


    Fear-mongering on Iran meets LOLcatz | Jewschool · November 21st, 2013 at 2:39 pm

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