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Benjamin Netanyahu’s Fantasy World


Benjamin Netanyahu’s Fantasy World

Michael Lerner

"If you take out Saddam, Saddam's regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region." –Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu urging the US to invade Iraq in 2002.

Netanyahu's speech to Congress was brilliantly deceitful because it played to the fantasies that Israeli propaganda and right wing militarists in the US have been popularizing for the past thirty years.


So far the path of Domination, the path of intimidation and violence towards it’s own population and war towards others Is the path of nations. No nation exists without an army and no nation has a system of justice without intimidation or coercion. It is what Hegel called “the terror of human history.” Alongside this bitter reality is vision that things could be different, that men could live in peace according to what Lerner has termed a Spirit of Generosity. Imagine… Jesus saw it as the Kingdom of Heaven and the Muslims can dream of a Caliphate where Nation’s are no longer needed and disolve. But what happens when these visions attempt to be realized? When religious vision attaches to political ideology the result is always something worse than either, (and Netanyahu’s Israel is an example) If the religious ideals are unrealized an apocalyptic vision takes its place. In any of these end time viewpoints the Earth is redeemed but only after passing through a sea of blood with the end result that, "every head shall bow and every tounge confess-- a blessed divine tyranny. We need another path which can motivate us to move the arc of humanity toward justice. Unfortunately neither our politics or our Religion gives me hope. We need a new humanism invested with a cognitive science that gives us a realistic account of what can be done with such a vicious species as ours to give it an alternative to war. The visions of Issiah, Jesus or the Prophet are not enough to get humanity over this hump.


I’m getting an odd feeling reading this article because as I was thinking about the vile Netanyahu’s speech yesterday Rabbi Lerner and his pacifist organization Tikkun popped in my mind and I was wondering what happened to them because they were prominent during period after Sept 11, 2001 and during the Iraq Invasion, then they vanished. I figured Lerner must have died and Tikkun disbanded.

It just now occurred to me that, like so many other activist groups like United for Peace and Justice - Lerner and Tikkun vanished on November 5, 2008. Typical.

So I guess I wasn’t surprised when even after 6 1/2 years of Obama showing us exactly the sort of person he is, Lerner STILL wrote this:

" …because the Obama Administration, fearing that it might be ridiculed as believing in “kumbaya politics,” used its first six years to pursue policies that better fit the Strategy of Domination than the Strategy of Generosity."(emphasis mine)

NO. NO. NO. A thousand times NO! Obama is hardly motivated by “fear of ridicule”! He absolutely believes in, and always has believed in, US/Israeli imperialist exceptionalism and its exercise through violence… Period.

Otherwise, Rabbi Lerner certainly makes a lot of important points. However I was surprised to hear him say Iranians generally have not been traumatized over the past 70 years - has he forgotten the Fascist Shah and the torture chambers of his secret CIA organized police SAVAK? I guess it is true that Iranians do live more peaceful and normal lives than other parts of the mid-east region but by forgetting this fact he forgets that Iranians already have peacefully overthrown a totalitarian government once, in 1979, and also suffered through the horrible war against Saddam’s Iraq. I suspect a majority of Iranians, both old and young (they teach history in Iran) find the current state of affairs to be perfect but an improvement over the Shah and the days of war.


Yes - reading this those same points you made in your last paragraph are all true. And you did not mention the ever present fear caused by the constant saber rattling by hard line Israelis and Americans that might just be crazy enough to launch an assault against them. But the most telling passage was Mr. Lerner’s statement of contempt for the current regime and his desire to see it overthrown. ??? To my mind the current Iranian regime has shown great restraint and moderation, considering their recent past leadership. Mr. Lerner’s words are all hollow as he continues to plow that same furrow, and if he got his wish, odds are the next regime would be more radical (yes - I know haw you feel about that word) than this. As long as Mr. Lerner, or anyone else for that matter, continues to qualify their remarks in this way, they are only peddling a slightly “kinder and gentler” dominion and domination than the rabid dog “good guys.”

I can’t believe that he was only throwing a bone to the audience of Tikun Ulum. In short, I don’t believe HIM.


Your post reinforces the witness of HIS-tory. It leaves out prior societies that were NOT built around war, conquest, and/or domination.

Then, you take what has been true as a direct result of that domination (and it’s a major facet of the male-run hierarchies that define patriarchal institutions from the church to governance) and apply it to all those forced to conform to protocols more often than not enforced “upon the natives.”

Your entire post speaks in the language of the dominant male voice presuming that is all that is, or all that counts. it is precisely this arrogant and narrow-minded prejudice that does to alternative lifestyles (many endowed with a deeper understanding) what the corporations do to lush ecological communities: mow it all down to plant ONE crop in the place of magnificent and thriving diversity.


Exactly, I cringed a bit at that "Iranians need to overthrow the regime [that he detests] remark too. As if ancient and long-time Shia state** of Iran is going to become a secular country like France or something overnight. The result, instead, would likely be something less desirable. The best of the bad outcomes would be a neoliberal regime that dismantles Iran’s generous (really!) social programs and resigns Iran to the role of periphery state to be milked of its natural resources. The more likely outcome would be a a long period of civil war and unrest.

**The “Catholic” sect of Islam. Iran is embattled in a similar sectarian way as Ireland was - the Sunni being like the Protestant British


What happened to them?..well they were terrorized by radical nutcases. Rabbi Lerner’s home was trashed, he was beaten up, they destroyed his computers causing a huge financial setback. This was happening all the while Rabbi Lerner was dealing with cancer. So yeah, in the last 10 years he has been through very tough times. I for one am glad he is back.


Our prehistory was also violent . Micheal Shermer’s book,“The Moral Arc” points out that a higher percentage of our paleolithic ancestors died in their less organized form of war, raiding parties than a modern population died in even the bloody 20th century. So let’s give up this myth of the peaceful savage. Even if it were true it is not where history lead.us . What happened in human history was the settlement of land by neolithic farmers and the discovery that this new way of life had to be defended against the more primotive nomadic people, your Noble Savages who tried to take any surpluses of the farmers by force. The farmers won. Cain killed Abel. But in their success the little paleolithic hives that developed soon came into bloody conflict with each other. An Era of consolidation, of empire followed, with empire after empire rising and falling in violent conflict. The nation state has followed but not without its own bloody legacy. If you think that the human species is not a violent and predatory species you are the one who has created a fantasy of denial. You can’t even use the word history without contorting it into some thing that it has never been.


Netanyahu’s stance is rational enough. He is one of many Israelis who cannot feel safe unless every Muslim state in the region is so weak that it can never threaten Israel. The specter of the Yom Kippur war has never gone away, and there was a brief point during that war when it appeared Israel might lose. The control of the West Bank is a strategic necessity in their mind, given events of 1973.

What is far less easy to understand is why the overwhelming majority of US politicians are so rapturous over Israel. It is not simply a matter of campaign contributions - That can’t buy the genuine enthusiasm in evidence in Congress on Tuesday. Personally, I think it is a kind of reverse anti-Semitism, a bizarre belief that Jews are uniquely powerful. For most of history, this led Christians to hate them, and now that has turned around to become virtual worship of the Jewish state. As someone who is half-Jewish myself, I find this to be the most dangerous fantasy of all - there is nothing at all special or unique about Jews and to encourage such illusions is to make today’s blind love, tomorrow’s equally blind hatred.