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While some friends of the Jewish state are preoccupied with the possibility of a sushi shortage in Israel thanks to the disaster in Japan, Harvard’s crazed law professor Alan M. Dershowitz has more important things on his mind.
His most recent dispatch, entitled “Israel Now Has The Right To Attack Iran’s Nuclear Reactors,” begins with the assertion that “Iran’s recent attempt to ship arms to Hamas in Gaza is an act of war committed by the Iranian government against the Israeli government.”
As we well know, it is not necessary for Harvard law professors to specify that Israel has merely alleged that Iran attempted to ship arms to Hamas, or that the credibility of Israeli arms allegations has been called into question by the fact that the photographs published by the Israeli Foreign Ministry of the “weapons cache” found on board the Mavi Marmara last year ended up consisting of items like a metal pail and marbles.
Today marks the two-year anniversary of the start of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, a 22-day onslaught in which Palestinian civilians perished at a rate of approximately 400: 1 vis-à-vis their Israeli counterparts.
I happened to be in Argentina during this particular conflict and was thus able to monitor how well the Israeli embassy and Jewish organizations in Buenos Aires complied with the orders from acting Israeli Prime Minister Tzipi Livni, who had called for an intensified global public relations campaign in order to counteract the fact that “[u]nfortunately, some of the world’s decision makers are swayed by public opinion and the media”. In response to a march in Buenos Aires in support of the Palestinians being slaughtered in Gaza, a pro-Israel “counter-march” was promptly organized. Defying the traditional definition of “march”, it consisted of a closed-to-the-public meeting at the AMIA Jewish cultural association—site of a deadly bombing in 1994, the alleged Iranian perpetration of which Israel insists on passing off as fact, presumably in order to justify a disproportionate response at some point in the future. Parts of the meeting were televised, such as the speech by Israeli ambassador to Argentina Daniel Gazit in which he claimed that, had the IDF done even one-fourth or one-eighth of what the world had accused it of doing in Gaza, the war would have been won in a day.
A few days ago my mother received an email from a Bulgarian acquaintance in Texas—Emil—with whom she has for years been attempting to become unacquainted and whose world view appears to rest on the principle that Bulgarian immigrants to Texas should be afforded more rights than other kinds of immigrants to Texas.
Correspondence with Emil diminished following my parents’ relocation from the U.S. to Argentina, and he now only emails in times of natural disaster to ensure that they are all right; his latest concerned dispatch consisted of the following CNN report of 17 January:
“A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the southern coast of Argentina on Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
There were no immediate reports of damages and injuries.
The 6.2 mile-deep quake hit 220 miles off the coast of Ushuaia, Argentina, at 7 a.m. ET, the geological survey said.”
Last week I participated in a tour of Buenos Aires’ former Navy Mechanics School (ESMA), one of Argentina’s numerous illegal detention centers during the Dirty War of 1976-83. A symbol of the military dictatorship’s campaign against undesirable elements of the population, the ESMA alone witnessed the imprisonment and torture of an estimated 5,000 such elements, with the subsequent disappearance of most of these often a result of the fact that they had been injected with tranquilizers and dropped from airplanes into the river. As for other disappeared items, the tour guide noted that the ESMA complex had not been converted into a museum until 2004, giving the military ample time to dispose of evidence.
Walking down Avenida Figueroa Alcorta in Buenos Aires the other day, I came across a succession of posters advertising “la penetración iraní en América latina” and featuring Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clasping hands. When I then came across the Iranian embassy and a monument in a park labeled “Plaza Irán,” as well, I became momentarily convinced that the posters might have a point.
Some confusion arose from the date on the monument, May 12, 1965, which placed its origins in an archaeological period of penetración estadounidense in Iran. Things slowly began to make more sense, however, as I continued walking and noted that the Chávez-Ahmadinejad posters were interspersed with posters featuring an unoccupied bed with white sheets and the proclamation: “85 ‘HASTA LUEGO’ CONVERTIDOS EN ‘HASTA SIEMPRE” [“85 goodbyes to be remembered forever”], which I first assumed was a tribute to Argentine swine flu fatalities.
It turned out that the 85 “Hasta luego” were in fact the victims of the 1994 attack on the AMIA, the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, which was blamed with intermittent force on Iran in accordance with the current geostrategic interests of the United States. The fifteenth anniversary of the attack was to be commemorated on Friday, July 17, one day prior to the actual anniversary; passersby were invited to pursue further information at www.85vidasmenos.amia.org.ar/, in which the “85 vidas menos” translates as “85 fewer lives.” Not explained on the posters was whether their designer could not think of a more suitable image to commemorate bombing victims, whether viewers were meant to infer that their own beds could be penetrated at any moment by Iranians, or why there were no commemorative websites for recent events in Gaza, such as 1300vidasmenos.
I returned home to find that my own bed was still unmade, although it was presumably not the fault of terrorists, and that the AMIA link consisted of a black page with suggestions in white as to the variety of sentiments that might have been expressed by companions of the 85 victims had they known the 85 would never be seen again. Suggestions include “I love you,” “I hate you,” and “You have a nice smile.” To one side of the written suggestions is a YouTube video with additional suggestions of hypothetical situations tragically thwarted by the bombing, such as “un beso apasionado que nunca llegó” [“a passionate kiss that never took place”], juxtaposed with the sound of attack. The question is raised of whether this sort of commemoration would not have been more appropriate in the context of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which occurred on Valentine’s Day.
In my parents’ living room in Buenos Aires this morning, I scanned the online version of the Argentine journal La Nación in an effort to determine the justification for the current national holiday. An article proclaiming the 199th anniversary of the Revolución de Mayo in the headline offered no further clarification of the celebration aside from the information that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner would be celebrating it at the Sheraton Hotel in Iguazú National Park, and that she would prefer not to talk about recent nationalizations by Hugo Chávez of steel companies belonging to Argentine-based multinationals.
According to another article on the site, Chávez’ confiscaciones had already been talked about, and Argentine businessmen had been assured by the Kirchner administration that “no somos Chávez.” The online readership of La Nación did not appear convinced of such distinctions, however, and, of the 6,148 responses that had been registered as of 10 AM to a poll regarding whether the government would defend Argentine business interests in Venezuela, 4.47% were positive.