A bombshell for Bibi - if Israel's Prime Minister could feel any shame

When Mossad is the voice of common sense, you know something is very, very wrong

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The Independent Online

In a remake of a Jimmy Stewart classic coming soon to a screen near you: Mr Schwantz Goes to Washington.

“Schwantz” is a Yiddish word for a male privy part too crude to be translated here, though you will guess its meaning when I add that Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to speak to the US Congress next Tuesday. Barack Obama, with whom the poisonous thug is on hideous terms, will not attend, and other leading Democrats likewise.

The unofficial title of Netanyahu’s keynote address, cunningly timed for a fortnight before the Israeli general election on 17 March, is: “Stop This Quisling President Talking To Iran About Its Nuclear Ambitions Before Those Crazy Mullahs Remove My Country From The Map”. I precis what may prove a more delicately argued case (though possibly not, knowing Bibi, by much).

His trip to Capitol Hill is plainly designed to boost his chances of retaining power at home – a breach of the convention against manipulating foreign powers for domestic electoral advantage – with more hysterical scaremongering about Iran. In that light, the latest leak of intelligence reports, this time from the secret service of South Africa, is hugely embarrassing. Or would be if he had any capacity for shame.

Documents published today establish that when, early in 2012, he stated that Iran was a year away from the capacity to make nukes, he was – here, etiquette demands a lightning raid on the store of diplomatic synonym – lying his sorry arse off. Boiling down the technicalities about fissile material, his own secret service, Mossad, informed its Springbok brethren that Iran “was not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons”.

If the memory of Bibi’s coup de théâtre has faded, let me recap. In his right hand he clasped a piece of paper bearing a drawing of a bomb, showing the various stages of nuclear weaponry development in percentage terms. A line was scrawled above “90 per cent” in red ink, while emerging from the top of the bomb was a wiggly lit fuse. Frankly, it looked like a rush job. He hadn’t had time to colour it in, or add a four-year-old’s depiction of a mushroom cloud. Not any four-year-old, mind. A four-year-old struggling to keep pace in the kindergarten’s remedial art class.

Even then, it seemed a laughable depiction of a phantom menace. I’m all for being dragged into World War Three by a bellicose maniac, one felt, but not by a drawing of the kind of incendiary device with which Elmer Fudd routinely failed to destroy Bugs Bunny.

When Adlai Stevenson needed proof of Soviet nuclear intentions, he had the wit to locate satellite pictures. Had he brandished a crap cartoon at the UN, it’s anyone’s guess how the Cuban Missile Crisis would have panned out, or indeed if anyone would still be around to make a guess.

Netanyahu’s difference of opinion with Mossad brings to mind the 2010 occasion when Sky’s Adam Boulton, exhausted from round-the-clock coverage of the 2010 Coalition talks, went doolally at Alastair Campbell on College Green. If Ali seems the sane guy in a gathering, you know something must be very, very wrong. So it is when Mossad is the voice of common sense, telling its prime minister to calm down, dear.

He will of course do no such thing. He will ramp up the hysterical nonsense when he speaks to Congress next week, and continue the process of trying to brazen this out.

A senior official in his government has already helpfully explained that “there was no contradiction between the observations of Netanyahu and his secret service”. In the sense that he said Iran was on the brink of making the bomb, and Mossad said it absolutely wasn’t, this is perfectly true.

Even by the stellar standards of his region, Benjamin Netanyahu is a petrifyingly dangerous figure, stoking Republican paranoia and love of warfare in the hope of bullying Obama out of coaxing Iran away from any genuine intent it may have to become a nuclear power. If Obama had lost to Mitt Romney, who was in the pocket of Sheldon Adelson, the Bibi-worshipping casino billionaire-bankroller of his campaign, the US might well by now have attacked Iran, further igniting a region that doesn’t strike the naked eye as in urgent need of that. 

On a 2012 Question Time soon after Bibi flourished his cartoon bomb, Mark Steel told Melanie Phillips that it’s a crying shame recent history offers no guide to the consequences when Western powers justify attacking Middle Eastern countries with false claims about weapons capability. I’ve a hunch Mark was teasing the old girl there, though irony generally evades the tunnel-visioned likes of Mad Mel and Israel’s Prime Minister.

One can only hope, although he is a warm favourite, that he doesn’t remain so for long; that enough of his people take note of his exposure as the sensationalist teller of nuclear porkies to sack the snarling brute on 17 March. Israeli elections are usually close and confused affairs that lead to uneasy coalitions (can you imagine what that must be like?) without delivering a clear message. God willing this one bucks the trend, and that Israel’s message for history’s least talented cartoonist is a decisive “That’s all, folks!”

Can you be racist and oppose lynching? Over to Ukip

The latest glimpse into the Ukip Chamber of Horrors unearths a certain Rozanne Duncan.

A Ukip councillor for a ward in Nigel Farage’s target seat of Thanet South until December, she was expelled when what passes for the party’s high command heard of her comments, in which Rozanne illuminated a BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary with thoughtful reflections on race and racism. After an admirably forthright denial of having a racist bone in her body, she pressed the point home for added clarity.

“The only people I do have problems with are negroes,” she said. “I don’t know why… but I really do have a problem with people with negroid features.”

In her artless way, she crystallises the confusion, so common among that brand of Ukip supporter who contributes to newspaper message boards, about where the racist dividing line should be drawn. On one side of that line is lynching. On the other is everything else. With Rozanne, it isn’t easy to decide which failure of comprehension is the sadder – that an inexplicable “problem with negroid features” is not in the vanguard of anti-racist sentiment; or that when a TV camera is rolling, what it records may end up on television. But I have an idea as to which is likelier to explain why the latest opinion polling suggests the Ukip bubble is beginning to burst. Many people will vote for a nasty party, whether or not nasty themselves, if it wraps them in a comfort blanket of childish simplicities. Fewer will vote for one so heavily populated by imbecilic amateurs.

Twitter.com/@MatthewJNorman

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