Editorial

Blatant diversion

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2018 in New York City. World leaders gathered for the 73rd annual meeting at the UN headquarters in Manhattan. John Moore/Getty Images/AFP

It’s time to call out the actions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who treats the world community as a group of nonentities, naive enough to be swayed by his theatrics of overblown propaganda and demagogic rhetoric.

Like every year at the U.N. General Assembly, those who stay to listen to the Israeli leader are bombarded with accusations dolled up by props such as charts, maps and storyboards.

George W. Bush’s administration used the assembly as a similar theater, parading out charts and maps to convince the world that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was storing weapons of mass destruction across his country and under his bedroom. The rest, as we know, is history.

For weeks now, Israeli officials have been boasting of having carried out over 200 precision raids on arms depots in Syria storing Iranian-made weapons, some of which have been allegedly destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The same sources have assured the world that everything is under control.

Now, Netanyahu alleges to the U.N. that in addition to an overflowing arsenal of hundreds of thousands of missiles, Hezbollah has erected high-precision missile bases in the vicinity of Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport.

Almost every country in the world has some kind of diplomatic representation in Lebanon. Necessarily, they use the airport frequently. Yet Netanyahu would have us believe that Israeli intelligence alone has been able to discover these Hezbollah bases. Are we to believe that embassies of the closest friends of the Jewish state and their intelligence agencies have been blind to such a serious development all this time?

The Israelis have been emboldened in their approach by U.S. President Donald Trump’s blanket support of the Jewish state. But Netanyahu’s hysteria and accusations are part of Israel’s bigger plan. The objective is clear: Keep the door open for any future aggression against Lebanon, and in the process, divert attention from attempts to break the Palestinians through brutal occupation and persecution by using Lebanon as a smoke screen.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 29, 2018, on page 1.

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