Let's trade our troubles

Roy Isacowitz says there is going to be a war between Israel and Iran, with or without its local proxies

Happy to swap a war for a nice house

I’m not having a good day today. I’ve been trying to concentrate on my work, but my unruly thoughts insist on returning me to images of German Jews in the Thirties, early 1938 say.

It was a time in which the Jews already knew what was in store for them. They couldn’t conceive of the Holocaust yet – what normal person could? – but they knew that war was imminent and that whatever Hitler had in mind for them it would not be good.

They knew that they should leave Germany – and many of them could have. But they would have had to leave their businesses and everything that they owned behind. They would probably have had to leave family behind. They could have escaped, but it would have been as refugees, with only the clothing on their backs.

Many of them were unable to make the break. They preferred to make excuses about family, lack of resources and lack of visas. They preferred to delude themselves that, somehow, things would turn out OK. They listened to Hitler’s words and nevertheless stayed put and hoped for miracles. Eventually, of course, most of them died.

I feel myself in the same predicament. The immediate catalyst for my incessant thoughts about Nazi-era Germany was Donald Trump’s moronic withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement yesterday. But, if I’m to be honest, I’ve known what is coming for a long time. Israel’s Iran- and power-obsessed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made sure of that.

There is going to be a war between Israel and Iran, with or without its local proxies. America will undoubtedly support Israel, but whether it will actually step into the conflict is an open question. It would be ironic indeed if, after doing Netanyahu’s bidding in scrapping the Iranian agreement, Trump were to decide to absent himself from the disaster he caused.

I don’t know when the war will break out. It could be very soon. Only two hours after Trump’s announcement on Tuesday, Israeli warplanes hit Iranian targets near Damascus, according to the Syrian authorities. Earlier in the day, the Israeli military instructed residents in the north of the country to open and prepare their air raid shelters. The reason given by the army was “unusual movements” by Iranian forces in Syria.

According to some Israeli analysts, Tuesday’s strike was a preventative measure to prevent the immediate firing of Iranian missile based in Syria at Israel. Even if that is true, it will only delay an Iranian retaliatory action. The mullahs are not known for turning the other cheek.

There are three facets – or fronts – to the Iranian issue. The first is that country’s quest after a nuclear weapons capability, which the 2015 agreement was meant to retard, if not eliminate. This so-called Iranian nuclear threat has preoccupied Netanyahu for over two decades. He and former President Barack Obama locked horns over the issue, but Trump has proved to be an eager and willing disciple.

The nuclear threat has been upstaged recently by the Iranian presence in Syria, which resulted from the intervention by the Islamic Republic and Russia in Syria’s civil war. Today, Iran is not a distant foe. It has missiles, weaponry and some Revolutionary Guards based in Syria within kilometers of Israel’s Golan border (itself captured from Syria in 1967.) Iran also has Hezbollah, a heavily armed proxy, in nearby Lebanon. Israel fought an inconclusive war with Hezbollah in 2006.

The third front is Iran’s non-nuclear ballistic missile program, which falls outside the ambit of the 2015 agreement, and its supposed undermining of other Middle Eastern regimes and support of terrorism. That is the front in which Saudi Arabia is engaged, primarily in its war against Iranian proxies in Yemen.

The front that is most likely to lead to conflict in the near future is the situation along the Golan border. Even the relatively limited Iranian deployment in Syria at present is anathema to Israel, which refuses to countenance any Iranian presence at all close to its border.

If Iran does not withdraw its troops and personnel from Syria – which it is highly unlikely to do – the odds are that Israel will attempt to remove them by force. Such a move is likely to bring Hezbollah, with its thousands of missiles, into the fray. And it could also entail Israeli clashes with Syrian troops and even Russian forces.

Once that happens – if that happens – what began as border clashes will widen into something a lot more dangerous and bloody. With the US and Saudi Arabia standing by, the entire Middle East could go up in flames.

Hence my obsession with the German Jews. I know a war is going to happen; an unnecessary, uncalled-for war that could be akin to World War I in its stupidity, its inevitability and its propensity to widen precipitously.

I don’t believe in it, I don’t support it and I know I should get as far away from it as I can. So here is my proposal:

I am prepared to swap my Tel Aviv apartment for the home (preferably in Cape Town) of any one of the many Zionists-at-a-distance who populate South Africa. This is your opportunity to put your Zionism into action; to walk the walk and die for what you believe in.

Instead of telling me from a distance of several thousand kilometers that I should put up with Israel’s brutal occupation of the Palestinians and the prime minister’s perpetual war-mongering, you now have the opportunity of making your talk a reality; of living your dream. Just let me know and I’ll leave the keys in the door.

One more thing: It needs to be a big house, as I’m bringing my wife, three daughters, husbands and boyfriends, grandchild and two dogs.

And a pool would be nice.