Why we may remember April Fool’s Day, 2024, forever

On April 1–the same day that seven international aid workers with celebrity chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen were killed by the Israeli military–the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria was obliterated by a bomb dropped from an Israeli F-35 fighter jet (supplied by the U.S.), killing 16 people, including members of the Iranian national guard and civilians. Due to the savagery of the WCK attack (and the fact that six of the seven killed were from western countries), that story dominated the headlines for days. The story out of Damascus made significantly less noise. However, the result of this illegal, impulsive and irresponsible attack on what is by international law understood as Iranian soil (embassies are considered foreign soil and protected from attacks by international law) will far outweigh the result of the deaths of the WCK workers (the opening of a few previously closed aid routes). The attack on the Iranian embassy in Syria will, if Israel continues to provoke war with its neighbors, be remembered as the start of a major multi-national conflict in the Middle East, and possibly a third World War.

For a few hours this past Saturday (April 13), I found myself in a singular and terrifying new liminal space: the missiles had been launched but had not yet landed. The world watched as the images of rockets and drones streaked from Iran to Israel. The only conclusion to be made during that dreadful interim was that there was no turning back. All we could do was watch and wait.

The relief I felt when nearly every one of the 300 munitions Iran launched was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome and support from its allies was, sadly, brief. Despite Israel suffering no real damage, no casualties, and having triumphantly defended itself in a show of strength and solidarity from its allies– none of this changed Israel’s hunger for a wider war. Their response to the attack was not to de-escalate and call, as the Iranaians did at the UN hours after the attack, “The matter can be deemed concluded.” No, Israel’s response was instead more bloodthirst. Immediately military officials began planning a counter attack. This, despite the fact that Iran 1) made it immediately clear to the international community that there would be no further attacks on Israel (save that Israel commits no new aggressions toward Iran), 2) gave nearly two weeks worth of warnings to allow Israel to prepare and safeguard civilians, and 3) Iran aimed their attack at only military targets.

It sickens me to see news outlets act as if Israel is within its right to “weigh their options” about how when to respond to Iran when anyone who is paying attention to this conflict can see that there is no reason for Israel to respond at all. Iran wanted to show its citizens that Israel was not above the law: their embassy was bombed and military leaders killed. They responded with a dramatic but intentionally non-lethal show of force. The matter should in fact be concluded, except conclusion is not Israel’s goal. They know that if they can spread their war on Gaza into a wide-reaching war on muslims across the Middle East, they’ll garner the support they need to get billions of new military gifts from the U.S. and its allies. At a time when (democratic) politicians are finally calling on Biden to halt or condition his aid to Israel, our erratic ally in the Middle East knows that they need something else besides the genocidal collective punishment of innocent Palestinians civilians in Gaza to shore up support from its western allies.

The U.S. should be doing everything in its power to convince Israel not to lash out at Iran again. Reports now show that Israel did not give any of its allies advance notice of the attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria, save for a call to Washington mere minutes before the F-35 dropped the bomb in Damascus. Again, the U.S. expresses “frustration” with Israel for making such a bold and illegal move on foreign soil, but it does nothing to actually prevent Netanyahu’s military from behaving the same way again. Instead, the U.S. and E.U. swiftly acted to place new sanctions on Iran, even as Blinken sits on mountains of evidence of the IDF’s criminality and continues to urge the curious press to wait for more investigations to conclude.

How long will it take for Israel to come up with their story for why they found it was in their self-defense to surprise-attack a foreign nation on foreign soil? I’m certain the evidence will be full and convincing, just as it was for why the U.S. should defund UNRWA (April fools).

If Israel “responds” to Iran’s response, as they seem hellbent on doing, we will look back decades later on the “straw that broke the camel’s back” of Israel’s reckless bombing of the Iranian consulate. Again and again, the IDF’s actions, purportedly in the name of self-defense, only make Israeli civilians less safe. War breeds more war, suffering more suffering. If Biden were a real leader he would end offensive military support right now and tell Israel that additional funding for its defense system is contingent on them laying down their swords against Iran and against the displaced civilian population sheltering in Rafah.

If you see the hypocrisy in how western nations treat Israel as above the law, I encourage you to join us on Monday evenings at 15 Broadway as we write letters to elected officials urging them to do more to stop the violence in Gaza. And if you want to help support Gazan families trying to escape the violence (33,000-plus have died, over 15,000 of them children), come out this Tuesday, May 23 at 6:30 p.m. to St. Eustace Epsicopal Church as we watch the moving film about Palestinian children, “Flying Paper” (2013) and collect donations.

Tyler Barton lives in Saranac Lake. A list of sources accompanies this guest commentary online.


https://wck.org/news/gaza-team-update / https://www.cnn.com/2024/04/02/middleeast/iran-response-israel-damascus-consulate-attack-intl-hnk/index.html / The fact that it’s a U.S. plane is sourced from here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_F-35_Lightning_II#F-35I_%22Adir%22












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