It was a very exclusive line. In front of me stood a very senior official in the defense establishment, in back of me, senior politicians. We were all patiently waiting for our Knesset member cards to be issued.
I decided to take advantage of the opportunity. The defense official has secret information that I lack to complete one of the evaluations that I have been making over the years. “Let’s make a bet,” I said to the surprised senior official, “that in another four years, in the first major speech of the elected prime minister, he will announce that he sees the removal of the Iranian nuclear threat as the central challenge for his new government.”
The senior official’s reaction surprised even me. His serious countenance melted at once into rolling laughter. “I can’t make that bet with you,” he laughed. “You are completely right.”
For those who have forgotten, the above words were precisely what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the outset of his previous term over four years ago.
For a number of years, I have been saying that the prime minister’s strategy for dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat is a colossal collapse – an accident waiting to happen. I have written articles on the subject, and have met with the minister for strategic affairs in the previous government and with other senior officials. Not one of the people praising the emperor’s new clothes wished to actually listen. The strategy that aimed to turn the Iranian nuclear issue into an international problem – particularly, an American problem – enchanted the deadly mix of left-leaning media and rightist politicians evading the challenge at their doorsteps. This cocktail ensures that no other opinion will ever be debated among the decision makers – at least not in the public eye.
The principle that we must defend ourselves by ourselves was the guiding light of all of Israel’s governments – from the Sinai Campaign until the First Gulf War. This principle was first violated by the late Yitzhak Shamir, who sent Israelis into sealed rooms and left the war against Saddam Hussein to an international coalition. This opened the gate to the premature end to his rule, orchestrated by the U.S., and to the first moves toward Oslo.
I explained that America would not attack Iran. I explained that the legitimacy for an attack would steadily disintegrate, both throughout the world and in Israel. I explained that Israel must attack Iran, not only to remove the nuclear threat but even more so to restore its legitimacy to exist, and with that legitimate existence to prevent the terrible price tag that the world will demand of us if we leave our security in its hands. All of my forecasts are currently coming true.
The reliable and widely read British magazine, The Economist, recently announced to its readers that Iran crossed the red line that Netanyahu drew in the UN long ago. According to the magazine, President Obama does not intend to attack Iran, and the Israelis won’t do it either. Yet again, red lines are being ignored by the relevant parties.
Israel’s Left is already at work. MK Mickey Rosenthal of the Labor Party initiated a Knesset deliberation titled, “Israel’s refusal to recognize the new positive reality.” Dov Khenin (Hadash) and Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) even invited an American doctor to explain to the Knesset that Israel must divest itself of its nuclear weapons. “Have you already pressured your president to destroy the Iranian nuclear weapon before you call upon Israel to divest itself of its nuclear weapons?” I asked the American “expert.” “Of course not!” the “expert” decisively answered.
The strategy of making our security dependent on the non-Jews is collapsing before the prime minister’s eyes. The election of a “moderate” president in Iran was the deathblow to the hopes for American intervention. The emperor’s new clothes are turning out to be an illusion. What will he wear now?
The answer is, once again, the renewal of the diplomatic process. The emperor’s new clothes will be “peace” garments. The garments of retreat and destruction of settlements always give a rightist prime minister the opportunity to smooth over a strategic failure. The Left will always provide legitimacy, as will the cheers of the foolish masses.
The U.S. may have promised the prime minister that it would act in Iran in exchange for a new “Disengagement.” The Americans will not keep their promise – and that is all for the better. Because the loss of legitimacy and the pressure that would come on the heels of such an action are much more dangerous than the Iranian bomb. The results of an American attack on Iran will be even more dangerous to Israel than Oslo, which was the result of the foreign attacks on the scuds sent our way by Saddam.
Netanyahu must attack Iran immediately. That is the only solution. If he does not do so, he will have signed himself onto the worst of all Israeli collapses: worse than Camp David, worse than Oslo, worse than the Disengagement.
Just like all of his predecessors who led the Right, the diplomatic process that Netanyahu is now being dragged into will not stabilize his government. Besides the loss of the land, Netanyahu will also lose his ruling position and the Likud will find itself in a place similar to that of Kadima.
This column was translated from Hebrew and originally appeared in Makor Rishon.
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