Most Israeli citizens don´t want a war with Iran (GUARDIAN UK COMMENT) Mehdi Hasan 04/30/12)
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Binyamin Netanyahu and western hawks who seek an early strike are
ignoring Israel´s security experts and people
Time for a quiz question. Last week, who said Binyamin Netanyahu and
Ehud Barak Israel´s prime minister and defence minister "are
misleading the public on the Iran issue" and making decisions "based
on messianic feelings"? Was it (a) Iran´s president, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad; (b) the Stop the War Coalition president, Tony Benn; or
(c) the former Israeli spymaster Yuval Diskin?
It was (c). At a public meeting on Friday Diskin, former head of Shin
Bet (Israel´s MI5), described Netanyahu and Barak as "not fit to hold
the steering wheel of power". He went on: "I have observed them from
They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to
lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off
the public that if Israel acts, Iran won´t have a nuclear bomb. This
is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack
would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race."
Diskin joins a long list of eminent members of the Israeli security
establishment who have publicly voiced criticism of, and opposition
to, their government´s ultra-hawkish line on Iran. In fact, his
astonishing attack on his former bosses came just 48 hours after the
head of Israel´s military, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, declared
that the Iranian leadership had not yet made a decision to build
nuclear weapons, that it was unlikely to go this "extra mile", and
was composed of "very rational people". "Decisions must be made
carefully out of historic responsibility but without hysteria," added
Gantz in a not-too-subtle dig at his political masters.
Last month, in an unprecedented move, Meir Dagan, the former head of
the Mossad Israel´s foreign intelligence service took to the
airwaves in the US, using an interview with CBS to tell his American
audience how a war with Iran would be "devastating" for Israelis
because it would "ignite, at least from my point of view, a regional
war". (He had earlier described an Israeli attack on Iran as "the
stupidest idea I´ve ever heard".)
Meanwhile, Dagan´s predecessor, Efraim Halevy, has said "it is not in
the power of Iran to destroy the state of Israel", and that "the
growing Haredi radicalisation poses a bigger risk than Ahmadinejad".
Then there is the current head of the Mossad, Tamir Pardo, who is
said to have told an audience of Israeli diplomats in December that a
nuclear-armed Iran would not constitute an "existential threat" to
But this isn´t just about spymasters or generals. There is no
consensus favouring military action against Iran within Israel´s
political establishment either. Recent media reports have suggested
Netanyahu and Barak are isolated within their own cabinet; Daniel Ben-
Simon, a Labour party member of the Israeli parliament, has called
them "a two-man show" or, as a recent headline in the New York
Times put it, "Two Israeli leaders make the Iran issue their own".
Shaul Mofaz, the opposition leader of the Kadima party and a former
head of the Israeli army has objected to Netanyahu´s obsession with
attacking Iran. "The greatest threat to the state of Israel is not
nuclear Iran," Mofaz said in an interview earlier this month, citing
the unresolved conflict with the Palestinians as a much more pressing
issue. The Israeli president, Shimon Peres, told CNN in November that
he preferred a "moral" attack on Iran, not a military one.
Oh, and guess what? The Israeli public is far from gung-ho. According
to a poll released last month by the Israeli Democracy Institute and
Tel Aviv University, 63% of Israelis oppose a unilateral Israeli
strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. An earlier poll, for the
University of Maryland in February, revealed only a fifth of Israelis
favoured a strike on Iran without the support of the United States.
There is an important lesson here for the west´s hawks and doves
alike. The hawks in the Commons and Congress who invoke Israel´s
national security as the chief justification for a pre-emptive attack
on Iran are ignoring the expert opinions of Israel´s own military and
intelligence chiefs, both past and present. Meanwhile, the doves who
take to the streets with anti-war placards that blame the Jewish
state for exaggerating the threat from Iran should consider replacing
the word "Israel" with "Netanyahu".
It is the cynical and belligerent "Bibi" who takes every opportunity
to fear-monger about a Nazi-like threat from Iran. In a speech this
month to mark the Holocaust, he proclaimed: "People who refuse to see
the Iranian threat have learned nothing from the Shoah [Holocaust]."
And last month in the US, he compared bombing Iran to bombing
But Netanyahu isn´t Israel a nation of 7.8 million people,
including 1.6 million Arabs. Those of us opposed to another
catastrophic conflict in the Middle East should not allow his
alarmist and messianic rhetoric to drown out the voices of Israel´s
doves: those critics of military action, who, ironically, are far
more numerous and outspoken than the doves on Capitol Hill or in
Westminster, and have far better credentials.
Just as it is wrong to reduce Iran to Ahmadinejad, or the US to
George Bush, it is wrong, and counter-productive, to reduce Israel to
Netanyahu. Its ordinary citizens don´t want war with Iran, and the
country´s top spooks and soldiers are queueing up to tell us why.
(guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2012 04/30/12)
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