Yuval Diskin and Iran (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By TZACHI HANEGBI 05/04/12)
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Yuval Diskin, the former head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security
Agency), has an impressive record in the non-stop battle Israel
fights against terrorism. As with intelligence chiefs and secret
services worldwide, most of his achievements will remain confidential
even in generations to come.
It appears, and not for the first time, that rich operational and
security experience do not guarantee success in the public arena.
Diskinís outburst in the media contained two basic errors that
usually characterize young politicians. The first was unrefined
personal bickering with political opponents. The second was a
preference for generalized statements instead of in-depth reasoning.
Despite his amateur opening, there is no reason to doubt the purity
of Diskinís intentions. As chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs
and Defense Committee, I followed Diskinís activities for five
Diskin has integrity and has never backtracked from presenting all
his views, even when these conflicted with his commandersí views. The
government spokesmen who try to attribute to him a hidden agenda,
personal or political, should be condemned.
Ministers who rushed to defend the dignity of the prime minister and
defense minister fell into the exact same pothole that Diskin did.
Instead of making a serious attempt to counter the criticism of
Diskin, they chose instead to slander his motives and stain his past.
One minister stated that ďDiskin continues a tradition of stupid
Shabak [Shin Bet] leaders.Ē A second minister argued that ďbecause of
Diskin, [Gilad] Schalit rotted for years in captivity.Ē
One would expect that responsible leaders would respond to criticism
in a substantive way and not be dragged into a violent ďtalkbackĒ
Diskin, like former Mossad director Meir Dagan, has warned against
the dangerous consequences of Israeli action against Iranís nuclear
His criticism focused on three issues. First, the estimate that a
military strike cannot prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear
capability. Second, the possibility that an attack would in reality
dramatically accelerate the Iranian nuclear program. And most
importantly, Diskinís decisive assertion that he has no confidence in
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
There is no point in arguing against Diskinís subjective feelings
regarding the level of trust he has for Israelís current leadership.
He has every right as a citizen who wants to influence the future of
his country to disapprove of personalities seeking the publicís trust
and to state this publicly. But Diskinís statements on the Iranian
issue raise fundamental doubts.
Regarding the question of Iran, Diskin has no advantage over any
other skilled commentator. His specialties are fighting terrorism,
countering ideological radical elements and exposing spies against
The Iranian threat poses the countryís leaders with dilemmas
different from those which Diskin successfully faced for many years.
It is directly connected to the political world, Israelís foreign
relations, our alliance with the United States, complex technology
and military tactics, as well as intelligence and operational matters
that are not the Shin Betís responsibility.
Diskin, of course, should not be prevented from expressing an opinion
on this crucial subject, but the complexity of the issue requires
that any reference to it be much deeper than a mere mention of two
Whoever sees it as his duty to warn against a certain policy is not
exempt from the necessity to present a full view on the issue in
question. It is also his duty to offer a real alternative to a policy
In Diskinís statement, many dimensions were missing: Does he agree
with the assumption that Iran intends to arm itself with nuclear
weapons? Does he recommend waiting for US military action? Does he
believe there is a chance that such action will take place? Does he
hope the sanctions imposed on Iran will change the situation? Is
there any benefit from the resumption of negotiations between the
superpowers and Iran?
Would a global acceptance of a nuclear Iran lead to a change in
Diskinís approach to the subject? Is an Israeli acceptance of a
nuclear Iran preferable to attacking Iran? What is his solution to
the danger that the failure of the global effort to prevent the
nuclearization of Iran could lead Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states,
Turkey, Egypt and Jordan to join a nuclear race?
Is he concerned about the possibility of tactical nuclear weapons
falling into the hands of a terrorist organization in Middle East
states armed with weapons of mass destruction? These are just some of
the questions Diskin, like many of the opponents of using force
against the Iranian nuclear program, has not yet made a true and
courageous attempt to answer. Letís hope that Diskinís next public
appearance will focus on this.
This article was translated by Moria Dashevsky.The writer is a former
cabinet minister and chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee (Kadima). (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/04/12)
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