|Barak & Sect. Clinton in July (Handout/Getty Images Europe)|
Last night a few hundred angry and worried demonstrators gathered outside Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s luxury apartment in a new hi-rise building in the heart of Tel Aviv to protest against the possibility of an Israeli-initiated war with Iran. ….
In my neighborhood, and as I wander around Tel Aviv, people are anxious about all the war talk, and they really don’t understand what is going on.
The weekend scare headlines declared “Netanyahu and Barak are Determined to Attack Iran in the Fall” (Yediot Aharonot). And yesterday Netanyahu asked for and received more executive powers from his cabinet.
And yet we are told that the entire current senior security echelon – IDF Chief of Staff General Benny Gantz, Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel, Mossad Head Tamir Perdo and Military Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, are opposed, though they are not allowed to speak about this in public. Recently retired heads of the security establishment, who can speak in public, including former Chief-of-Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former Mossad Head Meir Dagan and former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin have all spoken out strongly against the move. And they have been joined by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and head of the opposition Shaul Mofaz, also a former Chief of Staff. Even the majority of the eight members of Netanyahu’s inner cabinet, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon, another former Chief of Staff, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor, are opposed.
Most importantly, President Barack Obama and all of his representatives have repeatedly stated that there is still time for the combination of sanctions and determined diplomacy to work. ….
Is Barak a successor to Rabin?As for Barak, he remains an enigma. He claims to be a successor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The problem with that analogy is that Rabin believed that it was essential to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to significant reduce the tensions between Israel and the Arab and Moslem world and isolate a hostile Iran, making it easier to confront it. And Rabin considered Israel’s alliance and coordination with the American government to be the foundation of Israel’s security and political interests. Barak has not followed that path. ….
Clearly, it would be extremely dangerous if Iran were to obtain a nuclear weapons option, even if their declared aim is only defensive. If the Iranians obtain nuclear weapons it would set in motion a chain reaction of nuclear proliferation in the region, probably including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, creating an extremely unstable and dangerous situation.
But there is a consensus among the local and international commentators that Israel cannot prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons on its own.
The combination of sanctions and determined diplomacy must be given a chance to work.
Helsinki Conference for a Nuclear and WMD Free Zone in the Middle East Surprisingly, one element which is not a part of the public discourse in Israel is the fact that a conference is scheduled to take place in Helsinki, at the end of 2012, to discuss the dynamics of the creation of a Nuclear and Mass Destruction Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East ….
The Case Against the Case Against Bombing Iran:
As an Israeli and an uncompromising opponent of my country’s West Bank apartheid policy, I say that If Israel can take out the Iranian nuclear program, I’m all for it. There’s a deadly calculus behind whatever decision is a made. Runaway nuclear proliferation in the Mideast in the wake of an Iranian bomb versus a hostile and angry Iran following an Israeli airstrike. A brief rocket war with hundreds of Israeli casualties versus a major, long term shift in the strategic balance of power in favor of Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas and a possible Islamic power that emerges from the rubble of the Syrian civil war. The list of tradeoffs is a long one. Those in the Israel defense establishment who oppose a strike are not of one stripe. Some do the “calculus” and say the costs outweigh the benefits. Some think what we’re missing is American backing. Some think we can’t do it before the US presidential elections. Is it a problem of timing, of coordination, or a matter of principle? Not being an expert, I wouldn’t venture to pontificate on the first two. But if we can get the timing and the logistics right, I’d give the order tomorrow morning and reduce those reactors to rubble. And you know what? The peace process might ultimately benefit. A post strike Israeli government will have used up its remaining political credit and be in no position to resist American demands on the West Bank. Having “spent his wad,” Bibi might be more than willing to sacrifice the settler lunatics to replenish IDF arsenals and reestablish good will. And it’s also good to remind the other side in the negotiating process – there are existential lines that cannot be crossed.
Sam Shube, Jerusalem. See More