An Op-Ed by Nahum Barnea in today’s Yediot Aharonot lambasts PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak for moving to strike Iran. What does this mean? The two face high-powered internal opposition, and the opposition is now starting to go public.
If Israel eventually realizes that bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities would be an act of absolute madness, I think Nahum Barnea’s column today in Yediot Aharonot may be remembered for having been the turning point. He’s calling out Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak for cooking up an attack, maybe before this winter, maybe afterward, even though the security establishment, foreign governments and relatively level-headed members of this government are completely against it. Barnea, the best-connected, most influential journalist in Israel, almost certainly is writing with the encouragement of at least some of these top officials. The column, which dominated Yediot’s front page and is titled “Atomic pressure,” seems clearly intended to foil Netanyahu and Barak’s plans by exposing them to the light. It begins:
“Have the prime minister and defense minister settled on a decision, just between the two of them, to launch a military attack on the nuclear facilities in Iran? This question preoccupies many people in the defense establishment and high circles of government. It distresses foreign governments, which find it difficult to understand what is happening here: One the one hand, there are mounting rumors of an Israeli move that will change the face of the Middle East and possibly seal Israel’s fate for generations to come; on the other hand, there is a total absence of any public debate. The issue of whether to attack Iran is at the bottom of the Israeli discourse.”
“Ahmadinejad is Hitler; if he isn’t stopped in time, there will be another Holocaust. There are those who describe Netanyahu’s attitude on the matter as an obsession: All his life he dreamed of being Churchill; Iran gives him the opportunity. The popularity he gained as a result of the Shalit deal didn’t pacify him: the opposite, it gave him a sense of power.”
A military technocrat – all the way to doomsday. And one who has immunized himself from differing opinions, even when they come from someone as authoritative as former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who’s said an Israeli attack on Iran is “the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” and would set off a “regional war.” So here, according to Barnea, is how Barak assimilates this information:
“He figures Dagan’s opposition stems from psychological motives: As head of the Mossad [until the beginning of this year], Dagan was credited with extraordinary achievements in jamming up Iran’s nuclear project. A military operation so soon after the end of his tenure would diminish the significance of those achievements.”
I don’t think of either of them as being evil, but then as an Israeli, I’m not objective. What I do think, and this didn’t start today, is that the chance of an Israeli attack on Iran is the greatest immediate danger facing the world. And after Barnea’s article, I would say that as of today, Netanyahu and Barak are the two most dangerous men on earth.
“Now of all times, when the sense abroad is that Iran’s nuclear progress is slowing, the rumors tell of pressure [in Israel] to act. One of the factors is the weather: Winter is coming, and in winter there are limitations [such as poor visibility for pilots – L.D.]. Others look further ahead: They say that after winter comes spring, and then summer [the traditional season for Israeli military attacks – L.D.].”