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The fight is on to stop Bibi and Barak from bombing Iran

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.”

Barnea writes that Netanyahu ‘s thinking goes like this:

“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.”

Barak’s motivations are more prosaic and to-the-point, Barnea writes. The defense minister thinks that just as Israel knocked out the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear facilities in the past, so it must knock out Iran’s now: “That’s the strategy; that’s the tradition.”

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.”

What a petty, intellectually dishonest, insecure individual this Barak is. What a self-adoring, delusional, reckless-minded individual this Netanyahu is. These are the two most powerful people in this country, each one thinks he’s God, and together they’re trying to start what could  turn into a regional WMD war all by their lonesome, simply by ramming it through the national councils of power, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

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.].”

Netanyahu and Barak must be stopped, urgently. The good news is that some very powerful people, including Israel’s leading journalist, are fully aware of this, and they are now on the case. At the risk of opening my mouth to Satan, I think sanity will prevail.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Reality Check

      Nations fight wars not to win wars, but to fight wars. If not Iran, then who? Israel needs an enemy to justify its actions, its existence, if not Iran now, then who? When? The beast needs to be fed or the sheep will tear themselves loose of the ribbons that bind them as one.

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    2. KL

      Larry,

      How much influence does the US have on Bibi? If Obama says no to the bombing Bibi will have to cave in. Our CIA intelligence in Iran will dictate Obama’s decision. The US and Israeli interests lies with Sunnis in the Middle East. Keeping a heel on the neck of Shiite Iran and Syria is essential to managing the mutual interests of the Arab/Muslim Middle East, Israel, the US and Western Europe.

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    3. aristeides

      Obama can’t say no to Israel on anything. Congress has him by the balls and AIPAC has Congress.

      Netanyahu’s urgency is doubtless because he sees that the clowns, jokers and ignoroids running for the office as Republicans can’t possibly win, and he fears Obama might become more independent if he’s reelected. This gives him a year.

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    4. KL, I agree completely with the first pgh of Aristeides’ answer, and partially with the second pgh. I think the other possible reasons for his urgency is the uncertainty over when Iran will go nuclear, and just the impatience that comes with obsession, especially one you’ve been carrying around for years.

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    5. Richard Witty

      Why is this night different from other nights?

      The rumors of war have been “certain” for five years now, but not executed.

      Why is this night different?

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    6. j buckley

      you are absolutely right that this is the first aim. precisely for this reason I would urge you to take the time and scrutinise the following attempt to connect the (domestic and regional) dots. how exactly to stop this process is a topic that is hardly discussed seriously.

      Unparallel Universes: Iran and Israel’s One-state Solution
      http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13600826.2011.577031

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    7. Ex Israeli

      The criminals just might do it (they have just got the law changed in the UK… Syria is clearly a target also. They’ve been planning it, with the neocons, for years. so far their plan to change regime in 7 ME countries (Wes Clark) seem to be doing well and in progress.

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    8. ToivoS

      An Israeli attack against Iran just seems inconceivable. In 2007 it felt there might be a threat of an American attack but it now looks like it was never considered seriously inside the government except for Cheney. It was our military command that persuaded Bush to not do it.

      These multiple respectable voices inside Israel issuing these warnings is quite disconcerting. Has this central question been answered: How could Israel even physically gain access to Iranian airspace without active co-operation of the US Air commands?

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    9. Colm O' Toole

      Well speaking as someone who got burned before (back in 2006) by asserting to everyone interested that there would be an attack I’ve got to take the sceptical line today.

      Geo-politics dictates that Israel would never be so stupid. Israel not only have to consider the US (and those skyrocketing oil prices wouldn’t go over well there) but Europe, which Israel would lose completely. Russia, China would freak to put it mildly.

      Power Politics would probably win out and stop Israel from shooting itself in the head.

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    10. Piotr Berman

      I actually agree with Witty: what is different today?

      Nahum Barnea seems to hate Netanyahu and Barak, with a good reason, but nevertheless it may fog either his judgment or intentions. What is the real issue with Israel and Iran?

      There is some symmetry here. Iran poses to Israel a problem that cannot be solved, and thus focus on Iran is a useful diversion from problems that can be solved, like peace with Palestinians. It is a very persuasive diversion “how can we think about the peace with Palestinians if they could become Iran’s ally and thus a mortal danger?”. Diminitive Palestinian state is not a persuasive mortal danger, but with the help of King of Kings (sorry, Supreme Leader), who knows?

      Israel poses to Iran a problem that cannot be solved, and justifies not solving problems like continuing repressions. Well, one should observe that both states engage in repressions while Jews and devout Shias, respective majorities, enjoy something like democracy. So the symmetry goes a long way. But not all the way.

      Apart from rhetoric, what each government can do? Israel made atomic bombs to assure a retaliation (some call it Sampson option), and perceiving symmetry, it (she? they?) thinks that Iran will “surely” do the same. Iran strategy seems to me both much more dangerous and more clever than both government and opposition in Israel does imagine. Step one: develop production of cost effective weapons that can counter — not you, little Israel — USA. This is a combination of the usual conventional weapons, missiles and mines. Step two: develop a web of alliances with other malcontents of American power in the region. As American power wobbles, and Assad of Syria seem to recover etc., an alliance could potentially span from Beirut to Islamabad (recall Karzai telling a reporter that in a conflict of USA and Pakistan, Afghans would side with Pakistan). Step three: would there be a major American attack, stop traffic in the Strait of Hormuz and make a series of demands that would be both reasonable and humiliating.

      Nukes in this master plan form a gigantic distraction, and a bait for the trap. Iran can win a confrontation only if attacked. A small attack would be declared a victory (we survived, they did not achieve their goals etc) and lead to minor retaliations. A major attack would be a convincing casus belli for mutually assured economic destruction, closing of the Hormuz, to an immense irritation of main Iranian trading partners (with an important exception of Russia) and American creditors. The aftermath can be a disaster for the side which is blamed more (Iran, or USA). Would Israel be at the center of it, the consequences will not be pretty.

      This is the Great Game for Asia. USA has a lot a lot of military bases/positions and tells a lot of countries what to do (Turkey, oil Arabs, Pakistan, India, China) with variable degree of success. Americans can be (potentially) booted out and told to shut up.

      As it is, Iraq is already in alliance with Iran. As Syria is subjected to sanctions, Iraq opened 5 billion credit line to Syria and perhaps it can launder Syrian oil export (small but important for the regime). Turkey already defied financial sanctions on Iran that USA tries to enforce, on behalf on India. Pakistan is on track to receive Iranian gas, and perhaps India too — once that scheme is in place, trade with Iran will be more important to Pakistan than American aid. By year end, Americans are out of Iraq: would Iranians be inclined to send troops to Syria, they will go openly and officially.

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    11. AYLA

      two truly ignorant and overly-general questions: 1) why no revolution in Iran? 2) how to Persians really feel about Ahmadinejad?

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    12. AYLA

      sorry didn’t explicitly link my questions to post. love the primary and secondary text–excellent, important post. my questions are coming from my overly-simplistic fantasy that Ahmadinejad could be overthrown by his own people.

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    13. Philos

      I think we are over looking a key factor here in the shape of international relations today: the USA and her European allies will not tolerate a nuclear armed Iran and neither will Russia.
      Israel attacking Iran is the stupidest idea anyone has heard because that would preempt an inevitable coordinated Western strike against Iran. I read Barnea’s article and I don’t know where he gets the idea that the pressure in the West to his Iran is diminishing. One only has to read recent statements issued by Sarkozy and Merkel (not the most famous hawks) to get an idea of the growing consensus in NATO of the need to hit the Iranians hard. The Russian’s recently ran a series of military exercises with their former Republics bordering on Iran simulating an Iranian retaliation against those oil fields. If Iran continues to march towards nuclear armament it will be attacked but not by Israel. Israel doing it would put the West in an awkward position to put it mildly.
      The problem here in Israel is that everyone, and I mean everyone, thinks the universe revolves around this little country. One is ridiculed here for believing that the very idea of Egyptian tanks in Tel Aviv is laughable, for claiming that not the Fogel killers aren’t representative of the Arab people and that one is naive for not thinking that the Arab world is just like Gaza. So apparently to be Israeli you must simultaneously believe we’re strong enough to bomb Iran yet not strong enough to resist an Arab invasion and that the Arabs are going to murder us with knives.
      If Israel were to conduct a strike against Iran it will be because the entire (Jewish part) of the nation is gripped by psychoses of inferiority/superiority complexes, and Bibi and Barak know it.

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    14. AYLA

      @Philos, I like this: “nation gripped by psychoses of inferiority/superiority complexes”, as well as your attention to the effect of our psychological state on foreign affairs, national security, domestic policy, and everything else. I’d add that Bibi and Barak and Yishai and etc. aren’t only aware of these states; they contribute to them. And the list of psychological states from which we suffer is long. Same can be said for Palestinians. In this regard, we create each other. We’re family.

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    15. an alliance of European countries? while the arms to finish the Libyan campaign were already missing? you dream my friend. Europeans are only able to manage operations to maintain peace. Iran will have nuclear capacity that is evident to many experts (they may already have) and Israel can not do anything militarily against ca. and the U.S. military is completely opposed to another war of this magnitude, it can not win.

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    16. A nuclear Iran is a serious option, already envisaged in the Westerns countries. the policy today is already a political formula with a nuclear Iran, but not to prevent this, which is probably impossible, unless prolonged physical invasion and occupation. and you know Westerners do not have that capacity today!

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    17. Richard Witty

      Egyptian tanks in Tel Aviv is absurd. Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian missiles in Tel Aviv is not.

      Last week, Assad declared that if ANY attack occurred on Syrian soil by ANY western power, that they would request/order Hezbollah to unleash its 20,000 rockets on Israel.

      They didn’t do that when the reported foundation of nuclear facility was bombed. Who knows?

      The Iranian nuclear capacity is meant as a deterrent, but it is not meant as a deterrent to an Israeli direct confrontation. It is meant as a deterrent in the same sense that Assad’s statement was a “deterrent”. It is meant as a hostage relationship relative to US and European interests and power in the region.

      “We will kill your loved one” if you mess with us. Not, “we will kill you”.

      So, should the US long-term response to that be, “we don’t want to be held hostage. I know, the way that we can accomplish that is to renounce our love.”?

      The avoidance of the two continents moving towards each other is for Iran to note that it is risking its survival if it attacks Israel or the US.

      But, it might strategically perceive that it doesn’t have the option of intra-regional confidence, but must have inter-regional dominance.

      When does water turn to ice? When does a balance of tensions, shift to a destabalization? When does a bicycle wheel turn too fast?

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    18. aristeides

      The factor that everyone seems to be ignoring is that Iran is not at war with any of the states threatening it. While Israel’s attacks on Iraq and Syrian sites were reprehensible, they were not strictly speaking illegal, because those nations are still officially in a state of war with Israel, following the 1967 Israeli aggression.

      .
      Iran, otoh, is and has not been at war with Israel. Any attack would be naked aggression. If Israel tries to claim that it is “self-defense” to attack a nation just because it has nuclear power, then Israel is declaring itself a legitimate target.

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    19. Dan Friedman

      Listening to Barnea is a big mistake. Listening to Derfner quote Barnea only compounds it.

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    20. AYLA

      @Aristeides: well put.

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    21. Ben Israel

      There is no chance that Israel will attack Iran. Bibi is terrified of world opinion, and he must hide behind Barak’s skirts, because the world will NEVER allow a war started by the Likud, like the 1982 War in Lebanon. Ever since then all major military operations were carried out by Leftist “peace process” governments…..”Grapes of Wrath” by Peres in 1996, the suicide bomber war which started under Barak in 2000, the Lebanon II and Cast Lead/Gaza wars under Olmert. Everyone is aware that HIZBULLAH has tens of thousands of rockets to fire at Israel, and the only option Israel would have to counter it is massive bombing, which would never be tolerated by the world if started by the Likud. It is important to note that the IDF is no longer viewed as a competant fighting force, particularly for complex operations that involve ground forces.
      Here is link to the “Right-wing” satirical video program that shocked me by its ridiculing of the senior IDF brass, once the “holy-of-holies” to the Israeli Right. This shows how low in public estimation the IDF has fallen:
      http://www.youtube.com/user/LatmaTV#p/a/u/0/R8hwRqiVSm8
      Thus, in a very risky operation conducted by the IDF, the government and army would not be able to count on public support if it went bad.
      Very sticky situation.

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    22. Ben Israel

      I forgot to mention that since Bibi has to hide behind Barak’s skirts (because Barak was formerly identified with the Labor Party and the ‘peace process’) there is no danger of Israel doing anything against Iran. Barak is a defeatist and incompetant bungler who has failed in every major initiative he has taken, of which the bungled Turkish flotilla is just one of the later examples.. Add to that his even worse predecessor as Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, a second rate union hack who was put in a position way beyond his capabilities, and the whole fighting ability of the IDF has been badly compromised. I repeat, I think the gov’t knows people do hot have confidence in them and will not back a dangerous operation that has a high probability of failure.

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    23. Philos

      @ Ayla, thanks for the that and I agree that the ruling elites here contribute to this national psychosis. I also think that Israeli and Palestinian ontologies are dependent on one another; they cannot relate to themselves without the other.
      Karim I am afraid you are making the mistake that every opponent of Western power has made for the last 100-years; that they are weak, too liberal and ineffectual. I am not a proponent of neo-imperialism or of war but I’ll call a spade, a spade when I see it. Heaps of news and commentary have been made about America and Europe being unable to fight wars but America got involved in three wars simultaneously until recently: Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq. Whilst these wars are painful for the people on the wrong end of the NATO gun sight one can say that they’ve been prosecuted without NATO breaking too much of a sweat collectively. Remember that in the height of a recession none of these states reduced their defense budgets significantly and no political pressure has been brought to bear on them to stop fighting. NATO is capable of inflicting great damage on Iran; they’re combined defence spending accounts for two-thirds of global defence spending. China isn’t being unreasonable in modernizing its military when one considers how this alliance dwarfs all other nations in terms of sheer military capability during “peace time.” Imagine if they were to mobilize their economies for “war time”? We’d be looking at an unstoppable machine. The US didn’t even mobilize (in the sense that it requisitioned industrial sectors towards the war effort) for its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The only way Iran can balance against this overwhelming firepower is by developing a nuclear arsenal with a second-strike capability. That’s why the US and its closest allies in NATO will never allow them to acquire nuclear weapons.

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    24. Philos

      @ Ben Israel, the far right doesn’t consider the IDF to be competent because they don’t go around massacring civilians in the tens of thousands. They consider the IDF incompetent because the organization doesn’t pursue all the goals of the right-wing agenda and engages in the occasional (and infrequent) demolition of “illegal” settlements.
      I can assure you that the IDF is a very capable and competent fighting force. Its competence is so feared that Syria has spent the last few decades building a massive stockpile of missiles because it knows its military doesn’t stand a chance. To suggest otherwise is preposterous and is to succumb to the “national psychosis” I mentioned earlier

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    25. aristeides

      Philos – Iran has the right to defend itself.

      Iran has the right to a deterrent capacity.

      That’s what a “second-strike” capacity is about. Not aggression. Defence.

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    26. Richard Witty

      Aristeides,
      Iran does not have and will likely never have second-strike capacity against the US or any European power.

      It is developing the second-strike capacity for the purpose of hostage-taking, to point at Israel, whether Israel is/was a party to military conflict or not.

      Saudi Arabia will not militarily attack Iran. India is very unlikely to militarily attack Iran. Iraq did, but is highly unlikely to attack again especially now that Iraq is majority and democratically elected Shia.

      Iran wants nukes for indirect offensive capacity, not for direct.

      Anyone that claims that Iran is not a sponsor of aggression, has their head in the sand.

      Maybe they were “asked” by Lebanon, Syria, Hamas, Islamic Jihad for weapons, training, funding, encouragement, but that is a strained definition of being asked.

      And maybe you can say that 20,000 rockets in Lebanon is deterrent, but when threatened to be used if Iran is attacked, they are no longer deterrent, unless you consider Lebanon to be sovereign Iran.

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    27. RichardNYC

      @ARISTEDIS
      “Iran has the right to a deterrent capacity.”
      In the form of nuclear arms, it does not. It forfeited this right under international law.

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    28. aristeides

      When it comes to nuclear arms, the only law is fait accompli.

      Iran is far closer to compliance than Israel, the outlaw nuclear power.

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    29. Ben Israel

      Philos-
      The harsh criticism of the IDF has come from all over the political spectrum. Ha’aretz ran a number of articles recently for their inability to free Shalit. Of course there was the withering criticism of the IDF for its failure in the Lebanon war and the fact that it used extremely unimaginate “bomb the hell out of them” tactics in the Gaza War.
      In fact, the IDF IS effective in carrying out what you call “the right wing agenda”, i.e. keeping the peace in Judea/Samaria and allowing the Jews there to live normal lives. These are low-level operations against terrorists. What I was referring to was complex operations involving ground units and light, fast-moving commando units that could have been used in the Gaza war to make pinpoint attacks but which weren’t and the resulting “bomb them” strategy lead to civilian casualties which brought Goldstone donw on us.

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    30. Ben Israel

      Philos-
      Why do you assume the “Right” wants to see the “massacre of Arab civilians”. IT WAS THE LEFT THAT PROMISED THIS when they bamboozled the population into supporting Oslo, and the unilateral withdrawals from Gaza and Lebanon. As we all know, large-scale killing of civilians brings the wrath of the world down on us and increases the pressure for concessions to the Arabs which the Right DOESN’T want. It is the Right that wants peace and quiet and it was the Left that promises mass use of force which became necessary because their concessions destroyed Israel’s deterrance and territorial buffers. That is why teh Right today, as you see in the LATMA clip, has become very skeptical about the IDF and it is the Left which have become the big “militarists” (“We can rely of the IDF..they know what they are doing…we can make concessions because the IDF will use massive force against the Arabs if they act up”). You have everything backwards.

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    31. Richard Witty

      You know that things are in a strange zone, when Israeli “patriots” declare that the IDF is unreliable and irrelevant.

      Danger.

      The good old days invoked, you know, when Saul was king.

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    32. AYLA

      Actually, @Richard Witty, there’s a big rift between the religious far right and the IDF. That came as news to me at some point, also. But now it makes sense to me, because I’m beginning (just beginning) to understand the layers of insane complexity here. It ain’t pretty.

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    33. Ben Israel

      Richard-
      There are many layers of Zionism. I consider myself Zionist but I have friends you would consider to be “hard-line Right-wingers” but who won’t call themselves Zionists, but rather “Jews from Eretz Israel”. One layer of Zionism is support for Jewish self-determination in Eretz Israel without regard to whatever regime is in power. The second interprets being a Zionist as being a supporter of the state apparatus-sort of a “my country right or wrong” attitude. This would say “a patriot supports the IDF no matter what it does, whether fighting Israel’s enemies or plowing under Jewish settlements and expelling their Jewish population”.
      Some of the members of 972 say they are Israelis and not Jews. Is that Zionism? Not in my book. Philos is partly correct regarding “right-wing attitudes” towards the IDF at least regarding the past. Right-wingers used to generally support a militaristic policy regarding maximum use of force and “turning the IDF loose against our enemies”. If you saw the LATMA clip I posted above, you see today that many on the Right view the chief job of IDF Generals today as to explaining why the IDF can’t fight anymore. That is why there are so many Generals and former SHABAK people in the KADIMAH party. KADIMAH feels that they can convince the population that it is not possible to have security if you have enough Generals babbling about why that is the case. Unfortunately, the population seems to have bought this line which ultimately means that the state views having civilians being killed as preferable to having the IDF fight to protect those civilians. This is a grossly immoral policy and this has affected the way many patriotic(and I use the term here in a positive sense) have lost faith in the regime in power and its armed forces.

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    34. Philos

      Aristeides, as soon as Iran signed on to the NPT it lost its right to pursue nuclear armament both morally and legally. Israel never signed the treaty and is thus not subject to its moral and legal implications. However, in the event of a war Iran has the right to defend itself (short of committing war crimes against its attackers). As Richward Witty pointed out its nuclear weapons program cannot simply be construed as a deterrent because its overall foreign policy posture has been one of aggression against its neighbours.
      Ben Israel, “the population seems to have bought this line which ultimately means that the state views having civilians being killed as preferable to having the IDF fight to protect those civilians”; please show me where it says the the job of the IDF is to protect the Palestinian civilian population. Furthermore, the type of ground operations you want to see in Gaza would be the equivalent of the massacres the Right-Wing keep calling for. What do you think will happen when you roll in a division of armor into the Gaza Strip? The Goldstone Report pointed out that although aerial bombing accounted for the majority of civilian killings by the IDF, the most egregious war crimes were committed by ground forces. Using IDF ground forces against a civilian population will bring a lot more opprobrium than aerial bombardment and thank God that nobody in the IDF command listens to anyone from the Right on strategy or tactics. Otherwise we’d all be bearded warriors, using the Torah Ha’Melekch and murdering bound prisoners and babies. So don’t lecture the Israeli Left about militarism when your side has these wingnuts running free and speaking on your behalf.

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    35. Philos

      @ Ayla, yes it ain’t pretty. And I think I’m throwing in the towel and leaving for a few years to recuperate morally, spiritually and financially. This ain’t an easy country to live in and that’s probably why Israelis jump at every chance they have to leave, even for a weekend. This national madness can be maddening on an individual level

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    36. Ex Israeli

      Philos, reading your comments above I said to myself: this can only be said by someone who has been exposed to Israeli mentality for far too long (possibly from young age). Personally, I’ve been 20 years out and I’m still “recuperating”. This is not a place for any man. Only soldiers. And this explains pretty much everything(!) you need to know about the place.

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    37. AYLA

      @Philos–I simply cannot imagine what it is like to have been born here. And from me, that’s saying a lot. I’m a fiction writer. A novelist. I can empathize with anyone. I may choose not to, at a certain point, but I can. I can imagine their lives; why they feel what they do, whatever it is. I can write a character who grew up in Ethiopia, and you’ll believe her. I can write a character who is Bedouin, and her voice and story will ring true. But I cannot write you, at least not from the character’s point of view. Not yet. This is beyond my imagination. Do get out for a while–everyone should leave the place from which they come for a while, to experience themselves against a different backdrop, to shed the layers of what is put on us that does not belong to us, and to find the places in ourselves that truly do connect to the place from which we come. Nessiya tova.

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    38. Mitchell Cohen

      @Ex-Israeli, judging by your username, I presume you are not “recuperating” but plan on NEVER coming back here….

      @Philos, regarding the “recuperating” morally and spiritually, fine, each to his/her own. However, financially, won’t be so easy. If you are headed to the good ole’ US of A, the economic situation there is al hapanim. If you are headed to Europe, they are on the verge of bankruptcy. Australia, maybe….Well, at any rate, בהצלחה

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    39. Why is there so much stress laid on demonstrating just who or which specific group is the more guilty party in this decades-old confrontation? This only serves to divert our attention and our energies from the main problem, that of the pressing need to end this tragic episode in human affairs once and for all.

      Yes, I am well aware that certain activities, be they individually or collectively inspired, do tend to exacerbate the situation: settlement building, kidnapping, military adventures, rocket launches, separation barrier,
      religious dogma, political intrigues and various other unwelcome and ill-judged moves
      by those on either side. But these are just a few of the many manifestations of the problem; they are not the problem itself. That turns
      out to be quite a different story.

      The heart of the dispute is driven by an old familiar engine; the territorial imperative. This is the principal motivator behind all of it and every endeavour, whether consciously or unconsciously undertaken, carries with it the imprimatur of that directive.

      Unless some effort is made to formally address this primal force, nothing of any lasting consequence will be achieved; the struggle is destined to continue and the pain endure. If termination of the present state of affairs is ever to be realised, a fundamental change must be made in the way we approach these matters.

      If we are always so keen to heap blame on one side or the other, then let us dedicate this marked tendency in ourselves to a far more noble purpose.

      Do we really want to end this business? If we do, then it is only by taking the matter to its ultimate extreme that we can ever be certain of accomplishing that aim.

      http://yorketowers.blogspot.com

      Otherwise, what we cannot cure, we must endure.

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    40. Ben Israel

      John Yorke-
      You talk of the “territorial imperative” being behind the Arab/Israel conflict.
      I don’t know if you recall this, but not so long ago, it was a capital crime to be a Jew in Europe (you kno….advanced, progressive, civilized Europe). Before that, we Jews had to manage for 2000 years without a territory.
      I am NOT using this to claim the “victim” card…that doesn’t give us any extra rigths. I do feel that it does explain a reluctance to accept promises of good behavior in the future in return for concrete concession by those who have not shown good will up until now.

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    41. Richard Witty

      LIVE #AND# Let Live

      is the name of the game. When in protecting one’s own, one oppresses, they’ve done something wrong, something repairable if desired to be repaired.

      Reply to Comment
    42. Ben Israel,

      The territorial imperative still applies, whether actual territory is held or not. It is a primitive, deep-seated desire, specific to no one community, group or individual. The ‘promised land’ is a motif not exclusive to Jews alone. All dominant cultures, at one time or another, have felt it their manifest destiny to expand into other realms, other regions where their ascendancy can be demonstrated and their influence further enhanced. Hence the many problems encountered by tribes, nations and peoples throughout history.

      What we are witnessing in the Middle East is just another of these turf wars, one more chapter in the age-old fight for survival and a place in the sun. Even though that means others having to ‘vacate’ their own familiar area of living space.

      There is a question that must now be asked. In this, the 21st century, can such a throwback to our earliest beginnings ever be squared with the need to share this small planet with all those ‘others’? Unless we can come up with some sort of answer, the future looks set to be an increasingly fractious and unpleasant one. Perhaps we could use the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as a test bed, a repository for ways in which to explore whatever new options may remain open.
      And let us all hope there are still one or two left.

      Reply to Comment
    43. aristeides

      Philos – Iran has one of the least aggressive histories in the mideast. It has NO record of attacking its neighbors, but it has been the object of threats and attacks from both its neighbors and from hostile western powers, and particularly from Israel. You’ve obviously been subjected to too much anti-Iranian propaganda.

      Reply to Comment
    44. Ben Israel

      Aristeides-
      I know it is popular to blame Israel for everything, but Israel has never attacked Iran. Iran fought a bloody war with their neighboring brother majority Shi’ite Muslims in Iraq that claimed hundreds of thousands of casualties. Iran also threatens Israel…and please don’t give me the line that says that when the Iranians say “Israel is a cancer that must be removed and a threat to all the Middle East if not the whole world” and then claim that they mean “Israel will disappear by itself” and perish the thought that they mean that they would take any action to save the world from this cancer. Any reasonable person would call statements like that a threat. Israel got along fine with Iran before the Khomeini came around so there is no inherent hostility between Israel and Iran.

      Reply to Comment
    45. Ex Israeli

      @ M.Cohen, it’s not the physical “place” its the mentality, the mindset, the culture. Of course this is my subjective opinion but I wish it was only my opinion. I’m afraid this is also as real as real can get.
      .
      @ Ayla, i think you are correct, but again because this is reality I’m talking about – I think it can be understood by anyone – it’s just no one came up (Yet) with the right terminology for it. Part of the “recuperating” is to try and explain it to yourself first.
      .
      To me philos is 100% on the money when he says: “national madness” or “nation is gripped by psychoses”. The only problem is that it is just not so easy to fathom something like that. Yet, what is a fact – is a fact.

      Reply to Comment
    46. I think what people forget is that ISrael’s enemies could wipe it out today if they were willing to be wiped out themselves. If all of Israsel’s enemies fired all their missiles and just a little of their bio and chem weapons, we’re finished. They don’t do it because however much they hate Israel, they don’t hate it enough to commit mass suicide. That’s the deal on Iran, too. I know this offends many ISraelis and Diaspora Jews – it suggests that people out there have other things on their minds besides us – but it’s true.

      Reply to Comment
    47. Philos

      Larry, I agree with you that I don’t think a nuclear armed Iran would be any less rational than a nuclear armed Soviet Union. No regime wishes upon itself self-destruction. However, contrary to Aristeides’ claims Iran has been engaged in some aggressive political actions since the revolution from funding terrorism to threatening its neighbours. It is not for nothing that the Saudi’s and much of the Gulf States loathe that country, and it has very little to do with sectarian differences. That being said I don’t think the West wants to see a situation in which their main supplies for fuel fall under an Iranian regional hegemony. I simply don’t see that happening.
      Ayla, maybe when I’m away I should write a novel about a disillusioned Israeli :)

      Reply to Comment
    48. Philos

      Although it just occurred to me that the West could have its cake and eat it by taking up Iran on their offer of friendship in a quid pro quo for abandoning Israel… But that seems highly unlikely barring any kind of supremely stupid Israeli action

      Reply to Comment
    49. AYLA

      @John Yorke–yes. I write about the same themes: measuringrain.blogspot.com, especially in the piece called “Good News From Nowhere”. If anyone here comes there to comment and be against things, I will block your A**. I am not there to make arguments. @ExIsraeli–you’re invited. Making sense of yourself, your life, grants you the clarity to accomplish so much else, on behalf of others, including those you most immediately love.
      *
      I’m sorry–this has nothing to do with Iran. But, it kind of does. It kind of has to do with everything.

      Reply to Comment
    50. ‘I think what people forget is that Israel’s enemies could wipe it out today if they were willing to be wiped out themselves.’

      What if Israel’s enemies actually had the potential to wipe it out without incurring any great loss to themselves? Would they do so? I suppose that’s like asking the question ‘Is the Pope a Catholic?’

      Obviously the use of nuclear weapons or anything even remotely associated with such devices would be out of the question. Even conventional firepower would be a non-starter in such a scenario. So, what would be involved? How could it be done?

      With today’s technology, it must be possible to construct a virtual reality where Israel could, in theory, be wiped off the map simply by using a simulation technique, a game plan that responds to whatever an agreed set of rules dictates.
      After all, what is a map? It is a set of boundaries, lines acknowledged by general assent to be the physical limits of one country’s domain in relation to that of all its neighbours. What is to stop the rest of the world adjusting those boundaries, even continuing to do so until none of them are left? In a virtual reality, this need not be a problem; the matter would be child’s play. In a virtual reality, there are no limits, no need for safety checks, no fear of error or the consequences of error. The entire conflict could be disposed of in very short order and, from then on, nothing more might be heard of it – except for write-ups in the history books.

      And just what would Israel’s enemies be required to do in order that this circumstance comes into being? Perhaps, for them, it would be the hardest thing of all.
      Do absolutely nothing in response to Israeli provocation. And, for Israelis, the very same advice holds for enemy provocation. Thus, if both sides elected to do nothing, a conflict that has lasted for generations may finally be ended because an evolution in warfare has taken place, elevating it to a level where no other option remains.

      http://yorketowers.blogspot.com

      It has been said that the possession of nuclear weapons stopped world war 3 from happening in the last century. Giving protagonists in this century the VIRTUAL equivalent of just such power might have much the same effect now as it did back then.
      The whole point really is this. Do we actually want to have done with this business once and for all? Or would we prefer to talk about it until everyone dies off and then something new comes up for discussion?

      Reply to Comment
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