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It's over - there will be no Israeli attack on Iran

This week the Israeli military/intellgence establishment, backed by the U.S., has come out forcefully against war, isolating Netanyahu. He needs the cabinet’s support to attack, and there’s no way he’ll get it.      

It’s not often that the story out of Israel, and out of America’s relationship with Israel, is good, but the story that’s emerged over the last few days is much more than good, and given Israel’s build-up toward war with Iran for the last five years at least, the story is so out of character that it’s hard to absorb. But here it is – Israel is not going to attack Iran. Not before the November 6 presidential election, not afterward if Obama wins, and maybe not afterward even if Romney wins, which is unlikely.

It’s not that Netanyahu doesn’t want to bomb Iran – he does, and he makes that clearer every day. What’s happened is that there’s been such a torrent of opposition in the Israeli media this week from the security establishment, starting with IDF chief Benny Gantz, and backed by the Obama Administration and Pentagon, that there’s no way Bibi can get his cabinet to vote for a war, and without the cabinet’s backing, he can’t do it. The ministers will not support Bibi in an extremely risky war opposed by the heads of the IDF, IDF Intelligence, the Air Force, the Mossad, the Shin Bet and the United States of America.

There’s been a price for all this, though; the Obama Administration has as much as promised Israel that if Iran gets within reach of nuclear capability – which it isn’t now – the U.S. military will smash it up to an extent that Israel can’t. Yedioth Ahronoth’s Shimon Shiffer, dean of Israeli diplomatic correspondents, reported that the Americans are telling Israel that the time for a U.S. attack wouldn’t be for at least another year-and-a-half. If that’s what it took to convince Gantz and his military/intelligence colleagues to get out the word that Israel should leave the job in America’s hands, it was worth it. An imminent catastrophe has been averted. As Gantz was reported by Channel 10 to say, an Iranian missile counterrattack on the Israeli homefront “will not resemble anything we have known in the past.”

So I think the game is up. Making the case for war with Iran is now a losing battle, and people are going to start running away from it, beginning, I expect, with Ehud Barak, who has been Bibi’s equal partner in this whole scaremongering affair. There are other political/personal tensions pulling the two apart, but the air of futility that now surrounds the Iran file is enough for Barak to get off it. At some point even AIPAC may get the hint. Either before or after AIPAC, Bibi himself will give up, he’ll “move on,” until the only people still backing an Israeli war on Iran will be Sheldon and his boy Mitt.

As a rule, the Israeli security/ intelligence establishment is less hawkish and much more sane than the political right wing and the public at large; its current antiwar campaign is a vivid illustration. This has been one of its finest hours. Also for the Israeli media. I didn’t expect it; I thought the bad guys were going to win like they’ve been winning for so long. This episode reminds me that there are good things about this country, good people, and why Israel is worth saving.

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    1. Richard Witty

      I hope you are right that a unilateral attack is permanently off the table.

      There are still a million miscommunications that can occur,in even slightly changed circumstances.

      Some of the changed circumstances that have affected the defense establishment’s logic, is that Syria is likely to fall, and that it is unlikely to be replaced by a pro-Iranian regime there, thereby greatly limiting the physical conduit between Iran and Lebanon.

      Also, the Haaretz disclosure of relatively positive interchange between Israel and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, has reduced some tensions within Israel.

      And, all of this happened largely outside of Netanyahu’s “leadership”. Peres made good contact with Morsi for example. Netanyahu made token and insincere contact.

      The next tension in Israel is likely to be economic (not the social issues of J14). Its had an up ride for a long time.

      Elevators don’t only go up.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Vadim


      I think you’ll be surprised by how close Iran will be with the next regime in Syria…

      The interchange between Peres and Morsi being “relatively positive” is an invention of Israel’s leftist media, nothing more. Morsi’s response said nothing because it was very vague, you (and Haaretz) just interpret it to suit your agenda. And even this letter was denied by Egypt. So – you conclude something about Peres and Netanyahu based upon a vague letter, which is denied to be sent, while every other (real) action done by Morse contradicts what you think he wrote.

      Reply to Comment
    3. aristeides

      The only reason I can think of to vote for Obama – to keep Romney’s fat thumb off the button.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Richard Witty

      Many things can change, and who knows what Morsi’s long-term intent is.

      Yes, I do believe Haaretz reporting of fact. The interpretation of fact is up to us.

      The difference between the opportunistic right, the cautious right, the careful left, and the naive left, is about what paths are left open.

      A prudent approach is to be careful, prepared, but NOT aggressive. The naive approach is to let one’s preparations lapse. The irresponsible approach is to remove paths for reconciliation, and only be prepared, or worse only aggress.

      Which one of those is naive?

      Reply to Comment
    5. XYZ

      I don’t believe there is a difference of opinion in the gov’t as you expressed…I don’t think Netanyhau has any intention of attacking Iran. Today I saw a headline in Ha’aretz quoting Netanyahu as saying “he hasn’t decided whether to attack or not”. C’mon…someone who is planning a “surprise attack” isn’t going warn the enemy of it. This seems to be some sort of game to get the US and the rest of the world to increase the pressure on the Iranians, and it seems to be having some effect, including the embargo on buying Iranian oil.
      Netanyahu is well aware of the risks involved and I don’t think he or anyone else thinks a surprise attack on their nuclear facilities could work. This is all some sort of weird game. I don’t claim to understand it.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Jack

      Just like Iraq, Israel try to deliver its self-imposed problems with its neighbours to become US or rather international problem.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Mehrnaz

      Israel is acting through AIPAC lobby to strangulate Iran through sanctions. The Iran Threat Reduction Act drafted by AIPAC which will voted on by the Congress today is to virtually sanction all of Iran’s energy, financial and transportation amongst other things. Not only is it an act of war on the population of Iran, but could lead to an actual military confrontation in the Persian Gulf between Iran and the United States! So the danger of war is not only not over, it has substantially increased,

      Reply to Comment
    8. Adam

      “Israel is acting through AIPAC lobby to strangulate Iran through sanctions. The Iran Threat Reduction Act drafted by AIPAC which will voted on by the Congress today” What is your evidence that this bill was drafted by AIPAC?

      Reply to Comment
    9. Zvi Solow

      Unfortunately, I’m less optimistic. The security establishment – past & present – has been against this dangerous insanity for at least a year. The fact that the serving, as contrasted to the retired – service chiefs felt that it was time to let the public know what they have been trying to explain to the terrible B B twins for a long time in closed forums seems to hint that they are afraid that they may go for it and gamble that the US administration will unwillingly back them after the fact a short time before the US elections. And don’t count on the cabinet – if B & B really decide to go for it they’ll get a majority there.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Kolumn9

      Great! You can all now move on to worrying about Iran’s nuclear weapons instead of worrying about an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Oh, sweet victory.

      PS: the analysis also isn’t very good. Bibi can get majority cabinet support without the approval of the IDF chiefs.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Yonatan

      So there will be a mysterious attack against US vessels jammed into the Persian Gulf which will be blamed on Iran. Israel will hold the US’s coat whilst it goes to war and its economy consequently tanks.

      Reply to Comment
    12. aristeides

      C’mon, Adam, don’t pretend to be ingenuous.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Rorr

      So your saying no attack. Therefore your last 12 columns on this very subject were WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Adam

      “So there will be a mysterious attack against US vessels jammed into the Persian Gulf which will be blamed on Iran. Israel will hold the US’s coat whilst it goes to war and its economy consequently tanks.”

      Yonatan– Is that the view of the Israel haters in England?

      Reply to Comment
    15. “This episode reminds me that there are good things about this country, good people, and why Israel is worth saving.” I don’t get that. Most people aren’t suicidal, that doesn’t make them “good people”.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Fat Freddy's Cat

      Incredible. No matter what Israel does, some of these commenters have zero ability to even concede that Israel has done something that meets their approval. Makes me understand the hidden agenda of these posters.

      Reply to Comment
    17. aristeides

      That statement reminds me of Bobby Jones – “You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.”

      Reply to Comment
    18. Engelbert, speaking truth to power during a slide to war is what I’m talking about, and that’s what’s happened here. RORR, I’ve been writing that Bibi/Barak intended to bomb Iran and that nobody would stop them – I was right on the first part, unexpectedly (and very happily) wrong on the second. K9, I don’t see the ministers signing off on a war when all the brass is warning them repeatedly of very bad consequences, because if those consequences come to pass, those ministers will be held responsible and have very little defense. The public doesn’t want Israel to do it. Bibi’s influence is waning. The cabinet would be making a very bad, risky bet – I don’t see them doing it.

      Reply to Comment
    19. ginger

      An Israeli-ginned up war on Iran was the last figleaf before dismantling of Apartheid

      Netanyahu has been extraordinarily successful in buying Apartheid 1 or 2 more years before it began collapsing under it’s own weight as well as international scorn. If Iran didn’t exist Bibi would have had to invent it

      ‘If it’s truly over’ then it’s the beginning of the end of Apartheid – that’s why it’s I think Bibi still has a few agonal gasps left

      Reply to Comment
    20. aristeides

      If this is just the first step in opening the way for a US attack, it’s nothing to cheer about.

      Reply to Comment
      • Andrew

        “If this is just the first step in opening the way for a US attack…”

        I doubt it, for reasons that Larry hinted at in the column. Obama, if reelected, will not attack Iran, whatever he is saying now to pacify AIPAC and Bibi … *before* the election.

        Romney’s a different story. *If* he is elected (unlikely), then who knows he will eventually decide to do, under the influence of Sheldon, Bibi, et al.

        Reply to Comment
    21. Larry, How do Obama and the US Congress avoid the tragic logic of war created, in part, by their very specific demands on Iran and ever escalating sanctions? The whole escapade may be easier for the West now that Israel will not be viewed as the instigator.

      Which may in fact be the case.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Blanche

      Mr. Larry Derfner, don’t fool yourself. These “sane” (sic) Shin Bet and Mossad people who oppose raping Iran do not oppose it out of principle–they oppose it because they don’t think Israel will come out of it as a winner. These rapists can’t even defeat Hezbollah, which has 1/100 of Iran’s strength. When the political establishment wants something that the intelligence and military establishment does not think is a good idea, that means the intelligence and military establishment have calculated that it is not in the best interests of the rapist country. If they thought they would succeed in a war with Iran without the backing of the U.S., rest assured that these “sane” officials would welcome it vigorously.
      “This episode reminds me that there are good things about this country, good people, and why Israel is worth saving.” Say what? An apartheid, supremacist, and terrorist state worth keeping? Looks like you should still be working for the Jerusalem Post. By the way there’s no such thing as “liberal Zionist” just like there is no such thing as a “Jewish democracy.” These things are mutually exclusive, sir.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Amazona

      Larry Derfner, your words in God’s ear. And correspondent Blanche, you need to remember there’s black, there’s white but there’s also grey, I doubt the befuddled Americans or feeble minded Brits would ‘talk truth to power’ the way that (at least some) Israelis do, and they/we are the ones who will overcome, however they/we choose to call them/ourselves

      Reply to Comment
    24. Shelly

      Dear Larry, If only you were right. Unfortunately I believe that Bibi is one of those smooth operators that can get in a revolving door behind you and come out ahead.

      FYI, the reason that most of the writers blog on this site is that they believe that Israel, albeit not in its current state, is worth saving.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Blanche

      Amazona: “talk truth to power” the way (at least some) Israelis do?
      I highly respect the Israelis that do speak out, but these are on the fringe and are regarded as traitors by regular Israelis. Not only are most Israelis content with the status quo, but so is the majority of world Jewry. So before you go talking about befuddled Americans and feeble minded Brits maybe you should look at befuddled and feeble minded Israelis.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Richard Witty

      Per Haaretz articles this morning, the urging for military action against Iran is still in the air.

      Reply to Comment
    27. MM

      Interesting conclusion. But let’s keep in mind: With the exception of the then-OC Southern Command, it is my understanding that the entire General Staff was against launching Operation Cast Lead…

      Reply to Comment
    28. richard

      So what if Obama practically promised that the US would attack Iran if need be? So he goes back on his promise. What is Israel going to do? Convince the Jews not to vote for him for a third term?

      Reply to Comment
    29. Laurent Szyster

      The war so frequently announced and warned against by Cassandra Derfner will not happen ? It’s so fun to see a dunce rejoice because his predictions turned out to be bullshit …

      Reply to Comment
    30. messi[]

      god protect israel

      Reply to Comment
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