Israel's Iran Debate Takes New Turn
Image Credit: Jafi Israel

Israel's Iran Debate Takes New Turn


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Iran policy has come under intense criticism recently, most notably from former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan and Yuval Diskin, former head of domestic intelligence agency Shabak. The intensity of these unprecedented attacks can’t be ignored. But the big question that should be asked is – why are they doing this?

Although Dagan and Diskin haven’t elaborated on this point, it’s unlikely that they would have created such a fuss if they thought the chances of Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak following through with an attack on Iran was zero. Indeed, the very fact that they have been so vocal in their opposition to such a strike is a clear sign that the possibility of a unilateral Israeli attack against Iran can’t be completely ruled out.

This specter of military action looms despite warnings by former Israeli Defense Force intelligence chief Shlomo Gazit that such an attack could actually speed up Iran’s nuclear program, as well as damage relations with the United States. What seems to particularly concern Diskin is what has been described as Netanyahu and Barak’s “messianic belief.” This is a stinging criticism in Judaism of individuals who see themselves as the savior of Israel and its people.

If Diskin truly feels Netanyahu and Barak might base their decision to attack Iran on their belief that they are rescuing the Israeli people, rather than arriving at their decision based on cold, hard intelligence, then Israel’s citizens have much to worry about. Yet judging by the reaction of Diskin and the support that he received from Dagan, this could really be the case and would explain why they’ve decided to oppose the government’s Iran policies in such a vocal manner now, rather than waiting.

The latest public dispute comes at a time when the debate in Israel over how to handle Iran is becoming poisoned with personal attacks. When Dagan criticized the government’s Iran strategy, for example, he was accused of “sabotage against democratic institutions in Israel.” Similarly with Diskin, his view was dismissed as seeking revenge because he didn’t get the job as head of Mossad.

But Netanyahu’s statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day, that “those who dismiss Iran’s threats as exaggerated or as mere idle posturing have learned nothing from the Holocaust,” took the public debate on Iran to a new low. By framing his Iran arguments using the Holocaust, Netanyahu is effectively suggesting that opponents of his policy are willing to allow Jews to face genocide once again.

The use of the Holocaust is inappropriate and counterproductive in a democracy like Israel. The emotional scars of the tragedy shouldn’t be used as a way of assessing the future behavior of a Middle Eastern regime in 2012, one that’s faced with a quite different – and much more powerful – opponent than the individuals that Hitler’s regime picked off. Rather than looking back seven decades, the Netanyahu government should look at Iran as it stands in 2012 – a country that for all its faults isn’t as powerful nor genocidal as the Nazi-led regime of the 1930s and 1940s.

Indeed, rather than rallying the country, Netanyahu’s use of the Holocaust could spark a backlash. It should be noted, for example, that Diskin’s attack against the government’s Iran policies came nine days after Netanyahu’s remarks at the Holocaust memorial.


[...] Israel’s Iran Debate Takes New Turn [...]

Saaten Maagar
May 14, 2012 at 14:43

It is not the first time that the Holocaust is used for political capital and will not be the last. After all look at how Israel is politicizing the Armenian Genocide, the prelude to the Holocaust, for political maneuverings.

May 11, 2012 at 12:28

The Israeli people must protect themselves against the nuclear program Iran in the future if such nuclear ambition will push thou… the best defense is offense either it is using the right or left hand effort as long it is acceptable by majority member of United Nations, Israel must have also have their own decision even other countries will not going to help them, the Israeli must strike at the heart of the enemy at any weather and terrain condition both on military or political warfare approach…

Shahriyar Gourgi
May 9, 2012 at 08:36

What you think:Mr Meir Javedanfar?

Benjamin Netanyahu’s rhetoric over Iran has prompted push back from former intelligence chiefs. But a new coalition member is unlikely to help moderate his ……………..
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Iran policy has come under intense criticism recently, most notably from former Mossad Chief Meir …
something that Netanyahu says will stabilize the government for the next year and a half so it can deal with reforms at home and security threats abroad.
By bolstering his majority from just over half to more than three-quarters of the parliament, Netanyahu now has more latitude in which to pursue a two-state solution and is less beholden to his core constituency of hardliners like Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Jewish settlers. Kadima, for its part, benefits by gaining much greater clout at a time when polls indicated it could face a drubbing in any upcoming elections.
“A major shift has happened in Israel’s government this night. Israel’s government is no longer a right-wing government,” says Amit Segal, a political commentator for Channel 2 news. “In the long term, it will enable Mr. Netanyahu to try to reach an agreement with the Palestinians without fearing the reaction of Mr. Lieberman or the right wingers of his party.”
Netanyahu’s big-tent government also gives him more political cover if he chooses to be more aggressive against Iran because of the presence of Mr. Mofaz, a former army chief of staff and former defense minister who has been critical of Israel’s stance on Iran, in the decisionmaking process, say analysts.
“A unity government reduces the likelihood of criticism of the government should an operation go wrong,” wrote Ron Ben Yishai, a military affairs columnist for news website. “It strengthens Israel’s deterrence and enhances its decisionmaking ability of the leaders on foreign policy and security issues, of which Iran is foremost.” Thank you.

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