Monday, April 30, 2012

Israeli leaders to Benjamin Netanyahu: Dial down the War talk

Unlike here in the American press, Benjamin Netanyahu's war drumming faces serious scrutiny in Israel.

Some very prominent and credible figures question not only Bibi's right-wing hawkish posturing -- ala George W -- they question his mindset and motives.

For example:

JERUSALEM — The former head of Israel's Shin Bet security agency has accused the country's political leaders of exaggerating the effectiveness of a possible military attack on Iran, in a striking indication of Israel's turmoil over how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program.
Yuval Diskin said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak – who have been saber-rattling for months – have their judgment clouded by "messianic feelings" and should not be trusted to lead policy on Iran. Diskin, who headed Shin Bet until last year, said a strike might actually accelerate the Iranian program.
Shin Bet addresses security in Israel and the Palestinian Territories only and is not involved in international affairs.
In Israel, security figures carry clout well into retirement. Although they frequently pursue political careers, Diskin had been seen as relatively apolitical, perhaps lending his words even greater weight.
"I don't have faith in the current leadership of Israel to lead us to an event of this magnitude, of war with Iran," Diskin said at a public meeting Friday, video of which was posted on the Internet the next day and quickly became the lead news item in Israel.
"I do not believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on Messianic feelings," he continued. "I have seen them up close. They are not messiahs, these two, and they are not the people that I personally trust to lead Israel into such an event."
Diskin said it was possible that "one of the results of an Israel attack on Iran could be a dramatic acceleration of the Iran program. ... They will have legitimacy to do it more quickly and in a shorter timeframe.  source
And he is not alone in his assessment of Netanyahu's beating of the war drums:
JERUSALEM — A former Israeli prime minister added his voice Sunday to a growing chorus of Israeli officials against a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Ehud Olmert spoke to Israel's Channel 10 TV from New York.
"There is no reason at this time not to talk about a military effort," he said, "but definitely not to initiate an Israeli military strike."
Israel and the West suspect Iran is aiming to obtain nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Olmert was Israel's prime minister from 2006-2009. He was in office when a suspected nuclear site in Syria was attacked in 2007. It was assumed that Israel carried out the airstrike, but Israel never acknowledged that.
Olmert's remarks came after Israel's former internal security chief, Yuval Diskin, said the government is misleading the public on the level of effectiveness of a military strike.
Meir Dagan, Israel's ex-Mossad chief, told the station he supported Diskin's view. source
Dove-Hawks and Neo-Cons:
We definitely live in the era of the Dove/Hawk -- folks that want to shoot first and ask questions latter; neo-con leaders that infamously used all kinds of deferments and pulled strings to avoid serving on the battlefield (Cheney/Bush comes to mind) yet they have no hesitation to send other young men and women off to harms way.
Granted, protecting one's country is grown-up business; agreed, Israel's security is of vital importance but when everything becomes an existential threat, just like the proverbial boy that cried wolf, no one actually believes you when the wolf shows up.
Cheney/Bush swore up and down about Saddam's WMDs and that he was enriching uranium to make nuclear weapons. Remember Cheney's mushroom cloud?
You don't, well read this snippet from a NY Times editorial:
The indictment of Lewis Libby on charges of lying to a grand jury about the outing of Valerie Wilson has focused attention on the lengths to which the Bush administration went in 2003 to try to distract the public from this central fact: American soldiers found a lot of things in Iraq, including a well-armed insurgency their bosses never anticipated, but they did not find weapons of mass destruction.

It's clear from the indictment that Vice President Dick Cheney and his staff formed the command bunker for this misdirection campaign. But there is a much larger issue than the question of what administration officials said about Iraq after the invasion - it's what they said about Iraq before the invasion. Senator Harry Reid, the minority leader, may have been grandstanding yesterday when he forced the Senate to hold a closed session on the Iraqi intelligence, but at least he gave the issue a much-needed push.

President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and George Tenet, to name a few leading figures, built support for the war by telling the world that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling chemical weapons, feverishly developing germ warfare devices and racing to build a nuclear bomb. Some of them, notably Mr. Cheney, the administration's doomsayer in chief, said Iraq had conspired with Al Qaeda and implied that Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11. read entire editorial

We have a vested interest with this issue. If Israel launches a strike against Iran, we will invariably -- as Israel's staunchest ally -- be dragged into this conflict. Where does Mitt Romney stand on this issue (other than on all sides)?

Mitt and Bibi are old friends dating back to 1976 1976, the lives of Mitt Romney and Benjamin Netanyahu intersected, briefly but indelibly, in the 16th-floor offices of the Boston Consulting Group, where both had been recruited as corporate advisers. At the most formative time of their careers, they sized each other up during the firm’s weekly brainstorming sessions, absorbing the same profoundly analytical view of the world.

That shared experience decades ago led to a warm friendship, little known to outsiders, that is now rich with political intrigue. Mr. Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, is making the case for military action against Iran as Mr. Romney, the likely Republican presidential nominee, is attacking the Obama administration for not supporting Mr. Netanyahu more robustly. read more

Let's not sleep walk into another catastrophe. Be engaged.


  1. Mr. Olmert is just one of many Israelis and Israeli lawmakers(checkout who are not gung ho for military strikes on Iran. Our media needs to highlight and do more stories on the opinions/views of Israelis and American Jews(checkout against war(checkout the sad part is if one is speaks against strikes on Iran or do not agree with Mitt and Bibi, you are labeled anti-Israel.

  2. @NAMG...good comment and I concur 100%...there are many Jewish and Non-Jewish spokespersons that are deeply concerned with the political path of Netanyahu and his far-right politics. We can not be dismissed as anti-Israel for expressing these opinions. I would be remiss if I did not add, it is extremely sad that so many anti-Israel folks use this as an opportunity to express their gut-felt hatred. This is what makes many -- rightfully so -- Jewish people sensitive to how this conversation is presented.

    In my opinion, African-Americans have the same sensitivity regarding President Obama. We understand that their is legitimate criticism and opposition to his policies; but we are not stupid and we can sense when the opposition crosses the line and uses racist imagery to express their gut-felt racism.