Barak’s Flagging Iran Xenophobia Enrages Israeli Right

When it comes to a preemptive strike on Iran, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak doesn’t seem to be on the same page as his boss, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At Huffington Post, M.J. Rosenberg writes:

Appearing on the Charlie Rose show on PBS, Barak was asked if he would want nuclear weapons if he was an Iranian government minister. …

Probably, probably. … I don’t delude myself that they are doing it just because of Israel. They look around, they see the Indians are nuclear, the Chinese are nuclear, the Pakistanis are nuclear, not to mention the Russians.

Rosenberg describes the Israeli right’s response as ballistic, after which Barak backed down somewhat. What exactly offended the Israeli right to that degree? Rosenberg:

Over and over again, Israeli officials have said that the Iran government is insane with anti-Semitism, so insane that it would joyfully nuke Israel without any regard for the fact that Israel has 200 land, air, and sea-based missiles that could kill millions of Iranians. They have cited as evidence Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial, essentially arguing that it proves that Iran’s goal is a holocaust.

However unintentionally, Barak, with

… one honest comment … demonstrated that the hysteria surrounding an Iranian bomb is. … not about an “existential threat” to Israel but about two countries competing for regional hegemony.

Rosenberg agrees that “Israel’s primary concern rightly is its own survival. But,” he reminds us, “it is not an Iranian bomb that threatens that survival nearly as much as the war Netanyahu might launch ostensibly to deter it.”

As for Barak, apparently it’s not enough that he’s a hawk on Iran. God forbid he should stray from the party line or look beyond Israel’s parochial interests and view regional affairs through the lens of one of its neighbors. Maybe someday Israel will learn to be a world citizen.