Gilad Shalit’s Release Emboldens Netanyahu’s Iran Mandate

“The ‘Israel will bomb Iran’ meme has been used so often that it doesn’t make much sense to take it serious anymore,” writes Bernhard at Moon of Alabama. “So why even discuss when it, as now, comes up again?”

The difference is that the old campaign, via IDF jail guard [Jeffrey] Goldberg in The Atlantic and others in U.S. venues, was supposed to influence the U.S. to do the dirty work.

The new version of the meme is coming through major commentators in the Israeli press and its purpose seems is to publicly warn Israelis about some lunacy Netanyahoo and his defense minister Barak are seemingly committed to.

After citing three of the commentators, Bernhard refers us to “the best-connected, most influential journalist in Israel” — Nahum Barnea. He links to Tikun Olam, where Richard Silverstein translates and comments on the piece by Barnea, who he calls “the consummate media-political insider.”

He also reflects on a dual, conflicted approach within the Israeli policymaking apparatus toward the prospect of war. Many point to previous attacks on Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear reactors which accomplished their mission without casualties and without negative fallout in the international sphere. [See my recent piece for more on this. -- Ed.] They say attacking Iran is likely to follow the same scenario. Those like Meir Dagan, who argue that Iran is a different matter entirely, find it hard to gain traction because Israel has never endured the type of counter-attack of which the former Mossad chief warns. Thus, it’s hard to get a nation to focus on. … the dangers of an Iran assault. … an outcome it’s never experienced.

Money quote by Silverstein:

Israelis always seem to be fighting the last war rather than anticipating what may be new in the next one.

As for Netanyahu, writes Barnea himself, “the popularity that he gained as a result of the Shalit deal hasn’t calmed him: just the opposite, it gave him a sense of power.” Is that what Netanyahu craves? Not necessarily; instead, “all his life he’s dreamed of being Churchill. Iran gives him with the chance.” He and defense minister Ehud Barak are “two Siamese twins of the Iranian issue.”

Twas ever thus. Leaders have long sought out opportunities to fight instead of make use of diplomacy. However, Silverstein writes:

In the ancient past this may’ve been more common, but today in few countries do leaders think of a good war as their personal political legacy. [Since George W. Bush left office anyway. -- Ed.] Most politicians, when they think of legacies think of treaties signed, edifices erected, laws passed.

Netanyahu may assure himself that he’s saving Israel, but even a hint of foresight should tell him that attacking Iran could be the beginning of the end for Israel. As for Barak’s motivation, Silverstein again:

This is both his strategy and legacy. … There are those who suspect Barak of having personal motives. … A strike on Iran would be the big bang that would make it possible for [him to] continue to be defense minister.

Silverstein:

It’s an indication of the pathology and impoverishment of latter-day Israel that Bibi and Barak would think in such terms.