Israel’s Atonal September Song

Dagan Netanyahu(Pictured: Meir Dagan and Benjamin Netanyahu in happier times.)

As is its tendency — simultaneously sober to a fault and arrogant — the New York Times affixed an unprepossessing headline, A Former Spy Chief Questions the Judgment of Israeli Leaders, to a story which was, in fact, astonishing. Ethan Bronner writes that Mossad’s former chief Meir Dagan

. . . contends that Israel’s top leaders lack judgment and that the anticipated pressures of international isolation as the Palestinians campaign for statehood could lead to rash decisions — like an airstrike on Iran.

The former intelligence chief, Meir Dagan. . . . made headlines a few weeks ago when he asserted . . . that a military attack on Iran would be “a stupid idea.” This week Mr. Dagan . . . said that attacking Iran “would mean regional war, and in that case you would have given Iran the best possible reason to continue the nuclear program.” . . . Mr. Dagan went on to complain that Israel had failed to put forward a peace initiative with the Palestinians and that it had foolishly ignored the Saudi peace initiative promising full diplomatic relations in exchange for a return to the 1967 border lines. He worried that Israel would soon be pushed into a corner.

Dagan also expressed

. . . his belief that his retirement and the retirement of other top security chiefs had taken away a necessary alternative voice in decision making. In recent months, the military chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, and the director of the Shin Bet internal security agency, Yuval Diskin, have also stepped down. . . . “I decided to speak out because when I was in office, Diskin, Ashkenazi and I could block any dangerous adventure,” he was quoted as saying. “Now I am afraid that there is no one to stop Bibi and Barak. ” . . . This concern was backed by a former Mossad official, Gad Shimron. . . . : “The leadership makes fiery statements, we stepped on the brakes, we are no longer there and we don’t know what will happen.”

Meanwhile Ari Shavit of Haaretz told Bronner

“Dagan is really worried about September,” . . . referring to the month when the Palestinians are expected to ask the United Nations General Assembly to recognize their state within the 1967 border lines. The resolution is expected to pass and to bring new forms of international pressure on Israel. “He is afraid that Israel’s isolation will cause its leaders to take reckless action against Iran,” he said.

Netanyahu and Barak’s insulation in their echo chamber parallels Israel’s increasing isolation in the world and region.

Meanwhile, with respect to Iran, it behooves the West to heed former U.S. diplomat Thomas Pickering told Seymour Hersh for his recent New Yorker article:

Get off your no-enrichment policy, which is getting you nowhere. Stop your covert activities. Give the Iranians a sign that you’re not pursuing regime change. Instead, the Iranians see continued threats, sanctions, and covert operations.