I just read this account, from the BBC’s Tim Franks, of what looked like some kind of cross between a ‘war-game’ and a panel discussion about Iran’s nuclear program, held yesterday at Israel’s close-to-power ‘Inter-Disciplinary Center’ (IDC), in Herzliya.
Well-connected and high-level participants from both the U.S. Israeli took part in the event, though not, apparently, any currently serving officials in either government.
Franks wrote this about Tzipi Livni, the head of Israel’s main opposition party, Kadima:
- Ms Livni directed particular criticism at the current Israeli Prime Minister’s Benjamin Netanyahu repeated warnings about a second Holocaust.
“The role of leadership is to give an answer to this kind of threat,” she said, rather than to stoke worry.
“Israel in 2010 is not the Jews in Europe in 1939.”
Franks also wrote that Daniel Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, said that, time and again, during ‘war-games’ or consultations of this type held jointly between Israeli and American participants,
- a marked difference of emphasis would emerge from the role-playing, with the Israelis favouring military action as a ‘first course of response’, and the US tending to look at alternatives.
In that context, there was a particularly striking contribution from Dan Halutz, the previous chief of staff of the Israeli armed forces, and another participant in the day of war-gaming.
He argued strongly not just for talk of military pre-emption, but diplomatic pre-emption.
He said that the Iranians should be isolated from the rest of the Muslim world, which, he claimed, was “by and large more concerned than Israel is about a nuclear Iran.”
The way to do that, he said, was clear: a comprehensive regional peace settlement. “The price is known, all the files are ready.”
Ah, Dan Halutz! The guy who was so certain back in July 2006 that he knew exactly how to “isolate” Hizbullah from the rest of the Lebanese population!
What an idiot. Why should anyone consider him an expert on anything to do with the politics of the Muslim countries of the region?
Still, it sounded like an interesting gathering.
And I find it interesting that some high-level Israelis are willing to talk so openly about the way they see the ‘linkage’ operating between the Iran situation and the need for Israel-Palestine peacemaking. This, though Israel’s willing armies of hasbaristas inside the U.S. body politic are still so absolutely adamant that no-one in the west should assert that there’s any linkage between the two issues at all…
My assessment is that current PM Netanyahu also believes that there is and should be linkage between the two– but that he sees it operating in a way that’s almost 180 degrees turned round from the view Halutz was expressing. I think Netanyahu’s real view is something like the following:
- 1. He may well believe that Iran is aiming at, and may get to, the possession of a nuclear weapons capability within the next few years. But he isn’t really very scared by that prospect– despite what all his armies of hasbaristas are yelling in the west– because he knows full well that Israel’s own nuclear arsenal is completely well poised to destroy Iran and come to that the whole world if Israel chooses what we might call the “Samson option”. (The hasbaristas, of course, are not allowed to make any mention at all, however indirect, of Israel’s own NW capability.)
2. Nonetheless, Netanyahu is very happy indeed to keep tensions high around the Iranian nuclear program, and to carry on inciting/pressuring the U.S. to escalate these tensions (including by delivering threats that if the U.S. doesn’t act ‘forcefully’, then Israel just might have to launch its own military strike against Iran)– primarily because keeping the attention of U.S. officials focused on ‘containing’ and threatening Iran prevents them from giving due attention to what’s happening on the ground in occupied Palestine. It’s all an elaborate distraction ploy!
3. Therefore, meanwhile, as American officials are fussing around and devoting huge resources to ‘containing’ and combating Iran, Netanyahu’s government is very busy indeed continuing with its policy of colonizing the West Bank and shutting up all its rightful Palestinian owners inside the increasingly overcrowded open-air pens called “Oslo”. Every time Americans dare to challenge that policy, Netanyahu distracts their attention to Iran. And any Americans appeals to the idea that what Netanyahu’s doing in the OPTs might be making the fight against Iran harder is met with squeals of outrage from the hasbaristas to the effect that there really cannot be any “linkage” between these two issues.
Bottom line: Whereas Halutz judges there is cross-issue linkage, but within that picture assigns the need to counter Iran a higher priority than the need to preserve the entire, continuing settler-colonial project in the West Bank, Netanyahu judges there is linkage but assigns the need to preserve the settler-colonial project a higher priority than the need to do anything to actually counter Iran.
… Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see what happens now that the “initiative” on the Iran issue seems to be slipping out of the hands of Washington and into the new hands of Turkey’s Erdogan and Brazil’s Lula, backed up by the broad network of supporters that both those leaders have around the world.
Is Netanyahu perhaps already planning the launching of Israeli dirty tricks against both those governments?