Renewed Angst Over Iran in Israel

In preparation for the January 2013 elections announced by Israel’s Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu on October 9, 2012, the major parties have begun to present their platforms.  What to do about Iran is once again engaging all major Israeli politicians.  It seems that Netanyahu’s attempt earlier this year to tune down public talk about “action against Iran” has not worked.  Instead, the Iran issue has resurfaced with renewed vigor.  The arguments the various political figures present seem to echo the lines of the U.S. presidential contenders.  The left-of-center parties and the far-left are employing U.S. President Barack Obama’s line of diplomacy and sanctions, while the center-right parties want the West, and the U.S. in particular, to put the military option along with sanctions and diplomacy on the table as Mitt Romney had done.

In Jerusalem on July 29, 2012, Mitt Romney gave his backing to a unilateral Israeli military strike against Iran, insisting he would not stand-by while the “ayatollahs in Tehran” threatened to wipe the Jewish state “off the map.”  Romney went on to say that “The threat it [Iran] would pose to Israel, the region and the world is incomparable and unacceptable.”

President Obama, according to the NY Times (September 13, 2012) “rejected an appeal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to spell out a specific ‘red line‘ that Iran could not cross in its nuclear program, deepening the divide between the allies over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions.” Obama was unwilling to agree on any specific action by the US even if Iran reaches a defined threshold on nuclear material or fails to adhere to a deadline on negotiations.

Ehud Barak, the current Defense Minister (DM) in Netanyahu’s government, who is unlikely to remain the Defense Minister after the January 2013 Israeli elections, revealed in an interview with the British Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, October 30, 2012, that Iran’s decision to transfer the enriched uranium for civilian purposes “delayed the moment of truth” by eight to ten months, and has avoided an immediate and critical crisis.  Barak pointed out that had the Iranians not moved on the enriched uranium, the situation would have come to a boiling point even before the U.S. elections.  According to Barak, the decision on whether and how to act against Iran will be made in 2013.

Asked for an explanation on the Iranian move, Barak replied that the public debate of an Israeli or American attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities was a factor.  The Iranians made this diplomatic move to prevent the escalation of the debate over an attack on Iran before the U.S. elections to gain time.  It was also a way for the Iranian regime to “convince” the IAEA that they are fulfilling their obligations.  Barak clarified however that the sanctions against Iran and all the diplomatic activities have failed to resolve the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program.  As a result, Barak said, “Israel and its allies will have to settle the issue of military action against the Iranian nuclear facilities next year.”  Israel, he added, “reserves the right to operate alone if necessary.”  He declared that “any action against Iran now is less dangerous than later when Iran will cross the nuclear threshold.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Paris for an official meeting with French President Francois Hollande, on Wednesday, October 31, 2012, told reporters, “Given the history of the Jewish people, I would not sit by and write off a threat by those who say they are going to annihilate us.”  He said Arab nations, too, would be “relieved” if Iran were militarily prevented from obtaining nuclear arms.  “Five minutes after [an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities,] contrary to what skeptics say, I think a feeling of relief would spread across the region,” said Netanyahu in an interview with French magazine Paris Match. Netanyahu further declared that “Iran is not popular in the Arab world, far from it, and some governments in the region, as well as their citizens, have understood that a nuclear-armed Iran would be dangerous for them, not just for Israel.”

Yair Lapid, the former journalist-turned-centrist politician, whose new party Yesh Atid (There is a Future) is slated to become the second or third largest party in Israel’s Knesset (parliament), warned against a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran.  Speaking at the Ariel University Center (Samaria), Lapid said, “Israel should not try to solve the Iranian problem for the world, let the world solve the Iranian problem for us.”

Tamar Zandberg, a newcomer to politics and a Knesset candidate of the far-left Meretz party, has demonstrated against a preemptive Israeli attack on Iran.

On the other side of the political spectrum, deputy Prime Minister MK Silvan Shalom, stated in an interview with the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv on October 27, 2012, that “no one can live with the thought of ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads aimed at Israel.”

Former chairman of Israel’s Labor Party Binyamin Fuad Ben-Eliezer, considered one of the party’s elder statesmen, opined on an attack on Iran in an interview with Maariv on October 20, 2012:

Iran cannot be allowed to become nuclear, but there shouldn’t be any action next year.  The problem with Iran is not immediate.  Iran would require two years to have an operational bomb, and even then, it will be used first and foremost against the Sunni-Muslim world and the Emirates.  An attack on Iran does not rise to an urgent level, it is not a hand grenade presented by Netanyahu’s diagram at the U.N. but a long process. And, as someone who has been involved in the defense establishment, I say that the real danger is not Iran but the Arab Spring.  Waking up to a world that is fanatically Islamist and hateful towards Israel is a situation in which we have no control over.

The current leader of the Labor party, Shelly Yachimovich, interviewed on the Israel Channel 2 TV (May 5, 2012), backed the Obama position that there is still time to see if economic sanctions and diplomacy can stop Iran from seeking nuclear weapons before having to decide on any military steps.  She called Iran’s nuclear program a “problem for the entire world, and criticized Netanyahu saying, “The fact that we take it upon ourselves to be the spearhead on Iran is an error.”

Barak, who has partnered with Netanyahu on Iran until now, has broken away and endorsed Obama’s policy on Iran.  MK Moshe Ya’alon, former Israel Defense Forces Chief-of-Staff and current Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Strategic Planning, angrily criticized Barak in a speech he gave on October 13, 2012, stating that “Something happened in the Iranian story which is irregular and caused the PM Netanyahu to be furious.  DM [Barak] preferred political consideration over national consideration.  PM Netanyahu thought that the DM was with him all the way on the Iranian issue.  In the end however, the DM pushed Israel up the tree, and in the last minute he escaped and ran off, presenting himself as a moderate.”

With Obama’s relection, the Likud and Netanyahu are no doubt somewhat unhappy.  While the Israeli Left breathes easy for the moment, Iran will remain the primary issue in the January 2013 Israeli elections, and beyond.

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  • Mary Sue

    It's too bad blue state libs either don't care about Israel, or are too naive to realize just how bad for Israel Obama's idiotic policies are.

  • ywh

    Now, it is time for Bibi to march to the tune! He will be defeated in the elections. Israel can not afford another four years of confrontation with the US.

    • Stern

      You could not be more wrong. Netanyahu will emerge from the next elections even stronger. And then he can actually do things in Israel's interests, like implement the Levy Report and take care of Iran. There will be no point in trying to stay on Obama's good side because no matter what Israel does, it can never win Obama's full support.

      • Bert

        It seems that a re-elected Obama will intervene directly in the coming Israeli election to kick out Netanyahu and install someone like the corrupt Olmeret who will be a lapdog for Obama. It happened before when Clinton sent James Carville to Israel in the later 1990's to defeat Netanyahu in favor of Ehud Barak who offered Arafat almost everything. Obama refused to support the Iranian people in 2009 claiming he does not interfere in their internal affairs. This policy does to apply in the case of Israel.

      • Mary Sue

        Linus called. He wants his LSD laced blanket back.

    • ziontruth

      "Now, it is time for Bibi to march to the tune! He will be defeated in the elections."

      If Bibi goes this election, it'll be for not being right-wing enough. Which may be the same reason that did it for Romney.

      "Israel can not afford another four years of confrontation with the US."

      Then it is to be hoped the U.S. will not seek to appease the Islamic world on the Jewish State's expense.

    • Mary Sue

      I don't think Israelis are ignorant to the fact of the problem on their very doorstep. Unlike the majority of blue-state Americans (and some idiot NDP Canadians) who think the Palestinians are the innocent victims of BigBad Israel.

  • The Golani Snowman

    Bibi has no reason to bow to the dictator of USA when he has the American people and the Congress and the Military behind him.

    This dictator is the cause of the Islamic Winter and he is pushing Syria to join the party. What is next? He should not really be allowed to go to Russia to discuss his promise to weaken the defence of USA.

  • umustbkidding

    Without our backing Bibi is toast, Israel is toast. Israel is surrounded, I fear for those people. Zero is a Muslim. Lot's of prayer there folks, but we do have our own problems now. Zero just won an election after being mortally wounded – i.e. he ordered the demise of our Ambassador, staffer and two navy seals without repercussions. All of this happened 1 month from election time. The press buried the story and Romney refused to put it out there – he lost – we lost. If Benghazi was bury – able then unless some huge game changer comes along, we will no longer remain free. Without a press that tells the people the truth and with devious people running the country we are done.

    • ziontruth

      "Without our backing Bibi is toast, Israel is toast."

      An equation will go wrong if you leave just one small variable out. If you leave out the One Big Constant, the result will be even wronger.

      "Lot's of prayer there folks, but we do have our own problems now."

      May He save your nation as He will save ours. America bless God, Israel bless God, then may He save us all.

      • umustbkidding

        What is happening today is because of our disobedience. GOD's judgement is just. No one can ignore the son and expect "things to work out". Being disobedient has never gained GOD's favor in the past and the bible says it's not what is in the future.

        We here in America have succumbed to decadence and evil and therefore nationally we are no longer a Christian nation – we have rejected the son. Israel has always rejected the son. Are there those of us who still love GOD that live in these nations? Of course but we have failed to hold the line, we have failed in our purpose here on earth. Which means that we will go through the same judgements that the people that are at enmity with GOD will go through. That is the way it has always been.

        • ziontruth

          "What is happening today is because of our disobedience."

          Correct. And the insistence that "social conservatism is an obstacle and so-cons should be kicked out of the discussion" sealed the deal.

          "No one can ignore the son and expect 'things to work out' … Israel has always rejected the son."

          America had gotten its blessing from God for holding to values that are in the Torah. The virgin-born, resurrected godman-savior copied from pagan mythology had nothing to do with it. I don't like this line of discussion, but as with all things it is not in my nature to have direct challenges unanswered.

          Right, I go, before the worms burst out from the can all over me.

          • Mary Sue

            well at the bare minimum, upholding the values of the Torah should be "good enough", I supppose, compared to what's going on now.

        • PaulRevereNow

          One doesn't have to accept Jesus to love God;(I assume you mean Jesus when you say "the Son.") and there are a lot of Christians and a few Messianic Jews in Israel. Ann Coulter says that Christians are perfected Jews. But God doesn't require people to be perfect.

          • teq

            The name "Jesus" means "God is with us".
            The Jewish "Shekinah" is the "Shining Presence of God."
            Whenever two or more Christians gather together in Christ's name, He is among them.
            Whenever ten observant Jews gather together in God's name, His Shining Presence is among them.
            See a pattern here?
            St. Paul said that we see through a glass darkly.
            One day I believe we shall see much more, and perhaps realize we have been worshiping from two different cultural perspectives, the same glorious phenomenon.

    • aspacia

      Nope! No one helped tiny Israel in 48 when attacked by 6 Muslim armies. At least I think it was six.

  • A Sad Tale

    Obama will launch a no-holds-barred, all-out diplomatic attack on Israel, while at the same time bluntly and directly interfere with its upcoming elections in order to unseat PM Binyamin Netanyahu and replace him with a malleable puppet. Obama will then proceed to truss Israel up for slaughter.

    American Jews who voted for Obama won't just stand by and watch, but eagerly join him in these efforts

  • Mary Sue

    It's still far more democratic than those surrounding Arab States, Schlo-pitch.

    • Ghostwriter

      Another comment deleted by the administrator. Schlomind must be becoming more unhinged.

      • aspacia

        Schlock is a pseudo intellectual.

  • Dwee

    I hope the Israelis are not as foolish as the lefty Jews in the USA. The lefty Jews in the USA voted in large numbers for a semi Muslim anti semetic president (you just know his ultra liberal mommy felt O should learn his birth religion.) Surely the German Jews didn't hand themselves over to be slaughtered so easily? Actions speak FAR louder than words. Everything Obama has done has been to make Israel more vulnerable. Without Israel, anyone with any Jewish descendents is at risk. Naivity is no excuse for suicide.

    • Mary Sue

      not to mention, while the Jews think the Persons Of Colour™ are down with the struggle with them, despite the rise of anti semitism among the Persons of Colour™ who simply believe that Jews are "just another kind of WHITE people".

      • aspacia

        There are many Ethiopian black Jews.

  • Parenthetical Phrase

    With the re-election of Obama, maybe it is time for the Israelis to consider the idea of defending themselves and not look to the US to do it for them. They might try cutting off the electricity they supply to Gazans, stopping the hundreds of trucks of food to Gazans (the biggest health crisis there is obesity) or even refusing to give free life-saving health care to terrorists. I might also suggest that Israeli security forces cease beating up unarmed Jewish teenagers for protecting their homes or cease evicting Jewish families or even cease giving orders to subordinates to murder Jews in Judea Samaria but I think that would be seen as extreme.

  • GaryG1

    Israel, do what you have to do and do it soon. Don't expect any help from the US and if the Israeli-hater in the WH tries to stop you tell him to go f*** himself.