Monday, August 13, 2012

Sabotaging the Israeli consensus

Sabotaging the Israeli consensus

Dror Eydar

Did the Yedioth Ahronoth headline on Thursday — which reported that the U.S. administration delivered a message to Israel that Saudi Arabia threatened to shoot down Israeli jets flying over Saudi airspace on their way to attack Iran — actually teach us anything new? Let us assume that the Saudis did in fact say that they would shoot down Israeli jets en route to Iran if they entered Saudi airspace — so what? What did we expect, that they would send us a public invitation? The real question, which should be asked as loudly as possible and as often as possible until an answer is provided, is why Yedioth Ahronoth, and irresponsible pockets in the Israeli Left, are working overtime to sabotage Israel's ability to protect itself from an existential threat.

Remember the First Lebanon War? For the first time in its history, Israel launched a war under a leadership that was not leftist. For the first time, the current evolution of the historic Mapai movement and its subsidiaries were out of the decision making loop. So they turned it into a "war of choice." It's a good thing that it was not a Likud-led government that launched the 1967 Six-Day War, or the Left might have said that was a war of choice too! After all, we started it, didn't we?

This Yedioth headline had to have come from somewhere. It was shuttled across the ocean as part of a concerted disinformation campaign aiming to influence public opinion. A "senior Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent" served as an agent of influence. The last thing that U.S. President Barack Obama needs during an election year is for oil prices to skyrocket or for Israel to embarrass him by launching an attack on Iran that big, bad America should have launched a long time ago, on behalf of the entire free world.

The main goal is to portray the Israeli government as a bunch of lunatics who are about to drown the entire region in blood and brimstone. The aim in stirring an internal debate is to undermine the public consensus so that the absence of broad agreement will influence the government to shy away from attacking Iran.

This fits into remarks by former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who told Fox last weekend that if he were in the Israeli government he would not notify the U.S. of plans to attack Iran, because the information could leak out immediately. Let us take a look at all the conflicts in the region — Iran can be found somewhere in the background of all of them: from Afghanistan, through Iraq, the Gulf states, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and more. They want to forcefully disseminate Shiite Islam in order to expedite the coming of the Mahdi (the prophesied redeemer of Islam). Their apocalyptic vision is not something they whisper behind closed doors – they announce it for all to hear. If there is anything that history has taught us it is that declarations made by dictators should be taken seriously.

But according to Yedioth — and a bunch of former officials from the old security establishment — the messianic fanatics are actually right here in the Israeli government. Indeed, the history of Western democracy has seen, on more than one occasion, situations in which the interests of one group outweighed general national considerations.

And if we look at the actual article – other than the propaganda value of harming Israel's government, there was nothing there. It was hogwash. I spoke with several senior military and technology experts and they all wondered "what this nonsense was? How hard is it, in this day and age, to outsmart existing detection technology?" Also, how did whoever bombed the Syrian nuclear facility (in 2007) get there? Furthermore, isn't Saudi Arabia supremely interested in preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons?

All the countries in the region are madly afraid of the notion that the lunatics in Tehran will obtain a nuclear bomb. Here is an interesting equation: even if Israel is believed to have nuclear capabilities, no other country has declared that it wants nuclear weapons too as a direct result. However, at least four countries have announced that if Iran gains nuclear capability they will too: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Jordan. It could be that the Arab world knows something that Yedioth Ahronoth is refusing to understand: that Israel's governments throughout the years have been responsible governments, while the true lunatics, whose "rational" considerations cannot be trusted, are in Tehran.