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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Netanyahu's war referendum

Aluf Benn and his editors at Haaretz (who are in such a panic that they actually took this one out from behind the paywall) are frantic. They finally understand that Prime Minister Netanyahu is seeking a mandate to attack Iran in the upcoming Knesset elections.
The upcoming Knesset election will be a referendum on a single issue: going to war against Iran. It won't be about social policy, or drafting the ultra-Orthodox or annexing the territories. All these are important issues, but secondary. The election will revolve around the question of whether the next government will order the Israel Defense Forces to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made this clear Monday night in an interview with Channel 2 television's "Uvda" program. Asked by "Uvda" host Ilana Dayan, "Can you promise that Iran won't have a nuclear program by the end of your next term?" Netanyahu answered simply, "Yes."
Read his lips: Netanyahu publicly promised to destroy the Iranian nuclear program if he is reelected. As the interview proceeded he reiterated that this is no bluff, and he will not be deterred from action even by American opposition or the reservations of senior defense officials. These statements come on top of similar remarks over the last few weeks, including his speech to the UN General Assembly, in which he set the "red line" at next spring or summer, and his interview with Paris Match, in which he promised that "Five minutes after" the strike, "a feeling of relief would spread across the region."


Netanyahu wants to seem like his predecessors, who, in his words, periodically flouted the world powers - Ben-Gurion by announcing the establishment of the state, Levi Eshkol by embarking on the Six-Day War - or ignored the opposition of the defense establishment, as Begin did in bombing Iraq's nuclear reactor. His statement that Israel can't depend on America to fight instead of it and on its behalf recalls aggressive statements by Ben-Gurion such as "Oom Shmoom" (a dismissive reference to the United Nations ) or "It doesn't matter what the goyim say, what matters is what the Jews do." People say you don't have the courage to press the button, Ilana Dayan challenged him, and Netanyahu replied: "Of course I'm capable of it if I need to."
Over the course of his four years in office, Netanyahu has accustomed the world to the idea that Israel will attack Iran. Now he is asking the Israeli public for a mandate to do so, which would enable him both to overcome his own hesitations and to neutralize opposition to the war both at home and abroad. That is the significance of the election that will take place on January 22.
Is Benn suggesting that we should let Iran go nuclear (probably yes)? Has he thought through the consequences of doing so (probably no)? Does he believe that all the Iranians really want is for us to expose ourselves to attacks by a 'Palestinian' reichlet (if only that were all)?

Iran must be stopped. Netanyahu has figured out that the only chance of getting Obama to do the job is to mount a credible threat to do it himself if Obama won't do it. That's why he's going to the electorate. No one really wants Israel to attack Iran alone. But if we don't show that we're prepared to do just that, no one is going to come along to help us.

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