Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
is preparing public opinion in Israel for a war against Iran,
a leading political commentator has said, ridiculing the
hardline Israeli leader for not interpreting lessons of
Since his return from a state visit to Washington,
Netanyahu has mainly been preoccupied with one thing -
"preparing public opinion for war against Iran", Aluf Benn,
editor-in-chief of daily Ha`aretz, said in an opinon piece.
Netanyahu is attempting to convince the Israeli public
that the Iranian threat is a "tangible and existential one",
and that there is only one effective way to stop it and
prevent a "second Holocaust - an Israeli military attack on
Iran`s nuclear infrastructure", Benn wrote.
The hawkish Israeli leader in his speech to the Israeli
parliament (Knesset) yesterday urged his colleagues to reject
claims that Israel is too weak to go it alone in a war against
a regional power such as Iran and therefore needs to rely on
the US, which has much greater military capabilities, to do
the job and remove the threat.
Most of the Israeli public would, however, like the US to
take a lead in any military confrontation with Iran to foil
its nuclear ambitions, as per opinion polls published last
week, and are wary of going through this unilaterally.
The Israeli premier, however, backed his contention with
three examples in which his predecessors broke the American
directive and made crucial decisions regarding the future of
Israel - the declaration of independence in 1948, starting the
Six-Day War in 1967 and the bombing of the nuclear reactor in
Iraq in 1981.
The lesson was clear - just as David Ben-Gurion, Levi
Eshkol and Menachem Begin said "no" to the White House,
Netanyahu also need not be alarmed by President Barack Obama`s
opposition to an attack on Iran, the commentator argued.
Netanyahu believes that, as in the previous incidents,
the US "may grumble at first, but will then quickly adopt the
Israeli position and provide Israel with support and backing
in the international community", he inferred.
Taking a jab at Netanyahu, Benn, however, says that if he
had submitted his speech as a term paper to his father, who
was a history professor, he would have received a very poor
In 1948, the US State Department, headed by George
Marshall, opposed the declaration of independence and
supported a UN trusteeship for Palestine, but President Truman
had other considerations, the columnist wrote.
Like Obama today, Truman was also a democratic president
contending for his re-election, who needed the support of the
Jewish voters and donors, he further said.
Under those circumstances, Truman rejected Marshall`s
advice, and listened to his political adviser Clark Clifford,
who pressured him to recognise the Zionist state, he noted.
"And indeed, Truman sent a telegram with an official
recognition of Israel just 11 minutes after Ben-Gurion
finished reading the Scroll of Independence.
The US opposition to the recognition of Israel was halted
at the desk of the President, who repelled the explanations by
the Secretary of State and the "Arabists" in his office", Benn
The official US position in 1967 called on Israel to hold
back and refrain from going to war, but a different message
was passing through the secret channels: go "bomb Nasser,"
reported Levi Eshkol`s envoys to Washington, Meir Amit and
Avraham Harman, the columnist wrote.
This message tipped the scales in favour of going to war,
In 1981, Begin did not bother asking the Americans their
opinion before attacking Iraq, but lulled them to sleep and
launched a surprise attack, he noted, contrary to the hype
currently created around the issue by the Israeli leadership.
In these past incidents, Israel acted against the US
position formally, but made sure that the Americans will
accept the results of the action and support it in retrospect,
the columnist contended.
"And indeed, the US recognised Israel in 1948, allowed it
to control the territories annexed in 1967, and made do with
weak condemnations of the attack on the Iraq nuclear reactor
in 1981", Benn emphasised.
If that is the case, then Netanyahu is hinting that in
his Washington visit, he received Obama`s tacit approval for
an Israeli attack against Iran under the guise of
opposition, the columnist added.
Obama will speak out against it but act for it, just as
the past US administrations speak against the settlements in
the territories but allow their expansion, he said.
"I presented before my hosts the examples that I just
noted before you, and I believe that the first objective that
I presented to fortify the recognition of Israel`s right to
defend itself I think that objective has been achieved,"
Netanyahu argued in his speech.
The editor-in-chief of Israel Hayom newspaper, Amos
Regev, today published an enthusiastic op-ed on the front page
in support of a war against Iran.
The newspaper is known for its support of Netanyahu.
Regev wrote what Netanyahu cannot say in his speeches
that we cannot rely on Obama who wasn`t even a mechanic in
the armoured corps - but only on ourselves.
"Difficult, daring, but possible," Regev asserted.
"We need not be alarmed by the Iranian response - the
arrow (anti-missile system) would take down the Shahab
missiles, and Hezbollah and Hamas would hesitate about
entering a war", he said.
"The damage would be reminiscent of the Iraqi scuds in
the 1991 Gulf War - unpleasant, but definitely not too bad.
The analysts are weak, but the soldiers and the residents of
the Home Front have motivation. So onward, to battle!", Regev
To use Netanyahu`s recent "duck allegory", what looks
like a preparation for war, acts like a preparation for war,
and quacks like a preparation for war, is a preparation for
war, and not just a "bluff" or a diversion tactic, Benn
stressed supporting his argument.
Until his trip to Washington, Netanyahu and his
supporters in the media refrained from such explicit wording
and made do with hints.
Since his return, Netanyahu has issued an emergency
call-up for himself and the Israeli public, he emphasised.