Thursday, November 3, 2011

Get down from the roof, you crazies

Yoel Marcus

When Netanyahu is trying to recruit a majority in his forum of eight senior ministers for an attack on nuclear installations in Iran, this is not just a scandal but also a macabre fantasy.

Even Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman - who once proposed bombing the Aswan Dam and is now proposing going to war in the Gaza Strip to wipe out Hamas once and for all - said this week on the current events radio show "It's All Talk" that we are talking too much about the Iranian issue. He even quoted a line from a famous Western: "If you want to shoot, shoot, don't talk." Lieberman, the most extreme of the extremists, who has not revealed whether he is in favor of an attack on Iran, is aware of the madness in our threats to attack it.

It's hard to believe that not too long ago the censors prohibited any publication connected to the nuclear issue. At best, they demanded the invocation of the phrase "according to foreign sources." As though whoever is plotting something against us in this area doesn't know about himself what we know about him. When the censors permit what was prohibited until not long ago, maybe it's no coincidence: It is aimed either at preparing the public that the worst and scariest thing of all is liable to happen, or at putting pressure on the United States to act against Iran, or at finding excuses for why we are dawdling in making concessions to the Palestinian Authority. With regard to Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are adopting Machiavelli's advice: Choose yourself an enemy and nourish your loathing of him.

The difference between the situation now and the situation in the First Lebanon War, which was supposed to have taken 48 hours and lasted for 18 years, is that Prime Minister Menachem Begin (whose understanding in matters of defense boiled down to a question to soldiers at the front: "Did you have machine guns?" ) relied blindly on Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan - the same two men who broke him after a long road of mental and physical suffering.

Now the Bibi and Barak duo is threatening to lead the next war if there is one, heaven forbid, contrary to the recommendations of the top military and security people. The impression is that Barak and Netanyahu are not managing to make the necessary concessions for a diplomatic agreement with the Palestinians and have decided to scare the nation and the world with the Iranian nuclear threat and the need to extirpate it.

The atomic arsenal that, according to foreign sources, Israel possesses has been called the Judgment Day weapon - that is to say it is intended for use in a situation of extreme danger to Israel's existence. The possibility of using it was once raised by Prime Minister Golda Meir at the start of the Yom Kippur War, when Defense Minister Moshe Dayan said we were on the verge of the destruction of the Third Temple. This possibility has never been put on the agenda realistically.

When Iraqi Scuds were falling here in the Gulf War and as revenge for the Israel Air Force's destruction of the Osirak nuclear reactor under Begin's orders, a panicky public was revealed, which fled daily in the tens of thousands from Tel Aviv. During the course of the war, media representatives met several times for conversations with Chief of Staff Dan Shomron. On one occasion, suddenly there was a warning siren. The chief of staff immediately went down to the security bunker and as we started to make our way out one of the commentators, who is now one of the most popular on television, whispered: "I fear that without an atom bomb this isn't going to end." It ended without an atom bomb and with one fatality in Tel Aviv. Saddam Hussein was also finished off much later by the Americans.

When Sharon was infrastructure minister in the first Netanyahu government, he revealed to me in a personal conversation that Bibi was taking an interest in the nuclear issue that day. "You aren't going to believe it," said Sharon, "but Raful [Eitan, who was then agriculture minister] and I, the two oldsters, went to Bibi and warned him that this is not a subject to discuss, lest the silence on its existence be broken and they take it away from us."

Bibi's response, according to Sharon, was: "I just wanted to know."

Labor MK and former defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer says he perspires at night. Interior Minister Eli Yishai of Shas also said recently it is hard for him to sleep when he knows what is happening. Yishai was present at the recent (separate ) meetings of Bibi and Barak with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. It's too bad the rabbi did not give them some resounding slaps on the cheek, as is his habit, after he heard what they had to say.

When we hear that Netanyahu is trying to recruit a majority in his forum of eight senior ministers for an attack on nuclear installations in Iran, this is not just a scandal, as Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said, but also a macabre fantasy. It takes fatal irresponsibility to put a million and a half inhabitants of the country under fire from Iran, from Hezbollah, from Hamas, and perhaps even from the Palestinian Authority. And all this in light of the opposition and doubts of the General Staff, the commander of the air force and the intelligence organizations.

Even if the threat to bomb Iran is aimed at pressuring the Americans to act, this is the place to reiterate a ministerial statement of yesteryear: Get down from the roof, you crazies.

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