Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on August 12, 2012. Reuters/Abir Sultan/Pool
Israel, along with its American partisans, is trying to get what it wants by threatening to commit suicide.
Israel, nearly everyone agrees, would have to crazy to attack Iran. And Israel, nearly everyone also agrees, isn’t crazy. There’s a kind of Catch-22 involved here, which is why the chance that Israel will bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities is as close to absolute zero as things can get in politics. The Catch-22: only a crazy prime minister would order Israel to bomb Iran, and Netanyahu isn’t crazy. So Netanyahu must have something else in mind.
After all, bombing Iran would be a catastrophe for Israel. Yet the Israelis are demanding that the world kowtow to the wishes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Co., or else—well, or else Israel will jump off a cliff. What kind of blackmail is that?
Lately, two Israel partisans have given away the game, namely, Dennis Ross and Amos Yadlin.
First, Ross, an official at the Washington Institution for Near East Policy who, until earlier this year, was Obama’s chief adviser on the Middle East. In an op-ed in the New York Times, Ross helpfully provided a to-do list for the Obama administration. To stave off an Israeli attack on Iran—“in order to give Israel’s leaders a reason to wait,” in Ross’ words—President Obama “should ask Israeli leaders if there are military capabilities we could provide them with—like additional bunker-busting bombs, tankers for refueling aircraft and targeting information—that would extend the clock for them” and make “firm commitments” to supply Israel with “weapons, munitions, spare parts, military and diplomatic backing.” Ross also warned that the United States must “signal to both Israel and Iran that we mean what we say about all options being on the table.” All this, according to Ross, “in return for Israel’s agreement to postpone any attack until next year.” Get that: just to postpone an Israeli attack until 2013, the United States has to bend over for Jersualem.
Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israel’s military intelligence service, echoed Ross’ blackmail argument in an op-ed in the Washington Post. There are, he wrote, several steps that the United States can take right now to calm Israel’s nerves and delay an attack. Among them: “Washington should signal its intentions via a heightened US military presence in the Gulf, military exercises with Middle East allies and missile defense deployment in the region.” He added: