Israel’s threats are blackmail designed to gain concessions

“…by beating the war drums on Iran since 2009, Netanyahu has succeeded in shifting the world’s focus, including that of the Obama administration, from the Israel-Palestine question to Iran… Israel hopes that by injecting Iran into the presidential campaign in the United States it can blackmail the United States – Democrats and Republicans alike – to give Israel what it wants.”

“Mr. Prime Minister, you’re creating panic… You are trying to frighten us and terrify us. And in truth, we are scared: scared by your lack of judgment, scared that you both lead and don’t lead, scare[d] that you are executing a dangerous and irresponsible policy.” – Shaul Mofaz, leader of the Kadima party.

On August 22nd this year, while the U.S. election was in full swing, a very useful background article appeared in The Diplomat, a Tokyo-based, online current affairs magazine.

Written by Richard Dreyfuss, the article “Why Israel Won’t Attack Iran” explores the benefits Israel receives from making continual threats to attack Iran; the substantial negatives were it to actually do so; and the near-unanimity amongst Western and Israeli analysts that such an attack is unlikely to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons anyway. 

My own opinion is that Iran must at the very least be thinking about the desirability of having nuclear weapons, if only because of the substantial difference between how nuclear-armed states are treated, and those that are not nuclear-armed.  Just think North Korea and Iraq.

As Mr. Dreyfuss demonstrates, by escalating threats of a “pre-emptive” attack to a crescendo using both diplomatic means and the strongly-influenced U.S. mass media, and in particular by doing so during an election campaign, Israel can then offer to delay Armageddon in exchange for valuable benefits and concessions. 

And, as former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin so helpfully suggests in a Washington Post op-ed, “Washington should signal its intentions via a heightened U.S. military presence in the Gulf, military exercises with Middle East allies and missile defense deployment in the region.”

While the U.S. generally takes such threats by Israel seriously, in Israel it is a different matter entirely.  Politicians and the press making no secret of their dislike for irresponsible scare-mongering and for the very real risks it can create, particularly in terms of Israel’s carefully-cultivated and rigidly-enforced international image.

This is an excellent backgrounder with a number of useful and informative links.  I highly recommend it.

Jeff Goodall.

See “Why Israel Won’t Attack Iran” here.

Visit The Diplomat’s website here.

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