3. Israel: Netanyahu’s Critics are Circling

May-04-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: The head of Israel’s internal security, Shin Bet, and the head of the Israeli military both attack Netanyahu and deny that there are reasons to wage war on Iran. Tzipi Livni, ex head of Katima (the “middle” party)  says the country’s leaders are putting Israel at risk, and resigns in despair from the Knesset. And a fascinating piece from the Tikkun Daily Blog argues for the rights and obligations of Diaspora Jews to speak out on Israel’s politics.

* Ex-Israeli spy boss attacks Netanyahu and Barak over Iran The Guardian

Israel’s former security chief has censured the country’s “messianic” political leadership for talking up the prospects of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear programme. In unusually candid comments set to ratchet up tensions over Iran at the top of Israel’s political establishment, Yuval Diskin, who retired as head of the internal intelligence agency Shin Bet last year, said he had “no faith” in the abilities of the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and the defence minister, Ehud Barak, to conduct a war.

The pair, who are the foremost advocates of military action against Iran’s nuclear programme, were “not fit to hold the steering wheel of power”, Diskin told a meeting on Friday night. “My major problem is that I have no faith in the current leadership, which must lead us in an event on the scale of war with Iran or a regional war,” he said.

“I don’t believe in either the prime minister or the defence minister. I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings. Believe me, I have observed them from up close … They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off. They are misleading the public on the Iran issue. They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won’t have a nuclear bomb. This is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race.”

Diskin’s remarks followed a furore over comments made on Wednesday by Israel’s serving military chief, Benny Gantz, which starkly contrasted with Netanyahu’s rhetoric on Iran. Gantz said he did not believe the Iranian leadership was prepared to “go the extra mile” to acquire nuclear weapons because it was “composed of very rational people” who understood the consequences.

* Israeli Security Elite Slams Netanyahu, sidetracks War on Iran Juan Cole Informed Comment

Not only are high officials and former officials of the Israeli security establishment pushing hard back against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s seeming rush to war with Iran, they appear actually to be attempting to unseat him, as it becomes possible that Israel may go to early elections in September. Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has become the latest former high-ranking figure to savage Netanyahu and his defense minister Ehud Barak, for their threats to attack Iran unilaterally and soon. In contrast to Netanyahu’s circles, who have threatened a unilateral Israeli strike this summer, Olmert said categorically in a television interview that this is “definitely not to initiate an Israeli military strike.” Olmert, no dove, had himself launched the 2006 Lebanon and the 2008-9 Gaza Wars. But neither went well for Israel, and Olmert may have learned something from that.

…Former officials and opposition leaders have also been scathing about Netanyahu’s lack of interest in negotiating in good faith with Palestine Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, alleging that Netanyahu has zero interest in genuine peace talks.

Tzipi Livni Quits Knesset, Says Israel’s Leaders Put Country At Existential Risk Haaretz Daily 

Former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni resigned from the Knesset on Tuesday, warning in her resignation address that Israel’s leaders are putting the country’s existence at risk by choosing to ignore the mounting impatience on the part of the international community.

…The former Kadima leader also hinted at the possibility of her return to politics through different avenues, that she was “leaving the Knesset at this point, but I’m not retiring from public life,” saying that Israel was “too dear to me.” In her speech, Livni warned of an existential threat Israel faced under its current leadership, saying that “Israel is on a volcano, the international clock is ticking, and the existence of a Jewish, democratic state is in mortal danger.”

“The real danger is a politics that buries its head in the sand,” Livni said, adding that it didn’t “take a Shin Bet chief to know that.”

* I Own Israel: A Diaspora Jew’s Claim  Tikkun Daily Blog

I own Israel because the country insists upon such an arrangement, flailing as it struggles to be both Jewish and democratic. I’m a stakeholder because, as a legally-recognized member of the people of Israel (having in the past proven to the State that I have a Jewish mother and father), I’m granted the unequivocal right to return to my country at a moment’s notice. I am encouraged, even solicited, to return to my country at a moment’s notice.

This ownership stake I hold in Israel is less a possession than it is a responsibility – a responsibility I accept willingly and with a seriousness of purpose. I don’t own an apartment in Jerusalem or an Israeli passport, but I do own the shared responsibility of ensuring that Israel, as the national outgrowth of my people, creates a just society. It is a responsibility that has its origins in tradition, in the Talmudic precept that all those within “Israel” are responsible for one another (כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה).

However, in political terms, it’s a responsibility that comes directly from Israel’s Declaration of Independence, a declaration which established the country as one “based on freedom, justice and peace” for all its inhabitants. It’s a declaration that appeals to me directly, in the diaspora, to help Israel realize this reality:

We appeal to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration and upbuilding and to stand by them in the great struggle for the realization of the age-old dream – the redemption of Israel.

The redemption of Israel. This is why I often sharply critique Israel’s hawkish political elite, its settlement enterprise, its brutal suppression of the Palestinian people. It is why, when Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf recently wrote in his review of Peter Beinart’s The Crisis of Zionism that “the occupation is the greatest moral challenge of my generation,” I nodded in agreement. I nodded instinctively to the words my generation. For his generation is mine. As Jews, we are responsible for this. I am responsible for this – responsible for realizing the Israel envisioned upon its founding, an Israel created to “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants.”



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