Israel Security Establishment Goes Where US Politicians Fear to Tread
When Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said in February that it wouldn’t be “wise” for Israel to attack Iran and said that the “Iranian regime is a rational actor” that can be negotiated with and pressured via sanctions, he received a withering attack from the hawkish American right and criticism from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported then that Mr. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak told US officials privately that General Dempsey’s comments “served Iran’s interests” and that an unnamed senior Israeli official complained “the Iranians see there’s controversy between the United States and Israel, and that the Americans object to a military act. That reduces the pressure on them.”
Well, now Dempsey has been joined by a number of other security experts who appear to share his point of view on a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran. They are Meir Dagan, the former head of the Mossad, Israel’s international spy service; Yuval Diskin, the former head of the Shin Bet, the country’s domestic intelligence service; (Ret.) Gen. Gabi Askhenazi, a former head of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF); and Gen. Benny Gantz, the current head of the IDF.
Showing how raw emotions are, and how split the Israeli establishment is on war with Iran and other issues, former premier Ehud Olmert spoke out against a rush to war with Iran in a speech in New York sponsored by The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. According to the New York Times, Mr. Olmert cautioned against war with Iran, said Netanyahu was disinterested in making the compromises required for peace with the Palestinians, and warned Israel against alienating the Obama Administration. Of Obama, Olmert said: “You have to respect him…. He is the president of the most powerful nation on Earth, and happens to be a friend of Israel.”