Israel: Is it time to attack Iran?

There is talk, once again, of a military strike on Iran's nuclear weapons programs. 

War is in the air, said The Jerusalem Post in an editorial. We’ve heard speculation in years past that Israel was considering a military strike on Iranian nuclear weapons programs, and it has always come to nothing. But over the past week, “the pitch and fervor” of such speculation in the press has “reached unprecedented heights.” Yedioth Ahronoth claimed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were gunning for an imminent attack and were trying to persuade the rest of the Cabinet to back them. The London Guardian said Britain was planning to assist a U.S. strike, while AP reported that Gulf states quietly backed the idea. Far from hurting Israeli interests or betraying the element of surprise, this media flurry “clarifies that eliminating the Iranian nuclear threat is not solely an Israeli concern.”

That’s why it shouldn’t lead to a solely Israeli operation, said Daniel Friedmann in the Tel Aviv Yedioth Ahronoth. And it certainly shouldn’t be a military one. Iran could rain missiles down on Israeli cities and summon its Lebanese puppet, Hezbollah, to attack Israel. And that’s just the local fallout: Iran could also mine the Strait of Hormuz, cutting off the global oil supply and causing a global crisis for which “Israel would be blamed.” And after all that, the strikes might not even set back Iran’s nuclear programs significantly, given that many of its facilities are underground or in unknown locations. No less an expert than former Mossad head Meir Dagan—hardly a dove—has explicitly called an Israeli attack on Iran “a stupid idea.”

Dagan may be a wise man, said Dan Margalit in the Tel Aviv Israel Hayom, but “the opinion of the heads of the security establishment is not Torah for Moses from Sinai.” Let’s remember that in 1981, when then Prime Minister Menachem Begin decided to bomb Iraq’s fledgling nuclear program, many Israeli hawks were against it, including the head of Mossad and the head of military intelligence. “Luckily, Begin heard them out but did not listen to them.” An Iraqi nuclear bomb would have been an existential threat to Israel. The danger now is, if anything, even greater. The mullahs who control Iran have sworn to destroy Israel. We cannot risk allowing them the means to do so.

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“Get down from the roof, you crazies,” said Yoel Marcus in the Tel Aviv Ha’aretz. It would be “fatal irresponsibility” to defy the advice of military experts and subject a million and a half Israelis to retaliatory fire from Iran, from Hezbollah, and, closer to home, from Hamas and maybe even the Palestinian Authority. We can only pray that Netanyahu is really just making an empty threat in hopes of pressuring the Americans to rally the world against Iran. Meanwhile, the Americans are appalled, said Alex Fishman in Yedioth Ahronoth. State Department officials say that if Netanyahu thinks he has “some kind of green or even yellow light” for an attack on Iran, he is delusional. The Obama administration has not changed its mind. “As far as it is concerned, for right now, the light remains the same, glaring red.”

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