For far too long nowIsraelhas been headed by heroes, the kind who don’t hesitate to take the country on yet another dangerous, purposeless adventure. We must tell them now, loudly: We are a-f-r-ai-d.
By Gideon Levy
Some of the people reading these lines will not live through the winter; some of them may not die a natural death. If one is to believe the threats that are ramping up at warp speed, Israel will strike Iran‘s nuclear facilities before spring. If the assessments are accurate, hundreds or even thousands of Israelis will die in the retaliatory missile attacks that are sure to come.
One can of course dismiss the threats as mere pressure tactics, but one could also take them seriously. One could recognize that threats of this scale take on a life of their own that could eventually lead to a strike even if that wasn’t the original intent. One could also suspect that such threats could lead to a desperate preemptive strike on Iran’s part. On the other hand, one could also believe that the Israeli attack will be spectacularly successful: The jets will take off, the bombs will be dropped, the nuclear installations will be destroyed and Iran and its satellites won’t dare to retaliate against Israel. Then again, one could reasonably assume that this scenario will not happen.
And so, it must be said: Danger, Israeli attack ahead (possibly). And yes, we can and should fear it, with every fiber of our being.
The impression is that the majority of Israelis are not afraid. No one is fleeing in panic, no one is stocking up on fear. The decision is left up to a handful of people who have decided that the public, as usual, trusts them blindly, obediently. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will decide, and we will trust them implicitly. We don’t count on them to deal with the Carmel forest fire or the goings-on in their own offices, but an attack on Iran? Life and death, mainly the latter, on a mass scale? Sure, we’ll trust them. That’s how it was with all of Israel’s wars, before they began. Israelis cheered those who started them. Only at the end, when the blood was spilled and the damages racked up, did they come after them.
All Israeli wars since 1973 were flawed wars of choice. Israel initiated all of them. None of them was inevitable, none resulted in any benefit that could not have been achieved using different means. In fact all of them were disastrous for us, even if the disaster was even greater for the other side. The most megalomaniac of them all, the Second Lebanon War, was also the most disastrous of them all. This bears remembering when debating the even greater megalomania of an attack on Iran.
In both the Second Lebanon War and the war in the Gaza Strip Israel lost more than it gained. But these were only the trailers for what is liable to happen in the First Iran War. It has the potential to be the most monstrous war of all. Even if we accept the reassurances of the next minister of war, Barak, hundreds of Israeli civilian deaths are anticipated. Even if we believe his forecast we must keep in mind that no one can predict how a war will develop and what it will bring.
Iran’s nuclear program is dangerous. So are those of Pakistan and North Korea, with which the world has learned to live. An Israeli strike on Iran could turn out to be even more dangerous. Everything has already been said about its effects, which at best will only delay Tehran’s nuclear weapons development and could actually accelerate it. Everything has already been said about the shot in the arm it will give the Iranian regime, about the implications for Israeli relations with the United States and the danger of thousands of missiles hitting Israel. Israel must do all it can to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons – everything except launching another war of choice.
The decision is in the wrong hands. We can no longer depend on the United States to stop it. Even worse, we can no longer depend on the Israeli government to safely sail the ship of state. A government that missed the opportunity to reach an agreement with the Palestinians as it has is a dangerous government.
And so we have entered the time of fear. The time has come to admit it, even to encourage it. Israel has not been led by cowards for a long time, the type whose fear caused them to act wisely and cautiously. For far too long now Israel has been headed by heroes, the kind who don’t hesitate to take the country on yet another dangerous, purposeless adventure. We must tell them now, loudly: We are a-f-r-ai-d.