I deliberated this morning if I should write about the pending meeting of Netanyahu and Obama, an unnecessary and insignificant meeting despite the headlines it is producing, or if I should concentrate on the Galant letter and the Uzi Arad affairs which are as unnecessary but cause much more damage to Israel’s national security. Eventually I decided to combine both into one short article.
Regarding the meeting of Netanyahu and Obama – this is an unnecessary meeting because everything that should have been said has already been said by both of them even before the meeting started. Obama has a clear agenda – to continue dragging time so as to avoid in any way possible a military action or even the threat of a military action until the November elections are over, and possibly to reach some agreement with the Iranians that each side would interpret as it pleases and which he will be able to present to the American voters as a great political achievement. His appearance before the Jewish lobby was intended to reduce the increasing pressure for action and at the same time to try and secure Jewish votes and money for his election campaign. Should Obama be re-elected as President, Jewish American voters, who Obama has already led by the nose four years ago, would go through a second and much more painful disillusionment. As my father used to say – he who does not learn through the head learns through the bum.
Netanyahu also has a clear agenda. He knows very well that an Israeli attack which would limit itself to conventional weapons – fighter planes, missiles and ground forces – would cost many losses and would not achieve a long term halt of the Iranian nuclear programme. Despite the historic angle from which he views events, Netanyahu does not in all likelihood have the courage to order the keeping of the air force jets in their underground pens and the attack of Iran’s nuclear facilities with ballistic and cruise missiles carrying tactical nuclear weapons. His aim is therefore to do everything he can to get the Americans, who have much more powerful conventional capabilities than Israel, to carry out this strike themselves or at least join Israel in carrying it out. The Americans have already made it clear to Israel’s political and military leadership many times that this is not going to happen.
And all this is taking place against the background of the almighty stench rising from the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem and from the offices of the defence minister and the former chief of staff in Tel-Aviv. After reading the published interviews with the main players in these farces and the draft report of the State’s comptroller, it appears that there are no complete villains or complete saints in any of these affairs – the emerging picture is of a corrupt system, fully focused on itself whilst losing all proportions and recollection of who it was established to serve and what must be its priorities. If I was Obama, I would today ask Netanyahu behind closed doors: “With this political and security establishment which is falling apart, you are hoping to beat the Iranians?”
The only ones to gain from all these events are of course the Iranians themselves. They read the map correctly. From their point of view, if they would continue to manage well their campaign of lies and time wasting, the only threat they might face is of an isolated conventional Israeli attack of which they will receive an early warning from their allies and that, painful and retarding as it might be, will not be enough to prevent them from renewing their race towards a nuclear bomb in the not too distant future. The nearly daily reports of sharp differences of opinion between Jerusalem and Washington, and of events in the offices of the prime minister, the defence minister and the chief of staff, only strengthen their resolve and their belief that despite all the high talk we will hear today from both leaders, their goal is achievable.