Israeli buzz on Iran aims to pressure US

2012-08-20 11:00

Jerusalem - A high-volume public debate in Israel over a possible imminent military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities is designed to pressure Washington to back its ally more firmly, experts say.

Media chatter over Israel's intentions has become a cacophony, fed daily by pronouncements from politicians, retired generals, former security officials and various commentators.

They fill newspaper columns and radio and TV broadcasts with their opinions for or against a pre-emptive Israeli operation against Iran, with or without US approval or assistance.

Such talk has been further fuelled by the mass distribution of gas masks to the public, by tests of an SMS attack warning system and by speculation about possible Israeli casualty numbers in the event of an Iranian counter-attack.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak and other senior officials have estimated a conflict could last 30 days and claim 500 Israeli lives.

"There is an orchestrated hysteria, deliberately timed, to put the country in a state of anxiety, artificial or not," former military intelligence chief Uri Saguy wrote this weekend in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper.

Last resort

Apart from preparing public opinion for the consequences of a conflict, the surge in public statements aims to push US President Barack Obama to take a more hawkish stance on Iran, said Denis Charbit, professor of political science at Israel's Open University.

"The use of this public diplomacy on the part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defence minister aims to obtain a clearer commitment by the United States to attack if Iran continues its nuclear programme, or at least to give Israel the green light to do so," he said.

Obama has said Washington will stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but has spoken of military action as a last resort that should be preceded by diplomacy and economic sanctions. Netanyahu on the other hand has aggressively pushed the idea of a pre-emptive strike.

There is concern in Washington that a unilateral Israeli strike may not destroy Iran's underground nuclear facilities and could spark Iranian retaliation worldwide, dragging the United States into another war in the Middle East.

"Statements from the White House are considered too vague by Israeli leaders," Charbit said. "By publicly raising the possibility of an imminent Israeli military operation, they want to push the Americans into showing their hand."

The Israeli wish for a firmer US commitment was expressed by another former head of military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, in an opinion piece published at the weekend in the Washington Post.

Counter-productive strategy

"The US president should visit Israel and tell its leadership - and, more important, its people - that preventing a nuclear Iran is a US interest, and if we have to resort to military action, we will," he wrote, suggesting that Obama address Israel's parliament.

"This message, delivered by the president of the United States to the Israeli Knesset, would be far more effective than US officials' attempts to convey the same sentiment behind closed doors," said Yadlin, who is in regular contact with Netanyahu and senior Israeli defence and security officials.

But Eytan Gilboa, an expert on US-Israel relations at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv, warned that the Israeli strategy of putting pressure on the White House could be counter-productive, especially with Obama up for re-election in November.

"The period before the presidential election in the United States is inopportune," he said.

"The series of leaks and declarations in the Israeli media has a negative impact by exposing a high level of mutual mistrust and a lack of co-ordination between Israel and the United States."

Gilboa was however cautiously optimistic about a possible Netanyahu-Obama meeting on the sidelines of next month's UN General Assembly in New York, although Netanyahu's office has so far not confirmed he will attend.

"The meeting might provide a good opportunity to restore trust and understanding between the two leaders regarding the policy towards Iran," he said.

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-20 11:35

    "There is an orchestrated hysteria, deliberately timed, to put the country in a state of anxiety, artificial or not," It's called fear-mongering. Israeli citizens are being fed endless fears and stupid lies to keep them on side. The Iranians are the elusive boogeyman that serve to keep gullible people fearful and united against Big Bad Enemies. The Iranian 'threat' has proved very useful for extremists in Israel, who have exploited it to justify their ongoing colonisation, dispossession, fragmentation, ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. The establishment needs to distract the home population from the continuing depression. If anyone's an imminent threat to stability in the region, it's Israel and their hawkish leaders.

      daniel.kagan.9 - 2012-08-20 11:46

      Please explain using proof (with citations) that the democratic country of Israel is a threat to the stability of the region after having been invaded no less than twice by multiple arab countries. Does Iran's tacit support of the Assad regime in Syria not constitute a greater danger to regional stability (particularly give that regimes cache of nuclear weapons). To accuse Israel of fear mongering when it would face an existential threat in the face of Iranian nuclear weapons is hypocritical in the least. While i acknowledge whole heartedly that Israel should be enagaging with the Palestinian people more constructively to conflate the threat of a nuclear Iran with the Palestinian issue is a gross misreading of a very complicated situation.

      rick.kabose - 2012-08-20 12:03

      Haaretz newspaper does not speak for all Israeli's fidel, just as the "new age" doesn't speak for all SANS. Palestinian blah blah blah hot air again,they bring their sufferings on themselves.Teaching their kindergarden children to hate,shame on you

      bram.camina - 2012-08-20 12:05

      Your comments are ill-informed, congenitally stupid and imminently hypocritical. You are selectively concerned about human rights. Where is your righteous outrage over the plight of Syrian citizens, being murdered by their own government? Why are you not up in arms over the treatment of non-Muslims in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iraq? Why are you not LIVID over the systematic persecution and genocide of the Baha'i, Hindus and Buddhists in Iran, never mind their disgraceful treatment of Jews in that country? I can tell you why - it doesn't fit with your skewed perception of the world. Before you think I am fanatically pro-Israel, let me categorically state that I am not - however I do believe in trying to have a balanced view of the situation, not blindly hating like you do. That being said, I admire your fortitude, lurking and blogging on this forum against so much adversity. As much as I hate to say it, don't stop - different perspectives are healthy!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-20 12:23

      @Daniel It's a commonly spun-out argument you have there, but considering News24 posters' love of 'evidence' I see you provide absolute none concerning your assertions as well, regarding the iranian threat. @Bram How edifying to get yet another ad hominem post with nothing about the issues involved or the points I raised. I always find it funny when emotional wrecks come on this site, and then get utterly confused and go on a tangent.

      dominic.goller.9 - 2012-08-20 12:31

      where do you come up with this crap???

      daniel.kagan.9 - 2012-08-20 12:35

      Hi Fidel I trust that the IAEA is a credible source of evidence regarding Iran's unusually high enrichment of nuclear and or fissile materials. What does a country that sits on some of the largest oil deposits on earth need with an alternative energy source like nuclear energy. Do you need proof that Israel has been invaded by its Arab neighbours? Google the Yom Kippur war as well as the 1948 war of independence, While you are busy please also look at the Iran supported Hamas charter that calls for the destruction of the Zionist entity. Iam on the side of peace but not if the cost is the destruction of a democartic state. For the record I was vehemently against the US invasion of Iraq.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-20 12:56

      Iran's nuclear energy requirement is an Iranian issue. The 'threat to Israel' is a risible argument based on some political statements Ahmedinejad made to his base support. The Iranians don't have a death wish despite all the propaganda about Mad Mullahs, nor would common sense suggest they that do.

      daniel.kagan.9 - 2012-08-20 13:02

      Hi Fidel Is that the extent of your reply? That the threat is a risible argument. Please could you provide a more lucid and intelligent answer to what is clearly an extremely complex geopoloitical issue that seems to involve more than a few mad mullahs. Are you seriously suggesting that Israel should not take seriously the threats uttered by the President of another country. If that is indeed your suggestion than you are guilty of incredible double standards. Iram must take seriously a "threat" by Israel but Israel must dismiss Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's threats as mere posturing? I am just checking if that is the extent of your argument.

      Desilusionada - 2012-08-20 13:21

      This is the a$$hole that says: "political statements Ahmedinejad made to his base support." Well how would his "not base support" know the difference? All this clever rot, when a while ago we were informed by fidel 'the roaming logical thinking handicapped, that All the citizens support Ahmedinejad. So why make statements like that? Perhaps instead of sprouting the same drivel re-hashed as new insights, you should page to South African news and see the results of political remarks made to someone's "base support". Or was that also some plot by the CIA, Mossad, NSA, FBI, NIA and the rest of the alphabet????

      james.rossouw - 2012-08-20 13:48

      Iraq war mongers were, R Perle, Wolfowitz, Krauthammer, Joe Lieberman,Rumsfelt. We killed +- 200,000 innocent Iraqis and spent $1 TRILLION. That country is still a mess. Iran +-3x size of Iraq does NOT posses weapons grade material. In the Isr. press the debate is constant re whom to attack next. I wonder when +- 600,000 Palestinians are getting their homes back. BTW Modern Zionist no DNA related to Original Jews.

      Desilusionada - 2012-08-20 14:45

      @jamesrossouw The nuclear material that Iran has is radioactive? Heard of a thing called a "dirty bomb", like in conventional explosives scattering radioactive material? Please do not be as ignorant and uninformed as your logic, grammar and spelling would indicate. Actually don't bother... "BTW Modern Zionist no DNA related to Original Jews." Who is/are 'Modern Zionist" and who is "Original Jews"? Such nonsensical and sweeping statements, obviously gleaned from some paid writer with anti-Semitic, racist views, will really go far to support your delusions.

      rick.kabose - 2012-08-20 16:22

      James Rossouw. Those 2 rabbi's can be likened to the AWB giving a sermon. Palestinian kids watch hate shows where other kids watch childrens shows. No comparisons

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-20 21:11

      Fidel believes Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom. His words in the US/Mandela thread. It's no surprise then that he inverts the reality when it comes to Israel and the election-rigging Iranian regime. It is the Iranian regime, faced with its imminent demise, that has come out all guns blazing, attempting again to use Israel to justify its own existence. Anyone who isn't inverting reality, seeing Nelson Mandela as a fake, can see what is really happening in the Middle East, Iran in particular.

  • jameel.patel.39 - 2012-08-20 11:48

    Why do they need the backing of the United Snakes, can they not handle there own matters ?

      jameel.patel.39 - 2012-08-20 14:11

      Adam FYI there is a significant difference in time from 1948 and 2012.

      jason.sole.92 - 2012-08-20 17:12

      Bones - I think the this river may flow both ways. Much of US technology is derived from Israel and until Israel loses a war without the support of the USA no one including yourself will ever know just how they perform.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-21 01:55

      Netanyahu and Romney know each other personally from their days as venture capitalists. End of story.

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-08-21 17:41

      Patrick/Lesego. As the only person in this whole wide world who has the ridiculous and ludicrous 'view' that Israel is the 51st state of the USA, why should the rest of us even consider taking you foolishness seriously, much less laugh at your pitiful intelect.

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-08-23 07:43

      No permission required at all, but rather concerted effort on the Western Front. USA involvement is inevitable, as Iran threatens to attack USA military installations in the Middle east as well as close the Straits of Hormuz. Israel and the USA are both opposed to a nuclear Iran for their own seperate and joint reasons. If two soveriegn countries act in concert, this does not mean that one is the junior lackey of the other. Putz.

  • Tiaan Liebenberg - 2012-08-20 11:57

    Again, sensationalist reporting! Mere speculation of an imminent attack. Israel has extended an open hand to all concerned, but it has been denied time on time. We will know when they attack, I believe they will only do so when provoked

  • phathuchicos - 2012-08-20 13:18

    Don't you guys get tired of our endless middle-eastern version of The bold and the beautiful drama featuring Ayatollah as Brooke, NetanYahoo Stephanie, Mahmoud(sheep) as rick, Barack Ompama(the one who sleeps with everyone) as Ridge and Panetta as Sally... and oh missles as Tailors kids.

  • allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-08-20 13:37

    If the Isreali/Palestinian problem was just about territory and autonomy then it would have been resolved by now. Its a problem with each sides perceived divine right to the land , Gods will is not something you can compromise and negotiate with. Its most divisive development was morphing into a major political tool in the region backed along sectarian lines.

      jason.sole.92 - 2012-08-20 17:05

      Good response

  • bram.camina - 2012-08-20 14:26

    Fidel. I don't feel I need to treat your blathering seriously. You have still not answered my question about selective outrage. All you can do is resort to cheap insults, rather than answer a perfectly legitimate question. You quite disingenuously are avoiding the question. But that's fine. I never underestimate the predictability of stupidity, so I know you will be pouring through websites looking for another obtuse retort for me. You obviously didn't read the whole of my missive. I won't however be replying anymore, so feel free to rant ad nauseum.

  • joseph.motloung.3 - 2012-08-20 16:32

    All the Israeli cheerleaders do not mention the important facts. Iran does not have nuclear weapons, Israel does. Ever since the Islamic revolution of 1979 Iran has never invaded any country nor have they ever committed war crimes or been accused of committing war crimes. The zionits excel in the mentioned areas. They encourage their citizens to attack Palestinians ( They do not even punish appropriately those accused of crimes against Palestinians. Those who affirm the zionists right to existence ommitt some important issues in their discourse. Where are they to exercise their right to existence? Why should they exercise their right on Palestinian territory? Why have the zionists built the apartheid wall on internationally recognised Palestinian lands? The zionists cheerleaders are also silent went their principal engages in XENOPHOBIC acts (

      jason.sole.92 - 2012-08-20 17:02

      Joseph, I mean you no offence as clearly you feel strongly about the subject at hand. The reality is that invasion of a country need not be direct but can also be done covertly as in the case of Irans sponsor of terrorism. Even if you left Israel out the picture it is a well known fact that Iran sponsors Syria, Hezbollah and a number of other terrorist organisations. All though this is known it is also completely deniable as in plausible deniability. As for the Israelis the situation is quite a lot more complex than what you are suggesting and I would honestly urge you if you are so inclined to do some research prior to shooting of comments as truth.

      jaba.kov - 2012-08-20 17:22

      All the Iranian cheerleaders do not mention the important facts. Iran has threatened Israel with destruction; Israel does not threaten Iran at all. Israel wants to destroy the Iranian nuclear plant simply because they keep threatening Israel with annihilation & eradication. Iran was at war with Iraq and killed a million people (even though I agree that it was Iraq that started the war) Iran has and is continually being accused of committing crimes against humanity to women, gays and Christians in Iran. Israel works and hopes for peace… Israel does NOT encourage violence and the sad story from Jerusalem yesterday you conveniently leave out the fact that the Israeli youth have been arrested; while this incident has caused public outrage in Israel - much like the outrage over the massacre of our miners in the North West – except that no one died in the Israeli incident. Palestinian territory??? Do some research and you will realise that the world called the Jews Palestinians before Israel was created – the Arabs were always known as Arabs in Palestine. The Jews created Israel after the UN partitioned the land… the Arabs went to war and lost, lost a further 5 wars… it was only in 1966 that the Palestinian name was hijacked by the Arabs – part of the propaganda war which you have bought into very well.

      jaba.kov - 2012-08-20 17:29

      There is no such thing as an apartheid wall – the barrier was built because Palestinian terrorist placed bombs on Israel busses, coffee shops, malls and hotels on a daily basis. After the barrier was built, the terrorist attacks decreased by 90%, saving thousands of Israeli lives. The fact remains. When the Palestinians renounce terror the “wall” will come down – btw, the Palestinians have NOT renounced terror and all you have to do is Google Hamas’s charter to learn the truth of why there is no chance of peace in the Middle East. Fundamentalist Islam will not allow for peace! The Iranian cheerleaders are also silent on the tens of thousands of deaths in Syria, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain – your hypocrisy is distressing.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-21 01:59

      The election-adjusting, terrorism-funding, woman-stoning, Palestinian-abusing regime is threatening Israel. The Iranian people are not. This will become clearer going forward.

  • fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-20 21:11

    Fidel believes Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom. His words in the US/Mandela thread. It's no surprise then that he inverts the reality when it comes to Israel and the election-rigging Iranian regime. It is the Iranian regime, faced with its imminent demise, that has come out all guns blazing, attempting again to use Israel to justify its own existence. Anyone who isn't inverting reality, seeing Nelson Mandela as a fake, can see what is really happening in the Middle East, Iran in particular.

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