What do you make of the retired generals who say Benjamin Netanyahu is jeopardizing relations with Washington?
I say a plague on both your houses.
This group of dovish retired Israel military and intelligence officers organized under the rubric of Commanders for Israel's Security has denounced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for damaging relations with the United States.
And no doubt he and his ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer have. Either out of ineptitude or hubris they've managed to take the spotlight off Iran and shine it brightly (and unflatteringly) on Netanyahu. And they've managed to give wobbly Jewish liberals yet another excuse to take sides against Israel.
The ex-officers said that Netanyahu's address to Congress on Tuesday, against Obama administration efforts to cut a nuclear deal with Iran, would do nothing to slow down Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.
Well, that's pretty obvious. A president can enter into an agreement of this kind without the advise and consent of Congress.
So you stand shoulder-to-shoulder with IDF armored corps ex-general, Amnon Reshef, founder of Commanders for Israel's Security?
I just happen to agree with him on this one point.
By the way, I'm curious about who handles his public relations and who stands behind the people who are arranging his publicity.
Anyway, in November, Reshef told the Yediot Aharanot viewspaper that he was "absolutely" convinced it was possible to establish a Palestinian state that posed no threat to Israeli security -- with the support of the Arab countries -- if Netanyahu were willing to be "courageous."
That's a pretty delusional claim.
A pullback practically to the 1949 Armistice Lines? Now? When the countries surrounding us are wracked by instability? When the Palestinian polity is divided between Hamas and the PLO? Or "worse" and "worser." When every previous Israeli pullout led to a poorer security outcome than the status quo? When the "moderate" PLO remains committed to the principle that Jews have no legitimate place anywhere in the region…
Amiram Levin, a former Mossad officer who was also Netanyahu's commander in an IDF special forces unit, said that the mullahs in Iran were glad to see a rift develop between the Obama administration and Jerusalem. "Iran wants Netanyahu's speech. They understand that it will weaken Israel's bipartisan bond with the United States."
I certainly don't disagree. Though since the generals knew their statement would not persuade Netanyahu to scuttle the Washington trip – aren't they also feeding into Iran's desires?
"It's hard for me to speak out against Bibi," Levin said using Netanyahu's nickname. "I was his commander. I recruited him. I taught him how to navigate and I'm telling him now: 'Bibi, you've made an error in navigation. The objective ought to be Tehran, not Washington,'" the Hebrew-language tabloid Ma'ariv reported.
Look, history shows that many of those who know Bibi up close and personal, who worked for him, have, on the whole come to despise him.
In the March 17 elections, Bibi is running against Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett both of whom were once close aides. He's not known to engender loyalty.
Another ex-general, Giora Rom said Jerusalem should not be "fighting" President Barack Obama. "There are more suitable ways to deal with the Iranian agreement being worked on rather than going to Congress like this," the WPost reported.
That horse has left the barn.
It's basically too late.
No American administration-- and certainly not Obama's-- is going to go to war against Iran in order to stop them from developing an atom bomb. See North Korea as a precedent.
The tragedy of the George W. Bush administration is that by going to war with Iraq it not only unleashed the Pandora's Box of sectarian Muslim-on-Muslim bloodletting, de-stabilized the Arab nation-state system, set the stage for the so-called Arab Spring, but that the Iraq war secured Iran as a regional powerbroker.
Netanyahu should apologize to Congress for egging Bush on in those days though he was not in office and Ehud Olmert was. The unintended consequences of the Iraq war have proved to be disastrous all around.
And if Netanyahu really believed Israel faced an immediate, existential danger – why talk, talk, talk? I don't recall Menachem Begin blustering before ordering the air-force to destroy Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor. Obviously, every Israeli premier since Rabin (in his second term) will have to answer to history for letting Iran get this far.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon defended Netanyahu's decision to go ahead with the speech. "There is a huge gap between how we see things and how the Americans see them. We could capitulate and grovel, but this is a historic moment – and if we don't act correctly, history will judge us badly."
I like Ya'alon but I doubt his political instincts. I think he meant "how Obama's administration sees them."
Wait. Are you saying, though, that 180 Israeli generals, ex-Mossad and ex-Shin Bet are wrong to be "dovish" as you so dismissively label them?
As prime minister's former Israeli generals have been willing to take risks for peace. Yitzhak Rabin signed the catastrophic 1993 Oslo Accords which brought Yasser Arafat out of Tunisian exile and established him as head of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Ariel Sharon uprooted 21 Israeli settlements and pulled IDF forces out of the Gaza Strip in 2005. [mea culpa, I supported what he did at the time.] And the feckless Ehud Barak offered to turn over the Golan Heights to Syria when he was prime minister in 1999.
So much for the prescience of ex-generals.