Tony Karon in Rootless Cosmopolitan on the Israeli government’s seeming descent into madness:
Haaretz’s Aluf Benn today reinforces the case I made earlier for Obama to keep Netanyahu on a tight leash concerning Iran. First, he reports, Netanyahu continues to talk up a frenzy of public expectation in Israel that leads only to military action. “These are not regular times. The danger is hurtling toward us. The real danger in underestimating the threat,” Netanyahu said on Iran. “My job is first and foremost to ensure the future of the state of Israel ”¦ the leadership’s job is to eliminate the danger. Who will eliminate it? It is us or no one.”
In other words, Israel cannot rely on the Obama Administration to bomb Iran (true), so Israel will have to do the job itself. As I noted in my last piece, Benn has previously pointed out that Netanyahu is creating a massive tide of public hysteria that will demand action in the face of this grave and gathering “threat” — bogus as it is. And he also makes clear, in a second piece, that it’s not just Netanyahu; Defense Minister Ehud Barak is with him every step of the way — despite the fact that Barak has made clear he believes that Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel. (Then again, as Barak showed over the Camp David debacle in 2000, his cynicism knows no boundaries”¦)
But the real gem in Benn’s comment is his explanation of how Israel will go about launching an attack — and suggests that it won’t look anything like the 1981 bombing of Iraq’s Osirak reactor, when the public wakes up one morning to hear that the job’s been done. Instead, writes Benn, Israel might instead seek to provoke a conflict in Lebanon that draws in Iran, perhaps by making “a strike against a valuable target for the Iranian regime which leads Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Ahmadinejad to take action against ”˜the Zionist regime.’ If Iran attacks Israel first, the element of surprise will be lost, but then Israel’s strike against the nuclear installations will be considered self-defense.”
So, if we wake up one morning and read, for example, that Israel has assassinated Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, we’ll understand just how that particular provocation fits into Israel’s game plan.