In marmur

War in the Air

People in the know tell us that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech the other day about Iran’s nuclear ambitions was more of a performance than an evidence-based argument. Though the coup of the Mosad, Israel’s intelligence agency that brought the data to Israel is a remarkable achievement, some experts aren’t sure that what we’ve been told so far contains much relevant information. They suggest that the data presented may stem from the time before the Iran deal was struck and that since then Iran has complied with the rules of the agreement.

As far as this member of the ignorant and confused public is concerned, it comes down in the end to how much you trust Israel’s current prime minister and how much you believe his critics. The difference is either smelling war in the air or assuming that these are only idle threats.

The fear is that sooner or later the Iranians are bound to try to retaliate the allegedly Israeli rocket attacks on its installations in Syria; the latest of them may have been the most serious. If they hesitate it’s probably because they fear the humiliation that Israel’s air power may inflict on them.

Where is Russia, the ostensible ally of both Iran and Syria, in all this? So far, it seems that Putin has chosen to turn a blind eye to Israel’s reported attacks. But for how long?

Trump may be on the same page as Netanyahu, probably because he has no intention of sending American troops to fight with the Israelis. Like Netanyahu he seems to be obsessed with the Iran deal, but unlike Netanyahu he won’t have to pay the price, especially if he can come to an arrangement with North Korea that will hail him as the heroic deal maker he wants to be.

Trump’s European allies don’t seem to be with him, judging by the French president’s recent visit to Washington. Israel is sending emissaries to London, Paris and Bonn to brief the leaders there. There’re hints that they may bring more conclusive evidence than Netanyahu could present in his speech. But the European Union appears to remain committed to the Iran deal as is, come what may.

It’s obvious that Netanyahu and his defense minister Lieberman want it to be known that Israel is preparing for war. It’s fuelled by a suspicion that they want it to make sure that they’re re-elected once again. If so, they wouldn’t be the first power hungry politicians who gamble with the lives of citizens to satisfy their own ambitions. Though current polls indicate that Netanyahu’s party will do well in the next elections even without a war, Lieberman’s party will not.

Once again, I’m burdening readers with dark forebodings. My friends in Israel don’t seem to want to talk about it. Which is another concern: it’s not the first time in history that people most likely to be affected refuse to read ominous signs because it interferes with their hopes and ambitions. Or perhaps it’s because they surmise that they can’t do anything about it, so why afflict oneself in advance?

The sense of powerlessness is palpable. The machinations by those now in power in Israel to curb the authority of the Supreme Court, perhaps even of Parliament, frustrates many of us. Some come out to demonstrate, but perhaps they too know that their efforts, though noble, are futile.

Or perhaps, it’s my pessimism that again gets the better of me. Israel’s military resources might be enough to defeat Iran in war or intimidate it to cave in before battle begins. So why not hope?

Jerusalem 2.5.18                                                                                                                                        Dow Marmur

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