Panic as diplomacy
Half of Israelis are concerned for the survival of the country in the event of a confrontation with Iran.
Netanyahu at cabinet meeting Photo: Pool/Eli Selman
The Haaretz Internet site published a survey on Thursday showing that half of Israelis are concerned for the survival of the country in the event of a confrontation with Iran. The public, it appears, isn’t worried any more about the casualty toll that the rockets could produce, or the destruction of our economy. These are small potatoes for the public. According to the poll, we have gone one stage further.
Now the public fears for the actual existence of Israel. It’s possible, according to public opinion, that the State of Israel could cease to exist following this much-hyped war with Iran. In short, the second Holocaust is here. Put out your hand and touch it. Another two or three historic speeches from the prime minister and we are there.
This is the primary achievement of Binyamin Netanyahu’s policy. Panic as diplomacy. Some 64 years of blood, sweat and tears, unprecedented achievements of a state established on the ashes of the Holocaust, which became a regional superpower with huge strength, have gone up in the smoke of rhetoric.
Before his address to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, he could pat himself on the back. The Israeli public has demonstrated that if you repeat something enough times, as exaggerated as it is, it will finally be absorbed. Even though the reality, by the way, is nothing close to the situation he describes.
A war with Iran will not pose any danger to the existence of Israel. Iran, at least for now, does not have the ability to cause Israel significant strategic harm. Its missiles, whose that can penetrate the various defense mechanisms that Israel has developed (which, obviously, no other country has) would cause only limited damage.
Hezbollah’s arsenal would inflict much more damage, but this too would not result in anything we haven’t encountered before. The 1948-49 War of Liberation was much more dangerous, the Six Day War was much more scary, the surprises of Yom Kippur were much more disastrous, and the second intifada was not a pleasant afternoon stroll either.
Israel knows how to deal with problems, better than any other country in the world. The damage that we can cause to the other party is so much more. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah knows that he he fires his ammunition at us, Lebanon will be destroyed. They know this in Gaza, too.
And the expected damage in Iran in the case of a confrontation with Israel would be much heavier than the damage caused here.
And yet, half of Israeli citizens, almost 4 million women and men, fear that Israel could stop existing if a war breaks out with Iran. Really.
What is so fateful here? Relations with America. They are really crucial to our future. Without the United States to lean on, without the F-15s and F16s and the jets that go under the radar, the Apache helicopters and the spare parts and the bombs and the missiles from the huge US arsenal that are already here and represent an insurance policy for the future, without the intelligence and the economic deterrent, without the technological and moral support, and without the knowledge of the whole world that America stands behind Israel in every scenario and in any weather, that we and they are one, we really are in existential danger.
It is difficult to imagine Israel in the past few decades without America. It is more important, even, than the Iranian nuclear program. Think about it. It is important in the event that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons (because this presumably will happen only thanks to America), and it is so much more important if Iran does, ultimately, become a nuclear power (in which case, America’s back will turn into a real rock of our existence).
And it is this, if you haven’t noticed, that Netanyahu is harming. Never has an Israeli prime minister been so unwanted a personality among the US administration as Netanyahu is today.
We can only hope that we will be able to find a way to live with this.