On the calendar, a little more than five years separate the attack on the Syrian
nuclear reactor in July 2007 and the strike on Syria this week (according to
foreign reporters, of course). In reality, the two episodes are light years
At the time of that first attack, there was complete quiet
Syria was calm, too, Israel was licking its wounds from the Second
Lebanon War, Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah was in his bunker, the borders were
You could hear a pin drop, if it dropped.
In a situation
like this, dispatching eight F-16s to knock out a nuclear plant was an unusual
and conspicuous act. It was like breaking into a stranger’s house and leaving
burning coals on the decorative carpet in the living room.
This week, the
situation is exactly the opposite. The living room is going up in flames,
everything is exploding, Syria is breaking up, tens of thousands have been
killed, Hezbollah fighters have been sucked into the chaos, and then there’s the
Revolutionary Guards, global jihad, al-Qaida and the rest of the
No one is supposed to notice that several jets destroyed a
military installation or a weapons convoy going from A to B. There is no
shortage of demolished buildings in Syria at the moment.
Yet still, it’s
not simple. In our region, Arabs are allowed to attack each other and kill each
other as much as they like. When we join the party, it’s something else
If he had responded in 2007, Syrian President Bashar Assad
could have lost his whole world.
Today, he doesn’t have much to lose. His
whole world is being destroyed in a live broadcast.
On the contrary, as
when a fire erupts in an oil well, sometimes the only way to extinguish the
flames is through a large explosion.
Confronting the IDF, missiles on Tel
Aviv, drawing Iran into the chaos, might all suddenly create alternative
energies that somehow extend the desperate Syrian ruler’s lifespan.
Hezbollah, the situation is different. It acts according to the instructions of
Tehran. And there, in Tehran, they know that the moment of truth hasn’t come,
They were enraged by the previous round of fighting, in which
Nasrallah pulled himself into the Second Lebanon War and, at the wrong time,
wasted a significant portion of the arsenal that Iran was collecting with
Hezbollah was meant to be waiting to attack us if we attacked Iran,
and not a moment earlier.
That was the deterrence that Iran had on our
northern border. To take it out on us now, because of some convoy of missiles or
a factory manufacturing chemical weapons, or both, would be stupid, and the
Iranians are trying not to make the same stupid mistake twice.
appears now, when we hardly know anything about what happened, Israel’s conduct
has been measured and correct.
Intensive contacts with the world,
coordination with the US, public warnings, action, vagueness.
that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu closely studied the Syrian affair in 2007
before he acted this time.
Luckily for him, former prime minister Ehud
Olmert didn’t rush to the television studios to take credit for this attack, as
Netanyahu did back in 2007.
Bibi took a calculated risk, but in this
crazy region, there is no calculation that can’t suddenly go wrong and turn into
a huge mess.
Unlike last time, Syria admitted it had been attacked,
Hezbollah began cursing and the Russians, who never miss an opportunity for
hypocrisy, issued a condemnation.
So everything is brought out into the
open, the vagueness lingers and we’re all running around on a combination of
eggshells and burning coals.
Netanyahu, a prime minister who is much more
cautious than his predecessor, hates gambles and is afraid of entanglements,
faces a weekend of perspiration.
Still, it is nice to see that he drew a
red line and acted when it was crossed. By the way, it also suits his current
Netanyahu has a clear political interest to establish as broad a
coalition as possible.
There’s nothing he hates more than to be dependent
on a doubtful political partner.
Yair Lapid is the political partner
Netanyahu wants, but this doesn’t make him less questionable.
Netanyahu, we’re all questionable except for himself.
in a television interview this week that next time, he will stand for prime
minister and win, fed Netanyahu’s paranoia. Now he won’t trust Lapid for a
Therefore, given the current situation, there is nothing that
will expedite the establishment of a broad emergency government more than a
flare-up on the borders.
No, Netanyahu didn’t ask for this situation, but
it’s possible that he rushed to exploit it. That’s legitimate. He exhibited
control, initiative and a kind of cool-headedness, at least on the
And now, if Lapid comes and insists on nonsense such as a
maximum of 18 ministers in the cabinet or “sharing the burden” of military
service, it’ll be easier to blow him off. That’s what Netanyahu is planning to
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