Israel’s Netanyahu & Iran: Even former Intel Officials think he’s Unhinged

By Jeffrey Rudolph | (Detailed Political Quizzes) |

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot be taken seriously when he talks about Iran. While Netanyahu is a master at exploiting fear in a particularly fearful society, the following points demonstrate that thinking people can ignore his claims dealing with Iran.

“Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders blasted the [July 2015 nuclear] deal [between Iran and six world powers] even as negotiators in Vienna were still making the announcement and providing details.”

“[M]any former senior intelligence and national security officials in Israel disagree [with Netanyahu’s assessment of the July 2015 nuclear deal]. While they think the deal is flawed and that Netanyahu deserves credit for raising the alarm on Iran years ago, they also believe that the historic agreement is—on balance—in the national security interest of the State of Israel.” Ami Ayalon, “a former head of Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, and a former chief of the Israeli Navy” can list numerous “former defense ministers and chiefs of Shin Bet and Mossad who agree with him that ‘when it comes to Iran’s nuclear capability, this [deal] is the best option.’ ‘When negotiations began, Iran was two months away from acquiring enough material for a [nuclear] bomb. Now it will be 12 months,’ Ayalon says, and the difference is significant to anyone with a background in intelligence. ‘Israelis are failing to distinguish between reducing Iran’s nuclear capability and Iran being the biggest devil in the Middle East,’ he says.”
The Daily Beast

When Netanyahu was asked on television whether he would lobby the US Congress over the landmark [July 2015] nuclear deal with Iran, he replied: “I feel it’s my obligation as the prime minister of Israel to speak out against something that endangers the survival of my country, the security of the region, the security of the world.” (To learn when Israel “discovered” Iran as an existential threat, see question 3 of the Iran Quiz at: Iran Quiz
Source: CBS News (19 July 2015)

“On the eve of the nuclear ­accord, Netanyahu warned on his Twitter account that Iran ‘is more dangerous than ISIS,’ a reference to the radical Islamic State group that has captured vast swaths of Syria and Iraq. He argued that ‘the true goal of [Iran’s] aggression…is to take over the world.’”
Source: WaPo

“Binyamin Netanyahu’s dramatic declaration [at the United Nations] in 2012 that Iran was about a year away from making a nuclear bomb was contradicted by his own secret service, [Mossad, which]…concluded that Iran was ‘not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons’.”
Source: The Guardian

In 2010, Netanyahu wanted the Israeli military to prepare “for an attack on Iran’s nuclear installations…[Accordingly, he] convened the Security Cabinet, which then asked [former Mossad director Meir] Dagan, [former military chief of staff Gabi] Ashkenazi and several others for their views on military action. The generals argued against it. The cabinet duly voted the action down, infuriating Netanyahu and then-defense minister Ehud Barak. Within a year Ashkenazi, Dagan and their ally, Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin, were all out of a job.”
Source: The Forward (12 June 2015)

Likudniks point to Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor as a successful example of what the Israeli Air Force can achieve. (Then-Prime Minister Begin disdained diplomacy as a route to deal with Iraq’s nuclear program.) However, “After [Israel’s 1981] attack…Saddam cranked up Iraq’s nuclear production several times over, putting thousands of new technicians to work on the project. This was only discovered when the Americans questioned the Iraqi nuclear scientists they captured during the 1991 Gulf War. It was that war, and the subsequent takeover of Saddam’s WMD, that prevented Iraq from getting the bomb – not the 1981 Israeli attack on Osirak.” There is no reason to assume Iran would not redouble its nuclear program after an Israeli attack.
Source: 972mag (2 March 2012)

Jeffrey Rudolph, a Montreal college professor, was the Quebec representative of the East Timor Alert Network and presented a paper on its behalf at the United Nations. He was awarded the prestigious Cheryl Rosa Teresa Doran Prize upon graduation from McGill University’s faculty of law; has worked at one of the world’s largest public accounting firms; and, has taught at McGill University. He has prepared widely-distributed quizzes on Israel-Palestine, Iran, Hamas, Terrorism, Saudi Arabia, US Inequality, the US Christian Right, Hezbollah, the Israeli Ultra-Orthodox, Qatar, and China. These quizzes are available here


Related video added by Juan Cole:

History of Iran’s Nuclear Threat — In 1992: Iran will have a nuclear bomb by 1997

6 Responses

  1. “While Netanyahu is a master at exploiting fear in a particularly fearful society, the following points demonstrate that thinking people can ignore his claims dealing with Iran.”

    Well said. The man keeps crying wolf in such a dramatic fashion, it seems the world now pays no heed to the exaggerations and lies. He certainly seems unhinged, no doubt, or else why should any leader of a country keep doing the same thing over and over again, using cartoon bombs to support his lies, being laughed at, and still go on in the same vein? Netanyahu is acting like a jealous neighbor who cannot stand the thought of his neighbor going to do better than him. He wants to be the only guy with the shiny toys.

    The unfortunate thing is, the US Congress looks naive and not very bright when they keep going along with the insanity.

  2. Many important points in this article.

    Additional points:

    The only defense minster who openly advocated a pre-emptive military strike against Iran’s perceived nuclear weapons facilities was Shaul Mofaz, himself of Iranian extraction, in 2005 and 2006. He actually hosted a radio program where Iranians called in and Mofaz fielded questions regarding such a prospective military operation.

    Two things put a damper on Mofaz’s plans:

    (A) the Bush administration refused to back such a mission;

    (B) after Mofaz was replaced as defense minister by Amir Peretz, Israel’s mediocre performance against a 1,500-member Hezbollah militia in Lebanon in 2006 questioned whether Israel should embark on a military attack of a nation with 60,000,000 people.

    There have been leaks to blogger Richard Silverstein that he has published suggesting that the IDF has recently bombed a suspected nuclear weapons research facility at a military base in Parchin, Iran. Silverstein posted before-and-after satellite photos of that base reflecting heavy damage to certain buildings.

    The 1981 bombing of Osirak was condemned by a UN general Assembly vote of 44-7. A number of civilians were killed in the Israel Air Force air raid – including a 24-yearold French nuclear engineer – his estate was later paid compensation in a legal settlement by the Israeli government.

  3. Convincing! Thanks prof.
    Final proof Netanyahu knows Iran is not an existential threat: If he genuinely believed Iran was an existential threat to Israel (and the world, no less), he would have employed serious bombing of Iran.
    When Begin “genuinely” feared the existential threat of Iraq, he had the Israeli Air Force completely destroy the Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981. Begin was a serious man who deserved to be taken seriously. (He was wrong about Iraq, and a violent terrorist in the pre-state period, but he did not mess around with existential threats.)
    Netanyahu is the culmination of a grossly distorted political system. He, not Iranian leaders, requires the stick, not the carrot, to behave humanely.

    • “…..he had the Israel Air Force completely destroy the Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.”

      This is not accurate.

      Iran in late1980 in “Operation Scotch Sword” damaged the Osirak reactor in a historic raid by F-4 Phantoms at the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War. The raid was the first time any nuclear reactor was ever bombed.

      Israel’s June 7, 1981 raid only caused further damage to the Osirak reactor.

      It was not until the Persian Gulf War in 1991 when the Osirak facility “completely destroyed” and this was done by U.S. bombers. Begin felt these actions vindicated his earlier orders that Osirak was a danger to be used as part of an atomic weapons program.

      In reality, Osirak was designed under the supervision of a French nuclear engineer who ensured that it would be extremely difficult to convert it to create nuclear weapons.

      The French had designed the Negev Nuclear Research Facility at Dimona in Israel and Pres. De Gaulle eventually suspected Israel was misusing the facility to manufacture atomic weaponry and in the early 1960s ordered an end to its joint program with the Israeli government, although outstanding contractual obligations the French owed to Israel resulted in ongoing performance by France of technical assistance in administering the Dimona reactor until 1966.

      The French knew that they had been “had” in unwittingly establishing an Israeli nuclear weapons program under the cover of an “Atoms for Peace” program pursuant to which the Israeli government was a signator in 1957. The French had designed Osirak with those concerns in mind.

  4. Netanyahu:

    “I feel it’s my obligation as the prime minister of Israel to speak out against something that endangers the survival of my country, the security of the region, the security of the world.”
    Source: CBS News (19 July 2015)


    Mr. Netanyahu is a one trick illusionist. He actually retails nothing but unqualified fear of a second genocide. He asserts it will be imminent and inevitable if Iran joins the nuclear club. Inevitable!

    But his naked assertions and obviously conscious omissions shed a baleful light on his motives. He ignores the unique historical role of nuclear weapons. He ignores the fact that no power has ever attacked another when the latter possessed them. He denies the essential rationality of the Iranian People whose civilization is at least as old and brilliant as that of the Jews and no more radically religious than are the Orthodox themselves. He never mentions deterrence in his analysis of the Iranian motives.

    I don’t think Netanyahu and the Israeli right actually have coherent strategic objectives in the Middle East, objectives consistent with peace. They are short term, self-defeating and violent. How, for example, do they use us but to instill fear and to make the neighborhood’s rubble bounce? How do they behave themselves? The same way. What are their borders? They won’t say.

    They have turned a project designed originally to put an end to anti-Semitism into one which generates it and, unfortunately, does so on a nearly global scale. In the process they’ve driven themselves into a corner with no exit other than fundamental compromise, something they can not bring themselves to do.

    Accordingly, the U.S., Europe and the international community have no choice but to see to it that they do it anyway.

    • What AIPAC and the Big Givers Want

      There is a giant political row going on in Washington about the Iran nuclear deal. It’s so intense that even a disaffected former AIPAC official has spoken out under a promise of anonymity:

      Former AIPAC Official on Iran’s Importance to AIPAC

      by Jim Lobe

      Chris Nelson writes and publishes a private daily newsletter (The Nelson Report) that’s considered must-reading for everyone from Washington think-tankers, lobbyists, administration officials, and congressional staff to foreign embassies and multinational corporations. He closely follows events and developments affecting East Asian geo-politics and –economics and is as well-connected to D.C. policy circles as anyone I know. His access—based on his many decades of Washington experience, his fairness, and his discretion in protecting sources—is probably without parallel, at least among journalists who cover the region and beyond.

      So it was pretty compelling Thursday when The Nelson Report quoted a “former AIPAC official” on why the legendary lobby was so heavily invested in persuading Congress to reject the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and the P5+1. I’m posting it here with Chris’s permission. Here’s what the unnamed former official told him:

      Chris, here’s 5 reasons why AIPAC thinks it’s right on Iran (i.e.,to keep targeting Iran)

      Iran has been the group’s raison d’être for 2 decades and it doesn’t know what else to do; its troops are trained to attack Iran and the lobby can’t afford to admit failure lest it lose supporters.

      Iran has been an enormously lucrative fundraiser for AIPAC; just look at what they’re spending on this campaign alone. It needs to keep the issue alive for institutional imperatives.

      Until this agreement was signed, AIPAC never had any competition. Everyone wanted to bash Iran. (It’s today’s replacement for the Soviet Union, Apartheid South Africa and Qadaffi.) Even with this agreement, Iran will continue to act in ways that make it an inviting target. The Ayatollahs aren’t smart enough to stop chanting Death to America and stop threatening to wipe Israel off the map, practices which are a boon to AIPAC.

      Without this cause AIPAC and this Israeli government as well as their Republican allies may have to focus on more critical issue, like peace with the Palestinians.

      So Iran-bashing’s what Bibi and their big givers want…

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