Dear Bellicose Israeli Leaders, You Are Playing With Fire

Article Summary
As Israel’s leaders escalate their warlike rhetoric about the potential nuclear threat from Iran, novelist Amnon Shamosh writes that they should consider how their actions could backfire.

The United States is our greatest ally, but this does not mean we have to become its and its allies' – from Britain and France to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain – special elite force. And not just any special elite force, but one that knows better than the statesmen who supported and took part in its establishment what is best for the world, one that is constantly seeking to dictate, to pressure and to manipulate instead of accomplishing its job and saluting.

I am writing these lines on the day Israel's president and prime minister are paying a visit to the White House. It is the president who first mentioned the magic word "oil", the oil on account of which the Middle East has been and is destined to be washed away by streams of blood. The United States has just emerged beaten and battered from the oil war in Iraq. Nine years, one hundred thousand dead and trillions of dollars that depleted the US Treasury – and for nothing but oil and power, masquerading under the mask of "mass destruction weapons."

Iran is at least five times larger than Iraq. The United States has been burned and it is now wary of fire. However, Israel is fanning the flames. Once again, the special elite force is warning the boss of the danger of annihilation. Once again, an evil dictator is threatening to wipe out Israel.

True, Iran's president hates our guts, motivated by pure anti-Semitism, but also by the realization that we are the Americans' special elite force in the Middle East, and that they are not going to let him gain hold of the oil fields in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and become the leading power in the region – a nuclear power on the wrong side of the cold war unfolding between China, Russia, Iran and their associates, and the United States, Israel and the West, the weakening and worried West.

Bibi [PM Benjamin Netanyahu], Barak [Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak], Bogie [Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon, ex- IDF Chief of Staff] and all the rest of you – I can understand and respect your genuine concern for the future of the State of Israel. But, please, gentlemen, you are playing with fire. If it is indeed an irresponsible lunatic who is ruling Iran, it is quite likely that your inflammatory rhetoric and inflamed actions will provoke him to launch a pre-emptive strike and send off two or three Shihab missiles toward the Tel Aviv area, the Ben Gurion airport and that site we are not supposed to explicitly mention by name. Are you – are we – ready for this scenario?

Our hospitals, which cannot even accommodate the periodic waves of flu victims, which suffer from constant lack of medical personnel – are they ready for such a scenario? And should we attack, is it your presumption that there is no one out there who would be willing and capable to act in response, that no one would be trying to retaliate and actually succeed in hitting us back? And what then, would our hospitals be prepared for that? Barak, do you remember the "old lady in the corridor" [whose poor hospitalization conditions you promised to improve in the 1999 election campaign]? Would there be enough room for all those casualties of war – the war you are so eager to stir up?

The simple and bitter truth behind all this is that the billions that should have been flowing to hospitals and schools, that should have been used to support elderly people shivering with cold and young couples that avoid having more than one child as they cannot afford decent housing – all those huge sums of money are funneled into the planned assault on Iran, which, even if ultimately not carried out, is eating away our financial resources and perpetuates poverty in the next generation and the one following it – an assault which if, God forbid, comes to pass, is going to cost us dearly, in terms of senselessly lost lives, pointlessly spent money and a national and international earthquake.

Israel's intelligence Service is said to be the best in the world. However, it let us down in the [1973] Yom Kippur War, it failed to correctly assess Saddam Hussein's arsenal [prior to the 2003 Iraq War] and it was in the wrong when forecasting several months ago the fate awaiting Assad (predicting his fall within "two or three weeks"). Has it warned you that Iran is going to target its first nuclear bomb at Israel? Has it told you that their hatred for Israel and religious Shiite zeal exceed their passion for oil? Has it reassured you that a strike by Israel will not trigger a painful retaliatory reaction on their part? Have all options, all risks and all alternatives been taken into account by the National Security Council?

Israeli citizens are deeply troubled. They know they are being bluffed. They wish they could believe it is merely an attack – not war! Who wants war? We just want to attack them, smash their nukes and then go out and have a good time, and sing peace songs.

Has anybody mentioned Palestinians? Iran – It's "a piece of cake" compared with Migron [West Bank Israeli outpost]. A special elite force has no need for hospitals.

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