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Israel’s Leading Columnist, Barnea, Warns of Israeli Attack on Iran


Barnea column headline: 'Have Bibi and Barak sealed a deal between them despite the opposition of the security apparatus, and without public debate, to attack Iran's nuclear facilities before winter?'

For those of you seeking a comparison in the U.S. media that does justice to the role Nahum Barnea plays as Israel’s leading political columnist, you might go back to Walter Cronkite or Walter Lippman.  In terms of today’s media, you could compare him to Tom Friedman, though Barnea is far more read, known and popular in Israel than Friedman is here.

In the past weeks, I’ve described an increasing chorus of media warnings from other newspaper columnists that Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak had come to a decision to attack Iran.  Not to mention the well-known and repeated warnings of former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan.  Though I found them convincing then, the fact that Barnea adds his own crediblity and voice in support of the warnings is critically important.  I also note that his newspaper, Yediot Achronot, made this story its lead for the Friday afternoon-Erev Shabbat edition (equivalent to the Sunday paper), a further indication of the importance it gives to it.

We’re on the road to war, I’m afraid.  We have to begin thinking which side are we on, as the old union song goes.  There are liberal Israeli parties like Meretz and Labor which always support Israeli wars no matter what.  I call on them to determine what their stance will be now and not to dither as Meretz did during Cast and the last Lebanon war.  Quick and early denunciation counts far more than faint hearted criticism that comes too little too late.  It would be even better for them to announce their views even before an attack so that they lay down a political marker which they may refer back to after war begins.  There is nothing like credibility in politics.  Most Israeli political parties have little or none.  Will they show any backbone now or behave in the same spineless way they have during past military adventures?

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • pabelmont October 28, 2011, 4:24 AM

    Be important for USA pols (or even ONE or TWO of them) to acknowledge the danger (or, if you prefer, the likelihood) of such an attack, and COME OUT PRO/CON. This could be a make-break for USA open opposition to Israel, but “roll over and play dead” (as with Meretz, etc., in the past in Israel) is no help at all.

  • bar_kochba132 October 28, 2011, 4:27 AM

    There is no way, NO WAY, this gov’t will attack Iran, all for reason you yourself have stated.
    (1) Although I don’t claim to have any special information on the Iranian nuclear program, I don’t think it could be knocked out in a single strike. I am sure it is dispersed and in hardened targets.
    (2) Israel would be hit by a massive salvos or rockets from HIZBULLAH in Lebanon and possibly by HAMAS from Gaza or even from Iran itself. Israel has no answer to this except for massive bombing of Lebanon which would bring MASSIVE international condemnation of the likes which were not seen in Cast Lead and the Lebanon II war, since Israel would be perceived as having started it.
    (3) If Israel were to initiate a ground war in Lebanon, it would likely fail, as it did in 2006. The IDF is no longer capable of fighting a war with a sophisticated opponent. Every complex military operation the IDF has embarked on since the “peace process” began has been more or less a failure, with the exception of “Defensive Shield” in 2003 which took out the terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank, but this was very low-level warfare against a poorly-trained opponent, unlike HIZBULLAH.
    (4) I don’t see why anyone would think Barak would want such a war. He is a defeatist and an incompetant bungler who has failed in every complex operation he has embarked on….e.g. the Turkish flotilla. Add to that his incompetant bungler predecessor as Defense Minister, Amir Peretz who is a “Peace Now” member, and we can be sure there is no desire to fight among the IDF senior brass. Bibi could not initiate such a war, the Likud since 2000 when in power has hid behind the skirts of Labor Party or other Leftist coalition partners who are considered “acceptable” in polite international society, unlike the Likud. If he would be seen to be starting a war, he would be crucified by the international media. As a person of some influence today, you would have exposure to your scathing condemnation of such an action. and the Likud is terrified of it. Add to that Bibi’s current populatrity among the Leftist media in Israel due to his mass release of terrorists…why would he want to endanger his position by embarking on a very risky military strike that would likely go sour?

    • David October 28, 2011, 4:32 PM

      Maybe they (Netanyahu and Barak) don’t think it will “go sour.” Maybe they are Messianic lunatics who think this will hurry the Redemption. The Lebanon incursions were all stupid and costly; Why should this be any different?

    • Elisabeth October 29, 2011, 12:02 AM

      “Add to that Bibi’s current populatrity among the Leftist media in Israel due to his mass release of terrorists”
      Your worldview is truly idiotic.

  • PersianAdvocate October 28, 2011, 6:28 AM

    Sounds like more kabuki to get a premium on falling oil prices. Israel would literally be committing suicide rather than a rejuvenation of their soft power. This is like the strategy to invade Iraq to serve as a staging platform for Iran by the Zionist-Militarist-Bankster cabal – ill planned, based on an incompetent short run formula, deleterious to even backhanded objectives, and frankly, psychopaths.

    And if the Israelis think they have engaged in some successful back channel talks to secure a regional war to share power with Iran (this is a concurrent intelligentsia stream), then they better think twice about a rat taking a Persian cat’s invitation to supper. They are just like you, Israel. Just like you.

  • Daniel F. October 28, 2011, 8:50 AM

    I do not believe that Bibi has what it takes to actually go ahead and do it….Barak yes! but Bibi no
    So my money says no attack on Iran……I sure hope I’m right!

    • Richard Silverstein October 28, 2011, 4:28 PM

      I hope you’re right too. But I doubt it.

      • David October 28, 2011, 4:38 PM

        Ricahrd — could this be the extortion game again, the “give me what I want because I’m crazy and could do anything” racket? Israel has played this card before and maybe all the “confluence” is just setting the play in motion, it is “seeming” if you catch my meaning. What is it that Israel wants other than for the US to do its bidding on Iran?

  • Richard Steven Hack October 28, 2011, 10:33 AM

    With regard to the Iraq war, remember that Israel originally wanted the US to attack Iran, NOT Iraq, in 2002. They only came on board once the neocons assured them that Iran would be next after the Iraq “cake walk”.

    Iran has always been first and foremost in Israel’s sights.

    The confluence of events currently occuring, i.e., the alleged Iranian assassination plot (bogus as hell and now being touted to the UN behind close doors apparently to get a UN resolution to justify an Iran attack), US troop movements in the region, delivery of bunker busters to Israel, ratcheting up calls to attack Syria a la Libya (a necessary precondition for war with Iran to defang Hizballah which will require attacking Syria in order to effectively attack the Bekaa Valley assets of Hibzallah), etc. all indicate that the conditions for an Israeli/US attack on Iran have never been better.

  • Bob Mann October 28, 2011, 12:26 PM

    Larry Derfner has got a piece on this.

    Check it out:


  • Alexno October 28, 2011, 11:56 PM

    I’ve always presumed that the point of an attack on Iran would be to provide cover for a major change in the situation of the West Bank Palestinians. Even such as moving them out, citing hostile behaviour, or another attack on Hamas or Hizbullah.

    The attack on Iran would not necessarily have to be a conclusive victory.

  • Fred November 12, 2011, 7:22 PM

    Neither America or Israel’s national interest is served by perpetual war,terrorism and bloody reprisals,arms race,neuclear,biological,and chemical weapons programs with the increasing possibility that the present practice may lead to a unconventional war.The essence of tragedy is a struggle of right againt right.Wisdom is better than muscle.

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