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Maariv Quotes U.S. Sources “Close to President” Saying We Will Join in Israeli Attack

maariv screenshot u.s. forced to join israel in attack

Maariv headline: ‘U.S. will be forced to join in an Israeli attack on Iran’

The drums of war have been sounding especially loudly of late in Israel.  As Stephen Walt wrote in Foreign Policy, the media have been playing a dutiful role in regurgitating the talking points of Israel’s war party, chief among them Ehud Barak and Bibi Netanyahu.  That’s almost to be expected.  But what’s neither expected nor acceptable is amplifying the most delusional of the pro-war talking points, as Maariv did today in its lead story.  The screaming headline of the print edition: U.S. Will Be Forced to Join in Israeli Attack.  The online headline and subheading is also instructive:

American Officials: If Israel Attacks, the U.S. Will Join in the Operation

Political and diplomatic sources in both the Republican and Democratic Parties passed to the prime minister’s office and to the Israeli ambassador [Oren] messages in this vein.  In their estimation, Obama will be forced to defend Israel in the face of an Iranian missile attack because aiding Israel will help him get re-elected.

The article claims that “secret” messages (don’t you just love it when journalists turn purported secret messages into very public ones by blabbing about them in print?) have been passed to Oren, cheering Israel on in this adventure.  Among Democrats, Maariv claims that those “close to the president” have passed along such messages.  I find this so improbable as to beggar belief.

Those close to Mitt Romney have passed along such messages promising Israel that Pres. Romney will attack Iran.  What they should say is if American Jews vote in enormous numbers for us (extremely unlikely), and if we win, then Mitt and the Force will be with you.  That’s a lot of “ifs.”

Aipac too is whispering such sweet nothings into willing Israeli ears.

The slipshod thinking behind this scenario is that Obama will join the attack because to do so will guarantee him winning a second term.  This claim of course is oblivious to the fact that the American people have grown sick and tired of Middle East wars after fighting three of them in the past twenty years.  To add a fourth?  It might be the straw that broke the camel and the Democrat’s back.  I would surely hope so.

What’s hilarious about all this is that after reporting a story that either Netanyahu or Oren leaked, the reporter says that the Israeli embassy “didn’t wish to respond.”  How can you leak a story and then refuse to comment on it?  Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?  Of course, it could mean that Bibi’s office leaked it and implicated Oren in the story.

Despite the fact that Obama has been walking tip-toe on a tightrope regarding an Iran attack, telling Israel behind the scenes not to attack, while publicly showing incredible deference to Israel’s perceived strategic interests, he really has only himself to blame for stories like this.  As Aluf Benn wrote yesterday in Haaretz, the real effect of the U.S. tightrope-walking is to make the war hawks in the Israeli government believe they have Obama wrapped around their little finger.  Obama can’t or won’t publicly say in no uncertain terms that the U.S. will not accept an attack on Iran.  I doubt he’d even say this if they knew for sure Israel was about to attack.

But does this mean, as Benn seems to imply, that the U.S. might actually join in an Israeli attack?  Certainly, it’s unlikely the U.S. would join in a pre-emptive Israeli attack.  But if Iran hit Israel hard and there were significant casualties would Obama be able to sit back and wait things out?  Would he refuse to become involved militarily?  Wouldn’t we like to think he would.  But if Obama has taught us anything in these three years it’s that when offered an opportunity to do the right thing regarding Middle East or counter-terror policy, he invariably chooses the wrong option.

I had a conversation with a journalist-activist I respect who writes regularly about the Middle East.  He believes Obama will fall prey to the siren song of war.  God, I hope he’s wrong.  But I simply have no faith in Obama and fear the worst.

{ 43 comments… add one }
  • Gene Schulman August 13, 2012, 3:17 AM

    “The slipshod thinking behind this scenario is that Obama will join the attack because to do so will guarantee him winning a second term. This claim of course is oblivious to the fact that the American people have grown sick and tired of Middle East wars after fighting three of them in the past twenty years. To add a fourth? It might be the straw that broke the camel and the Democrat’s back. I would surely hope so.”

    Richard, what makes you think the American people have grown tired of war? Most of them are still conned into believing “my country, right or wrong.” And even if they have, why would you think that would make a difference in US/Israeli plans to extend the wars (Syria, et al.) to Iran? As far as I know the Obama administration has completely ignored the wishes or needs of the American public. In my opinion, war with Iran is inevitable, and has nothing to do with bringing democracy, or defending against a non-existent existential threat to Israel. Rather changing the regime to conform with US/Israeli hegemony in the region. Not that it makes a bit of difference which party is in power in America, an October war would virtually guarantee an Obama re-election. Onward and upward:)

    • mary August 13, 2012, 3:52 PM

      And since when does the US public question Israel’s motives? Not that it matters. Gene is right – since the reign of George W. Bush, the US government has not given a flying fig about public opinion. The war machine needs to be fed, to keep that money rollin’ in – so Halliburton and friends can continue making phenomenal profits. And of course, Obama has so seriously compromised himself with Netanyahu that he has little political capital to work with.

    • Zhu Bajie August 13, 2012, 7:48 PM

      Well, the Christian Zionists and Dispensationalists are still eager for Armageddon, the Rapture, the End of the World. They out-number all the Jews in the world several times.

    • Andy August 14, 2012, 11:44 AM

      In 2006, control of the House of Representatives passed from Republican to Democrat at least in part because “the American people have grown tired of war.” But you and Mary are 100% correct that the U.S. Government couldn’t give a sh*t about public opinion in this regard.

  • lifelong August 13, 2012, 5:37 AM

    The real question is, how long can a country as small as Israel wage war before its economy collapses? With half the population fighting, and the other in hiding, are we talking 30 days, 2 months, 3 months tops? How long if Lebanon and the Palestinian territories join in as well?

    And turning a blind eye to civil unrest is one thing, but a very large portion of the US population will be calling for Israel to be thrown under the bus, regardless of who pays who’s lunch bills in DC. Europe won’t have anything to do with this; that much we do know and just for the moment, we’ll sideline the repeated calls by Russia and Pakistan they would be forced to step in on Iran’s side.

    • fiddler August 13, 2012, 8:58 AM

      Europe won’t join the actual fighting, but I’m not betting a cent on Europe (especially Germany) refusing to bolster Israel in other ways – ammo, logistics outside the theatre, intelligence etc. “Maintaining Israel’s qualitative edge over its neighbours” is foreign policy ersatz religion here, and if Iran responds in substantive ways to an Israeli aggression this will lead to a replay of 1973 rather than 1956, I’m afraid.

    • Nimrod August 13, 2012, 11:03 AM

      Nasser asked the same question after the six days war, as he started the war of attrition and lasted for more than 3 years.
      the economy of Israel was much weaker then, and it did not collapse.

      We expect that Lebanon (meaning the Hezbullah. the Lebanese army does not do anything, ever) and the Palestinians (Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other Iranian proxies. the PLO wouldn’t be that stupid again) to join imminently as Iran gives the order. It may cause some casualties, especially by Hezbullah and its arsenal, but not something that can cause the economy of Israeli to collapse.

      as for “half the population fighting” – it may have been true in the past, but nowadays, the amount of Israeli combatant reservists is not as big. that thing that may be a problem is population living in dangerous will have to move to safer area for the duration of the war.

      Iran itself does not have much capabilities against Israel, besides some dozens of long range missiles that they will have to arm with conventional warheads, or this war will be very short. this is why they arm Hezbullah and the Gaza terror organizations to the teeth, mostly with short and medium range rockets, and even that’s not as big of a threat as it used to be since the Iron Dome came in.

      None of us here expect any US assistance. unlike the US other allies in the region, Israel never required a single US serviceman do die for its defense.

      • lifelong August 13, 2012, 6:49 PM

        “Iran itself does not have much capabilities against Israel, besides some dozens of long range missiles”.

        So why exactly are you attacking them again?

        • Linda J August 13, 2012, 8:58 PM

          The $64 billion question.

        • Nimrod August 13, 2012, 11:52 PM

          Before they manage to build a nuke and put it on one of those missiles.
          Is this whole nuclear thing new to you guys?

          • Richard Silverstein August 14, 2012, 1:44 AM

            So you think the world should feel completely comfortable with the fact that Israel can incinerate the Middle East many times over, while it should make war on Iran because one day it might want to build a nuke? Are you daft?

          • Nimrod August 14, 2012, 3:17 AM

            @Richard Silverstein (unable to replay directly to your replay for some reason)

            Not at all.
            Just as most of the world doesn’t feel comfortable that the US, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, the UK and France can do the exact same thing.
            Personally, I would have been a lot more concerned about Pakistan’s nukes that Israel’s – even if I wasn’t Israeli.

            No one wasn’t anyone else to have nukes, whether they have them and whether they don’t.

            Now, if you REALLY still think that Iran just “one day it might want to build a nuke” as you put it, than I think that you may be a bit naive.
            And unfortunately for us guys, who live on this side of the planet, this character not something we can afford.

          • Richard Silverstein August 15, 2012, 12:47 AM

            If you weren’t an Israeli then you wouldn’t feel more concerned about Pakistan’s nukes than Israel’s because Israel has many times more nukes than Pakistan and has just as much likelihood of using them. Most of the world shares anxiety equally between Pakistan’s and Israel’s nukes.

          • mary August 14, 2012, 8:53 AM

            @Nimrod, the consensus in the middle east is that Israel is the most dangerous, irrational country in the region. Israel’s nuclear stockpile is feared much more than Pakistan’s, the US’, or anyone else’s. Which is why the little dog needs to be muzzled before it sets off WWIII. Even the US has admitted that Iran does not present a nuclear threat.

          • Nimrod August 14, 2012, 9:29 AM

            that consensus in the middle east, where all of the countries are hostile to Israel. It’s only logical that they will fear its nukes more than they fear Pakistan’s.

            Iran does not present a nuclear threat at the moment. That will change the day that US satellites will detect some strange reading from Iran, or when the Iranian state TV will broadcast its first nuclear device test.

            Didn’t anyone learn the lesson from the failure of stopping the North Korean program?
            If you fear WW3, make sure that the other side doesn’t get the capabilities the destroy you.

          • Richard Silverstein August 15, 2012, 12:28 AM

            You don’t know anything about U.S. nuclear history. Our dreaded enemy, Russia, had the capability to destroy us many times over for 60 years. Yet, astonishingly, it never did. Imagine that! Couldn’t be that the same thing could hold true for Israel and 1 or 2 of its own neighbors who might develop a nuke of their own??

          • Richard Silverstein August 15, 2012, 12:51 AM

            No, actually we’ve lived with nukes far longer than you. Nearly 70 yrs to be exact. In fact, we’re the only country that exploded nukes on another country & we’d like to ensure you don’t do the same because we know how horrible that would be.

          • Nimrod August 15, 2012, 1:46 AM

            @Richard Silverstein
            So you guys dont really hold the moral high ground here, do you?
            and As far as I know, USSR nukes could be pointed at Israel, just as they could be pointed at the US.

            and unlike Israel, the US itself was never attacked by a Soviet weapon;
            T34, 54, 55, 62 tanks never roamed US grounds.
            Artillery and rockets never fell on US lands.
            And soldiers holding AK47s never jumped out of BMP1 AFVs on US soil.
            all of your wars were taken place somewhere else. in the far east, on in the middle east (not in Israel), leaving the American civilian population out of harms way.

            So I say, you guys never actually lived with a real USSR made threat in your live, except from the “duck and cover” films you may have seen as a kid when you were at school.

            “we’d like to ensure you don’t do the same because we know how horrible that would be” – my foot

          • fiddler August 15, 2012, 10:31 AM

            Nimrod (Aug 15, 1:46 AM), I think you have a point about the US. Not having had (and especially lost) a war on their own territory since the Civil War (a special case anyway, no foreign invaders involved) seems to be a lesson sorely missing today. It’s not that I wish war upon anyone, just that having that sort of thing in the well-remembered past (as in Europe, no matter which side we were on) might give pause for thought and incentive not to be so generous with other people’s blood. Israeli leaders seem to agree with this (on the entirely wrong end, I may say), with their mouthing off about “teaching them a lesson” every time they go to war.
            The US’ and Israel’s reluctance ever to be on the receiving end of such a lesson is certainly understandable, and the military strength of the US and the West’s acceptance of Israel’s claim not to be able to ever lose a war ensure their immunity for the time being. Much to the detriment of the rest of the world it is nevertheless.

          • mary August 15, 2012, 1:04 PM

            “USSR nukes”? Has no one informed you that there is no longer a USSR and no longer a Cold War?

            The reason there is so much hostility towards Israel is simple: It is illegally occupying Palestine. Go back to behind the Green Line and end the blockade on Gaza, and perhaps then Israel will no longer be seen as the thieving, murdering and hubristic neighborhood bully.

  • daniel morris August 13, 2012, 6:06 PM

    With so many brilliant minds in Israel, is it however of harm

    to ask what King Solomon would do today concerning


    Daniel Morris

    • Nimrod August 14, 2012, 3:26 AM

      If King Solomon was alive today, he would have been accused of war crimes for conquering Hama and Palmyra and blasted by the left-wingers for occupying other territories in the middle east.

      • lifelong August 14, 2012, 4:21 AM

        ‘Before they build a nuke and put it on one of those missiles’…

        You’ll have to explain this one to me as you’re not making any sense. To recap, you are about to attack a country that poses no threat to you whatsoever in order to stop it from one day possibly producing a nuclear weapon, possibly putting it on a missile, and possibly aiming it at you.

        In order to achieve this goal, how exactly do you count on implementing it over the long term? Will you bomb Iran for all eternity? Do you not see a slight problem in the fact that the aim of the operation itself is unachievable?

        • Nimrod August 14, 2012, 5:49 AM

          Does this issue really needs to be explained?
          It worked with the Iraqi nuclear reactor bombing in 1981 (which the world condemned back than, including our good friends from the US (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_487), who 10 years later were pretty happy with what Israel did. No doubt that the Saudis and the Kuwaitis felt the same, but were too shy to say anything.

          It also worked with the attack on the Syrian nuclear reactor (by foreign sources). Aren’t we all glad now that the falling Syrian regime and the Salafi regime that will soon replace it wont have nukes?

          So yes, these are all short-term goals.
          The long-term goals would be a democracy in Iran, in the hope that a democratic nation would not obligate itself on the destruction of another.
          If they get nukes – that’s not gonna happen. see North Korea as an example.

          • lifelong August 14, 2012, 7:13 AM

            The Iraq attack was a complete failure – following the attack Saddam trippled his efforts to get a bomb, moving the entire program underground, turning it from peaceful to extremely hostile, and if it wasn’t for his invasion of Kuwait that led to his demise, the program would have resulted in a bomb. That’s the historic reality, and conveniently left out by hasbarists.

            Most striking is that once again there wasn’t any proof that Iraq was actually trying to build anything in 1982; the reactor was wholly unsuitable for weapons production, and the entire program was under IAEA safeguards.

            As for the rest of your comments on Iran, you’re delusional. Iran has no interest in destroying Israel since they aren’t Arabs. The Palestinians are a good domestic rallying cause, but they are not Iran’s problem. They never have been and never will be. It’s Israeli megalomania and paranoia that makes them believe that as a people they’re actually important enough for Iran to start a nuclear conflict with them.

            In other words, it’s grand time you get over yourself.

          • Richard Silverstein August 15, 2012, 12:34 AM

            My understanding (which may be wrong) is that after Osirak Saddam essentially abandoned developing nukes, but turned instead to a variety of extremely dangerous other forms of WMD including chemical (which were all abandoned before 2003). So in that sense Israel’s attack made Saddam much more dangerous.

          • Nimrod August 15, 2012, 9:31 AM

            Israel’s attack on Osirak did not make him more dangerous.
            On the contrary; It made him develop much weaker WMD, which I’m not sure he didn’t already have them before since Sarin and Mustard gas are relatively cheap and easy to produce. the Egyptians already used gas in the early 60 in their war against Yemen.
            When Saddam used those WMD in in 7 years war with Iran, that wasn’t enough to win that war.
            In the 1991 war, he didn’t dare to use WMD on coalition forced or at Israel – My guess is that he knew how ineffective they (and do remember that he didnt have more than a few hundreds of improved SKUD missiles that could reach Israel) were compared to the retaliation Iraq would suffer.

          • Nimrod August 14, 2012, 7:43 AM

            The fact that it took 10 more years after tripling the efforts and he was still unable to finish the job only proves that the IAF attack was successful.

            the entire program was under IAEA safeguards – isnt that what they said about North Korea’s program?

            no interest in destroying Israel since they aren’t Arabs.
            oh, that’s reassuring.
            Palestinians are not Iran’s problem.
            than why are they arming them to the teeth in Gaza?

            I’m sorry, but your arguments are not very soothing, and I think that the preferred option for Israel would be to attack Iran and face the consequences or hurting its economy and hundreds of casualties than living under a real constant threat of nuclear holocaust – which will hurt the Israeli economy even more, on the long run.

          • Richard Silverstein August 15, 2012, 12:31 AM

            No, N. Korea threw out the IAEA inspectors before it got its first nuke.

            real constant threat of nuclear holocaust

            First of all, the “threat” you mention is not “real,” as you claim. In fact, Iran has no nuclear weapon & therefore is not a threat. Second, you’re proposing to fight a war because a country may get a nuke, then may launch it at you, & it may cause a Holocaust. That’s a lot of ifs & not a very persuasive argument for war. Try again.

          • Nimrod August 15, 2012, 9:45 AM

            I agree with you on that one

            1. “In fact, Iran has no nuclear weapon & therefore is not a threat” – I agree. not a existential threat (yet)
            2. “you’re proposing to fight a war because a country may get a nuke” – not a war, but a surgical strike against Iran’s nuclear installations. If they choose to strike back at Israeli military or nuclear, you won’t hear me complaining.
            3. “it may cause a Holocaust” – If a nuke blows up in Israel, it will cause hundreds of thousands of dead or wounded, so I think that can fall under the term “nuclear holocaust” and excuse me if I’m using the term in a wrong way.
            4. “That’s a lot of ifs” – Yes it is. But we in Israel take the threats of the Iranians very seriously, especially after the 2006 war with Hezbullah, which we see as a proxy of the Iranian army and arming of the Hamas / Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

            The constant fear in Israel from the day when the Iranian bomb falls is very concrete over here, and is constantly reminded – not only by politicians like Bibi who thrives on the fear of his potential voters, but also in the mainstream media, when thinking about buying a house.

          • Richard Silverstein August 15, 2012, 12:41 AM

            Aren’t we all glad now

            No, we’re not glad about Israel’s bellicose, adventurist approach to regional relations. We don’t know what Israel hit, what was the intent of the facility, at what stage of development it was, etc. The thought that Syria could develop a nuke is preposterous. Even Saddam couldn’t do it and Syria is a mini-Me compared to Iraq.

            the Salafi regime that will soon replace it

            I’m getting sick & tired of your Islamophobic sloganeering. I remind you that this is not a venue for slogans or Islamophobic rants. If that’s your game pursue it elsehwere.

            Your long term goal for Iran is “democracy.” How nice of you to have long term goals for a country that doesn’t need your advice or goals imposed on it. Iran’s long term goal for Israel is that it too become a democracy. Perhaps they can both become democracies at the same time. Though with citizens like you the notion that Israel can become a democracy any time soon is ludicrous.

            And if you argue that Israel is a democracy then again, according to your standards, it shouldn’t obligate itself to destroy another nation as Bibi has obligated Israel to do to the current Iranian regime. BTW, you’ve advanced another lie making the claim that Iran has obligated itself to destroy Israel. The next lie you offer will cause you to be moderated.

          • Nimrod August 15, 2012, 2:01 AM

            The thought that Syria could develop a nuke is preposterous?
            I don’t think so.
            If North Korea was able to develop nukes (or at least test a nuke device) than there is no reason that Syria, which was in a much better financial and technological state could not do the same – specially when they had help with North Korean experts.

            Saddam wasn’t able to do if for the exact same reason Assad couldn’t – Because Israel blew up their reactors before that got the chance to use it.

          • mary August 15, 2012, 1:09 PM

            @Nimrod, why do you think that Salafis are going to be running Syria, and why do you think it’s a good thing they don’t have nukes? Uh, is it because you don’t like the idea of Muslims having a nuclear weapon?

      • Richard Silverstein August 15, 2012, 12:44 AM

        Stop trying to be witty. It’s not cute, funny or witty. It drops like a lead balloon.

  • bezoar August 14, 2012, 8:08 AM

    lifelong – “the reactor was wholly unsuitable for weapons production” Well, depends on how you operate it, and your patience. In the event, however, it was not the reactor that had responsible parties worried about in terms of Iraq making an Islamic bomb: It was the 93% enriched uranium supplied by the French to fuel it that was worrisome. France planned to supply Iraq with 80kg of it through 1981. See: Weissman, Steve & Herbert Krosney. The Islamic Bomb, Times Books, 1981.

    • mary August 15, 2012, 1:13 PM

      “Islamic bomb?” Your Islamophobia isn’t amusing.

  • pabelmont August 14, 2012, 10:31 AM

    “Those close to Mitt Romney have passed along such messages promising Israel that Pres. Romney will attack Iran. What they should say is if American Jews vote in enormous numbers for us (extremely unlikely), and if we win, then Mitt and the Force will be with you. That’s a lot of “ifs.””

    It’s not votes in November, darlings, its MONEY today.

    If Obama says on the day (that he believes is the day before Israel will attack Iran) that the USA does not believe there is an Iranian nuclear threat to the USA (on that day, the matter still being evaluated) and that the people of the USA are tired of pointless wars (he will paraphrase this) (and the USA’s in great debt, and gasoline prices, and more, and more), THEN the early MONEY will already be in (or out)., and most Jews will vote for peace. (And Israel will call off the attack).

    However, the danger is that USA and EU are both “wussies” and feel so condemned to act continuously like wussies that they will, in fact, act like wussies on Iran — against every grain of actual national interest — and the USA will go to war against Iran.

    No-one ever went broke predicting the subservience of the USA to MONEY.

  • lifelong August 14, 2012, 12:45 PM

    @Nimrod: your position is bereft of logic.

    The day after you attack Iran, they will start working on a very big bomb, in a very large and very hostile underground military program.

    Any other conclusion is just not logical.

    • Nimrod August 14, 2012, 10:14 PM

      This is probably true.
      but such an attack, if successful, will take them back a few years.
      hopefully, this time, under the sanctions they have today, they will get where they are today much slower.

      So yes, it’s a short term solution.
      But what are the alternatives? sing Kumbayah and wait for the mushroom cloud?
      What would you do? beside try to convince yourself that this programs is for “peaceful purposes”.

      • Richard Silverstein August 15, 2012, 12:53 AM

        An Israeli attack will delay Iran by a single year, if that. Not “a few years.” It’s not a not a “short term solution,” it’s no solution at all.

        What are the alternatives? Doing what the rest of the peaceful world does, learns to live with its neighbors, even ones it doesn’t like, and not to kill them.

        • Nimrod August 15, 2012, 2:48 AM

          Neither one of us is a fortune-teller, so we can’t really tell if the attack will delay the Iranian nuke by one year, a month or 20 years.
          But we can assume that it will delay it (unless it will totally fails and non of the facilities is hit).

          As for the alternative that you suggest – It sounds great. let me know when my neighbors accept my right to exist and I’ll greet them with peace signs at Ben-Gurion air port and my parents did when Anwar Sadat came.

          How is the “rest of the peaceful world” doing, by the way?
          How is Afghanistan lately? and Iraq? Is there anywhere else where YOUR army is knee-deep in blood that I’m missing?
          how about you guys sort out the mess you made first before giving out advice to others?

  • bezoar August 15, 2012, 8:55 AM


    I may have dates & sequences wrong, but my understanding is Saddam directed the 20 km (perhaps more) distance from source of electricity to a developing uranium enrichment faciilty completely undergrounded. It was not found until after the U.S invasion. That and the fact Saddam was exploring uranium enrichment by magnetiic separation: A technology discarded by the U.S. decades earlier, also was discovered post-invasion. The magnets were made of silver.

  • dickerson3870 August 16, 2012, 2:54 AM

    RE: “I had a conversation with a journalist-activist I respect who writes regularly about the Middle East. He believes Obama will fall prey to the siren song of war. God, I hope he’s wrong. But I simply have no faith in Obama and fear the worst.” ~ R.S.

    MY COMMENT: I, for one, am hedging my bets. No more battered spouse voter syndrome for me!
    • Jill Stein for President – http://www.jillstein.org/

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