Maariv’s Ben Caspit is not someone I ever quote. In fact, normally if Caspit says something, I believe the opposite. That goes back to the nasty smears he levelled against Shammai Leibowitz when he was a human rights fellow of the New Israel Fund and studying law at Georgetown. Caspit orchestrated a whispering campaign with the connivance of anonymous Israeli intelligence sources to cause Shammai to lose a State Department job teaching diplomats being posted to Israel about Israeli society.
But today, Caspit is on to something I’ve already reported here. He’s noticed Bibi’s smear campaign against Meir Dagan and juxtaposed it with Bibi’s fulsome praise for the former spymaster on his retirement a mere matter of months ago. When was Bibi lying and when was he telling the truth, Caspit asks? And if Dagan has lost his mind as Bibi or his acolytes have anonymously complained to various news sources, then why did Bibi employ him throughout his tenure as PM as Mossad chief. Did Bibi just discover Dagan’s mental defects now that the latter has challenged his judgment regarding Iran?
Another important point Caspit raises is the legitimacy of Dagan’s criticism. Being a right-wing partisan, Caspit finds himself believing that no intelligence operative has a right to air any policy matters publicly. But even he concedes that this may the exception, the event that happens “once in a generation” that forces you to break all the normal rules. This may be the one time when the public has a right to know because we’re speaking of the fate of this public should there be a war. Thus Dagan may see himself as carrying out a “fateful historic mission on behalf of the nation.” In fact, the former Mossad boss sees the prospect of war with Iran as an existential threat to Israel. Which is infinitely ironic considering that Bibi is the one who inveighs against the “existential threat” posed by Iran.
And the words Dagan uses to describe Bibi’s war plans are so strong they can’t be printed in Caspit’s newspaper. That’s how powerful his views are.
Like Oren, Caspit describes a foursome including Dagan, Ashkenazi, Diskin and Amos Yadlin (Oren didn’t mention Yadlin specifically, but did mention IDF commander Gadi Eisenkrot as in this camp as well) all opposed to war with Iran. They are opposed by Bibi and Barak. This is a battle of epic proportions. A battle which will seal the fate of individual Israelis and Iranians and the political fate of all those engaged in it. That’s why the stakes are so high.
As the Maariv journalist tells it, the anti-war camp is especially alarmed by Barak. They view Bibi is weak and light-weight, a virtual rubber stamp for Barak.
The Maariv reporter has clearly read Amir Oren’s Haaretz column, in which the latter imagines a commission of inquiry to examine the errors of the fictional 2011 Israeli attack on Iran. Caspit too imagines a similar inquiry except in this one Ehud Barak is the judge and not the accused. Barak demands of Dagan: “why didn’t you do something while you had the power? If you disagreed so strongly why didn’t you try to stop it?” This, Caspit imagines, is the scenario Dagan is trying to avert with his vocal opposition to Netanyahu Iran policy.
Thanks to Ira Glunts for alerting me to this story. The title is also partly derived from a phrase of Ira’s. He’s written his own (different) take on it at Mondoweiss.