“I am leaving for Washington on a fateful, even historic mission,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu grandly proclaimed Sunday. “I feel I am the emissary of all Israelis, even those who disagree with me — of the entire Jewish people.”
The former head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan, disagrees. He warns that Netanyahu’s policies are “destructive to the future and security of Israel” and describes the prime minister as “the person who has caused the greatest strategic damage to Israel on the Iranian issue.”
In a Tel Aviv press conference Sunday, retired Gen. Amiram Levin — Netanyahu’s former Army commander and ex-deputy Mossad chief — argued that the speech will weaken Israel and strengthen Iran.
“Iran wants Netanyahu’s speech – since it understands that it will weaken Israel’s bipartisan bond with the US,” Levin said. “For Iran, a strategically weak Israel is an asset which will help Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons, since they know that it will prevent a viable military option against them.”
In that same press conference, retired Gen. Amnon Reshef, former head of Israeli’s vaunted tank corps, warned that “when the Israeli prime minister argues that his speech will stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, he is not only misleading Israel, he is actually strengthening Iran.”
“The US and its president are not enemies of Israel,” said retired Gen. Ran Ronen, an ace fighter pilot in the Six Day and Yom Kippur wars. “They are its closest allies. A policy that alienates them is not only wrong – but also poses a strategic threat to Israel’s security.”
“I am seeing haughtiness and arrogance, together with more than a bit of the messianic thinking that rushes to turn the conflict into a holy war,” another ex-Mossad chief, Shabtai Shavit, wrote recently. “If this has been, so far, a local political conflict that two small nations have been waging over a small and defined piece of territory, major forces in the religious Zionist movement are foolishly doing everything they can to turn it into the most horrific of wars, in which the entire Muslim world will stand against us.
“I also see, to the same extent, detachment and lack of understanding of international processes and their significance for us. This right wing, in its blindness and stupidity, is pushing the nation of Israel into the dishonorable position of “the nation shall dwell alone and not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9).
In Israel, Netanyahu’s speech tomorrow before Congress is seen by both foes and supporters as a partisan political gambit scheduled just two weeks before an election in which Netanyahu’s Likud Party may be losing ground in the polls. They certainly do not buy the line that Netanyahu speaks for all Israelis and for all Jews, although he and his allies would like to pretend otherwise before an American audience.