Why Do Israeli Media Keep Predicting War with Iran?

A frenetic pounding of the war drums appears designed to create the impression that Israel will attack Iran before the U.S. presidential election. Whether that's Netanyahu's real intent remains a mystery

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Abir Sultan / Pool / Reuters

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem August 12, 2012

If the White House believes November will arrive without any nasty surprises in the Iran nuclear standoff, it is not taking seriously the feverish chatter throughout Israel‘s media positing an imminent Israeli attack on the Islamic Republic. The front pages of the four main Israeli dailies last Friday reflected what appeared to be a concerted campaign to create the impression that Israel is preparing itself to start a hot war with Iran sometime over the next 12 weeks, notwithstanding objections by the U.S. and other Western powers — and, indeed, by much of Israel’s security establishment. “[Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Ehud] Barak determined to strike Iran in the fall,” proclaimed Yedioth Ahronoth. Haaretz offered: “Senior Israeli official — The Iranian sword at our throat is sharper than the run-up to the war in 1967.” Maariv informed us in its banner headline that 37% of the Israeli public believes that “If Iran gets the bomb, it might result in a second Holocaust.” And Yisrael Hayom said: “Iran significantly speeds up its progress toward the bomb.” The following day, the latter paper included a headline claiming that, according to Israeli TV, a “Decision by Netanyahu and Barak to strike Iran is almost final.”

Haaretz seemed to suggest that part of the renewed urgency was a claim that new intelligence allegedly received by the U.S. ostensibly showed Iran making accelerated progress toward a capability to build nuclear warheads, although there was no U.S. confirmation of those claims. And others in the Israeli media were skeptical. One of Israel’s most senior columnists, Maariv’s Ben Caspit, sought to calm the media frenzy. “You can all relax,” wrote Caspit. “In the last two weeks, nothing new has happened with regards to an attack on Iran. The Cabinet hasn’t convened, the Defense Minister hasn’t summoned the IDF general staff, and no new information has been received. Everything that is known today was also known two weeks and two months ago.”

(MORE: New Sanctions, Old Postures as U.S.-Israel-Iran Stalemate Drags On)

Caspit suggested that the new “bomb Iran” talk wasn’t based on any qualitative shift in the nature of Iran’s nuclear work. The U.S. intelligence assessment until now has been that despite steadily accumulating the means to build nuclear weapons, Iran has not thus far moved to enrich uranium to weapons grade or to begin the process of actually building a bomb. Nor has it taken a strategic decision to do so as yet. The problem is that the “red lines” adopted by Israel and the U.S. for triggering a military response are different: President Obama has vowed to take military action to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, whereas Israel has insisted that Iran can’t be allowed to maintain the capability to build such weapons — a technological capacity it essentially already has. Caspit also argued that the primary issue was one of lack of trust among Israel’s political leaders that it could rely on the U.S. taking military action should Iran move to build nuclear warheads. A recurring theme in much of the coverage, and statements from Israeli leaders, is the belief that Israel can’t entrust its security to the current U.S. government, or any future Administration.

Some of the speculation in Israel suggests that Netanyahu and Barak might take advantage of the window of opportunity offered by a U.S. election season that leaves the Obama Administration vulnerable on the Iran issue to present the Administration with a fait accompli — although even the Israelis acknowledge that the limits on their military capacities are such that, at best, they could hope to simply delay Iran’s nuclear progress by a year or two — begging the question of what strategy would guide an aftermath in which Iran was more likely to seek a nuclear deterrent, and in which Israel’s break from the Western consensus on how to deal with Iran would potentially deal a body blow to the sanctions regime.

(MORE: Will Israel’s Netanyahu Make Peace or War?)

Until now the U.S. and other Western powers have restrained Israel from launching what they believe could be a catastrophic war for very limited gains through imposing what even Washington’s flagship Israel-lobbying organization, AIPAC, has called the “strongest set of sanctions to isolate any country during peacetime.” And Israelis have long recognized that their threat to take unilateral military action gives them leverage over Western powers to demand ever tighter sanctions and pressure on Iran. When former Mossad chief Meir Dagan last year publicly ridiculed the idea of Israel attacking Iran as strategic folly, Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit excoriated him for letting the cat out of the bag:

The threat of a military attack against Iran … is crucial for scaring the Iranians and for goading on the Americans and the Europeans. It is also crucial for spurring on the Chinese and the Russians. Israel must not behave like an insane country. Rather, it must create the fear that if it is pushed into a corner it will behave insanely. To ensure that Israel is not forced to bomb Iran, it must maintain the impression that it is about to bomb Iran.

Most Western analyses in recent months have concluded that Israel won’t scramble its bombers before November and that the sanctions that are steadily eroding Iranian living standards will be given more time to bleed Iran’s economy — although the Israeli leadership correctly points out that there haven’t been any signs, thus far, that the tightening choke hold of sanctions will prompt Iran’s leaders to capitulate to Western demands. By the logic of using the threat of military action to spur greater Western action, last week’s frenzied percussion on Israel’s war drums could be read as an attempt to challenge complacency in Washington and other Western capitals and to demand even harsher pressure on Iran in the months ahead.

(MORE: U.S. Admits to Waging War Against Iran)

But there’s also a domestic political dimension, with Netanyahu and Barak clearly stung by criticism from so much of Israel’s security establishment of their Iran saber rattling and the publicly known skepticism of the current military brass to Israel mounting a solo attack on Iran without U.S. support. Both men repeatedly make clear that it’s the political echelon that will make the decisions on Iran, not the military.

One of the stranger pieces in the latest flurry of reports suggesting Israel’s leaders are shaping to strike Iran was by Haaretz’s Shavit, in which a man he identifies only as “the decisionmaker” — but in a piece so riddled with obvious clues prompting Israel’s cognoscenti to assume he was talking to Barak – warns that “the sword hanging over our neck today is a lot sharper than the sword that hung over our neck before the Six-Day War.” (Talking metaphorically of a blade at Israel’s throat seemed to be a direct response to Dagan, who had repeatedly challenged what he saw as a reckless weighing of a military option by insisting that Israel should only take military action “when a knife is at its throat and begins to cut into the flesh.”)

The reasoning of Barak and Netanyahu is unlikely to convince Israeli skeptics of military action against Iran, because central to their skepticism has been unprecedented public questioning of the strategic competence of Israel’s top political decisionmakers. Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, for example, in April publicly accused Netanyahu and Barak of being “guided by messianic feelings,” adding, “I don’t have faith in the current leadership of Israel to lead us to an event of this magnitude, of war with Iran.” The breakdown of trust, Caspit claims, is not simply between the U.S. and Israeli political leaderships but also between Israel’s political leadership and its military chiefs.

(MORE: 10 Questions for Ehud Barak)

And the skepticism in the security establishment, and among military chiefs, of a decision to attack Iran at this point will also have been factored into the analyses in foreign capitals of the likelihood of Israel going to war, thereby weakening the leverage derived from that threat. The feverish speculation over an imminent attack on Iran may drown out such skepticism in the Israeli public sphere, of course. But it could also call forth further challenges to an Israeli military option from old security stalwarts.

Asked to comment on last week’s torrent of speculation, Netanyahu on Sunday condemned both the reporting of skepticism of an Iran attack in Israel’s military establishment and claims that such an attack is imminent. But his reasoning wasn’t likely to still the clamor: the Prime Minister lashed out at the media speculation on the grounds that its purpose, ostensibly, was to “prevent Israel from independent action.” On Sunday, Israel tested a nationwide SMS-text-message emergency drill for warning of an incoming missile attack. And its Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, publicly demanded that the West declare failure in attempts to achieve a diplomatic solution to the standoff.

Clearly, someone wants Israelis and the world to think Israel is moving closer to launching a fateful attack on Iran. Whether such a scenario has really become more likely than it was two weeks or two months ago, or the agenda is part of some game of bluff designed to change either Iranian or Western behavior, there’s a growing danger that the Israeli public’s expectations of war are being raised to a critical point. After all, as many in the security establishment have long warned, you can’t keep telling Israelis that there’s a grave and gathering danger of annihilation looming on the horizon without creating overwhelming pressure to act.

MORE: Tighter Sanctions on Iran: An Alternative to War — or a Road to War?

149 comments
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hammersmith46
hammersmith46

Israel is founded on ethnic and religious bigotry and sits on stolen land.  The United States should have no truck with these characters or the Israel Firsters here at home.  Daily events in Palestine include routine terror against the Palestinian people by the goverment of Israel and he so-called "settlers."  Americans need to rediscover our better selves we have worked generations to develop.

Chili Boots
Chili Boots

'Israel'           s alone, It's on its way to get its ass kicked.

williamunknown
williamunknown

the strategic purposes for the united states do lie with iran being stopped.

currently iran has rockets that can hit paris. nuclear technology is difficult compared to rockets. its a small matter to hide behind a nuclear shield and upgrade the rockets so they can hit the united states. the usa has no functioning missile defense system except for a tiny partial shield on the west coast. anyone want iran to have nuclear weapons that can hit nyc or wash dc?

Jacques LaBranche
Jacques LaBranche

Israel cannot rely on Obama and his administration for any military action, if they are going to attack Iran they best wait until there is real leadership in Washington. A strong leader like Romney will likely prevent war with Iran in the same way war was prevented by Reagan. Proof that a strong leader can prevent bloodshed, see President Ronald Reagan.

Taxodium
Taxodium

It seems to me that Iran could more easily buy nuclear warheads and launchers from NorthKorea or Pakistan than build them itself. Iran can pay with cheap oil.

kate5778b
kate5778b

Well, well, well, Just look at what Ahmadinejad has been saying!!! Ha ha ha, bury your head in the sand all you want to, even Ban Ki Moon has had enough of this Islamic republic - look at all the banners calling for death to Israel, Ahmadinejad is not saying "oooh, you're getting the wrong end of the stick".

Admit you are wrong.

Yefim_Feldman
Yefim_Feldman

 Talking  tough  is  a  lot  cheaper  than  going  to  war,  and  if  it  actually  works  well....

andrew9292
andrew9292

Why does Antisemitism need to be brought into the comments? Especially from people like KIR12, JDsilling, and others. I am Jewish, but you all have your own opinions and it isn't necessary to bring in racism. I don't think your antisemitic if your against Israel, but there are ones who clearly stated there were. You are only encouraging it when you like their comments.

JDSillig
JDSillig

The only ones bringing up anti-Semitism are the Israeli firsters who think that they can use that tired worn out canard to hide Israel's actions.     Your posts are full of name calling, vulgarities and ad-hominem attacks against others whose opinions differ from your own, so apparently you believe that it is OK to insult others, but how dare they question your sacred Zionist dogma eh?

Eric11210
Eric11210

JD, you are the one who claimed that Jews are not human and who called for a terrorist attack on Jerusalem.

Eric11210
Eric11210

I can prove and have proven in the past what JD said by quoting his exact words and links to his exact words. JD made up both of these lies about me and has been asked hundreds of times now for proof of his wild eyed lies. He has refused every time because he knows he is just a sick troll who hates Jews.

JDSillig
JDSillig

More lies from Eric, the antigoyimite troll, but then again he believes that non-Jews are cattle who exist only to serve Jews and defends pedophiles rabbis, so what can you expect. 

YehudaElyada
YehudaElyada

By unbalansing the psych of Time's talkback artist we generate a lot of really hilarious responses, just the stuff we need a good diversion from ME tiring ugliness.

duckori
duckori

This is rich: israel's whining over iran developing nuclear weapons when they themselves developed their own nuclear weapons illegally and in secret, even though nowadays the western world chooses to forget this

andrew9292
andrew9292

I'm pretty sure it is not a secret that Israel develop there's. Plus Iran basically wants to destroy the world. Israel needs nuclear weapons where they live due to they have been terrorized, and at war often in the region

JDSillig
JDSillig

Really, Iran wants to destroy the world huh?     Funny, all you see in the news reports is that Israel is threatening to attack a UN member and drag the world into a major regional war;  not Iran.   

 Certainly if Israel is justified in having nuclear weapons to protect itself, then in light of Israel's history of attacking sovereign states and its current threats against Iran, I am rather surprised that Iran's leaders have not opted out of the NPT and chosen to develop nuclear deterrent to twart Israeli aggression.

Eric11210
Eric11210

And not a word about your friend calling for "death to Israel" and being introduced to chants of "death to America," right JD? You really do love to tell lies.

Oh and Israel has never once attacked another country without first being attacked.

Alaa Jarwan
Alaa Jarwan

Israel is only good at attacking unarmed Palestinians they wont dare attack Iran . 

andrew9292
andrew9292

Shut up. Your just one of the terrorists who wants to Israel gone. Palestinians are disgusting people who terrorize and kill innocents. They make children be mercenaries and kill themselves. You are a truly disgusting person who is a racist and probably a terrorist.

JDSillig
JDSillig

Quit with your insults you disgusting antigoyimite.

Alaa Jarwan
Alaa Jarwan

This just proves that Israel is nothing without the United States . Their too scared to attack Iran by themselves so they want to put the young American men on the front line while they watch from far away .

Scotty_A
Scotty_A

Netanyahu and Barak can start drafting all their Orthodox Jew supporters into the Israeli military if they are serious about starting a conflict.

Reuben_NYC
Reuben_NYC

While senate and congress may be enthralled with Israel and its money, the regular people are not. Im tired of seeing Jewish lawmakers involving their religion, their homeland in my country's business. Cantor, Berman, Ros-Lethinen, Schumer , the whole lot of them. You want your homeland for your future generations then secure it with your own money and blood. 

If we lived with Russia and China having the bomb all these decades , even if You can prove that the Iranians have a bomb (which you cant) then I dont see why Israel cant. 

Aside from the fact that Iran is not a country that is armed with only rocks I cannot see the Israelis being able to fight them. Just look at what a ragtag band of militia in Lebanon did to them a few years ago. Google had youtube videos with sobbing IDF soldiers crying and they were sent to the front without food. They were begging for Pizza deliveries and looting Lebanese stores for bags of potato chips while their generals and leaders were caught red-handed making profits from stocks that would be affected by the war. I bet if you look into it that today you would find corrupt Israelis making a profit on oil futures each and every time a threat is pushed out.

I think its about time we let Israel either sink or swim on its own. If she sinks it will mean less headaches and a lot more money for America amp; Americans. We should not be paying for housing Russians in the Middle East. My prediction on an Israeli attack on Iran is when the Jewish population come out of their bomb shelters they will find their country decimated and in the hands of the people they oppressed. I think it will be a suitable punishment to see the Jewish people placed in small enclaves , placed on "Diets" (since by Israels standards it was legal), have their water doled out and to expel them at a whim , burst into their homes at 2am with guns pointed at their children and to use Jewish children as human shields attached to their hoods. Then after all that I feel they should once again for the 3rd and final time all be thrown out of the middle east for good and for all time. Give them all their articles of religion, let them take what they can and bulldoze anything that even resembles a piece of their country. They should never be allowed to return again.  

    Bear in mind it was not the Jews that kept our Christian, Jewish and Muslim relics safe all these centuries but Muslim, and Christian Palestinians who did. The Jews are paving over ancient Muslim grave sites to make parking lots and "Museums of Tolerance" and when they get what they want they will do the same to our Christian sites. They are only using us for our tourism $ and military aid. If they succeed in ridding the arabs from their midst it will be a different ballgame.

    Sorry if it sounds harsh but Its only fitting for their crimes and we can be assured this will never happen again.

Chhajuram Induscharwak
Chhajuram Induscharwak

Israel is a triumph card since 2nd world war and USA just using it but as every thing has a limit so in this case also and hence possibility of war is there  in only 2012.

NA4444
NA4444

It is very worrying to see in the media all these predictions and declarations about Israel preparing for war with Iran. As your article rightly points out, whether it is real or just bluff, the pressure built by the constant talk can only lead to one conclusion. The cause of the tension between Israel and Iran is not because of any unreasonable hatred the Islamic Republic holds for Israel, it is caused by Israel's terrible behaviour towards its indigenous denizons. As they say -  'by fixing the problems in your own backyard, you are better equipped at dealing with outside problems'.

boonteetan
boonteetan

Otherwise, the media would have nothing more exciting to predict. It is their covert intention, aiming to intensify the war phobia.  (mtd1943)

toumanbeg
toumanbeg

Islam is at war with the world and has been since it's inception.   The holy book divides the world into the House of Islam and the House of war.  Muslims take that seriously, Western 'experts" don't.  So a rational POV is that hostilities which have been on and off for 1400 or so years are about to resume. 

Israel can do an air raid on Iran.  The USA can turn the whole country into a 'no fly' zone.  A 'no drive' zone too, if we want.  Israel would require a Maximum effort and lose pilots.  The USA would use a small percentage of it's available force and shouldn't lose as much as a handful of pilots. 

Sanctions will never solve anything.  Either the USA does an air campaign or Iran gets their nukes.  They will use them the question is where?  I'm hoping New York and DC(while congress is in session).  Since the media in New York and the politicians in DC are the main reason Iran will have nukes, it only seems fair they reap the fruits of their labor.

Reuben_NYC
Reuben_NYC

Hey thanks for proving that once again Israel-firsters are useless POS and traitors to our nation!

"Israel would require a Maximum effort and lose pilots."

"The USA would use a small percentage of it's available force and shouldn't lose as much as a handful of pilots.  "Really? REALLY!?? Wow the cojones on your worthless inbred ass!

Are you trying to say that Jewish lives are worth more than American lives you piece of trash?!  Even a handful of our children is too much. Who cares about you tribe members! Make aliyah and get out of this country!

markjsunz
markjsunz

Israel needs to read it`s own history. Whenever Israel was in the will of God they had victory. Whenever they waited for another nation to help them with there security the foreign army never showed up to help and Israel was defeated.

Here we are over 2000 years later the same kind of world events, the same kind of enemies.

Israel call out and pray to God, but also use your strong Military hardware to defeat those who have called for your destruction.

drorbenami
drorbenami

wow tony baloney !!!

193 comments within 12 hours of posting your article.....and israel is merely talking about an airstike.....the usa has actually been carrying out airstrikes in 3 different countries for over ten years, not just talking about it.....

by the way mr baloney, i have mentioned several times in your articles that each year 140 of your neighbors in brooklyn are murdered and that another 140 will also be murdered this year. not only don't you discuss this issue in TIME, but you don't discuss it in your Cosmopolitan Blog.

Since 125 of these 140 murdered people are either black or Latino, does that make you a racist???. I mean, after all, you are South African and old habits die hard. If 125 jews were murdered in Brooklyn I bet you would write about it, right Tony Baloney ???

Guest
Guest

Just as it's helpful to read the Old Testament to understand the peculiar worldview of Christian Zionists [who support Israel blindly, and love war, which seems to be counter to what that carpenter was all about] - to understand Israel, it is helpful to understand that the Talmud [like the Koran] contains many passages which are ethnocentric, hateful, vengeful, racist, and read like a scheme for a criminal tribalism.

This isn't to say most Jews adhere to the crazy parts - but that many do.

http://holywar.org/jewishtr/02...

And they have nukes.

And they will lie and deceive to create "Greater Israel" and rule over the goyim they hate so much.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

http://wikispooks.com/wiki/9/1...

http://whatreallyhappened.com/...

This isn't abotu hating any group of people - it's about being aware that some groups of people adhere to absurd, crazy, bronze age myths, and they have no problem killing or cheating you because only their fellow travellers matter to them morally.

Which is no morality of all.

markjsunz
markjsunz

 Do you realize how crazy you sound Mohammed?

Guest
Guest

I don't think you can understand Syria or Iran without understanding the concept of "Greater Israel" and you can't understand mass media control and brainwashing without looking at 9/11 not like a conspiracy theorist or "patriot" - but, say, as a criminal detective.

Cui bono?  Motive?  Means?

The U.S. military knows that elements of the Israeli government, and our own neocons [Perle, Feith, Wurmser, Wolfowitz and on and on] engendered 9/11

Really.

http://wikispooks.com/wiki/9/1...

http://whatreallyhappened.com/...

http://www.intifada-palestine....

Only governments want war.

Crying 'antisemitism' at the obvious Israeli involvement in 9/11 has reached tipping point of ineffectiveness - which makes this a very dangerous time./

Too many people have googled "dancing israelis" and "urban moving systems"

Hence, Bibi is in a real rush to get to war.

p.s. Has anyone looked into the radation spike in the area of the Israeli consulate in NYC?   Got a geiger counter?  Take a stroll by.

Beware Israeli false flags to blame Iran...  like the King David Hotel, Lavon Affair, USS Liberty... and on and on.

The fact they can seriously lobby to have Pollard released means they are insanely over-confident.  As well as hypocritical liars who threaten the US far more than Iran.

North Korean nukes and Chinese missiles may as well have 'made in Israel' on them... and THEY actually threaten you in the US.

deliaruhe
deliaruhe

However Bibi decides to use it, you can be sure he will use the US election to start something.  It's the Israeli way.

Israel used Obama's initial election day as cover to break the ceasefire with Hamas.  Hamas sent rockets in response, and that triggered the Gaza massacre of 2008-09.

Guest
Guest

Pellam is a zionist shill

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com...

which means s/he thinksis totally cool to kill arabs because "god" gave the land to an ethnic group.

It's so bloody absurd it boggles the mind.

Guest
Guest

Jews both do, and obviously do have 'de facto'; control of major media.  When people use 'antisemitism' there, I think they're promoting an agenda which favors this scheme wherein Israel can continue to commit warcrimes and get away with it.

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com...

Guest
Guest

nothing bigotted about it - why should a tiny minority be largely in control of the government regulation of finance and the rest of us be unable to discuss it?

You're disgusting.  If it were Muslims in charge you'd be demanding 'affirmative action' programs at the "Federal" "Reserve"

Guest
Guest

Jacob blues is a racist - his racism takes the form of caring more about Jews, and employing a different moral calculus as to Jews than to non-Jews.

You're a disgusting racist, pal.

Guest
Guest

Lieberman is a dual citizen of Israel, so was the former head - *HEAD* of ho,eland security.

More US Jews volunteer for the IDF than the US Army.

American interests and Israel's are not the same but a Zionist 5th column has hijacked, fairly admirably really, much of the government and much of the media.

If you don't think it's on purpose, then you simply haven't researched what the early Zionists said, or googled who owns the largest newspapers. 

I appreciate that genuine antisemitism is despicable, but the fact is that Jews have disproportionate power - we saw it with the Paul campaign coverage, we see it with the fact Israel's occupation of Palestine is accepted and not covered as the ongoing war crime it is.

The real problem is that a minority of Jews - the neocons, wormed their way into power.

They think God 'chose' the Jews and they hate Arabs and they are happy to send Americans to die to protect Israel all while American Jews prefer to die for Israel than the US.

All true.

But speaking the truth results in such frantic smearing, one suspects that it is more true than one had been inclined to think.

markjsunz
markjsunz

 You are a liar Mohammed. What do you know about American life? Nothing. Jews, Irish, African American, french, Latin whatever ethnicity we are all Americans first, and when our country calls we will fight to preserve our freedoms from people like yourself who want to take away all that is good in a democracy.

Guest
Guest

There isn't any good evidence.  There is, however, lots of evidence Israel has nukes and neutron bombs, and there's a radiation spike at the Israeli consulate in NYC - maybe they'll blow up a bomb in the US and blame Iran if we don't attack Iran?

Israel also tried to sell nukes to the South African regime.  There's also evidence they sold nuke technology to north korea [which does threaten the US] and sold US missile technology to China [ditto] and gave the intel Pollard stole to the Soviet Union.

Truthfully, Israel is more dangerous, literally, to the US than Iran is - but the inability to root out the Israel Firsters in the CIA, DIA and DHS means that Israel can steal and sell secret us technology, hold billions in dollars in reserve, but still get tens of billions from the US taxpayer while US schools are falling apart.

How long do you think this scheme can last? 

The Talmud is a racist, tribalist blueprint for a criminal syndicate when used by the dishonest...   you are seeing what Zionism 'is' unfold before your eyes....