Four years after retiring as director of the Mossad, the former spy chief Meir Dagan has thrust himself into the limelight during the Israeli election campaign.
Israelis will vote on March 17. Dagan is not running for office, but he delivered a detailed denunciation of Benjamin Netanyahu — and especially the prime minister’s speech to Congress in Washington — during an Israeli TV interview on Friday night.
Then on Saturday night, as tens of thousands of Israelis gathered for a rally in Tel Aviv — under banners that said, “Israel wants change!” — the featured speaker was Meir Dagan: the formerly secretive, apparently nonpolitical grand master of deception, sabotage, and assassination.
Declaring from the rostrum that Netanyahu is a single-minded politicians whose only goal is to win and retain power, Dagan summarized that while Israel is surrounded by enemies, “I am not frightened of our enemies. I am frightened of our leadership.”
Dagan said Netanyahu’s actions have damaged efforts to stop or restrict Iran’s nuclear program. And he said the prime minister’s terrible leadership seems to be leading toward “a bi-national state.” Dagan said he wants his children and grandchildren to live in a Jewish state. (He was indicating that he wants to see the Palestinian Arabs living in their own Palestinian state and used the word “apartheid” as a situation that must be avoided.)
Dagan said the stand taken by Netanyahu in his Washington speech — urging rejection of the deal he believes is being negotiated by the United States with Iran — offers no reasonable alternative. According to Dagan, Netanyahu seemed to be threatening a military strike by Israel.
As he said since first speaking with a group of reporters — while still in his post at the Mossad in the final month of 2010 — Dagan hinted that sabotage and subversion could continue to delay Iran’s nuclear work. “There are other ways,” Dagan told Israel’s Channel 2 television.
While not taking responsibility for the assassination of nuclear scientists in Iran, he did say that when employees of the nuclear program are killed, that sends a huge deterrent signal to other Iranians — not to work for their country’s nuclear enterprise.