Israelis Lobby For, Against Bombing Iran — in Washington

by Dan Raviv

Here in Washington DC, it was a day for hearing differing views from Israelis about whether their country should bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.

First, I got reacquainted with a former military chief of staff — retired Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz.  He’s doing several appearances in DC, but this lunchtime get-together was at J Street offices.  Some American Jewish activists who think J Street anathema already will turn up their noses; I’m sure Halutz would be happy to state his views at the larger, more established, and less liberal AIPAC as well.

Halutz told a dozen journalists and analysts that someone may have to bomb Iran, if that country doesn’t stop its program to build nuclear weapons — but no one has to make such a fateful decision right now.  In his view, it’s a problem for “the entire free world” and should be handled by a large coalition.  Halutz suggests even tighter and broader sanctions, to compel the Iranians to stop their plans.

He warns, however, that Iranians don’t easily give up.  He says they are willing to withstand a lot of pain and discomfort, for the sake of pursuing a strategic interest — and acquiring nuclear weapons is a strategic interest for them.

Halutz clearly thought he should add the following, so he said it three times: “Don’t underestimate the capabilities of the Israeli military.”   He did add the obvious, that America’s air power is far greater.  Here was another Israeli, in this case a military man who led Israel’s armed forces in 2005-06 (and was not generally applauded for what occurred in the Second Lebanon War of summer 2006), who would prefer that the United States do the bombing — if there’s no other choice but to bomb Iran.

He also suggested that Israeli and Americans leaders should say less, except to make it clear that there is a genuine and credible military option.

The other Israeli was a member of parliament, in fact the deputy speaker of the Knesset visiting America on a book tour. Likud Party member Danny Danon declared that he’s loyal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but went even farther by adding strong negatives aimed at President Barack Obama.  Danon’s book, Israel: The Will to Prevail, contains a lot of clearly written history through a Likud perspective — and that includes his view that the Palestinians should not get an independent nation of their own.   He wants Egypt and Jordan to administer Arab populations in Gaza and the West Bank, and he believes Israel should annex the areas of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) where Jewish settlers reside.


September 4, 2012

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