Friday, June 3, 2011

Ex-Mossad Chief Warns of “Poor Judgment” of Netanyahu

Step-by-step, recently retired Israeli national security officials are exposing the threat to Israeli national security posed by the Netanyahu faction.
Even as I was writing yesterday about the need for patriotic Israelis concerned about maintaining their democracy to support the emerging Arab center represented by Egypt and Turkey and work toward justice and freedom for Palestinians, a leader of the Israeli establishment—former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, now freed by retirement to speak honestly, was warning of the need for Israelis to find decent leadership to protect Israeli national security…from its current leaders!

Do not make the mistake of crediting the ex-Mossad chief of being concerned with justice for Palestinians, but at least he can see the momentum of history and the need for Israel to adjust to reality. Think of him as an unemotional thinker focused on national security rather than an emotional expansionist, religious fundamentalist, or politician waving the bloody shirt for personal gain. Dagan wants to see Israel survive and appears willing to respond to historical necessity and perhaps even obey international law (e.g., return to Israel’s legal 1967 borders) in order to achieve that survival. I risk here putting words in his mouth; he did not, to my knowledge, say any such thing. Yet that is the logic of his warning that the real danger to Israel comes from the blundering of Israel’s (right-wing, expansionist, violence-prone) leadership.

One senses the potential for a new winning coalition of rational, calculating Israeli defense intellectuals plus Israeli democracy advocates plus those Israelis who want a morally sound, moderate, non-racist, peace-loving foreign policy. As another ex-Mossad official, Gad Shimron, was quoted in the New York Times:

I want everyone to pay attention to the fact that the three tribal elders, Ashkenazi, Diskin and Dagan, within a very short time, are all telling the people of Israel: take note, something is going on that we couldn’t talk about until now, and now we are talking about it. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark and that is the decision-making process.

Obama would do well to promote the emergence of such a coalition in Israel, offering it public access to the White House, for that is a group that would both be popular with liberal American Jews and share common values with the American people more broadly. It is not just U.S. national security that is being threatened by the violence-addicted right-wing Israeli leadership but also Israeli national security.
Correction: Evidently Dagan did in fact call for a return to Israel's legal 1967 borders, as reported by AP:

"There needs to be an Israeli peace initiative," he said. "If we don't offer things and don't take the initiative, we might be put in a corner. Given the choice between put in a corner or taking the initiative, initiative is better."
He suggested that Israel accept a nine-year-old peace initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia, offering peace with the Arab world in return for a full withdrawal from all territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

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