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Israel has only one option when it comes to Iran By Carlo Stenger Latest update 13:33 12.05.11 Israel's right entertains the myth that the country can solve every problem by resorting to force, rather than diplomacy. If Israel were to establish win-win interactions with its neighbors, its decision makers would have to totally change that mentality. Albert Einstein used to say that insanity can be defined as continuing to do the same thing, while expecting different results. That makes Israel’s right-wing the epitome of insanity. It keeps trying to solve all of Israel’s problems by force, and consistently expecting the result to be other than what it was in the past. Israel tried to solve the Lebanese problem by force and created Hezbollah; it tried to solve the Palestinian problem by force and created Hamas. It has tried to vanquish Hamas by force, and is gradually getting Al-Qaida in its stead. Now Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is insisting on solving the Iranian problem by force, trying unsuccessfully to convince the world that he is right. Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who could certainly not be considered a starry-eyed leftist, made a blunt statement last week of great importance: The idea of attacking Iran from the air is "the stupidest thing I have ever heard", he said. A few days later, two other past Mossad chiefs, Ephraim Halevy and Danny Yatom, agreed with his judgment. Our politicians, who have always spoken highly of Dagan, felt uncomfortable with his statement, but limited their criticism to saying that not everything needs to be brought to the public stage. Dagan made clear what is already rather well known: a confrontation with Iran would exact an enormous price on Israel. We would be under rocket attack from both Iran and Hezbollah, potentially for months. The human, economic, and political costs could be exorbitant - and through it all, Israel would not have neutralized Iran’s nuclear program. Dagan went further in his declarations by stating overtly that Iran would never use an atomic bomb against Israel, thus undermining Netanyahu’s endless warnings that the next holocaust is around the corner.

Netanyahu doesn’t want Dagan to say that Israel has no real military option because he has made it part of his image that as prime minister, he will solve Israel’s Iranian problem. Dagan has made clear that despite Netanyahu’s insinuations, Israel doesn’t actually have the real option of taking out Iran by air strikes. What Israel has succeeded in doing - according to a plethora of sources – is slowing Iran's nuclear ambitions by infecting its computers with the Stuxnet virus. Netanyahu and his government do not want to put forth Israel's limitations for public discussion. Such an admission runs counter to the notion that Israel can deal with each of its security issues on its own, without help from any partner. More importantly, such an admission means abandoning the myth that Israel can solve every problem by resorting to force, rather than diplomacy, if necessary. Israel cannot solve the Iranian problem by force. Period. Dagan’s remarks show that Israel’s whole conception of foreign policy and its management of security risks must undergo a radical change. The mantra that Israel can and should rely only on its own devices for defense has become useless. Nothing less than a paradigm change is in order. Israel’s only viable strategy on Iran is to join the worldwide attempts to weaken that regime. U.S. President Barack Obama, who Netanyahu depicts mostly as too soft on Iran and too weak in his Middle East policy, has put together the most crippling set of sanctions to date, ones which are having a devastating effect on the Iranian economy. In due course, this raises the possibility that the Iranian regime can indeed change. Most experts on Iran agree that a very different state could emerge in place of the current regime, potentially even to become a functioning democracy. Forging a peace agreement with Syria would also help weaken Iran, as it could substantially destabilize Hezbollah and force Hamas to change its policies, thus depriving the Islamic republic of its proxies to attack Israel. Weakening Iran also requires a restoration of Israel’s relations with Turkey, a country which must be pulled from out of Iran’s orbit. That is an option, however, that cannot be realized as long as our foreign minister and his deputy do their all to aggravate Turkey at every conceivable opportunity. This paradigm change, of establishing win-win interactions with Israel's neighbors, means our decision makers must totally change their mentality. Such a change in mentality cannot happen easily, because Israel's political left has in the past misrepresented peace as a as a messianic promise in which sheep and wolves would dwell together for eternity. The resulting disappointments have made Israel’s electorate weary of giving peace another chance. A realistic peace camp must make clear that taking the road of peace is not a foolproof way for Israel to achieve total security for all generations to come. Risk-free strategies do not exist – certainly not in the Middle East. There are only ways to balance risks entailed by different strategies.

Seeking peace with our neighbors is not a messianic vision. Yes; it is based on values of cooperation and justice rather than unilateral power; but it is also a strategy that needs to be carefully calibrated. Despite its perils, it primarily has advantages ranging from the development of positive relations with our neighbors to ending Israel’s international isolation. The right’s insistence on the status quo is not only risky, it will unfailingly lead to the end of Israel’s existence as a democratic country with a Jewish character. It has proven to be incapable of dealing with Hamas, Hezbollah or any of Israel’s other major security threats. Striving for peace is a strategic option far superior to the right’s tactic of stalling, because the perils of peace do not endanger Israel’s long-term survival: rather, it offers a positive vision for Israel’s future.

Israel 'faked al-Qaeda presence' Sunday, 8 December, 2002, Officials from the Palestinian Authority have accused the Israeli spy agency Mossad of setting up a fake al-Qaeda terrorist cell in Gaza. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said that Israel had set up the mock cell in order to justify attacks in Palestinian areas. Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, called the allegation "sheer nonsense".

We are sure that Israel is behind this and that there are absolutely no groups such as al-Qaeda operating here Colonel Rashid Abu-Shbak On Thursday Mr Sharon said that members of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network were at work in the Gaza Strip, aiming to attack Israel. Israel has named al-Qaeda as the prime suspect in a suicide bombing at a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya that killed 16 people last week and an unsuccessful missile attack on a nearby Israeli passenger jet. "It is a big, big, big lie to cover (Sharon's) attacks and his crimes against our people everywhere,"

Mr Arafat said at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Communications traced Colonel Rashid Abu-Shbak, the Palestinian head of preventative security, said eight Palestinians had been approached from outside Gaza, and had been asked by Israeli agents to work for al-Qaeda with offers of money and weapons. Colonel Abu-Shbak said the first approaches were made in March this year, and that all communications had been traced back to Israeli intelligence. He cited the case of one Palestinian militant who had been approached and had been supplied with guns, and who was killed on his way to collect a second consignment of weapons. "We are sure that Israel is behind this and that there are absolutely no groups such as al-Qaeda operating here," Colonel Abu-Shbak said. "We can't say there will never be al-Qaeda here, but at least not for now," he added. Mr Gissin said that the Palestinian accusations were propaganda and disinformation put out by officials trying "to exonerate themselves from the allegations they are collaborating and participating with terrorists". US accusations On Friday American media reported that al-Qaeda has set up a branch to help Palestinian militant groups fight Israel, according to a website US officials believe is linked to the organisation. The new group has called for an end to inter-Palestinian feuding and has vowed to launch suicide attacks against Israeli and American targets in the Middle East, it said in a statement on the website, The Washington Post newspaper said United States officials believe the website speaks for al-Qaeda, and that it is being monitored by US intelligence agencies. The Arabic-language website said al-Qaeda took responsibility for the attacks in Kenya. The website carried a statement purportedly from the new al-Qaeda branch - the Islamic al-Qaeda in Palestine - pledging allegiance to Osama Bin Laden. The group said it rejected any peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, declaring it would accept "nothing but the full liberation of the Palestinian land".

Israel has only one option when it comes to Iran  

Israel's right entertains the myth that the country can solve every problem by resorting to force, rather than diplomacy. If Israel were to...