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IDF Chief Calls Iran “Rational,” Barak Disagrees – OpEd


Israel continued its self-portrait as a government in disarray as its military chief, Benny Gantz called Iran “rational” and said he believed that nation would not build a nuclear weapon (a position fully in accord with U.S. views). The next day, Ehud Barak took pains to divorce himself from his subordinate by saying of Iran:

[Barak] did not see Iran as “rational in the Western sense of the word, meaning people seeking a status quo and the outlines of a solution to problems in a peaceful manner.”

This of course is a delicious bit of irony because most observers of the Israeli-Arab conflict believe precisely this about Israel’s approach.  It seeks, not a sustainable status quo, but a status quo that offers it supreme advantage and dominance over its neighbors.  Nor does Israel seek solution to these problems in a peaceful manner.  It’s saber-rattling toward Iran itself is but one example.

In truth, what Barak is complaining about is that Iran refuses to accede to a dictat set before it by the western powers.  If you’re the majority, a resistant minority is always going to appear as ungrateful, even irrational.  Because what other reasonable solution is there than the one you maintain?  The problem with Israeli policymakers is that they’re beset by a grave case of narcissism, and a profound inability to view matters as their enemy might see them.  This is a fatal combination in a region so prone to cataclysm as the Middle East.

Gantz also mysteriously suggested that other military forces than Israel were prepared to attack Iran.  Most likely he was referring to the U.S.  But he could’ve been making a sly reference to Iran’s regional enemies joining in the fight.  This might mean an outright contribution of forces to an attack or it might mean a less visible role say, in offering Israel the right to overfly Saudi Arabian airspace in order to attack Iran.

Dore Gold laugably tried to square the “rationality” circle with this near non sequitur:

“The Iranians have irrational goals, which they may try and advance in a rational way.”

Makes perfect sense to me if you’re as out of touch with Iran and reality in general as Gold is.

In one of her first published reports since assuming her new assignment running the Times Israel bureau, Jodi Rudoren is hewing to the same establishmentarian approach of her predecessors Steven Erlanger and Ethan Bronner.  She called Haaretz “left-leaning,” which is a tad too charitable since there is hardly a cogent “left” to speak of in Israel.  I’d far prefer Haaretz be called “liberal” or “independent,” since it’s certainly not “left” any more than the Times itself is.  She also consulted the same grey figures as sources, who hew to the rightist security consensus: Dore Gold, Amos Yadlin and Ephraim Inbar.  No surprises there, but precious little illumination either.

This article appeared at TIkun Olam

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Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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