Analysis: Why is Israel so chatty about a possible strike on Iran?

Ronen Bergman By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
This past Sunday, Israeli intelligence expert Ronen Bergman published an extensive cover story in The New York Times Magazine, titled simply: “Will Israel Attack Iran?”. He answers his question in the affirmative, saying that “after speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012”. Bergman, who a year ago wrote an excellent, well-informed account of the Mahmoud al-Mabhouh assassination, sees a “small and ever-diminishing” window of opportunity to stop the looming war.  But he says that few in Israel believe that the United States administration of President Barack Obama is willing or able to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran. Instead, the predominant sentiment in the Jewish state is that “only the Israelis can ultimately defend themselves”, he writes. But the intense discussion about a possible Israeli attack on Iran begs a critical question, which is asked by Laura Rozen, Senior Foreign Affairs Reporter for Yahoo News. She asks, why are Israeli leaders so chatty on the topic? One would think that, by being so vocal about their intentions, they risk losing a major strategic advantage that Israel’s military has relied on in the past: namely the element of surprise. In her search for an answer, she did what good reporters usually do: she actually picked up the phone and called Bergman in Israel. A condensed version of their interesting discussion is provided here. In it, she queries the Israeli intelligence expert about the widespread view that, if Israeli planes were indeed preparing to strike Iran, Tel Aviv would be very discrete about it. Bergman’s response is somewhat convincing; he says that most Israeli statements on the subject are “not meant for Israeli ears” —though they often reverberate inside Israel. Rather, Tel Aviv is trying to promote its foreign policy image as that of an unpredictable international actor, to prompt the intensified intervention of Western governments, particularly European ones. He also tells Rozen that he does not think the Israeli population is ready for war, and that the backlash of a possible Israeli attack on Iran may prove “very problematic, [as] the world will be mad at Israel”. He adds that one of the reasons why the Israeli government has postponed its attack plans against Iran is that Tel Aviv is “wait[ing] for President Obama to win re-election” before it sends out the planes.

One Response to Analysis: Why is Israel so chatty about a possible strike on Iran?

  1. Khan says:

    Nice article. Thanks.

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