A War at Our Expense
Op-ed, Yael Paz-Melamed, Maariv, March 8 2011
If I were an American Jew, and if I had the privilege of being one of the 14,000 representatives who listened eagerly to the speech that was given by the prime minister of Israel, I would have added two standing ovations with uproarious applause. I might even have let a few tears flow down my cheeks. Why shouldn’t I? After all, I’m not the one who is going to have to pay the price for his war-mongering. At most, I’ll be forced to pay a few more dollars to fill my car’s gas tank. What is that in comparison to my Jewish pride, which swells in the face of the fortitude, determination and strength of that country, which I certainly won’t dare to visit in the near future. Are you crazy? They might decide to attack exactly while I’m there. What would happen to me then?
But I do live here, just like seven million other citizens, and that is why we are going to have to pay for the consequences of this eloquent speech that was delivered in such eloquent English. Maybe that is why the prime minister’s audience wasn’t the Israelis, but American Jews. Over there he receives the enormous respect, the enthusiasm, the applause that put him in seventh heaven. Over there he can also revisit, time and again, the horrors of the Holocaust and the pride in the might of the Israeli army, without saying even a single word about the terrible price that will be incurred if we do strike Iran. And that price will be incurred, and it will be far more terrible than estimated.
At present, the man who is protecting us from another war befalling us is the president of the United States, with the support of the president of the State of Israel. But we shouldn’t delude ourselves that that will be enough for us. The series of fiery speeches given by the prime minister of Israel is mainly the result of us, the citizens of Israel, having become the shields of the countries of the West, just like quite a few Arab countries.
It is we who have taken it upon ourselves, and not to our benefit, and perhaps without anyone having intended for this to be the outcome, to be at the forefront of the effort against a nuclear Iran. Currently, we stand alone in that insane rubric, while the two people who are responsible for our security and lives, Netanyahu and Barak, are leading us step by step, with determination and without sensitivity, to the point of no return.
It is true that our defense minister tried to allay the public’s concerns and said that 5,000 Israeli civilians wouldn’t be killed, and maybe not even 500, but who can assure us that it won’t be more than 5,000 people?
Netanyahu and Barak can plan everything meticulously, except the results. The cost. Regrettably, that part isn’t up to them. The arguments in favor of an attack on Iran are based on the working assumption that we are dealing with an irrational leader who will not hesitate to take insane measures against Israel unless we deliver a preemptive blow that will do away with his nuclear capabilities. Except that that premise works in both directions. The very same irrationality could come into action if we do attack.
The paranoia that is egging the proponents of an attack talks about the destruction of the State of Israel if we fail to act against the Iranian nuclear program. In Netanyahu’s conceptual world, the annihilation will be of the entire Jewish people, just as sought by the Nazi regime, which is comparable to Ahmadinejad’s regime. That also works in both directions. If we attack, can one say with certainty that the State of Israel will continue to exist and to flourish as it does today?
Had Netanyahu delivered his speech to 14,000 Israelis, he would have had to address those questions. Because this is about our lives and our fate. Except that he doesn’t have even a single answer to any one of those questions. He can only surmise. How have we reached a situation in which those questions have become ours to cope with? Up until not long ago Iran was the problem of the world under the leadership of the United States. But for the past number of months we have been doing everything in order to obtain exclusivity over this terrible burden. The person who has gained the most from our insane insistence has been Obama. What could be better for him as he heads into elections than to make a public appearance as the sane leader who is doing everything in his power to prevent a war in yet another distant country? Too bad he isn’t our leader.