Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy’s most recent column applies Israel’s inability to effectively combat fires in the Carmel forest to the broader context of the limits of Israeli power. Specifically, Levy says those who push for an Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities are promoting a set of strategies which may represent an existential threat to Israel’s survivial.
The apocalyptic descriptions of a missile attack on the home front if Israel attacks Iran or Lebanon appear even more apocalyptic in light of Israel’s conduct when handling a medium-sized forest fire.
The next wars will be home-front wars. This time the Israeli home front will be hit in a way we have never experienced. The first Gulf war and the Second Lebanon War were only the movie trailer for what could happen. An attack of thousands of missiles, as predicted by experts, will create a reality Israel will find hard to withstand. It isn’t equipped for it, as we saw on the Carmel, and it isn’t prepared for it, as we saw in the Lebanon war.
Levy calls on Israeli leaders to adopt a realist, security oriented worldview, whether they be “adventurists” or “commandos” and accept that an attack on Iran “is not really an option.” The missile onslaught that would follow an attack on Iran would be far more lethal than anything experienced in the Lebanon war, Gulf War or Gaza War.
A thousand new fire trucks and even the Iron Dome missile defense system will not provide protection. You can’t build a fortress for every citizen.
Levy turns the “existential threat” threat rhetoric, typically aimed at Iran, on its head by arguing, “the only existential option is integrating into the region (a term coined decades ago by Uri Avnery).”
It was the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who once acknowledged in a private conversation that the main consideration that got him to the Oslo process was the realization of the limits of Israeli power. We’ve weakened since then, not only because of the threats to the home front, but because of our international standing. If we recognize this and understand that the military option has become unrealistic, except as a deterrent or an act of desperation, we will understand that there is only the diplomatic option, no other, and it is still open to us.
Levy is not alone in emphasizing the devastating consequences of what an Israeli or U.S. attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities bring. Back in August, Patrick Disney, the former Assistant Policy Director for the National Iranian-American Council and the publisher of Talking Warheads, detailed the likely aftermath of a military strike on Iran.
Unfortunately, dropping bombs on Iran now is the surest way to uproot any hope for peaceful democratic change in the country. The hardliners will most likely use an act of foreign aggression as justification for a brutal crackdown, and the focus of political discourse will shift away from questions of internal reforms and regime legitimacy toward external threats and the need to rally the nation’s defenses.