Yedioth: IDF Chief of Staff told US Israel has no military option against Iran

Posted: February 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us, war | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

According to reports in the Israeli media, a major reason for the bad blood between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and departing Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was their differences of the issue of Iran, and especially what Barak saw as an attempt by Ashkenazi to bypass him

Did the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran play a major role in leading to the current IDF generals’ wars? Yedioth Ahronoth’s veteran diplomatic pundit Shimon Shifer claims that one of the reasons for the all-too-public rift between Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the IDF’s departing Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was a move by Ashkenazi that was interpreted by Barak as an attempt to undermine the military option:

Discussing the bad blood between Barak and Ashkenazi, Shifer writes (my translation):

Barak claims that Ashkenazi did not respect his authority in many cases. The most serious charge is that Ashkenazi told the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral [Michael] Mullen, that talks by [Prime Minister] Netanyahu and Barak regarding an Israeli military option against Iran are empty words. Israel has no military option.

The unrest in the army’s leadership has reached new heights last week, when Barak and Netanyahu were forced to cancel the nomination of Major General Yoav Galant as the incoming Chief of Staff, after it was established that Galant didn’t tell the truth in documents involving the acquisition of agricultural lands and the construction of his home.

Despite public pressure, Barak decided not to extend Ashkenazi’s term at the head of the IDF (which will end in ten days), but rather asked Major General Yair Naveh to serve as a temporary Chief of Staff until the government approves a new candidate.

Reports in the Israeli media linked some of the recent events in the IDF leadership and the political system to the possibility of a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Barak and Netanyahu are said to be favoring such an attack; Ashkenazi, as well as government ministers Avigdor Lieberman and Moshe “Bugi” Yaalon (a retired chief of staff himself) and possibly President Shimon Peres are said to be on the skeptics’ side. Speculations were that Major General Galant was more comfortable than Ashkenazi with the idea of a military strike. With him out of the picture (at least for the time being), Barak will have to look for a new candidate that would not undermine his authority on the issue of Iran.

UPDATE: reports are that Barak has made up his mind to appoint Major General Benni Ganz as the incoming Chief of Staff. Ganz dealt with Iran during his time at the IDF, and upon his retirement, he called Iran “a threat to Israel and the entire world.”

It was also speculated that the one of the main reasons for Netanyahu’s successful attempt to split Labor a few weeks ago was his desire to have Barak, a decorated officer and a former Chief of Staff, at his side when he decides to push forward with the military option.

8 Comments on “Yedioth: IDF Chief of Staff told US Israel has no military option against Iran”

  1. 1 maayan said at 3:34 pm on February 5th, 2011:

    If true, Ashkenazi did something very foolish and also circumvented the political echelon in what is clearly their domain. This actually excuses Barak’s incredibly stupid behavior in the past months. He is right to be angry and to seek Ashkenazi’s dismissal.

  2. 2 John Welch said at 4:37 pm on February 5th, 2011:

    The IDF chief told Admiral Mullen what Mullen already knew: a bombing raid will not destroy the Iranian nuclear program.

    In 2006, President Bush II asked the US Air Force for a plan to bomb Iran. The USAF replied that they would need infantry to follow up, demolishing anything the bombers missed or only damaged.

    The Joint Chiefs considered, agreed, and said, in effect, “Get real, Mr. President”.

    How could the IDF do what the USAF has already determined to be impossible without a full-scale invasion of Iran?

  3. 3 maayan said at 1:38 am on February 6th, 2011:

    Best idea to come out of this:

    “Deputy Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ayoub Kara called on Saturday for the formation of an advisory committee that would interview future IDF chiefs and make a recommendation to the cabinet.

    Speaking at a conference of former officers, he said that such a committee, which would be made up of retired generals and judges, could stop the politicization of the IDF.”

    What is an Ayoub Kara doing in apartheid Israel’s government?

  4. 4 John Welch said at 7:34 pm on February 6th, 2011:

    1. That feeling…

    When I spent two weeks in Israel (true…only two weeks) I concluded that I love the place, but that it is complex. That complexity is best felt in the cafes on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv, where I could happily sip “turkish” coffee, or skip off to a great used book store with a collection in English that would match most in New York. I felt more at home than, say, in Menneapolis, where the sober folks don’t understand a New York sense of humor.

    However, it felt that the entire country, not just fine places like downtown Tel Aviv, but the entire country had decided to pretend that Arabs don’t exist. There is no Wall. No settlements.

    Joseph Dana caught the same feeling, here:

    “David Sheen, a journalist living in Tel Aviv, recently attended an anti Mubarak protest in North Tel Aviv with a camera and microphone. Most of the protesters were Palestinian citizens of Israel who chanted in Arabic, among other chants, for the freedom of the Arab people. Sheen did not simply cover the protest, he asked Israelis in the area what they thought about the chants, the symbols (specifically the Palestinian flags which many protesters waved) and the sentiment expressed by the protesters. According to official press reports and quotes of high ranking Israeli officials, Israel is one of the few countries in the Western world that supports the ruthless dictatorship of Mubarak. This video gets to the heart of that support, which seems to be based on a racist culture against Arabs.

    “What Sheen demonstrates in this video is how ingrained our racism has become and what role apathy towards the occupation plays in its perpetuation. I am not talking about the blatant racism of settlers or the rhetoric that is used to convince our young soldiers to humiliate Palestinians on a daily basis, both of which have violent overtones. In fact, I am not even addressing the racism of mainstream right political parties like Likud. Instead I am addressing the racism which comes from the liberal sectors of our society and allows the society to maintain its constant aggression towards the Palestinians and its antagonistic approach to the Middle East in general. Tucked away behind a myriad of checkpoints and walls, most Israelis have little direct contact with Palestinians which necessarily adds to the preconceived and, sometimes racist, notions about Palestinians.

    “Due to the separation of Israeli and Palestinian society, this apathetic racism based on ignorance is often found in the heart of our liberal and European-like areas, such as Basel Square of North Tel Aviv where this video was filmed. Without connection to its neighbors, Israel has no choice but to align itself, culturally and politically with Europe. Our political foundations are based on European models and the ideological forefathers of the state such as Theodor Herzl wrote in European languages. Exactly in the heart of middle class and euro-centric Tel Aviv one can find blanket examples of misguided apathetic attitudes towards Palestinians and the Arab world.

    “Among the lovely cafes lining the streets of north Tel Aviv, where one can find the latest Hebrew translation of Walter Benjamin’s Arcade Project or buy designer clothing from France, liberalism is constructed to allow a brand of national exclusivity a place in the Western world. Our society understands that the freedom and rights of Jews in Israel are paramount especially over the freedom and rights of Palestinians whether they are citizens of Israel or the West Bank/Gaza. In this way, the hijacking of liberal thinking is used to allow for racist understandings of Arabs. Using Western liberalism to rationalize racism for the Other is not special to Israeli society and can be found in virtually every Western society in the world. However, given the history of the Jews as the ultimate Other in Western society, it is tragic to see the Jewish state engaged in similar vilification of Arab’s as the Other in Israel.”

    2. The idiocy of prosecuting Anat Kam for “revealing” what the Pentagon and White House already know. It’s as if she “revealed” that the Atlantic is wet. Ther Joint Chiefs know that if the US cannot bomb Iranian nuke plants, then the Israelis cannot either.

  5. 5 maayan said at 12:27 pm on February 7th, 2011:

    John, Joseph and his friends at 972 (excluding Noam who has shown some political maturity over there) have no problem labeling anybody who disagrees with their views “racist.” They also do not have the courage to address criticism of their positions. I wouldn’t put any stock in what they say because they are nothing more than biased activists with a platform.

    In the meantime, yesterday I watched MK Ahmad Tibi correct the Hebrew of an Israeli MK while Tibi was presiding over the Knesset. Two or three days ago, I watched Tibi debate Benni Begin one on one in a TV program regarding the place of Arabs in Israel. Tibi spoke openly and critically, and Begin answered him directly and clearly. Both spoke to each other as equals and respectfully, even as Tibi was seeking to make the point that as an Arab he isn’t equal and Begin was acknowledging problems in achieving equal treatment for Arabs in Israeli society but describing it as a clear goal. This is one of the key ideologues in the Likud speaking.

    Enough already with the demonization of Israelis and Israeli society. It is incredible to watch this happen because it is an outright lie. Tonight, I went shopping. I went into an electronics store, into Home Center and int a supermarket. All three stores were managed by Arabs and employed both Jews and Arabs. I was treated like a regular customer in all three and treated the employees in those stores exactly as I would if they were Jewish. A few weeks ago when I needed medication, the pharmacist was an Arab woman. When you enter the university campuses at Haifa or Jerusalem, you see many, many Arab students who are receiving the same subsidized education as Jewish Israelis. This is happening under a Likud government and before that under a Kadima center-Right party.

    Meanwhile, not a peep from Joseph Dana or his friends about the bigotry and anti-Semitic position of the Palestinians on Jewish history in Eretz Israel. Not a peep.

  6. 6 noam said at 1:58 am on February 8th, 2011:

    Benni Begin is the exception in the Knesset, not the norm.

  7. 7 maayan said at 3:52 am on February 9th, 2011:

    Everyone is an exception in some way. Benni Begin is what, number 5 on the Likud list and widely respected as a leading ideologue of the Likud? Isn’t he revered for his father’s contributions to Israel and the obvious fact that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree? Even if he is an exception, this doesn’t change the fact that he’s notable, respected and listened to.

    But the thing is, he’s not an exception. He represents the rule. I didn’t bring up Tibi accidentally. He proves how liberal, fair and non-racist Israel is.

    He is a doctor trained in an Israeli university, subsidized like any Israeli student regardless of background, who worked at an Israeli hospital where Arab and Jewish care-givers work side by side daily, even in war-time . He openly sides with the PLO, Fatah, Lebanon which are avowed opponents of a Jewish state in Israel. He is a non-Jewish, Arab, non-Zionist (actually anti-Zionist)… and he is Deputy Speaker of the Knesset!

    He presides over his Knesset sessions with humor and good spirits. Do You know why?

    Lots of reasons. The most important reason, I suspect, is that it’s truly amusing (in a deep belly-laugh kind of way) that a country built on a premise and ideology of which Tibi is an avowed opponent, has let him run for office, get elected, become Deputy Speaker of its parliamentary body all the while suffering his constant public criticism about his country’s supposed (inherent) racism.

    The attacks on Israel’s supposed racism are a serious distortion of the facts.

  8. 8 Tom Mitchell said at 10:32 pm on February 9th, 2011:

    I remember being told some 30 years ago at a Shalom Akshav demo in Jerusalem by someone who knew Benny Begin professionally. He said that he respected Begin’s father as a person as a result of how well Benny had turned out.