Revolt of the Spy: Ex-Israeli Intelligence Chief Blasts Benjamin Netanyahu's March to War With Iran
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Beyond that, Diskin’s revelations undermine the existential argument that Netanyahu and Barak have been making. Of course, this is not to suggest that Israel, as well as the US, Gulf states, Saudi Arabia and, indeed, the entire world, don’t have legitimate concerns about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. General concerns about nuclear proliferation, deepening the fear that drives the conflicts between Sunni and Shi’i states and groups in the region, the overall balance of power in the Middle East and the potential for an arms race being set off are all good reasons to try to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, if indeed that is what they’re trying to do (a point that, while evidence certainly supports it, has yet to be conclusively proven by a long shot). But those concerns are not sufficient to trigger an attack that could enflame the region beyond anything we have ever seen and even holds the potential for starting a new global conflict. Netanyahu is well aware of this and that’s precisely why he and many agents of his lobby in the US have raised such loud cries about the existential danger to Israel.
Diskin’s words now reveal that, while Israeli concerns may be real enough, the level of hysteria that Netanyahu and Barak generated both within Israel and among Israel supporters in the United States was self-serving. Of course, Netanyahu and Barak have both dismissed Diskin’s account, and so will their supporters. But consider the source.
Yuval Diskin has spent his entire career in the Israeli military and in intelligence. He has never sought political office. While Netanyahu accused him of political opportunism, that doesn’t fit well with a man who has retired from entirely non-political positions and has given no indication of any interest in getting involved in politics to date. Perhaps he does have such ambitions, but if so, he hasn’t shown it. Diskin is also a security hawk and supports military action to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon; he just wants it to be an operation which will achieve its goal, has an extra strategy and won’t do more harm than good.
He has never been much for publicity either, though he did speak out last spring against Netanyahu’s rush to war with Iran. According to his interviewer in Yediot Ahoronoth, “Yuval Diskin's tone is unmistakable. A cynical and bitter mixture of aversion, concern and shock characterize the man who is considered perhaps the most prominent and influential GSS director in the past decades. For 38 years Diskin served the security establishment with loyalty and devotion. He served and kept quiet. Now he feels that he can remain silent no longer. This is the first interview that he has given to the press since retiring from the GSS, and in fact, his first interview ever.”
That doesn’t sound like someone inclined to strike out in public against his country’s commander-in-chief to score political points.
The issues Diskin raised go beyond Iran as well. He believes Netanyahu has given in to political pressures on the Palestinian issue and this has led to frustration, hopelessness and stalemate. He expressed the belief that Netanyahu has put Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a position where he cannot return to negotiations, and that this is precisely how Netanyahu wants it. He also hints at encouraging the United States to leverage its pressure on Netanyahu: “Bibi, from my acquaintance with him, is a lot more vulnerable to pressure than he seems. I assume that at the end of the day if the Americans very much want, the president will know how to use the leverage he has and Bibi will fold.”