‘Anonymous decision maker’ advocating war with Iran is Ehud Barak

The top stories in all Israeli dailies this weekend discuss a coming strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Thirty-seven percent of Israelis think President Obama would stop Iran from developing a bomb, while only 29 percent doubt it.

The front page headlines in all major daily papers in Israel deal with the increased likelihood of a war with Iran.

Yedioth Aharonoth has an important expose: the paper’s diplomatic correspondents, Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer, report that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has gathered senior army generals twice (the latest meeting took place at Mossad headquarters) in order to obtain their support for a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. He met fierce opposition on both occasions; the army is very reluctant to carry out the attack in the absence of American support, it seems. “Not a single security chief supports the attack,” Barnea and Shiffer write. Yedioth’s headline declares: “Barak and Natanyahu are determined to strike Iran in the autumn.”

The pro-Netanyahu tabloid Israel Hayom claims that “Iran has speed up its effort to gain a bomb.”

Maariv has a poll according to which 37 percent of the public think that an Iranian bomb would mean “a second Holocaust.” Forty percent of the Jewish public – that’s 33 percent of the population – believes that Israel should strike the Iranian nuclear facilities on its own. Forty-one percent think that Israeli should leave the mission of stopping Iran to the United States and the international community.

More Israelis (37 percent) believe that president Obama will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb than those who think he won’t keep his promise (29 percent).

Haaretz cites a senior Israeli official speaking in favor of an Israeli attack on Iran (“Iran nuclear threat bigger than one Israel faced before Six Day War”). It’s not hard to figure out that the official is Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Ari Shavit offers a few hints to the identity of his interlocutor. (The source is “known for his sharp analytical skills”; has a piano in his living room; was at the center of decision making twice; and more.) It is also widely known that Shavit has very good relationship with Barak; and this is not the first time he has citied the same “senior source” (including a hit job on Tzipi Livni before the last elections). Even Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On wrote on her Facebook page explicitly that the source in Shavit’s article is Ehud Barak.

The daily media roundup by the 7th Eye (a media watchdog site) also states that “Shavit’s source is Barak.”

In the interview, Defense Minister Barak responds to arguments made by those opposing the attack. He tells Shavit that Israel will be able to cause considerable damage to Iran’s nuclear program, delaying it for a few years – possibly until the Iranian regime falls; he expects no American guarantee to attack the nuclear facilities next year, and he insists that Israel must attack soon and not hand the problem over to the Americans. (According to reports in the Israeli media, the IAF would not be able to cause significant damage to the Iranian nuclear program unless the attack is carried out in the coming months.) Barak says:

“Israel is a strong nation… we have good capabilities. The number of dead to be expected on the home front in the event of war with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas is less than the number of casualties in the Fourth Battalion of the Harel Brigade in 1948. But in 1948 it was clear to all that there was no choice. And that gave us national strength and resilience. If it turns out that now, too, there is no choice, we will also need that national strength. Remember that in any dimension – including in terms of preserving human life – dealing with a nuclear Iran will be much more complicated than dealing with preventing a nuclear Iran,” the official said.

The full interview is available in Hebrew here.