Tehran assassination: Marching obediently to war with Iran

The whole world knows the Mossad was likely behind the latest killing of an Iranian atomic scientist; the Iranians are swearing revenge, and nobody in Israel sounds bothered.

Vibrant democracy, huh? Not one peep has been heard from any Israeli journalist or politician or public figure of any kind against this latest assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, which everyone on earth understands was probably carried out by the Mossad. (The only other possible suspect, the U.S., denounced the killing as “provocative and dangerous.” On the previous day, Israeli military chief Benny Gantz told the Knesset that 2012 would see more of these “events that happen unnaturally” on the Iranian front.)

Wednesday’s assassination in Tehran of  Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, deputy director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, was at least the fifth lethal attack on Iranian nuclear scientists and installations in the last seven months. Even the Americans are now saying that we’re playing with fire, while the Iranians, who usually pretend these things are accidents to avoid being shamed at home into retaliating, are calling out Israel and hollering for revenge. Yet in this country, everybody who has anything to say publicly about this latest killing and the ones that preceded it are all applauding.

Roni Daniel, the gung-ho military affairs “reporter” for Channel 2, said these attacks “are delaying the Iranian nuclear program, but they’re not stopping it,” putting on his best ominous expression to convey that the only thing that will stop the Iranians is a good war. Ronen Bergman, the more subtle but still plenty hawkish intellgence reporter for Yedioth Ahronoth, enthused that after watching their colleagues getting picked off one after another, “Not a few scientists on the Iranian nuclear project have asked to return to academe.” Alex Fishman, Yedioth’s military commentator, blew off the Obama administration’s objections as “hypocrisy, crocodile tears, empty words.” Even in Haaretz, the one comment on the assassination was positive, coming from intelligence pundit Amir Oren: “The cyclists carrying the explosives really were messengers… they were sending a message to the authorities in Iran.”

This wall-to-wall support for the use of force is nothing new around here, unfortunately. Everybody in Israel knew we were going to raid the Mavi Marmara, and I don’t remember anybody objecting except Haaretz’s Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, the only prominent journalists who dissent anymore when it’s time to lock and load. The same unanimity was behind Operation Cast Lead, and very nearly the same behind the Second Lebanon War.

Now it’s happening again. Assuming it is responsible, the Netanyahu government either believes it can blow up Iranian nuclear scientists every month or so with impunity because the Iranians are afraid to hit back, or it’s deliberately trying to provoke an Iranian retaliation to give it a pretext for war.

Either way, the government appears to be acting with insane recklessness that could set off a cataclysm with Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, maybe Egypt and who knows who else. And this whole country, all 7.8 million citizens of this vibrant democracy, are sitting back and watching it happen.