The miraculous antiwar uprising of the Israeli establishment

An uprising within the Israeli establishment is preventing an insane war from being started. In how many other countries could such a thing happen? This is a proud moment for Israel’s democracy.

People don’t realize what a miracle is taking place in this country. A revolt by the Israeli military/intelligence establishment and Israel’s best reporters, helped along by President Shimon Peres and ultimately enabled by the Obama administration, is stopping an insane war from being launched by Israel’s two ideologically insane political leaders, a war they’ve been planning for years.

The eight-member inner cabinet, or “octet,” which in recent weeks has been reported to be split evenly between pro-war and anti-war ministers, has now tilted anti-war, write Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer today in Yedioth Aharonoth. Not coincidentally, this shift comes as the heads of all the military and intelligence branches continue to stand solid as a rock against Bibi and Barak’s plans. They haven’t budged from their position that an Israeli attack without America behind it – and America isn’t – would do little damage to Iran’s nuclear facilities in return for a lot of death and destruction in this country, and end up strengthening Iran while weakening Israel, especially its relationship with the U.S.

Meanwhile, a public opinion poll in Ma’ariv today finds that while a slight majority of Israeli Jews favor an attack and a large majority of Israeli Arabs oppose it, a clear majority of both sectors say the political leadership does not have the “legitimacy” to start a war if the military and intelligence leadership is against it. (Overall, 44% agree, 33% disagree). Another nail in the coffin of Operation Never Again.

Bibi is showing signs of panicking, such as his accusation last week that the generals and spooks counseling him against war were “covering their asses” in case there is a war, it goes wrong and a commission of inquiry comes afterward to assign blame. As Kadima chairman and former IDF chief Shaul Mofaz told Barnea and Shiffer: “A prime minister who [publicly]  accuses the IDF chief of playing CYA in preparation for the day after is a weak prime minister.” A desperate one, I’d say.

Another blast of bad news for Bibi/Barak is that Obama has opened up a substantial lead over Romney; he’s in front by 4% in the polls, and way ahead in most of the “battleground states.” At this point, Israel’s two ubermenschen have to assume that they’re going to have Obama to deal with for a second term when he has no re-election to worry about, and that an attack on Iran on the eve of the November election would look like a Hail Mary attempt to save it for Romney, whom Bibi is making no secret of supporting.

In short, Bibi and Barak’s ship continues to sink. Their war plans have been scuttled by forces that have proven much more determined than I ever expected them to be: the Obama administration; the Israeli security establishment, retired and, most importantly, active; many of Israel’s most respected mainstream journalists (especially Barnea and Shiffer, Haaretz’s Amos Harel and Amir Oren, and Channel 10’s Immanuel Rosen and Alon Ben-David), who’ve gotten out the story that IDF chief Benny Gantz, IDF Intelligence head Aviv Kochavi, Air Force commander Amir Eshel, Mossad director Tamir Pardo and Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen are against a war; and Peres, whom Haaretz’s Ari Shavit described as “the true leader of the opposition … [who] is working with all his power to foil the move being advanced by Netanyahu and Barak.”

In recent years, I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to feel proud of Israel’s democracy, but I sure as hell do now as I watch this uprising against two men’s lunacy, and I see that the uprising is winning – as far as I’m concerned, it’s won. In how many other countries would you see such a backlash within the upper reaches of the establishment – the military and intelligence branches, the media, the presidency – against a war being sold as a war of national survival, a war to prevent national extinction, by the unchallenged leaders of the country, each of whom thinks he’s God?

In any country, it would be a miracle. It’s happening here, and what it shows is that Israel is still alive.

Related: Anonymous decision-maker advocating war with Iran is Ehud Barak 

Ari Shavit interview: A bootlicking masterclass