Evading the crucial issue of how Israel might repair the self-inflicted damage to its national security and avoid blundering into a disastrous war with Iran, the Zionist right instead launches a personal attack on retired Mossad chief Dagan. Meanwhile, Iran calmly continues its emergence as a regional power.
Illustrating the degree to which some right-wing Israeli politicians are in denial about global realities, they have launched a campaign to attack Dagan for his honesty [Jerusalem Post June 6, 2011]. Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz of the Zionist, nationalist, expansionist Habayit Hayehudi party even called for Dagan to be put on trial. Nothing is more threatening to those in denial than the truth, and nothing is more threatening to a nation’s security than being in denial.
Following the typical tactics of extremists attempting to stifle democratic dialogue, Herschkowitz accused Dagan, who was calling attention to a threat to Israeli security, of harming it! And the issue concerns only Dagan’s expression of his personal opinion, not the revelation of secrets, as in the case of patriotic whistleblower Bradley Manning. To hear the militant right tell it, it is not the weakness that is to be feared but admitting and attempting to correct the weakness. Only denial, it seems, can be patriotic.
He should be commended for his responsible and courageous act. If Dagan the civilian is worried, if he thinks it’s a matter of a threat to our existence at our doorstep, it is not only his right to make himself heard, it is his supreme duty. He should attempt to stop it, to act as a gatekeeper. If he acted otherwise, he would have been abusing his role as former Mossad director.
Whether or not one agrees with the opinions of Dagan (or Landau or Ashkenazi) is, from the perspective of Israeli national security, not the point. The issue for Israeli national security is to discover the truth, and the best route to that goal ever discovered is the free marketplace of ideas. That marketplace is as rich in Israel as in any country on earth, the last great feature of the old Israeli democratic ideal that remains vibrant in the face of the ultra-right challenge for its private version of political correctness. Those who accuse the long-term former head of Mossad of treachery are seeking to replace the national debate over foreign policy he and Ashkenazy are promoting with such a private version of political correctness. When voicing one’s opinion in public becomes treachery, democracy is dead, and state security will soon follow.
Dagan’s topic—the implications of a potential Israeli attack on Iran—is of the utmost significance for the future of Israel. Over the last decade, Iran’s cautious, rational (Emily Landau’s term) foreign policy has enabled it to emerge as a regional player of rising stature despite its vicious behavior toward domestic political opponents of the regime. Tehran has skillfully exploited missteps by its Washington adversary to transform Iraq from its primary enemy into an ally and simultaneously has exploited missteps by Tel Aviv, which stumbled into a draw in an unnecessary adventure in Lebanon in 2006 and behaved with shameless barbarism in its attack on helpless Gaza in 2009, to seize the role of chief spokesman for Levantine justice. More, Tehran has deepened ties with Ankara even as Tel Aviv has needlessly wrecked its own ties with Ankara. More recently, Tehran has lauded the Arab Spring and improved ties with Egypt while Tel Aviv has once again harmed its own cause by playing the bitter rejected suitor bad-mouthing the new Cairo. The result of this decade of Iranian foreign policy success and Israeli foreign policy failure (all at the hands of the expansionist, right-wing Israeli war party) is that Israel now finds itself in desperate need of a serious national debate over its long-term national security. Instead of meeting the critique of national security thinkers such as Dagan, Ashkenazi, and Dichter with thoughtful counter-arguments, however, the Israeli Zionist militants prefer to change the subject and libel the messengers.