The signing of the nuclear accords with Iran is the great failure of both Right and Left. In Israel, the only question being asked in Israel right now is if Netanyahu correctly managed Israel’s retreat. If that is the question, then the answer is that nobody could have fought a rear-guard war better than Netanyahu.
But the catastrophic point is that even now, after the nuclear deal has been finalized, nobody is asking the basic, obvious questions: Where did we go wrong?
How did we get into this mess?
Why did we enter into a rear-guard war?
Why didn’t we employ Begin’s Iraq nuclear-reactor bombing tactics a decade ago, when operationally and diplomatically it would have been much easier? After all, for sixty years we have been dragging every visiting VIP to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem to explain to them why we need a state. So how is it that when a hostile state boldly declares that it is planning a new Auschwitz and time and again threatens to destroy Israel, we turn once again to the US and British air forces, expecting them to bomb the railroad tracks for us?
For years I have been warning of the catastrophic consequences of trusting others with Israel’s security – in countless articles, media interviews, Likud faction meetings, in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, as well as in personal conversation with Defense Minister Ya’alon and PM Netanyahu.
Any serious debate on this subject was prevented by the fact that there is simply no Opposition in Israel – not in the media and not in politics. All that Opposition leader Herzog has to say today is that if Netanyahu had played his cards right, we could have gotten some sort of consolation prize from the US.
That is a classic case of hypocrisy. After all, Netanyahu adopted his dangerous pass-the-buck strategy and declined to follow in Begin’s footsteps specifically because he feared Israel’s Left, including its branches in the IDF and the Mossad, who forcefully opposed any Israeli initiative.
That fact does not absolve the Prime Minister of responsibility for this devastating failure. In the face of political challenge on the home-front, a real leader must know how to put the Opposition in its place, as Begin did.
But as the details of the nuclear accords unfold, we should understand just how pitiful the current debate in Israel really is. We must understand that the premise of both Right and Left has totally collapsed. And we must adopt a new mode of dealing with Israel’s existential challenges.