Statistical analyses of Israeli politicians speech patterns show that they use the words "war" and "Iran" almost as much as all prepositions combined. This is partially because Hebrew favors prefixes over prepositions; yet, the picture is clear: Israel is obsessed with attacking Iran. This became especially true during Benjamin Netanyahu’s second period as Prime Minister; the best testimony of this was the brutally belligerent speech he delivered last month at the UN General Assembly. Despite all his verbal violence, he didn't give the order to attack Iran because, right now, he cannot give such an order to the IDF. To win a war against Iran, Netanyahu needs American military and diplomatic help; the IDF can initiate a war with Iran, but it is unable to finish it properly. However, President Obama won’t allow such an attack before the upcoming presidential elections in the USA; the current administration is unfriendly towards Netanyahu. Finally, Netanyahu leads a complex coalitional government in which making decisions is difficult. To give an attack order, Netanyahu needs to change the game.
Using next year’s State Budget as an excuse, a few days ago Netanyahu announced early elections for January 2013 and changed the game (see Elections in January; War in …). Unless he commits gross errors, he has a good chance to strengthen his position in the next government. Beyond remaining Prime Minister, he wants to gain control of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The second weekend of October brought us the first battle of this campaign. Two senior politicians brought out the long knives; yet, instead of throwing them towards Iran—as usual—they threatened each other. The Israeli Night of the Long Knives will last from now until midwinter.
Ehud Barak - "Israeli, pay attention, if you reached this place (Barak's party), you are mistaken"
One of Netanyahu’s senior ministers is fighting for his political life. Ehud Barak is unlikely to keep his post as Minister of Defense in the next government. His Labor-spinoff party—“Independence” is its name—has little chance of passing the threshold needed to enter the Knesset (2%). Barak is conducting talks regarding the creation of a new party with members of Kadima, the Knesset's largest party. Even if he succeeded in this, getting a party large enough to become a central member of Netanyahu’s next coalition is a tough task. Aware of Barak’s problem, Netanyahu sent Moshe Ya’alon—Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs—to politically attack Barak. This Saturday, Ya’alon searched for the largest, sharpest, and brightest machete in his arsenal and threw it towards Barak. The still evolving event is remarkable, because neither side can claim to be promoting war, and because it shows Israeli bluffing tactics. The electorate wants peace. Accordingly, speaking at a "Shabbat Tarbut" lecture held in Holon, Ya’alon said “The defense minister preferred political considerations rather than national ones,” adding that Barak had allowed the state to push itself into a corner with an aggressive stance on Iran’s nuclear program. In other words, he presented Barak as a warmonger moron who was endangering the state.
One day after the event, Barak’s camp was still shocked. Its only reaction was through Independence Party Director-General Oshi Elmaliah, who accused Ya'alon of making “pathetic statements.” After all, Barak, Netanyahu, Ya'alon and others have been making the same statements during recent months. Ya’alon’s criticism of Barak is valid also towards Netanyahu—his boss—and himself.
Ehud Barak at left | Moshe Ya'alon fourth from left next to Shaul Mofaz
Ya'alon the Bluffer
This is not the first time Netanyahu sent his political thugs to hit Barak. A few months ago, he sent the Minister of Finance to block Barak's actions within the Ministry of Defense (see War Declared on Barak). This time, he sent out a heavy cannon. A few months ago, Moshe Ya'alon was caught redhanded trying to bluff Iran. On February 2, 2012, he issued a war warning against Iran. Aviv Kochavi, Head of AMAN (IDF Military Intelligence Corps) issued a supporting statement on the issue. During the event, Ya'alon said “the West has the ability to strike, but as long as Iran isn’t convinced that there is a determination to follow through with it, they’ll continue with their manipulations. The Iranians believe that a determination isn’t still there, both in regards to military action and in regards to sanctions. Any facility protected by humans, can be infiltrated by humans. It’s possible to strike all Iran’s facilities, and I say that out of my experience as IDF Chief of Staff.” This was a bluff. One week before Ya'alon's belligerent remarks, the Wall Street Journal reported remarks by US defense officials according to which the Pentagon is not in possession of conventional arms strong enough to destroy all of Iran’s nuclear facilities. As commented upon in the past, Israel gets its GBU-28 Bunker Buster bombs from the USA. Thus, Israel cannot perform better than the USA on such an attack, especially taking into account the IDF's limitations (see Israel Bluffs Iran for more on this event).
Yesterday, Ya'alon the Bluffer committed the same mistake. Out of electoral considerations, he presented himself and the Likud Party as peaceful lambs, who would consider war only as the last resort. He did so while blaming Barak on the belligerent Israeli talk of recent months, as if Barak had forced Netanyahu’s speeches. Barak was hit by Ya’alon, as Iran had been hit in February. Yet, justifying Ya’alon’s hint of Barak being a warmonger moron, the latter was left speechless and unable to answer the amazing insolence of Ya’alon.
Right now, Barak is searching within his dusty closets for a machete sharp enough to allow a proper fight among the Sayeret Matkal oligarchy. In early 2011, Sayeret Matkal—IDF’s best commando unit—finished its silent, South American-style coup d’état in Israel; Netanyahu, Barak, Ya’alon, the Mossad Director and many of the most powerful positions in Israel are held these days by former members of this unit. Having defeated all others, they are turning their commando knives towards each other. Until the upcoming elections they’ll forget about attacking Iran, preaching peace while bluffing and killing each other.