Israel and the Iraq War

When America succeeds in Iraq,
Israel is safer....
The friends of Israel know it.
The friends who care for Israel know it.

Ehud Olmert, Prime Minster of Israel
address to AIPAC

This document contains

Emphasis and some comments have been added;
some minor reformatting has been done.

Excerpts from
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

Here is an excerpt from Mearsheimer and Walt’s seminal 2007 book
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.
The emphasis is added.

Chapter 8
Iraq and Dreams of
Transforming the Middle East

Section 8.1
Israel and the Iraq War

Israel has always considered Iraq an enemy,
but it became especially concerned about Iraq in the mid-1970s,
when France agreed to provide Saddam with a nuclear reactor.
For good reason, Israel worried that
Iraq might use the reactor as a stepping-stone to building nuclear weapons.
Responding to the threat, in 1981,
the Israelis bombed the Osirak reactor before it became operational. [n. 8.16]
Despite this setback,
Iraq continued working on its nuclear programs
in dispersed and secret locations.
This situation helps explain
Israel’s enthusiastic support for the first Gulf War in 1991;
its main concern was not to push Iraqi troops out of Kuwait
but to topple Saddam and especially to make sure that
Iraq’s nuclear program was dismantled. [n. 8.17]
Although the United States did not remove Saddam from power,
the UN inspections regime imposed on Baghdad after the war
reduced—but did not eliminate—Israel’s concerns.
In fact,
Ha’aretz reported on February 26, 2001, that
“Sharon believes that
Iraq poses more of a threat to regional stability than Iran,
due to the errant, irresponsible behavior of Saddam Hussein’s regime.”

[n. 8.18]

Sharon’s comments notwithstanding, by early 2002,
when it was becoming increasingly apparent that
the Bush-43 administration
was thinking seriously about another war against Iraq,
some Israeli leaders told U.S. officials that
they thought Iran was a greater threat. [n. 8.19]
They were not opposed to toppling Saddam, however,
and Israel’s leaders, who are rarely reticent
when it comes to giving their American counterparts advice,
never tried
to convince the Bush administration not to go to war against Iraq.
Nor did the Israeli government
ever try to mobilize its supporters in the United States
to lobby against the invasion.
On the contrary,
Israeli leaders were worried only that
the United States might lose sight of the Iranian threat
in its pursuit of Saddam.
Once they realized that
the Bush administration was countenancing a bolder scheme,
one that called for winning quickly in Iraq
and then dealing with Iran and Syria,
they began to push vigorously for an American invasion.

In short,
Israel did not initiate the campaign for war against Iraq.
As will become clear,
it was the neoconservatives in the United States who conceived that idea
and were principally responsible for pushing it forward
in the wake of September 11.
But Israel did join forces with the neoconservatives
to help sell the war to the Bush administration and the American people,
well before the president had made the final decision to invade.
Israeli leaders worried constantly in the months before the war
that President Bush might decide not to go to war after all,
and they did what they could to ensure Bush did not get cold feet.

The Israelis began their efforts in the spring of 2002,
a few months before the Bush administration launched its own campaign
to sell the Iraq war to the American public.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
came to Washington in mid-April and met with U.S. senators
and the editors of the Washington Post, among others,
to warn them that Saddam was developing nuclear weapons
that could be delivered against the American homeland in suitcases or satchels.
[n. 8.20]
A few weeks later,
Ra’anan Gissen, Sharon’s spokesman, told a Cleveland reporter that
“if Saddam Hussein is not stopped now, five years from now, six years from now,
we will have to deal with an Iraq that is armed with nuclear weapons,
with an Iraq that has delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction.
[n. 8.21]

In mid-May, Shimon Peres,
the former Israeli prime minister now serving as foreign minister,
appeared on CNN, where he said that
“Saddam Hussein is as dangerous as bin Laden,”
and the United States “cannot sit and wait” while he builds a nuclear arsenal.
Indeed, Peres insisted, it was time to topple the Iraqi leader. [n. 8.22]
A month later, Ehud Barak, another former Israeli prime minister,
wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post
recommending that the Bush administration
“should, first of all, focus on Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein.
Once he is gone there will be a different Arab world.” [n. 8.23]

On August 12, 2002,
Sharon told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset that
Iraq “is the greatest danger facing Israel.”
[n. 8.24]
Then, on August 16,
ten days before Vice President Cheney kicked off the campaign for war
with a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Nashville, Tennessee,
several newspapers and television and radio networks
(including Ha’aretz, the Washington Post, CNN, and CBS News)
reported that
Israel was urging the United States not to delay an attack on Iraq.
Sharon told the Bush administration that postponing the operation
“will not crate a more convenient environment for action in the future.”
Putting off an attack, Ra’anan Gissen said,
would “only give him (Saddam) more of an opportunity
to accelerate his program of weapons of mass destruction.”
Perhaps CBS best captured what was going on in the headline for its story:
“Israel to US: Don’t Delay Iraq Attack.”
[n. 8.25]

Peres and Sharon both made sure to emphasize that
they “did not want to be seen as urging the United States to act
and that America should act according to its own judgment.” [n. 8.26]
Israeli leaders—and many of their supporters in the United States—
were well aware that some American commentators, most notably Patrick Buchanan,
had argued that the driving force behind the 1991 Gulf War was
“the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States.”
[n. 8.27]
Denying any responsibility made good political sense,
but there is no question—based on their own public comments—
that by August 2002
Israel’s leaders saw Saddam as a threat to the Jewish state
and were encouraging the Bush administration
to launch a war to remove him from power.

New stories around the same time also reported that
“Israeli intelligence officials have gathered evidence that
Iraq is speeding up efforts to produce biological and chemical weapons.”
[n. 8.28]
Peres told CNN that
“we think and know that he [Saddam]
is on his way to acquiring a nuclear option.” [n. 8.29]
Ha’aretz reported that
Saddam had given an “order … to Iraq’s Atomic Energy Commission last week
to speed up its work.” [n. 8.30]
Israel was feeding these alarming reports about Iraq’s WMD programs
to Washington at a time when, by Sharon’s own reckoning,
“strategic coordination between Israel and the U.S.
has reached unprecedented dimensions.” [n. 8.31]
Following the invasion and the revelation that there were no WMD in Iraq,
the (U.S.) Senate Intelligence Committee and the Israeli Knesset
released separate reports revealing that
much of the intelligence Israel gave to the Bush administration was false.
As one retired Israeli general [Shlomo Brom] put it,
“Israeli intelligence was a full partner to
the picture presented by American and British intelligence
regarding Iraq’s non-conventional capabilities.” [n. 8.32]

Of course, Israel is hardly the first state
to push another country to take a costly or risky action on its behalf.
States facing external dangers often try to pass the buck to others,
and the United States has a rich tradition of similar behavior itself. [n. 8.33]
It backed Saddam Hussein in the 1980s
in order to help contain the threat from revolutionary Iran,
and it armed and backed the Afghan mujahideen
following the Soviet invasion of that country in 1979.
The United States did not send its own troops to fight these wars;
it merely did what it could to help others—
who had their own reasons for fighting—
do the heavy lifting.

Given their understandable desire
to have the United States eliminate a regional rival,
it is not surprising that Israeli leaders were distressed
when President Bush decided to seek UN Security Council authorization for war
in September 2002,
and even more worried
when Saddam agreed to let UN inspectors back into Iraq.
These developments troubled Israel’s leaders
because they seemed to reduce the likelihood of war.
Foreign Minister Peres told reporters
“The campaign against Saddam Hussein is a must.
Inspections and inspectors are good for decent people,
but dishonest people can overcome easily inspections and inspectors.”
[n. 8.34]
On a visit to Moscow in late September,
Sharon made it clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin,
who was leading the charge for new inspections,
that it was too late for them to be effective. [n. 8.35]
Peres became so frustrated with the UN process in the following months
that in mid-February 2003 he lashed out at France
by questioning its status as a permanent member of the Security Council.
[n. 8.36]

Israel’s adamant opposition to inspections
put it in a lonely and awkward position,
as Marc Perelman made clear in an article
(“Iraqi Move Puts Israel In Lonely U.S. Corner;
Peres: Ousting Saddam a ‘Must’ ”
in the Forward in mid-September 2002:
“Saddam Hussein’s surprise acceptance of
‘unconditional’ United Nations weapons inspections
put Israel on the hot seat this week,
forcing it into the open as
the only nation actively supporting
the Bush administration’s goal of Iraqi regime change.”

[n. 8.37]

Pressing ahead in the face of UN diplomacy,
Israelis portrayed Saddam in the direst terms,
often comparing him to Adolf Hitler.
If the West did not stand up to Iraq, they claimed,
it would be making the same mistake it made with Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
Shlomo Avineri, a prominent Israeli scholar,
wrote in the Los Angeles Times that
“all who condemn the 1930s appeasement of Germany
should reflect long and hard on whether a failure to act today against Iraq
will one day be viewed the same way.” [n. 8.38]
The implication was unmistakable:
anyone who opposed invading Iraq—
or, as we have seen, pushed Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians—
was an appeaser, just like Neville Chamberlain,
and bound to be regarded as such by future generations.
The Jerusalem Post was especially hawkish,
frequently running editorials and op-eds favoring the war
and rarely running pieces arguing against it. [n. 8.39]
Indeed, it went so far as to editorialize that
“ousting Saddam is the linchpin of the war on terrorism,
without which it is impossible to begin in earnest, let alone win.” [n. 8.40]

Other Israeli public figures
echoed Peres and Sharon’s advocacy for war instead of diplomatic wrangling.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak
wrote a New York Times op-ed in early September 2002 claiming that
“Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-weapons program
provides the urgent need for his removal.”

He went on to warn that
“the greatest risk now lies in inaction.”
[n. 8.41]
His predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu,
published a similar piece a few weeks later in the Wall Street Journal
titled “The Case for Toppling Saddam.”
Netanyahu declared,
“Today nothing less than dismantling his regime will do,”
adding that
“I believe I speak for the overwhelming majority of Israelis
in supporting a pre-emptive strike against Saddam’s regime,”

which he claimed
was “feverishly trying to acquire nuclear weapons.” [n. 8.42]

Netanyahu’s influence, of course,
extended well beyond writing op-eds and appearing on television.
Having gone to high school, college, and graduate school in the United States,
he speaks fluent English
and is not only familiar with how the American political system works
but operates skillfully in it.
He has close ties with neoconservatives inside and outside of the Bush administration,
and he has extensive contacts on Capitol Hill,
where he has either spoken or testified on numerous occasions. [n. 8.43]
Barak is also well connected with
American policy makers, politicians, security experts, and pundits.

The Israeli government’s war fervor did not diminish
in the months before the fighting started.
Ha’aretz, for example, ran a story on February 17, 2003, titled
Enthusiastic IDF Awaits War in Iraq,”
which said that
Israel’s “military and political leadership yearns for war in Iraq.”
Ten days later James Bennet wrote a story in the New York Times
with the headline
Israel Says War on Iraq Would Benefit the Region.”
The Forward published a piece on March 7, 2003, titled
Jerusalem Frets as U.S. Battles Iraq War Delays,”
which made it clear that
Israel’s leaders were hoping for war sooner rather than later. [n. 8.44]

Given all this activity,
it is unsurprising that Bill Clinton [42] recounted in 2006 that
“every Israeli politician I knew” believed that
Saddam Hussein was so great a threat
that he should be removed even if he did not have WMD. [n. 8.45]
Nor was the desire for war confined to Israel’s leaders.
Apart from Kuwait, which Saddam conquered in 1990,
Israel was the only country outside of the United States
where a majority of politicians and the public enthusiastically favored war.

A poll taken in early 2002 found that
58 percent of Israeli Jews
believed that
“Israel should encourage the United States to attack Iraq.”

[n. 8.46]
Another poll taken a year later in February 2003 found that
77.5 percent of Israeli Jews
wanted the United States to invade Iraq.

[n. 8.47]

[Note that,
using the reported statistic that the Israeli population is 76 percent Jewish,
that would mean that
at least .76 × .775 = .59 (i.e., 59 percent) of the total Israeli population
favored the war.]

Even in Tony Blair’s Britain,
a poll taken just before the war revealed that
51 percent of the respondents opposed it,
while only 39 percent supported it. [n. 8.48]

This rather unusual situation prompted Gideon Levy of Ha’aretz to ask,
“Why is it that in England
50,000 people have demonstrated against the war in Iraq,
whereas in Israel no one has?
Why is it that in Israel
there is no public debate about whether the war is necessary?”
He went on to say,
“Israel is the only country in the West
whose leaders support the war unreservedly
and where no alternative opinion is voiced.”
[n. 8.49]

Israel’s enthusiasm for war eventually led some of its allies in America
to tell Israeli officials to damp down their hawkish rhetoric,
lest the war look like it was being fought for Israel. [n. 8.50]
In the fall of 2002, for example,
a group of American political consultants known as the Israel Project
circulated a six-page memorandum
to key Israelis and pro-Israel leaders in the United States.
The memo was titled “Talking about Iraq”
and it was intended as a guide for public statements about the war.
“If your goal is regime change,
you must be much more careful with your language
because of the potential backlash.
You do not want Americans to believe that
the war on Iraq is being waged to protect Israel
rather than to protect America.” [n. 8.51]

Reflecting that same concern on the eve of the war, [Ariel] Sharon,
according to several reports,
told Israeli diplomats and politicians
to keep quiet about a possible war in Iraq
and certainly not to say anything that made it appear
that Israel was pushing the Bush 43 administration to topple Saddam.
The Israeli leader was worried by the growing perception
that Israel was advocating a U.S. invasion of Iraq.
In fact, Israel was;
it just did not want its position to be widely known. [n. 8.52]

Endnotes to Chapter 8

Endnote 8.44

Aluf Benn,
“Enthusiastic IDF awaits war in Iraq”


James Bennet,
“Israel Says War on Iraq Would Benefit The Region”


Chemi Shalev,
“Jerusalem Frets As U.S. Battles Iraq War Delays
Nation’s Ills Await ‘Deus ex Machina’ ”

Endnote 8.46

Asher Arian,
“Israeli Public Opinion on National Security 2002” (PDF),
Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv University,
July 2002

[Page 10:]
Fifty-eight percent of the sample
thought that Israel should encourage the United States to attack Iraq.

Endnote 8.47

Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Dr. Tamar Hermann,
“Most Israelis support the attack on Iraq”
[In addition to that reference, Mearsheimer and Walt add the following:]
In a poll taken in Israel in early May 2007,
59 percent of the respondents said that
the U.S. decision to invade Iraq was correct.
“Poll Shows That Israel Is a Staunch American Ally,”
Anti-Defamation League press release, May 18, 2007.
By that time, most Americans had concluded that the war was a tragic mistake.

Endnote 8.49

Gideon Levy,
“A deafening silence”

Endnote 8.51

Dana Milbank,
“Group Urges Pro-Israel Leaders’ Silence on Iraq”

From the 2006 paper
“The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”

Here is a selection of the articles cited
in the endnotes to the section “Israel and the Iraq War”
in Mearsheimer and Walt’s “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”.
Emphasis and some comments have been added;
some minor reformatting has been done.

Endnote 139

Emad Mekay,
“War Launched to Protect Israel - Bush Adviser”

Endnote 140

Jason Keyser,
“Israel Urges U.S. to Attack Iraq”


Aluf Benn,
“PM urging U.S. not to delay strike against Iraq”


Reuven Pedhatzur,
“Israel's interest in the war on Saddam”

Endnote 141

Gideon Alon,
“Sharon to panel: Iraq is our biggest danger”


Robert G. Kaiser,
“Bush and Sharon Nearly Identical On Mideast Policy”

Endnote 142

Shlomo Brom,
“The War in Iraq: An Intelligence Failure?”


“Israeli Intelligence on Iraq: Selections from the Media”


Dan Baron,
“Israeli report blasts intelligence for exaggerating the Iraqi threat”


James Risen,
State of War

Endnote 143

Marc Perelman,
“Iraqi Move Puts Israel In Lonely U.S. Corner;
Peres: Ousting Saddam a ‘Must’”

Endnote 144

Ehud Barak,
“Taking Apart Iraq's Nuclear Threat”

Endnote 145

Benjamin Netanyahu,
“The Case for Toppling Saddam”

Endnote 146

Aluf Benn,
“Enthusiastic IDF awaits war in Iraq”


James Bennet,
“Israel Says War on Iraq Would Benefit The Region”


Chemi Shalev,
“Jerusalem Frets As U.S. Battles Iraq War Delays
Nation’s Ills Await ‘Deus ex Machina’ ”

Endnote 147

Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Dr. Tamar Hermann,
“Most Israelis support the attack on Iraq”

Endnote 148

Gideon Levy,
“A deafening silence”

Endnote 149

Dana Milbank,
“Group Urges Pro-Israel Leaders’ Silence on Iraq”


Lawrence F. Kaplan,
“Whose Jews?”

Endnote 139

War Launched to Protect Israel - Bush Adviser

by Emad Mekay


“Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us?
I'll tell you
what I think the real threat (is)
and actually has been since 1990
it's the threat against Israel,”

[Philip] Zelikow told a crowd at the University of Virginia on Sep. 10, 2002,
speaking on a panel of foreign policy experts assessing the impact of 9/11
and the future of the war on the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation.

“And this is the threat that dare not speak its name,
because the Europeans don't care deeply about that threat,
I will tell you frankly.
And the American government doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell,”
said Zelikow.

[Mearsheimer and Walt actually cite a secondary source.

A similar understanding was expressed by former Senator Fritz Hollings:
With Iraq no threat, why invade a sovereign country?
The answer:
President Bush's policy to secure Israel.

Endnote 140

Israel Urges U.S. to Attack Iraq

By Jason Keyser
Associated Press
August 16, 2002

Israel is urging U.S. officials not to delay
a military strike against Iraq's Saddam Hussein,

an aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Friday.

Israeli intelligence officials have gathered evidence
that Iraq is speeding up efforts to produce biological and chemical weapons,

said Sharon aide Ranaan Gissin.

“Any postponement of an attack on Iraq at this stage will serve no purpose,”
Gissin told The Associated Press.
“It will only give him (Saddam) more of an opportunity
to accelerate his program of weapons of mass destruction.”

[Also reported by CBS.]

PM urging U.S. not to delay strike against Iraq

Last update - 03:05 16/08/2002

By Aluf Benn

Israel is pressing the United States not to defer action
aimed at toppling Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has sent messages to the U.S. administration in recent days saying that postponing the Iraq operation
"will not create a more convenient environment for action in the future."
But Sharon added that Israel would support any American action,
and would respect U.S. decisions regarding the method and the timing.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres sent a similar message yesterday
during an interview with CNN television.
"The problem today is not if, but when,"
he said, adding that while attacking now would be
"quite dangerous... postponing it would be more dangerous,"
as "he [Saddam] will have more weapons."

But like Sharon, Peres also added a disclaimer,
saying he did not want to be seen as urging the United States to act
and that America should act according to its own judgment.
Israel, he said, "will be a good soldier"
in the camp led by President George W. Bush.

Israel's interest in the war on Saddam

By Reuven Pedhatzur

A heated argument over the question of the war against Iraq
is currently under way in Washington.
While President Bush and his close advisers, particularly from the Pentagon,
are determined to launch a war against Iraq,
there are voices in Congress and even among the military top brass
calling for restraint and caution and an attempt to first exhaust the diplomatic channels.
Israel should hope that those calling for war gain the upper hand,
because if Saddam is not toppled,
it will not be long before Israel is threatened by nuclear weapons,
not to mention biological and chemical ones.

Endnote 141

Sharon to panel: Iraq is our biggest danger

By Gideon Alon

Last update - 01:19 13/08/2002

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iraq "is the greatest danger facing Israel."

Asked by Labor Party MK Ophir Pines-Paz and Shas MK Yitzhak Cohen
if Israel plans to attack Iraq if Baghdad attacks Israel,
Sharon said that
"we don't know for certain if the U.S. will attack Iraq.
Iraq is a great danger.
It could be said it is the greatest danger.

We aren't intervening in U.S. decisions."
But he said that
"strategic coordination between Israel and the U.S.
has reached unprecedented dimensions."

Bush and Sharon Nearly Identical On Mideast Policy

by Robert G. Kaiser

Washington Post, February 9, 2003


For the first time,
a U.S. administration and a Likud government in Israel
are pursuing nearly identical policies.

Earlier U.S. administrations, from Jimmy Carter's through Bill Clinton's,
held Likud and Sharon at arm's length,
distancing the United States from
Likud's traditionally tough approach to the Palestinians.
But today, as Thomas Neumann,
executive director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, noted,
Israel and the United States share a common view on
terrorism, peace with the Palestinians, war with Iraq and more.


In December Bush appointed an articulate, hard-line critic of the traditional peace process, Elliott Abrams, director of Mideast affairs for the National Security Council.

"The Likudniks are really in charge now,"
said a senior government official,
using a Yiddish term for supporters of Sharon's political party.
Neumann agreed that Abrams's appointment was symbolically important,
not least because Abrams's views were shared
by his boss, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice,
by Vice President Cheney and
by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
"It's a strong lineup," he said.


Said Meyrav Wurmser of the Hudson Institute, who shares his outlook:
"Elliott's appointment is a signal that the hard-liners in the administration
are playing a more central role in shaping policy."
She added that "the hard-liners are a very unique group.
The hawks in the administration are in fact people who are the biggest advocates of democracy and freedom in the Middle East."
She was referring to the idea that
promoting democracy is the best way to assure Israel's security,
because democratic countries are less likely to attack a neighbor than dictatorships.
Adherents of this view have argued that creating a democratic Palestine and a democratic Iraq could have a positive impact on the entire region.

Some Middle East hands who disagree with these supporters of Israel refer to them as "a cabal," in the words of one former official. Members of the group do not hide their friendships and connections, or their loyalty to strong positions in support of Israel and Likud.

One of Abrams's mentors, Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, led a study group that proposed to Binyamin Netanyahu, a Likud prime minister of Israel from 1996 to 1999, that he abandon the Oslo peace accords negotiated in 1993 and reject the basis for them -- the idea of trading "land for peace." Israel should insist on Arab recognition of its claim to the biblical land of Israel, the 1996 report suggested, and should "focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq."


Rumsfeld echoed the Perle group's analysis
in a little-noted comment to Pentagon employees last August about
"the so-called occupied territories."
Rumsfeld said:
"There was a war [in 1967],
Israel urged neighboring countries not to get involved . . .
they all jumped in, and
they lost a lot of real estate to Israel because Israel prevailed in that conflict.
In the intervening period,
they've made some settlements in some parts of the so-called occupied area,
which was the result of a war, which they won."


After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,
Sharon began immediately to argue that
Israel and the United States were fighting the same enemy,
international terrorism.

Over the months that followed --
months marked by escalating violence in Israel and the West Bank --
Bush and Sharon grew closer, personally and politically.
By the end of last year the two had met seven times
and talked on many more occasions by telephone
(with Sharon doing nearly all the talking, Israeli officials said).
Said a senior official of the first Bush administration
[Sounds like Scowcroft.]
who is critical of this one:
"Sharon played the president like a violin:
'I'm fighting your war, terrorism is terrorism,' and so on.
Sharon did a masterful job."

Endnote 142

The War in Iraq: An Intelligence Failure?

Strategic Assessment (Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv University), Vol. 6, No. 3 (2003-11)

by Shlomo Brom

Israeli intelligence was a full partner
to the picture presented by American and British intelligence
regarding Iraq's non-conventional capabilities.


Israel has no reason to regret the outcome of the war in Iraq.
Saddam's regime was hostile to Israel,
it supported Palestinian terrorism, and
there was reason to believe that it would resume
developing and producing surface-to-surface missiles and weapons of mass destruction when able.


It is standard procedure in Israel to inquire into failures
for which the country has paid dearly.
In the case of the war in Iraq,
Israel's gains from the outcome of the war
were exponentially greater than

the price paid for the failures of the assessments
made by Israeli intelligence and senior decision-makers.

Therefore, the natural tendency is to bury the issue and forget about it.

Israeli Intelligence on Iraq: Selections from the Media

Strategic Assessment (Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv University), Vol. 6, No. 3 (2003-11)

Ma'ariv, October 2, 2002
The head of the research division of IDF Intelligence,
Brig. Gen. Yossi Kupperwasser, said that
the intelligence report presented by Britain's Prime Minister
concerning Iraq's non-conventional capabilities
is "comprehensive and correct."


Ma'ariv, February 6, 2003
Israeli defense officials said that the information revealed by Powell
is consistent with the intelligence information in Israel's hands,

namely, that Saddam Hussein has several dozen Scud missiles
that he has successfully hidden from UN inspectors,
as well as caches of chemical and biological weapons.

Israeli report blasts intelligence for exaggerating the Iraqi threat

by Dan Baron

JERUSALEM, March 28, 2004 (JTA) — Israel’s foreign intelligence services have come under public scrutiny with revelations they overestimated one major threat while underplaying another.

Hot on the heels of the testimony of former U.S. counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke accusing the Bush administration of ignoring pre-Sept. 11 U.S. intelligence reports because it was focused on Iraq, the Steinitz Report issued on Sunday blasted those in Israel who had pushed for the war on Iraq.

The 80-page report, compiled by the Knesset Subcommittee on Secret Services under lawmaker Yuval Steinitz, lambasted prewar assessments by Mossad and military intelligence officials that it was “very likely” Saddam Hussein had missiles with non-conventional payloads aimed at Israel.

That perceived threat prompted the Defense Ministry to issue millions of gas masks and order citizens to prepare sealed rooms, at a cost of millions of dollars.

“The military and political upper echelons are responsible for the mess-up,”
said the Steinitz Report,
which charged Israeli intelligence analysts
with overconfidence and oversimplification.

The report also said Mossad and military intelligence officials are in need of a major overhaul after they failed to track Libya’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi abandoned the program in December in negotiations with the United States and Britain that were kept secret from Israel.

“The idea that a hostile nation like Libya, with an unpredictable leader like Gaddafi, was in the running to develop a militarized nuclear industry, without Israel getting the necessary advance warning from its intelligence service to act preventively or at least prepare accordingly, is — to put it mildly — intolerable,” the report said.

“The prime ministers lack the proper tools that would afford them real oversight and orientation on the intelligence apparatus and building a real force for intelligence analysis.”

Israel stayed on the sidelines of the Iraq war out of concerns its involvement would alienate the few U.S. allies in the Arab world.

But Israeli intelligence assessments were regularly fed to Washington.

“It is not inconceivable that
assessments passed by an Israeli intelligence agency . . . to a friendly agency
were bounced back and force,
played a key role in that friendly agency’s planning, and
ultimately ended up with the agency where they originated
in the form of an analysis by an altogether different agency.
Such assessments would immediately be perceived as
another authoritative body bolstering and verifying the original Israeli view,”

the report said.

[Such “hall of mirrors” effects have been familiar to man for at least 3,000 years.
It is hard to believe that organizations as sophisticated as the CIA and Mossad
do not have mechanisms in place to prevent such effects—
that is, if they want to prevent them.
What I am saying is that it is hard to believe that
the cavalcade of “errors” that took us to war could have happened
by chance.
I believe that the systematic drive of our elite that took us to war
was the result of this:
What the Jewish community sufficiently wants to happen,
the Jewish community has, in many cases,
both the will and the ability to make happen.]

Yet asked by reporters if
Israeli intelligence might have misled the United States and its ally Britain
as to Iraq’s real capabilities, Steinitz was more circumspect.

“American and British intelligence services
had much better access to Iraq by simply sitting in Kuwait and other locations,
and by being able to fly almost freely over Iraqi soil,” he said.

[For a differing view,
see these remarks of former U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings.]

U.S. and British officials did not comment.


James Risen,
State of War,
pages 72–73

Israeli intelligence played a hidden role
in convincing [U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul] Wolfowitz
that he couldn’t trust the CIA,
according to a former senior Pentagon colleague.
Israeli intelligence officials frequently traveled to Washington
to brief top American officials,

but CIA analysts were often skeptical of Israeli intelligence reports,
knowing that Mossad had very strong—even transparent—biases
about the Arab world.
After each Israeli briefing,
the CIA would issue reports that were circulated throughout the government,
but they often discounted much of what the Israelis had provided.
Wolfowitz and other conservatives at the Pentagon
became enraged by this practice;
they had begun meeting personally
with top Israeli intelligence officials

and know which elements of the Mossad briefings the CIA was downplaying.
“And so Paul got angry,” said one former Pentagon official.
[That’s right.
How dare those Goyishe Kopf over at the CIA dare to question the Israelis!]

[For a little context for the above paragraph, see here,
while for another view, see Hersh.]

Endnote 143

Iraqi Move Puts Israel In Lonely U.S. Corner;
Peres: Ousting Saddam a ‘Must’


Saddam Hussein's surprise acceptance
of "unconditional" United Nations weapons inspections
put Israel on the hot seat this week,
forcing it into the open as

the only nation actively supporting
the Bush administration's goal of Iraqi regime change.

Israel and its supporters have insisted for weeks that while they sympathize with the administration's hard-line stance toward Baghdad, they were reluctant to advocate any position openly. The reluctance was fueled by fears that critics would claim the United States was going to war on Israel's behalf — or even, as some have suggested, at Israel's behest.

But Israel's diffident stance appeared untenable this week after most capitals welcomed the Iraqi announcement Monday that it would accept the return of weapons inspectors without conditions. The Iraqi gambit seems to have reversed the momentum created by President Bush's forceful speech to the U.N. General Assembly on September 12 and left only Jerusalem, and to a lesser extent London, backing Washington in its determination for regime change in Iraq.

"The campaign against Saddam Hussein is a must,"
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres flatly told reporters this week in New York,
after a meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell.
"Inspections and inspectors are good for decent people,
but dishonest people can overcome easily inspections and inspectors."

"Saddam Hussein is the dictator with the worst record,"
Peres said.
"This is not a war against Iraq. It is a campaign against Saddam Hussein."

Endnote 144

Taking Apart Iraq's Nuclear Threat

by Ehud Barak (prime minister of Israel from 1999 to 2001)

Copyright New York Times Company Sept. 4, 2002

President Bush's policy of ousting Saddam Hussein creates an extraordinary standard of strategic and moral clarity. Millions in the Middle East, including many Iraqis, are praying that the in-depth, genuine -- and so typically American -- public debate that is developing before our eyes about Iraq will not dilute this clarity.

On a practical level, the whole debate can be reduced to three questions:
  • whether a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an inspection regime of the greatest rigor is needed now;

  • whether unilateral or multilateral action against Saddam Hussein would need to honor the timetable of such a resolution; and

  • whether the resolution's wording or timetable would provide Mr. Hussein with the means to postpone or cancel a future attack against him.

Saddam Hussein's nuclear-weapons program
provides the urgent need for his removal.

His previous violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions already provide the legal ground and legitimacy to remove him before it becomes too late. But at the end of the day, given the world as it is, a Security Council resolution is a must. Every choice has its risks, but ignoring the Security Council in this case would make the goal of removing Saddam Hussein much harder to achieve.

Such a resolution should not, however, paralyze the Bush administration. The timetables for compliance by Iraq should be short and the deadlines nonnegotiable. The risks of a resolution would be minimized by a clear American message that the United States will be ready to act and will expect the Security Council to back it if immediate and full Iraqi compliance is not forthcoming. If the United States does need to act, it will be in a much stronger position for having consulted first.

Those who prefer to wait and hope for the best should contemplate the following: no one really knows how close Saddam Hussein is to building a crude nuclear device -- and it was a crude device that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Few will doubt Mr. Hussein's readiness to use a nuclear weapon against American assets or against Israel, if only under extreme circumstances. Once Iraq becomes a nuclear power, the very decision to go to war against it would become a totally different ball game.

If Saddam Hussein is allowed to cheat the inspectors and the world for another year or two, we might end up making an unforgivable mistake. We in Israel have already been through this. Prime Minister Menachem Begin ordered the destruction of an Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad in 1981. This action delayed an Iraqi bomb by at least 15 years. The whole world condemned Israel -- only to realize later how farsighted it had been. Saddam Hussein now is much more cautious. His military-nuclear infrastructure is geographically spread out and protected to avoid a repetition of the 1981 defeat.

For a successful invasion of Iraq, two operational options are basically valid: a surgical operation to hit the core of the regime, and a full-scale operation to include major airborne and ground forces, perhaps 300,000 soldiers.

The interrelationship between these two options should be well understood. The surgical operation needs high-quality and timely intelligence and superb quick-response operational capabilities. The right thing to do is to have this option ready to go, because no one can know when or if the right moment will come to execute it.

If a surgical operation is launched and somehow fails, the point of no return has been reached and the United States will need to launch the wider operation immediately. When you launch a surgical operation, you must already be well deployed to follow it through with larger forces. That complicates matters: you need to be ready for a full-fledged campaign on the operational level and have the diplomatic backing lined up as well.

The “morning after” issue is also not simple. Many serious observers of the Middle East doubt whether a stable Iraq will emerge after Saddam Hussein's removal. They have a point. But so do those who argue that after 75 years of modern Iraq, a nation has been established that will stand the challenge.

Turkey will never support the effort to remove Saddam Hussein unless a firm commitment is made, in advance, not to allow a Kurdish state in northern Iraq. In regard to Iran, it may well see the benefits of having America, risking American lives, defeat Iran's major rival for the second time in 15 years. Whatever happens, some turbulence will result from Saddam Hussein's demise. But if he is removed decisively, it might accelerate positive internal processes within Iran -- and not simply excite Shiites in the south of Iraq to shake off government from Baghdad.

Finally, it is clear to me that putting an end to Saddam Hussein's regime will change the geopolitical landscape of the Arab world. No Arab leader can afford admitting it now, even behind closed doors. But they are wise enough to see how much better off they will be once the Hussein regime is gone. Saddam Hussein has set an example of defiance, especially against the first President Bush, that other Arab leaders cannot and should not emulate; the example leads only to empty gestures and developmental stagnation, both of which the Arab nations have had enough of already. There is a generation of Arab leaders about to come into power who do not need to put themselves through yet another version of secularist Nasserite despotism. An Arab world without Saddam Hussein would enable many from this generation to embrace the gradual democratic opening that some of the Persian Gulf states and Jordan have begun to enjoy.

Freeing the region of Saddam Hussein would also create an opening for forward movement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was only after Mr. Hussein's supporter, Yasir Arafat, found himself beaten and isolated in 1991 that he was willing to go to Madrid and enter fully into the Oslo peace process.

Nothing can be assured in advance.
But the opportunities far exceed the dangers.
The greatest risk now lies in inaction.

The history of the last century showed us clearly
what the price of paralysis can be.
The public debate over Iraq policy must continue.
But the readiness to act, once the time is ripe, should not fade away.

Endnote 145

The Case for Toppling Saddam

by Benjamin Netanyahu (prime minister of Israel from 1996 to 1999)

Copyright Dow Jones & Company Inc Sept. 20, 2002

Sept. 11 alerted most Americans to the grave dangers that are now facing our world. Most Americans understand that had al Qaeda possessed an atomic device last September, the city of New York would not exist today. They realize that last week we could have grieved not for thousands of dead, but for millions.

But for others around the world, the power of imagination is apparently not so acute. It appears that these people will have to once again see the unimaginable materialize in front of their eyes before they are willing to do what must be done. For how else can one explain opposition to President Bush's plan to dismantle Saddam Hussein's regime?

I do not mean to suggest that there are not legitimate questions about a potential operation against Iraq. Indeed, there are.
the question of whether removing Saddam's regime is itself legitimate
is not one of them.

Equally immaterial is the argument that America cannot oust Saddam
without prior approval of the international community.

This is a dictator
  • who is rapidly expanding his arsenal of biological and chemical weapons,

  • who has used these weapons of mass destruction
    against his subjects and his neighbors, and

  • who is feverishly trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

The dangers posed by a nuclear-armed Saddam were understood by my country two decades ago, well before Sept. 11. In 1981, Prime Minister Menachem Begin dispatched the Israeli air force on a predawn raid that destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak. Though at the time Israel was condemned by all the world's governments, history has rendered a far kinder judgment on that act of unquestionable foresight and courage.

Two decades ago it was possible to thwart Saddam's nuclear ambitions by bombing a single installation. Today nothing less than dismantling his regime will do. For Saddam's nuclear program has changed. He no longer needs one large reactor to produce the deadly material necessary for atomic bombs. He can produce it in centrifuges the size of washing machines that can be hidden throughout the country -- and Iraq is a very big country. Even free and unfettered inspections will not uncover these portable manufacturing sites of mass death.

We now know that had the democracies taken pre-emptive action to bring down Hitler's regime in the 1930s, the worst horrors in history could have been avoided. And we now know, from defectors and other intelligence, that had Israel not launched its pre-emptive strike on Saddam's atomic-bomb factory recent history would have taken a far more dangerous course.

I write this as a citizen of the country that is most endangered by a pre-emptive strike. For in the last gasps of his dying regime, Saddam may well attempt to launch his remaining missiles, with their biological and chemical warheads, at the Jewish state.

Though I am today a private citizen,
I believe I speak for the overwhelming majority of Israelis
in supporting a pre-emptive strike against Saddam's regime.

We support this American action even though we stand on the front-lines,while others criticize it as they sit comfortably on the sidelines.
But we know that their sense of comfort is an illusion.
For if action is not taken now,
we will all be threatened by a much greater peril.

We support this action because it is possible today to defend against chemical and biological attack. There are gas masks, vaccinations and other means of civil defense that can protect our citizens and reduce the risks to them.

Indeed, a central component of any strike on Iraq must be to ensure that the Israeli government, if it so chooses, has the means to vaccinate every citizen of Israel before action is initiated. Ensuring this is not merely the responsibility of the government of Israel, but also the responsibility of the government of the U.S.

But no gas mask and no vaccine can protect against nuclear weapons. That is why regimes that have no compunction about using weapons of mass destruction, and that will not hesitate to give them to their terror proxies, must never be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. These regimes must be brought down before they possess the power to bring us all down.

If a pre-emptive action will be supported by a broad coalition of free countries and the U.N., all the better. But if such support is not forthcoming, then the U.S. must be prepared to act without it. This will require courage, and I see it abundantly present in President Bush's bold leadership and in the millions of Americans who have rallied behind him.

I recognize this courage because I see it on the faces of my countrymen every day. Millions of Israelis who have been subjected to an unprecedented campaign of terror have stood firmly behind our government in the war against Palestinian terror. We have not crumbled. We have not run. We have stood our ground and fought back.

Today the terrorists have the will to destroy us but not the power.
Today we have the power to destroy them.
Now we must summon the will to do so.

Endnote 146

Enthusiastic IDF awaits war in Iraq

Last update - 09:59 17/02/2003

By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent

The Prime Minister's Office ascribes little importance
to the diplomatic hurdles America must overcome in the UN Security Council
on the path to a war against Iraq.
Israel estimates that the date of attack depends only on
logistical considerations,
when the deployment of U.S. troops is complete, and
that the war will begin at the end of February or the beginning of March.
No delays or any kind of influence are expected from the coalition negotiations.

The military and political leadership yearns for war in Iraq,
seeing it as an opportunity to win the war of attrition with the Palestinians.

According to their approach
removing Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat from his position
will signify Palestinian surrender.
Major General Amos Gilad,
Coordinator of Government Activities in the West Bank and Gaza,
expressed the army's position Saturday, saying that
a U.S.-led attack on Iraq would remove the Iraqi threat,
and would be an example for
"the removal of other dictators closer to us who use violence and terror."

Senior IDF officers and those close to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,
such as National Security Advisor Ephraim Halevy,
paint a rosy picture of
the wonderful future Israel can expect after the war.

They envision a domino effect,
with the fall of Saddam Hussein followed by that of Israel's other enemies:
Arafat, Hassan Nasrallah, Bashar Assad, the ayatollah in Iran
and maybe even Muhammar Gadaffi.
Along with these leaders, will disappear terror and weapons of mass destruction.

There is also excitement in the IDF's planning department over the standoff between the U.S. and its NATO allies. A paper distributed to the army's upper echelons even spoke of an opportunity to remove the pro-Palestinian Europeans from the Middle East. A senior source said Saturday that the U.S. will punish the Europeans for their back-stabbing on the road to Baghdad, and will no longer ask them for input regarding Israeli concessions.

But the conflict in the Security Council shows that the U.S. is having a hard time controlling the international community, and is still focused on transforming the Middle East into an area under U.S. protection, in which Israel will enjoy privileged status.

Israel Says War on Iraq Would Benefit The Region

by James Bennet

Copyright New York Times Company Feb 27, 2003

Israelis once believed that the Oslo agreement with the Palestinians
would usher in a new Middle East of comfortable Israeli-Arab coexistence.
With Oslo in tatters,
the Israelis are now putting similar hopes in an American war on Iraq.

Other nations may cavil, but
many in Israel are so certain of the rightness of a war on Iraq that
officials are already thinking past that conflict
to urge a continued, assertive American role in the Middle East.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations last week that after Iraq,
the United States should generate
“political, economic, diplomatic pressure” on Iran.

“We have great interest in shaping the Middle East
the day after” a war
he said.

It may seem paradoxical that the country most vulnerable to an Iraqi attack
in case of war is most eager for that war to begin.
But Israel's military intelligence apparatus has concluded that
the chances of a successful Iraqi missile strike here during this war,
while ever present, are small.

The Israeli government and military elite believe that
Saddam Hussein seeks devastating weapons
but has far less capacity for mayhem
than he had during the Persian Gulf war of 1991,
when his forces fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel.
The Israeli Army also believes that its own national defenses are much improved.

Israel regards Iran and Syria as greater threats
and is hoping that once Saddam Hussein is dispensed with,
the dominoes will start to tumble.

According to this hope -- or evolving strategy --
moderates and reformers throughout the region
would be encouraged to put new pressure on their own governments,
not excepting the Palestine Authority of Yasir Arafat.

“The shock waves emerging from post-Saddam Baghdad
could have wide-ranging effects in Tehran, Damascus, and in Ramallah,”

Efraim Halevy, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's national security adviser,
said in a speech in Munich this month.
Until recently, Mr. Halevy was the chief of the Mossad, Israel's spy agency.
He said,
“We have hopes of greater stability, greater enhanced confidence
from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic shores of Morocco.”

Israelis have also suggested that that an Iraq war may salvage their economy
and even prompt the opposition Labor Party to join Mr. Sharon's coalition
in a new government of national unity.

Expressed in its broadest, vaguest terms,
that theory has come in for the sort of mockery
that the idealistic vision of Oslo's effects suffered from the right.
The accusation is the same: fuzzy, wishful thinking.

Uzi Benziman, a journalist and author of a biography of Mr. Sharon,
wrote in the newspaper Haaretz,
“Israel is looking for Ares, the ancient Greek god of war,
to play the part of the deus ex machina in this drama.”
Referring to this “almost pagan faith,” he continued,
“It's still hard to shake the feeling that
what the fervency of Israeli expectations regarding the war really attests to
is despair.”
Opinion polls here have shown a strong though not overwhelming majority
in favor of war.
[77.5% seems like a pretty overwhelming majority to me.]

The precise mechanism for converting a war into regional stability
has not been detailed.

Mark Heller, a senior researcher at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, said
the potential engine for change would be the example of a transformed Iraq.
“It's at least conceivable that Al Jazeera will end up
showing pictures of Iraqis celebrating in the streets,
in which case people in other places -- like Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt --
are going to start saying,
'If Iraqis deserve decent government, so do we.' ”
Al Jazeera is a widely watched Arab broadcast network.

Israeli officials say that only sustained American pressure
can turn that hope into reality.
Mr. Mofaz warned that without continued attention to the rest of the region,
an Iraqi collapse could strengthen Iran.

As they look ahead to the aftermath of an Iraq war,
Israeli officials are also considering
how the Bush administration's present diplomatic struggle could help or hurt them.
A top Israeli official predicted that
after such a war would come a fork in the road for American policy
and “a battle for the heart and mind” of President Bush.

The official said the Bush administration might try
to mend relations with Arab and European nations
by wringing concessions from Israel toward the Palestinians.
[Not with the Israeli lobby in charge in Washington!]

But he said it was more likely that rising American frustration with Europe
would benefit Israel.
Mr. Sharon has been alarmed by the recent efforts of the so-called quartet --
the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia --
to intervene in the conflict here.
Mr. Sharon would much prefer to deal only with the United States.
[Scowcroft: “Sharon has Bush wrapped around his little finger.”]

The top Israeli official said the quartet might prove a “casualty” of an Iraqi war.
“The idea of using the quartet
as the great instrument of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict --
there are people in Washington who are going to say,
'What do we need these people for?' ” he said.

Jerusalem Frets As U.S. Battles Iraq War Delays;
Nation’s Ills Await ‘Deus ex Machina’



JERUSALEM — Israeli policy-makers are growing increasingly nervous
about the Bush administration's mounting diplomatic difficulties —
at NATO, in Turkey and at the United Nations Security Council —
and the increasing likelihood of a delay
in the launch of an American campaign
against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Israel's top political, military and economic echelons
have come to regard the looming Iraq war
as a virtual deus ex machina
that will turn the political and economic tables
and extricate Israel from its current morass.

NGF BC Chapter 2 Footnote 22

Here are the citations in footnote 22 to Chapter 2
of Norman G. Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah
that concern Israel’s enthusiastic support for the Iraq war.

Hey ho, here comes the war
By Meron Benvenisti
Haaretz, 2003-02-13

This across-the-board support for a war that unites left and right -
in which each side finds in it what they want -
turns those opposed to war
into a marginal, practically illegitimate minority.

The nearly wall-to-wall consensus of Israelis
in support of an American attack

causes a sense of bewilderment that borders on shame
when one sees the waves of opposition all around the world,
and even among the American public.

Evidently, Israelis are more exposed than others
to that most infuriating manipulation of all,
which professes to characterize opposition to the war
as a "disgraceful" and immoral act,
and, of all things,
the use of violence as the height of human morality.

[Compare Elie Wiesel, Bush, and Iraq.]

O what a lovely war
By Uzi Benziman
Haaretz, 2003-02-18

1. A new Middle East
The Israeli government is vying with the American administration
in its eagerness to see the war plan put into action.
And if President Bush seems to be acting out of a sense of religious mission -
as if God has charged him with the task of uprooting the axis of evil,
starting with Saddam Hussein -
Ariel Sharon is awaiting the American operation
in the desperate hope that salvation will follow in its wake.

Sharon isn't alone;
the entire ruling establishment -
the political echelon and the senior echelon of the public sector,
the top military and intelligence officials,
business leaders and
the politicians who are trying to put together a coalition -
all are waiting for the war in the expectation that
it will bring about a yearned-for turning point in the country's grim situation.

One could say that Israel is looking for Ares, the ancient Greek god of war,
to play the part of the deus ex machina in this drama.
An almost pagan faith has been placed in
the potential blessings of the American war on Iraq.
An assessment made by the IDF and the intelligence community predicts that
the defeat of Saddam Hussein (the presumed outcome of the American action)
will send shock waves through the region
that will lead to big changes in the neighboring countries.

According to this forecast, the entire world - and the Arab world in particular - will be affected by the determination displayed by the U.S.
in its struggle against the tyrant from Baghdad,
and will learn certain lessons.
Arab rulers, including Bashar Assad, Sheikh Nasrallah and Yasser Arafat,
will understand that
the U.S. will no longer tolerate their involvement in terrorist activity.
And, as a result, their approach to Israel could change.
The main hope in Israel is that Saddam's removal from Baghdad
will hasten the processes of change taking place within the Palestinian leadership,
which the intelligence services and the political echelon say
are already discernible.
Another hope is that the war will nudge Israel out of economic recession.
In Jerusalem,
they believe it will recharge the West's economy and
create new opportunities for the Israeli economy.
With war as the backdrop,
it will be easier for Israel to receive American aid and loan guarantees,

since it will certainly be included in the list of countries (like Turkey)
that [the] U.S. Congress will seek to compensate
for special expenses caused by the war.
Good old Jews. Why break a stereotype?
What was that Mel Gibson said, that
“Jews are behind all the wars in the world”?
Wonder if he knew about the above?]

The celebrations have already begun
By Aluf Benn
Haaretz, 2003-02-20

In the eyes of the prime minister [Ariel Sharon],
the war in Iraq is an opportunity to change the balance of power in the area.
Sharon proposes a division of labor:
Israel will take care of Arafat.
America will smash the sources of Arab power:
terrorism, missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

Sharon reminds U.S. visitors that
a victory in Iraq won't solve all the problems in the region
and that Syria, Libya and Iran have to be dealt with.


Sharon, a political marathoner, keeps surprising his eulogists.
He reoccupied the territories and
defeated Arafat in the arena of international legitimacy,
which in the past tilted toward the Palestinians;
terror is at a tolerable level....
This was all achieved
without giving up a millimeter or tree of the territories,

but at a heavy price to the economy and society in Israel.
Over and over, Sharon avoids the difficult decisions
with the help of his friend in the White House,
and it appears he will succeed in dissolving the "road map,"
which is inconvenient for him.

Endnote 147

Most Israelis support the attack on Iraq

Last update - 23:54 06/03/2003

By Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Dr. Tamar Hermann

Last month's Peace Index survey focused on the Israeli public's view toward two key current issues:
the looming war with Iraq and the formation of Israel's new government along with the need to set a clear policy on the Palestinian issue.
We found that a large majority of the public favors a U.S. attack on Iraq,
while most believe that the chances are quite low
that the American campaign will lead to a Baghdad missile attack against Israel.
The public is divided when it comes to how the country is reacting to the threat, but most believe the government's conduct has led to more calm than alarm among the population.

When it comes to the Palestinian issue, a large majority favors holding negotiations with the Palestinians, as in the past. However, a similar majority believes that a return to the discussion table must wait until PA Chairman Yasser Arafat no longer maintains a significant political role. A smaller majority believes negotiations cannot be resumed until terror against Israel ceases.

Support for holding negotiations is not de rigueur but reflects a readiness for significant concessions by Israel: a majority is prepared for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based more or less on the 1967 borders, and an even larger majority supports evacuating all Gaza settlements and isolated settlements in the West Bank. On the other hand, a sizable majority opposes transferring the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to the Palestinians so that it may become the capital of the Palestinian state, while a large majority rejects allowing the return of refugees to Israel, even in small numbers, for the purpose of family reunification.

These are the main findings of the Peace Index for February 2003, which was conducted on Tuesday-Thursday, February 25-27.

over three-quarters (77.5 percent) of Jewish respondents
favor a U.S. campaign against Iraq.

Breaking down the results of the survey by party voting in the recent elections indicates a consensus across all camps:
there is a majority of supporters of a war among all the parties
and in all sectors of the Jewish public.

The reasons for this sweeping support are indirectly evident from the respondents' answers to the question as to why only a small number of Israelis have demonstrated against the U.S. offensive compared to mass demonstrations in Europe and other venues throughout the world. The limited protest in Israel was attributed to the fact that a majority of the Israeli public regards Iraq as a substantial threat when it comes to using weapons of mass destruction (27 percent) and as a strategic threat to the country (25 percent). Other explanations given for limited Israeli opposition to the war were the belief that a U.S. victory will increase the chances for renewing negotiations with the Palestinians under terms favorable to Israel (21 percent), and the fact that a majority of the Israeli public sees the United States as Israel's main ally (18 percent).

On the other hand, the respondents explain the mass demonstrations against the United States primarily in terms of the widespread belief that it is possible and appropriate to resolve international crises in a non-military fashion (30 percent); 26 percent cite anti-American sentiment stemming from the fact that the United States is now the world's only superpower; 20 percent point to the protesters' belief that the real reason for the administration's decision to go to war is American oil interests in Iraq; while only 11 percent say it is the view that Iraq does not constitute a significant threat in using weapons of mass destruction.

Likewise, the survey reveals a lower percentage of those who believe an American campaign against Baghdad will lead Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to attack Israel. In December 2002, 55 percent believed the chances were high that Iraq would attack Israel in response to a U.S. attack (36 percent believed the chances were low or very low). Today, however, only 40 percent believe that the chances that Iraq will attack Israel are high (52 percent believe the chances of an Iraqi attack here are low or very low). There also was a slight decline, from 49 percent in 2002 to 43 percent today, in the percentage of those who believe that the Palestinians are likely to exploit a war against Iraq to intensify terror against Israel.

A particularly interesting finding is the weak correlation between the degree of support or opposition to the war and belief in the likelihood that Iraq will attack Israel in response. Among those who see the chances of an Iraqi attack as very high or quite high, 75 percent favor a U.S. campaign; among those who regard those chances as quite low or very low, 81 percent back America's aims. A similar pattern emerged regarding the effect of a campaign against Iraq on Palestinian terror: among those who think the war will lead the Palestinians to step up terror, 78 percent favor the U.S. offensive; among those who believe the war will not affect Palestinian terror, 75 percent support the attack; and among those who expect that the war will, in fact, deter Palestinian terror, 86 percent are in favor of the attack.

Endnote 148

A deafening silence

Last update - 01:42 06/10/2002

By Gideon Levy

[This is just a lengthy and repetitious observation
of the surprising unanimity of sentiment in Israel on the war.
But I include it in its entirety because it is both surprising (to me) and revealing
that Israeli sentiment should have been so solidly prowar.
But then, what did the war cost them?]

Why is it that in England 50,000 people have demonstrated against the war in Iraq, whereas in Israel no one has? Why is it that in Israel there is no public debate about whether the war is necessary, whereas in Europe, and even in the United States, such a debate is at its peak? Is it possible that no one in Israel has any doubts about the benefits of such a war or that no one fears its dangers?

Israel is again speaking in one voice - the voice of war.
As on the Palestinian question, in which uniformity, silence and indifference has characterized public discourse in the past two years, no serious public discussion can be discerned on the critical subject of the impending war in Iraq.

The government is leading and hardly anyone is asking questions.
The only sound we hear is of the shuffle of feet of people who simply can't wait for America to do its thing.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, for example,
who 21 years ago courageously opposed Israel's attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor,
has done a characteristic flip-flop and without batting an eyelash
is now urging the Americans to go to war against the same Saddam Hussein.
What has changed in the meantime?
Only the fact that in 1981 the bomber was Menachem Begin
and Peres was the leader of the opposition,
whereas now the bomber is George W. Bush and Peres is part of the government.

And even if Peres supports the war, does he have to engage in saber-rattling? No one is asking him about his change of mind. The prime minister and the defense minister are naturally gung-ho on the war. That is their right, of course, but is there no other opinion in Israel? Even if there is, its voice is being drowned out by the noise of the chorus. The herd instinct that has become stronger in Israel since the failure of the Camp David talks in July 2000 and the eruption of the intifada two months later is being manifested on the Iraqi issue, too. The media talks only about methods of self-defense and escape, where the mass graves will be dug and where the residents of Ramat Gan will flee. No one on the current events programs will be arguing against the logic of the war or asking how it will end. Representatives of the Arab-Jewish Hadash party or of Gush Shalom, the peace movement, are of course beyond the pale.

A stranger entering the country would not believe it:
Israel is the only country in the West
whose leaders support the war unreservedly

and where no alternative opinion is voiced,
and this holds true while Israel is liable to be a direct victim.
Sometimes it seems the protest against the force-feeding of geese to produce foie gras, a just campaign, is far more widespread and far more vociferous than the protest against the occupation or, with all due distinction, against war in Iraq.

One of the vexatious questions that a possible war in Iraq raises was asked last week in the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee by MK Yossi Sarid, one of the few who has publicly dared to express doubt about the need for a war. Sarid wondered what would happen if the war succeeds, Saddam is toppled and the ensuing agitation in the Arab world produces three more Saddams in his place. Apart from Sarid, no one has raised this possibility, and this is of course not the only problematic possibility.

It is possible to agree that Saddam Hussein is a cruel, bloodthirsty ruler and still doubt the wisdom of a war that has the goal of removing him. No one is asking how Iraq suddenly became the world's greatest threat after years in which the defense establishment in Israel claimed that the greatest danger to this country is Iran. How do we reconcile the contradiction between the many voices of reassurance that are being heard in Israel about Iraq (the previous director of Military Intelligence, Amos Malka, said he is more concerned about traffic accidents) with the need to strike at Iraq because of the tremendous danger it poses? Are we talking about a preventive war? What will happen if the U.S. fails and turns tail, in the wake of heavy losses, as it did in Somalia? Saddam will become even stronger. Is he the only brutal leader in the world? What is the course of the obsession that the president of the U.S. has developed about him? And why not give the United Nations another fair chance to resolve the problem? Why does Israel have to be party to this joie de guerre?

The latest example of a war prosecuted by the United States offers little encouragement: Osama bin Laden is apparently still alive, more than 3,000 people, most of them civilians, were killed in Afghanistan and Al-Qaida continues to weave its webs all over the world. Was the war in Afghanistan worthwhile? Smart? Just? How is it different from the war that is now looming? It is self-evident that the U.S. is Israel's most important ally and that this obliges Israel to take a particular position, but not even America could have prevented a critical debate in the country that is known as the only democracy in the Middle East.

The automatic way Israeli opinion is formulated
as if the public follows the government blindly
should be a source of worry to everyone.

It turns out that Israel no longer has a meaningful left,
as do all other Western countries.
There is no popular opposition and no one is speaking out.
And that may prove more dangerous for Israel than the looming war against Iraq.

Endnote 149

Group Urges Pro-Israel Leaders’ Silence on Iraq

by Dana Milbank

Copyright The Washington Post Company Nov 27, 2002

A group of U.S. political consultants has sent pro-Israel leaders a memo
urging them to keep quiet
while the Bush administration pursues a possible war with Iraq.

The six-page memo was sent by the Israel Project, a group funded by American Jewish organizations and individual donors. Its authors said the main audience was American Jewish leaders, but much of the memo's language is directed toward Israelis, urging them to play down the likelihood Israel would retaliate after an Iraqi attack and asking them not to lecture Americans about the Middle East conflict.

The memo reflects a concern that involvement by Israel in a U.S.- Iraq confrontation could hurt Israel's standing in American public opinion and undermine international support for a hard line against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"Let American politicians fight it out on the floor of Congress and in the media," the memo said. "Let the nations of the world argue in front of the U.N. Your silence allows everyone to focus on Iraq rather than Israel."

The memo, meant to guide pro-Israel leaders' statements before and during possible hostilities with Iraq, is the latest contribution to an international public relations battle that has shadowed the diplomatic maneuvers involving Iraq and the Middle East. The United States has launched an "information" effort to boost the image of the United States in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Saudi Arabia has spent millions of dollars to improve its public image in the United States. The kingdom has hired political consultants and advertising specialists and charged them with reversing damage resulting from the knowledge that 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001, were Saudis.

An Israeli diplomat in Washington said the Israeli government did not request or fund the efforts of the Israel Project and that Israeli leaders were unlikely to follow all the advice. "These are professional public relations people," the diplomat said. "There's also a political-diplomatic side."

The Iraq memo was issued in the past few weeks and labeled "confidential property of the Israel Project," which is led by Democratic consultant Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi with help from Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and Republican pollsters Neil Newhouse and Frank Luntz. Several of the consultants have advised Israeli politicians, and the group aired a pro-Israel ad earlier this year.

"If your goal is regime change, you must be much more careful with your language because of the potential backlash," said the memo, titled "Talking About Iraq." It added: "You do not want Americans to believe that the war on Iraq is being waged to protect Israel rather than to protect America."

In particular, the memo urged Israelis to pipe down about the possibility of Israel responding to an Iraqi attack. "Such certainty may be Israeli policy, but asserting it publicly and so overtly will not sit well with a majority of Americans because it suggests a pre- determined outcome rather than a measured approach," it said. The memo cautioned: "There is the feeling that Israel has NOT done all it could to bring about peace in the Middle East so don't try to change public opinion in the middle of a war."

Luntz said the memo was written to advise pro-Israel Americans about how to respond to Iraq-Israel hostilities. "The assumption is Iraq will bomb Israel, and then the assumption is Israel will respond," he said.

Much of the guidance, however, appeared to have Israelis in mind. "Demonstrate your historic willingness to compromise sacrifice on behalf of America," it said. "This may not play well among some Israeli politicians but it will certainly play well in the states." It advised leaders to say: "Like America, Israel has a right to defend itself and our people."

The memo coached: "(A)s an Israeli, most certainly don't talk about why some Arab leaders and their people dislike the United States. Americans don't want to be told by an Israeli why we have problems in the Middle East or why people hate us."

Miscellaneous Articles

Whose Jews?

by Lawrence F. Kaplan

[Emphasis is added.]

The prophets have spoken, and it is time to retreat from Babylon. Or so says the Union for Reform Judaism, speaking for the largest branch of American Judaism. The Union's "prophetic mission and God's call to us to be a 'light to the nations'" has, in its own telling, compelled it to demand "a clear exit strategy with specific goals for troop withdrawal" from Iraq.

The task of halting the Union's foray into politics has fallen mostly to the Republican Jewish Coalition, which, unlike the Union, bills itself for what it is: a partisan organization. As a result of all this, President Bush, already bogged down in Iraq's sectarian divisions, finds himself ensnared in a religious feud right here at home. In a major address on Iraq last week, the president was reduced to playing the Israel card, pleading with its supporters to acknowledge that "Israel's long-term survival depends upon the spread of democracy in the Middle East."

In one sense at least, the Union's outburst amounts to something more than the everyday pollution of public discourse. Recall that on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, the claim that the Jewish state and its American co-religionists were manufacturing war had become canonical in certain quarters. From the right, Robert Novak described the conflict as "Sharon's war," while from the opposite end of the spectrum, The Nation reported that the war's promoters subscribed to "articles of faith that effectively hold there is no difference between U.S. and Israeli national security interests."

Never mind that Israeli officials
were lukewarm about the war from the outset,

being far more concerned with the threat from Iran.

Never mind, too, that American Jews
were more likely to be among the war's most vocal opponents
than among its boosters.

(A Yeshiva University poll earlier this year found that
two-thirds of American Jews disapprove of the U.S. enterprise in Iraq).
[What does a poll taken in 2005 have to do with
support during the crucial prewar period?]

The Union's stand demolishes the canard that
American Jews cannot distinguish between Israel's interests and their own.
[Or shows the extent to which American Jews have heeded the cautions of this.]

Judging by the Union's vocal opposition to the war, the problem, if anything, appears to be the reverse: What is "good for the Jews" seems to concern the organization less than what is good for American liberalism. A premature withdrawal from Iraq would be devastating to the cause of the Jewish state. That observation does not reflect the motives for having gone to war, but simply the outcome of abandoning a fellow democracy without condition and regardless of consequence -- and the obvious consequence would be Iraq's transformation into a den of terror. None of this seems to have made an impression on the reform Jewish organization.

The Union, which "came to these views based on Jewish teachings on war" and likens itself to "the rabbis of the Talmud," has no claim to heightened moral awareness. Not only because it twists the words of those very rabbis (as with any religious text, the Talmud offers ammunition to multiple points of view, invoked to defend everything from Israel's invasion of Lebanon to the "axis of evil" formulation). And not only because the Union's intrusion into the public square comes from an organization that claims to be in the midst of an "ongoing defense of the wall of separation between church and state." No, the real problem is that the Union grounds its arguments squarely in the traditions of secular humanism, and then purposefully conflates them with the traditions of religious Judaism.

True, the worldly admonition tikkun olam -- repair the world -- is one of Judaism's signatures. But the Union isn't about repairing the world. Is it really necessary, after all, to point out that its insistence on a U.S. withdrawal does nothing to further the Union's call to "support the democratically elected Iraqi government"? Or that the "international community" that it invokes at every turn would sooner the Union's members no longer existed? Or that the biblical injunction to "not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor," one among many kernels of Jewish law the Union ostentatiously cites in defense of its Iraq position, means not abandoning Iraq to its fate?

Apparently so, because for all its confusions, the Union really does amount to an authentic expression of the political inclinations that define American Judaism today. As evinced by the Union's position on Iraq, those inclinations defy easy logic. The American Jewish community's attachment to the political left goes beyond obstinacy -- to the point of running counter to the very requirements of that same community. Hence, when asked to choose between the security of Jews, on the one hand, and cliches about social equality and inadequate domestic expenditures, on the other, Reform Jewish leaders have put what they presume to be the secular equivalent to Judaism above the interests of Judaism itself. The Union for Reform Judaism stands for many causes. It's no longer so clear that Jews count among them.

Copyright (c) 2005, Dow Jones & Company Inc.

[It is inconceivable that a man of Lawrence Kaplan’s background
would have been unaware of the Israeli views
so strongly summarized and directly expressed above.
For example:

Shimon Peres (Labor PM 1984-1986 and 1995-1996):
"The campaign against Saddam Hussein is a must....
This is not a war against Iraq. It is a campaign against Saddam Hussein."

Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud PM 1996-1999):
"Though I am today a private citizen,
I believe I speak for the overwhelming majority of Israelis
in supporting a pre-emptive strike against Saddam's regime."

Ehud Barak (Labor PM 1999-2001):
"Saddam Hussein's nuclear-weapons program
provides the urgent need for his removal.
Nothing can be assured in advance. But the opportunities far exceed the dangers. The greatest risk now lies in inaction. The history of the last century showed us clearly what the price of paralysis can be. The public debate over Iraq policy must continue. But the readiness to act, once the time is ripe, should not fade away."

Aluf Benn (journalist):
“The military and political leadership yearns for war in Iraq”

Gideon Levy (journalist):
“Israel is again speaking in one voice - the voice of war....
The only sound we hear is of the shuffle of feet of people
who simply can't wait for America to do its thing....
Israel is the only country in the West
whose leaders support the war unreservedly....

There is no popular opposition and no one is speaking out [against the war].”

What explanation can be offered for Kaplan’s attempt to deny those views,
other than the fact that,
the war having gone so much less successfully than its advocates had predicted,
those who were the loudest in its advocacy now wish to conceal that advocacy?
Kaplan is one of many trying to send that previous advocacy
down the memory hole.

Note also that the statements from the Labor PMs Peres and Barak
show that demands for the war were not unique to the Likud party.
Thus, for example,
Buchanan’s “Whose War?” in this respect actually understated the case
in attributing Israeli war fever to Sharon and Likud alone.]

Poll: 71% of Israelis want U.S. to strike Iran if talks fail
By Aluf Benn
Haaretz, 2007-05-18

[The full text; emphasis is added.]

Fully 71 percent of Israelis believe that
the United States should launch a military attack on Iran

if diplomatic efforts fail to halt Tehran’s nuclear program,

according to a new poll.

The survey, commissioned by Bar-Ilan University’s BESA Center
and the Anti-Defamation League, found that

59 percent of Israelis
still believe the war in Iraq was justified,

while 36 percent take the opposite view.

Some 65 percent believe that the United States is a loyal ally of Israel,
with only 11 percent saying the opposite.
A slightly higher proportion, 73 percent,
described U.S. President George W. Bush as friendly.
Forty-eight percent attributed U.S. support for Israel
to strategic considerations, while
30 percent credited American Jewry and
17 percent cited shared values and a shared democratic tradition.

Regarding America’s importance to Israel, there was near consensus:
91 percent said that close relations with the U.S. are vital to Israel’s security.
Some 51 percent of respondents predicted that
the U.S. will ultimately impose an agreement on Israel and the Palestinians,
while 43 percent disagreed.

In addition,
52 percent of respondents
described American Jewish support of Israel as “sufficient,” while
33 percent did not.
About half of all Israelis believe that American Jewry
is in danger of disappearing due to assimilation, the poll found.

For comparison a May 2007 poll for the NYT found that:
“Sixty-one percent of Americans say
the United States should have stayed out of Iraq.”

Now why would 59% of Israelis still believe the Iraq war was justified,
while 61% of Americans think the opposite?
Doesn’t that tell you all you need to know about why the U.S. went to war?
(Note to the die-hard Democratic deniers:
It wasn’t about oil, nor the “military-industrial complex.”)

Note, by the way, this item is posted in both
Israel and the Iraq War,
Iranian-American war?

Leave Iraq and Brace for a Bigger Bloodbath
By Natan Sharansky
Washington Post Outlook, 2007-07-08

[Another in the stream of op-eds by senior Israelis
talking America into either invading or remaining in Iraq.

As to Sharansky’s alleged concern for human rights,
one might ask him about how he feels about human rights for the Palestinians.]

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