ANALYSIS & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Inbedded reporting

Israel is a long way from attacking Iran

Israeli leaders and officials have recently intensified their campaign against nuclearIran. The messages from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Ambassador to Washington Salai Meridor and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz is clear: Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran. Indeed Israel is very concerned by the likelihood that Iran, whose leadership has called for the Jewish state’s destruction, will be able to produce nuclear weapons.

These public statements, as well as closed talks between Israel’s leadership and leaders around the world, can be interpreted as “preparing the ground” for the possibility that Israel will attack Iran. It is also correct that all the bodies dealing with the “Iran case,” including the Mossad, Military Intelligence, Operations Directorate of the Israel Defense Forces, Israel Air Force and the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, are planning for the worst-case scenario. This is their professional duty. But one cannot conclude, as many have following a report in The New York Times (June 19) that an Israeli attack is certainly around the corner. Not only has such a decision not been made in any relevant forum in Israel – the question has not even been discussed. [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — When an “inbedded” reporter like Michael Gordon not only performs a service for his government, but is internationally seen to be acting as a stooge, I wonder how he feels?

Last Friday, no-questions-asked, he got the Israeli-attack-on-Iran-rehearsal story out and it provoked lots of reaction. A bump in oil prices (yet another little windfall for Iran), a rebuke from the Iranian government, a threat that Mohamed ElBaradei would resign as director of the IAEA in such an event, and a carefully studied no-comment from the Israeli government. Even if this was an Israeli Air Force exercse, the consensus among Israeli commentators was that the story — courtesy of Pentagon-mouthpiece Michael Gordon — was an expression of American pressure.

The fact is, a military exercise of this nature is not really newsworthy. As Amos Harel noted in Haaretz: “There is little new in the fact that the IAF is preparing for the Iranian challenge. About six months ago, Channel 2 reported a similar exercise covering a radius that an operation against Iran would require. At the time the report received little attention.” Indeed, assuming that the IAF as an active and well-trained air force will periodically engage in major exercises, what would we expect them to be training to do? Attack France?

So why did the Pentagon/New York Times need to get the story out? The Iranians know that the Bush administration is a spent force and the antics of attention-seeking neocons are becoming increasingly easy to ignore, but mad-dog Israel — that’s always the wild card. Less than a year ago it burnished its image of unpredictability by bombing Syria. The idea that Israel is unpredictable is at this point the only thing that has any chance of keeping the Iranians on their toes.

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