J.J. Goldberg writes: Israel’s military intelligence corps has given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a surprising report assessing the opportunities and threats that the Iran nuclear deal poses for Israel.
What’s startling about the report is not its substance, which is mostly a predictable mix of standard arguments presented for and against the deal: No nukes for 10 years, which gives Israel time to develop new countermeasures, but then a quick path to a nuke after a decade; an accelerated regional arms race, plus new legitimacy for pariah Iran, but also (surprisingly) a reduced likelihood of Iran attacking Israel. The upsides aren’t perfect. The downsides aren’t unmanageable.
No, what’s remarkable about the report is the fact that it exists. Netanyahu has ordered every level of Israeli officialdom to muzzle any discussion of the deal’s possible upsides. Central to his strategy is his insistence that the deal is an unmitigated catastrophe. Orders are to depict it as so ruinous that no outcome is acceptable short of its absolute defeat.
The prime minister and his allies insist Israel is united behind his unequivocal rejection of the deal. The cowering silence of the political opposition has helped him nurture the myth. But it’s a myth.
Now comes word that his intelligence community is defying the gag order and telling him otherwise. The deal offers Israel both advantages and disadvantages, the spooks say. The disadvantages are not too calamitous for anyone to cope with them. For an outside observer, the logical conclusion is that Netanyahu’s fiery confrontation with the Obama administration is unnecessary. And destructive. [Continue reading…]