Israel’s former spymasters double cross their former masters
It’s hush-hush no more. Former spymasters are coming out of the woodworks to spook the current government into not attacking Iran.
First it was Meir Dagan, the “superhero” Spymaster from the Mossad, who, as soon as he left the service, launched a campaign against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak – over the issue of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities. In his own words, Dagan says that a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is the “stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” He also says that he has no faith in Netanyahu and Barak’s ability to lead the country into such a fateful decision.
And now comes Yuval Diskin, the former head of the internal spy service, the Shin Bet. In YouTube videos released over the weekend, the former security chief goes one up on even Dagan’s scathing criticism of the Israeli leadership.
In the videos, Diskin makes the following main points:
1. The current Israeli government has no interest in negotiating with the Palestinian Authority because PM Netanyahu knows that if he makes even the slightest compromise or move toward the Palestinians that his erstwhile stable coalition will implode.
2. Anything else the government says about this issue is rubbish. Don’t believe the spin coming from Jerusalem that there is no partner on the Palestinian side. It’s true, says Diskin, I’ve been there and I’ve seen this government up close.
3. The Palestinians have made their mistakes for sure, but their frustration with the Israeli government is justified as it is the latter that is not interested in real talks.
4. Don’t believe the spin that if Israel attacks Iran then the Iranians will not obtain nuclear weapons. All the experts, says Diskin, say that if Israel attacks Iran, the Mullahs will recover quickly [Meir Dagan says 1 to 2 years], will build nuclear weapons much quicker, and will have the legitimacy to do so [Dagan agrees with him on this and adds that the benefits of an attack do not outweigh the consequences].
5. To top it off: Diskin has absolutely no faith in the Netanyahu-Barak government.
So what’s going on here? Why have the country’s two top former spymasters, both who served in their positions for lengthy periods and were very well respected, turned on the government with such viciousness? Are Dagan and Diskin coordinating their efforts? PM Netanyahu has been building legitimacy for an Israeli strike on Iran for years, using the the threat of a second Holocaust as his ultimate justification for the Jews doing everything they need to do to stop their annihilation. Dagan and Diskin seem to be wanting to chip away at the legitimacy.
Both former spymasters left their government jobs in acrimonious circumstances. Dagan was refused an extension of his service by one year, and Diskin was passed-over as Dagan’s replacement for the job of Mossad director. They both have axes to grind with Netanyahu and Barak.
Dagan says he is absolutely entitled to his opinion, that he is not giving away any state secrets or operational details. Nobody is going to shut me up, Dagan says often. He’s concerned about the rush to war with Iran, and it seems that Diskin is too.
Dagan has also said that all of the country’s current top defense and security brass agree with him that now is not the time to attack Iran, that sanctions should be given their chance, and that if there really is no choice at the end of the road, then the Americans should be brought into the picture.
Neither Diskin nor Dagan are against the Israeli military option against Iran per se, they’re against it at this time.
Could it be that Diskin and Dagan are smelling elections in the air? They definitely seem to be trying to damage Netanyahu and Barak’s government. The question now is, how the government and its supporters will respond [so far they have attacked the messengers and not their message]. The only government official who has responded with a serious message is Cabinet Secretary Zvika Hauser, who said Sunday that Diskin’s comments seriously damage Israel’s efforts to forge and maintenance an international coalition of pressure on the Iranian regime to pull back from its military nuclear program. The more credible the threat of an Israeli military strike, the more the world will work to stop Iran before the Israelis do, the thinking goes – and this is a valid argument indeed. Diskin may be damaging Israel’s vital strategic interests, or he may not, depending on your views on this matter.
And the other question is what effect, if any, Dagan and Diskin’s attacks will have on the voting public and the elections. And finally, are there others who will come forward with similar statements? We might soon here from former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who probably has the most bile in his gut for Ehud Barak, more than anyone in the defense establishment, current and former. And what of Amos Yadlin, former head of IDF Military Intelligence?
In a country where security is held above everything, and security men – generals and spymasters – are held in the highest regard and are easily electable to high office, many Israelis could be influenced by Dagan and Diskin’s message that Bibi and Barak are not trustworthy. This is worrying for the ordinary citizen, who trusts his and her generals and spymasters, and now has to increasingly choose between them and their elected officials.
Watch Yuval Diskin