Netanyahu is demolishing the strategic alliance with U.S.
The Netanyahu government had 20 months to set up an excellent firefighting service in advance of the planned war, but did nothing.
In an interview with The New York Times, Defense Minister Ehud Barak listed three conditions for going to war against Iran, a threefold test: Military action must significantly delay Iran's nuclear program; it must result in minimal harm to Israel's home front; and it must receive massive American and international support. As prime minister, Barak brandished the test of results as his sword, and fell on it several months later. But now, the same old song is playing again.
On Barak's new test, the government would earn a maximum grade of 3 out of 10 - a failing grade. The state commission of inquiry should get to work now. The failures of the 1973 Yom Kippur War will look negligible by comparison.
The scope of the failure to protect the home front, the degree to which it has been abandoned by leaders who, along with their families and their cronies, will take refuge in a nuclear fallout shelter - or else flee responsibility by going to China, where Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai just became ambassador - is almost incomprehensible. That is what we learn from the State Comptroller's Report on the neglect that led to the Mount Carmel forest fire. That's the mountain that was supposed to be the final fortress in 1942.
During the Second Lebanon War of 2006, the land was ablaze. Missiles started fires and destroyed houses. An attack on Iran would set the land on fire sevenfold.
Investigations into the war in Lebanon focused on the lack of even minimal civil defense and firefighting capabilities. The Netanyahu government had 20 months to set up an excellent firefighting service in advance of the planned war - the war to which every move made by the Netanyahu-Barak duo since 2008 has been leading. Instead, it did nothing.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Interior Minister Eli Yishai are unimportant. The story is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A man preparing for a war involving the home front who "forgot" that Israel lacks a fire service worthy of the name cannot stay in office. A prime minister who remembered but didn't act must go. Failing to prepare the firefighting service for the fires and rescues of the big home-front war is no different than sending the planes to Iran without a payload. Yet even after the Carmel fire, the do-nothing attitude toward the home front continued.
Nevertheless, the abandonment of the home front is secondary to the main failure. For even under the "Barak test" for an initiated war, the home front depends on an alliance with the West.
Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, bequeathed his country one fundamental rule: An alliance with at least one great power is a prerequisite for any military venture. To secure it, absolutely everything must be done. That's why Israel conditioned its involvement in the 1956 Sinai Campaign on a French air force squadron protecting the home front. That's why it waited to go to war in 1967. That's why it made peace with Egypt before bombing Iraq's nuclear reactor. That's why the Oslo agreement and the disengagement from Gaza preceded receipt of the strategic submarines from Germany, the bombing of the Syrian reactor and Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
It's impossible to overstate the importance of an alliance with the West, and especially the United States, prior to Israel's first confrontation with a regional power. It's not "just" about American planes, bombs and refueling. It's not "just" about information from the NATO radar in Turkey; or about ending the war before it drags on longer than the eight year Iran-Iraq war, as senior Mossad officials have warned it could; or even about finishing the process of halting Iran's nuclear program, which Israel lacks the capacity to do on its own.
Israel's entire deterrent posture - which is what prevents the 200,000 missiles aimed at it from actually being launched - stems from its alliance with the United States. If Israel is viewed in this region not as part of the American world order, but as America's foe, this deterrence will be destroyed.
Netanyahu's views are closer to those of settler rabbi Dov Lior than they are to mine. But any reasonable person, when preparing for an apocalyptic confrontation of this sort, would do everything in his power to at least appear moderate, so that the West would embrace him. Saying the words "an agreement based on the 1967 borders" is even less than the minimum necessary to prepare for this conflict; the same goes for establishing a centrist government.
And if, as Netanyahu claims, U.S. President Barack Obama is hostile, that is all the more reason why he should have compelled Obama's support by means of a democratic, peace-seeking Israel, instead of destroying our strategic security by means of an Israel that rides roughshod over democracy and seeks to double the size of the illegal outpost of Migron. Instead of close coordination, there are two phone calls a year with Obama. Instead of an intimate alliance, Israel is seen by the Obama administration as seeking to time the war in a way that would topple the Democrats from power.
And indeed, in a recent poll, 51 percent of Americans favored sitting on the fence in the event of an Israel-Iran war; only 39 percent favored siding with Israel. In Netanyahu's terms, this is a strategic Holocaust. In our own terms, this is "the failure," as the Yom Kippur War is termed.
In the face of this failure, the Israeli officer corps must all become Eli Geva, who refused to order his brigade into Beirut during the 1982 Lebanon War. Coming from a government that has betrayed its most basic obligations, an order for the planes to take off would be a patently illegal order. It can be implemented - perhaps - only by privates: The rank tabs must be left on the table.
When Netanyahu binds Tel Aviv on the altar by demolishing the strategic alliance with the United States, perhaps he sees the sunken Irgun ship Altalena there rather than his son. But no heavenly hand will descend to prevent this madness, the way an angel prevented Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. An Israeli hand must therefore be the one to refuse the order and stop the madness.