Opinion

Netanyahu Is Leading Us to a Masada-style National Suicide

The right politics can pull the world back from the brink of disaster and open a horizon toward a safer place

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, May 3, 2018.
Emil salman

Benjamin Netanyahu is leading us to Masada. We are standing on the brink of an abyss, and Netanyahu is leading us one step forward.

Heating up the confrontation with Iran serves Netanyahu to distract attention from his corruption investigations, but the problem is deeper and more ideological. Ultimately, Netanyahu really believes the only way Israel can proceed in the Middle East is by use of force. That’s his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflict. He doesn’t believe in an arrangement and isn’t trying to advance one. Netanyahu believes the conflict is unsolvable, deep and historic, a tectonic clash between Islam and the West. The only thing Israel needs to do in this reality, he thinks, is to mobilize the entire West in the campaign, which is essentially inevitable.

The same worldview is driving Netanyahu in regard to the Iranian issue as well. He objects to an agreement not because it has flaws, but because it’s an agreement. He is convinced that the only right way is to subdue Iran by force. So he is doing everything to undermine the agreement, and to lead the West, behind the United States, into a military conflict with Iran, one in which Israel will take an active part.

These politics, which are undermining the nuclear agreement and aim to abrogate it, is driving the region to a military conflict. A war with Iran, even if the United States takes an active role in it, won’t bring about the disappearance of the Iranian nuclear program, but rather its renewal and acceleration. Faced with the danger of an American-Israeli attack, the Iranian regime could mobilize the broad popular support it needs so much. And as always, war will strengthen the extremism and hatred on all sides.

This is the time to launch a campaign for the opposite way. Only consistently seeking an arrangement with our neighbors will ensure Israel life, existence and security. This is the way with regard to the Palestinians and the Arab world. This is also the way to deal with the Iranian issue.

Look at the hopeful development in Korea: the sliding toward military, possibly even nuclear, confrontation was halted – mainly due to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s courageous, wise politics. Moon was elected with an agenda of negotiations and lowering the tension with North Korea. From his first day in office he has acted consistently to advance talks, proving that even growing, 70-year-long tensions, which had already reached the verge of explosion, can be replaced with calm by means of agreements.

In Korea the situation was more explosive and dangerous even than in Iran, since North Korea had already produced nuclear weapons, including a hydrogen bomb. Yet the right politics can pull the world back from the brink of disaster and open a horizon toward a safer place.

Exactly the same thing should be done about Iran. The nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers has created an infrastructure for such progress. That’s why I supported and support it. This argument must be sharpened, not blurred. Netanyahu’s policy is a threat to Israel’s survival. Whoever isn’t interested in finishing up with a Masada-style national suicide must fight for the alternative. There is no place for stuttering and flip-flopping. There are only two opposed ways. Let’s choose to move away from the abyss. Let’s choose life.

The writer is a Knesset member for the Joint List.