Will No One Follow ex-Mossad Chief Meir Dagan’s Example?

Dagan was the first to publicly oppose Netanyahu and Barak's plans to attack Iran, and the only one who spoke out loudly against Netanyahu in the election campaign.

Niva Lanir
Niva Lanir
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Meir Dagan speaking at the anti-Netanyahu rally, March 7, 2015.
Meir Dagan speaking at the anti-Netanyahu rally, March 7, 2015.Credit: Moti Milrod
Niva Lanir
Niva Lanir

Three years ago the first hints appeared in the Israeli and foreign press about the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran. The hints included the word of “senior officials” that there had never been such detailed, serious discussions in a political forum.

The seven-member security cabinet held more than 50 meetings over the course of a year. Later it was revealed that the head of the Mossad, the head of the Shin Bet security service and the IDF chief of staff opposed such an attack, as opposed to the position of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak. In the end the Americans stood up on the runway, and the planes never took off.

But the Iranian danger did not pass. The Haggadah passage, “For not just one alone has risen against us to destroy us,” has become the song of Netanyahu’s life, his fuel for the fire during the election campaign and the cornerstone of his speech to Congress. In the meantime, back here, “quiet, darkness, no one, household utensils alone, everyone trembled together, a bit from the cold and a bit from fear.” (Nathan Alterman, “It Happened On Chanukkah,” 1933).

“Our excellent young men,” the heads of the Zionist Union Isaac Herzog, Tzipi Livni and Amos Yadlin, and the heads of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, Jacob Perry and Ofer Shelah, were struck dumb. No one dared mention the fiasco of the war in Gaza last summer. “51 days without any accomplishment,” said Shelah in an interview with Amos Harel (Haaretz Magazine in Hebrew, April 3).

None of them asked what would have happened if the person responsible for the fiasco, Netanyahu, had sent the IDF to attack in Iran, and none of them called to deny him the option to conduct another war. The last election campaign was a pathetic replica of “quiet, we’re shooting” from the days of the First Lebanon War. Shooting inside the armored personnel carrier? Not shooting? Netanyahu is playing on the field of the grown-ups, in Washington and in Lausanne. And the opposition (opposition?) sheds its tears over our relations with the United States, wipes its eyes and lays the foundation: “The Iranian issue may well encourage negotiations over a unity government,” as members of the Zionist Union are saying.

Only one person has tried to ruin Netanyahu’s celebration – former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who was given the Iranian nuclear file at its start. Dagan was the courageous voice of the election campaign, the only one who spoke out loudly against Netanyahu. “Enemies do not scare me,” he said at the rally in Rabin Square before the elections.“I am worried about our leadership, the greatest leadership crisis in the history of the country. We deserve a leadership that will set a set of priorities. ... The [Gaza] campaign ended with nothing. Zero deterrence and zero diplomatic achievements. ... How can you [Netanyahu] be responsible for our fate is you are afraid to take responsibility? How did it happen that this country, so many times stronger than all the nations of the region, is not capable of carrying out a strategic act that will improve our situation?”

Three days before the election, Dagan said in an interview to Channel 2: “I can tell what I made up my mind to do then. I made up my mind that if he decides on an attack, and he has complete authority to decide on it, I decided I would resign that very minute. ... Throughout my entire term I served the country and not the prime minister, and so my loyalty was not to Netanyahu but to the country.”

And so, how is it that Dagan was the only one to come out against Netanyahu? How did it happen that out of all the members of the cabinet when Netanyahu ran the war last summer, not one of them could be found whose criticism could be remembered like Dagan’s? Did they remain silent out of embarrassment? Is it cold out there, being a fig leaf? And if Netanyahu’s demand to add Iran’s recognition of Israel to the agreement between the world powers and Iran is not met, will they then support an attack on the updated axis of evil, Lausanne-Yemen-Washington?

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