of the great bluffs in the foreign policy community in the previous
decade was that Israel would have no choice but to attack Iran’s nuclear
facilities unless Washington stepped up and took military action first.
With predictable frequency since the mid-1990s, reports emerged
claiming that Israel was months, if not weeks, away from bombing Iran.
And every time a new dire warning was issued, a new rationale was
presented to convince the world that the latest Israeli warning was more
serious than the previous one. The Israeli threats, however, were
bluffs all along. Israel did not have the capacity to take out Iran’s
nuclear facilities. But the huffing and puffing ensured that the
American military option remained on the table; that Washington would
not deviate from the Israeli red line of rejecting uranium enrichment on
Iranian soil; and that the Iranian nuclear program was kept at the top
of the international community’s agenda.
But the persistent
bluffing also carried a price. The Israeli narrative on Iran has grown
increasingly alarmist, desperate, and existential over the past 15
years. Inflating the Iranian threat served several purposes
domestically. It provided Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and
Shimon Peres a rationale to push for peace with the Palestinians in the
1990s, while more recently Benjamin Netanyahu has used it… >>>