Israel isn’t going to attack Iran and neither will the U.S.


by Barry Rubin

The radio superhero The Shadow had the power to “cloud men’s minds.” But nothing clouds men’s minds like anything that has to do with Jews or Israel. This year’s variation on that theme is the idea that Israel is about to attack Iran. Such a claim repeatedly appears in the media. Some have criticized Israel for attacking Iran and turning the Middle East into a cauldron of turmoil (not as if the region needs any help in that department) despite the fact that it hasn’t even happened.

On the surface, of course, there is apparent evidence for such a thesis. Israel has talked about attacking Iran and one can make a case for such an operation. Yet any serious consideration of this scenario — based on actual research and real analysis rather than what the uninformed assemble in their own heads or Israeli leaders sending a message to create a situation where an attack isn’t necessary — is this: It isn’t going to happen.

Indeed, the main leak from the Israeli government, by an ex-intelligence official who hates Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been that the Israeli government already decided not to attack Iran. He says that he worries this might change in the future but there’s no hint that this has happened or will happen. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has publicly denied plans for an imminent attack as have other senior government officials.

Of course, one might joke that the fact that Israeli leaders talk about attacking Iran is the biggest proof that they aren’t about to do it. But Israel, like other countries, should be subject to rational analysis. Articles written by others are being spun as saying Israel is going to attack when that’s not what they are saying. I stand by my analysis and before December 31 we will see who was right. I’m not at all worried about stating very clearly that Israel is not going to go to war with Iran.

So why are Israelis talking about a potential attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities? Because that’s a good way – indeed, the only way Israel has — to pressure Western countries to work harder on the issue, to increase sanctions and diplomatic efforts. If one believes that somehow pushing Tehran into slowing down or stopping its nuclear weapons drive is the only alternative to war, that greatly concentrates policymakers’ minds. Personally, I don’t participate — consciously or as an instrument — in disinformation campaigns, even if they are for a good cause.

Regarding Ronen Bergman’s article in the New York Times, I think the answer is simple: Israeli leaders are not announcing that they are about to attack Iran. They are sending a message that the United States and Europe should act more decisively so that Israel does not feel the need to attack Iran in the future. That is a debate that can be held but it does not deal with a different issue: Is Israel about to attack Iran? The answer is “no.”

First published in

Born in Washington, DC and living in Tel Aviv, Israel, Rubin has been a PJ Xpress blogger since April 2011, and was named Pajamas Media’s Middle East Editor the following September. He is presently a professor at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, the Director of the Global Research and International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and a Senior Fellow at the International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism.



Better title is

by Abarmard on

Israel Can't Go To War With Iran.

I don't understand why the analysts don't dare saying that Israel is absolutely no match for Iran and can't sustain a war with Iran.

Iran is too big, too strong and has access to arms beyond its borders. Israel can send planes to Iran for one time bombing but then the war breaks loose and Iran will teach a lesson to Israel that there would be no Israeli there to learn it. That's the truth.
Most articles view this as if it is Israelis choice, or the Israeli politicians are logical and sane enough to make that decision. No they are not. If they could, they would have, simple as that. Therefore they can't and it is because Israel is too weak for Iran.

If one wants to be truthful in an article, should mention that Israel can only promote a war with US military, which is the only military around to damage Iran, otherwise Israel attacking Iran is like an ant fighting an elephant.
I don't doubt that Israeli officials are insane enough to walk into that scenario, especially given the extremists and fanatics in charge of Israeli policy makers yet that is what Iran truly wants: a war with Israel starting with limited bombers bombing Iranian sites so Iran has an excuse to finish them.

Ari Siletz

A deeper analysis by Trita Parsi

by Ari Siletz on

A Government's intent to go to war is not the only factor that determines whether the nation will actually get into a war.

Trita Parsi points out:

"The deeper you go into a conflict dynamic, the greater the psychological cost of restraint becomes, and the more additional
escalatory steps become justified and logical. At some point in this conflict dynamic the goverments lose control. It is no longer the governments controlling the dynamics; it's the dynamics controlling the government. At that point you have your trigger [for war]."

Source: See this recent video on IC from 0:00 to 3:15 with Trita Parsi responding to questions at the Carnegie Council.