Orly Halpern’s very wise piece in Foreign Policy:
For years now, official Israel has been scaring its people into believing Iran is near the ‘point of no return’ and the day it reaches it will be doomsday for Israel (of course, Israel’s estimated ‘point of no return’ dates continuously pass, prompting it to make new ones). But the Israeli establishment knows that there is no existential threat, that the Iranian regime is radical, but not suicidal; that if it is building weapons of mass destruction (WMD), it is in self-defense.
So why all the hype? Why the deception? The reasons are many, but they come down to money, politics, and security.
In other words:
Money: Israel’s military establishment is inflating Iran’s existential threat in order to obtain a bigger military budget.
Politics: Israeli politicians are using Iran to divert attention away from “thorny domestic problems at home.”
Security: Israel claims that Iran might share its nuclear know-how with “non-state actors.”
On this last point, Halpern concludes:
If Israel really does fear this prospect it needs the help of its allies, either to pressure or persuade Iran. So when Vice President Biden comes to town it is best not to embarrass him with the announcement of settlement expansions and then insist on making more announcements that deepen the rift; when Turkish television broadcasts a television series depicting Israel in an ugly manner, best not to humiliate the Turkish ambassador on Israeli television; when the Secretary General of the UN visits, best to send someone to greet him at the airport, and not just the security guards; and when Israel wants to make a revenge assassination for the killing of Israeli soldiers, best to let it go, rather than use fake passports of your allies (or don’t get caught).
Israel’s recent behavior is not conducive to achieving its stated goals. It must reassess its priorities and decide whether a settlement in the West Bank, the humiliation of diplomats, and the killing of an arms smuggler are more important than its security.
At the end of the day, Israel needs help if it wants to remain the only kid on the block with a big stick.