It’s been nearly two months since former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan declared an Israeli strike on Iran as “the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” but backlash against both the content of his remarks and his decision to speak publicly continues to reverberate in both Israel and the U.S. as journalist Jeffrey Goldberg and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor launched new attacks on the former intelligence chief.
Jeffrey Goldberg, writing for Bloomberg on July 4, describes Dagan as a “bungling strategist” and, through some impressive logical jujitsu, concludes:
If Israel does attack the Iranian nuclear program, it will in part be because Dagan undermined his country’s deterrent credibility.
While Israel’s deterrent credibility is a matter for debate — though deterrence theory suggests that Israel’s presumed second strike nuclear capability should be enough to deter any Iranian nuclear attack on Israel — Dagan’s remarks should undermine Goldberg’s previous reporting on Israel and Iran. Last year, Goldberg, after speaking with 40 current and past Israeli decision makers, observed, “there is a better than 50-percent chance that Israel will launch a strike by next July.” Neither his characterization of a consensus nor his prediction of a military strike have turned out to be accurate.
But Goldberg isn’t the only one hitting back at Dagan. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor has been making the rounds discussing the Iranian threat and calling for tougher sanctions. ThinkProgress asked Meridor about Dagan’s comments in an Israel Policy Forum conference call today. He responded:
I know Dagan well. I dont’ think he’s against Israeli policy and [he] has a lot we need to thank him for. Whether he should have spoken out after leaving office is a good question of taste. I don’t want to get into that.
And in a France 24 interview from last week, Meridor hinted at the possibility of a military strike while implicity criticizing those who have spoken out against the “military option.”
I don’t think that in good families one speaks of military action. [It’s] something that we don’t speak of. But I think that Americans usually say that “all options are on the table.” Leave it at that.
Watch his remarks here:
Goldberg and Meridor are clearly invested in maintaining the possibility of an Israeli military strike against Iran. But while they prefer to portray Dagan as the only outlier within Israel’s decision making elite, the reality is that a majority of living ex-Mossad chiefs are taking sides against the Netanyahu government’s position on Iran and/or the government’s intransigence on settlements and land swaps required for a two state solution. Goldberg and Meridor continue to cling to their hawkish positions even while an Israeli “consensus” favoring Netanyahu’s hawkish policies seems increasingly in doubt.