-- March 9, 2012- Will Israel Attack Alone? Netanyahu is Popular!

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Israel Update
A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

March 9, 2012- Will Israel Attack Alone? Netanyahu is Popular!

The week has come towards a close. Netanyahu is back in Israel. Obama has moved on to other things. Hopefully, President Peres will be back soon after visiting with Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook. Peres by the way i is the most popular figure in Israel with 84% of the public approving of him. So what are the results?

I have two main conclusions; one a fact, and the second a conjuncture on my part. Netanyahu has reached an all time zenith in his popularity, and an attack on Iran is less immenent today than before his trip.

Polls released today by Ha'aretz show that Netanyahu has an approval rating of 53%. Furthermore, if elections were held today, his Likud party would receive 36 seats in the Knesset, a large rise in influence. In the meantime, the parties of the left and center would together not number the number of Likud. Of course, support for Netanyahu always goes up when he is in Washington, and the timing of the Washington was perfectly calculated to deflect interest from the various domestic scandals.

My second conclusion, that an attack on Iran is further off on the horizon, comes from a number of facts. Interestingly, Israeli and American journalists differ greatly on this matter. I read Jeffrey Goldberg's piece last night, stating nothing that happened in Washington delayed an Israeli attack. However, Israeli journalists believe otherwise. There is a clear sense that Netanyhu was outflanked by Obama. When President Obama stated clearly that at the end of the day the US would take military action, if needed, Netanyahu will find it very difficult to act against US wishes. Even before the summitt, Dov Weisglass, Sharon's close confidant, stated on Israeli TV that it would be absurd to think Israel would really attack Iran against the express wishes of the US. After the meeting, there is a sense Obama has either convinced or forced Netanyahu to rely on American action. This was never an attack Israel ever wanted to take on alone-- and it will be nigh impossible to do, as long as the US says it will do "whatever it takes".

Goldberg and others read too much into the Holocaust references. For there is one major difference between 1939 and 2012. In 1939 no one offered to help the Jews, other than to try to find a small number of them refuge. This is not to suggest there will never be an Israeli attack; just that Israel is less likely to attack alone, than it would be to attack under different circumstances. 58% of the Israeli public is against Israel going it alone; with only 34% agreeing to the validity of a unilateral attack. Furthermore, the headlines in today's Yediot Achronot reports that Meir Dagan (the recent head of the Mossad,) stated that the majority of the intellegience community believes the time is not right to attack, it is just the politicians that differ.

I have never been a great fan of the accuracy of journalists. I have alway had a problem with the control editors, and other administrators have on placing headlines. However, last night and this morning I was appalled at the acts of Ha'aretz, a paper I have always respected. Yesterday evening I listened to an interview with Netanyahu on Israeli Channel 10, in which he stated there is a window to wait for progress of sanctions on Iran. Netanyahu stated "it cannot be measured in weeks, but neither can it be in years". Last night Ha'aretz led their web site with an article, whose sub- header stated: "Netanyahu says it could a matter of weeks until Israel attacks". I was greatly troubled by the headline, since it was clearly inaccurate. Such a misquotation could, at the very least, cause a spike in oil prices. I callled the paper and reached the news desk editor of the site. He recognized the error and quickly fixed the headliner to reflect Netanyahu exact words. Imangine my surprise this morning when I looked at Haaretz site and saw the main headline:

Netanyahu: Strike on Iran's nuclear facilities possible within months.

The actual article had the right quote, but the header, once again, was written to suggest that an attack was imminent. I thought that Haaretz practiced responsible journalism. Meanwhile, in header in the paper for which I generally have less respect, the Jerusalem Post, read:"Netanyahu says attack on Iran not imminent"

Of course maybe there is a war coming but the photo below is of a Purim Street Fair, the fair took place on the street that divides the Tel Aviv Musuem from the compound that is Israel's equivilant to the Pentagon.

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