Bibi Netanyahu, the former Israeli Prime Minister, held a bloggers conference call yesterday in which I participated. The call is comprehensively described (as is always the case) by Rick Richman
Netanyahu is keenly focused on preventing Iran from completing its nuclear program. During the call, he indicated that his current activities were focused on strengthening the economic pressure against Iran (he believes the recent UN approved sanctions are very weak), and in particular, the need for divestment by large institutional funds of companies that do business with Iran.
Netanyahu clearly believes that if non-military measures are unsuccessful in forcing Iran to give up its program (or do not lead to a regime change, an even less likely outcome ), then the military option remains available, with all its incumbent risks. Netanyahu is not willing to accept the risk that Iran would be a rational actor if it obtained nuclear weapons, given the apocalyptic rhetoric and vision of President Ahmadinejad, (which Bibi says is shared by many others among the ruling elite), and is convinced that even if Iran did not use any nuclear weapons it obtained, that it would achieve much greater strategic influence in the region, and would become a bigger threat to Israel and other states as well, Jordan, and Lebanon among them. And of course, Iran has been in a state of war with the United States since 1979, and its hostility towards and actions against American interests are growing (e.g, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiite militias in Iraq).
An article in he Jewish Week, out today suggests that one leading hawkish group- JINSA, is trying to lower the rhetoric on the need for a US or Israeli military strike against Iran. A key issue underlying what might seem to be a split between Netanyahu and a group that thinks as he does on most security issues, is that there are political risks from the appearance of American Jews or Israel pushing the US to war with Iran. This is in part due too the oft-repeated leftist slander that Jewish "neocons" controlled by Israel's Likud Party took us to war with Iraq, a war that is now very unpopular in this country. The "neocon" power angle is a constant refrain from the likes of MSNBC's Chris Matthews, academics Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, and Pat Buchanan, among others.
Israel at the moment faces both real strategic threats and a well financed insidious political campaign designed to undermine its ties to the United States. It would be helpful if an individual with strategic vision, and toughness were running the country. Regrettably, Bib Netanyahu is on conference calls, and Israel's Prime Minister is tied up in the courtroom.