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August 15, 2012

Another avoidable war

Like its predecessors, the next war is being portrayed as unavoidable. It's hard to see how it could be more successful than the previous ones. It's easy to see how it could be the most terrible.

Israel will attack Iran within a few weeks, according to the former head of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze’evi Farkash. He made this announcement to Israel, Iran and the rest of the world on Channel 2 news Friday night.

We can assume that Farkash, one of the most responsible and restrained of speakers, knows what he’s talking about. He didn’t retire in bitterness and he doesn’t have many personal accounts to settle, as far as is known. He wasn’t shooting from the hip or out of a desire to sabotage the plans.

Of course, he was subject to the hint of a reprimand by the head of our national information agency, television reporter Roni Daniel. But Daniel, too, couldn’t hide the impression Farkash’s remarks made on him. Israel is about to start another avoidable war.

We’ve had four or five avoidable wars − it depends on how and which ones you count − not one of which achieved its desired end. Now Israel is about to embark on another one. Each war was first depicted as an overwhelming success, applauded by nearly everyone. People were even very moved at first. Only after days and then months went by did Israelis wake up from a dream and realize it was a nightmare − another avoidable war.

Like its predecessors, the next war is being portrayed as unavoidable. Israel, which seeks peace and security, has no choice. But like most of Israel’s wars, this one is avoidable. It’s hard to see how it could be more successful than the previous ones. It’s easy to see how it could be the most terrible.

Israel is prepared for this avoidable war, unlike the earlier ones. Operations experts have done their research and come up with the number of Israelis to be killed − 200 to 300 if everything goes as planned, according to the operations department.

This is the defense establishment’s latest update. A few months ago the defense minister put the winning number at 500 Israelis dead. In other words, two people, the prime minister and the defense minister, are about to sentence at least hundreds of Israelis, some reading these words and some not, to death. This macabre news cannot but raise extremely difficult ethical questions, even among those who believe that Israel has no choice.

Populism? Absolutely, and shamelessly so. We’re talking about hundreds of people at least, whose deaths are being foretold by their leaders’ decision. They didn’t volunteer to die; no one asked them or even their representatives what they wanted.

The decision about their approaching deaths was made by people who are protected from all ill ‏(along with their families‏). Not one hair of the decision-makers’ heads will be hurt. This is how it is with avoidable wars; you can’t hold a referendum on them. You can only volunteer others to die.

True, the decision-makers don’t choose who will die. That’s all we need, a questionnaire for leaders: Who shall live and who shall die. Or perhaps a death lottery. But they’ve definitely decided that others, many others, will die. So it’s impossible to avoid a question about the unethical nature of such a war.

Let’s say the results are priceless: Iran collapses, its regime falls, the country is taken over by a friend of Israel, the Iranian Mitt Romney − a pacifist, disarmed Iran. Is there anyone willing to die for this? Even one? Let him stand up. Since no one has, the question remains.

But all this is simply the most desired scenario: “Only” hundreds of dead and an overwhelming victory. There are of course other possibilities, and this no one can deny: The hundreds could become thousands, with thousands more wounded.

And the success could turn out a failure: perhaps a delay in achieving nuclear weapons, or an acceleration. Just an Israeli-Iranian war, or a regional one. Perhaps the Israeli home front will be protected, or perhaps, heaven forbid, it won’t. Then what? Will we form another investigative committee? Or maybe write another editorial against the war? Israel’s sixth avoidable war.

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M. Elmasry

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