A few days ago, a flyer appeared on the front door handle. It carried the slogan "Protect Yourself - Right on Time" (sounds better in Hebrew) and showed a map of Israel (and the West Bank) divided into brightly covered sections. Each section referred to the amount of warning time you'll have to reach your "protected area...in the case of an emergency" (read: "if your area is attacked by missiles").
If you live in Kiryat Shemona you have zero time. Lucky Jerusalemites have 3 minutes.The rooftop and the rest of Tel Aviv will have 2 minutes. We don't have a mamad (reinforced room) in this old flat but 2 mns would probably allow us to reach the bomb shelter on the ground floor in time - although the security window in there is stuck half open. If not, we'll head one floor down and seek protection in the stairwell. The folks from the Home Front Command advise us to keep water, food, batteries, first aid and even an internet link in our safe areas, since, it appears, we could be stuck in there for a quite a while...
The flyer is part of a campaign to better prepare Israel for the next war which, in all probability, will see missiles flying into major population centres. A nationwide exercise is planned for later in the month. Ask the Home Front and they'll tell you that it is better to be doing this now while Israel is not in an emergency situation. Ask other observers and they'll tell you that is part of the preparations to launch an attack against Iranian nuclear facilities.
The question of whether Israel will or won't do this has become a national obsession. Some say that the reason that Barak joined the government was because he shares Bibi's existential concerns regarding Iran. As if the flyer and the media attention were not enough, my day (unusually cloudy and cool) is being further darkened by an article by Aluf Benn in Ha'aretz with the catchy title Is Netanyahu bringing Israel closer to a 'second Holocaust'?
It starts with:
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's actions are shaped by a profound conviction that Israel will be in danger of extermination if Iran has nuclear weapons at its disposal. Removing the Iranian threat to Israel has been Netanyahu's main goal for years, and the Iranians' progress in this realm has only reinforced his
awareness that the fateful hour of decision is fast approaching."
and ends with:
"As long as the diplomatic process continues, and Obama is asking Israel to hold off on any action, it is too early to declare that a war against Iran is
inevitable. But Netanyahu's rise to power is clearly bringing Israel closer to
such a conflagration, because of the gravity he attributes to the Iranian threat
and his belief that he is tasked with saving Israel and the Jewish people from
destruction. Anyone who thinks of himself in such terms and is also talking
about history books will not want to be remembered as the prime minister who
served when the Islamic Republic, whose leader considers Israel a "filthy germ,"
became a nuclear power."
A Skpe conversation with S in the UK revealed that the Iranian issue hardly featured in the British press. When I told him that it was dominating ours, he dismissively waved one hand and, with the other, took another swig of whiskey. The fear and loathing that the Iranian nuclear enterprise understandably evinces in Israel is being talked up by our politicians in an orchestrated fashion. This is partly designed to convince the rest of the world of the seriousness of the Iranian threat but (judging by the British press) if the rest of the world remains unconvinced, this may also eventually paint the Israeli leadership into a corner. If diplomacy and sanctions fail, they may feel that there is "no choice" but to take military action.
My fear therefore is not that Iran will launch a nuclear strike against Israel (it knows it would get one in return) but that Bibi will launch a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities that will lead to (non-nuclear) war with Iran (and probably also Hizbullah and Hamas) in which thousands of missiles will be launched at the rooftop and the surrounding area known as the State of Israel.
Where did I put that flyer ??