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"Striking Iran: The Debate in Israel"

Israelis, social protesters, and left wing activists march against the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 24, 2012.
AP Photo

"Striking Iran: The Debate in Israel"

Journal Article, Survival, volume 54, issue 6, pages 93-106

December 2012–January 2013

Author: Chuck Freilich, Senior Fellow, International Security Program

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security



A difficult security environment, electoral system and bureaucratic structure create five pathologies for Israel's national-security decision-making process.


"In recent months Israel's political and defence leaders have engaged in an unprecedented and vociferous public debate about Iran's nuclear programme, and about the advisability of an Israeli strike to destroy or delay it. Meir Dagan, the former head of the secret intelligence service Mossad, called an Israeli attack, at this time, 'the stupidest thing I have ever heard of', warned that it might ignite a regional war and stated that there was still a window of some three years, while the former head of the internal security agency Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin, stated that he did 'not trust' Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's and Defense Minister Ehud Barak's 'messianic' leadership. 1 The former chief of staff (2007–11) of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Gabi Ashkenazi, has been more restrained, but has made clear his opposition to an operation at this time, and even the current chief of staff, bound by the strictures of his office, has let it be known that he is not enthusiastic...."

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1Yossi Melman, 'Former Mossad Chief: Israel Air Strike on Iran "Stupidest Thing I Have Ever Heard"', Haaretz, 7 May 2011; Yaakov Lappin, 'Former Shin Bet Chief Slams "Messianic" PM, Barak', Jerusalem Post, 29 April 2012.


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Full text of this publication is available at:

For Academic Citation:

Freilich, Charles D. "Striking Iran: The Debate in Israel." Survival 54, no. 6 (December 2012–January 2013): 93-106.

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