This week, I was happy to check one of the boxes on my American to-do list by attending a Super Bowl Party. I swilled craft beer, ate the Hostess’ secret recipe Super Bowl Chicken™, and watched the commercials everything was going great. I was even able to carry out a couple of not entirely absurd football-related conversations: “You have to respect a coach who is smart enough to let the other team score.” I shared. Admittedly I have no idea why it is smart to let the other team score, but I am smart enough to have a smart phone, on which I read my smart friends tweets, and that passed as smart enough for the conversation I was hoaxing. As I overate and marveled at just how fast, large men in lycra can move, I was rudely awoken from my carb-fuelled utopia by an acquaintance who sat down next to me and asked how I felt about an Israeli attack on Iran.
Did my companion know, I deftly responded like Tom Brady in the pocket, that the same day of the Super Bowl Kiryat Shemona had clinched the Israeli Football League? He did not, but pinning me down with Pierre-Paul accuracy, he referred me back to the question at hand. This was like going to Detroit and asking people in the street if they know what double-dip recession means, like a storm cloud above Macy’s on Thanksgiving. It is a question I have no answer to, apart from “not good”. For while we can happily disagree on the peace process, secular-religious conflicts, and social protests, the topic of Iran presents few, if any, positive outcomes. This is laid out on a daily basis in the Israeli press, which shares projections of non-military methods of halting the Iranian nuclear program (few and far between); losses that an IAF raid on the nuclear reactors would incur (heavier than we can imagine); and most recently, 8 possible scenarios following an Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear cores (none of them were good).
Israelis are aware of the potential damage a military attack could preempt, but it remains on the table for mainstream Israel as the alternative does not seem better. Despite the fact that most nuclear powers have been involved in significantly less militarized disputes since acquiring nuclear weapons, Israelis do not feel hopeful towards Iran. The combination of rhetoric from every possible formal channel that supports wiping the “Zionist entity” off the map; and an aggressive weapons program (if not overtly nuclear) seems like a simple one plus one equation.
More importantly, when it comes to matters of national security, we are less willing to make suggestions. We just don’t have the relevant information at hand. Israelis can debate the upcoming strikes and the pros and cons of casual employment, because we know what the parameters involved actually are (or we think we do), this is just not the case with national security.
So I was left depressed by the question on Iran, and attempted a more sophisticated hand-off: had my friend seen the Israeli Samsung advert mocking Mossad involvement in the recent “accidents” in the Iranian nuclear program? He had not, and I was able to buy a couple of minutes of inner peace before returning my attention to the big screen and a particularly enthralling 5-bean dip.
I came back from super bowl party and bumped into a friend who is an Israeli military attaché. “Do me a favor” I said “don’t attack Iran”. “Sure thing” he replied “not this week”.