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Is Tel Aviv the Human Shield in a US-Israel Anti-Iran Gamble? Could Israel Become the Next Iraq?

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Joseph Zernik
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One of President Obama's first photo opportunities in his recent visit to Israel was with Israeli civil and military leaders in front of an Iron Dome anti-ballistic missile battery. It had been placed for the occasion at the Tel Aviv airport.

This expensive system, the product of a US-supported Israeli development, is only partially deployed, and is touted as central to the defense of the Israeli civilian population in case of an all-out war with Iran. Yet, we can only hope that the Israeli public is not now subject to a repeat of Colin Powell's deception on the way to war in Iraq. An all-out war with Iran could be devastating for Israel, as it was for Iraq, and it could also lead to long-term US occupation.

Reasonable doubts regarding the performance of Iron Dome are ignored by most mainstream media, and instilling confidence in the system's performance in the Israeli public was integral to Obama's visit to Israel.

Two sides in the debate over the system, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) on the one hand, and MIT Professor Postol and colleagues on the other, have a considerable reputation in the field, and both are considered biased by some or many. The difference in their stated figures for the Iron Dome's success rate ("84 percent" vs "as low as 5 percent") should be worrisome. One cannot escape comparing the debate to the history of the Patriot anti-ballistic missile system in the 1991 Gulf War. While President Bush initially announced a success rate of 97 percent, the US military later claimed that its performance in Israel was only 40 percent. MIT's Postol testified before the US Congress and offered an estimate of 10 percent.

With growing preparations for an all-out war with Iran, with the Israeli military command (HaKiryah) centered in Tel Aviv, and following routine statements by Iran of its intent to level Tel Aviv if attacked, it is only reasonable to consider the people of Tel Aviv the human shield in the brewing US-Israeli anti-Iran gamble.

War with Iran is in fact already under way, as evidenced by the elimination of key Iranian personnel, invasions of cyberspace, and drone attacks. While the US-Israeli alliance gained a substantial advantage in eliminating individuals and in employing the Stuxnet computer worm, the capture of US drones (a key element in US operations today) by Iran left the balance of hostilities to this point unclear.

Would the people of Israel willingly go to war with Iran, if they believed the Iron Dome's performance was below a success rate of 50 percent? And could Obama's visit to Israel and his photo opportunity with the system be considered the equivalent of Colin Powell's infamous UN speech on WMD in Iraq?

If all-out war with Iran should come, similarities with the war in Iraq may not be limited simply to disclosures of large-scale deception at the outset of hostilities. All-out war could well be devastating for Israel, as it has been for Iraq, and it may also lead to long-term occupation of Israel by the United States. Preparations for such an eventuality are already under -way. Military cooperation between the US and Israel is at an all-time high, and the US military is now rushing to build a five-story underground command-and-control center in Tel Aviv.  

As this is written a block away from HaKiryah, one must wonder: Will Israel become the new Iraq?

[1] How many rockets has Iron Dome really intercepted?

[2] Where have all the Gaza rockets gone?
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Dr Zernik's core research pertains to e-government and its significance for Human Rights and Civil Society.

His work won appreciation in Israel and abroad: * Prof Uzzi Ornan - "All power to you! I hope that you see your tremendous efforts (more...)
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