Sefi Rachlevsky
Haaretz (Opinion)
February 7, 2012 - 1:00am

There are currently 200,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel, according to Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi. Thousands carrying heavy explosive warheads, and some chemical and biological ones, are aimed at Tel Aviv. And they are in the possession of people who are not exactly Israel's friends. In fact, most are religious extremists bordering on messianic.

So why aren't these missiles falling on our heads?

The Soviet Union could have destroyed the United States a hundred times over in recent decades; the United States could have destroyed the Soviet Union 180 times. But neither fired so much as a bullet directly at the other. The stormy '60s - with wonders such as the pill, Pop Art, sex, drugs and rock and roll - were playing out even as a hundredth of Russia's power could have wiped out America.

Whoever believes that credible deterrence can't work should be high-tailing it out of here, and fast. After all, 200,000 missiles are being pointed at him right now. Whoever fears an Islamic nuclear explosion should certainly be fleeing. Pakistan has had nuclear weapons for over a decade, and they could fall into the Taliban's hands at any moment. The idea that 66-year-old technology can be kept from someone who wants it badly is absurd. A leadership that doesn't believe in deterrence should be arranging green cards for all its citizens.

So why aren't they firing? For the same reason that Egypt and Syria stopped fighting during the Yom Kippur War. Because of strategic deterrence. Israel's enemies also want to live, even the religious extremists.

Is there something Israel can do in the face of this threat? Of course there is. Forty years of nuclear superiority, attributed to it by foreign sources, have been wasted by moving in the wrong direction. There have been too few stabilizing peace agreements on the basis of the 1967 borders, and too much delirious religious colonialism.

An Israel that would have pursued stabilization on the basis of the 1967 borders would have won regional acceptance, recognition from America for prompting deterrence, and also the shelter of NATO's nuclear umbrella. Such an Israel would have enjoyed honest Western support for any move, even attack, that it deemed necessary to protect itself.

But the Israeli government chose the opposite route. It decided that being the last colonial occupier on earth was a good move, and that to crush democracy and present itself as an extremist religious state - one that is racist and discriminates against women - was a terrific plan.

Israel seems to believe that the millions being spent on extremist candidates in the U.S. elections are a substitute for the broad international support for deterrence that the opposite policy would have created.

Well, guess what. It isn't.

Now that the facility in Qom is hidden under a mountain, thereby allowing Iran's nuclear project to easily recover from an attack, the Israeli leadership must decide whether having half of Tel Aviv destroyed by thousands of missiles in order to delay the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb for maybe a year is really such a bright idea.

Tel Aviv - the home of enemy-of-the-state Haaretz, and full of sex and not just alleged harassment, as in the holy bureau - may not be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's favorite place. But if he wants Israel to survive, he should probably do something else.

Netanyahu claims to admire former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Churchill came to power after Neville Chamberlain resigned because his policies failed. Netanyahu's policies, which are isolating Israel and turning it into a pariah, are the problem. They are the existential threat.

If Iran must be attacked, it can only be done by someone who has won the world's trust as a moderate, someone whose attack will not merely confirm his aggression toward the world, but will be viewed as true self-defense. Someone who the Iranians know for certain is backed, rather than opposed, with the full might of the Great Satan, America.

If Netanyahu doesn't want to step down, something must be done to get him out of the Prime Minister's Office before the war, or at least afterward. For this we need the correct, varied political architecture that will provide the necessary majority, and it must be prepared during these stormy days. The little extra details are important.

Former Meretz leader Shulamit Aloni contributed to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's bloc of 61. Her clear, ideological Meretz helped him, after the missiles from Iraq, to remain detached and to pick up votes from the center.

The Meretz Council could also be very helpful now. A Meretz that is sharp, clear and conceptual - a Meretz of the '67 lines and of human rights - will not be the entire solution, but it will be a necessary condition. MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz ) will not lead the transformation of power alone, but her election on Tuesday will be a harbinger of it.


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