For months Israel has been publicly preparing for possible action against Iran but is frustrated that it does not have Washington’s support for a military strike against Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this month warned that Iran by next year would have 90 percent of the material needed for a bomb.
Earlier this month in Bulgaria, Netanyahu said: “The world tells Israel: ‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say: ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”
Israel-US relations haven’t been this stretched in decades. Busy campaigning for re-election, President Barack Obama didn’t even make time to see Netanyahu on the margins of the UN session this week. And Netanyahu publicly backed the Republican Mitt Romney for next president.
Netanyahu’s harsh comments followed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarks that the United States would not set a deadline in further talks with Iran, and that there was still time for diplomacy to work.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak seemed to criticise Netanyahu’s assault on the Jewish state’s biggest ally.
The Orthodox Shas party reportedly also remains opposed to any go-it-alone pre-emptive attack on Iran.
Opinion polls suggest that a majority of Israelis do not want their military to strike Iran without US support.
But as speculation winds nerves ever tighter, Israel is distributing protective gear to the whole population and testing alert procedures and systems, including mobile phones and text messages.
On the other hand, there are also pacifist demonstrations.
And peace campaigning on the Internet.
One of them says: “We love Iran”, and has attracted a wide following, even among Iranians.
Ordinary people – the doves – are sending out personal assurances that they are against war.
Another highly successful initiative comes from none other than Israel’s President, Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres.
The 89-year-old former prime minister and former director-general of the Ministry of Defence launched his ‘Be My Friend’ message to pumping electro-music on Facebook, unmistakably different from Netanyahu’s style, form and meaning.