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With new Israeli elections now scheduled before November and electric debate on matters from drafting the ultra-Orthodox to public disagreement by senior security officials with Netanyahu over Iran and peace with the Palestinians, this is a fascinating moment.
In case you missed it, Yuval Diskin, the most recent head of the Shin Bet, stated publicly that he has "no faith" in the ability of the current Israeli leadership to handle the Iranian nuclear threat1.
He went on to say that his government has no interest in talking with the Palestinians, period. It certainly has no interest in resolving anything with the Palestinians, period.
And the current head of the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told Haaretz that, "the Iranian leadership is comprised of very rational people." He added, "Iran is moving step-by-step towards a point where it will be able to decide if it wants to make a nuclear bomb. It has not decided yet whether to go the extra mile2."
These forthright statements contradict not just the Israeli government but conventional wisdom in the American Jewish community.
They remind me of a lament I hear all too frequently: Why can't debate in the U.S. about Israel be as open and broad as it is in Israel itself?
This dynamic was highlighted when a Jewish American with perhaps the largest media platform in the world, Paul Krugman, acknowledged that he hesitates to talk about the suicidal path Israel is on out of fear of the "buzzsaw of criticism" that would follow.3
And we saw it again when a controversial Sixty Minutes segment (on the declining percentage of Christians in Israel and the Palestinian Territory) generated a massive campaign against the show and network for airing the program.
I am convinced the American conversation on Israel would be better and we'd stand a better chance of solving real problems “ from Iran to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “ if those in charge of the buzzsaw would listen to and engage what's being said by Israeli - and American - critics, rather than immediately seeking to discredit them.
On Iran, they could listen to the many military and intelligence experts who say a pre-emptive military strike is ill-advised.
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they could listen to President Shimon Peres4 or former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert5 who have both said that Mahmoud Abbas is a "partner for peace."
Perhaps then they'd hear Abbas's offer to reach a two-state deal if Israel would stop settlement construction for just 2-3 months and agree to a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 lines with swaps.
Let's stop saying that people who disagree with the government of Israel or with established Jewish voices in this country automatically are self-hating or anti-Israel.
Perhaps all of us could agree to do a little more listening and engaging, and a little less name-calling and grandstanding.
Let's have the debate that Israel's supporters really should be having: what really is in the best interests of the United States and Israel right now and how can we best support Israel in this complex environment?
 - Yuval Diskin, Israel Former Intel Chief, Slams Netanyahu's Iran Stance, Huffington Post
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