The PJ Tatler

Barak to Zakaria: On Iran, 'You Are Wrong and I Am Right'

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak tangled with a CNN host in an interview aired yesterday about the timing and nature of the Jewish state’s response to Iran’s nuclear program.

“It’s not a matter of weeks, it’s not a matter — but it’s not a matter of years and the other — before Israel will be practically kind of deprived from the possibility to contemplate what could be done,” Barak said on “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

“But that’s not the real issue,” he added. “I really see it as a major challenge for the whole world.”

“But Mr. Minister, you said you don’t have to decide this in a week, but you don’t have much more than a year,” Zakaria said. “So, in effect, you’re saying that there is a fairly clear time line here, that around some time in the next nine to 12 months, something has to get negotiated that stops Iranian enrichment, otherwise, Israel will feel compelled to act.”

“You go much beyond what I have said,” Barak responded. “We don’t have any decision about what to do or a date for decision. But it’s clear that for us, it’s critical. I strongly believe it’s not critical just for us — I believe that it’s critical for you, as well.”

Zakaria wrote an article in TIME last month titled “Why Israel and the U.S. must not launch a preventive strike against Iran.”

“I read into your articles — That we, you, Fareed and me, have differences about it, but I think that you are wrong and I am right about it, that no mutually assured destruction kind of situation will kind of — will serve as a modifier or stabilizer in this case, because we are not continents and Israel is not either the United States or the Soviet Union,” Barak told the host.

“We think that it’s important to deal with it extremely seriously and to– not to remove any options from the table except for containment,” the defense minister added. “Those who believe in containment feel a ray of hope. I don’t believe in containment, so I don’t see how easily it’s going to be solved. And I would be happy to be wrong.”

Barak said as the only U.N. member state to be explicitly existentially threatened by another U.N. member, Israel realizes “we are living in a tough neighborhood.”

“No mercy for the weak and no second opportunity for those who cannot defend themselves,” he said. “We want to be strong. We’re ready to protect ourselves under whatever kind of threat, but at the same time, stretching out our hands to make peace with any neighbor who is ready for it.”