Iran and the Bomb - From the Israeli Perspective - Rick Richman


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Can/Will Israel Act Alone?

President Obama’s credibility is not high, and his assurances that all options are on the table, he’s got your back, he doesn’t bluff, etc. are rhetorical phrases that no country would rely upon. But the current crisis is not simply a matter of the President’s personal credibility. The central premise of Zionism is Jews must ultimately rely upon themselves, and not others, in such matters -- which is why Netanyahu, and Sharon before him, constantly insist on Israel’s right to defend itself by itself. It is not in the DNA of any Israeli prime minister, much less Netanyahu, to put Israel in a position of relying at the end of the day on the word of a foreign leader for its ultimate security.

Can Israel act alone against Iran? Will Israel act alone? To answer that question, you need to know a little history, and then know what Netanyahu has said about that history just a couple weeks ago. You need to understand what happened in the 1967 war and the 1973 war, and then the lessons that Netanyahu drew from those two wars, and the relationship of that lesson to the central creed of Zionism.

If Israel sees itself being backed into a corner where it is about to lose the ability to protect itself, by itself, it will act before it is too late. It is a lesson of Israeli history the current prime minister not only knows but has articulated in terms that could not be clearer. As Dore Gold said a number of years ago in an appearance before Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, when he was asked if Israel could act against Iran on its own: I have no inside information, but Israel has had more than a decade to prepare for the moment.

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Iran and the Bomb - From the Israeli Perspective - Rick Richman

  1. 1. CJHS Forum November 18, 2013
  2. 2.  Amidror: Israel has the ability to strike Iran, and is willing to do so alone  By HERB KEINON  11/18/2013 03:33 Amid Netanyahu's warnings that Jerusalem will not be bound by a bad agreement with Iran, former national security adviser tells 'Financial Times' that Israel could halt Iran’s nuclear capability “for a very long time.” 
  3. 3.  New Wave survey of 500 Jewish Israelis for Yisrael Hayom, published November 15:  “Should Israel support or oppose the agreement being developed with Iran?” Oppose 65.5% Support 16.2% Don't know 18.4%  “In the event that a bad agreement, in terms of Israel, is signed, and Iran continues to advance its nuclear program, would you support or oppose an independent Israeli attack?” Support 52.4% Oppose 26.8% Don't know 20.8%  Can the IDF independently attack Iran? Yes 68.8% No 17.1% Don't know 14.1%
  4. 4.  Foreign Minister Abba Eban meets with President Johnson in the Oval Office  Eban’s question: “Do we fight alone or are you with us?”  Johnson’s answer: “Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go it alone.”
  5. 5. President Johnson to Abba Eban: “If your Cabinet decides to do that they will have to do it on their own. … I think it is a necessity that Israel should never make itself seem responsible in the eyes of America and the world for making war. Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go it alone.” [Emphasis in the original].
  6. 6.  Johnson repeated it three times: “Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go it alone.”  Johnson handed Eban a handwritten note from Secretary of State Dean Rusk: “I must emphasize the necessity for Israel not to make itself responsible for the initiation of hostilities ... We cannot imagine that Israel will take that decision.”
  7. 7.   Before exiting, Eban asked one more time [if he had Johnson’s commitment to keep the Straits open]. Johnson responded yes, sealing it with a shake of his hand so strong that Eban doubted “that I would ever regain use of it.” The president then followed his guest down the hall to remind him, yet again, that “Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go it alone.”
  8. 8.  “Do not make war,” de Gaulle instructed Eban … Do not be the first to shoot.”  Eban … stated that Nasser in effect already fired the first shot by blockading the Straits, a blatant act of war. He further reminded [him] that it was largely on the strength of French commitments to free passage that Israel had agreed to withdraw from Sharm al-Sheikh in 1957.  “That was 1957,” de Gaulle retorted. “This is 1967.”
  9. 9. Britain and the United States both declared their neutrality in the conflict, and France embargoed further arms shipments to Israel.
  10. 10.  Of all the activities required in the political, economic and military fields, pre-emption is the most difficult. You can never prove to people what the situation would be if you do not move. . . .  All leadership exacts a cost -- because otherwise you don’t need leaders. You just need managers . . . you just run to the head of the herd. As it charges in one direction, you just charge along with it.  Today what is required is leadership, leadership to change this tide of history, leadership to confront this danger -- leadership to act. . . .  For us the Jewish people, too many times in our history we didn’t see danger in time, and when we did, it was too late. Well, we see it now. . .
  11. 11. “A preemptive strike is one of the most difficult decisions a government is required to make, because it will never be able to show what would happen had it not taken action. “At the same time, the major difference between the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War lies first and foremost in the fact that in the Six Day War we initiated a preemptive strike to extricate ourselves from the noose imposed on us by our enemies, while in the Yom Kippur War, despite the warning signs, the government chose to absorb the full force of the enemy's attack.”
  12. 12.  “If I had to pick one fundamental principle of [Ben Gurion’s] doctrine, a principle that guides me and the members of my government, I would choose these words: "The fate of Zionism will be determined in Zion". As a sovereign people, we have the right and the duty to defend ourselves and our existence by ourselves.  “The lesson we learned from Jewish history, especially from the Holocaust, but not only from the Holocaust, is that we will never again be helpless and under the threat of destruction.”