By Vic Rosenthal
Ze’ev Chafets in the LA Times:
Given the evident failure of American diplomacy and U.N. sanctions, Israel has two basic choices. It can sit and wait, hoping the Iranians do not drop a bomb on Tel Aviv; or it can preemptively attack, hoping to destroy, or at least retard, the Iranians’ nuclear capacity…
There are Israelis who believe that it is in Israel’s interest for the United States to solve this problem. But they are mistaken. The truth is, the U.S. is not directly menaced by Iranian weapons. When President Bush says an Iranian bomb would threaten U.S. friends and interests in the region, he is speaking primarily about Israel. The Iranians frighten a lot of Sunni Arab countries, but they pose an existential threat only to the Jewish state.
Israel needs to fight its own battles. If it encourages, or allows, the U.S. to disarm Iran on its behalf, it can kiss its sovereignty goodbye. Israel will become an American protectorate, a Mediterranean Puerto Rico. The United States is a great friend, but history’s lesson is that friends come and go.
A basic reason for having a Jewish state, understood by by Ben Gurion and Jabotinsky alike, is so that Jews can defend themselves; for another lesson of history is that nobody will do it for them.
Somewhere around 1979 when Menachem Begin allowed himself to be beaten into acquiescence by none other than Jimmy Carter, Israel lost her sovereignty to the United States. This was accomplished primarily by the huge amounts of addictive military aid that accompanied the Camp David Accords (and the need to maintain parity with Egypt, which got the same treatment). Even the tough Ariel Sharon jumped when Washington called. And the present PM is no Ariel Sharon.
Chafets is correct when he says that Iran poses an existential threat only to Israel. Although the consequences of Iranian actions on the world economy could be great enough to be a casus belli for the US and Europe, this would not become clear until after Israel is toast.
And the Bush Administration, as a result of domestic politics and the strategic situation in Iraq, does not appear to be likely to take strong action against Iran. Hence Israel will be on her own. Decisions won’t be easy. Red lines will have to be drawn and taken seriously. Credibility will be essential. Israel will need a Churchill to lead her through this period.
May she get one in time.