Times editor David Horovitz writes here of Netanyahu’s horror at the fast-moving events in Geneva on the West’s rapprochement with Iran, and the idea that he might have missed the boat in taking pre-emptive action to destroy its nuclear facilities.
Reporting on the PM’s parting message to US Secretary of State John Kerry as he left for Geneva, Horovitz writes: “Netanyahu spoke with the panicked air of a Jewish leader who was wondering whether he had failed to heed his father’s lessons, proved incapable of learning from history, and was thus going to be unable to protect his people from another potentially genocidal regime.”
He then quotes Tzachi Hanegbi, the Likud MK, and former minister for nuclear affairs, who is closer than most others in the party to the prime minister as saying that Netanyahu “most likely decided not to [resort to force in the past] because there are great advantages to waiting until Israel comes as close as possible to the limits of its tolerance. Because when that point is reached, we can use all of the previous restraint as a very powerful tool for strengthening the legitimacy of our actions.”
It is this word ‘legitimacy‘ that is always the problem and has so often come close to the undoing of the State of Israel.
Can someone tell me when the UN, the EU, the Quartet or the members of Geneva’s P5+1 delegation on Iran have ever regarded any action by Israel as legitimate? Even our peaceful actions are considered largely illegitimate. Whether it is building a security fence, returning rocket fire from Gaza or selling vegetables from Samaria. To many, our daily existence is illegitimate.
We have just marked the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War with many hundreds of column inches of reflection and speculation on how close Israel came to being totally overrun. Yes, there was dangerous complacency in the defense establishment and those lessons have been internalized and learned. But the central problem was Golda Meir’s unwillingness to mobilize the IDF for fear of upsetting America. A feeling that it would only be legitimate to retaliate rather than repeat the preemptive strike of 1967.
This was the most dangerous mistake since the founding of the state, and yet the lesson has still not been learned.
After 65 years one might expect the free world to have come to terms with the existence of a Jewish state, the uniqueness of its security imperatives within fragile boundaries and encircled in overwhelming numbers by neighbors fanatically committed to its destruction and erasure. Sadly the world has not come to terms with this reality. But our leaders yet dream they will.
If the world will not even accept our good behavior as legitimate, it is foolish to expect them to accept any act of national self-defense as legitimate.
As I heard Benny Begin put it so well at a London gathering some years ago: ‘better that we are harshly criticized than elegantly eulogized’.