Steve Kramer

Counteracting Iran’s threat to destroy Israel

Israel is currently in an interim period of religious and national holidays which will be over by the end of May. The Knesset is on vacation while hopefully intense negotiations are being held in President Herzog’s residence, seeking to compromise on the proposed judicial system legislation. These negotiations are against a backdrop of large weekly (if not more frequent) demonstrations against the government’s proposals. The opposition’s policy has been to claim in the most dire terms that altering the current judicial system (which experienced radical changes approved by the opposition in the 1990s with only a few score of MKs voting -) will destroy Israel’s democracy, economy, and society. 

My opinion is that the opposition’s contentions are vastly overblown and in many cases are self-fulfilling, as evidenced by Moody’s 4/15/23 downgrading of Israel’s credit rating. The contentions have induced many IDF reservists to suspend crucial voluntary training at a very critical time, damaging Israel’s military posture. Also, the opposition movement is essentially the left’s retaliation after losing the majority in the current government. All this is besmirching Israel’s international standing while dividing the society along quasi-ethnic lines: haves/have nots, European-descent v Middle Eastern descent, well-educated v less-well educated.

What could happen? Dr. Mordechai Kedar, one of Israel’s premier scholars of the Arab world, lecturer, and author warned in the April 9 Makor Rishon newspaper that Iran will soon instigate,  “a mass missile onslaught against Israel by Iran’s proxies in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Yemen. Those attacks, which will quickly deplete Israel’s Iron Dome missile inventory, will be carried out in tandem with acts of cyber warfare targeting vital command and control and civilian targets.

Simultaneously, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in Judea and Samaria will carry out sabotage, mob violence and terror throughout Israel, Judea and Samaria. Following on the heels of these assaults, ground forces from Lebanon and Gaza will invade Israel and assault Jewish communities in accordance with Hezbollah’s operational plans that were widely published several years ago.”  (Summarized by Caroline Glick, columnist, lecturer, and author in her April 11 article).  

This dire prediction, Glick wrote, is aided by Israeli opposition leaders’ and retired generals’ statements presaging Israel’s imminent democratic collapse. They have even broken a taboo by calling for IDF reserve soldiers and pilots to refuse to serve. (Without its reserve forces, the IDF would be a much less potent force.) Glick points out that President Biden and his senior aides have been openly supporting the opposition to block Netanyahu’s government in its efforts to place modest limits on the nearly limitless powers of Israel’s Supreme Court, as well as the attorney general. The Biden administration certainly seems to support the protestors’ explicit goal to topple the government itself.

Why should Israel be worried about US actions in the Middle East? Because of America’s capitulation to Iran’s march to be a nuclear weapons power. While Israel threatens no country with its purported nuclear weapons inventory, Iran is forthright in declaring that it will annihilate Israel when it has the ability to do so. That time may be now, or soon, according to Motti Kedar’s analysis. Even when the time limits of the JCPOA are almost over, the US is still almost begging Iran to rejoin the agreement. 

The Biden administration’s initial bargaining stance was an absolute prohibition against Iran attaining nuclear weapons. Now, according to America’s highest military officer, General Mark Milley, the prohibition is against “fielded” nuclear weapons. In other words, Iran can have nukes, but they can’t use them. Stockpile them, yes; brandish them, yes; use them, no. That’s not a formula that Israel can live with. Israel has an existential situation with Iran which can’t be nuanced. 

In 2012, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his then-Minister of Defense Ehud Barak ordered a preemptory attack against Iran, which would have set back its efforts dramatically or even foreclosed them, like offensive attacks against Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007 accomplished. Netanyahu broadcast a willingness to attack the Iranian nuclear program without support from Washington or the world. However, Israeli military officials and then-Mossad head Meir Dagan refused to cooperate, nixing the proposed operation. Now, any action against Iran is a much greater challenge than a decade ago, to say the least.

That failure to stop Iran led to the disastrous JCPOA in 2015, aka the Iran Deal, which was President Barak Obama’s initiative. The deal showered Iran with hundreds of billions of US dollars but failed to end Iran’s aspiration for nuclear arms. JCPOA just put it off for a limited number of years. Its stipulations were so lenient that Iran could continue its program as the world’s chief fomenter of terror, continue its offensive missile use, and continue speeding up its uranium enrichment. 

With Netanyahu’s urging, President Trump pulled the US out of the JCPOA due to its ineffectiveness and Iran’s constant lying and cheating. The indispensable part of the American pullout was a program of dramatic sanctions against Iran. Unfortunately, Trump was not able to continue his ramping up sanctions against Iran when he was defeated by the Democrats in the 2020 presidential election. 

With insufficient economic pressure against Iran, and the Europeans’ avid desire to do “business” with Iran, Iran’s weapons research and its terror activity burgeoned. So today we see a potent Iran buoyed by its numerous auxiliaries and encouraged by the disorder and conflict among the Israeli populace, poised to attempt the destruction of Israel. If that were to succeed, in short order Iran would take over the Middle East and immediately proceed to extend its power throughout Europe. 

Below are some comments regarding the situation, with links to the articles. 

Jeremy Sharon (journalist): Should Hezbollah, Hamas and other groups opposed to Israel’s existence open a multi-front conflict, it could test Israel, which has long sought to isolate the various arenas and only respond in countries from which a particular attack emanated. Hezbollah chief Nasrallah explains that the enemy [Israel] separates the West Bank, Jerusalem, Gaza and Al-Aqsa [Jerusalem] and says it is not interested in a broader conflict. [But this is because he – Netanyahu] is very afraid of war.

We say to the Israelis that this is a dangerous game. You cannot forever control all sides of this game — not in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, not in the West Bank, not in Gaza, not in southern Lebanon and not in Syria. Nasrallah even claimed that Israel is too weak and cowardly to strike nuclear facilities in Iran.

David M. Weinberg (former senior government advisor, senior fellow at several political NGOs): Iran is on an aggressive march across the Middle East, presenting significant security challenges to Israel, moderate Sunni Arab countries and Western interests. Iran does not hide its overarching revolutionary ambitions: to export its brand of radical Islamism globally, to dominate the region and destroy Israel.

Yoni Ben Menachem (journalist, editor, researcher): The Axis of Resistance estimates that Israel’s judicial reform debate and its recent crises in relations with the United States [!] have weakened the Jewish state. They believe that the Israel Defense Forces cannot fight simultaneously on several fronts while dealing with tens of thousands of rockets, precision missiles and drones launched across several borders, accompanied by a wave of terror in the West Bank.

Robert Farley (editor, journalist): It is unlikely, but hardly impossible, that Israel could decide to use nuclear weapons first in a future conflict.

Responding to the last quote, I wonder, if indeed Israel is existentially challenged, would it use its potent nuclear weapons to survive? Israel beat off six Arab armies in the War of Independence in 1948. It was victorious in the Six Day War of 1967  against Egypt, Syria and Jordan. It beat off the Egyptians and the Syrians (and others) in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, when then-Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan contemplated using nuclear weapon at an initial low point in the war, when he feared that the “Third Temple” was being overrun. There have been many more recent military operations, mostly against Hamas, which have had been framed in the media as “Goliath -us- battling David-them.”

It’s important to know that Israel has won many wars on the battlefield but has lost them on the PR front.

But times have changed. The forces arrayed against Israel appear to be almost insurmountable, with Israel not buoyed by any potent ally it can count on (at least not currently). Israel’s internal friction coupled with the West’s effete reaction to Iran, which is now allied with Russia, point to fraught conditions ahead. However, Israel is a miraculous state and as Prime Minister Netanyahu recently said, “We are operating in all fronts and showing our enemies that… it is not a good idea to open a war with Israel.”

For more information: (staff and Jeremy Sharon) (David M. Weinberg) (Caroline Glick)דר-מרדכי-קידר/ (Motti Kedar) (Yoni Ben Menachem) (Robert Farley) (The US Institute for Peace)

About the Author
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1967, adopted the hippie lifestyle until 1973, then joined the family business for 15 years. Steve moved to Israel from Margate, NJ in 1991 with his family. He has written more than 1100 articles about Israel and Jews since making Aliyah. Steve and his wife Michal live in Kfar Saba.
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