Varda Epstein

Game of Blink

Were it not for the Jewish Sabbath, and those who cherish the day, newspapers would certainly die a natural death. In my home for instance, we revert to dinosaur status every Friday night and refrain from using our personal computers until nightfall on Saturday. But as news junkies, my husband and I can’t live without our fix. So we buy the paper once a week, on Friday.

We read the paper from our beds, sharing sections equitably, giving way if one of us badly wants to read a certain section. We share most things, my husband and I, including our political views. Thus, Caroline Glick’s editorials are always a coveted feature. On the 26th of October, a Saturday, I got my chance at the second section of the main body of the Jerusalem Post and read The limits of US Power.

When I got to this part, my heart plummeted.

The question for Israel now is whether any of this matters. If Romney is elected and adopts a new policy towards Iran, what if any operational significance will this policy shift have for Israel? The short answer is very little.

To understand why this is the case we need to consider two issues: The time it would take for a new US policy to be implemented; and the time Iran requires to become a nuclear power.

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, jihadist attacks on the US, then-president George W. Bush faced no internal opposition to overthrowing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The US military and intelligence arms all supported the operation. Congress supported the operation. The American public supported the operation. The UN supported the mission.

And still, it took the US four weeks to plan and launch Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. That is, under optimal conditions, the US needed nearly a month to respond to the largest foreign attack on the US mainland since the War of 1812.

I turned to my husband, “What does this mean?” I asked, shaken. Until this time, I had thought that if Romney were elected, he would fulfill my dream and offer Iran a credible threat of military force, the bully Iran would back down, and we’d all live happily ever after.

Reading Glick’s editorial, I felt a chill seize me. My husband, a keener analyst than I explained:

It’s a game of blink. Who will blink first—Iran or Israel?

If Iran attacks Israel first, a country the size of New Jersey, the result will be very serious. Israel could, in theory, be decimated.

So Israel cannot allow Iran to attack first. Israel MUST attack Iran or be attacked. We don’t know the exact timetable. We don’t know when exactly Iran will have the capability to decimate Israel with nuclear weapons. Waiting too long would be perilous. Therefore, Israel must preempt things, and attack Iran soon, before Iran has enough enriched uranium to make bombs.

Once Israel attacks Iran, Israel will be overrun with armies from within and from without. While none of the Arab states relish a nuclear Iran, and some have no doubt held private talks with Israel on how to forestall that eventuality, once Iran attacks Israel, all bets are off. There will be an opportunity to seize: to kill Jews and grab land.

When all Hell breaks loose in the Middle East, gas and oil prices will go sky high. Americans will not be able to fill their tanks to get to work—those who still have jobs.

If Obama is in office—and now we know that this will be the case—he will say, “I told Israel not to attack Iran. I told Israel that if Iran attacked Israel, I would stand behind them. But they did not listen.”

Israel will be left hanging and twisting in the wind.

We have seen the tenor of politics in America during this just-completed election. We have seen the no-holds-barred hate and divisiveness. That hate will now be channeled toward Israel.

And then the focus will sharpen and that hatred will be turned on the Jews.

We see what is happening to Jews in France.

We see that circumcision and kosher slaughter have been banned in some European countries.

We see that the president has many members of his administration who have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. And we see his affinity for Islam, his fealty to Arab royals, his switch of focus for NASA from space exploration to Muslim outreach. We saw Villaraigosa struggle to pretend there were more ayes than nays regarding the reinsertion of pro-Israel language in the Democratic Party platform.

We know what is coming down the pike.

As I walked home from our local supermarket, I tried to take comfort, as I often do, from the beauty of my neighborhood in Efrat, Israel, in the Judean Hills. I took out my camera and snapped photo after photo.

I am no photographer. But I love to try to capture what I see.

photo credit: Varda Epstein
photo credit: Varda Epstein

But today it was different. Today I saw an empty playground and instead of knowing that no one is playing because the children are in school at this hour, I stared at the unoccupied swings and imagined them as a surreal scene after a nuclear bomb.

photo credit: Varda Epstein

I looked at a lone stalk of still-blooming lavender and wondered if it would outlive me, my children, my grandchildren, and my people.

The sky was as blue as always, with that particular quality the sky has in Israel, when it looks so close you think you could reach up and touch the heavens.

The American way has always been about being gracious, about saying, “May the best man win. God Bless America.”

The American way is to give in graciously and offer congratulations.

But somehow, today is different.

Today I am grieving.

photo credit: Varda Epstein
About the Author
Varda Epstein is a blogger and Communications Writer for