Paul Alster
Israel-based print and broadcast journalist

Iran and the bomb: explain it so people understand

Whenever I'm in England and the subject of Iran and 'the bomb' comes up, I always find the most effective way of putting the matter into a context is to adapt the scenario to that particular local territory

With every passing day it appears more and more likely that Israel will go it alone and seek to disable the nuclear-weapons-making capabilities of the Iranian regime. With or without the public support of the US and other leading geopolitical players, it seems that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will act on his belief that time is running out on Israel’s chance to ensure it will not be the target of a nuclear attack from a country whose leadership has repeatedly stated its intention to “remove Israel from the map.”

Whether or not a preemptive strike on Iran is the right step, I really don’t know, but what I do know is that for the average Joe living far away from the Middle East, whose only direct connection with the area is the price of the gas he puts in his car, or the impact any conflict in the region might have on his planned tour to the see the ancient pyramids or the modern wonders of Dubai, it can mistakenly appear that Israel is in fact the aggressor in this current power play between Iran and the Jewish state.

Whenever I’m in England, the land of my birth, meeting with old friends and former colleagues who have no connection to, or particular interest in Israel and the Middle East, and the subject of Iran and “the bomb” comes up, I always find the most effective way of putting the matter into a context is to adapt the scenario to that particular local territory. I only wish Israel’s hasbarah regarding the knife-edge situation we now find ourselves in was conducted in a similar fashion via the international news media.

Here is the scenario I present to people in England who want to understand exactly what it is we in Israel are facing, and on what we have to base the final decision on whether to hit Iran soon or sit back and wait for sanctions to bite:

For the last 30 years France has been governed by a regime that has openly called for the destruction of England and wishes to wipe our “green and pleasant land” off the map. There is no justification for this desire other than a pathological, unjustified hatred of all things English, and of England itself, whom they see as the root of all evil in the world.


For the last three decades France has sponsored terrorist organizations on the borders of England, supplying money and weapons and training militias in both Scotland and Wales to commit terrorist atrocities against the English and conduct wars on both fronts. This proxy Anglo-French conflict has resulted in the deaths of thousands of English civilians and military personnel, and has resulted in the south of England being on the recipient end of incessant rocket attacks that necessitate much of the population having to live in close proximity to bomb shelters.


The ever-present danger of rocket attacks has traumatised masses of people, who live in constant fear of when and where the next indiscriminate rocket will strike. (More than five thousand have already been fired.) The irony is that the rockets come from Wales, the territory from which the English unilaterally withdrew some years ago in a peaceful gesture to the local Welsh population.


Now, with France moving closer by the day to developing a nuclear bomb (having already produced rockets easily capable of hitting all corners of England as well as far, far beyond), international inspectors have been refused entry to those sites in France that England and the international community have already agreed are being used to prepare for the final production of weapons of mass destruction. Even the head of the inspection force has warned that France appears close to achieving its dream, which will spin the whole region into a terrifying nuclear arms race and potentially apocalyptic scenario.


Is France just bluffing? Is it all a game of one-upmanship? Should we trust the word of a country that has sponsored terrorism around the world, represses freedom of speech, murders internal opposition, and via its many militias on all borders has involved itself in wars in neighbouring states for as long as anyone can remember? Is it sensible to trust that their nuclear development is entirely for peaceful purposes?


England is in the line of fire. England stands to lose many lives and suffer unimaginable destruction if it makes the wrong call. England is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. The world will likely call it war-mongering if it strikes first, but it faces potential annihilation if it sits back and trusts the international community to do what it takes to prevent France from dealing a first, potentially fatal blow. England has a right to self-defense, and sometimes, as the world well knows, attack is the best form of defense.


You people sitting in London, Newcastle, Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, Portsmouth, Cumbria, Essex, and Cornwall; you who just want to live your life quietly with your family, go to work, come home, go on holiday once or twice a year, and plan for your children’s future; yes, you: are you prepared to give it more time and hope for the best while staring down the barrel of a gun? Do you believe that England must try and neutralize the danger before it is too late? What would you do? Tell me, what would you do?

I don’t pretend to know what we in Israel should do at this very moment, but for us, it is no longer a theoretical situation; it is a very frightening reality. The biggest and most pressing question is, do Netanyahu and Ehud Barak have the answer? And if they do, will they make the right call? I hope so. Our lives might just depend on it.

About the Author
Paul Alster is an Israel-based broadcast journalist with a special interest in the Israel/Palestinian conflict and Middle East politics. He is a regular contributor to a variety of international news websites including The Jerusalem Report, and was formerly's main Middle East correspondent. He can be followed on Twitter @paul_alster or at