Is Israel keeping up with the nuclear age? It is time to get real.

Iran tests a cruise missile which it claims can destroy targets 280 km away/  Creator: Ibrahim Nurouzi\ Credit Associated Press.

Israel’s Knesset has dissolved yet again; new elections are set for November 1, 2022.  According to polls,  two politicians are in the best  position to be elected as the next Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid. So far, primarily, the campaign issues  have been domestic ones. There seems to be little difference between the candidates on foreign policy, especially on how to deal with Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas, who are by far the largest external threat to peace for Israel. That seems odd to me, since dealing with Iran and its allies is going to a key issue with which the next Prime Minister must deal.

There is a reason for this and it is not comforting. These days, Israeli politician after politician, including Netanyahu and Lapid, as well as various members of the IDF talk about the need to attack Iran before it gets nuclear weapons. Over and over again, we hear the refrain that Iran must never get nuclear weapons. Indeed, in his first speech as Prime Minister, Lapid repeated this mantra.

Yet, here are a few realities. When the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty was agreed upon, there were only five countries which admitted having nuclear weapons: the Soviet Union, China, the United States, Great Britain, and France. Although everyone knew that Israel had nuclear weapons, it refused to confirm or deny that accusation.

Since then, North Korea, Pakistan, and India can be added to the list of nuclear powers. Iran is coming very close. Can anyone doubt that if Shia Iran obtains nuclear weapons, the Sunni countries, especially Saudi Arabia, will get them too?

Throughout history, one country has become more powerful than the others by developing the most powerful military. France was once the strongest country in the world because of all the knights on horses it had. When England learned to use the long bow to neutralize them, France did not seem nearly so tough. Over history, the country that had the best military has had to keep improving its military technology, as other countries would be sure to develop the technology that had, until recently, been the best.

This trend continued into the 20th century. The allies won World War II using bolt-action rifles like the M-1. By the Vietnam war,  American troops had the M-16. Today, even terrorists have the M-16, a rifle that Israel has abandoned in favor of the more-sophisticated Tavor rifle. Worse, today the terrorists have nonnuclear missiles. It can only be a matter of time until they have nuclear ones.

The same is true of navies. Once, Britannia ruled the waves with wooden ships. By World War I, ships were made of steel. By the time World War II ended, it was American nonnuclear, battleships and aircraft carriers as well as Germany’s  Bismarck that ruled the waves. All are gone now. Modern naval ships are equipped with missiles, both to attack the enemy and defend themselves from it.

What on earth makes people think that it will be any different with nuclear arms? The rate at which nations become nuclear may be slower than some previous advances in weaponry, but it is still taking place. As a result, Israel is going to have to learn how to live in the nuclear age. Starting a war in order to prevent the inevitable makes about as much sense as trying  to save a crumbling dike by sticking your thumb in it.

Certainly the politicians and the IDF must understand this, but it is not what they are saying. The politicians, including Netanyahu and  Lapid, are just acting like politicians. The are saying what they think  the voters want to hear. Biden’s motives are more complex.  Unlike the Israeli politicians, whose object it is to look strong, Biden must not only look strong by standing up to Iran, but he must do so without  alienating the  “progressive” Democrats, whose  political support he needs. Biden could have re-entered the Iran nuke deal (JCPOA)unilaterally as soon as he took office, now well over a year ago.  Instead, he chose to convince the world that while he genuinely wants to re-enter the Iran Nuke deal, he is not going to meet Iran’s unreasonable demands. Thus, he has been able to appear strong without alienating his political base.

As to the higher ups in the IDF and  Defense Minister Gantz, who is now a politician,  it makes perfect sense to be appearing to preparing for a first strike, even if they have no intention of actually making one. After all, it is the job of the military to look invincible. The   IDF does not want Iran to think is that Israel is not willing to fire the first shot.

At least I hope that is what is going through the minds of the politicians and the IDF.  I shudder to think that they really do not understand that Israel must learn to live in a world where nuclear weapons are commonplace.

About the Author
Before making Aliyah from the United States, I spent over three decades as a lawyer in the United States. My practice involved handling many civil rights cases, including women's- rights cases, in State and Federal courts. I handled numerous constitutional cases for the ACLU and argued one civil rights case in the United States Supreme Court. I chaired the Colorado Supreme Court's Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure and served on the Colorado Supreme Court's Civil Rules and Rules of Evidence Committees. Since much of my practice involved the public interest, I became interested in environmental law and worked closely with environmental organizations, including the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). I was on the Rocky Mountain Board of EDF. I received an award from the Nebraska Sierra Club as a result of winning a huge environmental case that was referred to me by EDF. I also developed significant knowledge of hazardous and radioactive waste disposal. I was involved in a number of law suits concerning waste disposal, including a highly-political one in the United States Supreme Court which involved the disposal of nuclear waste. As I child I was told by my mother, a German, Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany, that Israel was a place for her and her child. When I first visited Israel many years later, I understood what she meant. My feeling of belonging in Israel caused me to make Aliyah and Israel my home. Though I am retired now, I have continued my interest in activism and the world in which I find myself.
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