Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

Israel, Iran and Iraq

As Israel readies itself for its general election in two days time a lot of Israelis are thinking about the Iranian threat.  In 1981, Thirty-two years ago, Iraq, the country adjacent to Iran, was extremely close, with enthusiastic help from both France and Italy, to completing a nuclear reactor in Osiraq which would have been able to produce weapons grade nuclear material.  This was a clear and present danger to the Jewish State.  The world, after imposing ineffectual and frequently ignored sanctions, was doing a lot of talking about the situation.

With the diplomatic option not producing the required results, and with time rapidly running out, Israel’s then Prime Minister Menachem Begin (who had lost many immediate family members in the Holocaust) summoned the head of the Israeli air force, who consulted with his chief of strategic planning, Ilan Ramon (later to become Israel’s first Astronaut aboard the ill-fated Columbia, whose tenth anniversary is currently being commemorated).  Ramon conceived the almost desperate, yet incredible, idea of flying two thousand miles over hostile territory extremely close to the ground, to avoid enemy radar, and destroy the Iraqi reactor with specially designed bombs, and somehow return safely to Israel without refueling.  Against all the odds, “Operation Opera,” as it was dubbed, succeeded.

Whilst the Israeli pre-emptive strike was widely condemned in international circles, it prevented a sworn enemy of the Jewish state from acquiring the means to destroy it.  American troops were much relieved a decade later when they invaded a nuclear-free Iraq.

Yitzhak Shamir noted that:

Deterrence was not attained by other countries – France and Italy – and even the United States. It was attained by the State of Israel and its Prime Minster who decided, acted and created a fact that no one in the world today – with the exception of our enemies – regrets.


Fast-forward three decades.  This time it is Iraq’s neighbour, Iran that is extremely close to producing weapons grade nuclear material.  Iran has frequently threatened to destroy the “Zionist entity.”  Despite the fact that the sanctions are more effective this time round, the Mullahs of Iran are still racing towards the finish line.  The world is doing a lot of talking about the situation.  The big question is, who will be Israel’s Menachem Begin and Ilan Ramon this time?  To paraphrase; “It does not matter what the nations of the world say, it matters what the Jews do!”

About the Author
Dr. Tuvia Book was born in London and raised in both the UK and South Africa. After making Aliya at the age of 17 and studying in Yeshiva he volunteered for the IDF, where he served in an elite combat unit. Upon his discharge he completed his BA at Bar-Ilan University, as well as certification in graphic design. He then served as the Information Officer at the Israeli Consulate of Philadelphia, while earning a graduate degree in Jewish Studies. Upon his return to Israel, Dr. Book graduated from a course of study with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and is a licensed tour guide. Tuvia has been working in the field of Jewish Education, both formal and informal, for many years. He has guided and taught Jewish students and educators from around the English-speaking world for some of Israel’s premier educational institutions and programs. Tuvia has been guiding groups for Birthright Israel since its inception and, in addition, has lectured throughout North America, Australia, Europe and South Africa. Tuvia served as a Shaliach (emissary) for the Jewish Agency for Israel as the Director of Israel and Zionist Education at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York (Jewish Education Project). He was a lecturer/educational guide at the Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education (AMIIE) in Israel for a decade. Tuvia has lectured at both Bar Ilan University and Hebrew University. He is the author (and illustrator) of the internationally acclaimed Zionism curriculum; “For the Sake of Zion; A Curriculum of Israel Education” (fifth edition, 2017, Koren) and is at present working on his next book, a history of the Jewish people. Tuvia has a doctorate in Israel education. His dissertation title is: “Through the Soldiers’ Eyes: Exploring the Influence of a Birthright Mifgash on the Israeli Soldier Participants.”