Gideon Israel
Director of the Jerusalem Washington Center

Thank You Israel

Last year, Prime Minister Netanyahu, during his speech at the UN General Assembly, presented a diagram illustrating the different stages in building a nuclear weapon.  On this illustration he drew a red line signifying the point where Iran must not be allowed to cross.  As this point gets closer, pressure will be applied against Israel to refrain from attacking Iran.  Various reasons will be offered:  Iran has not reached the point of no return; Iran has begun to cooperate with the West; now is not an appropriate time to start a war, and other reasons.

The holiday of Passover obligates the Jewish people to relive the experience of leaving Egypt.  It requires the Jew to see himself as having left Egypt, or at the very least to take the lessons learned from the Jewish people’s experience in Egypt and implement them in his personal life.  As the breaking point for Iran’s nuclear program nears and the international pressure mounts, it is incumbent upon the Israeli leadership to relive similar situations of the past and internalize their lessons in order to reach the appropriate decision on stopping Iran’s nuclear program.  Often times, leaders forget that history is our best way of knowing how similar situations have played out in the past; what paths were taken, decisions made, and what worked or failed.

In his memoirs, In My Time, Dick Cheney, former US Vice President during the Bush administration, wrote an interesting anecdote worth remembering about a phone call he made after the Gulf War.  The anecdote should serve as a lesson to Israel and world leaders that what is politically expedient and easy – go along get along – can have catastrophic consequences in the future.  He writes:

“As our troops returned home from the desert… the country welcomed our servicemen and servicewomen home with the celebration they deserved… we honored our troops in Washington… A few days later, New York City held a ticker-tape parade… Before the time of celebration was over, I placed two phone calls – one to David Ivry, who had been commander of the Israeli Air Force on June 7, 1981, when the Israelis conducted a daring raid to take out Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor.  Although the Israelis had faced international condemnation for the attack, I believed they deserved our gratitude, and I wanted to thank Ivry.  Without Israel’s courageous action we may well have had to face a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein in 1991.”

Thus a courageous decision by the few potentially saved the masses.

About the Author
Gideon Israel is the Director of the Jerusalem Washington Center which focuses on strengthening US-Israel relations through mutually beneficial policy projects.