THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 8, 2006
When the history of our times is written, this week will be remembered as
the week that Washington decided to let the Islamic Republic of Iran go
nuclear. Hopefully it will also be remembered as the moment the Jews arose
and refused to allow Iran to go nuclear.
With the publication of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group chaired
by former US secretary of state James Baker III and former congressman Lee
Hamilton, the debate about the war in Iraq changed. From a war for victory
against Islamofascism and for democracy and freedom, the war became reduced to a
conflict to be managed by appeasing the US’s sworn enemies in the interests
of stability and at the expense of America’s allies.
Baker and his associates claim that the US cannot win the war in Iraq and so
the US must negotiate with its primary enemies in Iraq and throughout the
world – Iran and Syria – in the hopes that they will be persuaded to hold
their fire for long enough to facilitate an "honorable" American retreat
from the country.
Like his unsupported assertion that the US cannot win in Iraq, Baker also
asserts – in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary – that Iran
and Syria share America’s "interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq." Because of
this supposed shared interest, Baker maintains that with the proper
incentives, Iran and Syria can be persuaded to cooperate with a US
withdrawal from Iraq ahead of the 2008 presidential primaries.
The main incentive Baker advocates offering is Israel.
Baker believes that Iran will agree to temporarily hold its fire in Iraq in
exchange for US acceptance of Iran as a nuclear power and an American pledge
not to topple the regime. Syria will assist the US in exchange for US
pressure on Israel to hand over the Golan Heights to Syria and Judea and
Samaria to Hamas.
Obviously, if implemented, the Baker-Hamilton group’s recommendations will
be disastrous for Israel. Just the fact that they now form the basis for the
public debate on the war is a great blow. But it isn’t only Israel that is
harmed by their actions. The US too, will be imperiled if their views become
Although Baker – and incoming Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who served
on his commission until Bush announced his appointment next month – believe
that there is a deal to be done that will end Iranian and Syrian aggression
against the US, its vital interests and its allies, the fact of the matter
is that there is no such deal. Contrary to what the Baker report argues and
what Gates said in his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, Iran is not
analogous to the Soviet Union and the war against the global jihad is not a
new cold war.
Even if the US were to somehow get them to agree to certain understandings
about Iraq, there is no reason to believe that the Iranians and Syrians
would keep their word. Not only would the US be approaching them as a
supplicant and so emboldening them, but to date the US has never credibly
threatened anything either Syria or Iran value. Indeed, through supporting
negotiations between the EU and Iran, empowering the UN to deal with Iran’s
nuclear program and forcing Israel to accept a cease-fire with Hizbullah
last summer that effectively gave victory to Syria and Iran’s proxy, the US
has consistently rewarded the two countries’ aggression.
Worse than that, from a US perspective, although Gates admitted Tuesday that
he cannot guarantee that Iran will not attack Israel with nuclear weapons,
he ignored the fact that Iran – whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad daily
calls for the destruction of the US – may also attack the US with nuclear
Gates admitted in his Senate hearing that Iran is producing many bombs – not
Since it is possible to destroy Israel with just one bomb, the Americans
should be asking themselves what Iran needs all those other bombs for. There
are senior military sources in the US who have been warning the
administration to take into consideration that the day that Iran attacks
Israel with a nuclear bomb, 10 cities in the US and Europe are liable to
also be attacked with nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, no one is listening to
these voices today.
IT IS particularly upsetting that Washington has chosen now of all times to
turn its back on the war. Ahmadinejad hinted Monday that Iran has completed
the nuclear fuel cycle and so has passed the point of no return on its
nuclear program. He also made a veiled statement indicating that Iran will
have its nuclear arsenal up and running by March – just four months away.
Serious disagreement exists in Washington over the status of the Iranian
program. Some claim that Iran is four or five years away from nuclear
weapons capabilities. Other maintain that Iran has recently experienced
serious technical setbacks in their uranium enrichment activities and that
the North Korean nuclear bomb test in October, in which Iranian officials
participated, was a failure.
But there are also engaged officials who agree with Ahmadinejad’s assessment
of Iran’s nuclear progress. Those officials maintain first that the North
Korean-Iranian test in October was successful and should be taken as a sign
that Iran already has a nuclear arsenal. Second, they warn that the US and
Israel have six months to act against Iran’s nuclear installations and to
overthrow the regime or face the prospect of the annihilation of Israel and
the destruction of several US cities as a result of an Iranian nuclear
Obviously, Israel cannot risk the possibility that the last group of
officials is correct. And since Washington has decided to go to sleep, it is
up to Israel alone to act.
WHAT MUST Israel do? First, it must plan an attack against Iran’s nuclear
facilities and regime command and control centers. To pave the way for such
an attack, the IDF must move now to neutralize second order threats like the
Palestinian rocket squads and the Syrian ballistic missile arsenals in order
to limit the public’s exposure to attack during the course of or in the
aftermath of an Israeli attack on Iran.
Second, Israel must work to topple the Iranian regime. As the Defense
Minister’s advisor Uri Lubrani told Ha’aretz last week, the regime in Iran
is far from stable today and ripe for overthrow.
The overwhelming majority of Iranians despise the regime. There are
rebellious groups in every ethnic group and province in the country –
Azeris, Kurds, Ahwazi Arabs, Baluchis, Turkmen and even Persians – that are
actively working to destabilize the regime. Every day there are strikes of
workers, women and students. Every few weeks there are reports of violent
clashes between anti-regime groups and regime forces. Recently, oil
pipelines were sabotaged in the oil-rich Khuzestan province in the south
where the Ahwazi Arabs are systematically persecuted by the regime.
Westerners who recently visited Iran claim that Israel operating alone could
overthrow the regime by extending its assistance to these people.
Thirdly, in his testimony in the Senate on Tuesday, Gates casually mentioned
that Israel has nuclear weapons. In so doing, he unceremoniously removed
four decades of ambiguity over Israel’s nuclear status. While his statement
caused dismay in Jerusalem, perhaps Israel should see this as an
With the threat of nuclear destruction hanging over us, it makes sense to
conduct a debate about an Israeli second strike. While such a discussion
will not dissuade Iran’s fanatical leaders from attacking Israel with
nuclear weapons, it could influence the Iranian nation to rise up against
Moreover, such a debate could influence other regimes in the region like
Saudi Arabia which today behave as if Israel’s annihilation will have no
adverse impact on them. Americans like Baker, Gates and Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and their European friends need to understand that as goes
Israel so go the Persian Gulf’s oil fields. Such an understanding may
influence their willingness to enable Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.
Tragically, in these perilous times, we are being led by the worst, most
incompetent government we have ever had.
Prime Minister Olmert’s way of dealing with the Iranian threat is to pretend
that it is none of his business. During his visit to the US last month,
Olmert abdicated responsibility for safeguarding Israel from nuclear
destruction to President Bush. It didn’t bother him that Bush didn’t accept
the responsibility. By mindlessly adhering to non-existent cease-fires with
Iranian proxies in Gaza and Lebanon and squawking about peace with them,
Olmert continues to behave as if this is someone else’s problem.
For her part, reacting to the possibility of national extinction, Education
Minister Yuli Tamir this week cocked her pedagogical pistol and shot at her
rear. By ordering the public schools to demarcate the 1949 armistice lines
on the official maps and so wipe Israel off maps of Judea, Samaria and the
Golan Heights, Tamir worked to divide the nation over second order issues at
a time when unity of purpose is most essential. Olmert, who refused to
overturn her scandalous decree, was doubtlessly pleased with her political
stunt. For two days the media devoted itself entirely to stirring up
internal divisions and so ignored the threat hanging over our heads and
Olmert’s refusal to deal with it.
Next Thursday, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, Vice Chairman of the
Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations Malcolm Hoenlein and
former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold will hold a press conference in New
York where they will call for the US to indict Ahmadinejad for his call to
annihilate Israel under the International Convention Against Genocide. This
is doubtlessly a welcome initiative. But it is insufficient.
In a few months, Iran may well be in possession of nuclear weapons which it
will use to destroy the Jewish state. With the US withdrawing from the war
and Israel in the hands of incompetents, the time has come for the Jewish
people to rise up.
OUR SURVIVAL begins with each of us deciding that we are willing to fight to
survive. And today the challenge facing us is clear. Either the Iranian
regime is toppled and its nuclear installations will be destroyed or Israel
will be annihilated. The Jews in the Diaspora must launch mass
demonstrations and demand that their governments take real action to prevent
Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The citizens of the State of Israel must also take to the streets. The
government that led us to defeat in Lebanon this summer is leading us to a
disaster of another order entirely. All citizens must demand that Olmert,
his ministers and the generals in the IDF General Staff make an immediate
decision. They now hold the responsibility for acting against Iran. They
must either act or resign and make way for others who will.
America just abdicated its responsibility to defend itself against Iran and
so left Israel high and dry. Nevertheless, the Jewish people is far from
powerless. And the State of Israel also is capable of defending itself. But
we must act and act immediately.