Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons is one of the talking points that Palestinians and their supporters like to bring up when American officials express concern about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. During his recent visit to Munich, Donald Rumsfeld was asked by a Palestinian why “the United States is worried about Iran and North Korea but is not doing anything about Israel’s arsenal.” Rumsfeld’s response:
You know the answer before I give it, I’m sure. The world knows the answer. We take the world like you find it; and Israel is a small state with a small population. It’s a democracy and it exists in a neighborhood. Many, over a period of time, [have] opined from time to time that they’d prefer it not be there and they’d like it to be put in the sea. And Israel has opined that it would prefer not to get put in the sea, and as a result, over a period of decades, it has arranged itself so it hasn’t been put in the sea.
It’s hard to have an accurate perspective on the Middle East if you keep ignoring the fact that the goal of one side in that conflict is to exterminate the other side.