The Jerusalem Post has published an extremely interesting interview with Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon. Ya’alon is the former head of Military Intelligence, Israel Defense Forces OC Central Command, and chief of the IDF General Staff. Jerusalem Post interviewers David Horovitz and Herb Keinon point out that Ya’alon speaks about Israel’s current challenges vis-à-vis the Palestinians, Iran and the Obama administration from a position of knowledge and experience.
In the question and answer session with which President Obama concluded his closing remarks at the nuclear summit in Washington last week, Obama aimed in part at formulating the national interest of the United States in the resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict: “It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.” Here is a particularly pointed exchange with Ya’alon that alludes in part to this proposition and others circulated among the left insofar as Israel is concerned:
Jerusalem Post: How concerned are you by the argument heard increasingly in the US that we are endangering the lives of US soldiers?
Moshe Ya’alon: That is first and foremost a manipulation, and a lie. The truth is the complete opposite. If we are seen as standing firm against the jihadists, against Hamas and Hizbullah, that serves the US interests. And if we are seen as weak, whether in Lebanon, Gaza, or in Judea and Samaria, that harms US interests.
It is clear to us that the central threat today, and the thing that needs to be the highest priority for the world, is not the Israeli-Palestinian issue, but rather the Iranian one. Even before Iran has nuclear capability, it nourishes terrorism, supports it, and pays for it. It also does this in the US’s backyard, in South America. The link between Chavezism and jihadism is crawling, but has now spread to five states.
When it comes to the Iranian nuclear threat, it is clear that what is needed is steadfastness from the west. It is not Israel vs Iran, which unfortunately I see in headlines on CNN. It is America, Western civilization vs Iran.
We think the Iranian government should long ago have had to face this dilemma: the bomb or survival. That is the dilemma, and it should be created before you deploy a military option. But it has to be based on Western determination, Western unity, diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions and in the background a credible military option.
The interview shows Minister Ya’alon holding a substantially firmer grip on the security issues facing the United States than does the president. The interview also provides an important glimpse into the thinking of Israel’s government on issues of current concern.