Netanyahu’s choice

It would be a mistake to lose lose sight of the mad mullahs’ steady progress toward nuclear weapons. IPT News has a good roundup by Yaakov Lapin here. This Jerusalem Post article on John Bolton’s assessment is also worth a look. Daniel Nisman’s Wall Street Journal column on Israel’s history of long-shot attacks puts developments in an Israeli historical context:

Last week, Israel’s outgoing ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, sought to settle a long-running debate regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s willingness to use military force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“Certainly,” Mr. Oren told daily newspaper Haaretz, “[Mr. Netanyahu] was the one who succeeded in drawing the world’s attention to the threat. . . . But this success is not enough. The question he faces is similar to the question that [former Prime Minister Levi] Eshkol faced in May 1967.”

As a close confidant to the prime minister and an award-winning historian of the Six Day War, Mr. Oren’s comparison of Mr. Netanyahu to Eshkol is an ominous one that shouldn’t be ignored.

Throughout its short history, the state of Israel has repeatedly shocked the world with bold military operations previously considered impossible, unthinkable, or borderline suicidal. On June 5, 1967, Eshkol sent most of Israel’s air force into Egypt for a surprise preemptive attack, which left less than a dozen warplanes to defend the entire homeland. In the six days that followed, Israel defeated multiple threatening Arab armies, changing the face of the Middle East to this day.

Since the Six Day War, successive Israeli leaders have signed off on daring operations that have entered the annals of history: the 1976 hostage rescue in Entebbe, Uganda, the bombing of Saddam Hussein’s Osiraq nuclear reactor in 1981 and the sneak attack to spoil Bashar al-Assad’s own nuclear ambitions in 2007, to name a few. Premiers like Eshkol, Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Olmert embarked on each of these operations after becoming convinced that even their staunchest allies would not come to Israel’s assistance.

In the face of such choices, forget the intelligence estimates and risk assessments. It ultimately takes a do-or-die, all-or-nothing mindset to make a decision which could either bring complete victory, or considerable military defeat and diplomatic isolation. In this context, Mr. Netanyahu not only views Iran as an existential threat comparable to the Nazi Holocaust—he also wishes to be remembered as the one who personally delivered its demise. On this point, sources close to the prime minister assert that he keeps in his desk drawer World War II-era letters from the U.S. War Department, which decline requests by the World Jewish Congress to bomb gas chambers at Auschwitz…

Whole thing here.

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