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Atomic Bomb and Israel's Children

Menachem Begin: 'God Almighty, An Atomic Bomb Could Fall On Israel's Children!'

Amos Yadlin: 'U.S. President Barack Obama Should Give Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu An Iron- Clad Assurance On Iran, Otherwise Israeli Leaders May Well Choose To Act While They Still Can'

IsraCast Suggestion: Netanyahu Should Quote The Words Of Prime Minister Menachem Begin In 1981 Immediately After Israeli Air Strike On Iraqi Nuclear Reactor

Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 The Obama-Netanyahu summit in Washington may very well seal Israel's future course of action against Iran and its drive to acquire nuclear weapons. Although the U.S.President can be expected to hail the success of sanctions in reining in North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Israel's leader is not likely to be convinced. IDF General (res.) Amos Yadlin, a former Military Intelligence Chief, is one of the very few Israelis who know the facts about a potential Israeli air strike on Iran's nuclear weapons program. On the eve of summit, IsraCast analyst David Essing reports on Yadlin's opinion piece in the New York Times; he also has a suggestion for Prime Minister Netanyahu.

 What goes through the mind of an Israeli Prime Minister facing a potential nuclear attack from a fanatical enemy bent on annihilating the Jewish state? This will be in the air and discussed by the media during Binyamin Netanyahu's upcoming trip to Washington. The Israeli leader will be facing an American president who has one overidding thing on his mind: how to win the presidential election this fall. For Obama, his top priority is to avoid any fireworks in the Middle East that could rock the U.S. economy and gas prices in particular. He will be urging Netanyahu to count on his assurance that 'all options are on the table' when it comes to barring Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In other words, Israel should be ready to put its security and very survival in Obama's hands. This runs counter to the bedrock of Israel's defense principles and as IDF Gen. Amos Yadlin put it: 'To make Washington a de facto proxy for Israel's security'. This would be a very bitter pill for the Israeli PM and the Israeli people to swallow. One of the reasons for the founding of the modern day state of Israel was that the Jewish people would be responsible for its own defense. The Holocaust lesson of 'Never Again' meant the Jews of Israel would never relinquish their capability to defend themselves and not rely on others to do it for them.

Obama's iron-clad assurance...

Amos Yadlin

Back in 1981, Yadlin was one of the young fighter-pilots who destroyed the nuclear reactor of Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein shortly before it was about to go hot. Then, as is Iran's President Achmadinejad today, Saddam Hussein was an implacable enemy determined to obliterate Israel. In his New York Times article, Yadlin refuted the claims of those experts who contended that an attack on Iran would destabilize the Middle East. On the contrary, a nuclear Iran could lead to far worse: a regional arms race, Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf, more aggressive Iranian surrogates such as Hezbollah and the spread of nuclear materials to terrorist organizations. (DE: Yadlin could have included Al Qaeda and Taliban - how would all these factors affect the price of oil? ). Yadlin's QED: 'Ensuring that Iran does not go nuclear is the best guarantee for long-term regional security.'

What's required at this critical juncture in U.S.-Israeli relations? After noting America's far greater fire-power for attacking Iran at a later stage, Yadlin suggested that Obama give Netanyahu 'an iron- clad American assurance' for U.S. military action if sanctions fail. Otherwise, Israeli leaders may well choose to act while they still can.

The problem for Netanyahu is that Obama will turn over backwards to avoid a military escalation with Iran before the election. So what if Israeli intelligence presents Netanyahu with the 'hard evidence' that the CIA today contends is still not available? Or what if Israeli analysts cannot ascertain whether the Iranians have started producing weapons-grade enriched uranium in the new underground facility at Fordo? Or, as the IAEA suspects, nuclear explosion research is underway at the secret Parchin facility? In other words, what if Israel starts flying blind as to how near the Iranians are to getting their hands on an atomic bomb? It is hard to envisage Netanyahu giving any promises to Obama. The fact of the matter is that he can't - Israel's parliamentary system stipulates that such strategic decisions must be taken by the cabinet. On this point, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has stressed that Israel is a sovereign state and the Israeli government bears sole responsibility for its defense.

IsraCast Suggestion: An atomic bomb could fall on them ...

In the U.S., Netanyahu would do well to quote Prime Minister Menachem Begin shortly after Israel Air force jets knocked out Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor over thirty years ago. The actors are different but the stark reality is similar. In the face of harsh international condemnation, including the Reagan administration, Begin was interviewed on Israel Radio:

'This operation was truly one of saving lives, I don't even know how great the number. I have lived this thing for the past two years and I want to tell the people of Israel: I would not wish for any of you to go through it in your lifetime.'

'Sometimes I would meet with a group of children - they would gather around me in a circle. I would ask them questions about their studies and they would put questions to me. Suddenly it struck me! God Almighty what will become of these children? They are now seven and eight years old, what will become of them when they are ten or twelve - an atomic bomb could fall on them! What would become of them?

'I do not deny it - the questions were excruciating as was the soul-searching for all my cabinet colleagues until we, with total resolve, adopted our decision. We do not fear any world reactions and I say this in total candour. Last night I informed the U.S. ambassador and today I sent a letter to President Reagan which is now in the hands of the ambassador. He has already requested a meeting to convey it to the President. We shall withstand all furious condemnations from any quarter. Here we were compelled to act in order to guarantee the existence and well-being of the people of Israel'.

David Essing

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