Iran’s nu­clear plans seen by some Is­raelis as ‘real’ dan­ger

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Abra­ham Rabi­novich

JERUSALEM—Iran’sre­ported drive to make an atomic bomb has be­come an ex­is­ten­tial threat to Is­rael that some Is­raelis are liken­ing to the Holo­caust — es­pe­cially with the United States ap­pear­ing to back away from con­fronta­tion with Tehran.

The alarmists in­clude Aharon Ap­pelfeld, a lead­ing Is­raeli au­thor who as a child sur­vived the Nazi killing of 6 mil­lion Jews.

“For the first time since I’m in the coun­try, I feel that we face a real ex­is­ten­tial dan­ger,” Mr. Ap­pelfeld said.

The me­mory of the Holo­caust is a cen­tral el­e­ment in Is­rael’s col­lec­tive con­scious­ness, a me­mory made more acute by Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad’s de­nial that the Holo­caust hap­pened.

“It’s 1938,” said for­mer Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne- tanyahu, “and Iran is Ger­many, rac­ing to arm it­self with atomic bombs.”

Ad­dress­ing a Jewish au­di­ence in Los An­ge­les this month, Mr. Ne­tanyahu added his voice to a grow­ing sense of alarm in Is­rael about Iran’s seem­ingly in­ex­orable march to­ward nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity.

In his ad­dress, Mr. Ne­tanyahu re­ferred to Mr. Ah­madine­jad’s re­peated calls for wiping Is­rael off the map.

“Be­lieve him and stop him,” Mr. Ne­tanyahu said in the speech. “This is what we must do. Ev­ery­thing pales be­fore it.”

Is­rael has half as­sumed, half hoped that if in­ter­na­tional pres­sure on Iran to halt its nu­clear de­vel­op­ment fails, the United States would in the end use mil­i­tary force.

In re­cent weeks, how­ever, a war­weary Wash­ing­ton seems to be back­ing away from a con­fronta­tion.

In a meet­ing with French Pres- ident Jac­ques Chirac, Pres­i­dent Bush said that he would “un­der­stand” if Is­rael chose to at­tack Iran’s nu­clear in­stal­la­tions.

To Is­raelis, that sounded like he would pre­fer it over an Amer­i­can at­tack. There was like­wise lit­tle com­fort from Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice’s re­mark that the U.S. lacked suf­fi­cient intelligence on Iran’s nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties to carry out a strike at this time.

For­mer Sec­re­tary of State Henry Kissinger wrote re­cently that “mil­i­tary ac­tion by the United States is ex­tremely im­prob­a­ble in the fi­nal two years of a pres­i­dency fac­ing a hos­tile Congress.”

He, too, raised the pos­si­bil­ity of a uni­lat­eral Is­raeli air strike.

Is­rael has ap­par­ently long been pre­par­ing such a strike. It ac­quired a large fleet of F-16 and F15 war­planes and held in­ten­sive train­ing ex­er­cises in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a con­fronta­tion with Iran.

The ap­point­ment last year of for­mer air force com­man­der Lt. Gen. Dan Ha­lutz as chief of staff of the Is­rael De­fense Forces (IDF) was widely seen as pre­par­ing for that con­fronta­tion in which the air force would play a cen­tral role.

It has be­come in­creas­ingly clear in re­cent years, how­ever, that an at­tack on Iran’s nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties would be in­fin­itely more dif­fi­cult than the suc­cess­ful at­tack on Iraq’s nu­clear re­ac­tor by Is­raeli planes in 1981.

Tehran learned the lessons of that at­tack and scat­tered its fa­cil­i­ties at scores of sites, bury­ing many of them deep un­der­ground and de­fend­ing them with mod­ern Rus­sian anti-air­craft mis­siles.

An­a­lysts have sug­gested that only a su­per­power like the United States could mount the mas­sive and sus­tained at­tack that would be nec­es­sary to do sub­stan­tial dam­age by bor­ing ever deeper into the un­der­ground sites with bunker­buster bombs on re­peated runs.

Even then, some an­a­lysts say, an at­tack might suc­ceed only in de­lay­ing the pro­gram by a few years.

If Is­rael un­der­took the task alone, it would face not only un­cer­tainty about the re­sults of the air cam­paign but also the cer­tainty of fierce Ira­nian re­tal­i­a­tion, be­gin­ning with their long-range mis­siles and per­haps in­clud­ing at­tacks on Is­raeli tar­gets around the world.

Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert con­tin­ues to hope for an in­ter­na­tional ini­tia­tive.

“The big coun­tries have to lead and we have to push them,” he said. How­ever, there is a re­al­iza­tion in Jerusalem that there may be no one to push.

Deputy Is­raeli De­fense Min­is­ter Ephraim Sneh said: “I am aware of all of the pos­si­ble reper­cus­sions of a pre-emp­tive Is­raeli mil­i­tary ac­tion against Iran and con­sider it a last re­sort. But the last re­sort is some­times the only re­sort.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.