On Iran, a Stark Choice

(Los Angeles Times) Benny Morris - Israel's leaders, reflecting Israeli public opinion, take very seriously Iran's oft-repeated threat to create a second Holocaust, to wipe the Jewish state - "the Zionist entity" or "Zionist regime," as the Iranians call it - off the map. They take equally seriously Iran's nuclear program, which the international community, after years of denial or at least skepticism, now accepts is geared to the production of nuclear weaponry. Israelis, at least those who don't bury their heads in the sand, believe that if the Iranians get nuclear weapons they will, in the end, use them - or at a minimum, cannot be relied on not to use them - and that Israel's very existence is at stake. The choice is clear and stark. Either Iran, led by fanatical, brutal and millenarian leaders, will get the bomb, or it will be prevented from doing so by military assault on its nuclear installations, by America or Israel. If the Americans, who have the capability to do a thorough job, don't do it - and they don't seem to have the stomach for it after Iraq and Afghanistan - then the Israelis, with their more limited capabilities, will have to. How Washington, which has repeatedly and more or less publicly vetoed the idea, would react to an Israeli strike deeply worries policymakers in Jerusalem. But it worries them far less than a nuclear-weaponized Iran. An Israeli or American attack on Iran would likely rile much of the Muslim world, causing wide-ranging political fallout. But the consequences of nuclear bombs hitting Tel Aviv and Haifa - effectively destroying Israel, a very small country - are even more dire.

2012-02-17 00:00:00

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