Israel Has Launched Long-Shot Attacks Before

(Wall Street Journal) Daniel Nisman - Last week, Israel's outgoing ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, compared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's willingness to use military force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons to the challenge faced by former Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in May 1967. 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 planes 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 after becoming convinced that even their staunchest allies would not come to their assistance. These include the 1976 hostage rescue in Entebbe, Uganda; the bombing of Saddam Hussein's Osiraq nuclear reactor in 1981; and the attack to spoil Bashar al-Assad's own nuclear ambitions in 2007, to name a few. Netanyahu views Iran as an existential threat comparable to the Nazi Holocaust. 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 to bomb gas chambers at Auschwitz. On July 14, Netanyahu commenced a widespread public and back-channel diplomacy campaign to re-rally Israel's allies to commit to both a convincing military threat and additional economic sanctions against Iran. Many Israeli pundits, as well as Oren himself, have compared Netanyahu's diplomatic push to Eshkol's last-ditch efforts to convince Washington of the existential threats posed by Arab nations in the weeks before June 5, 1967.

2013-07-16 00:00:00

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