An Iran attack is the toughest question Israel faced since 1948
Standing at the last crossroad, the debate we conduct with ourselves has to be deep, wise, responsible, clear, and level-headed.
Those who support an attack on Iran must honestly address 10 decisive questions.
Have all the avenues been exhausted, to the point that there is no chance that the international community could still stop Iran's nuclear program through a diplomatic-economic siege? Is it absolutely clear that the Americans will not stop the Iranian nukes with an aerial bombardment in 2013? Will an Israeli attack indeed delay the Iranian nukes by at least five years? Won't a military attack spark a bloody regional conflict and an endless religious conflict?
Won't a counterattack by Iran and Hezbollah cause terrible mass killings that the Israeli home front won't be able to tolerate? Won't an attack that doesn't have U.S. support shatter our strategic alliance with the United States? Won't the global economic crisis that would result lead to a shock wave of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism that would threaten the Jewish state? Won't an attack on Natanz ultimately end up harming Dimona? Won't an attack dismantle the sanctions regime and thus give the Iranians both the justification and the ability to go nuclear even faster? Won't an attack on Iran leave Israel totally isolated?
Those who oppose an attack on Iran must honestly address 10 critical questions.
Can 21st century Israelis continue to live their lives with the shadow of a Shi'ite mushroom cloud hovering above their heads? Will Israel be able to withstand the endless conventional wars that will break out on its borders once Iran goes nuclear? Will Israel be able to handle a nuclear, wild and radical Middle East? Will Israel survive when the United States starts ignoring it because it will be forced into appeasing the rising nuclear power, Iran? Will Israel be able to survive the diplomatic isolation that will be its lot when a nuclear Iran takes control of the Persian Gulf and dictates the price of oil to the world? Will Dimona be enough to stand up to the ensuing nuclearization of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt? Will Dimona address the risk of nuclear terror? Will Israel be able to withstand a situation in which the Iranian nukes put an end to peace or the hope of peace? Will Israel be able to withstand a situation in which a nuclear Iran forces it to live by the sword, day in and day out, with a cruelty it has never known before? Are we prepared to take the one-in-a-hundred chance that a nuclear bomb will explode over Tel Aviv?
The picture looks gloomy indeed. Israel's policy of prevention has gained some time, but has failed. The international policy of appeasement created an illusion and collapsed. The sanctions imposed were too little, too late, and won't likely stop Iran in time.
Nor did the recent meetings in Washington go well. There is no strategic cooperation between Israel and the United States. There is no trust between U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The U.S. president did not give the Israeli prime minister any guarantees that immediately after the November elections he will stop Iran at any price.
In short, the world that was meant to save the Jewish state from the terrible dilemma it faces, failed to do so. It's true, there could still be a miracle. Maybe Iran will blink at the last minute. Maybe the United States will sober up at the edge of the abyss. But in March 2012 the feeling in Jerusalem is that Israel is utterly alone. And we are getting closer to the moment of truth.
We cannot err. We absolutely, positively cannot make a mistake. There are 10 questions on one side, and 10 questions on the other. The 21st question is: Attack, or don't attack?
When confronting this existential question, there is no right or left, no bad guys or good guys, and no warmongers or pacifists. When facing this existential question, we cannot be critical or sloppy and we cannot think dogmatically. Standing at the last crossroad, the debate we conduct with ourselves has to be deep, wise, responsible, clear, and level-headed.
Because the 21st question is the toughest one we've faced since May 1948. And it's a matter of life and death.