The Right to Dimona

History will not forgive anyone who tries to crack the glass that protects the Jewish state from those who want to do away with it.

Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit
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Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit

According to foreign reports, the nuclear reactor at Dimona is not there for peaceful purposes. These reports say it was built in the early 1960s so that by the end of that decade Israel could have its first atom bomb, and that Israel is in fact a nuclear power - the only nuclear power in the world that insists on behaving as if it were not one.

In the superficial terms of shallow political correctness, Dimona is an outrage. It does not meet the universal demands of equality: Why should Israel be permitted that which is prohibited to other states? It does not comply with the fashionable demand for transparency: Why should it be protected by an umbrella of opacity? It does not meet accepted standards of clarity: Why has the international community agreed that it should exist inside a cloud of ambiguity?

The answer to these questions: Because the international community of the second half of the 20th century was moral. Not moralistic, but moral. It remembered that for more than a millennium the Jewish people was the persecuted "Other" of Europe, and that between 1940 and 1945 a third of its number were murdered, and even Roosevelt and Churchill didn't lift a finger to save the one million Jews who could still have been rescued in 1944. It was therefore aware that it had the moral obligation to ensure the existence of the Jewish people, who had a unique right to enjoy reverse discrimination.

Since its eyes were open, the international community could see that the Jewish state was surrounded by a sea of enmity and if it were not encircled by a glass wall to protect it from being devoured, the result would be a bloodbath. It also understood that precisely because the nuclear reactor on the Plain of Rotem was not for peaceful purposes, it would ensure peace. It is Dimona that stabilizes the Middle East.

The international community was right. The past 40 years have been fairly quiet in the Middle East. Dimona did not avert the Yom Kippur War, nor the Lebanon wars nor the intifada, and it has not ended the occupation. But ever since Dimona came into the world, there has not been a total war here and some peace agreements have been signed. Thanks to Dimona, there hasn't been a catastrophe. Very many Arabs and Jews owe their lives to Dimona. And the same goes for the vital interests of the West and moderate Arabs.

Israel was also right. At the same time as it adopted a foolish policy on the Palestinians, its policy regarding Dimona was responsible. Unlike the United States, it never used nuclear weapons; unlike Britain and France, it never based its defense policies on the nuclear weapons that it was supposed to possess; and unlike China, India and Pakistan, it never demonstratively tested a nuclear weapon.

Israel did not boast or behave ostentatiously, or in any way misuse the capability that was attributed to it. Even in difficult circumstances, it acted with deliberation and composure. It never unsheathed the sword that those foreign reports describe as a terrible one.

The international community of the 21st century is different. It has not managed to block Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuclear programs and achieve in Iran what it achieved in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Because of this, it is convenient to forge a link between the fanatical, disaster-fraught nuclear weaponry that is on the threshold and Israel's restrained ambiguity, which has proved itself. This attempt is both foolish and nauseating. On three different levels, it endangers the future of the Jews, Middle East stability and world peace.

The new world community tends to prefer the moralistic over the moral, and political correctness over historical responsibility. But if it tries to force fashionable norms on the Dimona reactor, it will cause a disaster to itself. History will not forgive anyone who undermines the order that is based on Dimona, or anyone who tries to crack the glass that protects the Jewish state from those who want to do away with it.

The nuclear power plant in DimonaCredit: Archive



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