Four Comments on the Situation

The United States can survive for another two thousand years without Israel's help; the opposite is not certain.

1. What was the "beauty" of bombing the nuclear reactors in Iraq and Syria? That the decisions were made in absolute secrecy by Israeli governments. And the fact that the enlightened world understood our motives and justified them. It's true that the reactor in Iraq was bombed two days before the elections, but then Prime Minister Menahem Begin can't be suspected of deciding as he did in order to be reelected. If there was any dispute surrounding those two operations, it was discussed in limited forums. The two actions were met with understanding in the world, to no small extent because the leaders who were in on the secret of the decisions observed the commandment to "behave modestly."

But the public debate about Iran has become something ugly and frightening. It is accompanied by partial leaks and by scaremongering about a possible Iranian response. Defense Minister Ehud Barak says that there will be 500 dead on the home front. Happy is the genius who knows exactly how many will be killed. Some say that all we wanted was to arouse world public opinion. Public opinion was aroused, not exactly in our favor. Not everyone in the world thinks, as we do, that the situation is so grave. The knowledge that there are differences of opinion here too is eroding Israel's trust in its government. Conclusions: A. Go with the world, for God's sake. B. With all due respect to us, it's not certain that the solution we've chosen isn't more than we can handle.

2. I shuddered when someone compared what happened in the Latrun Monastery to Kristallnacht, when Nazis rampaged through the streets of Berlin, shattering shop windows and scrawling anti-Semitic slogans. The abbot of the monastery, with tears in his eyes, said that this is the first time that such a thing has happened in the 122 years of the monastery's existence. You don't have to be a Christian in order to be shocked by the graffiti "Jesus is a monkey." To prevent any misunderstanding, the culprits also sprayed the slogan "price tag for Migron." The people in the monastery said that Israel has to invest in education for values that will prevent hate crimes. What is the man talking about, this man who, even in his state of shock, spoke politely. What education? The enforcement arms of the state know exactly who is doing what and where they're coming from.

Those who know how to reach Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus, also know how to reach these thugs. First, there is a terrible helplessness of the system here. Second, they are no less dangerous than Al-Qaida. At first the graffiti looked like a form of release for hotheaded settlers. Now we have to assume that those who reach the monastery can also reach the Al-Aqsa mosque and start a conflagration in the Muslim world. It's not education that's needed here, but force. This is not a nightmare - it is a concrete and immediate danger, which should be dealt with before it's too late.

3. When the tension between us and the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is at its height, and it looks as though we are hoping for his downfall in the coming elections, the question arises as to whether the relationship between the two countries is forever. Isn't it likely that there will come a moment when America says: "With all due respect, get out of our face. You're forgetting who's the great power here and who need its assistance." The pessimists will say that it's possible. The optimists will say that as long as there are 5 million Jews in the United States it won't happen. But both are wrong. The basic support for Israel stems from the identical democratic values in the two countries. The Supreme Court, freedom of expression, freedom of choice. We are - as the banal expression goes - "the only democracy in the Middle East."

But here and there we forget our place and we interfere too much in the U.S. elections. Never mind. They know how to interfere in our politics too. Basically they can depend on us and we on them. Shared values are more important than political interests. Forever is an undefined concept. The United States can survive for another two thousand years without Israel's help; the opposite is not certain. Modesty has never been detrimental to the survival of a country.

4. A question from an honored American guest in Israel: They tell me that America is here. So how is it that the two U.S. presidential candidates send their wives ahead of them to deliver the opening speech at their party conventions, whereas Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hides Sara at home?