Yoel Marcus
Haaretz (Opinion)
February 10, 2012 - 1:00am

We won't deny there is a sense of disquiet, not to say fear, among the public about Iran becoming a nuclear power and what our response might be. In a world that invests so much in the manufacture of advanced weaponry, the use of nuclear weapons is off limits. The two bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki led the Great Powers to the conclusion that further slaughter on this scale could not be permitted. With other kinds of slaughter, it's not so terrible.

According to Wikipedia, in spite of efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation, there are still about 20,000 nuclear warheads in the world. But, like Hanukkah candles, to be seen only. The Great Powers reached agreements not only about limiting their own nuclear weapons, they also promised to ensure that these weapons would not fall into the hands of battle-hungry leaders.

During the first meeting of Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion with U.S. President John F. Kennedy at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, Kennedy's first question was: Are you producing nuclear weapons? This question had been anticipated, and there were preliminary discussions in Israel as to how to reply. Over the years Israel has stuck to the response that it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into our region, or something of that sort. But America knew the truth.

Israel is located next to countries that were and are opposed to its existence, certainly when extremist Islam is victorious. Despite that, at no stage did the country permit itself to reveal what it does or does not have. And although the media were restricted, and were forced to resort to the magic words "according to foreign sources," those who understood knew what they understood. For example, that successive Israeli governments would ensure that Islamic countries that had not abandoned the dream of destroying Israel would not obtain nuclear weapons.

That is how Israel destroyed the nuclear reactor that was under construction in Iraq. Revenge came during the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, when Iraq fired 41 Scud missiles on Israel, causing unjustified fear in Israel of chemical weapons, which, as we discovered during the Iraq War, it didn't even have.

While the Great Powers are working in coordination to prevent nuclear proliferation, various countries of various sizes have developed nuclear weapons, or are working energetically to attain them, investing huge sums of money at a time when their people are impoverished. Iran's becoming a nuclear power constitutes a threat not only to its oil-producing neighbors, but also, and openly, to Israel. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who for years has been denying the Holocaust, is working to turn Iran into a nuclear power before the eyes of the enlightened world.

This is a country that is providing Hezbollah and Hamas - and, before that, Syria - with tens of thousands of missiles of all types, which are meant for Israel. The Second Lebanon War surprised us with dozens of missiles a day, which paralyzed the north of the country and caused its residents to flee. And had the Israel Air Force not destroyed a battery of long-range missiles in Lebanon on the first day of the war, they would have reached the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

Now Iran is openly threatening that its missiles will strike not only at Tel Aviv, but at European countries as well, if Israel attacks the centers of nuclear production in Iran. This threat is causing a frenzy and a fear of war in the entire region, including in our country.

But no less than Ahmadinejad's threats, it is Israel that is voicing direct and indirect threats that it won't sit idly by. The media in Israel and worldwide are filled with commentaries from our sources about our intention to attack Iran, without explaining what the cost would be. How did the military correspondent of the daily Yedioth Ahronoth put it? "Iran has got the message, but hasn't started to perspire." The truth is that meanwhile the Israeli public is perspiring.

The Herzliya Conference turned into a factory for blabbing and exposure. Iranian intelligence services have no need for spies - all they need is an invitation to the Herzliya Conference, where they can listen to senior officers and politicians blabbing themselves to death. The leading blabber is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself, who warns that it's unthinkable to expose the public daily to horror scenarios that he himself encourages.

Who knows? Maybe that is Netanyahu's strategy for spurring the United States and Europe to immediately adopt harsh sanctions against Iran, without our getting involved in a bloody war. If they really do use our threats as an excuse to stop Iran from obtaining a bomb, without our being forced to attack, we can say that our fear paid off.


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