On Sept. 30, 1980 Iranian Phantom fighter jets bombed the nuclear reactor in Iraq. The damage was minor. According to foreign reports, there was also an unsuccessful attempt by the Mossad to sabotage the reactor. Then, in accordance with intelligence assessments, Prime Minister Menachem Begin decided to bomb the Iraqi nuclear reactor.
The decision sounded easy and pleasant, but until the day the reactor was bombed, and even after, Begin faced countless detractors: Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, Deputy Prime Minister Yigael Yadin,the Mossad chief, the military intelligence chief, the head of the atomic energy committee and Shimon Peres, to name a few. These officials’ objections were preceded by years of American diplomatic efforts, which also failed.
The parallels to today’s situation are many. Today, like then, Iran is on the threshold of acquiring nuclear weapons. Like then, the express goal is to destroy Israel. Like then, opposition to an attack is coming from left-wing civilians as well as security personnel.
But despite all this, back in 1981 it was the prime minister who made the final decision, as is customary in a democratic country. After one delay the date for the bombing was set for just hours before the Shavuot holiday began. The operation was renamed “Operation Opera” (from the original “Operation Ammunition Hill”). And indeed, it was an entirely different opera: the fighter jets evaded radars, overcame fuel limitations, arrived at the target and destroyed it.
Back to present day. Israel is again facing mounting pressure not to attack. “Suddenly” a congressional research facility serving the U.S. Department of Defense “reveals” that an Israeli attack would delay Iran’s nuclear program by only six months, and that the location of the various nuclear facilities is difficult to determine. This report is leaked to the media. An unrelated expert commissions a poll to see how worried Israelis are about a possible attack in Iran.
Then, the masks come off. The magazine “Foreign Policy” asserts that there is growing concern in the U.S. over an Israeli attack. Diplomats and intelligence agents maintain that Israel has struck close relations with Iran’s northern neighbor – Azerbaijan – so that it can use its airfields to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. According to the magazine, Israel has gained access to abandoned Azeri airfields from which fighter jets could take off.
It appears that our closest ally is “worried” and doesn’t think Israel should attack Iran. In other words, when a possible Iranian response that could claim dozens or possibly hundreds of lives is weighed against tens of thousands of deaths in an Iranian nuclear attack, America and Europe are telling the Jews to sit tight.
During the First Gulf War, Israel was prohibited from attacking, and we still got bombed by Iraq. Now, too, it looks like no one is going to help us. If we go the military route, it is imperative that we do it with a loaded gun. The government must choose the optimal course of action, even if the so-called “enlightened” don’t like it. History proves that when Israel defends itself, the outcome is good for the Jews, especially in the long run.
The writer is a PhD. of Aeronautical and Space Engineering.