Friday, October 30, 2009

Mortal Fear in Israel

Everyone has their own personal goblins, I suppose. For me, ghosties, ghoulies, zombies, werewolves, vampires and things that go bump in the night have never been as frightening as other human beings, such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Yossi Klein Halevi, in today's Wall Street Journal, recounts how many Israelis share that existential fear, and see no happy ending. If Israel refrains from attacking Iran, within a few years Israel will live under a constant threat of nuclear annihilation. However, if Israel were to attack Iran, it may not be able to do much more than delay Iran's nuclear weapons program, it would face immediate retaliation from the missile arsenals of Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah (both of which now have missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv), and it would suffer even greater diplomatic isolation. Of particular interest to U.S. readers should be Halevi's description of the uneasiness that Israelis feel regarding the Obama Administration:
In the past few months, Israelis have begun asking themselves a new question: Has the Obama administration's engagement with Iran effectively ended the possibility of a military strike?

Few Israelis took seriously the recent call by former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to shoot down Israeli planes if they take off for Iran. But American attempts to reassure the Israeli public of its commitment to Israel's security have largely backfired. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent threat to "obliterate" Iran if it launched a nuclear attack against Israel only reinforced Israeli fears that the U.S. would prefer to contain a nuclear Iran rather than pre-empt it militarily.

Israelis are also understandably skeptical about the ongoing negotiations over Iran's uranium assets:

In fact, Israelis from the right and the left have reacted with heightened anxiety. "Kosher Uranium," read the mocking headline of Israel's largest daily, Yediot Aharonot. Media commentators noted that easing world pressure on Iran will simply enable it to cheat more easily. If Iranian leaders are prepared to sign an agreement, Israelis argue, that's because they know something the rest of us don't.

Perhaps it is intended that Israel face this existential fear, feeling weak and helpless, without hope of aid from other nations, and having only one place to turn . As one of her prophetic sons said, (Isaiah 41:14): "Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel, says the Lord, for I am with you."


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