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Has Israel Lost Control Over the Iranian Situation?

On the sleepy afternoon of March 21, 2012, alarm sirens went off all over Jerusalem, sending me and my racing heart lunging toward our air raid shelter. Squeezed in among my neighbors, bags of old clothes and various bicycles, I found my mind wandering back to elementary school at the Hebrew Institute of Long Island. “Get down beneath your desks and cover your heads with your hands,” Mrs. Ganeles instructed us. It was the Cuban Missile Crisis. But I remember thinking even back then: This is ludicrous. Nothing is going to save us from that great white mushroom cloud.

Being a Jew in Israel as Iran’s self-proclaimed genocidal regime methodically prepares its annihilation fantasy makes me feel like the lobster in the “How to cook a lobster” recipe: “First put the lobster into a large pot of warm water, then slowly turn up the heat.” Having made aliyah more than 40 years ago, I, along with the rest of my fellow Israeli citizens, am no ingenue when it comes to being maligned, threatened and physically attacked. For years now, we Israelis have been hearing ourselves described in vicious Nazi terms by the Iranian mullahs. Back in 2001, they called us “thieves and criminals.” In 2008, we were likened to “a black and filthy microbe,” and in 2011 to a “cancer cell” that must be removed.

Threats to wipe Israel off the map are nothing new either. In my senior year of high school, on May 16, 1967, Cairo Radio declared: “The existence of Israel has continued too long . . . The battle has come in which we shall destroy Israel.” The Six Day War followed, and for a time we all lived in the afterglow of defeating our blowhard enemies. It didn’t last long. Wars with various other names followed: Yom Kippur, Lebanon, Galilee Peace. . .

But this time, I feel we are facing something completely new. This time it’s not a war with tanks and foot soldiers and airplanes, the kind of war that takes weeks and months and where our old, our women, children and grandchildren are safe behind front lines. It’s not even a barrage of missiles with conventional warheads landing outside as we sit safely in our shelters—something citizens in Israel’s south and north have already experienced. This time it’s an existential threat. This time it’s the next, or the final, Six Million. This time it’s everything that is dear to me in life, my children and grandchildren. My country. The miracle of a reborn Israel.

How do you prepare for that?

Until very recently, I managed, like most Israelis, to hold on to a comforting sense of denial even as I viewed the step-by-step progress of Iran’s nuclear program. Surely it wouldn’t, couldn’t happen? For even though the world had shown us it was not prepared to do the dirty work necessary to stop the Iranians, surely our own government would. Bibi, Barak, the staunch defense men—they must have a plan, right?

This provided some comfort until I visited New York for a conference in April and attended Shabbat services at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue. The guest speaker was Brad Gordon, AIPAC’s director of policy and government affairs and formerly an assistant director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency for Nonproliferation Policy. I listened in shock to the alarming information that Iran already had a stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium, a concentration about seven times greater than the 3.4 percent needed for the “peaceful” nuclear reactor they were claiming was their goal. As I’ve since learned, based on facts supplied by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has already stockpiled enough low-grade enriched uranium to fuel five nuclear bombs. All it needs to do is put what it already has back into its centrifuges—some of them located beneath a mountain—for three to six months. You need about 16 kilos of 90 percent enriched uranium (or U-235) to produce a nuclear implosion bomb. But if you would be satisfied with one “only” slightly less effective than the kind dropped on Hiroshima, all you need is seven kilos. According to Iran Watch, the time it would take to obtain that is a month and a half. And Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak has made it clear that Iran is closing in on the point when its accumulated know-how, raw materials, experience and equipment (as well as the distribution of materials among its underground facilities) would mean that any military strike would fail in derailing the nuclear program.

Here I sit, 40-odd years of living in Israel behind me, with children and grandchildren scattered all over this beautiful little country, like that little girl under her desk so many years ago. If I weren’t a religious Jew, I would probably be making hasty plans to move elsewhere and take my family with me. But then, if I weren’t a religious Jew, my family and I wouldn’t be here in the first place.

God help us, because sanctions haven’t, the world community can’t or won’t, and the Israeli government, for all its hubris, is facing a situation over which it may simply have lost control.

This article was originally published in the July/August 2012 issue of Moment.

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7 comments on “Has Israel Lost Control Over the Iranian Situation?”

  1. JohnB

    Why do people only acknowledge reality when it is too late to do anything about it?

    The 2007 NIE which was used to ‘establish’ that Iran had given up its nuclear weapon intentions should have rung all the warning bells necessary.

    Turn to your G-d, Israel, and expect miracles.

  2. David Kohn

    We and our whole beautiful family live here in Israel. I fear that you are 100% right, that Iran is out to exterminate us. And if a million or so Arabs die too, that’s just part of the cost. So there is noone to stop them but us, and it has to be soon.
    Obama will be commander-in-chief until January at least. That will be too late to stop Iran. I hope and pray that we have the technical ability to do it, and the guts.

  3. John Ladd

    I am in total agreement that the time to stop Iran from it’s determined goal of destroying Israel is long past and one of the reasons is America’s political leftists. I for one can never understand why supposedly intelligent people would vote for someone like the current occupant of the White House. Did anyone bother to try and find out the truth about his birthplace and his upbringing. Why are all his records sealed and why has he spent multiple millions of dollars to keep them sealed.

  4. ALLAN

    In the 1930s the world ignored the rantings and the written words of Hitler – by the end of World War II in 1945 with at least 50 million dead, they were painfully sorry of their inaction. IF WE FAIL TO LEARN FROM THE PAST WE WILL LIVE TO REGRET IT.

  5. Sharon Rappaport

    Like the old joke about G-d telling Moishe, who prays to win the lottery, to meet him half way and at least buy a lottery ticket, Jews in America can work to save our people by voting Barak Hussein Obama out of office.

    • M Hyman

      Naomi Writes, “[T]he Israeli government, for all its hubris, is facing a situation over which it may simply have lost control.”

      There is a quote attributed to former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher: “The problem with Liberalism is that sooner or later, one runs out of other people’s money.” Thatcher’s concept can be expanded to other areas of liberal/progressive thought–specifically, to geopolitical ideology.

      Israeli foreign policy is currently heavily influenced by Barack Obama, to date, the most progressive (a politically correct word meaning fascist) president in American history. So it might be worth mentioning a few of his attributes below.

      Here is a man who sat for over twenty years in a Black Liberation Theology Church (whose racist minister, Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s close personal friend and spiritual advisor, has close ties with another racist, Black Muslim leader, Louis Farakan); a politician whose 2008 election campaign was kicked off in the living room of two domestic terrorists, individuals who graced the FBI’s most wanted list for years, Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dorn; a person whose ideas of government were influenced and developed under the guidance of Marxist Frank Marshall Davis; and a man whose dearest childhood memories include those of the years he spent learning in an Islamic madrasah; moreover, he is an ardent anti Zionist who has demanded that Israel return to its pre Sixty-Seven borders; .

      Consequently, one can extend Thatcher’s Liberalism critique and state that sooner or later, the pseudo utopian progressive world view eventually runs out of other people’s lives–after first running out of their money. Clearly, this is the case when one looks at the Obama Weltanschauung.

      Evil will always find a way–unless its completely stopped and irradicated. With Germany being pounded on its Eastern borders by the Russians and on its western side by the Americans and British, the Nazis still managed to keep the camp trains and crematoria running. Hitler delayed Panzer division movements just in order to keep his death machine active. Does anyone believe for a moment that the Iranians will do any less to advance their appetition? Is there a person alive who can give one example of where sanctions have been effective–at anything?

      One of the wonders of the post modern world is to ponder why the Jewish community continues to support persons who are committed to the destruction of its own people. This has historically been the case in the USA (while US Jews were sunning themselves on Miami Beaches in Nineteen Thirty-Nine–refusing to say anything negative concerning their pseudo messiah, Roosevelt–937 of their brethren were ninety miles away on board the SS St. Louis in Havana Harbor, looking for safe refuge from the Nazis. The ship was soon returned to Europe along with its Jewish cargo).

      Has nothing changed? One important thing has–specifically, today there is an Israel. For the first time in the history of the Common Era, Jews have the opportunity to be the puppet master of their own destiny rather than to play the role of a marionette. Hopefully, the Israelis will not throw away their their safety and souls by placing both in the hands of an American fascist leader, a person who cares neither for one nor the other.

  6. Samuel Burns

    I, too, was in grade school in the Spring & Fall of 1962; and I very well remember the widespread fear in America, over Russian missiles in Cuba. Fast forwarding to today;it is quite understandable that Israel doesn’t want to begin an existential war with Iran. But according to Ms. Ragen’s article, the time for Iran developing a “weaker” bomb has already passed; thus they might already have one; and they are closing in on developing the stronger bomb. As the saying on my Israeli Commemorative coin says, “When someone vows to kill you, strike him first.”

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