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Aug 20, 2012

Attacking Iran

A Guest Post by Dr. Harold Goldmeier

The writer is a former Research and Teaching Fellow at Harvard University where he received his doctorate. He served in the administrations of three U. S. Governors, is Managing Director of a business marketing and development company after selling his companies in America. He consults on business, education, and community development matters. His writings frequently appear on the blog Life in Israel, on other blogs, and publications.

The press is saturated with jabber about Israel attacking Iran to setback its ability to launch a nuclear attack on Israel.

Israel says it is capable and ready to launch a preventive strike against Iran, but is showing great restraint and respect to the U.N., America, and Europe by waiting; she is giving sanctions and negotiations a chance to dissuade Iran--all to no likely avail.

Israel was justified attacking Egypt to keep the Suez Canal open, and in 1967 when the Arab states prepared to attack Israel from multiple directions. The Yom Kippur War Israel nearly lost is a text book case of what happens when a nation does not take preemptive action to protect against existential hostile developments and military build ups. This week Iran again called for Israel's annihilation-not just for Israel to give back land, and sponsored Israel Annihilation Day parades in cities around the world.

Israel's restraint has nothing to do with election considerations in America. The world has been talking about this for years prior to the current presidential race. That is an anti-Israel canard spewed by regular critics of the Netanyahu government.  Nobody, not the government, not the people, not the military want a war. Israel is thriving on a cold peace with her neighbors. It manages terrorist incursions. The economy steams ahead, and the real estate market bubbles and boils creating new millionaires everyday. The American government is pressuring her to wait; as a good friend of America and other Western nations Israel is risking a lot keeping its attack plans tucked away, while Iran develops nuclear weapons to be launched on her new long range missiles. Even Arab governments urge attacks on Iran, because they fear her maniacal, megalomaniac leaders.  

President Obama owes it to the American people to have Congress debate America's role in stopping a nuclear armed Iran from terrorizing the world. The time is over for American policy on this matter being debated in the Oval Office and op-ed columns. This matter may require a declaration of war, and the debate should not be delayed any longer or the continuing subject of banal prattle.  Supporting an Israeli attack, or an American war with Iran deserves hearings before elected officials. European nations and Britain should also debate the matter. Israel's patience, restraint, and time, are running thin, as Iran skirts on the brink of actually becoming a nuclear warmonger, evermore boisterous in its threats to Israel, increasing evidence of financial and material support for terror acts around the world, and sinister undermining of other Arab governments. Israel's restraint and deference to America has brought us to this juncture, not any contrivance to interfere with an election. Rolling those dice would be just stupid, and Netanyahu is not a stupid man.

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  1. Congress has the power to debate this with or without the President's green light. At least, the House of Representatives ought to be willing, since it's led by the Republicans.

  2. All this is silly talk. After Iraq andAfghanistan, the Americans are not interested or financially capable of a war with Iran.
    What's more, exactly how would such a war resolve itself? No one is talking about conquering Iran or overthrowing its government and replacing it forcibly with a friendly one. Let's say Israel does the right thing tomorrow and bombs the bejabbers out of Iran's nuclear facilities, temporarily ending that threat? What next? Saddam rolled over and moved on to other things but he was preoccupied with the ongoing war against Iran and was in no position to retaliate. Iran isn't that unfortunate. Let's say they start shooting missles towards Israel while Hezbollah unleashes its 10's of thousands of rockets and starts cross-border sniping. When does it end? How does it end?

  3. "Israel was justified attacking Egypt to keep the Suez Canal open"

    Sorry, Dr Goldmeir, but your assertion is completely erroneous.

    It was the closure of the Straits of Tiran, at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba, by Nasser that was a direct casus belli, and not as you assert.

    A fundamental error of fact such as that casts doubts on the rest of your article.

    1. I hate responding to people who talkback cloaked in anonymity for fear their cover will be blown by the truth and facts making them look stupid. Put yourself out there boy like the rest of us and take a chance. You are referring to Operation Kadesh when Israel attacked "Sharm el-Sheikh, Arish, Abu Uwayulah, and the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian blockade of the Tiran Straits was based at Sharm el-Sheikh and, by capturing the town, Israel would have access to the Red Sea for the first time since 1953, which would allow it to restore the trade benefits of secure passage to the Indian Ocean," (I'm not including footnotes here). This conflict began in October, 1956, when Dayan ordered full mobilization of IDF. The British and French move was called Operation Revise, and approved by their cabinets in Sept, 1956. This attack on Egypt had been planned well in advance, after Nassar nationalized the Canal in July, 1956, and his new political alliances with the Soviets and Communist China became public. This whole affair was a Cold War drama."The aims of the attack were primarily to regain Western control of the canal and to remove Nasser from power. The three allies, especially Israel, were mainly successful in attaining their immediate military objectives, but pressure from the United States and the USSR at the United Nations and elsewhere forced them to withdraw." I will give you Mr. Anonymous--you don't sound Jewish, was it changed at Ellis Island? that I could be more clear when I write that Israel attacked Egypt. It would have been more accurate to write that she attacked in the Sinai to re-open the Straits, while Britain and France attacked to regain control of the Canal and insure its regular operation out of the hands of the inept Egyptian technicians and the sinister Soviets and Chinese who were intent on interrupting Western shipments thru the Canal.

    2. First of all, Dr Goldmeier, please do not insult your own integrity by resorting to sneering at anonymous contributors. It makes you seem unsure of yourself right from the outset - as well you might be had you taken just a moment to check your facts.

      In the run-up to the Six-Day War of 1967 the Israeli government had a short list of casūs bellorum, acts that it considered provocations justifying armed retaliation. The most important was a blockade of the Straits of Tiran leading into Eilat, Israel's only port to the Red Sea, through which Israel received much of its oil.

      After several border incidents between Israel and Egypt's allies, Syria and Jordan, Egypt expelled UNEF peacekeepers from the Sinai Peninsula, established a military presence at Sharm el-Sheikh, and announced a blockade of the straits, prompting Israel to cite its casus belli in opening hostilities against Egypt.

      According to Michael Oren, an American-born Israeli historian, author, and the current Israeli ambassador to the United States (you might have heard of him perhaps, Dr Goldmeier), Nasser disregarded the counsel of his own intelligence and began massing his troops in the Sinai Peninsula on Israel's border (May 16), expelled the UNEF force from Gaza and Sinai (May 19), and took up UNEF positions at Sharm el-Sheikh, overlooking the Straits of Tiran.

      As Egypt and Syria shared a mutual defence pact, Nasser responded to the Israeli threats by beginning to concentrate his troops in the Sinai Peninsula according to the "Qahir" (Conqueror) defence plan. He also decided to prepare the feda'iyyun for carrying out the "Fahd 2 (Leopard) Plan" [murderous attacks] inside Israel and to coordinate military operations with Syria.

      The Straits of Tiran was regarded by the Western Powers and Israel as an international waterway, but its legal status was the subject of international controversy. The Arabs believed that they had the right to regulate passage of ships while Israel, with the support of other major world powers, countered that the Arab claims were legally not supportable.

      In 1967 Israel reiterated declarations made in 1957 that any closure of the Straits would be considered an act of war, or a justification for war.

      It is there, dear Dr Goldmeier, that your fundamental error of fact lies, but let me continue.

      On May 22 Nasser declared the Straits closed to Israeli shipping. Nasser stated he was open to referring the closure to the International Court of Justice to determine its legality, but this option was rejected by Israel. Egyptian propaganda attacked Israel, and on May 27, Nasser stated "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight."

      As if your sneers about my anonymity were not enough, Dr Goldmeier, you then have the unbounded temerity and downright chutzpah to cast doubts on my Jewishness.

      What possible cause can you have for that? Have you not noticed that this is not some two-cent rag, such as Vos Iz Neias. Your unnecessary epithets might go down well there, but - so far - none of us had descended to that sort of thing here – until now.

      Not only that but you then fall deeper into your self-dug trap by querying my name - which you do not even know! I am anonymous, remember? Not every Jew living in Israel transited the United States on his or her journey to Israel, my dear Dr Goldmeier; quite a few of us managed to avoid that, B”H. There are other countries beside the good ole Yew Ess Ay.

      In a few weeks time, during the Ten Days of penitence when you will doubtless seek selicha umechila for all the wrongs you have done to your fellow man during the past year, just think of me: Mr Anonymous, who knew of what he wrote. You might even put a few dollars in your shul’s gemach as a kappara for the wrongs you have done me.

  4. Israel nearly lost the Yom Kippur War because of the complacency of its then Director of Military Intelligence, Eli Zeira.

    He systematically ignored the warnings contained in the intelligence analyses of his subordinates, stubbornly preferring to stick to his own fatally erroneous preconceptions of the Syrian and the Egyptian forces.

    If that was not enough, Zeira was categorically told by a Mossad source of the day, date and time the Syrians and the Egyptians would launch their attack.

    Moreover, King Hussein twice warned Golda Meir of the impending attack - and was pooh-poohed by DMI Eli Zeira.

    1. What? No vigorous rebuttal from Dr Goldmeier?

  5. I don't understand when it comes to survival there is no room for debate.You act,and act fast and hard. The first one who shoots gets the third shot. Pres Obama is husbanding Iran's nuclear bomb project by calling for diplomacy. Israel's biggest obstacle to survival is its relationship with America. When will we ever learn?

  6. alright lets put an end to the personal aspect of these comments and just stick to the meat of the opinions. thank you for your cooperation

  7. Dr G and Anon,

    you seem to be arguing over a distinction without much difference. Both the Straits and the Suez were and are of extreme importance. While the Straits were of more importance to Israel at that moment, it is hard to imagine Britain, for example, attacking Egypt had it not been for the closure of the Suez. I don't think you can separate the two issues and without the involvement of major powers, due to the suez, who knows if Israel would have defeated Egypt.

    Separately, Every year for the last 8 years, Israel has been screaming that Iran is about to get a nuke, 1-2 years away at most, they keep saying...year after year after year.
    And while it may feel good to Israelis to have America publicly debate going to war with Iran, that doesn't make it a smart move for Israel, America or sanctions & diplomacy.

  8. who knows if Israel would have defeated Egypt without American support, but to be fair Egypt had Russian support and who knows if they would have been a problem to start with without that support....


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