And despite the fact that Meir Dagan, a former chief of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, and Gabi Ashkenazi, a former chief of staff of the IDF, opposed such a strike, today they say Netanyahu and Barak made the right decision. Once again, when Israel is thrust into conflict, past political division melts into survival-minded solidarity.
I try to think positively. After all, when Israel has destroyed nuclear reactors in the past — Iraq’s in 1981 and, according to foreign sources, Syria’s in 2007 — missiles have been launched at us in retaliation, and history has proved that we did the right thing. Of course, there is a world of difference between the single Iraqi reactor and the Iranian nuclear facilities dispersed throughout the country — and between the secular dictators Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad and the mullahs who govern the Islamic republic of Iran.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have an apocalyptic religious vision: They are doing everything they can to hasten the arrival of the Mahdi, the Islamic messianic figure who will come to save the Muslim world just before Judgment Day. On that day, it is believed that the world’s natural order will reverse — the oceans will dry up, and the sun will rise in the west and set in the east.
A nuclear Iran is not just Israel’s problem. The Sunni gulf monarchs have been trying to convince the Obama administration since 2009 that a nuclear Shiite Iran would be a mortal threat to their governments. And of course, equipped with weapons of mass destruction, Iran would be able to ramp up its funding for and training of Islamic terrorists, presenting a grave danger to the region’s political stability — and its massive oil and natural gas reserves — and to the world at large.
Syrian President Assad sees this new conflict as an opportunity to deflect attention from his country’s civil war. Following Jordan’s and Egypt’s lead, he moves what is left of his troops close to the Israeli border. Israeli Arabs prepare to flee, knowing that the missiles will not distinguish between Muslims and Jews.
The media loop reports that some Israeli infrastructure and military facilities have been destroyed by missile attacks. Bodies are buried under the rubble, but there are no estimates of the number of dead and injured. Israel continues to strike back at Iran, targeting its proxies. I wonder: Will Israel use its ultimate weapons in response?
Israel has clearly hindered Iran’s nuclear program, though the severity of the damage is uncertain. But Israelis know that, like the phoenix, Iran will try to rise again and rebuild its nuclear program. It will emerge more determined and vengeful than before. It will no longer be satisfied to have its proxies attack Israel; it will launch an all-out war, targeting the arrogant Sunni gulf states and the West in addition to the Jewish state.
However, as the sun sets over Tel Aviv in the west and the water still laps at the shore, the Mahdi has not arrived.
Anat Berko, a visiting professor at George Washington University and a research fellow at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel, is the author of “The Smarter Bomb: Women and Children as Suicide Bombers.”
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