It is essential today that the Begin Doctrine be reinvigorated and declared. Just as during World War II, Jews face the threat of mass murder because of nuclear weapons. Now, however, the danger is not that these weapons will be used by a genocidal state against other states to acquire physical custody over Jewish bodies. Rather, this time it is directed against that single state which was expressly created for the eternal protection of the Jewish People.
The particular nuclear danger to Jews today is even greater than during World War II; that is, it looms even more menacingly over those Jews who live in Israel. Logistically, with the concentration of more than 5 million Jews within a state the size of New Jersey, genocide has now become a much simpler operational task. In an unspeakable irony, the Zionist solution to what Herzl called the “Jewish Problem” could soon make much easier the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” This fact is not lost upon certain Jihadist elements of the Arab/Islamic world, who regularly cite to it, in theological justification for their carefully planned war of Jewish extermination.
Routinely, Israel comes under far-reaching international pressure to dismantle and renounce its still undeclared (“bomb in the basement”) nuclear weapons capacity. In the name of “fairness,” dozens of countries, including virtually all Arab/Islamic states and certain others in Europe, insistently demand that Washington push Israel to accept a regional “nuclear weapon free-zone.” Significantly, any future Israeli move to comply with such sinister or naive pressure would effectively assure Israel’s violent disappearance.
International law is not a suicide pact. From the standpoint of criminal intent, Israel cannot possibly be compared to Iran or to various Arab and certain other Islamic states, whose only true rationale for weapons of mass destruction vis-à-vis Israel is manifest aggression and total war. It is plain that Israel’s nuclear weapons exist only for national survival and self-protection, and that these weapons − which have never been flaunted, brandished or even acknowledged − would be used only in reprisal and only for survival.
The use of nuclear weapons for national survival could be permissible in certain circumstances that were identified by the International Court of Justice on July 8, 1996. In that authoritative Advisory Opinion (The Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons), the Court ruled as follows: “The threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law. However, in view of the current state of international law, and of the elements of fact at its disposal, the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defense, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake.”
International law cannot be properly judged and juried by journalists, pundits and television commentators. Rather, it is a complex and detailed jurisprudence that requires real learning. Like medicine, engineering or architecture, it is necessarily constructed upon a highly generalized system of theory and concepts that mandates careful study, evaluation and interpretation.
Faced with the newest form of organized Jewish extinction, Israel’s leaders should now remind the world with full confidence that the Begin Doctrine is still consistent with the established right of anticipatory self-defense under international law. Following such an appropriate legal reminder, they would – in the best of all possible remaining strategic worlds − also make prompt preparations to prevent a looming Jewish national disappearance by finally implementing tactical plans for the preemptive destruction of selected Iranian nuclear and/or biological targets and infrastructures. Other coordinated and corollary Israeli efforts would be directed at particular Iranian regime targets, ranging from pertinent national leadership elites to those individual scientists in different parts of the globe who now fashion or prepare to fashion biological and nuclear weapons for exclusively genocidal purposes.
The defensive killing of enemy scientists making mega-weapons for dangerous regimes to murder noncombatants is assuredly not an unprecedented practice by Israeli or American operatives. Nor, by any means, is it patently a violation of international law. Similar Israeli/American tactics of “targeted killings” must remain firmly in place against certain terrorist leaders, and should also be extended to any such leaders with documented and identifiable plans to create nuclear or certain biological weapons of mass destruction.
If European Jewish leaders in the months before September 1, 1939, had known the precise identities of German scientists and industrialists who were then designing and constructing gas chambers for Jews, would it have been wrong for these murderers to be preemptively targeted? Should we assume that the blood of would-be genociders is redder than that of innocent and defenseless civilians? Instructively, for current and future reference, we already know the position of the international community before 1939. Glib archeologists of ruins-in-the-making, this community – whether for reasons of sheer evil or simply on account of docility – can always be counted upon for commission of catastrophic error. Smugly and steadfastly, this international community is always poised shamelessly for retreat and surrender.
During World War II, a number of Arab leaders went directly to Berlin to meet with the Nazi leader. There, they enthusiastically offered their own armed forces to extend the European annihilation of Jews to portions of the Islamic Middle East. At that time, the allies did everything possible to prevent the wartime nuclearization of Germany, and very successfully, at least for that moment, to create a nuclear monopoly for the United States. Today, aware that it cannot possibly permit Iran to acquire authentic weapons of mass destruction, Israel must finally acknowledge the limitations of the international community, and – finally − act accordingly.
In Gaza, the terrorists of Hamas are slaughtering the terrorists of Fatah. Nonetheless, it is to such unreconstructed devotees of slaughter that the international community still demands Israel surrender even more Jewish land. What is perhaps, most stunning of all − one Jewish prime minister after another has capitulated to these demands for auto-destruction. Credo quia absurdum.
For Israel, “disengagement” was an unforgivable crime. Even today, in parts of Samaria, police and IDF units are deployed to keep Jews off Jewish lands. Harking to the endlessly false promises of an international community, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert – in the fashion of several of his equally misguided predecessors – confused surrender with diplomacy.
There can be no authentic diplomacy with an enemy that seeks only Israel’s annihilation. Reciprocally, there should be no Jewish respect for an international community that cares vastly more for the prospective Iranian murderers than for the prospective Israeli victims. It is certainly true that substantial numbers of innocent Iranians could die in any Israeli preemptive strikes implementing anticipatory self-defense, but these deaths would be the result of Iranian “perfidy” – a codified crime under international law. Pursuant to both customary and conventional norms, all legal responsibility for these noncombatant fatalities occasioned by cynical Iranian use of “human shields” would fall directly upon the shoulders of the regime in Tehran.
International law is not a suicide pact.
Copyright © The Jewish Press, November 14, 2008. All Rights reserved
LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.