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Trusting The ‘International Community’ Israel, Iran And The Begin Doctrine (First of Two Parts)


Beres-Louis-Rene

After uncovering Nazi Germany’s vast kingdom of death at the end of World War II, the victorious allies drafted a special charter for an international military tribunal at Nuremberg. Concluded on August 8, 1945, this document defined “crimes against humanity” as uniquely egregious acts that are designed to eradicate entire groups of people. Today, Iran plans a Nazi-style (and, in part, a Nazi-inspired) fate for the Jewish State, but this time the exterminatory logistics would be less complicated. All that would be needed for another Holocaust are assorted nuclear weapons, either placed strategically on missiles or delivered more unexpectedly by car, truck or ship.

To a certain extent, this warning message is already perfectly obvious, and – ironically – already a bit tiresome. It is pretty much generally known that Iranian intentions toward Israel are authentically genocidal – after all, the Iranian leadership says so openly on an almost daily basis – but what is not usually acknowledged is the absolute and immutable impotence of the so-called “international community.” Indeed, not only does the “civilized world” stand by ineffectually as Iran proceeds furiously with its enrichment of uranium and associated technological refinements, the United Nations itself insists on impotence. Adding a layer of absurdity to impending tragedy, the world body recently reelected Iran as vice chairman of the U.N. Disarmament Commission. Simultaneously, as reported in the May 2007 issue of Outpost (Americans For A Safe Israel), Alfonso de Alba of Mexico, president of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, announced that his key agency was abandoning any further consideration of human rights violations by Iran.

Credo quia absurdum. “I believe because it is absurd.” Our international community confirms its bottomless disutility and lack of dignity by periodic celebrations of its own derangement. In the United Nations, both crime and folly remain the official order of the day. Unless we as a species were to enthusiastically welcome intermittent genocides, it is plain that the world of diplomacy and international statecraft is now a relentlessly preposterous world. I mean this in the most literal sense, of course, as everywhere a dizzying unreason triumphs boldly over both rational thought and palpable compassion.

For the current regime in Tehran, any planned annihilation of “The Jews” is always a pleasing pretext for convulsions. It is true that this intended genocide is now directed against the institutionalized state of the Jews – the codified State of Israel, which nonetheless represents each individual Jew in macrocosm – but Iran’s annihilatory motives are unchanged. Moreover, under binding international law, war and genocide are not mutually exclusive. Any Iranian war to “liquidate the Zionist entity” would be jurisprudentially indistinguishable from what happened to the Jewish People before and during the Second World War. This critical point should never be forgotten.

In the passionately apocalyptic vision of the Iranian regime, Israel is merely the newest face of an old hatred. Whatever assaults once directed only against flesh-and-blood Jewish individuals are now focused upon those particular Jews who are bound together in an institutionalized “entity.” Allowed to “succeed” by the international community, Iran’s carefully crafted plan for another Jewish genocide would affect the whole world. As goes Israel, so shall go an entire planet. It should therefore now become an overriding imperative of the whole world – not just of the Jews – to safeguard and sustain the imperiled Jewish State.

Let me invoke here the pertinent thought of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who sought in all inquiries, not “concepts of truth” – but truth itself. Influenced even by Buddhism, Kook envisioned a species with a natural evolutionary inclination to perfect itself. The course of this human evolution, he surmised, must always be directed toward a progressively increased spirituality. The Torah, he continued, is a concrete manifestation of the Divine Will on earth; thus, the entire People of Israel must assume a cosmic and redemptive role in saving the whole world. Things simply cannot be otherwise.

Rabbi Eliezer Waldman has written movingly in The Jewish Press of “the eternal flame of Jewish life in Israel.” By working for the redemption of Israel, Rabbi Waldman instructs, we necessarily work to bring a blessing to all the peoples of the world. It follows that we Jews ought never to imagine a contradiction between our own struggle for Jewish survival in the State of Israel, and our existential concern for the wider world. The mutually reinforcing wisdom of Rabbi Kook and Rabbi Waldman points to a genuinely serious and meaningful understanding of the historically oxymoronic term, “international community.” And this understanding belies the usually smug and ritualistic affirmations of worldwide justice and solidarity.

The Jewish People – whether dispersed all over the world like evaporating dew, or struggling mightily in their own state – can never trust their survival to others. Never! In The Jewish Revolution (1971), Israel Eldad painfully announced that the persisting miscalculations of “Jewish diplomacy” had hastened the Holocaust. Yet even today, Eldad’s warning and reminder is largely unheeded. Bound first to patently suicidal agreements known cumulatively as “Oslo”, and now to the equally disingenuous documents of a so-called “Road Map”, Israel still considers making further surrenders of Judea, Samaria and Golan to sworn enemies. What strange expectations for diplomacy could possibly justify such a twisted cartography? What curious faith in the international community could conceivably prompt such unilateral concessions? Credo quia absurdum.

Returning to diplomacy, let us understand that, in substance, the purported promise of “negotiations” between Iran and Israel is always subterfuge. Should Iran be permitted to acquire nuclear or even certain biological weapons, the probable result to Israel might well be another Jewish genocide. Although history is largely the record of humankind’s most inhumane inclinations, its “lessons” are still worth studying.

Here, for our purposes, relevant history begins just before the start of World War II. Beginning in 1938, small groups of predominantly Jewish scientists from Central Europe living in the United States began to express informed fears that Nazi Germany could attempt to build nuclear weapons. About two years after Albert Einstein transmitted these critical apprehensions to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his now-famous letter of August 1939, the United States launched the Manhattan Project. In part, this unprecedented effort was the result of a perceived danger by Jewish émigrés of an incontestably existential threat to the then widely dispersed European Jewish communities.

Today it is the secular and spiritual responsibility of all “civilized nations” (I dare not say “international community”) to recognize another existential danger. This time the greatest genocidal threat is to the ingathered Jewish population of the State of Israel. Should it face the prospect of a nuclear Iran, or even of any Arab state or movement with nuclear or even certain biological weapons, Israel would likely have no rational choice but to act preemptively. This is exactly what Prime Minister Menachem Begin did on June 7, 1981, when Israel’s “Operation Opera” successfully destroyed Iraq’s Osiraq nuclear reactor. This is also exactly what was recommended by “Project Daniel” in our special January 2003 report to then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (the report and numerous commentaries are still readily available online).

No doubt, my readers in The Jewish Press have already heard a great deal about Project Daniel. Operation Opera, to which I also refer, and best described under international law as “anticipatory self-defense,” was a tangible application of the “Begin Doctrine.” This doctrine clearly affirmed Israel’s policy to deny certain weapons of mass destruction to particular enemy states. It was drawn directly from Prime Minister Begin’s correct awareness that the developing nuclear threat then facing Israel (at that time, from Iraq – not Iran) was merely a new form of an old cry to “slaughter the Jews.”

Copyright The Jewish Press, June 29, 2007. All rights reserved.

(To be continued)

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

About the Author: Louis René Beres, strategic and military affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, is professor of Political Science at Purdue University. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), he lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law and is the author of ten major books in the field. In Israel, Professor Beres was chair of Project Daniel.


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