Those Simple-Minded Israelis


Before my trip to Israel last month, I anticipated that I would feel unsafe, but ironically, I felt more safe in Israel than in any other country I have ever visited, including and especially the United States. I felt safe in Israel because I quickly became aware that the Israelis are a lot more serious about protecting their citizens and visitors than are other countries, and are not held back by the “phosgene gas” of political correctness that has descended on the West, in British historian Paul Johnson’s words.

Israelis profile racially, psychologically and every other conceivable way. They also investigate and act on “rumors.” It seems impossible to me that Israeli security would not have acted swiftly on information that, for example, young men of any ethnicity were taking airliner flying lessons and were uninterested in learning how to land planes, as FBI bureaucrats failed to do with the 9/11 terrorists.

Israeli tanks in Negev

So today, we have a New York Times report that the Obama administration and the Israeli government are split over “the speed” of the Iran threat:

Amid mounting tensions over whether Israel will carry out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and Israel remain at odds over a fundamental question: whether Iran’s crucial nuclear facilities are about to become impregnable.

Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, coined the phrase “zone of immunity” to define the circumstances under which Israel would judge it could no longer hold off from an attack because Iran’s effort to produce a bomb would be invulnerable to any strike. But judging when that moment will arrive has set off an intense debate with the Obama administration, whose officials counter that there are other ways to make Iran vulnerable.

Senior Israeli officials, including the foreign minister and leader of the Mossad, have traveled to Washington in recent weeks to make the case that this point is fast approaching. American officials have made reciprocal visits to Jerusalem, arguing that Israel and the West have more time and should allow sanctions and covert actions to deter Iran’s plans…

“ ‘Zone of immunity’ is an ill-defined term,” said a senior Obama administration official, expressing frustration that the Israelis are looking at the problem too narrowly, given the many kinds of pressure being placed on Tehran and the increasing evidence that far tougher sanctions are having an effect…

At its core, the official said, the argument the Israelis make is that once the Iranians get an “impregnable breakout capability” — that is, a place that is protected from a military strike — “it makes no difference whether it will take Iran six months or a year or five years” to fabricate a nuclear weapon, he said.

The Americans have a very different view, according to a second senior official who has discussed the concept with Israelis. He said “there are many other options” to slow Iran’s march to a completed weapon, like shutting off Iran’s oil revenues, taking out facilities that supply centrifuge parts or singling out installations where the Iranians would turn the fuel into a weapon.

Administration officials cite this more complex picture in pressing the Israelis to give the latest sanctions a chance to inflict enough pain on the Iranian leadership to force it back to the negotiating table, or to make the decision that the nuclear program is not worth the cost…

It is so typical of the Obama administration (and liberals in general) who aren’t directly in the line of fire from a deadly enemy to cite their putative understanding of a “more complex picture” beyond the ken of their intellectual inferiors, like in this instance, the Israeli government.

After all, the nuanced thinker Obama has been exceptionally perceptive in thinking “engagement,” apology, humility and charm would bring the mullahs around. When it comes to Israel’s (and our) survival, I’ll go with the Israelis.

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