Suppose that a man walking home at night is attacked by a thug and threatened with death. The decision he has to make is simple: his life is in peril, so he should defend it to the best of his ability. But imagine that he was raised to believe he should never take decisive actions before asking others what to do. He might then think that he is obliged to call his friend or a criminals’ rights coalition to ask them what to do before acting to defend his own life.
This bizarre response is precisely what Jacob Keplar advocates in a recent article in the Daily Kansan about what Israel should do in response to the threat of Iran’s nuclear program. Keplar considers Israel—the lone oasis for individual liberty, freedom of expression, and secularism in the Middle East— to be “beating the drum of war” unacceptably when it asserts its right to protect itself by destroying Iran’s nuclear sites.
Since Israel’s founding in 1948, it has been under continual attack by hostile neighbors. From the Arab Nationalist threat in the first half of the twentieth century, to the Islamist Iran-backed threat in the second half, the people of Israel have had to fight for their very existence. To this day Israel’s borders are subject to random and brutal attacks by Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and others. So far, Israel has defended itself—with or without help from other nations.
In the Six Day War in 1967, Israel defeated a coalition of belligerent Arab nationalist forces headed by Egypt. But as Israeli forces were preparing to advance into Arab territory, it was America and the U.N. who pressured Israel to sign a “negotiated settlement.” If Israel had continued this advance, Egypt would not have been able to attack again in 1973 and win concessions.
Since Israel once again faces an enemy which has expressed a desire to “wipe them off the map,” an enemy which has taken action toward that end, what should Israel do?
Keplar contends that Israel should not be a “wild card.” He claims that Israel should consider whatever consensus a variety of governments and governmental organizations come to, before making any definitive decision on how to deal with the issue. Until then, he claims, Israel should be more patient.
It is precisely the “patience” of these organizations which has allowed Iran to aggrandize itself in the region, giving the Iranian government the time needed to accomplish its goal of becoming a nuclear power. For the past decade, Iranian leaders have been slowly working toward this end, and negotiation after negotiation has only led them closer to this goal. Israel’s use of force against nuclear threats—rather than mealy-mouthed negotiations—has worked in the past. By bombing Iraq’s nuclear sites in 1981, Israel succeeded in stopping Saddam Hussein from becoming a nuclear power. This was also true of its mission against Syria in 2007. Just imagine what kind of threat Iraq or Syria might pose to Israel today with a nuclear weapon (both had shown no qualms about leveling their own cities).
Israel should only ask one question: what course of action is in its best interests? While it is true that Israel is not the equivalent of a man being attacked in an alley with only moments to decide what to do, its very existence is still at stake.
The only proper purpose of a government is to protect the individual rights of its citizens. Each Israeli citizen has the right to live a life free from abductions, suicide bombers, rocket attacks, and a nuclear-armed enemy hell-bent on their annihilation. This should not be open to the decision of a consensus. Under an Israeli government completely committed to protecting its citizens’ lives, it would not wait for a consensus with any state—friend or otherwise—before taking any necessary action.
Israel faces a determined enemy who does not wait for global consensus or consensus of any kind before attacking; Israel should act accordingly.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.