Saturday, May 10, 2014

Against Begin Then, And Netanyahu Now

From Dan Margalit:-

Digging in his heels
Former Director-General of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission Brig. Gen. (ret.) Uzi Eilam's interview with Dr. Ronen Bergman in Yedioth Ahronoth raised two claims: the first that former Prime Minister Menachem Begin erred when he ordered the bombing of the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq 33 years ago, and the second that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "using the Iranian threat to score political points."

While heading the Atomic Energy Commission, Eilam had opposed bombing the Iraqi reactor. It was the height of the 1981 election campaign and Begin, who feared he would lose the elections, quoted Hillel to Eilam, saying, "If I am not for myself, who is for me?" -- meaning that a Shimon Peres-led government would not bomb the reactor. Peres, on his part, was vocal about his objections to the operation.

In the decades that have passed, it has become clear that the 1981 strike was a great strategic achievement. A decade on, it stopped Saddam Hussein in his tracks when he threatened to invade Persian Gulf states and possibly Saudi Arabia. Years later, Ehud Barak asked a senior American official if the United States would have gone to war against a nuclear Iraq, and was told that would have been unlikely.

With the exception of Peres and Eilam, every Israeli Jew has lauded Begin for ordering the strike. It is impossible that the two are oblivious to how crucial the strike was, especially knowing what Hussein did to restore his nuclear capabilities. Why is it then, that this distinguished defense official is unable to simply admit he was wrong? If you cannot do so when you are 80, when can you?Eilam's argument about Netanyahu is equally puzzling...