Israel faces one of its greatest security challenges as Iran moves ever closer
to nuclear weapons capability.
Israel knows this, and now the
international community is more than ever painfully aware of this fact following
the release of the latest IAEA report.
negotiations and economic sanctions have not stopped the centrifuges from
spinning and Iran races toward nuclear weapons capability.
No one in the
international community recognizes the threat to regional and global stability
posed by a bellicose, nuclear Iran better than our closest friend and ally, the
United States. As the head of the Israeli delegation to the biannual US-Israel
Strategic Dialogue for the past three years I can tell you from firsthand
experience how engaged the American establishment is on the issue.
cooperation on this issue is more intimate than ever and there is a very real
understanding of the grave strategic threat a nuclear Iran that calls daily for
the destruction of Israel will pose to our nation. Moreover, there is a clear
American commitment at the highest level to ensure Iran will not achieve nuclear
However, relations between Israel and the United States
transcend bilateral security cooperation. They are based on a shared history,
similar values and a common ethos.
They transcend political outlook and
A number of years ago, while I was serving as
ambassador in Washington, DC, I attempted to schedule meetings for then-prime
minister Ariel Sharon with the Senate Republican and Democratic
However, due to scheduling issues it was impossible to hold
In the end the prime minister met the leaderships in a
joint meeting which was so unusual that the Republican leader Trent Lott
proclaimed that the only issue that could get both leaderships into the same
room was Israel, while the Democratic leader Tom Daschle stated that when it
comes to Israel, there are no Democrats and no Republicans, just
I felt the depth of this support in many of the positions in
which I have served, perhaps none more so than when I was Israel’s ambassador in
Washington. I felt such support in my visits throughout America and was
constantly overwhelmed by the warmth of the people and their admiration for
Perhaps one of the reasons for this close affinity is the fact
that Israel is one of the only allies that will not ask American soldiers to
fight on its behalf. We have not, nor will we ever ask for American interests to
be placed in harm’s way purely for Israel’s benefit.
Our nation has
proven time and again that it can and will protect itself and will not ask
others to shed blood on our behalf.
However, regardless of our shared
interests and values, by nature of significant differences between our size,
geographical location and geostrategic position we will sometimes have different
views on developing global events.
Our friendship is mature and
successful enough to acknowledge and accept differing views and to work toward a
common policy on issues with shared interests.
On Iran, both Israel and
the United States have repeatedly stated that all options remain on the table to
prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. I have heard nothing to
persuade me that this is not the case, in closed meetings or in repeated
Nevertheless, above all, the democratically elected
government of the State of Israel has as its prime task the responsibility to
protect its people from any and all threats. Any sovereign nation would act in a
similar fashion and we need to make our calculations with almost eight million
people in mind. This is our brief and our deep, enduring
This is the responsibility of every sovereign nation
state and none more so than the Jewish state, reestablished only a few short
years after a third of our people were annihilated by a genocidal regime that
gave the world enough hints about its intentions even before the gas chambers
and ovens were put into action.
Many have criticized Israel’s recall of
the events leading to the Holocaust, but as George Santayana famously said,
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
belittle the threat of Iran because they can not fathom a regime that would
endanger its own existence for the sake of the mass murder of another people.
However, the Holocaust is so fresh in our national conscience that we would be
irresponsible to ignore its dire lessons and consequences.
States is aware of the painful dilemmas involved in our national security, we
have received backing when we needed it and I am certain we will receive it
again in the future, regardless of the challenge.
The writer is the
deputy foreign minister.