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The mixed reception Iran gave the European proposal to discontinue its enrichment of uranium in return for a nice "basket of goodies" awakened the hope that Iran's leaders would cancel their satanic plans. However, this news item came at the same time as reports about Iran supplying long-range missiles to Hizbullah.
The European proposals are excellent, but behind the rhetoric is a reality and it is made up of two truths: If it does not accept the European proposals, Iran will have the ability to manufacture nuclear arms and long-range missiles that can reach Israel; second, Iranian President Ahmadinejad has adopted a Nazi policy according to which he both denies the Holocaust and also wants to complete it by wiping Israel off the map.
While American professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their article "The Israel Lobby" assure their readers that Israel is not in any real danger because "Iran is hundreds of miles away," this in fact is, more than anything else, evidence of the Harvard and University of Chicago scholars' sense of humor. Those who lack such a developed sense of humor look upon Iran's growing power, whose tentacles have already reached areas north and south of our country, with grave concern.
THE FACTS are serious, indeed: There appears to be no sign that international pressure, including a resolution passed by the UN Security Council, will succeed in preventing the nuclearization of Iran. Although those who try to reassure us say what is involved is a primitive type of nuclear weapon - the old-fashioned kind like the ones used to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki - we are well aware that a single, old-fashioned bomb would be enough to mortally wound our tiny, densely-populated country.
COULD MUTUAL deterrence of the type that saved the world during the Cold War protect Israel? It's unlikely, because what is driving the leaders of Iran is a deeply-held religious belief that the destruction of the State of Israel is mandated by Islam, and that in order to carry out this religious mission it is worthwhile to make great sacrifices.
The fact is Ahmadinejad is not afraid to threaten Israel's existence even though he knows that a nuclear attack would also kill tens of thousands of Arabs living in Israel and the territories.
Moreover, despite the ambiguity of Israel's nuclear policy, Teheran's leaders are certainly aware that any attempt to destroy Israel would lead to a second strike at Iran, and if they didn't know this, Shimon Peres reminded them.
The reality is that in Iran - though not only there - the Islamic willingness to commit suicide in order to murder has been elevated to the level of national policy.
WHAT CAN be done? Our government's rhetoric is that the response must come from the international community because a nuclear Iran endangers the entire world. This is true, but we all know who the first and main target of the Iranian bomb is. Israel cannot, even if it were desirable, take the step of preemptively bombing Iran's well-guarded nuclear facilities.
So what can Israel do?
First, it must prepare itself for a worst-case scenario, as Sweden did during the Cold War, and implement a comprehensive plan to build and renovate bomb shelters to protect Israel's home front.
Preparing shelters and converting underground parking lots to provide protection from radiation and fallout and the destructive power of a nuclear device is a huge undertaking. It is also important in the long term because the arming of Arab states and Islamists with nuclear weapons is just a matter of time. The absence of passive defense will only increase the Iranian appetite to carry out an attack.
Second, we must take advantage of our status in the current administration in Washington to have Israel join a defense alliance, preferably in the context of NATO. Such an alliance would serve as a warning to Teheran. Then, and only then, will it perhaps be time to take a preemptive step - not by Israel, but rather by a coalition fearful of a nuclear Iran.
This article discusses the unthinkable. But the history of the 20th century, especially that of the Jewish people, has proved to us that the unthinkable can happen when hate-filled dictators have the means to carry it out.
The writer is president of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya