Wake up Europe

Israel does not need a wake-up call like Europe.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivering a speech at the UNGA in New York on September 27th, 2018. (photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivering a speech at the UNGA in New York on September 27th, 2018.
(photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in New York last week will go down as one of the Israeli leader’s best appearances before the United Nations General Assembly.
Netanyahu is known to have an affinity for props when making monumental addresses. But last week, he did far more than that. He presented the world with concrete intelligence about Iran’s ongoing violations of the 2015 nuclear deal, as well as Hezbollah’s cynical use of civilian infrastructure to hide its efforts to obtain long-range and accurate missiles.
First, Netanyahu said, Iran had a secret atomic warehouse hidden in Tehran which it uses “for storing massive amounts of equipment and material from Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program.” He then revealed that last month Iran removed 15 kilograms of radioactive material from the site and scattered it throughout Tehran.
“The endangered residents of Tehran may want to know that they can get a Geiger counter on Amazon for only $29.99,” he said.
Netanyahu went on to show satellite images of the Ouazi neighborhood of Beirut where, he claimed, Hezbollah has a number of secret missiles sites. One is hidden near a soccer stadium and another alongside the country’s international airport. It would be interesting to know what airlines like Lufthansa think when their planes touch down just a stone’s throw away from an advanced Hezbollah missile plant.
Netanyahu went on to admonish Europe.
“While the United States is confronting Iran with new sanctions, Europe and others are appeasing Iran by trying to help it bypass those sanction,” he said. “Now I just used a word, a tough word, a very strong word: appeasement, and I use it reluctantly, but unfortunately, that’s exactly what we are seeing again in Europe.”
Appeasement might be a tough word and one that Netanyahu uses reluctantly, but he is right. Europe has turned a blind eye to what is happening in Iran and Lebanon for far too long. Sadly, it is unlikely that anything will really change due to Netanyahu’s speech, no matter how good it might have been.
Over a period of decades, Europe has shown that it prefers short-term quiet over confronting challenges and threats that present it and the rest of the world with long-lasting problems. The continent operates like a tactician as opposed to a strategist.
This is evident in the European Union’s continued support of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action the P5+1 reached with Iran in an effort to stop the Islamic Republic’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. While the EU might be right that the deal is working today, it will eventually expire and place Iran on the brink of nuclear weapons. And while it is true that Lebanon is today quiet, that will also change the moment Hezbollah decides to unleash a missile onslaught on the State of Israel.
Europe though doesn’t seem to care. While it knows all of this, it prefers not to take steps that could lead to an escalation, diplomatically or militarily. It sits quietly, enjoying the temporary quiet, no matter how much of an illusion it might be.
The problem is that Iran’s nuclear program is still a problem for the world. The same with Hezbollah. Neither are sitting quietly. Hezbollah has amassed an unprecedented missile arsenal that puts many countries to shame and Iran is simply playing the waiting game and will likely one day breakout toward a bomb when it assesses that the price it will pay will be the lowest.
Netanyahu explained that Israel does not need a wake-up call like Europe.
“Despite the best of hope, and there were many hopes around the nuclear deal, this deal did not push war further away. It brought war ever closer to our borders,” he said.
We hope that Netanyahu’s speech will serve as the wake-up Europe desperately needs. The time to act against Iran is now. A first step would be for the International Atomic Energy Agency to immediately visit the atomic warehouse and for Europe to take real steps that will bring change. Appeasement will fail.