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Eitan Haber Photo: Meir Partush
Eitan Haber Photo: Meir Partush
 
 

Where's Ben-Gurion when you need him?

Op-ed: As Iran's nuclear program advances, it's clear Israel's current leaders lack the experience to make fateful, historic decisions

Eitan Haber
Published: 08.12.12, 20:50 / Israel Opinion

I've been a part of the Israeli media and its system of government for over three decades, and yet I'm envious of those who know if we should thwart the Iranian nuclear program with a military strike or hold our fire and await further developments.

 

What do they know that we don't? How do they know what the best course of action is as Iran nuclear program advances to the next stage? The truth is that they don’t. Barack Obama doesn't know, and neither does Benjamin Netanyahu. Ehud Barak doesn't know, and neither does Leon Panetta.

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The opinion of any layman in Washington or Jerusalem is as valid as any assessment offered by intelligence agencies and government heads, here and in the US. Well, maybe they do know more than us about centrifuges and uranium enrichment in Iran, but their expertise is confined to the past, and the main question at hand concerns the future – what does it hold?

 

The answer is, as they say, in the eyes of the beholder: Those who believe the Iranian reactor should be attacked soon are convinced that such an attack would yield positive results and that we would get rid of the Iranian atomic threat – maybe once and for all. Those who contend that a strike would lead to a national disaster have almost no doubt in their minds that an attack would trigger a regional war. According to them, an Israeli strike in Iran would merely set the nuclear program back a few years and would result in Israel losing the US' support on the financial, diplomatic and security fronts. And without the US – where are we headed?

 

But those who are in favor of a strike and those who are against it all realize that the clock is ticking and that, apparently, a decision must be reached before winter.

 

As I've mentioned, I don't know what's best for the Jews, but I do know that any decision vis-à-vis Iran must bear the hallmarks of Ben-Gurion's decisions, which were wise and courageous. It must be a smart decision, one that will prove to be the right one down the road. Such was Ben-Gurion's decision to establish the State of Israel, despite the misgivings of many.

 

Sixty-four years on, it is clear that the decision to establish Israel was right, but it was also a big gamble – mostly on our lives. A decision to attack Iran would also be a huge gamble on all of our lives, and it is entirely possible that Netanyahu, Barak and others will no longer be around when our grandchildren will suffer the consequences of such a decision.

 

And here lies the problem: We need a Ben-Gurion to make this decision, and with all due respect, we do not have a leader of his caliber today. We need a leader who the vast majority of the people will follow, but not blindly; we need a leader who will captivate, explain and convince; one who will lead the State of Israel through difficult times which, hopefully, will be followed by a great light. The people of Israel have proven their willingness to face adversity, but they also seek hope.

 

We must remember that the current leadership has no experience in making fateful, historic decisions. Moreover, apart from Barak, who served as an Armored Corps battalion commander during the Yom Kippur War, none of the current decision-makers have experienced war, so they should probably be that much more cautious.

 

We would have accepted their explanations regarding Iran had it not been for the fact that similar comments were made before the raid on the Turkish "Marmara" vessel. If that was the outcome of such serious deliberations, maybe we should exhume Ben-Gurion's body. Maybe Ben-Gurion, even in his silence, will save us.

 

 

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