Many years ago, the US ambassador to Israel requested an urgent meeting with the defense minister. The ambassador (I'm fairly certain it was Thomas Pickering) sat opposite Yitzhak Rabin, took out a piece of paper from his pocket and read from it.
"We've learned from the press that you plan to appoint Brigadier-General Aviam Sela (who was involved in the Pollard affair) as the commander of the Tel Nof airbase. We are not comfortable with this." Then he put the piece of paper back in his pocket and left.
The meeting lasted a minute, maybe two. Rabin informed the IDF Chief of Staff, Moshe Levi (God rest his soul), who apparently passed on the message immediately to then Air Force commander Amos Lapidot.
There were those who cried out that we are a sovereign state, independent in its decision-making, and who are the Americans to tell us what to do? They also said that "we are not comfortable" does not indicate disagreement. The end is known. We had to "bite the bullet" – the State of Israel, the IDF, Air Force and Aviam Sela. The criticism on the one hand and pleading on the other proved futile.
When Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, states publicly that the State of Israel, the IDF and the Air Force can only delay, not destroy, Iran's nuclear capabilities, what is he hinting at? Netanyahu and Barak know the answer. This is America's way of telling us, and our two leaders: No, gentlemen; America is telling you no.
Dempsey and other senior US military officials do not utter a word without prior authorization from the senior politicians. "So what I'm telling you is based on what I know of their capabilities," Dempsey said. And who, if not Dempsey, would know what Israel's capabilities are? The US provides us with planes, bombs and all the other means of destruction. So of course America knows what our capabilities are.
It is true that we are geniuses and develop our own weapons, some of which even the Americans are not aware of (or pretend not to be aware of), but Israel's decision-makers would be wise not to impersonate the three famous monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil.
And just in case our decision-makers need a translation from English to Hebrew (Netanyahu certainly doe not need it), then this is what Dempsey said this week, in diplomatic English: Don't you dare do anything, especially without our knowledge.
Let's hope our leaders got the hint.