In the Israeli ethos that rests on the idea that "only we can defend ourselves" (an idea that was never really true) and on the faith in, and only in, our military prowess, the decision over the weekend to refer Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council was profoundly unimportant.
We were educated to believe that in these circumstances the non-Jews have little but empty words, the Iranians will once again pull the wool over their eyes, and at the end of the day, the only action that will be taken – preferably a devastating early-morning air strike – will be the actions we take ourselves.
But what can you do, the world hasn't been like that for a long time. And it's not just the Iranian problem: Israel faces many threats it simply does not have the power to solve unilaterally, or with the use of the military.
Take global terror: Israel is part of an international coalition, headed by the United States, trying to eliminate a concealed, undefined element that knows no borders. Of course this effort requires international cooperation – and this has happened more than once, in cases the public knows about and cases it doesn't.
There is even an international element to our dealings with Hizbullah, a local, minor enemy.
Yes, the IDF could easily conquer the sliver of land occupied by Hizbullah and eliminate many of its leaders. But the onslaught of rockets that would pound Israel in response, in addition to being left controlling south Lebanon, make the international option the preferable one.
Pressure from Washington and Moscow on Tehran and Damascus could be a more effective, efficient way of reigning in Hizbullah, even if it lacks the heroics of "conquer and crush."
On the other hand, international organizations are not what they once were. The U.N. is an important source of legitimacy, as even the United States found out in Iraq.
Despite the scorn of President Bush's neo-conservative advisors for the U.N., the president has learned that there is a significant difference between a war that enjoys domestic support and international legitimacy and one that doesn't.
Today, it is clear to him that any future campaign to involve the United States military will need such support, or at least will need to turn to the international community in an honest attempt to enlist its support, not in the insincere manner he did before invading Iraq in 2003.
If there is to be a military strike on Iran, this must be done as part of a legitimate international coalition. Only the U.N. can grant such legitimacy.
There is no comparison to Israel's once-off 1981 strike on Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak. An Iranian operation would require many strikes on multiple sites, which means the ability to remain on the attack for an extended period.
Israel simply does not possess this ability. Occasional boasts of security officials on the matter are little more than a ridiculous throwback to an outdated self-image.
Therefore, we must pray for the success of the diplomatic track Israel has undertaken in recent years, and that contributed more than a little to last weekend's decision.
This track must continue, with the support of a public that understands it is the only realistic option to stand up to this dangerous threat.
Israel can defend itself against many dangers. There are many times when it is imprudent, and unhelpful, to believe that only our own strength can defend us.