Rahm Emanuel famously proclaimed, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." Ironically, although the president's chief of staff has proven to be a false friend of Israel, the leadership of the Jewish state would do well to heed his advice.
That Israel is in peril is obvious. Israel's enemies sense the opportunity to destroy it through a perfect storm, a confluence of events that seem to leave Israel reeling and vulnerable. First and foremost is the unmistakable betrayal by the president of the United States, who has loudly broadcast his eagerness to sacrifice the security of the Jewish state to appease the Muslim world. Israel is under enormous duress to surrender vital territory to allow for the creation of a Palestinian state within its borders. That such a development would be catastrophic for Israel is apparent to anyone who knows history. As former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin stated, "The Palestinian state can only emerge on the ruins of Israel.
In addition, Iran is hell-bent on developing nuclear weapons, and it is clear that the international community will do nothing to stop it. President Obama appears to be pressuring Israel to refrain from military action to stop the Iranian threat. Hezbollah and Hamas have restocked their arsenals of rockets and missiles, which now threaten to reach the center of Israel, including Tel Aviv. The European Union is championing the Fayed Plan, pursuant to which the Palestinian Authority would unilaterally announce the establishment of the Palestinian state, which would shortly thereafter be recognized by the United Nations Security Council. In view of President Obama's indifference and even antipathy to Israel, the United States cannot be counted on to exercise its veto.
Ominous as all this seems, Israel has the opportunity to seize the moment and secure its future. The actions required are not for the faint of heart.
With regard to Iran, Israel can let the United States know in no uncertain terms that it will take military action against Iran, with or without American assistance. If the Obama Administration balks, and perhaps even threatens to withhold military hardware to Israel that might be necessary for a successful conventional strike, Israel can advise the US, discreetly yet firmly, that it has non-conventional options, i.e., tactical nuclear weapons.
Such an admonition is not unprecedented. It has been reported that in 1973, during the first desperate hours of the Yom Kippur War, Prime Minister Golda Meir warned the Nixon Administration that Israel would have no choice but to resort to the nuclear option if conventional military resupplies were not forthcoming. Shortly after this communication by the Israeli PM, the Americans provided the assistance the Israelis needed to turn the tide in the war.
A matter of life or death
The situation is equally dire now. The possibility that Israel will resort to tactical nuclear weapons against Iran should be sufficient to convince the Obama Administration to support Israel's attack with conventional weapons. If not, however, Israel must be prepared to carry out its threat. Failure against Iran is not an option.
With regard to the Palestinians, Israel need not sit idly by as the Palestinians carry out their threat to have the UN impose the creation of a Palestinian state, which would run afoul of the Oslo Accords and the Roadmap, which require a negotiated agreement by the parties, not an imposed solution.
A cardinal legal principle is that the violation of a contract by one party entitles the other party to rescind the contract. The Palestinians have repeatedly flouted both the Oslo Accords and the Roadmap. Israel can and should declare that those agreements have been abrogated. In their place, Israel can announce its annexation of Judea and Samaria. The Arabs residing in Palestinian cities will receive full civil and religious rights, but not political rights, which would be consistent with the Balfour Declaration of 1917 as well as the Mandate for Palestine that was adopted by the League of Nations in 1922 and ratified by the US in 1924.
As for a Palestinian state, Israel would declare that issue to be dead as a doornail. Any such entity, if it is to be created, will be carved out of neighboring Arab lands, not out of the tiny piece of land afforded the Jewish state.
The international condemnation that will follow will be great, but history teaches it will be short-lived. The world will be a different place after an attack on Iran, and much of the international community will be silently grateful to Israel for ridding the Middle East of the Iranian menace. The failed movement of a Palestinian state will become a footnote in the annals of history. Anti-Semitism will never be eradicated, and thus Israel will always have enemies, but those enemies can be kept at bay if, and only if, they are convinced that Israel has demonstrated the will to do whatever is necessary to prevail.
Converting Israel's crisis into an opportunity will require extraordinary leadership. Israel's leaders will need strategic vision, decisiveness, steady nerves, unflinching determination, and absolute confidence in the justice of the cause. American Jewry will also have a critical role to play. We will need to dig deep, find our inner strength, coalesce and be willing to use whatever political influence we have to defend the Jewish nation. There is, however, no choice. It is a matter of life or death.
Steven M. Goldberg is a trial lawyer in Los Angeles who is involved in a number of Jewish organizations