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Israel’s Right to Survive (A NYTimes Op-Ed)

March 9, 2012

International exasperation with Israel’s role in its conflict with the Palestinians has created an atmosphere so poisoned that, in the name of “fairness,” even proposals that could lead to the destruction of the Jewish state are now given serious hearing.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has repeatedly said that the Jewish state must be destroyed. The weapon he now seeks would enable him to carry out his threat. Is “nuclear nonproliferation,” a euphemism for denuding Israel of its defensive capacity, really the way to respond?

If Iran is a rational actor, the only factor preventing its attacking Israel is Israel’s second-strike capacity. And if it is not rational, all the more reason Israel should not bear sole responsibility for ensuring that Iran not acquire such a weapon of mass destruction. Every reasonable observer of the Middle East knows which country might use such a weapon, and which would not. Can anyone, no matter how critical of Israel on the Palestinian front, even imagine a scenario in which Israel would use a nuclear weapon pre-emptively against an enemy? Has the international conversation become so corrupted we now compare Israel’s moral compass to Ahmadinejad’s?

Had Israel’s neighbors ever accepted its right to exist, a level nuclear playing field might be fair. But they never have, and after Hosni Mubarak and Bashar al-Assad, Israel will face more enemies, not less.

Israel was founded after the worst genocidal rampage in history, when the West admitted that because of its own failings, the Jews were never permanently secure anywhere. Israel was the West’s belated attempt to ensure the future of the Jewish people. Do the Jews now deserve a future less than they did 65 years ago?

No state has an obligation to commit suicide because the world has tired of a conflict that it cannot settle. No people has an obligation to disappear just to placate a world that no longer cares about its existence. And the West has no moral right to make the Jews, once again, the victims of its own moral failures and its unwillingness to do what is right.

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