Rush to Judgment
The following is an editorial reptinted from our newspaper from exactly 10 years ago. In light of recent events, we are reminded how different the present could have been without the brave actions of the IDF. And we are also reminded how little support Israel has received from the International community for decades now.
The rush of condemnation to which Israel has been subjected by the international community and in the media following the Israeli raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor is most reprehensible. To assume that Prime Minister Begin's decision to destroy the Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad was politically motivated, or that this action was taken because of o Begin's paranoia' about Israel's security is both foolhardy and misleading.
Israel's political and diplomatic efforts to stop the Iraqis from constructing a reactor capable of producing nuclear bombs began with the day it became known that France had agreed to build the reactor. These diplomatic efforts continued unrelentingly until recently, when Israel concluded that France had supplied the Iraqis with 25 pounds of highly enriched, weapon-grade uranium and that Iraq was on the verge of developing a Hiroshima-type bomb. Israeli and British intelligence sources independently and unequivocally confirmed that because of the type and the large size of the reactor; it was not designed for research purposes but for the purpose of producing nuclear weapons. This development was coupled with repeated declarations from Iraq's President Saddam Hussein, who pronounced just last January that "the bomb that Iraq was going to create was tailored for Israel and for no other target" Furthermore, numerous reliable sources in Israel, including the former Israeli Head of Intelligence, General Gazit, confirmed that the decision to destroy the nuclear reactor was made many months ago and had been postponed, hoping for a major diplomatic breakthrough. Therefore, the timing of the raid was determined on the basis of fresh evidence that the reactor would be activated as early as July, 1981.
Prime Minister Begin, who is responsible'for his country's national security, cannot be expected to be paralyzed or refrain from taking any action that can affect his country's very existence only because he is facing re-election. The Israeli raid was neither politically motivated nor the result of paranoia. Rather, it was a sound and thoroughly thoughtout decision which entailed enormous political and military risks, hardly comparable to aay political benefits that Begin may have presumably contemplated to reap. Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it President Saddam Hussein of Iraq must be taken seriously when he speaks of another Holocaust Israel is not in a'position to risk its very existence in the name of international law. Although many countries are threatened by nuclear destruction, only Israel has been targeted openly for nuclear annihilation in defiance of international law. It ought to be remembered that since 1948, Israel has remained in a state of war with Iraq. Iraq has consistently refused to sign an armistice agreement with Israel. Israel's action, therefore, was in self-defense, duly acknowledged by any international law. Those who condemned Israel have indeed rushed to judgment, giving credence to the voices of hypocrisy, fear, and submission. The Middle East, after the destruction of the Iraqi reactor, is a safer place, not only for the Israelis, but for the Iraqis and indeed, the entire Arab world. Obviously, a nuclear conflagration in the Middle East would not leave the Arab states unharmed. Israel would not be the only victim; the price that the Iraqis have paid today may well be only a token price. Those countries and editorialists who condemn Israel for a "flagrant violation of international law" will soon realize that Israel's action may have saved Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations from a grave tragedy.
Because of ihe special relationship that exists between Israel and the U.S., the Reagan administration has every right to be indignant at first, particularly since American planes were used in the Israeli raid However, once the political storm subsides and the evidence is presented and studied, Israeli-U.S. relations will undoubtedly be restored to their normal and natural course of friendship and mutual reliance for their national security in the region.