What would the world reaction be if Israel launched a preemptive attack on
Iranian nuclear facilities? By David Brinn

From the ballroom where I was sitting at the Los Angeles Convention center last week, it appeared as if the US Jewish community and Israel were on the same page.

One by one, Israeli cabinet ministers got up on the podium of the United Jewish Communities General Assembly (UJC-GA), and to thunderous applause from the 5,000 American Jewish delegates, warned of an impending crisis involving the Iranian nuclear program and vowed that Israel would not stand by idly and allow Iran to finalize its program to build a nuclear bomb.

“Israel will not shy away from challenging Iran’s development of nuclear weapons,” is how Prime Minister Ehud Olmert put it. “We cannot tolerate, we will not tolerate, those who challenge Israel’s right to exist, while

actively seeking to develop the catastrophic weapons to fulfill their goals.”

“It’s 1938, Iran is Germany, and they’re developing a nuclear bomb” was the mantra Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli opposition leader used throughout his speech to the Jewish leaders. The real threat to world peace is not Iraq or Al Qaeda but Iran and its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Netanyahu said, stressing that even if Israel ceased to exist,it would not deter the Iranian leader from threatening the West in order to bring about a world power shift with radical Islamic fundamentalism at

the helm.

Another message from all of the Israelis was clear – if the world does nothing to stop Iran from achieving its goals, then Israel will take the matters into its own hands.

The delegates to the GA received the message with full understanding of the gravity of the situation and acceptance of the fateful decisions

and actions that will have to be taken.

What felt like a comforting reality at the GA, however, soon proved to be a bubble, sealed off from what was going on in the rest of the United States.

In the days following the GA, as I traveled to the Midwest and then to New England sampling the local daily newspapers along the way. It quickly became clear Iran was but a footnote to headlines focusing on the weather, the new OJ Simpson book, and the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes wedding. If there truly is a dire Iranian threat to America, as Israeli leaders are asserting, then Americans are not taking that threat too seriously. Most Americans I polled, in fact, had no idea that Iran was close to achieving its aspirations to building the bomb and that it wasn’t only Israel that was going to be at risk as a result.

With assessments that the Iranian nuclear program could come to fruition as early as next March, the window of opportunity where diplomatic

pressure or sanctions can prevent its completion is rapidly shrinking.

Despite the assurances of US President George W. Bush that he will not allow Iran to acquire the bomb, it increasingly looks as if Israel will be left alone to face the threat themselves. In his weakened state following the midterm elections, it’s unlikely that the US president will be able to garner the support for any kind of US military involvement to stop Iran.

What will the world reaction be if Israel launches a preemptive attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, – a scenario that is appearing more likely with each passing week? Will it be condemnation, like in 1981 when the Israeli air force took out the Iraqi Osirak nuclear facility near Baghdad? Will there be any appreciation amid the realization that Israel was preventing

a catastrophic situation from occuring – letting a leader with dangerous aspirations acquire a nuclear bomb?

Unless the UN and peace-loving nations spurred by the US are able to stop the Iranian program with diplomatic means, the world is going to wake up some day before the spring to the news that Israel has launched air attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities. Now is the time for the Israeli government – as well as supporters of Israel – to start planning their campaign to explain the whys and the hows. The day after will be too late.