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Six years later, in the Yom Kippur War, it took an Israeli threat to use nuclear weapons against its attackers Egypt and Syria for the U.S. to finally airlift desperately needed military supplies. Even then, America’s European allies refused the U.S. planes landing rights to refuel, with only Portugal finally acquiescing.
The record in recent years is not much better. Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield (2002) against the Palestinian terror war, Second Lebanon War (2006) against Hezbollah, and Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009) against Hamas in Gaza all evoked a clamor of Western demands for immediate ceasefires along with charges of Israeli moral offenses. The U.S. was sometimes more sympathetic than Europe but still distinctly uncomfortable with Israeli military action and showed short patience for it no matter what savageries Israel had been subjected to.
It may be too soon to conclude that the current situation is as stark. As Joseph Klein notes, Obama could “surprise us and show the boldness he displayed in making the decision to take out Osama bin Laden,” though “his record to date on Iran is dismal.” And while some of the Republican presidential candidates have made hawkish avowals on Iran, Israel—even if one of them eventually defeats Obama—has to watch the clock.
If the reports (notably in The Guardian and Time) that Israel’s Mossad was behind the blast at the Iranian missile base are accurate, it could be an indication that Israel is already taking its own tack. As Israeli author and military commentator Ronen Bergman told the Telegraph reporter:
People outside Israel don’t understand how profound memories of the Holocaust are, and how they affect future policy making. At the end of the day, this policy of “never again” would dictate Israel’s behaviour when intelligence comes through that Iran has come close to a bomb.
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