The much rumored Michael Oren / Yossi Klein Halevi New Republic article on the Iranian nuclear program is out. Their analysis of most aspects of the issue is covered by things I’ve written elsewhere, but the very end of the article waxes philosophical in an interesting way:
If [the international community] fails, then Israel will have no choice but to uphold its role as refuge of the Jewish people. A Jewish state that allows itself to be threatened with nuclear weapons–by a country that denies the genocide against Europe’s six million Jews while threatening Israel’s six million Jews–will forfeit its right to speak in the name of Jewish history. Fortunately, even the government of Ehud Olmert, widely criticized as incompetent and corrupt, seems to understand that, on this issue at least, it cannot fail.
The irony here is that, as Oren and Halevi concede, it would be impossible for Israel to wage this war without American support. This means, however, that on the Oren/Halevi analysis, the Zionist project has already failed. Far from a “refuge of the Jewish people” Israel has become, on their view, a menace — a prison, a trap — where Jews are held hostage to the onrushing Persian hordes. And not only are Israeli Jews threatened (not a new historical development) but they’re incapable of defending themselves. They need the United States of America to bail them out. But, of course, the whole point of Israel-as-Jewish-refuge was precisely that you can’t count on the goyim, even the nice liberal goyim of the United States, to do what it takes to protect the Jews when the chips are on the table.
This is the fairly demented logic of the binational hawk movement in Tel Aviv and Washington. The United States and Israel will, side-by-side, engage in a series of endless military confrontations with the Muslim population of the region. This will allow Israel to avoid making unpalatable concessions on the Palestinian front, but carries the price of putting Israel in a situation that’s only tenable with continuous American backing. This serves the interests of “pro-Israel” institutions in the United States along with the psychological needs of diaspora Zionists who can’t be bothered to actually learn Hebrew and move to Israel since it gives them something to do. After all, an Israel that found security through peace with its neighbors wouldn’t need all these foreign advocates.It’s far from clear, however, that it serves the interests of actual Israelis who, after all, don’t have the luxury of just retreating to another continent when these schemes blow up catastrophically.