UPDATE (6:00 pm Tuesday): This afternoon has seen an Israeli driver injured by Palestinian “rock throwers” near Qalqilya. In the last two hours, a female knife wielding terrorist was arrested just outside the Jewish community of Emmanuel (near Haifa). She told police that she had planned to stab as many Jews as possible.
It was January, 49 BCE. Proconsul Julius Caesar had just led his troops on a hard march across Gaul to the border with Italy. He had brought them to a halt on the north end of the bridge across the Rubicon –the stream separating Cisalpine Gaul from Italy.
On the one hand it would be a crime against Rome for Caesar to bring his army into Italy from the province; on the other hand if the army did not enter Italy, Caesar would be stripped of command and prosecuted.
According to legend, Caesar hesitated for a moment, then–speaking in Greek instead of Latin–quoted the Greek Menander: “Ἀνερρίφθω κύβος”. The words Caesar used to order his troops across the bridge into Italy and thereby initiate a civil war were “Let the die be cast.”
Forever since, “let the die be cast” or its variant “the die is cast” has come to mean that “the future is determined, there are no more options, the point of no return has been passed.”
Your humble servant believes that yesterday was such a moment. Benjamin Netanyahu crossed the Iranian Rubicon.
Netanyahu’s short speech at the AIPAC convention yesterday was remarkable for its concision, and left little doubt that the day has come when Israel will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Netanyahu began by pointing that the purpose of the Jewish state of Israel is to “defend Jews and the Jewish future”. He continued that Israelis must be the “masters of our own fate” and not supplicants for the help of others. To this end, he commented:
We are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; we leave all options on the table; and containment is definitely not an option. The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped.
Then Netanyahu underscored the point that there is no doubt that Iran is feverishly working toward building nuclear weapons:
Amazingly, some people refuse to acknowledge that Iran’s goal is to develop nuclear weapons. You see, Iran claims to do everything it’s doing, that it’s enriching uranium to develop medical isotopes. A country that builds underground nuclear facilities, develops intercontinental ballistic missiles, manufactures thousands of centrifuges, and that absorbs crippling sanctions, is doing all that in order to advance…medical research. So you see, when that Iranian ICBM is flying through the air to a location near you, you’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s only carrying medical isotopes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it? That’s right, it’s a duck. But this duck is a nuclear duck. And it’s time the world started calling a duck a duck.
Then Netanyahu specifically addressed the absurd comments of President Obama’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who (as reported in this blog) recently said that “the Obama Administration is not sure that the Ayatollahs have decided to produce nuclear weapons”, and even more absurdly declared that “Iran is a rational actor”:
Yet incredibly, some are prepared to accept an idea only slightly less preposterous: that we should accept a world in which the Ayatollahs have atomic bombs. Sure, they say, Iran is cruel, but it’s not crazy. It’s detestable but it’s deterrable. My friends, responsible leaders should not bet the security of their countries on the belief that the world’s most dangerous regimes won’t use the world’s most dangerous weapons . . .
Netanyahu then catalogued Iran’s crimes:
From the beginning, the Ayatollah regime has broken every international rule and flouted every norm. It has seized embassies, targeted diplomats. It sends its own children through mine fields; it hangs gays and stones women; it supports Assad’s brutal slaughter of the Syrian people; it is the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism: It sponsors Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa, even South America.
Iran’s proxies have dispatched hundreds of suicide bombers, planted thousands of roadside bombs, and they fired over twenty thousand missiles at civilians. Through terror from the skies and terror on the ground, Iran is responsible for the murder of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans. In 1983, Iran’s proxy Hezbollah blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon, killing 240 US Marines. In the last decade, it’s been responsible for murdering and maiming American soldiers in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
Just a few months ago, it tried to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the US in a restaurant just a few blocks from here. The assassins didn’t care that several Senators and members of Congress would have been murdered in the process.
Netanyahu then noted what the future would be like with an Iranian nuclear state:
Iran accuses the American government of orchestrating 9/11, and that’s as brazen as denying the Holocaust, and they do… Iran calls for Israel’s destruction, and they work for its destruction – each day, every day. This is how Iran behaves today, without nuclear weapons. Think of how they will behave tomorrow, with nuclear weapons. Iran will be even more reckless and a lot more dangerous.
Near the end of his speech, Netanyahu succinctly stated the case for military action:
For fifteen years, I’ve been warning that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave danger to my country and to the peace and security of the entire world. For the last decade, the international community has tried diplomacy. It hasn’t worked. For six years, the international community has applied sanctions. That hasn’t worked either.
I appreciate President Obama’s recent efforts to impose even tougher sanctions against Iran. These sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy, but unfortunately, Iran’s nuclear program continues to march forward. Israel has waited patiently for the international community to resolve this issue. We’ve waited for diplomacy to work. We’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer.
As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.
Simply put, it is no longer a question of “if” Israel will go after Iran’s nuclear facilities, it is a question of “when”. The world had better ready itself for the inevitable.