THE ISRAELI “SAMSON OPTION”: THE WHOLE WORLD REMAINS A POTENTIAL VICTIM OF THIS HORRIFIC STRATEGY


THE ISRAELI “SAMSON OPTION”: THE WHOLE WORLD REMAINS A POTENTIAL VICTIM OF THIS HORRIFIC STRATEGY

by Syarif Hidayat

THE BIBLICAL STORY OF Samson and Delilah is familiar (Judges 16:4-30). Delilah deceives her husband, Samson. She betrays him to her people, the Philistines, who are the enemies of the Israelites. The Philistines put out Samson’s eyes and rob him of the source of his strength by cutting his hair.

Samson repents of his sin, his hair grows back, and he regains his strength. Not letting on that his strength has returned, Samson in turn deceives his captors. When the opportunity arises, he uses his renewed strength to bring down the two middle pillars of a great temple when the Philistines are assembled to sacrifice to their god. Samson kills a large number of the Philistines and in the process he kills himself.

Applied in the context of the Middle East, the Samson Option, has important ramifications. ISRAEL MIGHT well launch a preemptive strike against Iran, even if the international military and diplomatic reprisals that follow might bring disastrous consequences upon Israel itself. Why? Because Israel might well calculate that Iran armed with nuclear weapons would be too unpredictable and dangerous to tolerate. At any moment and for any reason, Iran might simply launch a nuclear attack on Israel. Since Iran’s irrationality cannot be ruled out, Israel could calculate there is no rational option except to attack Iran first.

Ironically, there is also a Samson Option calculated from Iran’s perspective. (Nothing is ever easy or simple in the Middle East.) Allowing the mad mullahs in Iran to have a nuclear bomb might be the same as giving them a button with which they could blow up the world. The mullahs might just decide to push the End of the World button, acting as irrational terrorists unable to resist the temptation, or acting “rationally” in the calculation that they will soon be in heaven for their glorious deed.

Even knowing that to launch a nuclear strike on Israel would result in a devastating nuclear retaliation being launched on them might not be enough deterrence for these radical clerics who have a history of embracing suicide as martyrdom. That the world would be destroyed because they pushed the button might perversely be an inducement to the mad clerics in charge of a radical terror-supporting theocracy.

The Israelis also are egged on in its nuclear threats by “Christian Zionists” like Hal Lindsay who believe Israel must expand its control of territory to its Biblical borders in order to bring about Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ.  Some suspect that former President George W. Bush holds such beliefs, especially after his November 2007 statement “If you want to see World War Three, you know, a way to do that is to attack Israel with a nuclear weapon.”

Why Israel Strikes First

ISRAEL HAS sworn “Never again!” Reasoning that the Holocaust occurred in part because European Jews did not resist, the Israelis have determined that never again will Israel be passive in the face of its enemies. Since the late 1940s first strikes have characterized the Israeli’s foreign policy.

The highly effective Israeli first-strike air assault on June 5, 1967, destroyed the entire Egyptian air force on the ground at the start of the Six-Day War. But more parallel to the urgency surrounding the situation of Iran’s having nuclear weapons is the June 1981 air attack that took out Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor.

The “Never again!” resolve would tolerate annihilation only if it followed a massive Israeli military attempt to first annihilate the foe. Put another way, the possibility of annihilation would not stop Israel from attacking first if it felt its survival was on the line anyway.

Israel has provoked paranoia in the US and other Western countries about the imaginary Iranian nuclear threats and invented the deceitful fictitious scenario featuring Iranian Mullahs who would anytime push the button to launch Nuclear missiles attacks against Israel:

According to Israelis, the Samson Option psychology would be different for the Iranian mullahs even though the result might be the same. In its extreme form, the most radical Islamic terrorist accepts suicide to advance his cause. But the mad mullahs typically motivate others to commit suicide while they remain safe at home. Yet, presented with the opportunity to destroy Israel gloriously, even the mad mullahs might accept their own ticket to heaven as the price they had to pay to achieve their goal.

Thinking from a more rational perspective, an Iran armed with nuclear weapons could announce that it would launch a nuclear strike on Israel should Iran ever come under military attack by the United States, even if the United States were to launch a purely conventional strike on Iran. This would be Iran’s version of the “tripwire” theory the United States used to justify maintaining a small conventional army in Europe in the 1950s.

If the Soviets launched even a conventional attack against U.S. forces in West Germany, so the theory went, the United States would retaliate immediately with a massive nuclear strike. Similarly, Iran could announce that any conventional attack against it would result in a nuclear response by the mullahs.

Once Iran has a nuclear weapons capability, the mullahs suddenly have calculations and threats that were not available to them before. Armed with atomic weapons, for instance, Iran could make extremely aggressive foreign policy demands, threatening a nuclear attack on Israel if the demands are not met.

The mullahs might command the withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from the Middle East, or else they would be “forced” to launch a nuclear strike on the U.S. bases in Iraq or Saudi Arabia orcon Israel itself. Such nuclear brinksmanship instantly advances the situation to a whole new plateau of international danger.

Thought through from Israel’s perspective, Iran must never be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. Iran has made its intentions abundantly clear. Any stoppage to enriching uranium will only be temporary. Iran has announced to the world that the mullahs will have atomic bombs. The only question is when.

Israel will watch for the moment of no return, the time when Iran has everything necessary on its own to make a deliverable nuclear weapon. Just after Israeli intelligence is convinced that Iran has reached that point, Israel will feel compelled to strike.

In June 2004 a report out of Tel Aviv confirmed that Israel already had rehearsed a military first strike on Iran. “Israel will on no account permit Iranian reactors — especially the one being built in Bushehr with Russian help — to go critical,” an Israeli defense source told reporters. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon went on the record that Iran was the “biggest danger to the existence of Israel.” Sharon also left no doubt as to his meaning: “Israel will not allow Iran to be equipped with a nuclear weapon.”  Put in terms of the Samson Option, Israel will feel compelled to strike first, before Iran has the ability to make its own first strike decision.

THE REALITIES IN IRAN:

A Financial Times article (August 11, 2008), stating: Power supply switched off two hours each day. For Iranians, recent electricity cuts are a reminder of the severe energy shortages they endured for almost a decade after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Electrical experts say international sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program have contributed to the problem by making the investment outlook bleak.

Iran’s electrical shortage has a good reason for its nuclear power plants. In addition, countries throughout the world have been building nuclear power plants. In 2008, there were over 400 nuclear power plants in operation. Very few countries do not have any.

American leaders especially in the US government and in the Congress who are well-known as Preachers of Democracy and Human Rights should know about these realities.

ARROGANCE OF US POLITICIANS TO PLEASE ISRAEL!
But to placate Israel, US politicians have threatened to start a war with Iran to prevent that country from exercising its sovereign right to have a nuclear power generating plant to add to the 400-plus already operating throughout the world.

Now plans to attack Iran and the possibility of a new World War have been made public and meet resistance even from moderate elements within the military due to the unforeseeable consequences.

Originally a strategy of last resort retaliation – even if it means Israel’s annihilation – it has developed into being a nuclear bullying strategy to further Israel’s territorial goals through threats and blackmail. Israel has bullied not only Arab and Muslim nations, but the United States and Russia with its Samson Option threats.

Mordechai Vanunu has alleged that Israel uses for purposes of blackmail its ability to “bombard any city all over the world, and not only those in Europe but also those in the United States.”

With between 200 and 500 thermonuclear weapons and a sophisticated delivery system, Israel has quietly supplanted Britain as the World’s 5th Largest nuclear power, and may currently rival France and China in the size and sophistication of its nuclear arsenal.

Israeli Nuclear Strategy

In popular imagination, the Israeli bomb is a “weapon of last resort,” to be used only at the last minute to avoid annihilation, and many well intentioned but misled supporters of Israel still believe that to be the case. Whatever truth this formulation may have had in the minds of the early Israeli nuclear strategists, today the Israeli nuclear arsenal is inextricably linked to and integrated with overall Israeli military and political strategy.

As Seymour Hersh in the 1991 book The Samson Option, says in classic understatement ; “The Samson Option is no longer the only nuclear option available to Israel.” Israel has made countless veiled nuclear threats against the Arab nations and against the Soviet Union (and by extension Russia since the end of the Cold War).

One chilling example comes from Ariel Sharon: “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.” (In 1983 Sharon proposed to India that it join with Israel to attack Pakistani nuclear facilities; in the late 70s he proposed sending Israeli paratroopers to Tehran to prop up the Shah; and in 1982 he called for expanding Israel’s security influence to stretch from “Mauritania to Afghanistan.”).

In another example, Israeli nuclear expert Oded Brosh said in 1992, “…we need not be ashamed that the nuclear option is a major instrumentality of our defense as a deterrent against those who attack us.”

Official policy and threats

During the 1960s Israel concentrated on conventional military superiority to defend lands confiscated in the 1948 and 1967 wars – and to convince Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories that they could not break free of it. However, in 1973’s Yom Kippur War Israel was almost overwhelmed by Arab forces.

Prime Minister Golda Meir authorized a nuclear alert, ordering 13 atomic bombs be prepared for missiles and aircraft. Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Simha Dinitz threatened “very serious conclusions” if there was not an immediate airlift of supplies. This forced U.S. President Richard Nixon to make emergency airlifts of state of the art military supplies to Israel.

Fearing intervention by the Soviet Union, U.S. forces went on Defense Condition (DEFCON) III alert status, something which could have led to full scale nuclear war in case of misinterpretation of signals or hardware or software failures.

Additionally, as Seymour Hersh documents in detail in his book The Samson Option, from 1973 these weapons have been used to discourage the Soviet Union – now Russia – from intervening militarily on behalf of Arab nations. Obviously an Israeli nuclear attack on Russia by the United States’ great ally Israel would result in Russia sending thousands of nuclear weapons towards the U.S. and the U.S. responding in kind.

Not surprisingly, no nation state has attempted to attack Israel since 1973. A former Israeli official justified Israel’s threats. “You Americans screwed us” in not supporting Israel in its 1956 war with Egypt. “We can still remember the smell of Auschwitz and Treblinka. Next time we’ll take all of you with us.”

General Moshe Dayan, a leading promoter of Israel’s nuclear program, has been quoted as saying “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.” In 1977, after a right-wing coalition under Menachen Begin took power, the Israelis began to use the Samson Option not just to deter attack but to allow Israel to “redraw the political map of the Middle East” by expanding hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers into the West Bank and Gaza.

Ethnic cleansing

Then-Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon said things like “We are much more important than (Americans) think. We can take the middle east with us whenever we go” and “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.”  He proclaimed his – and many Likud Party members’ – goals of transforming Jordan into a Palestinian state and “transferring” all Palestinian refugees there. A practice known worldwide as “ethnic cleansing.”

To dissuade the Soviet Union from interfering with its plans, Prime Minister Begin immediately “gave orders to target more Soviet cities” for potential nuclear attack. Its American spy Jonathan Pollard was caught stealing such nuclear targeting information from the U.S. military in 1985.

During the next 25 years Israel became more militarily adventurous, bombing Iraq’s under-construction Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, invading Lebanon to destroy Palestinian refugee camps in 1982 and to fight Hezbollah in 2006, massively bombing civilian targets in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp in 2002 and thoughout Gaza in 2008-2009. There are conflicting reports about whether Israel went on nuclear alert and armed missiles with nuclear weapons during the 1991 Gulf War after Iraq shot conventionally armed scud missiles into it.

In 2002, while the United States was building for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon threatened that if Israel was attacked “Israel will react. Is it clear?” Israeli defense analyst Zeev Schiff explained: “Israel could respond with a nuclear retaliation that would eradicate Iraq as a country.” It is believed President Bush gave Sharon the green-light to attack Baghdad in retaliation, including with nuclear weapons, but only if attacks came before the American military invasion.

Compellent purposes

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has admitted that nuclear weapons are used by Israel for “compellent purposes” – i.e., forcing others to accept Israeli political demands.[28] In 1998 Peres was quoted as saying, “We have built a nuclear option, not in order to have a Hiroshima, but to have an Oslo,” referring to imposing a settlement on the Palestinians.

Israeli Israel Shahak wrote in 1997: “Israel clearly prepares itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East…without hesitating to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones.” Zeev Schiff opined in 1998 that “Off-the-cuff Israeli nuclear threats have become a problem.” In 2003 David Hirst noted that “The threatening of wild, irrational violence, in response to political pressure, has been an Israeli impulse from the very earliest days” and called Israel a candidate for “the role of ‘nuclear-crazy’ state.”

Noam Chomsky said of the Samson Option “the craziness of the state is not because the people are insane. Once you pick a policy of choosing expansion over security, that’s what you end up getting stuck with.” Efraim Karsh calls the Samson Option the “rationality of pretended irrationality,” but warns that seeming too irrational could encourage other nations to attack Israel in their own defense.

Samson Option Supporters Two Israel supporters are frequently quoted for their explicit support of the Samson Option.  Martin Van Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has been quoted as saying: “Most European capitals are targets for our air force….We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.”[38]

In 2002 the Los Angeles Times, published an opinion piece by Louisiana State University professor David Perlmutter in which he wrote: “What would serve the Jew-hating world better in repayment for thousands of years of massacres but a Nuclear Winter. Or invite all those tut-tutting European statesmen and peace activists to join us in the ovens? For the first time in history, a people facing extermination while the world either cackles or looks away–unlike the Armenians, Tibetans, World War II European Jews or Rwandans–have the power to destroy the world. The ultimate justice?”

Two influential Israel supporters advocate more active use of the Samson Option threat. Louis René Beres, a professor of Political Science at Purdue University and an Ariel Sharon advisor, recommends Israel use the Samson Option threat to support conventional preemptive attacks against enemy nuclear and non-nuclear assets, discouraging conventional retaliation. Jerome Corsi, a Harvard Ph.D. in political science and author of two books encouraging Israel to use nuclear weapons, writes that “Israel’s Samson Option” could be “a preemptive strike against Iran.”

The Israelis also are egged on in its nuclear threats by “Christian Zionists” like Hal Lindsay who believe Israel must expand its control of territory to its Biblical borders in order to bring about Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ.  Some suspect that former President George W. Bush holds such beliefs, especially after his November 2007 statement “If you want to see World War Three, you know, a way to do that is to attack Israel with a nuclear weapon.”   

Israeli Threats Against Iran

Israel’s threats to use nuclear weapons, including preemptively, have increased greatly since the revelation in 2002 that Iran was building uranium enrichment facilities. That year Prime Minister Ariel Sharon demanded that the international community target Iran as soon as it was finished dealing with Iraq.

Unlike Israel, Iran has accepted supervision of its nuclear program under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Iran claims its program is only for production of nuclear power as oil becomes more scarce and expensive, and not for nuclear weapons.

However, Israel opposes any challenge to its nuclear hegemony since not only would it be less able to use its nuclear threat to keep confiscated lands, but fear of Iran actually might cause citizens to leave Israel and investment to dry up.  Israel also must worry about other “enemy” Arab nations which already are seeking or soon may seek nuclear energy.

In 2004 Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said that Israel would consider “all options” to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons. Rumors and warnings of an impending Israeli attack on Iran’s facilities, including possibly with nuclear weapons, have circulated repeatedly since that time.

Meanwhile, Israel still considers Russia a target because of its technical assistance to Iran’s nuclear program and its continued arms sales to Iran and other “enemy” nations. In 2007 Israeli officials warned Russia: “We hope they understand that this is a threat that could come back to them as well.”

Israeli possession of up to 500 thermonuclear weapons, including strategic warheads in the megaton-range backed-up by delivery mechanisms using Jericho intercontinental ballistic missiles with a range of 11,500 km threatens peace and security in the Middle East and the World stability!

In 2005 George Bush admitted that the U.S. would support an Israeli attack on Iran. Soon after his election President Barak Obama seemed to accept the inevitability of an Iranian nuclear bomb. However, in early 2009 Likud Party hawk Benjamin Netanyahu was elected Israeli Prime Minister. Netanyahu already had threatened that Israel would attack Iran to stop its nuclear program if Obama did not do so. Considering Iran’s threats to retaliate, this easily could lead to a “Samson Option” scenario.

After May and September meetings with Netanyahu in 2009, Obama threatened Iran with attack if it did not “come clean about” and curb its nuclear program. This statement came a day after Netanyahus’ speech to the United Nations where he invoked the memory of Auschwitz and family members slain by Nazis. Obama also has suffered constant pressure to take a more belligerent stand against Iran from neoconservatives and the “Israel lobby.”

Too few peace or political activists, left or right, are willing to challenge Israel’s Samson Option threats or even to make a nuclear free Middle East a central demand. Until military and political leaders, as well as activists, are willing to change U.S. policy of defacto support for Israel’s Samson Option the whole world remains a potential victim of this horrific strategy.

Citizens concerned about sanctions against Iran, peace with justice in the Middle East and the world stability as well as the nuclear disarmament in the world, have an obligation to speak out forcefully against the Israeli weapons of mass destruction programs. (HSH)

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