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Israel Can Only Rely On Itself

Israel Can Only Rely On Itself

Is an Israeli attack on Iran an act of aggression or responsibility?

Alan Dershowitz made a profound statement Wednesday night at an event I attended in New York City. He said Israel could never rely on another country for its defense and security. He was, of course, talking about the situation with Iran and the United States. The last year and a half has been full of discussion about whether Israel should preemptively or for preventative purposes attack Iran’s nuclear program without the blessing of the United States. I believe Professor Dershowitz’s sentiment is correct. No country can outsource its safety; each must be the master of its own universe. Israel is no exception.

In the past, I have supported President Obama as a credible partner for Israel, including his commitment to halt Iran’s dangerous nuclear program. I continue to believe him when he says he will do everything in his power, including employing the U.S. military, to stop Iran.

However, what I have not clarified is that Israel absolutely reserves the right to act unilaterally if the threat posed by the Muslim theocracy can no longer be tolerated. Some American political pundits have expressed concern over an Israeli unilateral attack because of the consequences it may have on Israeli-U.S. relations or American interests.

For example, Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic wrote that one reason Israel shouldn’t attack Iran is that “[a] strike could be a disaster for the U.S.-Israel relationship…an attack could trigger an armed Iranian response against American targets…Americans are tired of the Middle East, and I’m not sure how they would feel if they believed that Israeli action brought harm to Americans…I doubt Israel wants to put Americans in harm’s way now. And it certainly isn’t healthy for Israel to get on the wrong side of an American president.”

This thought process is completely American egocentric. Iran is a country developing weapons of mass destruction and has openly stated its intention to commit genocide against Israel. Let us not forget that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he wants to “erase [Israel] from the page of time” and that “soon this stain of disgrace will be cleaned from the garment of the world of Islam.”

In this context, Israel always reserves the right to act unilaterally, regardless of whether or not its timing is in sync with the United States. Certainly, I agree with Goldberg’s assessment that Israel does not want to put American lives in harm’s way. But, that is not a reason not to take action in defense of its own people. Americans, above all, should understand this. This concept is part of our history dating back to what we call “Washington’s Rule.”

A nation acting unilaterally to preserve its dignity, safety, and sovereignty is not committing an act of aggression, but fulfilling a responsibility. That rule applies to all countries, including Israel.


The above article was taken from  The article was written by Jspace Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Rob Lattin, who also blogs about Israeli and Middle Eastern foreign policy for Foreign Policy Blogs.





Rob Lattin

Rob Lattin recently completed his Master's in International Affairs at the City College of New York, where he won the Frank Owarish prize for graduating at the top of his class. His thesis explored Democratic Peace Theory and its applicability to small powers, and used the relationship between Turkey and Israel as its case study. Rob received his B.A. in Near Eastern Studies and Political Science, graduating from the University of Arizona with honors.

Rob has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and has lived in Haifa, Israel. In addition to blogging for FPB, he is the Foreign Affairs Correspondent for He currently splits his time between Washington D.C. and New York City.

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