is one thing for a columnist to make such speculations – and another for an Israeli official. Yet in remarks that were surely less carefully considered than those of Krauthammer, National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer publicly speculated last week that “the Iranians won’t rush to attack Israel, because they understand the significance such action would have and are well aware of our strength… an Iranian attack on Israel will lead to a harsh response by Israel that will cause the destruction of the Iranian nation.” Ben-Eliezer was widely criticized for his comments, not only because he was accused of unnecessarily raising tensions with Teheran by stating the obvious. His statements, by focusing the discussion of Iranian nuclear intentions on Israel as its target, runs counter to Jerusalem’s public diplomacy policy which aimed at convincing the international community of the greater regional, and even global, threat this situation poses.
Yet while Fuad’s timing may be off, the comments of the former defense minister are not without their own strategic value when viewed in a broader context – one in which the reality of a possible nuclear Iran cannot be simply dismissed as unthinkable, and living with it means devising the necessary policies of deterrence.
Part of that is not only developing a nuclear “second-strike” capability, but also making sure the enemy completely understands and believes we have the capability and will to respond in this manner. Though it may be premature for Ben-Eliezer to be making this point for Teheran’s benefit, the day may soon come when even such words are not enough.