Will Israel bomb Iran?

September 22, 2010

Will Israel bomb Iran?  American writer Jeffrey Goldberg thinks so, predicting that it is “likely” that some time in the (northern) spring of 2011, the Israelis – feeling threatened by the Iranian development of nuclear weapons – will take the great risk of going it alone to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, possibly followed up by commando raids.  Writing in the September 2010 issue of The Atlantic in an article entitled “The Point of No Return”, Goldberg writes what is certainly the most powerful “run-on” sentence I have read for a very long time:

When the Israelis begin to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the formerly secret enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and possibly even the Bushehr reactor, along with the other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program, a short while after they depart en masse from their bases across Israel—regardless of whether they succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, or whether they fail miserably to even make a dent in Iran’s nuclear program—they stand a good chance of changing the Middle East forever; of sparking lethal reprisals, and even a full-blown regional war that could lead to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and possibly Arabs and Americans as well; of creating a crisis for Barack Obama that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of placing communities across the Jewish diaspora in mortal danger, by making them targets of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks, as they have been in the past, in a limited though already lethal way; and of accelerating Israel’s conversion from a once-admired refuge for a persecuted people into a leper among nations.

Yes, that’s all one sentence.  But implicit in the fact that there is no “period” or “full stop” is that once this happens (again, which Goldberg feels is more likely rather than less), it will unleash a series of powerful and very fast-moving events.  This is powerful stuff, and if it takes place, lots of things will not be the same.  By no means does everyone agree with Goldberg:  read this intelligent response piece by Israeli freelance journalist Noam Sheizaf on his blog Promised Land.

Goldberg is also the author of a fascinating and deeply engaging book entitled Prisoners: A Muslim and Jew Across the Middle East Divide (2006).