By Ted Belman
Collision Course? is a very informative article on Israel nuclear deterrence.
How did America feel about Israel acquiring the bomb?
There was only one American President who was truly committed in his effort to stop Israel from going nuclear and this was President John F. Kennedy, but his determination was short-lived as he was assassinated in 1963. All others after him, in particular Johnson and Nixon, quietly came to agree with the notion that Israel could have the bomb. Essentially, the Johnson and Nixon administrations, even though they publicly claim to be against Israel acquiring the bomb, in reality they were not. Some would say they were ambivalent, others would say they were sympathetic. Obviously for Israel the nuclear issue was a question of life and death.
I extract from one paragraph dealing with Iran.
You are right to point out that there are different views in Israel about characterizing the Iranian nuclear threat. Some refer to it as “existential threat,” while others do not like to use this phrase. Some say “Israel is strong, and nobody in the world can pose an existential threat to Israel.” For example, both Minister of Defense Ehud Barak and opposition leader Tzipi Livni avoid using the phrase “existential threat” in reference to Iran. I personally also believe that it is somewhat a misleading phrase because Israel, at the present time, is much stronger than Iran. Therefore if anybody can pose an existential threat, it is Israel to Iran and not vice versa. At the same time, virtually all Israelis agree that Iran’s nuclear program is a major security challenge to Israel. Simply put, it could end Israel’s monopoly in the region. I think it is fair to say that virtually all Israelis are concerned about such an eventuality. Furthermore, I think almost all Israelis agree that they would not rule out the possibility of military action against Iran’s nuclear program. But the degree of willingness and readiness to actually do it is quite different among various Israeli leaders. I do believe that PM Netanyahu would be more willing to take that path.