Ambassador John Bolton Rationalizing Military Preemption against Iran

Iran and Syria: Next Steps

Madam Chairman and Members of the Committee, I would like to thank you very much for the invitation to appear before you today to discuss next steps on Iran and Syria. I have a prepared statement, which I will summarize, and ask that it be inserted in the record. I would, of course, be pleased to answer any questions that you or other Members of the Committee might have.

The Iranian nuclear weapons program, and its potential linkages to Syria, remains one of the most critical national-security challenges facing America, perhaps even the gravest near-term threat. After nearly twenty years of fruitless U.S. and Western efforts to prevent Iran from achieving its objective of deliverable nuclear weapons, we are now at a critical point. Iran is very close to reaching its goals, through its own efforts, its collaboration with North Korea and other rogue states like Venezuela that allow it to evade international pressure, and its hegemony over Syria, where the extent of its nuclear activities is largely unknown. Even as Irans efforts rapidly near success, the United States may yet prevent the emergence of a nuclear Iran. But time is short, and we will surely fail if we continue to pursue our present policies. Once Iran gets nuclear weapons, the Middle East and the larger world will change forever, and much to the disadvantage of the United St
ates, and its friends and allies worldwide.


We should begin with blunt truths about Irans nuclear weapons program. Despite years of diplomatic negotiations, multiple layers of international sanctions, and creative efforts at disruption (including, most recently, the Stuxnet computer virus), Irans seemingly inexorable march toward nuclear weapons continues. The Pasdaran, Irans Revolutionary Guards Corps, recently published on its website a story about the worlds reaction the day after Irans first nuclear test.[1] Estimates based on publicly available information differ, but the theme underlying them all is entirely pessimistic, especially concerning Irans vigorous uranium enrichment program. Iran is not only expanding its production capacity for enriched uranium, but is moving to ever-more sophisticated centrifuge designs that will allow its future enrichment production to be much larger than at present. By almost all standards, uranium enrichment is the long pole in the tent when it comes to fashioning nu
clear weapons, and there is little or nothing, except imminent regime change in Tehran or external military intervention, that can prevent that outcome. While more work is obviously required once the concentration of U235 isotopes has been enriched to weapons-grade levels (HEU, or highly enriched uranium), such as converting it into uranium metal, fabricating that metal into a form usable for a nuclear weapon, and then building the final weapon itself, it is uranium enrichment that is the principal process to be mastered.

The most recent Iran report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), May 24, 2011, concludes that Irans production rate for low-enriched uranium (LEU, containing approximately 3.5 % of the critical U235 isotope) is now 105 kilograms per month. That figure represents a 17 percent increase in production from the IAEAs previous report in February of this year, and an 84 percent increase over 2009. And these figures, of course, are based only on the Iranian enrichment capacity that the IAEA can verify.

Independent researchers across the political spectrum also confirm just how close Iran is to having nuclear weapons. The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Controls Iran Watch estimates that by April of this year, Iran had enough LEU for four nuclear weapons, assuming Iran further processed it into HEU, or weapons-grade uranium, (typically with U235 concentrations over 90 percent). Using only the 8,000 centrifuges observed by the IAEA at Natanz, the Wisconsin project estimates that it would take 1.5 months to convert enough LEU into HEU to make one bomb, or six months to make four bombs. All of the Wisconsin Projects assumptions and calculations are spelled out transparently on its web page,[2] and are based on publicly available information, typically from the IAEA. Should Iran have additional facilities not known to the IAEA, of course, with more centrifuges operating than those under IAEA observation at Natanz, its capacity to enrich to HEU would obviously be great
er, and the time required shorter. In that regard, Iran recently claimed it would triple its production of uranium enriched to 19.75 percent U235,[3] allegedly for its Tehran research reactor, using the Fordow facility, deeply buried in a mountainside near Qom, and revealed by United States intelligence in 2009.

Using the May 24, 2011 IAEA report as a basis, the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) has published the latest in a series of reports estimating Irans proximity to weapons production.[4] NPEC concludes that, [w]ith Irans current number of operating centrifuges, the batch recycling would take about two months once Iran decided to initiate the process to enrich enough LEU into HEU for one nuclear weapon. Similarly, the Federation of American Scientists had concluded even earlier this year that Irans production of LEU had increased substantially over previous years.[5]

Other aspects of Irans weapons program have also continued unabated, and quite likely did so even after 2003, despite the conclusions of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons program in that year. The United States has still not explicitly rejected the 2007 NIE, including in the recently released 2011 update, although this highly politicized and poorly reasoned document has not withstood the test of time. Leaders of the intelligence community, and now the Obama Administration, have been reluctant to reverse its erroneous conclusions publicly, but in substance, top U.S. intelligence officials and policy makers no longer operate in accordance with its conclusions. Indeed, in substance if not in express terms, it was rejected as early as February, 2008, in Congressional testimony by Michael McConnell, the then-Director of National Intelligence.

Even publicly available information at the time the 2007 NIE was published contradicted its conclusion. On September 15, 2004, for example, ABC News reported a story about Irans armor and artillery weapons-testing facility at Parchin, describing activity consistent with nuclear weapons development. According to the report, Iranian scientists and technicians were testing detonation devices for the high explosives that surround a uranium or plutonium pit in the physics package of a nuclear weapon. Simultaneous detonation of the high explosives is required to ensure that the weapons-grade metal implodes in a way that ensures that the critical mass of fissile material produces the maximum possible explosive force. No one ever contracted the ABC News story, which was reporting on contemporaneous, ongoing operations, not historical evidence.

Unfortunately, it is almost certainly correct that there is much else concerning the Iranian nuclear weapons program that has escaped our attention. We should openly acknowledge that our intelligence on Iran is far from perfect. Indeed, we are continually learning of Iranian efforts to build new nuclear facilities, hidden both from Western intelligence capabilities and from international inspectors from the IAEA. What we dont know is not good news. There can be little doubt that whatever additional activities Iran is pursuing will only increase the likelihood that it is approaching a deliverable nuclear weapons capability, and must undercut any confident assertions that we know with certainty when Iran will in fact achieve its long-sought objectives. The only prudent approach to assessing what we know and dont know about Iran is that the risks are almost certainly greater than what we have in our intelligence base or what it discussed in our media and other public for

One bright spot is that, fortunately, the IAEA has re-emerged under its new Director General, Yukiya Amano, from a disturbing period of willful blindness at its top level. Amano has honestly and openly described Irans stonewalling and deception against the IAEA over many years. He has been forthright in describing the potential weapons implications of what the IAEA has found during its years of inspections, and also, importantly, in characterizing what Iran has refused to answer, covered up or concealed concerning possible weapons-related activities. The changing dynamic at the IAEA can only be applauded, although there are years of failure that Amano must struggle to overcome.

Moreover, even apart from its uranium-enrichment program, Iran is also poised in the coming years to take advantage of plutonium from spent nuclear reactor fuel for weapons purposes. The Bushehr nuclear reactor, is moving toward full operational status, under Russian control and supervision, and marks a historic milestone in the region. It is the first commercial-scale reactor (1,000 megawatts gross capacity) in the hands of an avowed enemy of Israel that has been allowed to begin functioning. Although supposedly proliferation resistant, it is still capable of producing sufficient plutonium from its spent fuel to provide Iran with an alternative path to nuclear weapons, as our own Department of Energy has concluded. Tehran now claims that Bushehr will be connected to the national electrical grid in August, marking its full operation for commercial purposes, and there are plans for many more reactors to be constructed.

In fact, although the term axis of evil may have fallen out of use in recent years, the connection between North Korea and Iran, certainly with respect to ballistic missiles, and quite likely with respect to nuclear weapons, remains strong. Whether there are also other countries, such a Venezuela and Burma, now involved in these clandestine nuclear activities remains certain but entirely possible. Venezuelas deposits of uranium, worldwide the second largest only to Canada among proven reserves, makes it an attractive partner for Iran and other rogue states. Hugo Chavezs increasingly close relations with Iran can only be troubling, not only because of the support Chavez provides to Irans successful campaign to evade international financial and other sanctions, but because of the risk that Venezuela will pursue its own nuclear program, and perhaps ultimately nuclear weapons. Burmas geographic location makes it an excellent place for vessels travelling between Iran an
d North Korea to stop and reprovision, and the countrys isolation could also facilitate the construction of facilities involved in its own or other countries nuclear weapons efforts.

Just a few weeks ago, Iran launched its second earth satellite (the first having been launched in 2009). While there is still considerable work required before Iran would be able to mate a nuclear weapon onto a ballistic missile for delivery as a payload, Irans capabilities to do just that are accelerating. And when we consider North Koreas progress toward the same delivery capability, and the extent of cooperation between Iran and North Korea on missile development over the years, we should indeed be gravely concerned.

Just as one recent example of disturbing information, on May 25, the U.N. Economic and Social Council for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) decided to approve a disaster information management center in Iran, which the United States had consistently opposed since Iran first suggested it in 2006. Since early warning about impending disasters is critical to mitigating the harm caused, remote sensing techniques by satellite are extremely useful in the disaster context. Under this humanitarian guise, Iran will now undoubtedly benefit in enhancing its scientific capabilities in both satellite and missile technologies. When these risks were raised with a State Department spokesman after the vote, he would say only, Those are all legitimate questions. But we cant talk about them.[6] Clearly, our government recognizes the risks involved here, but so feeble are our efforts that we cannot even prevent a country under multiple Security Council sanctions from winning designation t
o host such a center.

The unavoidable conclusion from twenty years of failure to stop Irans nuclear weapons program is grim. The most likely outcome is that Iran will, in fact, achieve a deliverable, nuclear-weapons capability, and much sooner than later. I fear that many in the current Administration believe that, as undesirable as a nuclear Iran would be, it is a situation we can accept and live with. Under this analysis, U.S. security guarantees to Israel, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and others will allow us to contain and deter Iran, as we contained and deterred the Soviet Union during the Cold war. I believe this analysis is fundamentally flawed.

First, whether or not Iran ever actually used nuclear weapons, its mere possession of them, or the perception that it possessed them, would radically alter the balance of power in the Middle East and beyond. Linked with Iran’s aggressive financing and arming of terrorist groups — Hezbollah, Hamas, terrorists in Iraq and even the Taliban in Afghanistan — a nuclear Iran could dramatically increase its influence in the Gulf and the broader region, to the decided detriment of Israel, the GCC states and other U.S. friends and allies. Irans aggressive pursuit of regional hegemony in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and among Palestinians and in the internal conflicts within Islam, will be immeasurable strengthened merely by possessing a nuclear weapons capability.

Second, American security guarantees in todays environment are not likely to provide much reassurance. The United States broad retreat from the Middle East — from Iraq and now quite possibly from Afghanistan — is hardly reassuring to others seeking security assurances. And Americas disdain for Israel, its truest ally in the region, can hardly be comforting to those who have never enjoyed such close relations. If this is how the United States now treats close friends, how will it treat mere allies of convenience when convenience disappears? Our feckless and irresolute policy in Libya can hardly be helping either.

Third, the calculus of deterrence for the Iranian regime originating from the Islamic Revolution of 1979 is quite different from that for the Soviet Union during the Cold War. On the psychological level, for example, a theocratic regime that values life in the hereafter more than life on earth is not likely to be subject to classic theories of deterrence, which rest after all on ending life on earth for the aggressor.

Moreover, deterrence during the Cold War existed between two superpowers with symmetrical destructive capabilities, whereas Iran even under the most expansive predictions will possess only a small asymmetric nuclear threat in the near term. That means its nuclear weapons will not really be military, but will instead be weapons of terrorism, a threat not to military targets but to our innocent civilians. Irans extensive record of funding and arming international terrorists, and itself engaging in terrorism, should be warning enough that its leaders are fully capable of nuclear terrorism as well.

And as if this were not sufficient, any realistic reading of Cold War history should not give us boundless confidence that deterrence is automatically successful, as any number of Cold War near misses proved just how fragile deterrence is as a concept. No one has yet explained why we should comfortably allow our collective futures to be held hostage to the whims of religious extremists in Tehran or rogue regimes elsewhere.

Third, even if I am mistaken, and Iran can be contained and deterred, the Middle Eastern nuclear weapons threat doesnt stop with Iran. If Iran obtains nuclear weapons, then almost certainly Saudi Arabia will do the same, as will Egypt, Turkey and perhaps others in the region, and we risk this widespread proliferation even if it is a democratic Iran that possesses nuclear weapons. Thus, in a very short period of time, perhaps five to ten years, the Middle East could contain half a dozen or more nuclear weapons states, an inherently dangerous and unstable situation. Moreover, the risk that Pakistans arsenal of nuclear weapons might also fall into the hands of extremists, a risk dramatically heightened if instability in Afghanistan persists and permeates Pakistan, could also well play a destabilizing role in the Middle East. It is precisely because of this enormous risk of the wider proliferation of nuclear arsenals that we must bend every effort to stop Iran in the first

Economic sanctions certainly have a worthwhile role in undermining the regime in Tehran, hopefully weakening it over time until it falls. There is little doubt that the regime is increasingly unpopular in Iran, that it is increasingly divided within itself, and that sanctions may well stoke the simmering discontent. The problem, however, is that regime change will likely take time, probably more time than we have before Iran achieves a nuclear weapons capability. We should not let the pursuit of sanctions obscure the reality that, while imposing economic costs on Tehran, they have not materially impeded the weapons effort. We should, therefore, suffer no illusions that sanctions are a truly effective response to Irans continuing march toward nuclear weapons status. It is worth remembering that North Korea is today the most heavily sanctioned nation on the planet, and it has successfully detonated two nuclear devices and continues to pursue aggressively its ballistic mi
ssile program.

Since diplomacy has failed,[7] since sanctions have failed,[8] and since disruptive efforts have failed, the only realistic alternative, and it is a decidedly unhappy one, is to use force pre-emptively against Irans nuclear weapons program. I have written extensively about this possibility elsewhere, and will not dwell on it here today, except to make the following points:

— An Israeli decision to use force, if it comes to that, will be neither precipitate nor disproportionate, but only a last resort in anticipatory self-defense. Arab governments already understand that logic and largely share it themselves. Nonetheless, the intellectual case for that strike must be better understood in advance by the American public and Congress in order to ensure a sympathetic reaction by Washington.[9]

— However much they might publicly protest, nearby Arab states would privately welcome an Israeli attack. These governments fear Irans nuclear program as much as Israel does, but they are powerless to stop it. If Israel does the job, they are in a perfect place: Irans nuclear program will be badly damaged, and they will have another opportunity to criticize Israel. This also explains why Arabs will not interdict Israeli overflights to and from Iran.[10]

— Iran will likely retaliate, but its most likely strategic option will be to unleash Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel, rather than the more dramatic scenarios that have been suggested, such as trying to close the Strait of Hormuz. Such retaliation enormously complicates Israels strategic calculus, but also demonstrates the danger of allowing Iran to actually acquire nuclear weapons. Once that happens, any possible Iranian belligerence becomes that much more threatening and dangerous.[11]

The use of force is a decidedly unattractive option, but since the only other realistic assessment is that Iran will soon have a nuclear weapons capability, it has to be taken seriously.

There is little doubt in my mind that the Obama Administration will not use force against Irans nuclear weapons program. That means that the burden of decision will fall on Israel, which would face a literally existential threat should Iran achieve nuclear weapons. Israel has never before, until the start-up of the Bushehr reactor, let any hostile state get close enough to achieving that objective to know what lies ahead. But if Israel does not strike, we will have to consider the implications of a nuclear Iran, and a likely multi-polar nuclear Middle East.

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2024 artificially inflated Palestinian demography

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
March 25, 2024

Palestinian demographic numbers are highly-inflated, as documented by a study, which has audited the Palestinian data since 2004.  For example:

*500,000 Arabs, who have been away for over a year, are included in the census, contrary to international regulations. 325,000 were included in the 1997 census, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, and 400,000 in 2005, according to the Palestinian Election Commission. The number grows steadily due to births.

*350,000 East Jerusalem Arabs are doubly-counted – by Israel and by the Palestinian Authority. The number grows steadily due to births.

*Over 150,000 Arabs, who married Israeli Arabs are similarly doubly counted. The number expands steadily due to births.   

*A 413,000 net-emigration (since the 1997 first Palestinian census) is ignored by the Palestinian census, overlooking the annual net-emigration since 1950. A 23,445 net-emigration in 2022 and a 20,000 annual average in recent years have been documented by Israel’s Population and Migration Authority in all international passages.  

*A 32% artificial inflation of Palestinian births was documented by the World Bank (page 8, item 6) in a 2006 audit.

*The Judea & Samaria Arab fertility rate has been westernized: from 9 births per woman in the 1960s to 2.9 births in 2022 (In Jordan – similar to Judea & Samaria), reflecting the sweeping urbanization, a growing female enrollment in higher education, rising marriage age and the rising use of contraceptives.

*The number of deaths is under-reported for political and financial reasons.

*The aforementioned artificial inflation of 1.7 million documents a population of 1.55 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria, not the official 3.25 million. In 2024: a 69% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel, benefitting from a tailwind of fertility and net-immigration, while Arab demography is westernized. In 1947 and 1897: a 39% and 9% Jewish minority.
No Arab demographic time bomb; but, a Jewish demographic momentum. More data in these articles and this short video.

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US-Israel vs. Iran: acumen

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
April 24, 2024

*Israel is grateful to the US and its Arab allies for their support in the face of Iran’s ballistic offensive against Israel.

*At the same time, Israel’s war against the Ayatollahs – who constitute a clear and present lethal threat to the pro-US Arab regimes, as well as a potent threat to the US’ homeland security – enhances the national security and homeland security of the US and its Arab allies.

*In fact, FBI Director, Chris Wray, highlighted the Iranian threat during his hearings at the House and Senate Committees on Homeland Security. Wray stated that the October 7, 2023 horrific Hamas terrorism is inspiring Iran-supported anti-US Islamic terrorists to attack US targets throughout the globe, including on the US homeland.

*The Middle East considers Israel as the US’ main beachhead and force-multiplier, and as a role-model of countering-terrorism in a region, which is critical to global trade and to the supply of oil and natural gas, as well as a global epicenter of anti-US terrorism and drug trafficking. Anti-US rogue entities assume that hitting Israel injures the US strategic posture in the Middle East and beyond.

*Since the early 1980s, Iran and Hezbollah have operated in Latin America – which they view as the soft underbelly of the US – along with the drug cartels of Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil, Latin American terror organizations and all anti-US Latin American governments. Moreover, they’ve intensified their presence along the US-Mexico border and on US soil, in order to advance the vision of Iran’s Ayatollahs: bringing “The Great American Satan” to submission.

*The Ayatollahs are also determined to topple the pro-US Sunni Arab regimes in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. 

*Recently, the Ayatollahs have intensified their attempts to topple Jordan’s pro-US Hashemite regime, which would complete the encircling of Saudi Arabia by Iran and its proxies (in Yemen, Iraq and Syria), and radically aggravate lethal threats to Israel. The Ayatollahs activate their terror-proxies in Jordan-bordering Iraq and Syria, as well as the terror potential among the 2 million Syrian refugees in northern Jordan.  In addition, the Ayatollahs have forged ties with the subversive infrastructure of the Jordan-based Moslem Brotherhood, and leverage the fragmentation among Jordan’s Bedouin tribes, and the history of confrontations between the Hashemite regime and its Palestinian majority. 

*The dramatic catapulting of Iran’s Ayatollahs to a dramatic regional and global prominence – since their February ascension to power – has been largely a derivative of the US State Department’s policy.  This policy has adhered to the diplomatic option, opposing the regime-change option, irrespective of the Ayatollahs’ systematic anti-US track record of regional and global terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and proliferation of advanced military technologies. It is based on an alternate reality, whereby a financial and diplomatic bonanza could induce the Ayatollahs to accept peaceful coexistence, become good faith negotiators and abandon their 1,400-year-old vision.

*While the US attempts to deter Iran’s Ayatollahs (“Don’t”), the State Department has waived and softened economic sanctions on Iran, which has rewarded Tehran with well over $100bn, which have been mostly channeled to the Ayatollahs’ anti-US policy.

*Simultaneously, the State Department is pressuring Israel to limit its independent military actions against Iran, to replace the military option toward Hamas with the diplomatic option, and to facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian state. The State Department aims to impose on Israel its own alternate reality, ignoring the volcanic, violently unpredictable Middle East reality; thus, eroding Israel’s posture of deterrence, which would yield a robust tailwind to terrorism and wars, posing a Iranian-Palestinian death sentence to the pro-US Hashemite regime in Jordan, transforming Jordan into a platform of Islamic terrorism, which would constitute a lethal threat to Saudi Arabia and all other pro-US Arab regimes.

*In the face of pressure Israel should prefer long-term national security over short-term convenience.

*For instance, during the several Israel-Hamas wars of the last 17 years, effective US pressure snatched Hamas from the jaws of defeat. It dramatically bolstered Hamas capabilities, facilitating the October 7, 2024 massacre of 1,200 Israeli civilians (equal to 40,000 American civilians). On the other hand, Israel’s repelling of the 1981 US brutal pressure, and bombing Iraq’s nuclear reactor, in defiance of US (realized) threats to withhold the supply of combat aircraft and suspend defense cooperation agreements, freed pro-US Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman from a lethal Iraqi nuclear threat, and spared the US in 1991 a potential nuclear confrontation with Iraq.

*Since 1948, Israel fended off a series of US pressures, which would have corroded Israel’s posture of deterrence, denying the US the largest American aircraft carrier, which does not require a single American on board.

For example:

*Spurning US pressure to refrain from the 1967 preemptive war, which decimated the Egyptian military, when the pro-Soviet Egypt was about to topple the pro-US, oil-producing Arab regimes of the Arabian Peninsula (at a time when the US was heavily dependent on Gulf oil).

*Fending off US pressure to rescind the 1981 application of the Israeli law to – and retreat from – the Golan Heights, which has bolstered Israel’s capabilities to constrain the military maneuverability of Iran and Syria and emerge as an effective line of defense of Jordan’s pro-US Hashemite regime and the Arab Gulf States.

*Rebuffing US pressure to end the 1949 ”occupation” of West Jerusalem, the Western Galilee and major parts of the coastal plain and the Negev, which would have transformed Israel into a strategic burden, fully dependent upon active US military personnel for protection.

*The track record of US pressure demonstrates that succumbing to pressure injures Israel’s national security, while defying pressure safeguards Israel’s national security and advances vital US interests.

*During the 1991 First Gulf War, the US pressured Israel to avoid reacting to Iraq’s Scud missiles. Prime Minister Shamir acceded, because it was, primarily, a US war against Saddam Hussein and for the liberation of Kuwait. In 2024, the US pressures Israel to avoid a significant military preemption against Iran’s Ayatollahs, despite the fact that – unlike 1991 – this is, primarily, Israel’s war against Iran’s Ayatollahs.

The bottom line

*Middle East reality, in particular, and military precedents, in general, behoove Israel to shun military reaction, containment and surgical offensive, and preempt enemies (irrespective of US pressure), which are driven by deeply-rooted fanatic ideologies, that focus on the existencenot the size – of the Jewish State.

*Moreover, the cost of today’s preemption would be dwarfed by the cost of reacting to a significantly-upgraded, and possibly nuclear, Iran.

*A precondition for cooling off the regional and global impact of the volcanic Middle East reality, and for reducing the threat of Islamic terrorism on the US soil, and for ending oppression of women and ethnic and religious minorities in Iran is changing – not negotiating with – the regime in Iran.

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Judea & Samaria

Secretary Blinken on settlements – vindicated by facts?

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
February 27, 2024

Secretary of State Antony Blinken represents conventional wisdom when claiming that “It’s been longstanding US policy… that new settlements are… inconsistent with international law.”

However, conventional wisdom is frequently demolished by the march of facts

For instance:

*According to Prof. Eugene Rostow, who was the co-author of the November 22, 1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242, served as Undersecretary of State and was the Dean of Yale University Law School: “Jews have the same right to settle in the West Bank as they have in Haifa.”

*According to UN Resolution 242, Israel is required to withdraw from territories, not the territories, nor from all the territories, but some of the territories, which included Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights.  Moreover, according to Prof. Rostow, “resolutions calling for withdrawal from all the territories were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly…. Israel was not to be forced back to the fragile and vulnerable [9-15 mile-wide] lines… but to secure and recognized boundaries, agreed to by the parties…. In making peace with Egypt in 1979, Israel withdrew from the entire Sinai… [which amounts to] more than 90% of the territories occupied in 1967….”

*Former President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, stated: “Between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967 (according to Article 52 of the UN Charter), on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has better title in the territory of what was [British Mandate] Palestine…. It follows that modifications of the 1949 armistice lines among those States within former Palestinian territory are lawful…. [The 1967] Israeli conquest of territory was defensive rather than aggressive… [as] indicated by Egypt’s prior closure of the Straits of Tiran, blockade of the Israeli port of Eilat, and the amassing of [Egyptian] troops in Sinai, coupled with its ejection of the UN Emergency Force…[and] Jordan’s initiated hostilities against Israel…. The 1948 Arab invasion of the nascent State of Israel further demonstrated that Egypt’s seizure of the Gaza Strip, and Jordan’s seizure and subsequent annexation of the West Bank and the old city of Jerusalem, were unlawful….” 

*The legal status of Judea and Samaria is embedded in the following 4 authoritative, binding, internationally-ratified documents, which recognize the area for what it has been: the cradle of Jewish history, culture, language, aspirations and religion.

(I) The November 2, 1917 Balfour Declaration, issued by Britain, calling for “the establishment in Palestine (a synonym to the Land of Israel) of a national home for the Jewish people….”
(II) The April 24, 1920 resolution, by the post-First World War San Remo Peace Conference of the Allied Powers Supreme Council, entrusted both sides of the Jordan River to the British Mandate for Palestine, for the reestablishment of the Jewish Commonwealth: “the Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the [Balfour] declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It was one of over 20 Mandates (trusteeships) established following WW1, responsible for the boundaries of most Arab countries.
(III) The July 24, 1922 Mandate for Palestine was ratified by the Council of the League of Nations, entrusted Britain to establish a Jewish state in the entire area west of the Jordan River, as demonstrated by its 6th article: “[to] encourage… close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands….” The Mandate was dedicated exclusively to Jewish national rights, while guaranteeing the civic rights of all other religious and ethnic groups. On July 23, 1923, the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Lausanne, which included the Mandate for Palestine.  
(IV) The October 24, 1945 Article 80 of the UN Charter incorporated the Mandate for Palestine into the UN Charter.  Accordingly, the UN or any other entity cannot transfer Jewish rights in Palestine – including immigration and settlement – to any other party. According to Article 80 of the UN Charter and the Mandate for Palestine, the 1967 war of self-defense returned Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria to its legal owner, the Jewish state.  Legally and geo-strategically the rules of “belligerent occupation” do not apply Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, since they are not “foreign territory,” and Jordan did not have a legitimate title over the West Bank.  Moreover, the rules of “belligerent occupation” do not apply in view of the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty. The 1950-67 Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria violated international law and was recognized only by Britain and Pakistan.

*The 1949 4th Geneva Convention prohibits the forced transfer of populations to areas previously occupied by a legitimate sovereign power. However, Israel has not forced Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria, and Jordan’s sovereignty there was never legal.

*The November 29, 1947 UN General Assembly Partition Resolution 181 was a recommendation, lacking legal stature, superseded by the Mandate for Palestine. The 1949 Armistice (non-peace) Agreements between Israel and its neighbors delineated “non-territorial boundaries.”   

*The term “Palestine” was a Greek and then a Roman attempt (following the 135 CE Jewish rebellion) to eradicate Jews and Judaism from human memory. It substituted “Israel, Judea and Samaria” with “Palaestina,” a derivative of the Philistines, an arch enemy of the Jewish people, whose origin was not in Arabia, but in the Greek Aegian islands.    

*The aforementioned march of facts demonstrates that Secretary Blinken’s conventional wisdom on the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria is based on gross misperceptions and misrepresentations, which fuels infidelity to law, undermining the pursuit of peace.

*More on the legality of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria in this article by George Mason University Law School Prof. Eugene Kontrovich.

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United Jerusalem – a shared US-Israel legacy and interest

US departure from the recognition of a United Jerusalem as the exclusive capital of the Jewish State, and the site of the US Embassy to Israel, would be consistent with the track record of the State Department, which has been systematically wrong on Middle East issues, such as its opposition to the establishment of the Jewish State; stabbing the back of the pro-US Shah of Iran and Mubarak of Egypt, and pressuring the pro-US Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while courting the anti-US Ayatollahs of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Arafat, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Houthis of Yemen; transforming Libya into a platform of global Islamic terrorism and civil wars; etc..

However, such departure would violate US law, defy a 3,000 year old reality – documented by a litany of archeological sites and a multitude of documents from Biblical time until today – spurn US history and geography, and undermine US national and homeland security.

United Jerusalem and the US law

Establishing a US Consulate General in Jerusalem – which would be a de facto US Embassy to the Palestinian Authority – would violate the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which became US law on November 8, 1995 with substantially more than a veto-override majority on Capitol Hill.

According to the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which enjoys massive support among the US population and, therefore, in both chambers of Congress:

“Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected….

“Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the state of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem….

“In 1990, Congress unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 106, which declares that Congress ‘strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected….’

“In 1992, the United States Senate and House of Representatives unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 113… to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, and reaffirming Congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city….

“In 1996, the state of Israel will celebrate the 3,000th anniversary of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem since King David’s entry….

“The term ‘United States Embassy’ means the offices of the United States diplomatic mission and the residence of the United States chief of mission.”

United Jerusalem and the legacy of the Founding Fathers

The US Early Pilgrims and Founding Fathers were inspired – in their unification of the 13 colonies – by King David’s unification of the 12 Jewish tribes into a united political entity, and establishing Jerusalem as the capital city, which did not belong to any of the tribes (hence, Washington, DC does not belong to any state). King David entered Jerusalem 3,000 years before modern day US presidents entered the White House and 2,755 years before the US gained its independence.

The impact of Jerusalem on the US founders of the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist system and overall civic life is reflected by the existence, in the US, of 18 Jerusalems (4 in Maryland; 2 in Vermont, Georgia and New York; and 1 in Ohio, Michigan, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Utah, Rhode Island and Tennessee), 32 Salems (the original Biblical name of Jerusalem) and many Zions (a Biblical synonym for Jerusalem and the Land of Israel).  Moreover, in the US there are thousands of cities, towns, mountains, cliffs, deserts, national parks and streets bearing Biblical names.

The Jerusalem reality and US interests

Recognizing the Jerusalem reality and adherence to the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act – and the subsequent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the site of the US Embassy to Israel – bolstered the US posture of deterrence in defiance of Arab/Islamic pressure and threats.

Contrary to the doomsday assessments by the State Department and the “elite” US media – which have been wrong on most Middle East issues – the May 2018 implementation of the 1995 law did not intensify Palestinian, Arab and Islamic terrorism. State Department “wise men” were equally wrong when they warned that Israel’s 1967 reunification of Jerusalem would ignite a worldwide anti-Israel and anti-US Islamic volcanic eruption.

Adherence to the 1995 law distinguishes the US President, Congress and most Americans from the state of mind of rogue regimes and terror organizations, the anti-US UN, the vacillating Europe, and the cosmopolitan worldview of the State Department, which has systematically played-down the US’ unilateral, independent and (sometimes) defiant national security action.

On the other hand, US procrastination on the implementation of the 1995 law – by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama – eroded the US posture of deterrence, since it was rightly perceived by the world as appeasement in the face of pressure and threats from Arab/Muslim regimes and terrorists.  As expected, it radicalized Arab expectations and demands, failed to advance the cause of Israel-Arab peace, fueled Islamic terrorism, and severely undermined US national and homeland security. For example, blowing up the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and murdering 224 persons in August 1998; blowing up the USS Cole destroyer in the port of Aden and murdering 17 US sailors in October 2000; the 9/11 Twin Towers massacre, etc.

Jerusalem and Israel’s defiance of US pressure

In 1949, President Truman followed Secretary of State Marshall’s policy, pressuring Israel to refrain from annexing West Jerusalem and to accept the internationalization of the ancient capital of the Jewish people.

in 1950, in defiance of brutal US and global pressure to internationalize Jerusalem, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion reacted constructively by proclaiming Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish State, relocating government agencies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and settling tens of thousands of Olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) in Jerusalem. He upgraded the transportation infrastructure to Jerusalem, erected new Jewish neighborhoods along the 1949 cease fire lines in Jerusalem, and provided the city land reserves for long-term growth.

In 1953, Ben Gurion rebuffed President Eisenhower’s pressure – inspired by Secretary of State Dulles – to refrain from relocating Israel’s Foreign Ministry from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In 1967, President Johnson followed the advice of Secretary of State Rusk – who opposed Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence – highlighting the international status of Jerusalem, and warned Israel against the reunification of Jerusalem and construction in its eastern section. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol adopted Ben Gurion’s statesmanship, fended off the US pressure, reunited Jerusalem, built the first Jerusalem neighborhood beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines, Ramat Eshkol, in addition to the first wave of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights.

In 1970, President Nixon collaborated with Secretary of State Rogers, attempting to repartition Jerusalem, pressuring Israel to relinquish control of Jerusalem’s Holy Basin, and to stop Israel’s plans to construct additional neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.  However, Prime Minister Golda Meir refused to rescind the reunification of Jerusalem, and proceeded to lay the foundation for additional Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines: Gilo, Ramot Alon, French Hill and Neve’ Yaakov, currently home to 150,000 people.

In 1977-1992, Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir defied US and global pressure, expanding construction in Jerusalem, sending a clear message: “Jerusalem is the exclusive and non-negotiable capital of Israel!”

“[In 1978], at the very end of [Prime Minister Begin’s] successful Camp David talks with President Jimmy Carter and President Anwar Sadat, literally minutes before the signing ceremony, the American president had approached [Begin] with ‘Just one final formal item.’ Sadat, said the president, was asking that Begin put his signature to a simple letter committing him to place Jerusalem on the negotiating table of the final peace accord.  ‘I refused to accept the letter, let alone sign it,’ rumbled Begin. ‘If I forgot thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning,’ said [Begin] to the president of the United States of America, ‘and may my tongue cleave to my mouth’ (The Prime Ministers – An Intimate Portrait of Leaders of Israel, 2010)”

In 2021, Prime Minister Bennett should follow in the footsteps of Israel’s Founding Father, Ben Gurion, who stated: “Jerusalem is equal to the whole of the Land of Israel. Jerusalem is not just a central Jewish settlement. Jerusalem is an invaluable global historical symbol. The Jewish People and the entire world shall judge us in accordance with our steadfastness on Jerusalem (“We and Our Neighbors,” p. 175. 1929).”

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Jewish Holidays

Passover Guide for the Perplexed 2024

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
April 18, 2024

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1. Passover (April 22-30, 2024) is a Jewish national liberation holiday, highlighting the Exodus, the Parting of the Sea, the Ten Commandments, the 40-year-wandering in the desert, and the reentry to the Land of Israel 3,600 years ago.

2. The Abolitionist and human rights movements were spurred by the Passover Exodus. For example,  in 1850, Harriet Tubman, who was one of the leaders of the “Underground Railroad” – an Exodus of Afro-American slaves to freedom – was known as “Mama Moses.” Moreover, on December 11, 1964, upon accepting the Nobel Prize, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “The Bible tells the thrilling story of how Moses stood in Pharaoh’s court centuries ago and cried, ‘Let my people go!’” Furthermore, Paul Robeson and Louis Armstrong leveraged the liberty theme of Passover through the lyrics: “When Israel was in Egypt’s land, let my people go! Oppressed so hard they could not stand, let my people go! Go down Moses, way down in Egypt’s land; tell old Pharaoh to let my people go….!” 

3. The US Founding Fathers were inspired by the Exodus, in particular, and the Mosaic legacy, in general, shaping the Federalist system, including the concepts of (anti-monarchy) limited government, separation of powers among three co-equal branches of government, featuring Congress, as the most powerful legislature in the world. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense – “the cement of the 1776 Revolution” – referred to King George III as “the hardened, sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England.” And, the Early Pilgrims considered their 10-week-sail in the Atlantic ocean as “the modern day Parting of the Sea,” and their destination as “the modern day Promised Land” and “the New Israel.”  

4. The US Founding Fathers deemed it appropriate to engrave the essence of the Biblical role model of liberty (the Passover-related Jubilee) on the Liberty Bell: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof (Leviticus, 25:10).”    The Jubilee is commemorated every 50 years, and the Liberty Bell was installed in 1751 upon the 50th anniversary of William Penn’s Charter of Privileges.  

  • Moreover, there are 50 States in the United States, whose Hebrew name is “The States of the Covenant” (Artzot Habreet -ארצות הברית ). Also, the Exodus is mentioned 50 times in the Five Books of Moses; Moses received (on Mount Sinai) the Torah – which includes 50 gates of wisdom – 50 days following the Exodus, as celebrated by the Shavou’ot/Pentecost Holiday, 50 days following Passover.
  • 5. According to Heinrich Heine, the 19th century German poet, “Since the Exodus, freedom has always spoken with a Hebrew accent.”  
  • 6. According to the late Prof. Yehudah Elitzur, one of Israel’s pioneers of Biblical research, the Exodus took place in the second half of the 15th century BCE, during the reign of Egypt’s Amenhotep II. Accordingly, the 40-year-national coalescing of the Jewish people – while wandering in the desert – took place when Egypt was ruled by Thutmose IV. Then, Joshua conquered Canaan when Egypt was ruled by Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV, who were preoccupied with domestic affairs to the extent that they refrained from expansionist ventures. Moreover, as documented by letters which were discovered in Tel el Amarna, the capital city of ancient Egypt, the 14th century BCE Pharaoh, Amenhotep IV, was informed by the rulers of Jerusalem, Samaria and other parts of Canaan, about a military offensive launched by the “Habirus” (Hebrews and other Semitic tribes), which corresponded to the timing of Joshua’s offensive against the same rulers. Amenhotep IV was a determined reformer, who introduced monotheism, possibly influenced by the ground-breaking and game-changing legacy of Moses and the Exodus.  

7. Passover aims at coalescing the fabrics of the Jewish family and the Jewish people, commemorating and strengthening Jewish roots, and enhancing core values such as faith, humility, education, defiance of odds, can-do mentality, optimism, and patriotism, which are prerequisites to a free and vibrant society.

8. Passover highlights the unique resilience, which has surged the Jewish people to new heights (for the benefit of all of humanity) following a multitude of crises such as: the 722 BCE destruction and exile of the Kingdom of Israel by Assyria, the 586 BCE destruction of the First Temple by Babylon, the 70 AD destruction of the Second Temple by Rome, the 135 crushing of the Bar Kochba’ rebellion against Rome, the 484, 1736 and 1865 pogroms of the Jews in Persia, the 627 massacre of the Jewish tribe of Quraysh by Muhammed, the 873 pogroms by Byzantine, the 1096 First Crusade’s pogroms, the 1141 pogroms in Moslem-ruled Andalusia, the 1147 Second Crusade’s pogroms, the 1189  Third Crusade, the 1198 forced Islamization of Jews in Yemen, the 1248 pogroms in Baghdad, the 1290 expulsion of England’s Jews, the 1306 expulsion of France’s Jews, the 1492 expulsion of Spain’s Jews, the 1496 expulsion of Portugal’s Jews, the 1648 pogroms of Ukraine’s Jews, the 1881 pogroms of Russia’s and Ukraine’s Jews, the 1903 pogroms in Russia, the 1919 pogroms in Ukraine, the 1929 Arab terror in Hebron, the 1938 Kristallnacht pogroms in Germany and Austria, the January 20, 1942 Wannsee Nazi Conference which presented “the Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”     

9. Passover highlights the central role of women in Jewish history.  For instance, Yocheved, Moses’ mother, hid Moses and then breastfed him at the palace of Pharaoh, posing as a nursemaid.  Miriam, Moses’ older sister, was her brother’s keeper.  Batyah, the daughter of Pharaoh, saved and adopted Moses (Numbers 2:1-10).  Shifrah and Pou’ah, two Jewish midwives, risked their lives, sparing the lives of Jewish male babies, in violation of Pharaoh’s command (Numbers 1:15-19).  Tziporah, a daughter of Jethro and Moses’ wife, saved the life of Moses and set him back on the Jewish course (Numbers, 4:24-27). They followed in the footsteps of Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel, the Matriarchs (who engineered, in many respects, the roadmap of the Patriarchs), and inspired future leaders such as Deborah (the Prophetess, Judge and military commander), Hannah (Samuel’s mother), Yael (who killed Sisera, the Canaanite General) and Queen Esther, the heroine of Purim and one of the seven Biblical Jewish Prophetesses (Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah and Esther).

  1. 10. Passover is the first of the three Jewish pilgrimages to Jerusalem, followed by Shavou’ot (Pentecost), which commemorates the receipt of the Ten Commandments, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), which was named after Sukkota – the first stop in the Exodus.
  2. 11. Jerusalem is mentioned three times in the annual story of Passover (Haggadah), which is concluded by the vow: “Next Year in the reconstructed Jerusalem!”
  3. United Jerusalem has been the exclusive capital of the Jewish people since King David established it as his capital, 3,000 years ago.

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