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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Demographic optimism IN, demographic pessimism OUT

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
October 2, 2023

The suggestion that Israel should retreat from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is based, partly, on the assumption that the Jewish majority is exposed to an “Arab demographic time bomb,” which would explode if Israel were to apply its law to Judea and Samaria.

However, Israel’s Jewish majority is not vulnerable to an “Arab demographic time bomb,” but benefits from demographic momentum, fertility-wise and migration-wise.

Arab demography artificially inflated

This erroneous assumption is based on the official Palestinian numbers, which are embraced and reverberated by the global community – with no due-diligence auditing – ignoring a 1.6-million-person artificial inflation of the reported number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

For instance:

*The official Palestinian census includes 500,000 residents, who have been away for over a year, while international standards require their elimination from the census (until they return for, at least, 90 days).  This number was documented by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (325,000 in 1997), Election Commission (400,000 in 2005) and the Ministry of Interior, increasing systematically through births.

*The Palestinian census ignores the net-emigration of 390,000 since the first 1997 census, as documented by Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority, which supervises Israel’s international passages.

*375,000 Jerusalem Arabs and more than 150,000 (mostly) Judea and Samaria Arabs, who married Israeli Arabs are doubly-counted (by Israel and the Palestinian Authority). This number increases systematically through births.

*A September 2006 World Bank report documented a 32% artificial inflation of the number of births.  At the same time, death has been substantially underreported as evidenced by the 2007 Palestinian census, which included Arabs born in 1845….   

*The aforementioned data indicates an artificial inflation of 1.6 million in the Palestinian census of Judea and Samria Arabs: 1.4 million – not 3 million – Arabs.

Arab demography Westernized

Contrary to Western conventional wisdom, Arab demography has been westernized dramatically in recent years, from a fertility rate of 9 births per woman west of the Jordan River during the 1960s to 2.85 births in 2021 in pre-1967 Israel and 3.02 in Judea and Samaria.

The westernization of Arab demography has been a result of sweeping urbanization. From a 70%-rural-population in Judea and Samaria in 1967, to a 77%-urban-population in 2022.  In addition, almost all girls complete high school, resulting in the expanded integration of women in employment and academia, as well as an increase in wedding age (from 15 to 24-year-old).  Moreover, there has been an expansion of the use of contraceptives (70% of women in the Palestinian Authority) and a shorter fertility cycle (25 through 45 in 2022 compared to 16 through 55 during the 1960s).

Demographic westernization has occurred in the entire Moslem World, other than the Sub-Saharah countries: In 2022, Jordan – 2.9 births per woman, Iran – 1.9, Saudi Arabia – 1.9, Morocco – 2.27, Iraq – 3.17, Egypt 2.76, Yemen – 2.91, the UAE – 1.62, etc.

Jewish demographic momentum

Israel’s Jewish demography features a fertility momentum – especially in the secular sector – simultaneously with a moderate decline in the ultra-orthodox sector. In fact, Jewish fertility (3.13 births per woman) is higher than any Arab country, other than Iraq’s (3.17). The OECD’s average fertility rate is 1.61 births per woman.

In 2022, the number of Jewish births (137,566) was 71% higher than in 1995 (80,400), while the number of Arab births (43,417) was 19% higher than in 1995 (36,500).

Contrary to most global societies, Israel enjoys a positive correlation between the level of fertility, on the one hand, and the level of education, income, urbanization and (the rise of) wedding age on the other hand.

The growth of Jewish fertility reflects a high level of patriotism, optimism, attachment to roots, communal responsibility, frontier mentality, high regard for raising children and the decline in the number of abortions.

The Jewish population is growing younger, while the Arab population is growing older.

Until the 1990s, there was a demographic race between Arab births and Jewish immigration.  Since the 1990s, the race is between Jewish and Arab births, while net-migration provides a robust boost to Jewish demography.

The Jewish demographic momentum has been bolstered by an annual Aliyah (Jewish immigration) – which has been the most critical engine of Israel’s economic, educational, technological and military growth – simultaneously with the declining scope of annual emigration.  From an additional 14,200 emigrants in 1990 to 10,800 in 2020, while the overall population has doubled itself since 1990. A substantial decline in emigration has taken place since the 2007/2008 global economic meltdown, which has underscored the relative stability and growth of Israel’s economy.

In 2023, there has been an increase in Aliyah. This highlights a potential of 500,000 Olim (Jewish immigrants) in five years – from Europe, the former USSR, Latin and North America – should the Israeli government resurrect the pro-active Aliyah policy, which defined Israel from 1948-1992.

The bottom line

In 1897, upon convening the First Zionist Congress, there was a 9% Jewish minority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel.

In 1948, upon the establishment of the Jewish State, there was a 39% Jewish minority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel.

In 2022, there was a 69% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel (7.5 million Jews, 2 million Arabs in pre-1967 Israel and 1.4 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria), benefiting from a tailwind of fertility and net-migration.

Those who claim that the Jewish majority – in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel – is threatened by an Arab demographic time bomb are either dramatically mistaken, or outrageously misleading.

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Diplomatic option toward Iran is self-destructive

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
December 19, 2023

*The US State Department’s diplomatic option has facilitated the transformation of Iran from “the American policeman of the Gulf” to “the largest anti-American venomous octopus in the world,” stretching its rogue arms from the Persian Gulf through Africa to Latin America and the US-Mexico border, which it perceives as the soft underbelly of the US.

*The diplomatic option – including a frail US response to sustained Iranian attacks on US installations in the Persian Gulf region – has aggravated Middle East instability, threatening the survival of every pro-US Arab regime, and is inducing anti-US global Islamic terrorism.  This is severely eroding US posture of deterrence, benefitting Russia, China and mostly Iran, while undermining US national and homeland security. 

*The diplomatic option has suspended most economic sanctions – without Congressional consent – surging Iran’s oil export from 500,000 barrels per day to 2-3 million barrels per day, increasing Iran’s national income by some $100bn, mostly dedicated to bolster Iran’s anti-US rogue operations, increasingly in Latin America, the US’ backyard.

*The diplomatic option has consistently overlooked the decisive power of the Ayatollahs’ imperialistic ideology, and its determination to export the anti-US Islamic Shiite Revolution. Consequently, the State Department has deluded itself into believing that an astounding financial and diplomatic bonanza would induce Iran’s Ayatollahs to accept peaceful coexistence with their pro-US Arab Sunni neighbors, become good-faith negotiators, and abandon their 1,400-year-old religious, fanatic vision, which is enshrined in their Constitution, K-12 school curriculum, Friday mosque sermons and official media.

*However, as expected, the mega-billion-dollar bonanza yielded by the diplomatic option (e.g., the 2015 JCPOA and the current suspension of economic sanctions) has bolstered its global terroristic network, advancing its vision to topple all pro-US Sunni regimes, and bring the “infidel” West to submission, especially the “The Great American Satan,” while egregiously oppressing and suppressing Iranian women and religious and ethnic minorities.  

*The State Department’s diplomatic option was initiated in 1978/1979, stabbing in the back the pro-US Shah of Iran, and contending that Ayatollah Khomeini was anti-Communist and therefore potentially pro-Western and a stabilizing element geopolitically, “…holding a Gandhi-like positionpreoccupied with tractors, not tanks….”

*Has the diplomatic option dumped the Monroe Doctrine?! In 2023, Iran’s Ayatollahs invest mega billions of dollars in fueling civil wars, terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering throughout the Middle East, Africa and especially in Latin America. There, they collaborate – along with Hezbollah terrorists – with the drug cartels of Mexico, Columbia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil, and train terror organizations. They cooperate with all anti-US governments (especially Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Bolivia), testing ballistic missiles, and supplying predator drones, attack boats, anti-ship missiles, and equipment for the construction of underground tunnels along the US-Mexico border, which smuggle drugs and illegal Middle East terrorists into the US.

*The bottom line is: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me!  After 44 years of being fooled by the Ayatollahs, critically undermining the strategic posture of the US and its allies, it is time to reassess the diplomatic option, and consider other options, such as regime-change and a credible military threat hovering above the head of the Ayatollahs.  

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Judea & Samaria

Israel-Saudi accord and Israel’s control of Judea & Samaria (video)

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
September 15, 2023, https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/377022

*The platform of an Israel-Saudi accord is the volcanic, violent and unpredictably tenuous Middle East, not Western Europe or No. America;

*Saudi Arabia is driven by Saudi – not Palestinian – interests;

*Unlike the State Department, Saudi Arabia accords much weight to the rogue Palestinian track record in the intra-Arab arena, and therefore limits its support of the proposed Palestinian state to (mostly) talk, not to walk; *An accord with Saudi Arabia – in the shifty, tenuous Middle East – is not a major component of Israel’s national security. On the other hand, Israel’s control of the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria is a prerequisite for Israel’s survival in the inherently turbulent, intolerantly violent Middle East, which features tenuous regimes, and therefore tenuous policies and accords.


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

Chanukah guide for the perplexed, 2023

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
November 29, 2023

More on Jewish holidays: SmashwordsAmazon

1. According to Israel’s Founding Father, David Ben Gurion: Chanukah commemorates “the struggle of the Maccabees, which was one of the most dramatic clashes of civilizations in human history, not merely a political-military struggle against foreign oppression…. Unlike many peoples, the meager Jewish people did not assimilate.  The Jewish people prevailed, won, sustained and enhanced their independence and unique civilization…. It was the spirit of the people, rather than the failed spirit of the establishment, which enabled the Hasmoneans to overcome one of the most magnificent spiritual, political and military challenges in Jewish history….” (Uniqueness and Destiny, pp 20-22, David Ben Gurion, IDF Publishing, 1953).

2. A Jewish national liberation holiday.  Chanukah (evening of December 7 – December 15, 2023) is the only Jewish holiday that commemorates an ancient national liberation struggle in the Land of Israel, unlike the national liberation holidays, Passover, Sukkot/Tabernacles and Shavu’ot/Pentecost, which commemorate the liberation from slavery in Egypt to independence in the land of Israel, and unlike Purim, which commemorates liberation from a Persian attempt to annihilate the Jewish people.

3. Chanukah and the Land of Israel.  When ordered by Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid region to end the Jewish “occupation” of Jerusalem, Jaffa, Gaza, Gezer and Akron, Shimon the Maccabee responded: “We have not occupied a foreign land…. We have liberated the land of our forefathers from foreign occupation (Book of Maccabees A: 15:33).”

Chanukah highlights the centrality of the Land of Israel in the formation of Jewish history, religion, culture and language. The mountain ridges of Judea and Southern Samaria (the West Bank) were the platform for the Maccabean military battles: Mitzpah (the burial site of the Prophet Samuel, overlooking Jerusalem), Beth El (the site of the Ark of the Covenant and Judah the Maccabee’s initial headquarters), Beth Horon (Judah’s victory over Seron), Hadashah (Judah’s victory over Nicanor), Beth Zur (Judah’s victory over Lysias), Ma’aleh Levona (Judah’s victory over Apolonius), Adora’yim (a Maccabean fortress), Eleazar (named after Mattityahu’s youngest Maccabee son), Beit Zachariya (Judah’s first defeat), Ba’al Hatzor (where Judah was defeated and killed), Te’qoah, Mikhmash and Gophnah (bases of Shimon and Yonatan), the Judean Desert, etc.

4. Historical context  Chanukah is narrated in the four Books of the MaccabeesThe Scroll of Antiochus and The Wars of the Jews.

In 323 BCE, following the death of Alexander the Great (Alexander III) who held Judaism in high esteem, the Greek Empire was split into three independent and rival mini-empires: Greece, Seleucid/Syria and Ptolemaic/Egypt.

In 175 BCE, the Seleucid/Syrian Emperor Antiochus (IV) Epiphanes claimed the Land of Israel. He suspected that the Jews were allies of his Ptolemaic/Egyptian enemy.  The Seleucid emperor was known for eccentric behavior, hence his name, Epiphanes, which means “divine manifestation.”  He aimed to exterminate Judaism and convert Jews to Hellenism. In 169 BCE, he devastated Jerusalem, attempting to decimate the Jewish population, and outlaw the practice of Judaism.

In 166/7 BCE, a Jewish rebellion was led by the non-establishment Hasmonean (Maccabee) family from the rural town of Modi’in, half-way between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean.  The rebellion was headed by Mattityahu, the priest, and his five sons, Yochanan, Judah, Shimon, Yonatan and Eleazar, who fought the Seleucid occupier and restored Jewish independence.  The Hasmonean dynasty was replete with external and internal wars and lasted until 37 BCE, when Herod the Great (a proxy of Rome) defeated Antigonus II Mattathias.

5. The reputation of Jews as superb warriors was reaffirmed by the success of the Maccabees on the battlefield. In fact, they were frequently hired as mercenaries by Egypt, Syria, Carthage, Rome and other global and regional powers.

6. The significance of Chanukah. Chanukah celebrates the Maccabean-led national liberation by conducting in-house family education and lighting candles for 8 days in commemoration of the re-inauguration of Jerusalem’s Jewish Temple and its Menorah (candelabra).

The Hebrew words Chanukah (חנוכה), inauguration (חנוכ) and education ((חנוך possess the same root.

7. As was prophesized by the Prophet Hagai in 520 BCE, the re-inauguration of the Temple took place on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which is the month of miracles, such as the post-flood appearance of Noah’s rainbow, the completion of the construction of the Holy Ark by Moses, the laying of the foundations of the Second Temple by Nehemiah, etc.

In 1777, Chanukah candles were lit during the most critical battle at Valley Forge, which solidified the victory of George Washington’s Continental Army over the British monarchy.

The 25th Hebrew word in Genesis is “light,” and the 25th stop during the Exodus was Hashmona (the same Hebrew spelling as Hasmonean-Maccabees).

The first day of Chanukah is celebrated when daylight hours are equal to darkness hours – and when moonlight is hardly noticed – ushering in brighter days.

8. Chanukah highlights the defeat of darkness, disbelief, forgetfulness and pessimism by the spirit of light, faith, commemoration and optimism over.

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US interests and Israel’s control of Judea & Samaria (West Bank)

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*Israel’s control of the topographically-dominant mountain ridges of the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria has enhanced Israel’s posture of deterrence, constraining regional violence, transforming Israel into a unique force-multiplier for the US.

*Top Jordanian military officers warned that a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would doom the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the River, transforming Jordan into a non-controllable terrorist heaven, generating an anti-US domino scenario in the Arabian Peninsula.

*Israel’s control of Judea and Samaria has eliminated much of the threat (to Jordan) of Judea and Samaria-based Palestinian terrorism.

*Israel’s posture of deterrence emboldens Jordan in the face of domestic and regional threats, sparing the US the need to deploy its own troops, in order to avoid an economic and national security setback.

*The proposed Palestinian state would become the Palestinian straw that would break the pro-US Hashemite back.

*The Palestinian track record of the last 100 years suggests that the proposed Palestinian state would be a rogue entity, adding fuel to the Middle East fire, undermining US interests.

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Islamic Terrorism

Hamas – Palestinians: disjointed or interwoven?

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
December 28, 2023

*The Western attempt to distinguish between Hamas terrorists and the majority of Gaza Arabs defies Middle East reality, which documents that Hamas terrorists and most Gaza Arabs are interwoven with each other, socially, educationally, culturally, ideologically, and religiously.

*Moreover, Middle East reality highlights Hamas as a terror state (Gaza and potentially the West Bank), not as merely a terror organization.

*Therefore, most of the Arabs in Gaza enthusiastically celebrated the October 7, 2023 Hamas ISIS-like slaughter, rape, torture and mutilation of (mostly) civilians, heralding it as role model of sacrifice and heroism in the service of a Holy Islamic War and a demonstration of national liberation fortitude.

*The fact that the Arab population of Gaza lends itself to terrorism was underscored by a June 29, 1967 memorandum, submitted to the US Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara by General Earle G. Wheeler, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff. The memorandum presented a map of Israel’s minimal security requirements, including Gaza, which “serves as a salient for introduction of Arab subversion and terrorism, and its retention would be to Israel’s military advantage…. It has served as a training area for [Palestinian terrorists]…. Occupation of the Gaza Strip by Israel would reduce the hostile border by a factor of five and eliminate a source for raids and training of [terrorists]….”   

*The terroristic potential of the population of Gaza has been leveraged since 1947 by the Muslim Brotherhood – the largest Sunni terror organization, which established Hamas in 1988 – when it established Gaza as one of its five centers in British Mandate Palestine (Haifa, Jaffa, Nablus, Jerusalem and Gaza). The Gaza branch collaborated closely with the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, the birth place of the Muslim Brotherhood. Initially, Hamas’ popularity was limited to the Gaza middle class, such as the religious establishment, lawyers and businessmen. However, since the 1990s, Hamas has increasingly evolved into a focal point of social, ideological and religious cohesion with the Gaza population at-large.

*The appeal of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Gaza branch, Hamas, has surged dramatically since 1993, through the K-12 hate-education system, Friday incitement in the mosques and the official and public idolization of terrorism, which were instituted by Mahmoud Abbas through the Oslo Accord. Initially, it benefitted the Palestinian Authority – headed by Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas – but rapidly catapulted Hamas into unprecedented popularity, as an integral element of the Gaza culture, a role model for the Gaza youth.

*Realizing the high-level identification of Gaza Arabs with Hamas – and the evolution of Hamas from a terror organization into a terror state – the Palestinian Authority has refrained from holding election since 2005, in order to avoid a Hamas landslide victory. Furthermore, after the October 7 massacre Hamas has surged to its highest popularity among Arabs in Judea and Samaria (West Bank).

*The Western attempt to subordinate the complex, frustrating, costly and inconvenient Middle East reality to its own alternative and convenient Middle East, has led to the assumption that Hamas terrorists and the majority of Gaza Arabs are disjointed culturally and ideologically.

*However, Middle East reality features Hamas as an entity, which is consistent with the worldview, values, education and ideology of most Gazan parents, who send their children to Hamas run schools, participate in Friday services in Hamas run mosques, and enthusiastically cheer Hamas’ ISIS-like terroristic operations.

*Contrary to Western conventional wisdom, Hamas is not a terror organization in the mold of Peru’s Shining Path, Italy’s Red Brigade, France’s Action Direct and multitude of other terror organizations, which represent a fringe of their societies, terrorizing the government and its educational, cultural and religious institutions.  Hamas is the terrorist state of Gaza, representing Gaza’s educational, cultural and religious institutions, enjoying the moral support of most Gazans.  In many respects, Hamas benefits from more popular support than enjoyed by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Syria’s Bashar Assad and Iran’s Ayatollahs.

*Western policy based on the erroneous assumption that Hamas and Gaza Arabs are disjointed from one another, inadvertently plays into the hands of Hamas, yielding a robust tailwind to terrorism and a powerful headwind to counter-terrorism. 

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