This was the exchange between Sam Lewis, the American ambassador to Israel and Menachem Begin, the Israeli PM following the news:
"I have to tell you in all honesty that I suspect some people in the White House will be pretty furious about this," said a shocked Lewis."Your weaponry was procured from us under the Arms Export Act, for purposes of self-defense only."
"Self-defense?" Begin retorted."What greater act of self-defense could there be than to demolish Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, designed to bring Israel to its knees, kill our people, vaporize our infrastructure - in a word to destroy our nation, our country, our existence? Over these past months I've told you again and again, Sam, that either the US does something to stop that reactor, or we will have to."
The destruction of Osirak met with universal condemnation. The UN Security Council passed a unanimous resolution"strongly condemns the military attack by Israel in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct." The US suspended weapons deliveries to Israel.
Begin responded with admirable equanimity:
I know that in the days to come, all men and women of good will, wherever they live, will understand our problems. . . I believe that the nations are with us, and if, for various reasons which I do not want to go into, several governments condemn and may repeat it in the Security Council, well, my friends, what can we do? We are an ancient people. We are used to it. We survived. We shall survive.
Today, of course, there is similar unanimity within the international community only in the opposite direction. The world is grateful for the Israeli action. None other than the Saudi ambassador to the US, Price Turki, acknowledged that the attack was “probably fortunate." Even the BBC is running admiring interviews with the Israeli pilots who took part in the operation.
Now, even more than then, much of the world would breathe more easily if they could loudly condemn a similar Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities. Now you see why I called my blog Deja Vu?