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Zev Chafets

Why Israel Must Change Its Approach to Iran

Major General Isaac Ben Israel argues it’s too late to stop Iran by force. Better to work with the U.S. to revise the nuclear deal.

Can Israel live it a new version? 

Can Israel live it a new version? 

Photographer: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

Israel is a country of many generals and military strategists. Their opinions vary on how to proceed in the international effort to revive the Iran nuclear agreement struck under Barack Obama’s presidency — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known by its initials JCPOA. Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018. Hardliners insist that Israel must oppose the deal and prepare to act unilaterally against Iran’s nuclear program. Others say this is a mistake; Israel can’t afford to take on the international community.

This week I sought the opinion of Major General Isaac Ben Israel, a man who has been at the center of national security for more than four decades. As a young officer, he was a key planner of Israel’s successful attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor. He later served as chief of air force intelligence and as the commander of Israel’s version of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (or DARPA), where he oversaw the development of strategic weapons systems.