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יהודים, ישראל והסוגיה הגרעינית
אסופת מאמרים פרי עטו של פרופ' יובל נאמן

The Jews, Israel and
the Nuclear Question

A Collection of Articles
by Professor Yuval Ne'eman

Shmuel Tzabag (ed.)

ACPR Publications and
The College of Judea and Samaria, 2007, 247 pages

The book sheds light on a selection of Prof. Yuval Ne’eman’s studies in the nuclear sphere in its Jewish-Israeli context. Few people in Israel, or throughout the world, have, in their lifetimes, succeeded in achieving a career so rich, contributory, diverse and acclaimed like that of Yuval Ne’eman (1925-2006). Prof. Ne’eman’s extraordinary resume is interwoven with the life of the State of Israel and with the period leading to the founding of the State.

The book contains five sections:

The first chapter deals with the Jewish dimension and the nuclear issue. The emphasis here is on the Jewish aspect of the initiative that led to the establishment of the “Manhattan Project” and the development of the nuclear weapon during World War II. Prof. Ne’eman’s friendship with several of the central figures in that initiative and with the leaders of the project themselves, along with his general interest in history, led him to an analysis of the Jewish background from which these active, energetic personalities emerged. Jewish knowledge, for all intents and purposes, constituted a foundation for the strategic infrastructures of the early years of the State of Israel.

The second section focuses on Israel’s nuclear deterrence. Included in this section is the ambiguity doctrine that has been maintained by Israeli governments since the 1960s. Establishment of a research and industrial infrastructure in the nuclear realm was one of the central tasks of the decade between 1957-1967, a decade that began with the Sinai Campaign, the creation and tightening of relations with France – and concluded with the Six-Day War – with a hostile France imposing a weapons embargo upon the State of Israel. Israel was the first country to adopt a policy of ambiguity. Alongside the articles discussing the fundamental aspects of nuclear deterrence – its effectiveness and limitations, this section of the book also includes articles about the operational context of Israel’s nuclear deterrence.

The third section deals with Israel and the Iraqi nuclear program. At the time, this issue had operational significance of the highest order, as in those days, Prof. Ne’eman held some public position and he “mobilized” an individual war in which he attempted to marshal world public opinion to pressure France and cause it to delay (or even cancel) the sale of the reactor to Iraq. After he was unsuccessful in delaying the transfer of the reactor to Iraq and the concomitant failure of the Israeli Foreign Ministry to achieve that objective, the reactor was bombed in a glorious IDF military operation on June 7, 1981.

The fourth section focuses on the prevention of nuclear proliferation and terrorism. In this context, Prof. Ne’eman discusses arrangements to prevent dissemination of nuclear weapons and the international aspects involved in those arrangements. Nuclear know-how, nuclear components and perhaps even a nuclear bomb could fall into terrorist hands. It is therefore imperative to prevent nuclear terrorism, which is perhaps the most egregious threat against the nations of the world, including the State of Israel.

The fifth section deals with nuclear research and development – a glimpse beyond the immediate future. The treatment of the issue is with an eye to the future. On one hand, the importance of an alternative energy source on a nuclear basis is raised while on another hand, the concern of the trickling of nuclear arms potential to countries and terrorist organizations is also raised.

Click here for an excerpt of this book.