Paul Greenberg

Only the Israelis seem fully aware of the threat Iran now poses, or at least fully aware of the need to do something besides talk about it. They know that with every passing day, as the world and the centrifuges turn, the existential threat to their existence grows. How long before Iran's little fuehrer gets his nuke and can fulfill his promise to wipe Israel off the map? A year?

Israel's leaders, and even more so its people, understand that they no longer face a political but a military challenge. This time it's a more formidable one than blowing up Syria's oh-so-secret nuclear plant a couple of years ago. Or even destroying Saddam Hussein's reactor at Osirak in 1981. The distances involved and coordination required for a strike or strikes inside Iran are daunting. Even more so than the obstacles that had to be overcome in 1976 when an Israeli strike force flew deep into Africa to rescue the hostages at Entebbe in Idi Amin's Uganda.

And what would be gained by attacking these Iranian sites? Even if the Israelis succeeded despite the long odds, and somehow avoided setting off a war that would engulf the Middle East, how long before those nuclear facilities were rebuilt or replaced? And the Iranians were finally able to launch their airborne Auschwitz?

But another decade of life and peace, or even another year, is no small achievement in a neighborhood as volatile as the Middle East. Of all the dangerous courses available to the Israelis, the most dangerous would be to just sit there and wait for The End.

Israel's leaders have to know the dangers an Israeli strike would entail. It would be an attack that Israel's major and just about only ally, the United States, would vigorously oppose, at least formally. The Israelis certainly couldn't count on this administration to back them up.

Israel's current premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, is no stranger to the sacrifices that war demands. It is one thing to stage even a successful military operation, another to pay the price. Only one Israeli was killed during that daring raid on Entebbe so many years ago -- the commander of the Israeli commandoes. His name was Yonatan Netanyahu. He was the brother of the current prime minister.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.