Israeli Defense Minister Invokes Hiroshima and Nagasaki In Response to Iran Question

by Ali Gharib

Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem nearly two weeks ago, the Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon invoked the American decision to drop nuclear bombs on Japan in World War II in response to a question about “dealing with a threat like Iran.”

At the conference, organized by the right-wing Israeli legal activism group Shurat HaDin, Yaalon defended Israel’s decisions in several of its recent wars that critics have said showed a disregard for civilian life.

Although not addressing Iran specifically, Yaalon suggested that Israel may take extraordinary measures that would endanger civilians if “surgical operations” don’t present a viable alternative for accomplishing military objectives. He then raised U.S. President Harry Truman’s decision to use a nuclear weapon in World War II as an example of such a measure, adding, “We are not there yet.”

The remarks were first noticed by the website Electronic Intifada. Shurat HaDin posted a full video of Yaalon’s remarks on-line Tuesday.

Here’s a transcript of the question — which was asked as part of a bundle of questions after Yaalon’s prepared speech — and the full response, beginning with a reference to the specific question and ending just before Yaalon glances at his notepad and starts addressing a subsequent query:

QUESTION: …[T]o the question of whether democracies are at a strategic disadvantage. Is dealing with a threat like Iran something democracies are not structured well to do?

YAALON: There are those who claim that this battle is not fair because democracy can’t fight back [against a] tyrannical regime — not talking about terror organization. I don’t agree with it. Certain cases, we might take certain steps that we believe that these steps should be taken in order to defend ourselves. I mentioned the discussion about the interception of the rockets positions on civilian houses. We decided to do it.

I can imagine some other steps that should be taken. Of course, we should be sure that we can look at the mirror after the decision or the operation. Of course, we should be sure it is a military necessity. We should consider cost and benefit, of course. But, at the end, we might take certain steps.

I do remember the story of President Truman was asked, How do feel after deciding to launch the nuclear bombs [at] Nagasaki and Hiroshima, causing at the end the fatalities of 200,000 casualties? And he said, When I heard from my officers that the alternative is a long war with Japan, with potential fatalities of a couple of millions, I saw it was a moral decision.

We are not there yet. But that [is] what I’m talking about. Certain steps in cases in which we feel like we don’t have the answer by surgical operations or something like that.

You can watch the video of the question and response.

The response wasn’t quite a threat to use nukes. But perhaps invoking the use of an atomic bomb to end a war isn’t such a wise move for a country with a covert arsenal of nukes seeking to rally the world to its side against Iran’s nuclear program.

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.



  1. Having served on Tinian where the Enola Gay was stationed and left for Hiroshima and Nagasak, I can quote our government military saying we dropped the A bombs to save American lives. Can we say the same by doing the same to Iran? The Israelis are hell-bent on us bombing Iran for their own selfish reasons – greater Israel.

  2. That’s why Iran should obtain nuke ASAP. These animals only respect force

  3. This speech may turn out to be a golden spear. Given Israel’s threats to destroy Iran, and its history of false flags and aggression against its neighbors and occupied populations, Moshe Yaalon has made a good a case as any for Israel to be disarmed of its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. It’s time the UN initiated action, and the US finally came to its senses and supported a WMD zone in the Middle East.

  4. 20 years ago Dr Gar Alperovitz’s comprehensive investigation (The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, c1995, 847pages) revealed that the atomic bombing of Japan had not meant to end the war in order to save lives but to challenge the Soviet Union’s military power, hence President Truman’s statement (typical of the US Presidents) had been ‘a lie’. Three years ago Paul Ham’s studies, Hiroshima Nagasaki: the Real Story of the Atomic Bombings, made similar revelations.We need to visit the museums in Japan, look at the available photos and documentary films and at Marukis detailed mural paintings of that unprecedented barbarism, and read the survivors’ memoirs to understand the inferno the civilized west had created on 6 & 9 August 1945!

    For a Zionist Israeli to regard that savagery as “moral”, given their habitual massacre of the Palestinians women and children, is yet another reminder of Israeli army’s perpetual claim to “moral high ground” and should alert us to what the critics often fail to consider: the ‘mental health’ of the so called “democracies”, especially the widely circulated journalistic cliche, “Israel the only democracy in the region”: a Heartless Paranoid Killer Heavily Armed with Nuclear Weapons, proudly supplied by the West and relentlessly defended by the US Congress and the US Vetoes at the UNSC! All in the name of Humanity!

    Hence another impending genocide, this time in the Middle Eat, morally defended by the leaders of the Civilized World who have deliberately supplied an unaccountable Paranoid Killer with the most lethal weapons in the world.

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