US officials just confirmed what has already been widely reported since it happened in September: that Israel bombed a Syrian nuclear reactor which was being built with help from North Korea. The event was shrouded in secrecy until now, but the US Congress has been pressuring the Bush administration to publicly brief them (and the American people) on what happened, and Congress was finally briefed about the details today.
It’s interesting to contrast this with Israel’s bombing of the Iraqi reactor in the early 80′s. Two differences stand out: firstly, the Israelis were open and proud about what they had done then, whereas this time they tried to suppress the news. And secondly, the US joined the rest of the world in condemning the bombing of Iraq, whereas this time they supported Israel’s strike. I would posit that the reason Israel was quieter this time is that they’re worried about inflaming anger from the “Arab street” in an age of mass media, and in a time where there’s a serious push toward peace. The 24/7 news sensationalism, including Al Jazeera, is simply more focus than Israel wants on itself these days. In terms of the second difference – why the US supported Israel this time – it would seem to stem from a post-9/11 consciousness of the danger of terror-supporting regimes acquiring nuclear weapons.
As the seventh day of Passover approaches, I am reminded of the prohibition against celebrating the downfall of our enemies, just as the angels were forbidden to sing praise to G-d as the Egyptians drowned at sea. However, that would only seem to prohibit rejoicing at the physical death of our enemies. This event, on the other hand, was simply a monumental setback to the nefarious schemes of our enemies, and rightly warrants celebration. The fact that North Korea was also involved makes it particularly sweet. Score one for the good guys against the axis of evil.