Prof. Israel (Robert) J. Aumann, Nobel Prize Laureate; Center for the Study
of Rationality, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
First of all, I would like to thank the conference organizers for inviting
me to speak at this important and central event. I was asked to speak about
the existential dangers threatening the State of Israel. One danger known to
all of us stems from Iran's nuclear armament program, which threatens to
erase the State of Israel from the map. We cannot underestimate the
importance of this danger.
However, in my humble opinion, it is less threatening than it appears at
Iran is a nation like all nations; it has an address-we know who it is and
where it is. If the rumors are true-that the State of Israel has according
deterrence capability, and no less importantly, means of delivering weapons,
then there is indeed a danger, but it is a limited one. The rulers of Iran
are often called lunatics, but there is no evidence that this is the case.
Iran's rulers act very rationally. They have goals that indeed oppose our
goals, but these are their goals, and they advance them very effectively.
The destruction of central Iranian cities is not one of their goals. We
certainly need to stand guard, but the fear of Iran's direct use of nuclear
weapons against Israel seems minimal. I allow myself to speak freely because
I don't know anything that's happening in the field-perhaps less than anyone
in this hall.
However, unfortunately, there is a different danger in Iran's nuclear
armament-more tangible and more threatening, although more indirect. This
danger is hidden in the possibility that nuclear technology will be
transferred from Iran to terrorist groups such as Al Qa'ida or others-groups
whose identities are indistinct, who have no address. Even these groups are
not insane; they act consistently, rationally, and sophisticated in order to
achieve their goals. But because they have no address, direct deterrence
policy is not effective in their case. Thus, if they succeed in obtaining
nuclear weapons, it is unclear how we will be able to deter them from using
it against us.
These groups, or some of them, are very close in their goals and ideology to
Iran. Therefore, this is a great danger in the transfer of nuclear
technology and the necessary materials from Iran to these groups. One
possibility is that such a transfer would be intended and approved by the
Iranian authorities. Another possibility, which is more likely, is that the
transfer will not be intended or planned; this is a case of infiltration of
radical terrorist elements into the Iranian nuclear system or of a lack of
sufficient caution of the Iranian authorities or of a leak or of deliberate
smuggling in the lower echelons of the Iranian system-leaks and smuggling
that are unauthorized and even unknown to the higher echelons.
If such a transfer occurs in one of these two ways, then we will in fact be
in substantial trouble. We will not be able to directly prevent these groups
to execute their schemes.
Therefore, we must act indirectly by offering appropriate incentives.
In my opinion, there are two ways to do this. One is to create strong and
tangible motivation for the government of Iran to prevent at all costs the
transfer of nuclear technology and materials to groups that do not function
under its auspices. The second and less effective way is to give strong and
tangible motivation to these terrorist groups we have mentioned not to use
nuclear weapons against Israel, even if they have obtained such weapons. As
we have said, this type of deterrence is not easy because these groups have
no address, but they have goals and they have an ideological identity, and
it is possible to create adequate incentives on this backdrop.
We mentioned two existential threats facing the State of Israel-the direct
nuclear threat and the indirect nuclear threat. As we have said, the second
danger is greater, and now a few words about a third threat, which is
perhaps the greatest of all. It does not come from Iran, nor from terrorist
groups, nor from any external source. It comes from within us. "We have met
the enemy, and it is us."
Esteemed ladies and gentlemen, your humble servant makes his living from
game theory-among other things, very serious games: games of life and death
and of existence and annihilation. The name of the game in game theory is
motivation, incentives. Earlier, we discussed the motivations of those
standing on the opposite side. Motivating ourselves is the most important
thing, and the thing we are losing the most. Without motivation, we will not
endure. What are we doing here? Why are we here? What are we aspiring to
here? We are here because we are Jewish, we are Zionist, because of our
ancient bond to this land; we aspire to realize our 2000-year-old hope of
becoming a free nation in our land, the Land of Zion and Jerusalem. Without
this profound understanding, we will not endure. We will simply no longer be
here; Post-Zionism will finish us off.
About half a year ago in Petra, Jordan, the prime minister said that we are
tired. He was right. He was elected by the nation, and he expresses the
sentiments of the nation. We are like a mountain-climber that gets caught in
a snowstorm; the night falls, he is cold and tired, and he wants to sleep.
If he falls asleep, he will freeze to death. We are in terminal danger
because we are tired.
I will allow myself to say a few unpopular, unfashionable words: our
panicked lunging for peace is working against us. It brings us farther away
from peace, and endangers our very existence. I think it was Churchill who
said, "If you want peace, prepare for war." The preparation includes
material preparation, a fantastic army, effective tools of war, but above
all, we are talking about spiritual preparation, about spiritual readiness
to go to war.
Roadmaps, capitulation, gestures, disengagements, convergences,
deportations, and so forth do not bring peace. On the contrary, they bring
war, just as we saw last summer. These things send a clear signal to our
"cousins" that we are tired, that we no longer have spiritual strength, that
we have no time, that we are calling for a time-out. They only whet their
appetites. It only encourages them to pressure us more, to demand more, and
not to give up on anything. These things stem from simple theoretical
considerations and also from straight thinking.
But it's not just theory: it has been proven and re-proven in the field over
thousands of years. I returned today from a trip to India, where we heard
about historical stories that illustrate the same. Capitulations bring about
war; determination and readiness bring about peace.
Ladies and gentlemen, we must tell our cousins that we are staying here. We
are not moving. We have time; we have patience; we have stamina. Understand
this and internalize it. And we must not simply say it to our cousins but
feel it within ourselves. This and only this will bring peace. We can really
live in peace and unity and cooperation with our cousins. But only after
they understand and internalize that the Zionist state will be here forever.
Thank you very much.
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