On June 7 we destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor “Osirak” near Baghdad. I don’t want to mention to you today from whom we received the final information that this reactor was going to produce atomic bombs. We had no doubt about that: therefore our action was an act of salvation, an act of national self-defense in the most lofty sense of the concept. We saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, including tens of thousands of children.
Nonetheless, you announced that you were punishing us – and you left unfilled a signed and sealed contract that included specific dates for the supply of (war) planes.
Not long after, in a defensive act – after a slaughter was committed against our people leaving three dead (including an Auschwitz survivor) and 29 were injured we bombed the PLO headquarters in Beirut.
You have no moral right to preach to us about civilian casualties. We have read the history of World War Two and we know what happened to civilians when you took action against an enemy. We have also read the history of the Vietnam war and your phrase “body-count”. We always make efforts to avoid hitting civilian populations, but sometimes it is unavoidable – as was the case in our bombing of the PLO headquarters.
We sometimes risk the lives of our soldiers to avoid civilian casualties.
Nonetheless, you punished us: you suspended delivery of F-15 planes.
In 1946 there lived in this house a British general by the name of Barker. Today I live here. When we fought him, you called us “terrorists” – and we carried on fighting. After we attacked his headquarters in the requisitioned building of the King David Hotel, Barker said: “This race will only be influenced by being hit in the pocket” – and he ordered his soldiers to stop patronizing Jewish cafes.
To hit us in the pocket – this is the philosophy of Barker. Now I understand why the whole great effort in the Senate to obtain a majority for the arms deal with Saudi Arabia was accompanied by an ugly campaign of anti-Semitism.
As for the contention that we surprised you, the truth is that we did not want to embarrass you. We knew your difficulties. You come to Riyadh and Damascus. It was President Reagan who said that Mr. Begin was right – that had Israel told the U.S. about the law (in advance) the U.S. would have said no. We did not want you to say no – and then go ahead and apply Israeli law to the Golan Heights.
Our intention was not to embarrass you.
As regards Lebanon, I have asked that the Secretary of State be informed that we will not attack, but if we are attacked, we will counterattack.