PM Netanyahu
PM NetanyahuIsrael News photo: (Flash 90)

An advisor to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has compared Netanyahu's attitude towards Iran to the traditional Jewish view of Amalek, the ultimate enemy which must be destroyed.

Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, writing in the New York Times Op-Ed section Saturday, said that Netanyahu is not bluffing with regard to the possibility of Israel attacking Iran. "His preoccupation with the Iranian nuclear program seems sincere and deeply felt," Goldberg writes. "I recently asked one of his advisers to gauge for me the depth of Mr. Netanyahu’s anxiety about Iran. His answer: 'Think Amalek.'"

While Netanyahu is a non-observant Jew, the evocation of Amalek by an aide to could be a hint that some religious feeling is nonetheless coloring the Israeli government's view of the Iranian threat.

'Erase the memory of Amalek'

Amalek is a nation that wished to wipe out the Jews. It was the first to make war against Israel, attacking the rear guard of the Israelites on their deliverance from Egypt. Jewish tradition holds that the Amalekites are the undying enemy of the Jews. It also showed the way to the other nations as to how to destroy Israel.

Though no identifiable Amalekites remain in the world, the Torah commands the Jews to wipe out every last vestige of the evil that Amalek represents. Every year, when the Torah passage known as Zachor is read, Jews stream to their synagogues to hear the verse, " 'Remember what Amalek did to you on the way, upon your departure from Egypt'... 'You shall erase the memory of Amalek from beneath the heavens, you shall not forget.'."

Goldberg also quotes "friends and advisers" of Netanyahu who say that he took three lessons from his brother Yonatan’s death, in the heroic raid on Entebbe in 1976: "The first is that those who threaten Jews, and have the means to carry out their threats, should be neutralized pre-emptively. The second is that no one will defend the Jews except the Jews themselves. The third is that destiny has chosen the Netanyahus to expose and battle anti-Semitism — before it reaches the point of genocide."

Obama on Jews, U.S. and Holocaust 

Another interesting quote that appears in Goldberg's piece is from President Barack Obama. Goldberg writes that the talk of containing Iran after it acquires a nuclear capacity "does not make the Israelis… happy and, in fact, might push them closer to executing a military strike." Obama "surely knows this," he estimates, and quotes something Obama told him during last year's presidential campaign:

“I know that that there are those who would argue that in some ways America has become a safe refuge for the Jewish people," Obama said, "but if you’ve gone through the Holocaust, then that does not offer the same sense of confidence and security as the idea that the Jewish people can take care of themselves no matter what happens.”

"There should be little doubt that, by the end of this year, if no progress is made, Mr. Netanyahu will seriously consider attacking Iran," Goldberg writes. If the quote from Obama is an accurate one, perhaps tough U.S. action against Iran is a more realistic option than many people currently think.