Symbols and the Israeli air force

Is Israel preparing an attack on the nuclear facilities of Iran, where it is feared the country’s first nuclear bomb is being developed?

The issue became the centre of hectic high-level talks between the US and Israel, with some US media reporting that an attack will be carried out before summer. Guesses can make for good stories.

While the international sanctions against Iran do not seem to have made the Iranian leaders reconsider the country’s nuclear power plan, the “winds of war” are blowing, if only as rumours.

It is obvious that the Israeli air force will play a major role in any confrontation with Iran. The details of such an aerial attack filled the pages of some major newspapers in the US in recent days.

Foreign sources have claimed that the air force has been preparing for such a long-range mission for some years.

Iranian religious leaders are very clear: they promise to destroy Israel.

In that atmosphere, the appointment of a new commander of the Israeli air force is very significant – and it is even more so because the new commander comes from a family that lost some of its members in the Holocaust. It is even more significant because of the fact that in September 2003, Major General Amir Eshel led a formation of three Israeli air force F-15s on a flypast of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

As the formation flew over the camp, Eshel broadcast a message to an Israeli Defense Force ceremony taking place below: “We pilots of the air force, flying in the skies above the camp of horrors, arose from the ashes of the millions of victims, and shoulder their silent cries, salute their courage and promise to be the shield of the Jewish people and its nation, Israel.”

Eshel, who currently serves as head of the Israel Defense Force’s planning directorate, will replace Major General Ido Nehushtan in April. Eshel served as deputy commander of the Israeli air force from 2006 to 2008, and before that was head of the air force’s Air Wing, commander of the Tel Nof base and head of the Israeli air force’s operations division.

In our times, symbols very often have far-reaching meanings.

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