The Samson Option is name for various claimed nuclear threats by Israel. The name is a reference to the biblical Israelite judge Samson who pushed apart the pillars of a Philistine temple, bringing down the roof and killing himself and thousands of Philistines who had captured him, crying out "Let me die with the Philistines!" (Judges 16:30).
Some military analysts and authors have used the name for an Israeli deterrence strategy of massive retaliation with nuclear weapons as a "last resort" against a country whose military has invaded and/or destroyed much of Israel.
It has also been used for an argued related blackmail strategy. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Arab forces were initially overwhelming Israeli forces and Prime Minister Golda Meir authorized a nuclear alert and ordered 13 atomic bombs be readied for use by missiles and aircraft. The Israeli Ambassador warned President Nixon of "very serious conclusions" if the United States did not airlift supplies. Nixon complied. This is seen by some commentators on the subject as the first threat of the use of the Samson Option.
Louis René Beres, a professor of political science at Purdue University, chaired Project Daniel, a group advising Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He argues in the Final Report of Project Daniel and elsewhere that the effective deterrence of the Samson Option would be increased by ending the policy of nuclear ambiguity. In a 2004, article he recommends that Israel use the Samson Option threat to "support conventional preemptions" against enemy nuclear and non-nuclear assets because "without such weapons, Israel, having to rely entirely upon non-nuclear forces, might not be able to deter enemy retaliations for the Israeli preemptive strike."
Some Jewish commentators have argued that nuclear weapons should be used against Europe, or the world in general, if Israel is threatened with destruction, using language such as "the power to destroy the world. The ultimate justice?", "bring down the pillars of the world'', "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother", "We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under."
Future fundamentalist theocracy with nuclear weapons?
Israel's (alleged) possession of nuclear weapons is often not seen as threatening to democratic countries due to Israel being a democracy and theories such as the democratic peace theory according to which democracies never (or at least very rarely) go to war with one another.
However, internal Israeli demographic changes with Jewish religious fundamentalists having many more children than other Jews have been argued to imply that Israel will in the future turn into a theocracy and that Jewish religious fundamentalists already have a large and increasing political influence.
- Israel's Internal Demographics Disaster http://www.nationalinterest.org/feature/israels-internal-demographics-disaster-13501
- What Kind of State Will Israel Be? https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/09/04/what-kind-of-state-will-israel-be-reuven-rivlin-speech-identity/