Samson Option

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Israeli professor says, "We could destroy all European capitals."
Samson Option.jpg

The Samson Option or Sampson Option is a claimed threat by Israel to massively use nuclear weapons to destroy its enemies if Israel should be destroyed.

Journalist Seymour Hersh details Israel’s nuclear strategy and the history of it nuclear program in his book The Samson Option (1991).

Origin of the Plan

Israeli leaders created the plan in the mid-1960s, just as they were beginning the process of developing their first atomic bombs. They were inspired by the Biblical figure Samson/Sampson, who destroyed a Philistine temple, killing himself and thousands of Philistine enemies.[1]

The possible targets in such a strike are not limited to the Arab states that have fought wars with Israel, but also to the "historic enemies" of the Jewish people.

Alleged blackmail strategy

In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Arab forces were 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.[2][3][4][5][6]

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.[7][8]


  • "Most European capitals are targets for our [Israel's] air force....We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under." -- Martin Van Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
  • “We can still remember the smell of Auschwitz and Treblinka. Next time we’ll take all of you with us.” --An Israel official quoted in the 1991 book "The Samson Option".
  • “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.” --General Moshe Dayan, a leading promoter of Israel’s nuclear program [1]
  • “Israel could respond [to an Iraqi attack] with a nuclear retaliation that would eradicate Iraq as a country.” --Israeli defense analyst Zeev Schiff, 2002

External Links


  2. Hersh 1991, pp. 225–7.
  3. Cohen 1998, p. 236.
  4. Gaffney, Mark (1989), Dimona, The Third Temple: The Story Behind the Vanunu Revelation, Amana Books, p. 147 .
  5. Farr, Warner D (September 1999), The Third Temple's Holy of Holies: Israel's Nuclear Weapons, Counterproliferation Paper, USAF Counterproliferation Center, Air War College, .
  6. Avner Cohen, The Last Nuclear Moment, The New York Times, October 6, 2003.
  7. Israel's Internal Demographics Disaster
  8. What Kind of State Will Israel Be?
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