The “Core No – War No” Response Was Arizona

The “Core No – War No” Response Was Arizona

If you are confused by the title “Core No – War No” and Arizona, here’s a brief explanation. In September, 2007, I was awakened in the middle of the night by my son, a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. At that time, my son was stationed in the Golan Heights and he was calling to tell me that contrary to our agreement just the day before, he would not be getting on a bus at 6:00 a.m. to come home and join in the celebration of his father’s 50th birthday. When I asked him why, but all he told me was that they were on hightened alert.

Alert for what? He wouldn’t say. He was not allowed to leave and could not say more. His final words of that conversation were, “Don’t worry.” It doesn’t take being a mother to see the absurdity and the impossibility of those words. I put the phone down; got up from my bed (it was, after all, 3:30 a.m.). I walked into the living room, opened my computer and began surfing the internet. Thinking back, I don’t remember what was there; I only remember what was not. Nothing about the Middle East that would cause my son to be held back on base. Nothing.

Quickly, I hit refresh. Again and again. Desperately, I prayed. Through the next few hours, I cried, I sniffled, I begged God to give me some information. I even contemplated driving up north with no destination in mind, no idea what I would do if and when I got there. Some 12 hours later, the news reported that a building had been attacked in Syria. Slowly, it was announced that it was suspected that Israel had bombed the site; that Israeli planes flew in. Some news sites reported that the buildings housed a nuclear power plant under construction. Israel remained silent.

Destroyed Syrian Nuclear Reactor
Destroyed Syrian Nuclear Reactor

When my son came home, and in the years that followed, he told us some of what happened that night. This morning, driving to an early morning meeting, the radio announced that after 11 years, Israel was admitting what I had known back then. Israeli fighter planes flew under cover of darkness, with technology that jammed the Syrians from knowing they were there. They flew low and true and dropped their bombs precisely.

While they flew, my son and his unit went out into the fields with their equipment. According to the instructions of their commanding officers, they got themselves ready to defend Israel against attack. Also, they knew Israeli planes had gone into Syria but not why. Within minutes of releasing their bombs, the Israel Air Force jets flew home and my son and the other soldiers waited for Syrian planes to retaliate. Until this morning, I knew only what had happened here on the ground and only suspected the rest. Today, it all came out.

After our fighter jets successfully hit their target, they radioed back  a simple word, “Arizona.” I have no clue who picked that as the code word for success or why it was picked. But Arizona it was. Arizona – we hit them hard; Arizona – the target has been destroyed. That simple – Arizona – no nuclear bombs for Assad’s army.

While we don’t (yet) know why Arizona was chosen, what we do know is another phrase that became a mantra for the Israeli government then, and remains one today. Core no; war no. We cannot afford to allow them to gain nuclear weapons – not then, not now. Core no! No core. Essentially, the nuclear reactor core contains the nuclear fuel components. It is where the nuclear reactions occur. Core no – not in Iraq in 1981, Syria in 2007, Iran in 2018.

Core No, War No Policy

“War no” is more easily understood. We will do all we can to avoid war if war can be avoided. Success would only be delivered if both elements are achieved – our enemies denied access to nuclear weapons; and our people saved from yet another war. In each case, our government knew there was no choice. Without a doubt, Core No takes precedence, even if we risk war.

In 2007, the soldiers waited for a Syrian attack. In 1981, the soldiers wondered if the destruction of a nuclear plant in Iraq would trigger a war. Then, as now, our backs are to the wall. Obviously, no one knows what trigger word will be sent across the airwaves to signal the success of a mission to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. Most likely it won’t be Arizona but the “Core No, War No” principle will remain in the minds of all Israelis.

Whatever it takes – even war, Israel’s policy will always be “Core No” – not Iraq, not Syria, not Iran.



  1. HaDaR

    Your words moved me to tears, Soldier’s Mom! 😉
    I had it easier: my mom was very far and always getting phone calls in which the object was “daily stuff”… 😉 …never things like “I can’t come home as I said i would”… and B”H never worse calls from my childhood friend in Israel who is my phone contact in case something happens to me, since he can speak her language…
    Not that she did not worry… But actually, she has been for many years even the source of news I had not yet heard, when she would call me, “at strange hours”, asking me “Are you OK?”… to which I always answered “What happened in Israel?”… often faking that I did not even know…

  2. S. Levy

    I believe ARIZONA was chosen because of the battleship sunk in Pearl Harbor Ján 7, 1941. The successful surprise Japanese air strike. I would chose a trigger word such as “Little Big Horn” or “Iwo Jima”.

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