Wednesday, August 26th, 2015...12:40 pm

Editorial: Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons

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Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has caused a stir with his revelations that Israel planned to attack Iran on four occasions, from 2009 to 2012.

The Times of Israel, an online site, reported Tuesday that Barak told biographers Ilan Kfir and Danny Dor “that he and Netanyahu wanted to attack Iran in 2010, but that then-IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi indicated that there was no viable plan for such an operation. In 2011, the plan was thwarted by fellow [Cabinet] ministers Moshe Ya’alon [Israel’s current defense minister] and Yuval Steinitz; a planned 2012 strike was aborted because it happened to coincide with a joint Israel-U.S. military exercise and Israel did not want to drag the U.S. into the fray.”

The goal of the aborted attacks, of course, was to damage Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities and set back that nation’s work on a nuclear weapon.

According to JTA, Kfir, who co-wrote the Barak biography with Dor, “gave over 100 hours of the interview footage to Israeli media outlets after he said Barak reneged on a promise to give the writers the English-language rights.”

Apparently, Israeli military censors approved the broadcast of the material last Friday by Israel’s Channel 2 TV.

I recall hearing a number of Middle East affairs “experts” proclaiming that either the United States or Israel would launch a military attack on Iran’s nuclear installations; this type of palaver was rife back in 2007 and 2008.

The latter year was especially auspicious for an attack, according to the “experts,” who predicted that if Barack Obama won the presidency, that would create a window for a military adventure, between election day and the inauguration of the new president. However, neither the U.S. nor Israel attacked Iran, then or in the intervening years. As Yogi Berra once said, it’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.

Rather than the military option, a diplomatic solution has been devised to halt Iran’s progress toward a nuke.

The Iran nuclear deal — or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the agreement between the P5 + 1 nations (U.S., United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany) and Iran is called — has become a hugely divisive issue, both in the realm of partisan politics and in the Jewish community.

Briefly, the opposition to the deal, as it plays out in this country, includes Israel, the Republicans and a large swathe of the organized Jewish community. On the Jewish front, AIPAC, the formidable Israel lobby, formed a subsidiary to spend $20-$30 million for TV and online advertising, and lobbying in Congress to defeat the Iran deal.

Many Jewish federations and community relations councils (JCRCs) around the U.S. have come out in opposition to the Iran deal. One could surmise that these positions have been taken at the behest of wealthy Jewish Republican donors — in the Jewish community and elsewhere, money talks.

At the same time, it is puzzling that Jewish federations, which emphasize communal unity for social uplift, Israel, and Jewish education and cultural vitality, would want to wade into this politicized issue. By taking a position against the Obama administration and most Democrats in Congress, the federations run the risk of alienating many donors.

Last week, the boards of both the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, and the Minneapolis Jewish Federation met to discuss the Iran deal. The AJW has learned that both organizations declined to take positions for or against the deal. They likely avoided a great deal of acrimony by doing so.

Finally, just a word about Iran and nuclear weapons. There seem to be many nuclear proliferation experts in our community, judging from the commentaries coming into the newspaper, and to our social media outlets. Who knew?

The Iran deal, if it is approved by the P5 + 1 nations and the ayatollahs in Iran, could foreclose Iran’s path to the bomb for the next 15 years. We don’t know how the agreement will play out in the months and years to come; but this diplomatic approach seems preferable to another U.S.-led war in the Middle East, as many U.S. and Israeli military and scientific authorities supporting the Iran deal have advised.

And when we consider the horrific destructive power of thermonuclear weapons, a rational person should side with the goal of abolition of these bombs. Humans are fallible and moody; nobody should be trusted to wield this kind of power. Our technological abilities have surpassed our moral development in this area. It could be the undoing of the species.

— Mordecai Specktor / editor [at] ajwnews [dot] com

(American Jewish World, 8.28.15)

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