The “will they, won’t they?” guessing game about Israel’s policy on nuclearizing
Iran has taken on a life of its own. Who knows if it isn’t part of a plan to
confuse the enemy? Who knows anything?
The recent surge in speculation about a
possible Israeli preemptive strike can be attributed to a mixture of two
factors. In part it reflected the herd mentality – once one journalist
started on the subject, the others followed; partly it can be put down to the
“Herzliya phenomenon.” Whenever local and international leaders and
opinion makers gather en masse at the annual prestigious conference, they touch
on similar topics (each garnering separate headlines for added dramatic
I hope that the world leaders are doing more than talking.
Psychological warfare has its place, but it can’t be used exclusively. And, for
it to work, you first need to “Know your enemy,” as the slogan that hung in my
old military base instructed.
I don’t see Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad quaking in fear; he might even be laughing. He had good reason to
snicker a little last week.
Russia and China’s veto of the UN Security
Council resolution condemning Syrian President Bashar Assad, after all, is more
encouraging to the Iranian ruler than to citizens of the peace-loving
Ahmadinejad must have looked, and liked what he saw.
in Iran and Syria are intricately related: The supply of arms to terror
organizations can be traced to addresses in both Tehran and Damascus. And both
countries have been trying to gain nuclear arms.
That’s why I keep asking
myself not why it has taken the UN so long to act, but why were Syria and Iran
(and Libya until not so long ago) considered respected members of the world body
in the first place? Is not the UN’s mandate to prevent wars and protect human
One hopes the answer has nothing to do with the fact that both Iran and
Syria have singled out Israel as Enemy No. 1, and hence were not considered a
real threat anywhere outside the Jewish state.
Even before they get their
fingers on The Bomb, Iranian fingerprints can be clearly seen in terror attacks
that have taken the lives of so many people all over the global map they want
redrawn. Interpol has indicated that those involved in the bombing of the
Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires in July
1994 include former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, who is senior adviser
to Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Eighty-five people died in the
Israel has the dubious honor of heading Iran’s hit list, above
America, but most of Europe is within Iran’s missile range.
also top of Syria’s hit list, but links between Assad’s regime and nuclear North
Korea are now well known. Those links pass, not coincidentally, through Iran.
Which means it’s important to do more than just rap Ahmadinejad’s knuckles
before they get close to The Button.
This is not just Israel’s concern.
Keep in mind that all the arms and materiel currently being “safeguarded” by the
unstable regime might end up in the hands of terrorists. Terrorism has an even
greater range than missiles.
When international jurist Prof. Irwin Cotler
met with Jerusalem Post
staff on February 5, in his usual dignified way he urged
all those leaders who cherish democracy and freedom to press Moscow and Beijing
to rethink their positions on Syria. He also praised the US for, albeit
belatedly, condemning Russia and China for their “travesty” of a vote, to quote
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Regarding Iran, Cotler reiterated
his view that Ahmadinejad is a “clear and present threat” not only to
international peace and security but also to his own people.
president embodies “four distinct yet interrelated dangers,” in Cotler’s words:
“the nuclear threat; the genocidal incitement threat; state-sponsored terrorism;
and the systematic and widespread violations of the rights of the Iranian
When it comes to Iran, placing the focus on the nuclear issue
means that other serious human rights issues are generally overlooked. When it
comes to Syria, concentrating on the current dreadful human rights abuses tends
to mean that the regime’s nuclear plans are being ignored.
In both cases
the reasons why, as Russia and China made so clear last week, are huge financial
and military interests.
Ahmadinejad has another reason for feeling
self-satisfied. The so-called Arab Spring might have started last year in
Tunisia but the first signs of it could be seen in Iran’s “Twitter Revolution”
following the elections there in 2009.
They were signs that US President
Barack Obama seriously misread. If ever there was a lost chance at a peaceful
solution to the Iranian issue, this was it. Thousands bravely took to the
streets to demand a change in the regime. And Obama did, well,
nothing. Or nothing well.
Syrian protesters might seek help from
the West, but if it is forthcoming it will be too late for the thousands who
have already been killed.
If there were any justice in this world, Assad
and Ahmadinejad would already be facing a trial in the International Criminal
Court at the Hague, as Cotler pointed out.
Instead, they are free to
travel and the UN has actually provided the tyrants with a platform.
RAMIFICATIONS of an all-out attack on either Iran or Syria are tremendous.
Clearly, other options need to be exhausted first. Nuclear scientists in both
countries have reason to be cautious about approaching
Accidents happen. And hopefully these types of accidents will
continue to happen. I’d rather those working on getting these rogue nations the
dirty bomb come to fear the unknown than that whole populations should live in
fear. And that, by the way, includes the populations of their own
You don’t have to go very far back in history to realize that
not all democratic elections end in freedom. Neither does a change in regime
guarantee a new, enlightened leader.
Yet when it comes to both Syria and
Iran we know enough to realize that in both cases changing their rulers is worth
the risk – especially compared to the dangers that their current leaders
The call for change in both cases is coming from within. Even
the Arab League is pressing for change in Syria.
This is not Israel’s
fight. This is a global concern which requires true leadership, not wagging
tongues and fingers.
The Western world and UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon must keep up the pressure and ensure that the UN lives up to its
original purpose and the free world lives up to its name.
dying every week in Syria. And while Assad is getting away with murder,
Ahmadinejad is watching.The writer is editor of
Jerusalem Post. firstname.lastname@example.org