'Nuke could wipe Israel out in seconds'

Michael Oren: While we wait for outcome of Iranian post-election riots, nuclear clock is ticking.

michael oren 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
michael oren 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Recently appointed ambassador to the United States Michael Oren warned over the weekend that an Iranian atomic bomb could "wipe Israel off the map in a matter of seconds," and that the Iranians could "accomplish in a matter of seconds what they denied Hitler did, and kill 6 million Jews, literally." Oren was speaking to The Atlantic journalist Jeffrey Goldberg in a forum at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. Oren said it was "very important" that the world keep its eyes open to what happens in Iran, referring to the post-election riots there and the possibility that a political shift might give birth to a more moderate and more accommodating regime in the country, but warned: "Everyone is waiting to see what will come out of this, but while we're waiting, while we're watching, the [nuclear] clock is ticking." Asked about the current US policy on Iran, Oren said he wouldn't "second-guess" US President Barack Obama's next move, but expressed satisfaction that Obama's last statement was "very clear, very adamant" on the Iranian election, in his scathing criticism of the regime's crackdown against the civilian Iranian population following the contested election. The ambassador pointed out there was a silver lining to recent events in Iran, in that "the events have unmasked to the world, to anybody who ever doubted, the true nature of this regime," which, he said, "would have no compunction about killing its own people, Jews, or Sunni [Muslims] alike." Oren said he was certain Obama had "the best interests of the US and the interest of Israel at heart" when confronting the Iranian nuclear program but added that Israel was concerned mainly about the "timing and timeline" of such action. Asked why it was so important for Jews to live in their own state, with Goldberg, himself an American Jew, musing that US Jews seem to enjoy a safer existence in America, Oren said that for the first time in 2,000 years, "Jews take responsibility" for both their successes and their failures. The establishment of the State of Israel, he said, transformed Jews "from passive actors in their history to active actors in their history." He proudly remarked that statistically, Israel enjoys the second highest longevity rate in the world, bettered only by Japan, and urged US Jews: "Come to Israel and live long." Oren jokingly added "you may have a Kassam rocket being launched once in a while but you'll be watching them for a long time." Oren also tackled the current hot potato in US-Israel relations, Jewish settlements in the West Bank. "I never said settlements are not an issue… but they're not the issue." He said Palestinian education was undermining any efforts Israel could make to bridge gaps between the sides. "Palestinians have to begin to end hatred, on their TV and in their textbooks," otherwise Jews and Palestinian Muslims will never be able to reach a middle ground. Oren said Israel and the US were "working earnestly, ardently" to find a solution palatable to both sides regarding the settlements.