Middle Israel: Nuclear perspectives (II): The moral instinct

No one tells the mullahs the most basic thing they need to know about their bravado

amotz asa el 88 (photo credit: )
amotz asa el 88
(photo credit: )
The atom bomb emerged as an improbable result of fascism's assault on the Jews - the modern version of Cain's attack on Abel. First, Italian physicist Enrico Fermi - who conducted the first controlled nuclear chain reaction - was forced to flee the Fascist sphere because he was married to a Jewish woman. The two proceeded in 1938 to the US directly from Stockholm, where he had just received the Nobel Prize for Physics. In America, Fermi eventually teamed up with Danish-Jewish physicist Niels Bohr, a fellow Nobel laureate, who in 1943 had fled Copenhagen to Sweden on a fishing boat. Aided by information smuggled earlier by German scientist Otto Hahn's Jewish companion, Lise Meitner, concerning the Third Reich's nuclear research, they and other scientists, including Albert Einstein, sent to Franklin D. Roosevelt the letter that eventually produced the Manhattan Project that ultimately produced the Bomb, and which was headed by Robert Oppenheimer, the son of a German-Jewish immigrant. As historian Daniel Boorstin wrote in The Americans: The Democratic Experience, by spring 1945, when the scientists felt their bomb had hatched, some of them were appalled. They were led by Nobel Laureate James Franck, a Jew who had been expelled from the University of Gottingen in 1933, and by Jewish Hungarian-American physicist Leo Szilard who, while in London after fleeing Nazi Germany, had discovered the neutron chain reaction. The two, along with four of their colleagues, petitioned president Harry Truman to avoid dropping the Bomb on people. "A demonstration of the new weapon might best be made," they wrote, "before the eyes of representatives of all the United Nations, on the desert or a barren island." Dropping the bomb on Japan, they said, should only be considered after such a demonstration has been made, coupled by an ultimatum. "This may sound fantastic," they admitted, "but in nuclear weapons we have something entirely new in order of magnitude of destructive power." The plea did not register, and six weeks later Hiroshima was nuked. But these Jews, the very ones who were first personally victimized by fascism and then got to devise what finished it off - were also the first to warn of its moral repercussions. OUR CURRENT nuclear crisis, perhaps because of the absence so far of an Iranian Leo Szilard or James Franck, has until now been tackled from just about all its angles - diplomacy, military, trade, geography, history and mentality - except one: morality. Iran is being told that it is in no position to endure an international siege, that it is technologically inferior, easy to blockade, socially fragile and ethnically restless. Yet no one tells the mullahs the most basic thing about their bravado: that it's immoral. This is of course where myriad self-styled pontiffs would challenge Israel for the settlements, Dimona, the fence and whatnot. It's time they concede that, be the controversy what it may about whichever Israeli policy, the Jewish state has never denied any UN member's right to exist, much less bullied it with nukes - an attitude which, by the way, even North Korea avoids. The Iranian bomb is different. It is being celebrated as part of an offensive on another state's right to exist, and not just a state, but the one that shelters the very Jews who survived the original fascist scourge; if Oppenheimer's bomb represented sanity's response to fascism, Ahmadinejad's represents fascism's challenge to sanity. And so the free world must ask itself what the pinpointed nuclear threat on Israel means, not for its target, but for the free world's own moral aspirations. FOR DECADES Israel has been told by anyone and everyone, from French socialists and American oil executives to Italian communists and African patriots, that if only it would cede this and concede that, peace would dawn. "They recognize you," people on the scale of Jimmy Carter and Francois Mitterrand told us with great confidence, "recognize them." Well, we did that, and now have the right to ask: What about those who don't recognize us, whatever our size and policies, and while at it threaten to erase us from the map? How many of Israel's highbrow critics are prepared to scold Iran with the kind of vitriol, admonition and moralism to which they so habitually resort when it comes to Israel? Where is, say, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which last May decided to boycott Israel until it "recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination"; where is Britain's National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, which tried to boycott Israeli academics; what is Norwegian Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen - who last year called on her countrymen to boycott Israeli products - now doing to face up to Iran? Maybe it's all for the best that such ostensible anti-Zionists now get exposed for what they really are: anti-Semites. Yet other Israel-bashers might really care about appearing so grossly inconsistent, at least out of fear of people's ridicule, if not for God's wrath. And to them we say: Let's see you admonish Teheran. Let's hear you tell the mullahs that there is nothing divine about them, that if anything they provoke God, that their intimidation of the Jews represents not Elijah's war on heresy but Cain's envy of Abel. And that should Ahmadinejad et al. get to stare at a smoldering Israel after spewing on it the flames they are stoking as maniacally as their forebears once worshiped fire, Iran will then meet the rest of mankind, led by Allah Himself, the One they so pompously purport to worship but in reality offend every day anew, the One who will then look them in the eye and ask what He once asked a bloody-handed Cain: "What have you done?" Second in a three-part series