Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)
According to a story in The Guardian (UK) late this past week, European sources who claimed to have been in touch with Olmert said that Olmert raised the issue of an Israeli strike on Iran with President Bush when he visited here for our 60th celebrations in May. And Bush was opposed. His fears, reportedly, were that there would be repercussions on the US and possibly the ignition of a war. As we would have to fly over Iraqi airspace controlled by the US, it would be difficult for us to accomplish this mission without at least tacit US approval.
Olmert’s spokesman has since denied this story, which tells us nothing, actually.
Whatever the truth of this particular story, I’m picking up multiple reports about European unease about an Israeli strike on Iran as well. There seems a growing resignation of the fact that Iran will go nuclear.
Put simply, this is not acceptable from an Israeli perspective. Not when a maniac in Iran is speaking forthrightly about destroying the Jewish State.
The prospect, however, should not be of concern only to us: It will impinge upon Europe and upset the balance of power in the Middle East in significant ways.
But the irony is that if we move against Iran, it is Israel and only Israel that will take heat internationally.
If a military operation is to be avoided, other means of stopping Iran have to be utilized. Face to face diplomacy won’t do it, nor will “deals.” Serious sanctions of a sort that has not yet been applied must be put into place — foremost here, the blocking of all refined oil into the country, which would cause an internal collapse.
Such sanctions will not come from the UN, as Russia has declared unwillingness to support further Security Council sanctions. Action must come — swiftly and decisively — from the US and the EU.
Dr. Joel Fishman, fellow with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has written a piece in Front Page Magazine called “Seventy Years Since the Munich Agreement,” which echoes so much for us today in what we are confronting.
Fishman quotes historian Martin Gilbert who wrote that:
“Appeasement was rooted in the belief that human nature could not be entirely overwhelmed by evil, that even the most dangerous looking situation could be ameliorated and that the most irascible politician could be placated, if treated with respect.”
This speaks to the heart of the debate (reflected, literally, in the debate between McCain and Obama) on whether dialogue with Iran would be constructive. It is a reflection of the difference in worldview between the liberal and the conservative: the issue of whether there is consummate evil in the world or whether we are, in our essence, all alike.
As to this last, allow me to cite Steven Stalinsky, executive director of MEMRI, writing in National Review, who tells us that in a battle in 636, the commander of the Muslim forces, one Khalid ibn Al-Walid, sent a emissary to the commander of the Persian troops he was soon to confront. His message:
“…you should know that I have come to you with an army of men that love death, as you love life.”
Stalinsky says this account is recited in Muslim sermons, newspapers, and textbooks today. And indeed, those of us who follow the words of our enemies have seen the refrain many times — repeated by leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah:
“We will win because, just as our enemies love life, we love death.”
The recognition that there are people who truly think this way chills to the bone. Especially as we Jews are commanded from the Torah to “choose life.”
But if this thinking is embraced by leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, how much more so by the leaders of Iran. It is what makes them so terrifying.
And I am frightened because I don’t see that the world is waking up to this reality.
On Thursday night, a “peace” dinner was hosted for Ahmadinejad by a number of religious groups, at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. The title of the evening — “Has Not One God Created Us? The Significance of Religious Contributions to Peace” — reflects that confidence that at heart we are all the same, and the sponsors of the event were all left-wing groups: American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Quaker United Nations Office, Religions for Peace and the World Council of Churches – United Nations Liaison Office. It is my understanding that one “new age” rabbi was also present.
These people are more than simply deluded, they do damage when they give credence to Ahmadinejad and enhance his stature.
What is heartening is that over 60 different groups rallied against this dinner; their stated mission was to deny the regime in Iran false legitimacy.
While there were, of course, Jewish groups such as ZOA and AFSI represented, a good number of those participating were not Jewish. There were, for example, the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem and Christian Solidarity International. But also Muslim (and even Iranian) groups such as: Stop Shariah Now and Alliance of Iranian Women. Participating with them was Aryeh Eldad, Israeli Member of Knesset (NU/NRP).
Inside, at the dinner, one of the speakers in addition to Ahmadinejad was Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, former Nicaraguan foreign affairs minister, who is now president of the General Assembly of the UN.
This is not a complete surprise. After Ahmadinejad gave his speech to the General Assembly, Brockmann had warmly embraced him.
David Ben Gurion is famous for having referred to the UN contemptuously as “oom, shmoom” (oom being a short-hand for UN in Hebrew). He doesn’t know how right he was.
Iran — this is not a typo — may soon be elected for a term on the Security Council, as a seat for an Asian country will open up in January. “Absurd” is what Livni called this prospect.
Of course, it’s probably no more absurd than the reported decision of Secretary-General Moon to demand that Israel pay $1 billion in damages to Lebanon for the 2006 war.
Or the discussion in the Security Council — requested by the Arab League — regarding growth of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
And we’ve still got Durban II — Heaven help us! — coming down the road.