As a translator, I always found it interesting how the well-known American “For Dummies” series of books so deftly avoided that concept of cluelessness in the Hebrew versions. In Hebrew, the books were translated as Kol Echad Yachol – Anyone Can Do It. For what kind of self-respecting Israeli would ever dream of purchasing or paying attention to anything that calls him stupid? It took a savvy translator and a wise marketing department to evade that commercial minefield.
Notwithstanding, watching events unfold between Iran and the United States, I feel desperately in need of just that kind of simple, step-by-step guide. Nuclear Negotiations for Dummies, if you will. For, try as I might, I just cannot wrap my mind around what is happening here. Granted, I was a graduate student in international relations at Hebrew University way back in the day, but almost three decades of working hard and raising a family have distracted me from any real focus on global wheelings-and-dealings. I do remember a few key concepts, though – like, oh… deterrence. And rational decision making.
So this is an appeal to you, Mr. Kerry. I’m not savvy. I’m not a scholar. I don’t purport to have any understanding of the intricacies of the negotiations or even of all of the ins-and-outs of the Middle East. I’m not at all embarrassed to acknowledge that.
See, I know that I am not really a dummy – I am a high-level translator and interpreter and I built a successful company from scratch. But on Iran, I will admit it. I require the Dummies version. The Cliff Notes of nuclear negotiations. The Cheat Sheet of international affairs. Because nothing else is making any sense to me.
I’m not a dummy. I am just an ordinary Israeli who passionately cares about the future of the State of Israel. I am a proud Jew who takes enormous umbrage at Holocaust-type insults being hurled at her people by the leader of Iran (and having them met with thundering silence on the part of the international community). And yes, I am also a loyal and astonished American who is wondering what on earth the U.S. Administration could possibly be thinking.
So please, don’t be shy about handing me the For Dummies edition. I won’t be insulted. Help me. I’m flummoxed. I’m floundering. Over the past week or two, I have been anxiously perusing the news, and I find myself genuinely perplexed and suspended in a state of utter disbelief.
I guess that your negotiations with Iran are like calculus. I am basically a pretty smart person, but no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I work at it, I just don’t get it. Some things are like that.
Please, explain it to me in the most rudimentary of terms. In a world where so much lip service and effort has been expended on the global war on terror, how could the leaders of the Western world possibly be concluding a deal that increases, even ever-so-slightly, the likelihood that the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today will end up with a nuclear bomb? I’m no expert on global terrorism, but even schoolchildren know that Iran is the primary backer of Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad.
Help me to grasp how your deal will not profoundly change the world in which we live. Because it is not solely an Israeli fear, Mr. Secretary. Even I, with my abject lack of expertise, can see that a nuclear Iran is a threat to every human being on the face of this planet.
Call me a dummy – and really, that’s okay. As long as you can convey to me how this deal is making the world a safer place for my children and yours, and how it safeguards America’s primary and most dependable Middle East allies, who are rightly frantic about the prospect of a nuclear Iran.
Call me a dummy – if you can clarify why I should not feel that the larger of my two beloved countries is throwing the little one under the bus. Why the United States is sacrificing Israel’s most essential and existential interests and disregarding its warnings and military intelligence to the point where the Secretary of State is quoted as telling members of Congress to “ignore the Israelis”.
Call me a dummy – I am certain that it makes perfect sense to be conducting oh-so-civilized negotiations with the articulate and soft-spoken Foreign Minister of a country where hundreds of thousands of people regularly gather to scream “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” and burn effigies of our leaders in the streets, and to believe that it is he – and not they – who represents the true face of the regime.
Oh, and I have a couple of other questions, too, if you don’t mind.
How did the United States – and the world – allow the Iranian nuclear threat to progress to this critical tipping point?
And what happens if you are wrong?
Please, spell it out for me in the simplest and least sophisticated possible manner. I won’t be offended, I promise.