Leave Israel out of the Iran argument

I’m concerned the arguments against the Iran Deal are focusing on Israel’s security. The ‘Iran challenge’ isn’t and never should have been presented as an ‘Israel issue’. Prime Minister Netanyahu erred when pushing Israel to the front of this campaign. And though there is a consensus amongst Israeli politicians regarding the merits of the deal, our public diplomacy effort, “The Iran deal is an existential threat to Israel,” is the wrong approach. Because the world doesn’t really care about dead Israelis. Dead Jews aren’t and never had been a casus belli.

In WWII, the world literally stood by and watched while millions of Jews had been systematically slaughtered, as Pope Francis recently lamented.

In Israel’s War of Independence, the new-born state was facing insurmountable odds against 5 organized, trained and well equipped armies. Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League announced: “It will be a war of annihilation. It will be a momentous massacre in history that will be talked about like the massacres of the Mongols or the Crusades.” With the exception of Czechoslovakia, no one sold the Jews any weapons.

In 1967, during the run-up to the Six-Day War, Israel’s main arms supplier, France, embargoed all offensive weapons to the Middle East, an act, again, affecting only Israel. Diplomatically and militarily, Israel was alone.  Similarly in 1973, Israeli lives lost in a dramatic and traumatic war while Henry Kissinger was debating when to send military aid and Europe forbidding airplanes carrying military aid to Israel to land on European soil. More dead Jews, but it was the right thing for Détente.

In more recent events, when suicide bombers/murderers exploded in markets and rockets were launched at Israeli cities and villages, no global “defenders of human rights” called for a weapons embargo on Palestinians and few hearts in the worlds’ capitals stirred for dead Jews. For many around the world a few dead Israelis and millions in bomb shelters is not considered enough for Israel to go to war to defend itself. Rather they worry that Israel’s response be “proportionate,” whatever that may be.

My intention is not to inflame feeling of victimization or chime “the world is against us” alarm. Truth is, Israel has many friends and supporters around the world. In many cultures, politics are based on religion, ideology, and other values. Western international politics however, are based on interests. Cold and simple.

Point is, trying to convince the West that an Iranian bomb is a terrible idea, now or in 10-20 years, by saying it’s an existential threat to Israel is simply missing the point. They don’t care (enough). Besides, Israel will know how to defend itself. An Iranian nuclear bomb does not pose an immediate existential threat to Israel. [Full disclosure: the writer is a tour guide and makes his living by guiding visitors to Israel, but also raises his children and plans a long, thriving and happy life for them here].

So without further delay, here are the top 5 reasons the Iran deal is an awful idea that have nothing to do with Israel:

  1. The threat to the region and the world are not tethering on the question whether or not Iran gets a bomb. Its hegemonic ambitions are known, the goals of Khomeini’s revolution clear. By lifting sanction and allowing Iran to become an economic regional power, able to fund terror and violent activity regionally and globally, the P5+1 have already paved the way to more violence, more insurgencies, more death and destruction in a region already lost in chaos. It also strengthens the oppressive Iranian regimes choke-hold on its own population. But — now Europe can do business with Iran so it’s all cool. It’s a moral travesty.
  2. Legitimizing Iran and giving the Iranian the tools (economic, military) to become a regional power places the West squarely in the Shia camp. The Shia-Sunni conflict is the biggest and most important conflict in Islam and is a global conflict. By bolstering Iran, the P5+1 and by proxy, the West, just picked a fight with 80% of the Muslim world. Iran’s supreme religious leader, a Shia player (the other 20%), continues to galvanize demonstrations chanting “Death to America”. Good luck with that.
  3. The other major Sunni players — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Qatar — will be seeking nuclear capability at least to the extent this agreement offers Iran. The result of this agreement is a nuclear arms race and nuclear proliferation in the most unstable, violent corner of the world that attracts the biggest zealots, murderous psychopaths, brutal, uninhibited butchers, rapists, slave drivers and genocidal fanatics. But, hey, let’s gamble that “the [insert name of psychopath here] love their children too”.
  4. Iran has never complied with its previous international obligations. Let’s assume this is different and this time they will (Why? Because. Humor me). In 10 years’ time they will be under no limitations. Do you remember where you were 10 years ago? Michael Jackson was alive (and acquitted), Pope Benedict XVI was appointed and the Patriots won the Superbowl (shocking!). Time flies when you’re having fun. The Iranians will be free to pick up where they left off. Will history reverse itself in 10 years? Will the United States return to be a lonely super-power? Will China decline, will Russia withdraw? Are those odds worth gambling your future?
  5. Iran’s weaponizing programs remains intact. They already have missiles that can reach Israel. Now they are working on missiles that can reach Europe and the United States. Israel already has an anti-missile-missile system. Does your government have one? Start worrying. Alternatively start thinking how to limit free speech like Muhammad caricatures. In 10 years’ time you won’t be able to stop free speech cold turkey. (You will always be welcome in Israel to speak freely and without limitations).

So here’s my summary: Israel remains a safe island of stability in a chaotic region.  Israel will know how to defend itself by itself, will continue to grow and thrive. “Israel is in danger” is not an accurate argument and definitely not an effective one. However, a robust, thriving Iranian economy, a hegemonic Iran in the Middle East, the intensification of the Sunni-Shia conflict and the nuclear proliferation that is to follow can and will dramatically change the way of life in the West. It will have a direct, powerful and negative impact on your life and your children’s lives.

Now go and find a lawmaker to raise his/her hand against this deal. Not for the Jews sake but for the world.

About the Author
Uri Goldflam is a licensed Tour Guide in Israel, popular lecturer and educational consultant with a wide range of local and visiting groups. Most recently he was the Director of Development for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and formerly the Director of the Intl. School at IDC Herzliya.
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