Uranium enrichment and Israeli settlements

Over the past weeks, The New York Times has used the Israeli prime minister’s vocal apprehension about the appeasement of Iran as a hook on which to hang repeated attacks against him in editorials, columns and news stories.

The Times has now turned the topic of President Obama’s interim nuclear deal with Iran into yet another opportunity to indict Israel.

The newspaper deployed its Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, to come up with a new offensive. Having already used up her cache of pejorative labels (“strident,” “stubborn,” “shrill” ) on the Israeli prime minister, Rudoren resorts to inanely equating the continued enrichment of uranium with the establishment of Israeli homes in the West Bank, suggesting that this somehow constitutes Israeli hypocrisy. The resulting column illuminates the Times’ readiness to forgo logic in its eagerness to put forth any kind of condemnation of Israel, quickly and often. Rudoren writes:

“Israeli leaders on Monday condemned the interim deal on Iran’s nuclear program as an exercise in appeasement by the Western powers and a delaying tactic by Iran. Yet many of them see the same strategy of interim confidence-building steps as the only realistic route to resolving their long-running conflict with the Palestinians.


Israel is outraged that, under the deal signed Sunday, Iran is not required to stop enriching uranium or to dismantle centrifuges while negotiating a final agreement with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany. At the same time, Israel continues to build West Bank settlements while negotiating with the Palestinians, prompting similar outrage from the international community.


…Do these alternate approaches to parallel issues that are crucial to Israel’s future amount to hopeless hypocrisy? Or are they simply a sign of the profound differences in the way Israel views the two problems and its starkly different role in the two sets of talks?”

The absurdity of Rudoren’s comparison is risible. Israel clearly does not oppose the deal because it generally disapproves of interim, confidence-building steps, but because it sees this one as a failure to contain the nuclear ambition of a country whose Supreme leader just days ago debased Zionists as sub-human and forecast their demise. By permitting such a regime, which is set on acquiring nuclear weapons, the right to continue to enrich uranium and allowing its centrifuges to remain in place, critics of the deal argue, the entire concept of nuclear non-proliferation is undercut.

Israel’s right to build or move into homes anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean sea, on the other hand, is a legal one vested in the 1920 San Remo Convention, which emerged from the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, and the resulting 1922 Mandate for Palestine. The 1922 Palestine Mandate recognized Jewish historical and national rights in this area and converted the Balfour Declaration from a statement of British foreign policy to binding international law.

While one may logically debate the political wisdom of asserting this legal right, no one can reasonably suggest that it is akin to nuking the Palestinians out of existence.

About the Author
Ricki Hollander is a senior analyst at CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
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