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Israel and Iran

Election season continues with no shortage of opinions.  The Jewish community continues to prove that it is a spectrum, not a monolith.  Healthy debate that leads to critical analysis and constructive action makes us stronger.  Thus, especially in this issue, Orange County Jewish Life presents many facts and many opinions without taking sides.
As Jews worldwide were getting ready to usher in a New Year, there were reports of strengthening nuclear capabilities in Iran and of some degree of disagreement between the U.S. and Israel about how to deal with it.
According to JNS.org, “Intelligence, gathered from the U.S., Israel and at least two other Western countries, shows that Iran has advanced its work on calculating the destructive power of an atomic warhead through a series of computer models that it ran sometime within the past three years…Nuclear experts state that computer modeling is a key component of an advanced weapons program.”
“You want to have a theoretical understanding of the working of a nuclear weapon that is then related to the experiments you do on the various components,” said David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security, a frequent source for the U.S. government on Iran.  The article concluded, “The latest intelligence may help bolster Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s case for stronger ‘red lines’ to be set for Iran.”
Meanwhile, JTA reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his weekly Cabinet meeting called on the international community to “set Iran moral and practical red lines, lines that will stop its race to achieve nuclear weapons,” but U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected deadlines on Iran to spur more cooperative behavior while acknowledging that the threat of a nuclear Iran is especially urgent for Israel.
“We’re not setting deadlines,” Clinton said of Iran in an interview with Bloomberg News released Monday by the State Department.  “We’re watching very carefully about what they do, because it’s always been more about their actions than their words.”
On the same day U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman said an American-led coalition to attack at least some of Iran’s nuclear facilities would get bipartisan support.  Speaking Monday at B’nai B’rith International’s policy conference in Arlington, Va., Lieberman (I-Conn.) said, “There will be overwhelming bipartisan support of that action in the Congress of the United States,” regardless of whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is President, JTA reported.
Then, of course, there was the report that President Barack Obama had refused to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu when the latter is in New York, followed by a two-hour phone conversation between the two, followed by a lot of political surmising on both sides.  “The White House National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor told Haaretz the two would not meet due to a scheduling conflict,” Haaretz reported.
In February this year, a few days before the 33rd anniversary of the fall of the shah in favor of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei — who has the final say in Iranian policy and action — delivered a two-hour televised speech at Tehran University, according to Israel Hayom.  He said, “The Zionist regime is really the cancerous tumor in this region and it needs to be removed and it will be removed.  From now on, if any nation or group confronts the Zionist regime, we will endorse and we will help.”  He then officially confirmed that Iran was behind Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
There is no doubt that Iran is very serious about its intentions.  Seven months have passed since then.  In addition to the computer models, Iran has been “enriching uranium, perfecting centrifuges, building more underground bunkers, testing missiles and continuing its threats to wipe Israel off the map,” Israel Hayom said.
While none of us can be flies on the wall of the place where diplomatic negotiations happen, the situation has to look a lot worse from where Prime Minister Netanyahu sits.  We can only pray that some kind of miracle will happen – “Arab spring fever” catching on in Tehran and distracting the focus or turning off the centrifuges of the nuclear weapons makers, diplomacy actually working or something else that a higher power has in store for us.

Ilene Schneider

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