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Posts Tagged ‘atomic’

Eight Reasons why Containment is not an Option with Iran

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

1. Iran’s regime is outspokenly dedicated to the goal of destroying the State of Israel. Iranian political, religious, and military leaders have expressed their desire to annihilate Israel at every opportunity they have received. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says that the physical elimination of Israel is a religious duty. It would be criminally negligent to disregard Iran’s official state ideology and gamble with the lives of millions of Israelis on the unproven assumption that Iran will behave rationally as a nuclear-armed actor. For Israel, the struggle to keep Iran from going nuclear is not about regional influence or ensuring an edge over its enemies. It is about Israel’s Right to Life.

2. The Iranian regime is filled with quarrelling factions that could in the future lead to a destabilization of the government, the military, and the Islamic Republic Guards Corps.

Some factions are influenced by radical Shi’ite ayatollahs such as Mezbah Yazdi, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s spiritual mentor. Yazdi not only says that Israel is the embodiment of evil on Earth, he has also called for the production of nuclear weapons. In any future destabilization of an Iranian regime armed with atomic bombs, a hardline faction could seize control of nuclear missile bases and order an attack. The security of Israel, the region, and the world would be held ransom to the outcome of domestic Iranian power struggles. No country can be expected to accept such a threat

3. Despite all of the above, some commentators continue to insist that facing a nuclear Iran can be compared to the superpower rivalries of the Cold War, which pitted the U.S. and the Soviet Union against one another, and resulted in both sides refraining from resorting to nuclear force, due to the threat of mutually assured destruction (MAD).

The analogy, however, does not work. Ideologically, there is a stark difference between hardline Shi’ite Iranian ideology, which adores the concept of martyrdom, and the secular Soviet ideology, which dismissed with contempt notions of religious war and ideas about divine rewards in the afterlife.

4. Even if we set aside difference in ideology, there are other reasons MAD is not applicable in Iran’s case. Moscow and Washington established lines of direct communications that allowed them to deescalate standoffs. The open channels allowed the superpowers to walk away from the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, thereby sparing the planet from a nuclear holocaust. Jerusalem and Tehran have no direct lines of communication whatsoever, and no way to deescalate future crises, which will surely arise.

5. Iran’s territory is 70 times larger than Israel, a disparity that will form a constant temptation for Iranian leaders to realize their fantasy of destroying Israel. Iranian former president Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, considered an Iranian “reformist,” formulated this thinking, when he said in 2001: “If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the… application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.”

With 70% of the Israeli population concentrated in cities on the Mediterranean coastal plain, Iranian leaders face the constant temptation of initiating a nuclear attack based on Rafsanjani’s calculation. Israel has a population of 7.8 million. Iran has a population of 74.8 million.

6. Once Iran breaks through to the nuclear arms stage, it would automatically spark a Middle Eastern arms race, as Iran’s frightened Sunni rivals would rush to get their own atomic bombs. Sunni states suffering from chronic instability, such as Egypt – already under Islamist rule – as well as other Sunni powers such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia would end up armed with nuclear weapons, too.

With the Middle East at its most unstable phase to date (the dissolution of Syria and concerns about its chemical weapons as a case in point), nuclear armed states could experience severe turbulence that would compromise the security of their nuclear arsenals, putting them within reach of fanatical factions or terror organizations.

7. Iran remains the region’s number one state sponsor of terrorism. Operating through its extraterritorial covert elite unit, the Quds Force, Iran provides arms, tends of thousands of deadly rockets, explosives, cash, and logistical support to its Shi’ite proxy Hezbollah, as well as Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and several additional radical non-state actors around the region.

As IAEA Fails, Lieberman Says: Israel Will Decide Whether to Bomb Iran

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

As atomic energy watchdogs reported being denied access to critical Iranian nuclear facilities, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told reporters that Israel alone would make the decisions necessary for the security of its citizens.

Lieberman told Channel 2 news that the US and Russia may apply pressure on Israel not to conduct pre-emptive strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, but that the decision is “not their business.”

“The security of the citizens of Israel, the future of the state of Israel, this is the Israeli government’s responsibility,” he said.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov called a military option against Iran “catastrophic”, and told reporters at a news conference that he “hope[s] Israel understands all these consequences.”  The US has also discouraged Israel from launching an attack.

Israel has publicly confirmed that it is weighing the option of a military attack on Iran, considering that frequent calls from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – backed by national spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini – for the eradication of the State of Israel could become more than rhetoric if Iran acquires atomic weapons.

Representatives of the  International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on a mission to investigate the Iranian nuclear program and resolve the escalating tensions  reported Wednesday that they had met with a lack of cooperation from Iran.

The inspectors were denied access to the heavily-guarded Parchin military base during two days of meetings which ended on Tuesday.  “We couldn’t get access and we couldn’t finalize a way forward,” IAEA chief inspector Herman Nackaerts told reports in Vienna on Wednesday.

Iran has consistently denied seeking nuclear energy for military purposes, despite previous findings by the IAEA that the nuclear program is most likely being used to attain weapons.  Notwithstanding, Iran has refused to cooperate with investigations for nearly four years.  Several countries have responded with economic sanctions intended to cow the country into cooperation.

US Sends Chief of Staff to Stop Israeli Attack on Iran

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Israel’s intensifying readiness to launch a military strike against Iran has met with a negative US response, with top government officials being dispatched to the Jewish state in the attempt to thwart an attack.

US President Barack Obama, who has made the US position against an attack on Iran known through Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as well as through private phone conversations to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is now sending chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey to Israel to discourage the Jewish state from taking unilateral actions.  Dempsey will be in Tel Aviv next week, where he will meet with Israeli military officials including Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz .  Dempsey will attempt to convince officials that US-imposed sanctions are sufficient to protect against an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel.

Despite a growing number and degree of international sanctions, Iran has remained seemingly undeterred in its quest for nuclear capability, warning Arab states not to take part in a drive to stop Iran’s atomic development, chastising nations which have taken steps to punish the country, and relocating enrichment facilities to hidden underground locations.  It has also threatened to block oil transports through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Now, all heads are turned toward Israel, which has stated in the past that it will take necessary measures to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, steps which it sees as potentially unavoidable for protecting the continued existence of the country. “It is the policy of the Israeli government, and the Obama administration, that all options remain on the table. And it is crucial that the ayatollahs in Tehran take this policy seriously,” said Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S.

As Iran has continued its nuclear development, an increasingly heated war of words has ensued between Israel and Iran, with Iranian officials daring Israel to attack “if the Zionists like to sit on wheelchairs”, and Israel stating that ramped up threats against it make a strike against Iran “more and more likely”.

For its part, the US military is preparing for repercussions to its operations in the Middle East as a result of an Israeli strike on Iran.  Of particular concern to the US are its various embassies and diplomatic outposts, with a staff of 15,000.

Israel and the US have planned a coordinated massive missile defense drill for later this year, called “Austere Challenge”.

US Defense Sec: Iran Could Have Nuke in Year or Less

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Iran has the capability to produce an atomic bomb within a year, according to US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in an interview on CBS News Monday night.

Panetta told CBS News anchor Scott Pelley that Iran could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year – and that is in the event that Iran does not have a hidden facility enriching fuel already.

The US will “deal with” an Iranian weapon, with “whatever steps [are] necessary to stop it” if need be, said Panetta.  “That’s a red line for us and that’s a red line, obviously, for the Israelis, he said.  “There are no options off the table,” he added.

Speaking at Washinton’s Saban Center for the Middle East on December 2, Panetta said Israel should not take unilateral action against Iran, saying that any military option should be a last resort, and taken in coordination with the United States.

To that, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak responded that “Israel is responsible for its security, its future and its existence,” and would not “wait and say ‘we will see if they have a bomb and then we will act’.”  He emphasized that “no option should be taken off the table”.

Was Oppenheimer A Defender Or Destroyer Of Worlds?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Doctor AtomicComposer: John Adams, Librettist: Peter Sellars, Director: Penny Woolcock The Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, NYhttp://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/news/dr_atomic/index.aspx

 

Jewish physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer’s decision to move forward with the production of the atom bomb in 1945 represented the culmination of a moral dilemma of tremendous magnitude. Were the deaths of more than 100,000 Japanese civilians a fair price to pay to end World War II and to send a message to Russia that the United States was the world’s supreme power? And if one grants that ending, the war would justify killing civilians.

Germany had already been defeated and Japan was sure to be no match for the allied forces – even if they had left their atomic weapons back home. Can it really be called self-defense to use a sledgehammer to kill ants? Yet, the atomic bomb has arguably made life much safer for Jews both in this country and in Israel, especially as the world faces the prospect of a nuclear Iran. All of the sudden, “Thou shalt not kill” seems a bit blurrier and more dependent on context.

The Metropolitan Opera’s performance of “Doctor Atomic” does not present a set of neatly wrapped answers to these difficult moral questions with a bow tied on the top. Not only is the morality in “Doctor Atomic” confusing, but the music is also downright chaotic. The “music” often sounds like an alarm; and the Met’s request that audience members shut off their cell phones was probably unnecessary; even if the ring tones were audible they probably would have contributed to the musical scores. In fact, much of the music conforms to a dissonant pattern of tritones called “devil in music” for obvious reasons, and the Playbill describes the noise as “ambient sounds from actual life that punctuate the music, such as running motors, crying babies, and snippets of pop music and spoken word.”

 

 

Gerald Finley as J. Robert Oppenheimer (on left) in John Adam’s “Doctor Atomic” with other scientists. All photos: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Museum.

 

But listening to Oppenheimer (Gerald Finley) try to sing his way through the violent storms in Los Alamos, New Mexico, that threatened his covert atomic test raises unique questions for a Jewish audience. “Doctor Atomic” is jam-packed with Jews, but at first glance it has little to say about Judaism. Oppenheimer (1904 – 1967) was born to Jewish parents; his father Julius S., who was born in Germany, worked in textiles, and his mother Ella Friedman was a painter.

Additionally, many of the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project, which was created by Jewish scientists Leo Szilard and Albert Einstein, were Jews who “had fled the Nazis, and all of them fervently believed they were racing against the clock to build the atomic bomb before Hitler got his hands on it and the game was over,” according to a note from the director in the Playbill.

The director’s note adds that Szilard wrote a letter to President Harry S. Truman arguing that bombing Japan was immoral and that Japanese scientists should be invited to observe an atomic test, which would surely lead them to surrender. This perhaps stemmed from Szilard’s painful experiences of violence and his identity as “a man who loved freedom and knew so much about oppression, having fled rising anti-Semitism in his native Hungary, that he lived in hotel rooms with a packed suitcase always on hand.”

 

 

Finley as Oppenheimer in front of the bomb.

 

Parts of Szilard’s letter appear in the opera in Act I, read by Edward Teller (Richard Paul Fink) and the men’s chorus. Szilard’s letter is particularly meaningful when read in the voice of Teller, who was born in Budapest to Jewish parents and who fled Germany in 1933 with help from the Jewish Rescue Committee. “Many of us are inclined to say that individual Germans share the guilt for acts which Germany committed during this war because they did not raise their voices in protest against those acts,” Szilard wrote. “Their defense that their protest would have been of no avail hardly seems acceptable, even though these Germans could not have protested without running risks to life and liberty.

We scientists, working on ‘atomic power,’ are in a position to raise our voices without such risks, even though we might incur the displeasure of those who are at present in charge. The people of the United States are unaware of the choice we face. And this only increases our responsibility in this matter. We alone who have worked on ‘atomic power’ – we alone are in a position to declare our stand.”

The letter falls on deaf ears though, and the test goes forward. “I think it improper for a scientist to use his prestige as a platform for political pronouncements. The nation’s fate should be left in the hands of the best men in Washington,” Oppenheimer responds. “They have the information which we do not possess. Men like Marshall,” by which he means Col. James Marshall, “a man of great humanity and intellect − it is for them to decide, not us.”

But as General Leslie Groves (Eric Owens) grows increasingly angry at the storm for thwarting the atomic test – and rambles like a madman much like King Lear in his own storm and rants against nature – Oppenheimer turns not to his Jewish heritage, but to a variety of sources, which include Hinduism and Christianity, according to the Metropolitan performance.

While the other scientists worry about whether their mandate really trumps the human right to life, Oppenheimer arrogantly quotes the Bhagavad-gita, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” After the test, though, Oppenheimer (Oppie in the libretto) offers a very revealing confession in the last line of the opera: “Lord, these affairs are hard on the heart.” It is unclear what Oppenheimer meant by “Lord,” but perhaps he was thinking about his Jewish heritage.

Even with hindsight, it is hard to unpack what Jewish law has to say about the project of building a bomb. The bomb could save Israel and perhaps prevent another Holocaust, but it also means that people now have the capacity to destroy the world. That’s a far cry from Tikkun Olam, and repairing and cultivating life. The bomb reminds me of the Holy Ark’s  voyage through the land of the Philistines, beginning in 1 Samuel, Chapter 4. The Jews decide to bring the ark to battle, which initially frightens the Philistines, but after a pep talk of biblical proportions they manage to capture the holiest of vessels from the Tabernacle.

However, the Philistines quickly learn that not only have they plundered their enemies’ most powerful weapon (with G-d’s help of course), but a also a ticking time bomb, which knocks the statue of their idol Dagon flat on his face, beheading him and cutting off his hands − as well as striking the people with plagues and wiping out the city of Gath.

 

 

Final scene from “Doctor Atomic.”

 

Like the atomic bomb, the biblical ark did not differentiate between warriors and laypeople (presumably all the people living in the Philistine cities were hit with the plagues and destruction), and it was both a tremendous weapon and a serious liability. The Philistines quickly realized it was best to return the ark to the Jews.

Oppenheimer and the U.S. government decided to keep their weapon and all the responsibilities it implied, and today there are more countries that have nuclear weapons. John Adams’ insight in “Doctor Atomic” is to turn the tables and directly confront the audience with the question of whether the bomb is worth it. As he explains in the director’s note, Adams includes recorded voices of Japanese women asking for water (in the aftermath of the bomb), and the entire cast of singers looks out at the audience, which Adams hopes will realize is, itself, the bomb.

I am not sure this move works artistically, but from a political and ethical perspective, it is important to ponder the idea that we are the bomb. Jewish viewers will surely come up with answers to the questions of what Oppenheimer should have done and how the United States should use its nuclear weapons today, answers that are very different to gentile audience members. The opera only raises the questions, and this column is no place for providing political answers. But if you make it to the opera or track down a recording of the music, the ideas that Adams forces listeners to grapple with are very provocative indeed.

Menachem Wecker welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com. He is a painter and writer, and resides in Washington, D.C.

Chelm Revisited

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

         We recently returned to Israel after a short visit to the United States. We love living in Israel and firmly believe that every Jew should come live here. Maybe if more religious Jews would come, life here would even be better than it is today.

 

         Waking up to the day’s news made my head spin and my mind disbelieve. I wondered if I really was in the fictional town of Chelm where “wisdom” is practiced by fools. Item after item kept reinforcing the feelings of disbelief. What is going on?

 

         The first item concerned the “slip of the tongue” of our savvy prime minister who “forgot” that Israel officially denies its atomic power. In an interview (in Germany, of all places) he mentioned Israel as one of the atomic superpowers in the world. This, of course, encouraged our infamous atomic spy, Vaanunu, to demand that he be released from any limitations because the prime minister had already spilled the beans. Will the Israeli Knesset vote the prime minister out of office because of incompetence and inexperience? Of course not, no one wants to make waves.

 

         The next item concerned Israel’s own anti-Israel Supreme Court, still under the influence of that ultra-liberal, Aharon Barak. The court knocked down a law passed by the Knesset in 2005 granting immunity to the State of Israel from civil suits for damages to Palestinians when the Israeli Army is attacking terrorists. There are more than 1,000 cases, brought by Arabs in Gaza and Judea and Samaria that will be opened and reopened to sue Israel for collateral damage during its strikes against terrorist targets.

 

         Can you imagine Israeli judges giving Arabs who support Hamas and terror the right to sue Israel for damage caused by the army because “war was not legally declared”? Shouldn’t the Palestinian Authority compensate its own victims, just as Israel does? Barak and the court say, “NO, the Jews should pay!”

 

         Large headlines proclaim the results of the latest investigation into the blunders of the Lebanon War and every investigation seems to have concluded, as did this one, that the chief of staff was responsible for the confusion and mismanagement of the war. Our soldiers were endangered and killed by the conflicting and irresponsible orders handed down. Will the chief shoulder responsibility and resign? Of course not! Will the prime minister fire him? Shh, no, let’s not make waves. So what if the army wasn’t prepared? Conflicting orders, or orders rescinded an hour after being given, are not so terrible.

 

         Of course, the lovely pictures of Neturai Karta representatives kissing the president of Iran didn’t help improve our mood. Our own brothers are our worst enemies. Now all of the goyim can point to these haters of their fellow Jews and say, “The Holocaust is all a political story to raise money and is not true. See, even your very ‘religious’ Jews agree with Iran.”

 

         The Halachah that gives these pagan Jewish ‘Jew haters’ permission to give support and encouragement to those who openly wish to destroy all of Israel is not in the same Torah that G-d gave to the Jewish nation. Let us pray that G-d “rewards” them as they so richly deserve.

 

         Leaving politics aside, MK Pines is intent on protecting our innocent 13 to 17-year-olds from, G-d forbid, becoming baalei teshuvah. He has proposed a law to make it a crime for anyone to try to influence anyone under 18 to think about becoming religious. No more Chabad tefillin on “innocent” 17-year-old children and no more inviting non-religious 13-year-olds to help form a minyan. Here is another Jew who just wants to protect Jewish children from the “evil” of the Jewish religion.

 

         The five rockets that were fired December 12 into Israel (along with the other 12 in the past two weeks) are all part of the Arab style “cease-fire.” Olmert, in the name of the government, proudly proclaims that Israel will not respond. Hey, why should we break the cease-fire just because the Arabs do? Real intelligent logic!

 

         And finally today, we have that important event, the boycotting by religious Jews of El Al Airlines because they flew four planes on Shabbat. Yeah, let’s support the gentile airlines because they are allowed to desecrate the Sabbath. Who cares which Jews will suffer, or the effect on the economy of Israel? We will teach those irreligious Jews a lesson by hurting ourselves and our country. Great logic!

 

         All of the above, added to the sexual harassment cases against the president of Israel and against MK Ramon (a Labor leader), just strengthened our feelings of being in Chelm. Chanukah is really not a time for tears of frustration and anger – but what can we do? G‑d, we need Moshiach NOW! This cannot continue. Please pray for the State of Israel. We really need your prayers.

 

        Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/chelm-revisited/2006/12/20/

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