Israel and Iran's Nuclear Futureby Rit Nosotro
Compare the implications of Israel and Iran as nuclear powers.
Summary: Iran comes closer and closer to becoming a nuclear power. Yet, this news receives more attention than the rumored two hundred nuclear warheads posessed by Israel. Many people see Iran as more of a threat because it is a state-sponsor of terrorism. Also, its government is a militant theocracy that denies its people basic rights. Not to mention, the leaders of Iran are constantly calling for the destruction of the state of Israel. Meanwhile, Israel is a democracy and does not appear to be much of a threat to world security. However, it is rumored that Israel helped give both India and South Africa nuclear programs. Therefore, both nations should be carefully watched in order to make sure they do not threaten world security.
The original essay [word document] was submitted Oct, 2005. Below is the revised version as of January, 2008.
As Iran surges ever closer toward status as a nuclear power, the rest of the world watches with growing anxiety. Known for its radical Islamic fundamentalism, Iran's leaders have done much to propagate their beliefs throughout the Muslim world. Talks between Iran and the EU have become more urgent as Iran puts forth dubious claims that its nuclear program is "for peaceful purposes" and not to create warheads for its new Shahab-3 ballistic missiles which have a range to target Israel.
Yet, some claim that critics of Iran's nuclear program overlook the rumor that Israel already possesses around two hundred nuclear warheads and assert that the EU should be equally worried about Israel's nuclear power. In defense, others say that Israel is a thriving democracy which offers equal opportunities to all of its citizens, while Iran is a militant theocracy that suppresses freedom of speech and denies other basic human rights.
Should both countries be allowed to have nukes? Analysts state that a situation like this could possibly lead to a destabilizing arms race in what is already one of the most volatile neighborhoods in the world, as other Middle Eastern countries seek nuclear power. Should the international community put pressure on both countries to surrender their nuclear devices? Or should Israel be allowed to retain nuclear supremacy as the world puts pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear program?
Iran became a state of consequence to the American public during the 1979 Iranian Revolution under the Ayatollah Khomeini (who oversaw the slaughter of Iranians and Iraqis under Saddam Hussein), and the 1988 Iran-Contra scandal starring Oliver North. This time Iran is in the headlines in its nuclear quest.
There is very little debate over whether Iran should have nuclear devices - its extreme hostility towards Israel and its support of terrorism could result in a nuclear attack on Israel or even on the United States by terrorists. In October, 2005, Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, declared, "Israel should be wiped from the map". He appeared in support of a pro-Palestinian rally where his crowds burned Israeli and US flags. It is no wonder the world distrusts their Isfahan uranium conversion facility.
Governments who sponsor terrorism have come and gone throughout history. Iran has used its political power to increase terrorism and to attempt to create other Islamic states. Iran's President remarked to other Arab states, “Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury.” In the early 1980s, Hezbollah, literally "the party of God," an Iranian-backed fundamentalist Shi'ite terrorist organization, sent missiles into Northern Israel prompting the Israeli "Operation Peace for Galilee" into Lebanon. Attacks diminished until Israel withdrew and then increased again.
In Iran, about 93% of the Muslim's are Shiite. In looking at the behavior of the Shiite's in Iraq, some readers may want to explore the differences between Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam.
Shari'a law adversely affected the rights of women during the Iranian revolution. A continuing concern about Iran is the part of their institutionalized shari'a law known as dhimmitude. Although some forms of dhimmitude are quite lenient, the kind practiced in Iran is not and is decried by numerous well-known human rights organizations, including Amnesty International.1 Because of these laws, all non-Muslims in Iran face discrimination. Treated by the government as second class humans, their witness in a court of law (if such a thing even exists in Iran for non-Muslims) is considered worthless. Little public outcry ensues if an Iranian Muslim murders a dhimmi. The value that a government places on the life of another may be an indication of how they would handle nuclear weapons.
Many believe that Israel's status as a democracy means that it will use its power responsibly. However, as with all democracies, this is not necessarily the standard to use. Even Hitler was democratically elected. Why can one sovereign state have the right to self determination in the area of nuclear development and not another. Is the double standard applied to Israeli vs. Iranian nuclear program justified?
Israel, unlike Iran, allows its populace the electoral power and the formation of political opposition parties. Their strong record of peaceful political transitions gives the USA confidence of this democratic foothold in a region rocked by instability. Under the watchful eye of the United Nations, which has passed more resolutions against Israel than Rwanda, Kosovo, Sudan, and Iraq combined, it is no wonder that Israel chooses to retain its sovereignty and ignore some of the UN proclamations. However, concerns are mounting as many Israeli citizens look for ways to protect themselves from suicide bombers (compare with Kamikaze pilots).
Racial discrimination by the government toward its Arab citizens, even those who are non-Muslim, is evident in Israel, where exclusively Jewish communities are common2. A poll conducted on 1,016 respondents and published by Ha'aretz on June 29, 2004, reveals levels of racism that might have created a scandal in any democracy that wasn't facing daily attacks. According to the results, 45.3 percent of the respondents said that they supported revoking Arab Israelis' rights to vote or hold political office. Around a quarter of those surveyed stated that they would consider voting for Israeli ultra-nationalist party Kach, which was banned in 19943. Kach's leader and founder Rabbi Meir Kahane called for the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. The issue of illegal foreign workers is another cause to tighten restrictions and secure the borders.
Several members of the Knesset introduced a bill in 2002 that would legalize Israel's exclusively Jewish communities4. This demonstrates the remarkable tolerance for minority voices in the legislative branch. As in many other constitutionally based nation states, Israel's Supreme Court can over-rule a law of parliament. The Supreme Court recently ruled against a Jewish village that had tried to prevent an Israeli Arab from settling in its boundaries.
"Although Israel's strict censorship laws are rarely enforced, it is a criminal offence not to submit security-related material for review if requested".5 In one "highly unusual" case, a BBC correspondent reputedly violated Israel law by smuggling out an illegal interview with an recently released prisoner who had compromised Israeli security with information of its nuclear program. The Israeli press is free to criticize their government, as was seen in Prime Minister Sharon's controversial decision to give the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel serves as a vocal watchdog warning of potential abuses. Still, in opposition to Israeli law, there is an effort to censor articles sympathetic to Palestinian violence.
How has Israel used its political power? The Israelis have defended themselves in several territorial wars with the surrounding Arab states, the last of which ended in 1973. The first was Israel's "war of independence" of 1948, in which a five nation coalition of Arab armies invaded the newly recognized nation of Israel. The second was the Suez War (November, 1956), under David Ben Gurion in which Israeli forces responded to attacks by the Fedayeen, with British and French backing due to Abdul Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal. Third was the Six Day War (June, 1967), in which Israel gained the Sinai, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. This was a pre-emptive strike against Nasser's massing of Egyptian soldiers on its border. However, Menachem Begin, an Israeli cabinet minister at the time, stated in a speech published in the New York Times on August 21st, 1982:
"The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him. This was a war of self-defense in the noblest sense of the term. The Government of National Unity then established decided unanimously: we will take the initiative and attack the enemy, drive him back, and thus assure the security of Israel and the future of the nation."6
The fourth war, the Yom Kippur war (1973), began when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad commenced to attack Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. The Pan-Arab force split Israeli defenses which recovered with American military aid7. During the Yom Kippur War, then-Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan twice advocated nuking Damascus but was prevented from it by a veto from PM Golda Meir8, again demonstrating a functioning democracy similar to the USA when President Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur when he ridiculed superiors for not allowing stronger measures against China who had fought for North Korea.
Similar to the USA sharing technology within the NATO alliance, Israel is rumored to have supplied South Africa with a nuclear program, which that country's government dismantled after the elimination of apartheid there. In a twisted train of logic some claim Israel forced Pakistan to create a nuclear weapons program when an Israeli businessman, well connected to Mossad (the Israeli external security service), served as the intermediary who sold India the Canadian CanDo reactor9. Another convoluted logic tries to compare the South African apartheid state with Israel.
Yet, supporters of Israel's nuclear supremacy continue to argue that, if Israel gave up the deterrent warheads, the Arabs would attack and overrun the country. It is essential to remember that from 1982 to 2001 the United States supplied Israel with an estimated $91 billion in military and economic aid, and continues to do so today at the rate of over $3 billion a year10. These figures translate into over $10 million a day which has help create the IDF is the world's third or fourth most powerful army.11 What began as a Cold War struggle to counter the USSR funding of Arab states has successfully allowed one democracy to survive.
The most alarming difference is that the rhetoric coming from the current Iranian president is more than just saber rattling. In January of 2002, Iran tried to support Hamas terrorism by smuggling 50 tons of ammunition on the ship (Karine A.) which was intercepted. This came one month after former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani called the establishment of the Jewish state "the worst event in history," and declared his intention to decimate Israel, clarifying that "one [nuclear] bomb is enough to destroy all Israel," and that "'in due time, the Islamic world will have a military nuclear device."12
Continued scrutiny upon Israel, Iran, and the actions and policies of all nations is needed. History shows states of freedom have capitulated and fallen under dictators. Appeasement or ignoring rouge leaders has led to escalating violence in the past. The privileges granted responsible nations can rapidly decay into destructive force without due diligence from a free populace.
The people of Israel are God's chosen people (as per Deuteronomy 7:6). Therefore, as Christians, we should support Israel and protect it from its enemies. Not to mention, those who go against Israel will be cursed by God. However, those who support Israel will be blessed by God (as per Genesis 12:3). Therefore, we should certainly take action against Iran, who wants to destroy Israel and is now developing the capabilities to do so. Though Israel's use of nuclear weapons should be monitored in order to prevent a nuclear war, Israel's nuclear program should be supported because it is used mainly for the defense of the nation against those who would like to wipe it off of the map.
1. "Iran" - Amnesty International, 2005 report. http://web.amnesty.org/report2005/irn-summary-eng
2. BBC News, "Battling against Israeli 'Apartheid,'" 23 December 2004 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4111915.stm
3. Ha'aretz, 29th June 2004 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=441646&contrassID=1&subContrassID=7&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y
4. BBC News, "Arab Ban Proposed in Jewish Areas," July 8, 2002 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2115857.stm
5. The Guardian, January 6, 2005, "Israel ready to expel BBC reporter." http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1398596,00.html. Also see Washington Report for Middle Eastern Affairs, "Israeli Peace Movement 'Alive and Well,'" December 2002. http://www.wrmea.com/archives/december02/0212084.html
6. The New York Times, August 21st, 1982 issue. Posted, with commentary, at http://www.wrmea.com/Washington-Report_org/www/backissues/0794/9407073.htm
7. WRMEA, "Mythinformation Observed," January 1994. www.wrmea.com/backissues/0194/9401039.htm
8. Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs, "Israeli finger on the Nuclear Trigger Could Turn the Next Israeli-Arab War into a Conflagration," December 1998. http://www.wrmea.com/backissues/1298/9812048.html
9. WRMEA, "Nuclear Trigger."
10. WRMEA, "A Conservative Total for U.S. Aid to Israel: $91 billion - and counting," Jan/Feb 2001 http://www.wrmea.com/html/congress_watch.html
11. Berenbaum, Michael. Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, December 2003, "In 2003, We Are Strong. In 1933, We Were Weak." http://www.jewishjournal.com/home/preview.php?id=11470
12. "Iran, Israel and the Bomb", September 27, 2004
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