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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review January 14, 2009 / 18 Teves 5769

The world after Gaza

By Yossi Klein Halevi


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Even as the international community remains focused on the heartbreaking images emerging from Israel's confrontation with the jihadist Hamas in Gaza, the countdown has begun for a far more devastating tragedy that could lead the Middle East toward apocalypse.

According to Israeli intelligence estimates, the time remaining before Iran is capable of producing a nuclear bomb may now be measured in months, not years. A nuclear Iran would end hopes for the eventual emergence of a sane Middle East. And if economic sanctions and diplomatic efforts fail to dissuade the mullahs from abandoning their nuclear program, Israel is likely to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. And some Arab leaders may well be hoping that Israel will do precisely that.

Shared dread of a nuclear Iran has helped create the first tacit alliance between Israel and Sunni Arab states. So desperate are some Arab leaders to forestall an Iranian bomb that they have in effect sided with Israel against Iran's proxies in the Arab world. Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has condemned Hamas for instigating the current conflict. Two years ago, during the Second Lebanon War, Jordan and Saudi Arabia joined Egypt in condemning Iran's Lebanon proxy, Hezbollah, for provoking Israel. And in 2007, when the Israeli air force destroyed a Syrian nuclear facility, reportedly intended as a future bomb factory for Iran, the silence in the Arab world was overwhelming. What was inconceivable just a few years ago - that some Arab states would side with Israel against fellow Muslims - has now become a pattern in regional politics.

Arab countries fear Iranian hegemony, fulfillment of the ancient Persian ambition of dominating the Middle East. Israel's fear is even more primal: that a lunatic regime in Tehran, driven by messianic theology and hatred of Zionism, might be tempted to launch a nuclear attack on the Jewish state. Iranian leaders have called for Israel's destruction so often that those incitements to genocide scarcely make news any more.

The argument over whether or not Tehran's leaders are rational was resolved for the Israeli public in December, 2006, when Iran hosted a world conference of Holocaust deniers. Only a lunatic regime, Israelis concluded, would summon a gathering of crackpots to prove that the most documented atrocity in history never happened. Still, however demented, there was a strategic logic behind Iran's promotion of Holocaust denial: The mullahs are convinced that the West supports a Jewish state only because of guilt for the Holocaust. If the Holocaust can be unmasked as a Zionist lie, then support for Israel will disappear. The mullahs, then, weren't really interested in disproving the past destruction of the Jews, but in preparing the way for their future destruction.

What keeps Israeli strategists awake at night is fear that a new strain of apocalyptic Shia theology - positing that the Hidden Imam will return when the faithful use sufficient military force to wipe out evil - has emerged within the Iranian leadership. To be sure, not all of Iran's leaders subscribe to the new theology, which reverses the traditional Shia quietism that has relied on prayer rather than force to summon the redeemer. But the circle around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has passionately embraced that politicized messianism. And while Mr. Ahmadinejad is not the ultimate authority in Tehran, he may well be positioned to gain access, say, to a nuclear suitcase.

Some Israeli strategists believe Iran can be deterred from launching a nuclear attack against the Jewish state by Israel's own nuclear capacity. But even those optimists worry about a nuclear suitcase passed on to a terrorist proxy. Imagine a scenario like this: After months of rocket attacks launched by Hamas against Israeli towns and villages, Israel threatens to invade Gaza again. But then a previously unknown terrorist group announces that it has planted a suitcase with a nuclear device in a European capital and will detonate the bomb if Israel retaliates. Would Israel be able to protect itself against such terrorism? Would any Western state, for that matter, dare to militarily confront a jihadist threat if it risked nuclear terrorism in return?

Even if the worst-case scenarios turn out to be exaggerated, the very fact that a regime committed to Israel's destruction would now possess the means to fulfill its threats would have a chilling effect on the self-confidence of Israelis in their country's ability to protect itself. Confronting a permanent genocidal threat would effectively end the promise of Zionism to provide the Jews a safe refuge. In a poll taken last year, 7 per cent of Israelis said they would emigrate if Iran developed a bomb; another 20 per cent said they would consider leaving. The effects of a nuclear Iran on the Israeli economy would be devastating. Why would foreign investors, who are currently attracted to Israeli high-tech companies, risk investing in a country living under a death sentence?

No less worrying, the prospect of a nuclear Iran has triggered a process that could lead to a nuclear arms race in the world's least stable region. Several Arab countries, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have declared their interest in acquiring nuclear power, ostensibly for peaceful purposes, but in fact timed as a response to Iranian nuclear ambitions. Mr. Mubarak has stated explicitly that Egypt may feel a need to protect itself against Iran's nuclear threat. Although Israel's nuclear arsenal has been the region's worst-kept secret for four decades, most Arab countries didn't feel impelled to enter a nuclear arms race. Even Israel's enemies understood that it is a rational state and wouldn't launch an unprovoked nuclear strike. Few in the Middle East hold such an assurance about Iran, however.

A nuclear Iran can still be stopped by peaceful means. The decline in world oil prices has badly undermined the already fragile Iranian economy; intensifying sanctions could encourage opposition to a widely detested regime. But given the continuing opposition of Russia and China to further sanctions, and the extensive trade that Western countries such as Germany and Austria engage in with Iran, an effective sanctions effort is unlikely to emerge in time. If the sanctions efforts fail, the thankless task of militarily preventing a nuclear Iran will fall, by default, to Israel.

Israeli leaders are acutely aware of the potentially devastating consequences of an Israeli strike against Iran - devastating most of all to Israel itself. Iran has threatened to launch retaliatory missile attacks against Tel Aviv, and Hezbollah and Hamas would almost certainly join the assault. For the first time in Israel's history, the entire country is exposed to missile attack. During the Persian Gulf war of 1991, when Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles against Tel Aviv, Israelis sought refuge in Galilee in the north. When Galilee was attacked by Hezbollah in 2006, residents there fled southward to Tel Aviv. If Israel is attacked by both Iran and its proxies, there will be nowhere to run.

Nevertheless, a rare consensus exists among Israeli leaders - from left-wing Labour to centrist Kadima to right-wing Likud - that the Jewish state must thwart a nuclear Iran, even at the risk of all-out war against the Israeli home front. As one Labour politician who is dovish on the Palestinian issue but hawkish on Iran told me, "No one knows if Iran would use the bomb or not. But I can't take the chance."

Barack Obama, the U.S. president-elect, is committed to preventing a nuclear Iran, but there is potential disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem over tactics and time-tables. Although they won't say so openly, Israeli leaders are deeply skeptical of Mr. Obama's intention to diplomatically engage Iran. Israelis fear that diplomacy would only buy the Iranians time as they approach the nuclear threshold. Mr. Obama says he will back up his diplomatic overture with the threat of intensified sanctions if the Iranians persist in their nuclear efforts.

Mr. Obama's first test on the Iranian crisis will be how he responds to the Gaza crisis. Israel's operation against Iran's ally Hamas will provide the new president with an unexpected opportunity. If he backs Israel and makes sure that Hamas achieves no diplomatic gains in exchange for a ceasefire, he will deliver a strategic defeat to Iran and enter negotiations from a position of strength. If, on the other hand, he pressures Israel into easing the siege against Hamas and allows the jihadist organization to proclaim victory, the Iranians will rightly conclude that the inexperienced president poses no real obstacle to their nuclear goals.

Perhaps Mr. Obama's most compelling argument with the Iranians is that, if negotiations fail, Israel will act. And if the Israeli air force is compelled to save the Middle East from a nuclear Iran? Those likely to most vociferously condemn the Jewish state will be the very Arab leaders most grateful to it for eliminating their greatest fear.


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JWR contributor Yossi Klein Halevi is a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

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© 2009, Yossi Klein Halevi