The Gathering Storm Clouds

Israel Radio reported this morning that the Egyptian authorities had refused a request from the United States to examine a cargo of weapons from Iran passing through the Suez Canal on its way to Syria.

The refusal takes place at a time when Egypt’s new president, Mohammed Morsi, following his first visit to China as head of state, is about to attend the 16th summit of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) of 120 developing nations starting today in Iran.

This will be the first time that an Egyptian leader has visited Teheran since Iran’s Islamic revolution and the signing of the Camp David peace accords with Israel back in 1979.

The fact that such a summit should be convening in Teheran of all places at a time when the international community is pressuring Iran to come clean about its nuclear programme is of itself disturbing. President Ahmadinejad said only last week that Israel’s very existence is an “insult to all humanity”.

While the so-called “Arab Spring” may have led to the fall of several dictatorships in the Arab world, it has not necessarily brought stability to the region and, from Israel’s perspective, some of the new regimes that have taken their place are distinctly more Islamic in their ideology and have inevitably led to Israel feeling more isolated and threatened than it has done for the past thirty years.

As if to emphasize the point, reports are coming in as I write of a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on the southern Israeli town of Sederot causing damage to two factories.

The current political unrest in the Middle East, including daily reports of the horrific carnage taking place in Syria, only serve to strengthen our anxiety about the future and the implications of an Iran equipped with nuclear weapons, which would change the whole balance of power in the region. That is not on the cards.

The NAM summit provides further evidence of the fact that attempts to isolate Iran politically and economically have not been entirely effective. The only question that remains now is whether the United States can be relied upon to neutralize Iran’s nuclear programme, or whether Israel will be left to go it alone.

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4 Responses to The Gathering Storm Clouds

  1. pmchai says:

    I’ve been wondering about U.S. involvement in any upcoming attack on Iran. On the one hand, we see increasing U.S. presence in the region, and what I believe are genuine remarks from President Obama of American support. On the other hand, there is a general acknowledgement on both sides that the timetable by which an attack becomes necessary is different for Israel than for the U.S.

    Interestingly, I understand from a recent meeting I attended at the AIPAC offices in D.C. that this situation represents the first case in Israel’s history where Israel would prefer the U.S. act on Israel’s behalf. One of Zionism’s staunchest principles is that no one fights Israel’s battles. In this case, however, because of the great amount of damage necessary to impact Iran’s nuclear capabilities, and America’s significantly higher capacity to inflict that damage it would be better if America struck. Also, for whatever this is worth, it would sit better with the Saudis if America did the job. (Having said that, I understand that whoever does the job, Saudi, the Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and other countries in the region would not weep when it happens. This fact also makes me wonder if there isn’t some measure of covert cooperation happening between Israel and Saudi.)

    On the other hand, there is no doubt that Israel, going it alone, can inflict serious damage, and will do so if necessary.

    My main point here is really a question. To what extent is there broad cooperation happening between Israel and the U.S. short of America leading the attack on Iran.

    At this meeting at AIPAC David Makovsky predicted a 50-50 chance of war before the U.S. elections.

    One final point, a question really. I am not a military strategist nor the son of one, but it seems to me that Israel will do serious damage to Iranian nuclear facilities when and if the time comes. It seems to me that the Iranian ability to defend itself against this attack would not fend off much of the attack. So the question is: Don’t the Iranians know this? What do they expect will happen? What is the strategic advantage to them of a serious defeat at the hands of the Zionist entity? I don’t get it (though this is just one of a large number of things about the Middle East that I don’t get.)

    Phil Cohen

  2. John says:

    From an external viewpoint that is bot biased either way I am wondering if Israel will be honest about its own nuclear capabilities ? If Israel has the right to nuclear arms etc then they cannot expect their neighbours not to think about wanting them sooner or later it is only natural especially if that neighbour itself feels threatened. When will Israel come clean so that we not only in Australia but the rest of the world can stop seeing them as the greatest threat to world peace. From an external viewpoint in this case one is as bad as the other. One appears somewhat maniacle and the other comes accross as a spoiled brat who likes to start fights knowing his big brother(s) will come to the rescue if he kicks anything off whether he be right or wrong. Take some responsibility and set an example about coming clean before demanding it of others would go a long way to helping the non-proliferation of more nuclear arms in the ME.

    • Rabbi Michael (Micky) Boyden says:

      Dear John,

      I understand where you are coming from. In an ideal world there would be no weapons – not only those of mass destruction, but also those that are killing thousands of innocent citizens in Syria every month. However, the Messianic Age of world peace has yet to come.

      You probably see things differently in Australia from how I do, because I suspect you have never had your life or that of your family threatened by anyone. By contrast, I can remember rushing with my wife and children into a bomb shelter and donning our gas masks when missiles were falling on Tel Aviv during the Gulf War, a war in which Israel played no part whatsoever.

      Nearly the whole of my family was murdered by the Nazis during the 2nd World War while the so-called civilized world did little to help them. The Evian Conference, convened in 1938 to examine the growing problem of Jewish refugees trying to flee Nazi persecution, was an abysmal failure. Britain and the US refused to take in significant numbers of Jews and the Dominican Republic was the only country in the world that opened its doors to those helpless refugees.

      The message that we Jews have learned from 2,000 years of persecution and anti-semitism is that you cannot rely on the so-called civilized world to take care of you. Just take a look at the abysmal failure of the so-called international community when it comes to Syria!

      Now to the particular issue you raise. Israel has never threatened the physical survival of another nation. The same cannot be said for our neighbours. Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, etc. have all tried unsuccessfully to destroy the Jewish state. As you are no doubt well aware, Iran’s President and Supreme Leader have both declared publicly their intention to wipe Israel off the map.

      Given that background, my country, whose first duty is to protect its citizens, has the right to take whatever steps it deems necessary to achieve that end. I do not believe that Iran, that has explicitly stated its intention to destroy Israel and create a new world order, should be allowed to develop weapons of mass destruction. After all, if someone said they wanted to kill you, you would do everything in your power to stop him.

      Be honest. Everyone knows that Israel has no intention of using nuclear weapons against anyone except in a last resort scenario. Can you honestly say the same about Iran and its friends in Assad’s government and in the Hizbollah? I think not.

  3. Actually, Israel definitely can both expect to have nuclear weapons and expect its neighbors not to have them, or else. Whoever taught that international politics should be like a kindergarten birthday party did an extreme disservice. There is no “FAIR” in warfare. Additionally, it is hardly the case that Western nations see Israel as “the greatest threat to world peace.” That is an absurdity. Israel has never attacked a nation which was not already in a declared state of belligerence with it already. Did you realize that? Never. Meanwhile, America has NEVER come to Israel’s defense in any of its military conflicts. Not once. If you want an absence of proliferation of any weaponry, nuclear or otherwise, you need to prevent the rise of regimes hostile to the peace of nations at peace. Iran is such a regime. Israel is not.

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