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Jewish Advocates of War on Iran Criticized

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    Jewish Advocates of Pre-Emptive War with Iran Come Under Increasing Criticism Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor Special Interest Report January - February 2008
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 2, 2008
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      Jewish Advocates of Pre-Emptive War with Iran Come Under Increasing

      Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
      Special Interest Report
      January - February 2008

      An array of Jewish organizations are in the forefront of promoting
      pre-emptive action against Iran and are coming under increasing
      criticism by other voices in the Jewish community.

      A fund-raising letter from the World Jewish Congress declares that,
      "Iran poses the greatest danger to the Jewish people since the Nazis
      came to power in the 1930s." An Anti-Defamation League appeal declares
      that, "ADL has taken a tough and principled stand against those who
      deal with demagogues like (Iran president) Ahmadinejad ... We've put
      it to the world that Ahmadinejad must be isolated." A letter from the
      American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) reads: "Today the
      threats to Israel have never been greater ... Iran is speeding up its
      nuclear weapons program. Now that the Iranians have the capability to
      enrich uranium, they have constructed more than 2,000 centrifuges and
      plan to have more than 8,000 centrifuges in operation by the end of
      this year ... Do your part to stop Iran's rapidly accelerating nuclear
      weapons program ..."

      Norman Podhoretz, author of the recently published book World War IV:
      The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism, and long-time editor of
      Commentary — now promoting his book before Jewish audiences across the
      country — argues that Iran poses an imminent threat. In an essay in
      Commentary, he depicted President Ahmadinejad as a revolutionary,
      "like Hitler ... whose objective is to overturn the going
      international system and to replace it ... with a new world order
      dominated by Iran ... The plain and brutal truth is that if Iran is to
      be prevented from developing a nuclear arsenal, there is no
      alternative to the actual use of military force."

      In The New York Times of September 25, the Anti-Defamation League paid
      for a full page ad about a nuclear-armed Iran, while an American
      Jewish Congress resolution advocated that "military action" against
      Iran "be considered."

      In his column in The Forward (Nov. 9, 2007), Leonard Fein writes:
      "Podhoretz wants to use force now. Others, including a disturbing
      number of major Jewish organizations, endorse `merely' the threat of
      force, loudly proclaiming that `all options' must be on the table. Is
      such a threat a useful deterrent, or does it instead increase Iran's
      very real sense of vulnerability, thereby encouraging precisely the
      behavior it is meant to deter? And is not such talk a way of creeping
      toward war? Another real war just now? Madness. Yet this is the risk
      being pressed upon us. Why must Jewish organizations be and be seen as
      the loudest drum-beaters of all? Why can we not bring ourselves to say
      that military intervention is not on the table at all? Why not stash
      it under the table, out of sight, and mount instead a diplomatic
      assault? Germany, 1938? The more relevant and equally cautionary
      precedent is Iraq, 2003 — and counting."

      In his recently published memoir Man in the Shadows, Efraim Halevy,
      the former head of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, says that
      rather than constantly escalating the rhetoric of confrontation with
      Iran, the U.S. and Israel should be looking for ways to establish a
      creative dialogue.

      Interviewed by David Ignatius of The Washington Post (Nov. 11, 2007),
      Halevy said that while Iranian President Ahmadinejad may boast that he
      wants to wipe Israel off the map, Iran's ability to do so is
      "minimal." He declared that, "Even if the Iranians did obtain a
      nuclear weapon, they are deterrable; because for mullahs survival and
      perpetuation of the regime is a holy obligation. We must be much more
      sophisticated and nuanced in our policies toward Iran."

      Halevy argues for a combination of increased economic pressure and a
      diplomatic opening that attempts to speak to Iran's "national
      aspirations" and its shared interests with America and the West — and
      even Israel. "Iranians, including those in government, know that
      acceptance of Israel is not just something they have to accept but
      something that may bring their deliverance," Halevy maintains.

      In Halevy's view, Ahmadinejad's fiery rhetoric masks a deep split
      within Iran over the country's future: "I believe that behind their
      bombastic statements there is a desperate fear that they are going
      down a path that would have dire consequences. They don't know how to
      extricate themselves. We have to find creative ways to help them
      escape from their rhetoric ... A creative and constructive approach
      ... might move them to see that their self-interest would be better
      served by taking alternative paths ... Sensible Iranians are not in
      short supply ..."

      Martin van Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew
      University of Jerusalem, is critical of those who urge a pre-emptive
      attack upon Iran and who, in his view, overestimate its potential
      danger. He writes in The Forward (Sept. 28, 2007), "Though rich in
      oil, Iran is a Third World country with a population of 80 million and
      a per capita income of $2,440 ... Its annual defense budget stands at
      about $6.3 billion — a little more than half of Israel's and a little
      less than 2 percent of America's. Iran, in fact, spends a smaller
      percentage of its resources on defense than any of its neighbors
      except the United Arab Emirates."

      Van Creveld notes that, "Iran may have some Shihab III missiles with
      the range to hit Israel, but their number is limited and their
      reliability uncertain. Should the missiles carry conventional
      warheads, then militarily speaking the effect will probably be close
      to zero. Should they carry unconventional ones, then Iran — to quote
      former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, speaking not long before the
      first Gulf War — will open itself to `awesome and terrible
      retaliation.' ... General John Abizaid, the former commander of the
      U.S. Central Command, is only the latest in a long list of experts to
      argue that the world can live with a nuclear Iran. Their views deserve
      to be carefully considered, lest Ahmadinejad's fear-driven posturing
      cause anybody to do something stupid."

      Washington Post (Oct. 23, 2007) columnist Richard Cohen urges that,
      "Rather than enhancing Ahmadinejad's standing in his own country,
      rather than put Iran up against a wall and dare it to back down,
      rather than make Iran the hero of anti-Islamists everywhere, why not
      attempt to engage in direct talks and treat the country not as a
      pariah ... but as a fellow state? Why not, as it were, treat Iran as
      we once did the Soviet Union or we now do in China. We talked to the
      former; we talk to the latter."

      In December, 2007, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was
      released and said, with "a high degree of certainty," that Iran
      abandoned its nuclear weapons quest in 2003. In response, reports The
      Forward (Dec. 7, 2007), "In a conference call hurriedly arranged by
      the umbrella body of Jewish organizations, community leaders decided
      to immediately send letters to the presidential candidates from both
      parties, urging them to continue pushing for sanctions against Iran."

      Washington Times (Jan. 6, 2008) columnist Arnaud de Borchgrave notes
      that, "The NIE was a decisive blow to neoconservative and ...
      administration hawks who have long advocated a pre-emptive aerial
      bombardment against Iran."

      The fact is, argues Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International,
      that, "The American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to
      reality ... Norman Podhoretz has written that Iranian President
      Ahmadinejad is `like Hitler' ... Last year, Princeton scholar Bernard
      Lewis, a close adviser to Bush and Vice President Cheney, predicted in
      a Wall Street Journal op-ed that on Aug. 22, 2006, Ahmadinejad was
      going to end the world. The date, he explained, `is the night when
      many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the Prophet Muhammad on
      the winged horse Buraq, first to the farthest mosque, usually
      identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back. This might
      well be deemed an appropriate date for apocalyptic ending of Israel
      and if necessary of the world.' This would all be funny if it weren't
      so dangerous."



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