Commentary Magazine

Iran, Ever Closer

Iran, Ever Closer

A new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency suggests that Iran has made good use of the time bought by dead-end diplomacy to get closer to its goal. Tehran has banned investigators from a site where nuclear-weapons research has been carried out, even as it doubled the number of centrifuges refining uranium and installed them in an underground facility that may be invulnerable to air attack.

The U.S. policy toward Iran is predicated on a belief that diplomatic pressure and sanctions could force Iran to come to terms. Both prongs of that strategy were undermined as summer came to a close. The hollowness of the American effort to isolate Iran diplomatically was revealed when Tehran hosted a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. The 120 countries in the movement endorsed Iran’s nuclear program. At the same time, more stories surfaced about how Iran has evaded sanctions, especially on its oil imports, through the manipulations of Chinese banks and smuggling via neighboring nations.

The United States still seems more intent on stopping an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities than it does on halting the Islamists’ nuclear ambitions—despite the fact that both countries agree the Iranian program is a threat to world peace as well as to Israel’s existence. With the administration insisting on sticking to policies that already appear to have failed, that threat looms larger than ever.


Words That Breed Hatred

Israelis and American Jews were shocked by the attack on Arab youths by a group of Jewish teenagers in Jerusalem’s Zion Square last month. Israel’s government and Jewish leaders properly condemned the assault. The offenders were not only charged with crimes; their actions set off a discussion about whether enough was being done to combat hatred in Israeli education and society. But about the nonstop incitement to violence and terror broadcast and published by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, there is no internal discussion. Earlier this summer, Gaza television aired an interview with one of the terrorists released last year as part of the deal to gain the freedom of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The terrorist who assisted in the bombing of the Sbarro’s pizza restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001 boasted of her joy in helping to murder 15 Jews, including seven children. What was especially chilling was her confidence, reinforced by the interviewer, that the Palestinian people celebrated this atrocity with her. Educating Jews to support coexistence and peace is appropriate. But until the Arab and Islamic world does the same, Israel will be alone in seeking an end to hate.


A Diplomatic Outrage

One of the ablest defenders of the Obama administration’s policy toward Israel has been Dan Shapiro, the U.S. Ambassador to the Jewish state. Shapiro has often been trotted out before American Jews to assure them the alliance is solid. But last month he undermined his reputation by backing the parents of Rachel Corrie, an anti-Zionist activist who was killed in 2003 in the Gaza strip, against Israel. Corrie’s death was an accident caused by her own foolish behavior when she lay down in front of an Israeli bulldozer. She was working for the International Solidarity Movement as part of an effort designed to hamper Israel’s attempts to seal off the supply lines bringing munitions into Gaza. Corrie’s parents sued the state of Israel, but a Haifa court rightly ruled her death was her own fault. The Guardian reported that Shapiro denounced Israel’s investigation of the incident—which found that the bulldozer driver did not see Corrie—when speaking to Corrie’s parents. Such a statement is an affront to Israel’s independent judiciary and the Israel Defense Forces. It also gives a warranted official seal of U.S. approval to Israel-bashers to continue to use Corrie’s story to besmirch the Jewish state’s reputation.


Arresting Rabbis in Germany

In last month’s issue, we noted that a Cologne court’s decision to ban circumcision had stoked fears of a revival of anti-Semitism. Any doubt that this horrific decision marked a turning point in German attitudes came when prosecutors charged two German rabbis with violating the prohibition. Charges against one of them were dropped, but the investigation continues. The assumption that German officials would ignore the Cologne ruling until their government passed new legislation on the question was incorrect. That this appalling act of interference with the oldest religious ritual known to the West’s oldest religion would spill over into street violence against Jews was also entirely predictable—as a recent beating of a Berlin Jew showed. Though it affects Muslims, too, the bris ban shows that any post–Nazi era reticence about attacking Jewish sensibilities in Germany may be gone.


Anti-Zionists Go Mainstream

Jews are divided about the November election on predictable partisan lines, but one controversy amid the back and forth between supporters of President Obama and Mitt Romney sheds some light on the progress anti-Zionists have made within American Jewry. While there was nothing particularly notable about the fact that a group of rabbis had been assembled to support the president, among those backing the Democrat were several members of Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that backs the boycott of Israel. While Republicans made much of this, the real significance of their inclusion was the fact that these opponents of Israeli self-defense have managed to inch their way from the margins of American Jewish life into the mainstream. They may remain a small minority, but that so many others are willing to have their names alongside them is a sobering indication of the degree to which professional Jews are in danger of losing their moral compass.

About the Author

Jonathan Tobin is senior online editor of COMMENTARY.

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