As Congress is about to review the deal made with Iran to lift international sanctions against it in exchange for slowing its nuclear ambitions, the specter of Israel's survival has been brought up.
Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has inserted himself into the American debate as if he were a member of Congress or at least a presidential candidate on the absurd level of a Donald Trump. Sensationalizing the threat to Israel, Netanyahu and some Republicans have argued against tipping the delicate balance of powers in the Middle East.
A few relevant facts must be recalled to set the stage for a rational (rather than hysterical) assessment of the deal. First, Israel isn't party to the treaty with Iran, so why is its prime minister inserting himself into the debate?
Second, if Israel will be affected, does its concerns overshadow those of all other nations in the region? How come they don't intervene in American domestic politics?
Third, since the treaty was signed by the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Russia (in addition to the United States), why only protest in the American media? Has Israel lost all credibility in the rest of the world?
Fourth, if nuclear threat is at issue, have we all forgotten the open secret that Israel has nuclear capabilities and, according to some, nuclear weapons? The balance right now is wholly skewed in favor of Israel as compared to other nations in the region.
Fifth, and related to the fourth point, Israel is also the only known nuclear power in the world that has not signed the international non-proliferation treaty -- is this because a signature would be an admission of having nuclear weapons, or is it because American might protects it from international accountability.
The hypocrisy of demanding nuclear supervision of Iran but not of Israel is clear. For the longest time Israel has demanded to be considered beyond any moral reproach -- and therefore its own hypocrisy couldn't be mentioned in polite company -- because of its designation as the homeland of the Jews, especially in light of the shameful international response to Nazi Germany's extermination of the Jews during WWII. But we are no longer in 1945 (the end of the war) or 1948 (the establishment of the State of Israel).
Israel is a military powerhouse that exports more weaponry than oranges, and has been able to conquer large territories of its neighbors in the Six Days' War of 1967. As an occupying military force, it has behaved immorally (and many times in full violation of international law) towards its Palestinian wards. It's hypocritical to demand moral authority only in the case of Iran, but display moral indifference about one's own conduct in the occupied territories.
Even if Iran's nuclear ambitions are neutralized for only a decade or two, it's a far better solution to a nuclear arms' race in the region. And how heart-warming to see Russia, China, and the US on the same side of the table with aligned interests in the region.
Also read Prof. Sassower's Opinion: The Age of Distraction
Raphael Sassower is philosophy chair at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Prof. Sassower's latest books are Compromising the Ideals of Science (2015), The Price of Public Intellectuals (2014), and Sports and Religion in American Culture (2014, with Jeff Scholes). He grew up in Israel and moved to the United States as a young man after serving as an officer in the IDF.
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