[by Matt Goldberg]
Jewish Community Relations Council Director
Once again, global events seem to have a direct effect on both Israel and the Jewish community worldwide, as Iran, (and, to a lesser extent, Syria) is involved in a very dangerous confrontation with the West. Iran’s recent attempted attacks on Israeli targets in Thailand, Georgia and India are an indication that they are extremely desperate. Here is an analysis of the situation for this very real geo-political chess match.
IRAN: Western Intelligence Agencies have known for years that Iran has been trying to acquire nuclear weapons, but it was not until a new director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukia Amano, issued detailed accounts of Iran’s nuclear program that the world became galvanized in trying to get Iran to cease its program.
The entire Western World has in some way issued sanctions against Iran in an effort to get them to abandon their nuclear program signaling that the world is fairly united in agreement that Iran’s nuclear program is not peaceful. The sanctions are fairly severe, with restrictions on Iran’s oil industry (its primary source of income) that are so severe, inflation in Iran is rampant and unemployment is skyrocketing.
Furthermore, the deteriorating situation in Syria is a severe blow to Iran. Syria is Iran’s only consistent ally, and Iran uses Syria as a conduit to supply its terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Gaza. Should the Syrian regime fall (which seems inevitable), Syria will become quite hostile to Iran as Iran has aided Syria in its bloody crackdown on protestors, even sending in its own special forces to participate.
Unfortunately, the international isolation and crippling sanctions have not been enough to convince Iran to cease its nuclear weapons program. IAEA inspectors are still denied access to the most sensitive nuclear facilities, and Iran gleefully announces new breakthrough technology that will speed up their nuclear weapons program.
ISRAEL: Israel is extremely concerned about Iran’s weapons program, and rightfully so. Currently, Iran has many missiles that can reach Israel, and Iran has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”
Israel has responded to this threat in a couple of ways. Several scientists and engineers involved in the Iranian nuclear program have been assassinated, and it is assumed that Israel is responsible for this and other covert actions (such as several computer viruses that seemed to have slowed down the nuclear reactors in Iran). Also, Israeli leaders seem to be in every western capitol around the world talking about the possible need for military action.
I am occasionally asked if I think Israel will attack Iran, and I really do not think it will happen. Past experience tells us that when Israel attacks, it does not make pronouncements to that effect leading up to an attack. Israel’s PR campaign of threatening attacks is probably a way to increase international pressure and sanctions on Iran.
The prospect of an Israeli attack is frightening, for its consequences are unknown. It is possible an attack could lead to a regional war.
JEWISH COMMUNITIES: For Jewish communities around the world, it is a time to be sober, but not panicked. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are currently NO specific threats to the Jewish community or anyone else here in the U.S.
Jewish communities and Israeli institutions around the world (particularly in developing nations) might have to increase security as Iran has shown its desire to strike at Jews and Israelis worldwide. It was most certainly Iran that gave the order to blow up the Israeli Embassy and Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires several years ago, and their attempted assassinations last week are an indication that they are looking for revenge.
Right now, we can only hope that Iran finally bows to considerable international pressure and ceases its nuclear weapons program. An Iran with nuclear weapons would be a disaster for the Middle East and the rest of the world. They are a direct threat to all their neighbors and are the primary state sponsor of terror throughout the world.
For Israel, the odds of a military strike in the near future are fairly low, as the worldwide support for even more crippling sanctions is quite high. Of course, if Israel feels that sanctions will never work (they are not at that point…yet), they will attack and they have the capability to attack in such a way as to significantly damage Iran’s nuclear capability, but not completely destroy it.
For the Jewish community, our support for Israel does not necessarily make us a physical target. But should further military action be required to stop Iran, we will be on the front lines of a public relations war and we will again be called upon to defend Israel against the unfair and ridiculous accusations that are sure to come.