A way out of the Middle East’s critical mess

By Khaled Diab

As seeks to tackle the proliferation of , it is high time for to dismantle its nuclear arsenal.

5 May 2010

Arabic version

It is a welcome change that US President Barack Obama is not only committed to halting the spread of nuclear weapons but realises that non-proliferation begins at home. In contrast with his predecessor, – whose administration tore up many of the treaties Washington signed on the subject and announced, in 2003, that the US would start developing a new generation of small ‘tactical' nuclear weapons which could actually be used during battle – Obama has already signed a landmark nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

This treaty has peculiar counting rules and the United States does remain home to the world's largest nuclear arsenal and is the only country to have actually used atom bombs in warfare. Yet Washington's renewed commitment to get its own house in order were behind the relative success of the Nuclear Security Summit earlier this month, which was attended by leaders from more than 47 countries.

Noticeably absent was , which held its own alternative meeting on disarmament. Although this meeting highlighted the hypocrisy of the nuclear powers in their unwillingness to commit clearly to nuclear disarmament, the gathering did little to alleviate Western fears regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions. Though Tehran claims that its nuclear programme is exclusively for civilian use, the strident rhetoric of the regime, particularly towards Israel, has fuelled fears among some actors that Iran is clandestinely trying to build a bomb.

Israel's leader was another noticeable absentee from Obama's summit. The Israeli premier Binyamin Netanyahu had refused to attend citing fears that his country would be singled out for criticism by Arab and Muslim nations, especially Turkey and . In addition, Defence Minister resisted renewed calls for Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is the only country in the that is not a signatory.

In the event, neither Egypt nor Turkey mentioned Israel, although the Saudi delegate did describe the Israeli nuclear arsenal as “a fundamental obstacle to achieving security and stability in the Middle East”.

And he has a point. Although Israel still maintains an official policy of ambiguity, experts estimate that the country acquired a nuclear capability shortly after its 1967 war and today possesses up to 200 nuclear warheads, putting it among the top six nuclear nations, just behind the UK.

Israel's nuclear arsenal stands like the radioactive elephant in the room, hindering efforts to transform the potentially explosive Middle East into a nuclear weapons-free region, and provides its neighbours with a motive to acquire their own capabilities.

In fact, it's not exactly rocket science figuring out that Israel's nuclear arsenal makes the Middle East a more dangerous and explosive place – even Israel's friends recognise this. For example, a 1963 CIA report predicted that a nuclear Israel would polarise and destabilise the region and would probably make “Israel's policy with its neighbours … more, rather than less, tough”.

The report also touched on the attendant dangers, such as a possible Arab quest for their own “deterrent”. An example of this dynamic in action is Libya's clandestine nuclear programme, which Tripoli agreed to dismantle in December 2003. As early as the 1970s, Libyan leader Muammar al- expressed his desire to obtain a nuclear capability partly in order to counteract Israel's.

And, as long as Israel holds on to its nuclear arsenal, the shadow of proliferation will not go away. For at least 30 years, Arab governments, as well as Iran, have been pushing for a nuclear weapons-free Middle East. Of course, it cannot be dismissed that some governments are motivated by a lack of ability rather than principle,  or may find the nuclear question a useful diplomatic tool against Israel.

Nevertheless, if Israel is concerned about a nuclear Iran, or the possibility that other regimes in the region will acquire the bomb, the best way it can avert this is to set in motion a virtuous circle by offering to phase out its nuclear arsenal and to sign up, along with all the other countries in the region, to a WMD-free Middle East Treaty, in return for cast-iron Iranian assurances under international supervision.

Towards this end, a pre-treaty regional platform – under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN, and possibly the EU and the US – could be set up to agree a transparent, consistent and fair mechanism for opening up the region's nuclear facilities to impartial international supervision. This initiative would  negotiate a timetable for the phasing out of the Israeli arsenal and any other suspect dual use programmes, while providing diplomatic and security support to assuage the fears of Israelis and other regional actors.

This article was written for the Common Ground News Service and was published on 29 April 2010.

Author

  • Khaled Diab

    Khaled Diab is an award-winning journalist, blogger and writer who has been based in Tunis, Jerusalem, Brussels, Geneva and Cairo. Khaled also gives talks and is regularly interviewed by the print and audiovisual media. Khaled Diab is the author of two books: Islam for the Politically Incorrect (2017) and Intimate Enemies: Living with Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land (2014). In 2014, the Anna Lindh Foundation awarded Khaled its Mediterranean Journalist Award in the press category. This website, The Chronikler, won the 2012 Best of the Blogs (BOBs) for the best English-language blog. Khaled was longlisted for the Orwell journalism prize in 2020. In addition, Khaled works as communications director for an environmental NGO based in Brussels. He has also worked as a communications consultant to intergovernmental organisations, such as the EU and the UN, as well as civil . Khaled lives with his beautiful and brilliant wife, Katleen, who works in humanitarian aid. The foursome is completed by Iskander, their smart, creative and artistic son, and Sky, their mischievous and footballing cat. Egyptian by birth, Khaled's life has been divided between the Middle East and Europe. He grew up in Egypt and the UK, and has lived in Belgium, on and off, since 2001. He holds dual Egyptian-Belgian nationality.

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42 thoughts on “A way out of the Middle East’s critical mess

  • [BBC News – Could the Middle East become a nuclear free zone’ linked here]

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  • Khaled – I see your point but I would counter with a few items:

    • With regards to the Saudi Peace Plan – it also called for “a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees to be agreed upon in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution No 194” The sticking point on that is that UN Resolution 194 states that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible” The problem is that adhering to Resolution 194 in the strictest sense would result in the demographic suicide of Israel with a sudden shift in population. Now, you can argue that not all of the Palestinians may want to return – that may be true and that’s fine. I have no problem with that. But the trick in this lies in the definition of refugees – the UN, and the Palestinian leadership, have allowed the definition of the term to expand to include not just the original displaced population but their descendents as well. So the Saudi Peace Plan, without modification, is a recipe for disaster for Israel. You can’t expect Israeli’s to agree to peace which, in effect, results in the demographic dissolution of Israel itself. If the plan were modified to limit the refugees to the original displaced population within Israel proper and for compensation to their descendents then I believe that a reasonable Israeli government would accept it.

    • With respect to Israel’s nuclear weapons I accept your supposition that if Israel got rid of them then the Middle East would probably become a more secure place from the perspective of not being able to trigger a devastating nuclear exchange. However, the desire by Iran (and their stated desire to eradicate Israel) to obtain nuclear weapons will probably not be deterred.

    • I never claimed that you were arguing for the total disarmamant of even Israel’s conventional forces. What I was doing was extrapolating the concept beyond the nuclear weapons and taking the idea to its furthest, if not necessarily logical, conclusion. Please do not accuse me of something I did not do – I never said that you called for “Israel to disarm altogether” What I was doing was a thought experiment based on an analogy to your argument.

    I agree with you that the longer this wound festers the more difficult it will be to resolve this conflict. However, it is more nuanced and entangled than you lay out and I feel that you put most of the onus and responsibility for its resolution in your post above on Israel . It is unfair to make demands of one side of a conflict to continually make concessions without reciprocation from the other side. And I haven’t seen much tangible reciprocation from the other side of the table lately. Does that make it right for Israel to exacerbate the situation – no, it doesn’t. But it certainly makes it a lot more difficult for Israelis to accept the demand that they make more concessions. I’m not saying that Israel is not also responsible for the current situation but I’m unwilling -and I speak for myself only, not for others on this thread – to release the Palestinians and the other Arab states from their responsibility in how the current state of affairs of the situation has developed. They must also own up to their part in the current problem rather than just dump all of the blame on Israel. And to do that they must make concessions as well if they truly wish to see peace in the Middle East.

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  • Thanks for bringing the discussion back on point, Khaled.

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  • Hi all, this is Khaled, the author of the piece Debra so kindly posted. I see my article has flustered quite a few feathers. I thank Deb, Joel and Bill for their open-minded and constructive interventions. However, though it doesn’t shock me because I’ve heard it all before and worst, I find the self-righteous indignation and offensive slurs delivered by some here to be extremely unhelpful and it is this kind of fossilised and belligerent attitude that perpetuates the conflict.
    Regarding the main point of my article, which seems to have fallen victim to the crossfire, let me say that I have not heard any convincing riposte to my main thesis. Regardless of how Israel views it, Israel’s nuclear arsenal is seen as a threat by its neighbours, and hence has made the Middle East a more dangerous place, as the CIA predicted more than four decades ago.
    And if you don’t take my word for it or that of the Americans, would you trust Israeli sources? At the time Ben Gurion was single-mindedly pursuing his nuclear pipe dream, many of his senior officials advised him against this course of action because they feared it would escalate the confrontation with the Arab states and bankrupt the treasury. Concerned at the direction of the nuclear programme in the late 1950s, all but one of the members of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission resigned in protest at its growing military orientation.
    So, in my modest opinion, the only way to neutralise a possible Iranian threat – assuming Iran is lying about its nuclear intentions and ever actually manages to build a nuclear weapon and one that can reach Israel – is to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. In an interesting parallel, if Iran truly is working in secret to build a bomb, it would only be walking down a path well-trodden by Israel. And, Ido, you’re being disingenuous: I’m not calling on Israel to disarm altogether and unilaterally. Israel can keep its conventional capability (not that it’s much good in the asymmetric warfare Israel currently engages in against non-state actors). I’m calling on Israel to give up its nuclear capability as part of a comprehensive, region-wide agreement.
    Israel’s quest to become a nuclear power started shortly after independence, and the main driving force behind it was Ben Gurion. The Israeli leader saw nuclear weapons as the main way of ensuring Israel’s strategic security. Like Iran, he was also lured by the prestige factor of joining the nuclear club. With clandestine French technological support, he commissioned the secret building of the Dimona reactor, despite protests from Washington. Sound familiar? It sounds kind of like Iran, with some key differences. Israel has always resisted international supervision of its nuclear programme and IAEA inspectors are not allowed on to its facilities.
    Now, I understand that public fear of Iran in Israel is very real and I can symapthise (I got a taste of that when I visited and through discussions with Deb and others), but the threat is hyped up to serve other ends. Extremists in Iran and Israel both benefit greatly from their mutual demonisation, to the detriment of their populations.
    Now let me responds to a few points:
    • Michael, you say Israel has never called for the annihilation of any of its neighbours. Didn’t your foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, famously call for the bombing of the Aswan High Dam, which would definitely destroy my native Egypt under a massive tidal wave. But I wouldn’t draw the conclusions you draw from the bellicose pronouncements of some extremist Arabs. I realize that Lieberman is a nut and there’s no way Israel will nuke its neighbours.
    • Michael, you say that “Arabs rarely do comment on their government.” That is not only unbelievably untrue, it is also offensive to the legion of journalists, intellectuals and activists who risk repression to criticise their governments and instigate change and reform. I know you don’t read Arabic but you should check out the vibrancy and courage of Egypt’s independent press.
    • Ido, “If the Arabs … REALLY wanted peace they could have it in the proverbial “New York minute” – by accepting Israel’s right to exist and as a Jewish state”. Funny, here was I thinking that that was exactly what was on offer in the so-called Saudi Peace Plan, unanimously endorsed by all Arab League members: full normalisation in return for comprehensive peace. How long is a New York minute? It seems to have lasted many long years to me! There are, of course, diehard and extremists elements among Arab populations who do wish to see the end of Israel as a Jewish state, but most people are just angry at the sad and sorry plight of the Palestinians, and most of the negativity surrounding Israel will disappear once a fair peace settlement is reached and Palestinians can live in dignity. However, the longer this wound is left to fester, the more danger we have of future widescale conflict.

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  • Look who’s talkin’ Michael.

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  • Bill, you have issues man! Joel you articulate very well; your opinion is respected however still very much untypical for the average Israeli. Ido, come over for some taquila or beer. Debby, Debby, Debby … we’ll talk…

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  • And it’s working at the moment, Ido, as they’ve stopped the exacerbating circumstance of building settlements in Jerusalem for the time being.

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  • @Bill – I didn’t say I don’t have the right to an opinion – but I don’t believe that I have the right to make a /demand/ of the Israelis to take a risk that I am not willing to take along with them. There’s a very nuanced distinction here. The difference here is that neither Germany nor France really have any leverage against the United States. The United States has significant leverage with respect to Israel and can bring that leverage to bear.

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  • It seems to me that this discussion is way off point. The original article that Debby posted is concerned with NUCLEAR proliferation, not militarization per se. I haven’t seen Joel, Debby or I suggest that Israel disband the IDF or totally renounce violence. I think that the idea here is that there could be a lot more balance in their position, as there obviously could be in many of the Arabs’ positions.

    The presumption that one doesn’t have the right to have an opinion about another country’s internal state of affairs is the same type of thing that I hear coming from the American right when our foreign policy is criticized by other countries, usually Germany or France. I actually wrote some way less balanced responses to Michael up here, but I took them down as I realized that I had brought myself down to his level of petty discourse.

    I think that there are parts of this discussion that are quite healthy, but when one begins to attack others and claim a position of privilege in terms of their opinion, I have to wonder. I was really puzzled by the opening criticism of the original author’s ethnic heritage. What does it have to do with the validity of his opinion? By original author, I mean, of course the guy who wrote the article that Debby posted, provoking such heated responses. I’m still not sure what’s so offensive about his ideas.

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  • You’re assuming way too much again, Ido. My family has lived in Israel since before the first Aliya, and I come from a very long line of halutzim. I’m not arguing as a foreigner, either. But again, even having to resort to that discourse is it’s own version of nativism.

    That’s the problem – this logic prohibits any sense of universality – one which we Jews and Israelis demand the outside world feel in relation to our struggles. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t ask the outside world to sympathize with us, and then tell it that it can’t understand us either, when we disagree.

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  • FYI – Joel…I have also lived in Israel. Almost my entire family is in Israel and has lived there for almost two hundred years. That also counts for something. The difference between you, Debbie, Bill and me is that I recognize that I have no right to demand that Israeli’s who still live in Israel and who live on the proverbial “line” risk their lives anymore than they already do in the hope that the other side will reciprocate. I gave up that right when I chose to live outside of Israel…I get the impression that you don’t feel similarly (or perhaps I am assuming too much again?)

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  • Ido, I’m Israeli. I’m not unfamiliar with these discourses. They claim authority based on ‘local knowledge’, as though it were binding, in a specific way. Michael has already claimed authenticity for his opinions, based on his identity. Here you go, claiming to represent an “Israeli” opinion that neither I, nor my family or colleagues share. That’s my point. You’re just reiterating it why I made it.

    One other thing to note: I’ve never expressed any specific opinions here that you could object to, about the Arabs, the peace process, zero. Yet you claim to criticize my opinions on these matters. This is why i’ve chosen to criticize how you discuss these things. You assume way too much, and you inevitably make the subject of discussion always about your point of view.

    Debby deserves to have hers respected, as does Bill. They are both Jews, and Debby has lived in Israel. That counts for something. You may disagree with her, and you guys are for sure friends, but I don’t see any element of ideological respect for her right – or that of Bill, or even my own, if you knew what I thought – to hold positions different from yours.

    This isn’t “Israel advocacy”, habibi. Its simply right versus left debating within the Jewish community. That’s all it is about. No right and wrong here.

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  • @Joel – Michael never claimed that he’s representing the only Israeli position – no more than Sarah Palin represent the ‘American’ position. I do, however, think that he represents a lot of the frustration and disillusionment (including mine) that the Israeli’s have with the peace process when they see the failure of Oslo, the second intifada, the failure of the withdrawal from Gaza, the Second Lebanon war, and continued terror attacks. Does that mean that Israel shouldn’t continue to try for peace – of course not. But it should be pursued with a pragmatism and a realistic attitude that the leadership on the other side is probably not as interested in a truly viable peace. And the only way to achieve that peace at the present time is to ensure that you have the capability to secure that peace.

    Why do you always find it necessary to blame only Israel for the failure of the peace process? Why do people like you, Debbie and Bill only see the Palestinians as innocent victims of this conflict? You’re like Goldstone – you only wish to hear what you’ve already made up your mind to hear. Anything outside of that doesn’t fit your world view and therefore cannot exist.

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  • Michael, you’re mischaracterizing the positions taken here, and you’re assuming that the only ‘Israeli’ position is a rightist perspective. Israeli politics have always been more pluralistic than that. You should be more clear that you’re representing a particular point of view, and not the ‘Israeli’ point of view.

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  • Bill, Debby and Joel: where exactly did you get your facts or your knowledge of middle eastern affairs? when did any of you live there LONG Enough to grasp the meaning of living in an island in a sea of hate. Does any one of you truly believes that a demilitarized Israel is a viable state? seriously? do you guys think that Israel will last a day without the IDF?

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  • Israel has shown a lot of willing to compromise: totally pulling out of the Sinai, returning to Jordan land that was in question since 1948, 100% pulling out of Gaza. there has been not a single step taken by the Palestinians, a rescinding of peace agreement by Lebanon and no willingness to negotiate or compromise by any of the other parties involved.

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  • Bill, you need to pay attention to detail: nobody said you “Knockin’ it out of the ballpark” which would mean you are in the game, I said you are OUT of the ball field which means you are clueless or out of it.

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  • The thing is, Ido, Israel definitely shows no willingness to compromise with their continued building of settlements right under the Palestinians’ noses. I also completely disagree with your characterization of Joel as naive and idealistic. He may be idealistic, but he’s certainly not naive.

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  • Bill…if what you took away from my arguments is that I am militaristic and jingoistic then you have completely misunderstood the argument I am making…you are completely off base in your interpretation. I am not advocating that Israel go around and continually beat up on the Arabs living around them or under the control. I would love nothing more than to see peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors as it would mean that no more Israelis or Arabs would be maimed or killed because of this interminable conflict. Yes, the dividend of peace would be a better life for Israelis AND Arabs…but to blame Israel alone for the current situation is utterly ridiculous. While I believe that Israel should continue to work towards the goal of peace with her neighbors I also feel that the reality of the situation is such that peace will be very hard to achieve so long as the Arabs refuse to even accept Israel’s right to exist.

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  • “Knockin’ it out of the ballpark” is a phrase here that means that we are exactly correct, doing more than an excellent job. Thanks, sir.

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  • some of you guys are not ‘out in left field’ but rather out of the ball park. First of all, before the question is asked I will answer it: yes, as a native born Israeli from Haifa, I have met, worked, lived around and dealt with many Arabs. I even rented my father’s apartment to one. Look at the history and present situation in the middle east, a disarmed Israel will not last a day. Arabs love their children but they have no qualms with the notion of sending them to death in order to become Shahids. Iraq attacked Kuwait and Iran. Syria occupied Lebanon and invaded Jordan. Lebanon had (has?) a civil war. Egypt is fighting the Islamic brotherhood. Hamas has killed more Fatah personnel then Israel and more viciously. Egypt is blockading Gaza for a reason. Saudi Arabia is fighting in Yemen, Egypt fought in Yemen and Libya. Do you folks honestly believe that it is Israel’s belligerance? Please, wake up and smell the Hell. (as in the spice Cardamon in English).

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  • After continuing my read of Joe Sacco’s account of the events of 1956 in Gaza (Footnotes In Gaza,) I frankly find Ido’s wholehearted embrace of Israeli militarism and jingoism fairly shocking. I’ve always been kind of surprised that Israel continues to run military operations into the arab shtetl called Gaza and doesn’t just go in and raze the … See morewhole place to the ground. I’m sure that if there weren’t more balanced and moderated views from the Israeli left, Netanyahu and his ilk would do just that.

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  • @Debbie – it is clear that neither you nor I will change our minds regarding our this issue…I’ll leave it at that. Your friend Joel is naive and, while idealistic, unrealistic. To ignore history and not learn from its lessons is foolish and foolhardy. I hope that the situation in the Middle East will, G-d willing, improve – but I’d rather see it happen from a viewpoint of an Israel that is strong, Jewish, and democratic.

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  • Ido,only because I remember that you hold liberal political views and personal values similar to mine am I even bothering to continue with our discussion.
    Joel, my newly-refound old-friend. You are reminding me of how much I adore you.
    Ari, feel free to come over as the FB enforcer and wrest me from my laptop.

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  • Ido, how often do you invoke the threat of the Holocaust, and repetitions of the 1930s? That’s a very reactionary thing to do. Employing tropes like these, especially in such contexts, has more of a subjective significance than anything else. Liberal Jews are just props which allow you to recycle these fantasies safely, so you can continue to scare yourself without consequencesThat’s a strange kind of power, but it is definitely not empowering.

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  • @Joel – In the same vein that you see my argument being consistent with “traditional reproaches to liberal Jews” I find you being defensive and dismissive by making that very claim — to you I’m just some “right-wing Jew” who dismisses “liberal” or left-wing Jews for being naive and unrealistic (and by the way, for the record I consider myself to be somewhat “liberal” as I am not nearly as right wing as you might think). I agree that the situation is more nuanced but I think you allow your desire to believe that this conflict can be resolved amicably in a short time via rational argument to mislead you. I agree with you that the Arab world is not “one big wall of hatred” but I will also posit that the Arab leaders (both political and religious) are nowhere near ready to accept (were not even talking about embrace…just accept) Israel’s existence. You turn a blind eye to key aspects of the conflict in order to force it to fit your worldview. As much as I hate to say this but in my ears you sound very much like the Jews of Germany during the 1930s as Hitler was rising to power. They (along with the rest of the world) ignored his words until it was too late.

    @Debbie – I cannot say with 100% certainty what would happen in the face of a move like I outlined. But I believe that I can say with a fair amount of confidence that it would not go well for Israel or for the Jews who live there. Who knows…I could be wrong…the Arabs may well lay down their arms as well and agree to be good neighbors…but I think that outcome is very unlikely.

    And I’d be careful about examining trends and projecting outcomes from following a trajectory…sometimes that leads to a very bad crash (the reference is to the Mars Climate Orbiter which crashed into Mars due to a mistake in the trajectory calculations).

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  • Ido, I have no idea what would happen in the face of a totally unprecedented move like that. Do you?

    Predicting the future is a very inaccurate business. The greatest successes comes from examining trends and merely projecting outcomes from following a trajectory.

    For example, holding fast to outmoded and intransigent views is likely to continue along the course of conflict thus far. One could easily deduce an ever escalating level of violence and suffering ending in catastrophe.

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  • Ido, your argument is consistent with traditional reproaches to liberal Jews. I still don’t see anything other than defensiveness here, i.e. the Arab world is just one big wall of hatred etc. The situation is far more nuanced than that. Its a revisionist argument, which Americans don’t take 100% seriously anymore unless they are rightists.

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  • Debby, Debby – you broke the first FB rule: Thou shalt not make a comment about the I/P issue unless you ENJOY unleashing a comment thread from hell! (At least it’s gone this far without anyone being called a Nazi!)

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  • Because I think that her effort to understand the foundation of the argument is flawed because the original article which she posted and based her argument on is flawed in its reasoning. It’s the old argument that it’s the Israelis who are at fault and who are a threat to the region. I’ve heard that argument more times than I can imagine – “If only the Israelis would…”, “If Israel would…” Mr. Diab asserts that it is Israel’s possession of a nuclear bomb is what is making the Middle East a more explosive and dangerous place. He completely ignores the fact that the it is the Arab regimes who a) refuse to accept Israel’s existence (much less it’s existence as a Jewish state) and b) continue to incite hatred of Jews and foment antisemitism within their populations. Israel faces an existential threat from these regimes and from the non-state actors which they support and Mr. Diab conveniently places the blame for the whole situation at the feet of Israel.

    Do you seriously believe that if Israel gave up its alleged nuclear arsenal that Iran would halt development of its nuclear program? Or not develop nuclear weapons? Iran sees itself as a rising regional superpower – one who has explicitly called for the destruction of Israel. And do you truly believe that Israel’s disarmament would suddenly change the rhetoric of the Iranian regime and they would halt the development of a weapon which would help them and their proxies achieve their goal of an “Israel-rein” Middle East? That’s a very convenient (and in my opinion naive) position for you – but one that Israelis can ill afford.

    My point in my last post was the emphasis of the existential threat which Israel faces from many of its neighbors – and it goes directly to Debbie’s claim that “The end of Israel will come precisely because it keeps fighting.”

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  • Pardon me for butting in here, Ido, but I’ve been following the thread and really disagree with you.
    I’m very familiar with this line of argument. How would you distinguish it as a response to Debby, from how this argument has been deployed, as a counter-argument, to dozens of other positions on the left. Seriously, I find it kind of generic, if only because I’ve heard it so many times.

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  • I posit this then: let’s do a thought experiment. Let’s assume that Israel were to unilaterally disarm altogether. Destroy any nuclear devices that they may have in their possession and reduce their army to a fraction of what it was. What do you see would be the response of

    a) Syria
    b) Hezbollah
    c) Hamas… See more
    d) the Palestinians

    What do you think would be the first thing that would happen if they knew that they were more powerful than the Israelis?

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  • I find comments that judge the degree to which an entire people may or may not love their children to be racist. If that GM quote is meant to describe the moral foundation of our defensive posture, then the foundation is all the more suspect. You qualify:
    ‘ I know that there are moderate Arabs who would like to see peace with Israel and I know that they love their children very much. ‘
    Are you suggesting only the moderates love their children?
    Another assumption:
    ‘You seem to believe that anyone who advocates for a strong identity that is not “multicultural” and accepting of others is a racist.’
    I haven’t said anything about my identity beliefs so I don’t know why you would presume to know them. Does my difference in opinion render my identity weaker than yours?

    Ido, from what I know of you I am sure that you find the term ‘racist’ being used to describe your argument to be uncomfortable and unfair. I do not think you are racist, and I am sure that you treat fairly anyone who comes into personal contact with you. I am not at all trying to paint you a racist, I know that would be inaccurate. It is, on the other hand, all the people that we don’t know whose motives and reality are being blanketly assumed that causes so much misunderstanding.

    ‘That’s the fallback of someone whose whole argument doesn’t rest on a shred of reality’
    On the contrary, I am trying to closely scrutinize the basis and connection to reality the foundation for the argument which justifies so much violence and suffering. What if it just wasn’t true?

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  • Sorry Debbie…I don’t buy it. Israel has previously made many efforts at peace to the Arab regime’s who have responded with the Khartoum Summit’s three “No’s”:

    No peace with Israel
    No recognition of Israel
    No negotiations with it

    As for “have you met any Arabs” – the answer is “yes” And I even have quite a few as friends. I know that there are moderate Arabs who would like to see peace with Israel and I know that they love their children very much. And I wish it were truly possible that Jews and Arabs can live in Israel in peace. The problem is that the moderate Arabs are not in control of their respective governments…and until the moderates speak up and demand that their governments end their aggression against Israel then Israel has no choice but to defend herself constantly.

    As for the “racism” comment…really Debbie…that’s a lame shot. That’s the fallback of someone whose whole argument doesn’t rest on a shred of reality. You play the racist card in an attempt to paint me (or anyone who thinks like me) as a racist because that will ostensibly give your position more credence. The only problem is that your shot is completely off the mark. You subscribe to the false premise that just because I advocate for a strong Jewish identity for Israel then I am a racist. You seem to believe that anyone who advocates for a strong identity that is not “multicultural” and accepting of others is a racist. If you’re going to use that as your yardstick then my point of view is perhaps racist…by your definition. But then so is the Arab or Muslim who advocates for an Arab Palestinian state – or for any other Arab/Muslim state – they are also racists. And so are you.

    I read the article that you used to start this thread and basically he’s doing what every Arab government has done for the past 62 years – tried to blame Israel for their own country’s aggression. That’s like blaming the rape victim for the fact that the rapist tried to attack her.

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  • Ido, have you met any Arabs? The ones I know really love their children.

    I challenge you to read carefully the following statement:

    It is a future of continuous war until the Jews learn to accept Palestinel’s right to exist and for Palestine to be an Arab state. Their refusal to accept those two ideas predicates that they will continue to fund terrorists who will try to spill as much Arab blood as they can and to arm themselves as best they can for the next war. If the Jews REALLY wanted peace they could have it in the proverbial “New York minute” – by accepting Palestines’s right to exist and as a Arab state, negotiating in good faith, honoring their agreements, stopping the incitement of hatred and racism amongst their population, and signing peace a permanent peace treaty with Palestinel. Their failure to do any of these things has resulted in the current situation.

    “We have always said that in our war with the Jews we had a secret weapon — no alternative.”

    and

    “Peace will come to the Middle East when the Jews love their children more than they hate us.”

    Now can you hear the racism?

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  • It is a future of continuous war until the Arabs learn to accept Israel’s right to exist and for Israel to be a Jewish state. Their refusal to accept those two ideas predicates that they will continue to fund terrorists who will try to spill as much Jewish blood as they can and to arm themselves as best they can for the next war. If the Arabs REALLY wanted peace they could have it in the proverbial “New York minute” – by accepting Israel’s right to exist and as a Jewish state, negotiating in good faith, honoring their agreements, stopping the incitement of hatred and antisemitism amongst their population, and signing peace a permanent peace treaty with Israel. Their failure to do any of these things (and even to an extent in Egypt and Jordan) has resulted in the current situation. The fact remains that two quotes that Golda Meir said back in the early 70s still ring true:

    “We have always said that in our war with the Arabs we had a secret weapon — no alternative.”

    and

    “Peace will come to the Middle East when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”

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  • That’s funny because I feel the same way when I read your posts. I thought YOU love Israel.
    ‘Israel cannot afford to lose a single war, the first war that they would lose will be the end of the state of Israel.’
    This sentence presumes a future of continuous war. If you are correct that losing a single one of those wars would mean the end of the state, it seems logical that the continued existence of Israel depends on ending the cycle of war.

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  • Wow Debby! just wow!!! The end of Israel will come precisely because it keeps fighting? so, no more visits to Israel? when will the end come? I always thought you loved Israel. Please, just don’t say ‘because I love Israel then…”

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  • Actually, Khaled is quite critical of Egypt.
    https://chronikler.com/middle-east/egypt/
    As a peace activist he has dedicated considerable time and energy to learning and understanding beyond his cultural conditioning which is a key example for all of us who do not love war, taxation, nor mandatory military service.
    The end of Israel will come precisely because it keeps fighting.

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  • You can read above what I said, however I shall clear myself: Israeli’s can, and often do, comment on their points of view. Arabs rarely do comment on their government point of view. To quote an Egyptian on the Israeli position and on Israel’s needs is as valid as the Roman Catholic Church voicing their opinion on proper way to prepare a kosher kitchen: they can voice their opinions with NO VALIDITY. There is a reason has the military might that it does, and it is not because Israelis love war, taxation and mandatory military service. Israel cannot afford to lose a single war, the first war that they would lose will be the end of the state of Israel.

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  • So are you saying that Arabs don’t have legitimate points of view on the matter? That’s like saying wives should never comment on husband’s behavior because they are not men. And where would men be without their wives’ comments?

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  • I love it when Arab authors are used as the point of view of how Israel should behave with its belligerent and bellicose enemies. Israel is not, was not and will never be the thorn on the side of peace in the Middle East. Israel may or may not have nuclear warheads; the state NEVER called for the annihilation of any of its neighbors.

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