Tag Archives: Iran

An Iranian-Israeli Love-In?

by Kelley Kidd

Recently, Facebook has been bombarding me. Not with its usual memes and Spotify updates, but with a slew of politically oriented statuses and photos. This is usually fairly inevitable, but lately it’s transcended the typical circle of acquaintances who regularly post items from political blogs or links to news articles. In fact, certain messages have become trendy. First it was the mass movement against SOPA, aided by Google and Wikipedia. Kony 2012, an Invisible Children campaign, became the next hot topic. People get excited to be a part of a movement, to make their voices heard, and to stand in solidarity about something worthy of passion.

The latest of these explosive trends is the newly blossoming Israel Loves Iran campaign. Founded by Ronny Edry, the campaign began with a simple poster he created to send a message of love and understanding from Israel to Iran. Quickly, his modest gesture took off, giving birth to a widespread and large-scale exchange of message, images and discussion directed toward forging a connection between two politically estranged peoples.

The hope, ultimately, is to make an impression in politics—Iranians and Israelis want to make their leaders see that war is not an option in their eyes. Of course, the people with the power are not the same as those posting warm messages. For many, the potential for this movement not to affect anything on a grand political scale makes it a failure, worthless—another example of “slacktivism,” activism that refuses to move beyond the comfort of the couch and the safety of a computer screen. For many movements, such a complaint may be applicable, as it devolves into memes and likes from people who have no goal beyond being a part of whatever passion is trending. However, this cynical view, if it applies to any such movements, does not hold for the case of Israel Loves Iran.

First of all, it is inherently significant that Iranians, whose contributions to the site have been meaningful but commonly anonymous, are contributing at all, as many have said “they feared for their lives if they used their real name.” Iranians who have posted share messages of love, compassion and support. The posts note thousands of years of coexistence, express gratitude and love, and show us that, as one Facebook user in Iran promises, the sense of hatred between the two nations “was invented by the propaganda of the regime” and that the “Iranian people, apart from the regime, do not hold a grudge nor animosity against anyone, especially not the Israelis.” The mere act of sharing these messages demonstrates how committed the Iranian people are to communicating them; these people are not able to voice their complaints and defy their regime openly and freely, and their commitment to doing so clearly indicates their commitment to the cause. There is no slacktivism when even making your voice heard puts your life at risk.

The movement is a positive one, regardless of its direct political impact. The challenge, but also the beauty, of grassroots movements is that you do not see results immediately. The change is inherently bottom-up, and therefore slow to be enacted. Nonetheless, any eventual change has massive strengh and enormous support—a loud, clear voice that cannot be ignored. In this case, the change is a fundamentally meaningful one. People are learning to see one another as real people, to meet and connect with the “Other.” The hope is to influence political decision by taking a clear stance against war, but even if the movement fails to grow to that scale, its impact within the people is significant.  Alliances and wars are usually decided by the powers that be, but Israel Loves Iran may give us a chance to see how much change the Powers that Become can make.

The AIPAC/J Street Color War

by Charles Kopel

A new spring ritual has taken form for American Jews concerned with Israel activism. The AIPAC Policy Conference, a mainstay in the American Zionist establishment for 53 years, is attracting larger and larger groups of delegates to Washington, DC each year. These delegates gather from around the country to address the importance of strengthening the “U.S.-Israel relationship.” The third annual conference of AIPAC’s self-proclaimed rival, J Street–aimed at fostering a network of supporters to advance its “pro-Israel, pro-peace” agenda–is wrapping up today in the nation’s capital. This division of the Israel lobby into two separate camps proves to be a comfortable accommodation for the increasingly polarized spectrum of American Jewish views regarding both the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the potential nuclear threat from Iran.

An added dimension of this division, however, is that the conference faithful of both organizations now assemble each year for a sort of color war. Not only does each group aim to advance its own agenda; it takes swipes at that of the other group. Of course, this is more of a reality for J Street, which remains, in its youth, a small and ineffective opposition lobby that struggles to find its legitimacy with attacks on AIPAC. The establishment body AIPAC, however, has achieved a legendary position of power and influence in United States policy, reflective of the general success of American Jewry, and serving as an endless quarry of fodder for anti-Zionist thinkers and conspiracy theorists. To AIPAC, J Street is beyond the pale of “pro-Israel,” more critical of Israel’s actions than those of its enemies. To J Street, AIPAC represents an old American perception of pro-Israel, ignorant of the beliefs and sentiments of both the younger generation of American Jews and of the majority of Israelis.

The physical realities of the conferences demonstrates the organizations’ power differential quite well: This year’s AIPAC conference gathered 13,000 delegates, more than 1,000 of whom were students, and included visits from more than half of Congress, addresses from President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Peres, minority leaders from both houses of Congress, and Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. The conference operation was a logistical masterpiece, with organizational finesse and visual productions that speak to the lobby group’s undeniable importance.

The J Street conference, in contrast, gathered only 2,500 delegates, 650 of whom were students, with no top-ranking government officials. The conference operation was messy, reminiscent of a small-scale synagogue gathering, and with a bizarre and extensive hodgepodge of participating organizations–the New Israel Fund, Peace Now, Rabbis for Human Rights, B’Tselem, Givat Haviva, Tikkun Magazine and many more–not all of whom even share similar political stances.

It is therefore with good reason that J Street classifies itself as a “movement” and not a lobby. Its conference seemed at times to be a summit of somewhat like-minded organizations, uniting under the banner of a group that has its own particular party line and a lobby group to advance it.

A much more important distinction between the conferences was the demographics of the presenters at each. An elementary understanding of each organization’s purpose is more than enough to account for this distinction. AIPAC, whose essential goal is to be a Washington advocate for the positions of the elected Israeli government , featured mainly American politicians among its speakers, as if to tell the delegates and the world: “Just look–the American government already overwhelmingly supports the decisions of the Israeli government!”

J Street, whose essential goal is to be a Washington advocate for the positions of the American Jewish population as regards Israel, featured mainly Israeli speakers at its conference, as if to tell its delegates and the world: “Israelis themselves want us, the American Jews, to use the unique power of citizen lobbying in order to urge Washington to pressure Israel toward a two-state peace agreement with the Palestinians!”

This difference in perspective has wide-reaching effects on the image of Israel that emerges at the respective conferences. For delegates of AIPAC, Israel is a hazy, amorphous idea, a distant reality that supports Jewish values, democratic government and the rule of law, one that shares interests with the United States and has legitimate and far-reaching security concerns. Thousands of Zionists attending the conference learned to see Israel through the lens of American leaders–as a “strategic ally,” a place of some ideological and emotional value, a sheet of foreign financial aid figures and a basis for promises of military action.

Delegates of J Street, however, learned to see Israel as a living and breathing reality, a Jewish reality, with troubling complexities and too many flaws for comfort. They heard from intellectuals and authors like Amos Oz, social protest leaders like Stav Shaffir, women’s rights advocates like Anat Hoffman and left-wing Israeli politicians like Ehud Olmert, Amram Mitzna, and Avishay Braverman. They were presented with a uniquely Jewish imperative for peace, ranging from Oz’s secular, pluralistic Judaism to Hoffman’s “Women of the Wall” religious-feminist movement to Rabbi Donniel Hartman’s Orthodox presentation of “aspirational Judaism” and its relationship with “aspirational Zionism.” They were told that, sure, Israel has great security concerns, but that the threats posed by its current policies to its Jewish values are of greater consequence and greater urgency. Ultimately, it was added, these threats will compromise Israel’s security even more drastically.

That great security concern at AIPAC’s conference, was, of course, the threat posed by Iran; little time or interest was given to any other Israeli concerns. Hardly a word was said about the status of the Palestinians or the historic social developments that transpired in Israel since last year’s conference. Where survival in the face of an enormous enemy is concerned, all other causes are allowed to fall by the wayside. For this reason, Bibi, who has concerned himself diligently and loudly with stopping Iran, received a welcome from the AIPAC 13,000 far warmer than he would ever receive anywhere in his own country, where the people’s conscience grasps far more than one singular Israeli issue.

At J Street’s conference, however, Iran was considered mostly a diversion created by the Likud machine to avoid action on Israel’s real pressing problems—peace with its neighbors, Palestinian autonomy and social reform. Sure, Iran is a real and serious threat, the J Street speakers said, but it is a threat shared by the whole world. Israel has its own problems to deal with first. Also, they added, survival is worth very little when it comes at the expense of national values.

In these different perspectives lies the flaw of each lobby group’s repertoire: a deep transgression of omission. AIPAC presents what Israel is on paper, and what the concept of Israel looked like in 1948 (with, of course, a great deal of accolades for the small nation’s start-up miracles and high-tech achievements), but says nothing of the real status of Arabs in Israeli society, of the women who are made to ride in the back of buses in Haredi communities, of the Jewish state’s socioeconomic gaps now perching at the second-largest in the western world, of the recent slew of anti-democratic legislation in the Knesset (aimed at weakening the ability of NGOs and human rights groups to operate within the country), of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s concerted attempts this week to assert his administration’s control over the future of the Channel 2 news network, and of the threat to Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state posed by the basic reality of millions of disenfranchised Palestinians living under Israeli military authority.

J Street presents what is supposedly a liberal Zionist ideal, and a genuine effort to save the soul of Israel. Its narrative seems, however, to include no room to blame anyone but the Likud-led coalition for Israel’s misfortune. No recognition of rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli civilians. No examination of the factors that led the last serious round of peace talks to devolve into a murderous Palestinian intifada. Little acknowledgment of the role of today’s Palestinian Authority intransigence in stalling the negotiation process. (Robert Danin, former head of Quartet Envoy Tony Blair’s mission in Jerusalem, and current senior fellow in the Council on Foreign Relations, shared at the AIPAC Policy Conference that, in his personal experience, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has no coherent peace negotiation policy at all, but just employs tactics variously to ensure that at the end of each day, he remains in power, and Israel remains demonized.) Little acknowledgment of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s great success in bringing home captured soldier Gilad Shalit, whose plight had for five years been at the forefront of the Israeli collective mindset, and whose safe return was undoubtedly among the most momentous occasions in modern Israeli history.

Some of these realities did emerge at the conference’s breakout sessions. The various guest speakers–intellectuals, journalists and generals–conducted informational lessons that at times acknowledged the history of Palestinian terror, PA intransigence, and the role of Netanyahu in the Gilad Shalit deal. But the plenaries, with the great big statements of J Street policy, were something else entirely. The throngs of delegates were told only how crucial a two-state solution is for Israeli security and values (which it is), how much of an obstacle the settlements pose to such a solution (which some certainly do) and how terribly the Likud administration has abused the democratic system in Israel (which, arguably, it has). But there was no room for nuance concerning these subjects, and no room for right-of-center Israeli voices–another legitimate segment of the Jewish reality in Israel.

J Street also prides itself on the political/historical narrative offered by American Jewish voices such as J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami, provocative journalist and author Peter Beinart, and historian, author and oleh Gershom Gorenberg. All three of these men have recently written books arguing against Israeli settlement policy, and advocating for a new form of pro-Israel mentality based on the liberal Zionist aspirations of the younger generation of American Jews. Beinart in particular aroused a firestorm recently when he published an op-ed in the New York Times, in anticipation of the release of his book, which enjoined American Jews to boycott the West Bank settlements in order to save Israel (somehow assuming that afflicting the livelihood of private settlers, whom he maintains are not necessarily themselves guilty, will influence Israeli policy). It is worthwhile to note that references to this position at the J Street Conference received mixed responses from the delegates.

J Street claims that the positions of these three innovators represent the authentic voice of American Jewry, and its young generation in particular. In response, Bret Stephens wrote three weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal, “one wonders why organizations more in tune with those ‘real’ views rarely seem to find much of a base.” Stephens’s claim is hardly compelling when considered in light of J Street’s short history and its attempt to compete with an old, entrenched establishment like AIPAC. Only several years down the line, in light of the success or failure of J Street to expand and thrive at that point, can Stephens’s contention be honestly assessed.

*                                      *                                      *

On the opening night of the J Street Conference, renowned Israeli author and social critic Amos Oz delivered a stunning plea for two-state peace. In doing so, he acknowledged differences of opinion concerning Israel’s future. “Zionism has always been a surname,” he said, “not a first name. No one person was ever allowed to claim Zionism for himself.” This point was well taken, and the vast divide between the different Zionist camps in Israel and America perhaps illustrates it quite well.

Still, the color war presentations of AIPAC’s and J Street’s conferences reflect this attitude quite poorly. It is true that the two organizations help complete the spectrum of politics within American Jewish activism for Israel. And it is entirely legitimate for any one Israel group to pursue only its agenda and leave other aspects of Israel aside. Nonetheless, the insistence of each group on considering only the support for its own agenda in a vacuum, ignoring any and all contravening evidence, leaves behind a sense of lifeless, unproductive dialogue–not entirely unlike the 21st century incarnation of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

Editor’s note: A version of this article appeared in Yeshiva University’s The Commentator.

Twenty (Jewish) Questions

by Kelley Kidd

Monday night, I sat in traffic in a taxi outside the Washington Convention Center as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gala (addressed by Benjamin Netanyahu) went on inside. Protest groups shouted out against a potential war in Iran.  My taxi driver, an Iranian himself, mumbled to me that “these people do not want their tax money funding another war.” The sentiment  seemed consistent with the shouts and signage of the people gathered outside the conference who called for “diplomacy, not bombs.” They, and other anti-AIPAC groups, have expressed fears that AIPAC wants war on Iran, a road they do not want to see America go down. Even President Obama cautioned that we must not disregard “the stakes involved for Israel, for America, and for the world” before jumping into war. For Jews who stand in support of our homeland, it may be easy to side automatically with Netanyahu and Israeli president Shimon Peres in the view that the use of force, even war, is merited in averting a nuclear Iran. However, I think President Obama made a worthwhile point in bringing up “the weightiness of these issues.” The questions posed at AIPAC are worth serious, involved consideration; without lending support to either side, I believe it’s important to remember that both sides require in-depth consideration. Blind faith in any ideology is one of the most dangerous justifications for action. Historically, submission to unchecked and unexamined philosophies has been known to facilitate mass atrocities, the kind we are obliged to remember and prevent. Jewish tradition values examination and possible dissent from everything, even the very word of God.

The Jewish tradition of  “wrestling with God,” as in the story of Jacob, is not only a meaningful path to belief, but also a necessary part of our approach to practical and even political concerns. Challenging, examining and really putting the full force of consideration into finding belief helps you to construct fully formed opinions that you can truly support, even when faced with opposition. Judaism places a premium on understanding, learning, study and deep consideration, so much so that it is at the heart of much of our tradition. In the Torah itself, our forefathers even challenge God’s sense of justice. Abraham famously pleads for God to reconsider his destruction of Sodom, and his plea receives God’s consideration. Moses questions the justice of the “first draft” of the Ten Commandments, in which children will be punished for the sins of their fathers for four ensuing generations. God, upon hearing Moses’s wisdom, agrees to “nullify my words and confirm yours.” Both times, human evaluation leads God to reconsider, showing us that we must never leave the words of even the most decisive authority unexamined.

Looking beyond our biblical past, the importance of thoughtfulness in Jewish tradition is also illustrated by the breadth, depth and variation in Talmud. The study of Talmud demands that no stone is left unturned—“confronted with a statement on any subject, the Talmudic student will proceed to raise a series of questions before he satisfies himself of having understood its full meaning.” The student must search in depth for full meaning, reading between the lines, delving into implications and principles, making note of subtleties to find an underlying message that reconciles apparent contradictions. Our Talmud sets for us the example of questioning what seems readily apparent, searching for and evaluating every possible meaning before coming to a conclusion. In Judaism today, we introduce the “big questions” to our children early on. Each year on Passover, the youngest of the children present asks the Four Questions, demonstrating the importance of inquiry and understanding.

Judaism teaches us to never be afraid to demand and search for answers, and when we aren’t too scared to ask the tough questions, we can become confident in our own answers. God and Torah teach us never to settle for the simple response, for less than full understanding, even when this means facing multifaceted issues in all their complexity. When it comes to politics and Israel, I think that our people’s tradition of “wrestling” holds particular importance—in the maintenance of our Holy Land and homeland, holding fast to our tradition is crucial, and that means never settling for the unexamined questions.

 

Journalists Lynn Sweet and Ron Kampeas on the Jewish Vote

By Alexis McNamee

For more on the Jewish vote in the 2012 presidential election, yesterday we listened in to “The Jewish Federations of North America Teleconference Series on the 2012 Presidential Election,” featuring Lynn Sweet, Washington Bureau Chief at the Chicago-Sun Times, and Ron Kampeas, Washington Bureau Chief at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). In light of Mitt Romney’s win in Florida, the two experts focused on the important issues for Jewish voters today: the economy and foreign policy. Kampeas recalled Romney stating he would stand “shoulder to shoulder with our allies [in Israel],” whereas Obama has openly criticized Israel on its settlement policy. Yet Kampeas believes that as long Obama is “pro-Israel enough,” Jewish voters will not be deterred from re-electing him. Relations with Iran are also an increasingly important topic—Kampeas predicted voter focus will only shift to this matter if oil prices spike, but also noted that Republican candidates have been taking a more negative stance than Obama. Kampeas and Sweet later discussed Mitt Romney’s proposal to privatize Medicare, and said Jewish support would require Republicans to present a strategy that would protects seniors despite Medicare cuts. Both agreed that the economy is the most important issue to Jewish voters. Sweet suggested that the only way to guarantee an Obama loss in the fall would be if the unemployment rate rises above nine percent before the election. Still, both Sweet and Kampeas predicted that Obama would win more than three-quarters of the Jewish vote—roughly the same rate as in 2008.

The Iranian Question: Nuclear Power or Nuclear Warheads?

By Leigh Nusbaum

Watching what’s happening from the Middle East to the Midwest over the past few weeks, it seems that everyone has an opinion about Iran today, including the Iranian government.

Iran has held a fascination over people from ancient history—including empires such as that of Cyrus the Great—to the modern era, with the rise of the Islamic Republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Today, that focus is on Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran insists that the program is for peaceful purposes, but the regime’s opponents, including the Israeli government, argue that the program has a more sinister objective—nuclear weapons.

What’s so fascinating about this debate is that despite how long Iran’s nuclear program has been around, the debate on ending it makes it seem as though it is a recent phenomenon.  Iran’s nuclear program was actually started by the United States in the 1950s. A 2007 Chicago Tribune article detailed the “Atoms for Peace” program, the U.S.’s plan to give satellite countries nuclear reactors. It was a move in a nuclear chess game between the Soviet Union; they sent reactors to North Korea, Libya and Bulgaria, while the U.S. sent reactors to Pakistan, Iran and Columbia.

In fact, type “Iran’s nuclear program” into Wikipedia and you will see a photo of the Shah in an American pro-nuclear power advertisement. “The Shah knows that nuclear energy is not only economical, it has enjoyed a remarkable 30-year safety record. A record that was good enough for the citizens of Plymouth, Massachusetts, too. They’ve approved their second nuclear power plant by a vote of almost 4 to 1. Which shows you don’t have to go as far as Iran for an endorsement of nuclear power,” the advertisement said.

Granted, the Shah was considered an American as well as an Israeli ally, but still it should give pause to anyone in either country who disapproves of any nuclear program in Iran. The fact is: The United States of America and their allies, with tacit Israeli approval, built Iran’s original nuclear reactors. Meanwhile, both the United States and Israel are themselves nuclear powers—the U.S. has perhaps the largest stockpile in the world, while the exact number of Israeli warheads is unknown.

What fuels the recent anger towards Iran is a combination of several issues.  The short version is: Iran wants to enrich its uranium, while countries like the United States oppose it, because they are concerned that uranium enrichment will lead to nuclear weapons.

There’s also a fear of what the nuclear weapons will be used for, if Iran ever gets them. Will the weapons be used as leverage in geopolitics? Will it encourage other neighboring countries to openly pursue entry into the nuclear club? Or given the incendiary statements of Iran’s current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, regarding the Holocaust, Israel and the United States, will the weapons be used for a more sinister purpose, detonating over Tel Aviv or some other U.S.-friendly location?

This November, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report claims that there was reliable evidence that Iran was carrying out experiments aimed at making a nuclear weapon.  Iran has weathered both substantial criticism as well as new sanctions by the U.S., UK, and EU. Many of these sanctions are directed towards the Central Bank of Iran, which will likely cause a much more crippling blow to the Iranian economy than previous rounds of sanctions.

In response to UK’s round of sanctions, student protesters stormed the UK’s embassy in Tehran. Conjuring up images of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, when Iranian students held hostages in the American Embassy for 444 days, the UK pulled its diplomatic staff out of Iran and closed the Iranian embassy in London. Several EU countries, including France, Germany, and the Netherlands pulled their envoys from Tehran as well.

So the question is, what is the proper response to Iran’s nuclear program? One response that should not be actively pursued is military action. It’s premature and those who advocate for it at this moment are dangerously overlooking the consequences of such action. If anything, it could be worse than Iraq or Afghanistan.

Fareed Zakaria puts it best, “Let’s be clear: We are talking about a preventive war against a country that has not attacked us. We are talking about war on the basis of intelligence reports. It is easy to start a war. It is very difficult to predict how it will go and where it might end. I think we need to ask some hard questions before we start launching the missiles.”

 

China Hedges Its Bets in the Middle East

By Gabriel Weinstein

Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States was only the beginning of a busy week of diplomacy. Last Tuesday 10 Chinese government officials and academics arrived in Israel for three days of meetings with Israeli academics, policy analysts and government officials. The meeting is China’s latest attempt to bolster relations with Israel and become a trusted ally among Middle Eastern Countries.

For most of Israel’s history official relations with China were non-existent. Israel sought to establish a firm partnership with China after the declaration of the People’s Republic of China in January 1950, but the Chinese government  did not acknowledge Israeli’s recognition. The relationship disintegrated in the mid-1950’s when Israel supported UN forces during the Korean War and chose to align with the United States during the Cold War. Though Israel and China engineered a series of covert weapons deals in the late 1970’s, official diplomatic relations were not restored until 1992.

Since then China and Israel have enjoyed a healthy commercial relationship. In 1992 the two countries traded $54 million worth of goods. By 2009 the figure mushroomed to $4.6 billion. Israel is a major supplier of agricultural, telecommunication and defense technologies in China. Major Israeli universities such as the Technion, Tel-Aviv University and Hebrew University have relationships with Chinese counterparts and integrate Chinese language and Asian studies into their curriculum.

Yet, much to Israel’s chagrine, China has showered goodwill on other Middle Eastern countries over the past decade to feed its insatiable appetite for oil. It helped Syria modernize its aging energy infrastructure and provided caches of weapons since the 1990’s. In October Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo and Turkish Prime Minister announced plans for a railroad dubbed the “Silk Railway” to honor the ancient Silk Road between the countries. China is a major investor in Iraqi oil and has excused the government from paying outstanding loans from the Saddam Hussein era. Since 2005 leading Chinese oil companies Sinopec, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and China National Petroleum Corporations have invested in the several oil development projects in Israel’s arch nemesis Iran. Trade between China and Iran is valued at $21 billion and over 100 Chinese companies conduct business in Iran according to a report by CNA Analysis & Solutions on Sino-Iranian relations.

Although China’s cordial relations throughout the Middle East seems ominous for Israel, experts believe China does not want to become entangled in the regions mangled military landscape. Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said China has “walked away from its past as a supporter of liberation movements” in the Middle East during a speech in July. According to Alterman, China does not view the region as strategically significant and prefers to maintain a low profile throughout the region. He cites China’s relationships with Israel and Iran as proof of China’s indifference.

The CNA report draws similar conclusions about China’s ambitions in the region. The report states China’s four goals in the Middle East are to prevent one global power from dominating the region, stem anti-Chinese and pro-Taiwan sentiments and garner support for broader Chinese foreign policy.

Although most experts believe China is not overly interested in the Middle East, China’s attitude toward Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is cause for concern. Experts in the CNA report were concerned Chinese companies sell equipment to Iran that could be used nuclear weapon production. The latest round of Wikileaks cables revealed the American government shares the same sentiments, as American diplomats have pleaded with China to monitor the industrial products that can be used to build nuclear weaponry it sells to Iran.

As China continues its geopolitical ascent, potential allies must not fear confronting China about its potentially careless political tactics. A nuclear-armed Iran is not just a threat to Israel, but to the entire global community as a potential strike on Israel might encourage Iran to broaden its military ambitions. The United States must respect and acknowledge China’s ascent to global prominence, but make clear that China’s policy of potentially reckless commerce will not be tolerated.

2010 AIPAC Policy Conference Round-Up

By Ben Ganzfried

There were few surprises at the 2010 AIPAC Policy Conference last evening.  The key topics were sanctions against Iran, the unbreakable relationship between the U.S. and Israel, and the fact that friends best disagree quietly.  I was told by a fellow journalist that this year’s policy conference followed the structure of conferences in the past: the evening began with a roll call of the representatives, senators and other policy-officials in attendance, as well as a list of distinguished guests.  I suspect that this conference was also similar to past conferences insofar as it was briefly disrupted by hecklers (who paid an awful lot of money just to yell for two seconds).  At least, the quick reaction of the crowd to cheer these disrupters down suggests that the audience is used to such things. Continue reading