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Facts and Logic About
the Middle East
P.O. Box 590359
San Francisco, CA 94159
(415) 356-7801

September 10, 2008

Israel’s fear of nuclear Iran increases, while U.S. backs off: Will this disagreement create a crisis in our relationship?

Dear Friend of FLAME:

There's little doubt that Iran is building a nuclear-weapons capability, and Israel, being the likeliest loser when Iran decides to unleash its first nuclear bombs, is becoming increasingly alarmed. Not so the United States and the European Union, let alone Russia and China, who are content to dally, exploring diplomatic alternatives.

Should Israel attack now and take out Iran's nuclear weapons development facilities, before its avowed enemy brings this deadly enterprise to fruition? Many in Israel believe this deterrent step should indeed be taken sooner rather than later.

A second question: If Israel were to attack Iran preemptively, how would the U.S. (and the rest of the world) respond . . . and specifically what would this act do to U.S.-Israel relations? This question is particularly salient in the light of upcoming U.S. elections, since Obama and McCain are likely to respond differently---though it's unclear whether even McCain would be openly supportive.

In the fascinating article below, Robert O. Freedman examines the evidence of Iran's nuclear build-up and assesses the risks Israel would run if it were to attack first. He also examines the effects of the U.S.-Israel Middle East partnership if Israel were to do this bit of "dirty work" for its stronger ally.

In the meantime, two bills are coming up in the U.S. Congress, which if passed will go a long way toward pressuring Iran on the diplomatic front:

1. The Iran Counter Proliferation Act (S. 970 in the Senate and H.R. 1400 in the House) forces Iran to pay a heavy economic price for its uranium enrichment program by closing loopholes in the existing law and isolating Iran from international financial institutions. I think you'll find this analysis useful in advocating for a stern stand against Iran as the elections and U.S. policy progress.

2. The Iran Sanctions Enabling Act (S. 1430 in the Senate and H.R. 2347 in the House) legalizes and encourages divestment from Iran, authorizing state and local governments to divest from companies investing in Iran's petroleum and natural gas sector and protects fund managers who divest from lawsuits.

As a not-for-profit educational foundation, FLAME does not take positions on legislation, but we can recommend that you immediately contact your Senators and Congressperson to let them know your opinion on these bills.
Robert O. Freedman is a Professor of Political Science at Baltimore Hebrew University and Visiting Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of four books on Soviet foreign policy and editor of 14 books on Israel and the Middle East.

Jim Sinkinson,
Director, FLAME


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Palestinian 'peace partners' promote hate, reports Canadian MP Irwin Cotler
By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban, August 20, 2008

The Palestinian Authority, usually referred to as Israel's "peace partner," is engaged in the promotion of hate and incitement against Israel and Jews in general, says Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler.

Cotler, who recently visited Israel and the West Bank, told a recent media briefing that a "just and lasting peace" between the Israelis and Palestinians needs to be accompanied by a "culture of peace, where each country educates its people as to the legitimacy of the other and the desirability of peace.

"What we're witnessing, and I'm not talking about Hamas—their charter with its genocidal objective, anti-Semitic ideology and terrorist instrumentality—is known. I'm talking about the Palestinian Authority. I regret to say, as a result of my own work this summer, there are many items that constitute a culture of incitement, not a culture of peace. This is being ignored to the detriment, not only of the peace process and the legitimacy of Israel, but also of the Palestinians themselves.

"As I told them in my discussions with them, hate breeds hate. If you have a culture of incitement and hate, you're going to create a culture of hate that is pervasive in a Palestinian society itself."

He said those guilty of this include academics and the government-controlled broadcasting system.

"When I was there, I was shocked to see on their own television references to Israel's conducting of Nazi-like experiments on Palestinian prisoners. Prisoners are very important for Palestinian society, for families, and the notion that their family members are being subjected to Nazi-like experiments just breeds hatred and contempt for Jews."

Cotler said the most disturbing and ignored incitement comes from the Palestinian leadership itself, including the PA's president Mahmoud Abbas.

"People don't realize that Abbas signed a law, on the very day there was a suicide terrorist attack in December 2005 against Israel, providing monthly stipends for the families of suicide bombers. In January 2007, Abbas addressed a large crowd that was estimated as being over 100,000, in which he said 'the sons of Israel are mentioned in the Koran as those who are corrupting humanity on Earth.'

"Abbas has never recognized Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state. What was also passed over was a meeting of Arab countries in Senegal last March. During that meeting, Abbas spoke of the Palestinians as being the object of an ethnic cleansing and, worse, that Palestinians are facing a campaign of annihilation by Israel and that Israel perpetrates barbaric attacks against defenceless Palestinians."

Cotler said Abbas also celebrated Israel's release of a Lebanese terrorist who killed members of an Israeli family in exchange for the return of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in 2006.

"Abbas personally sent his own expressions of celebrations. Knowing that Israel was in mourning was, tragically, a national day of celebration in Lebanon.

"This is part of another disturbing manifestation of that culture of incitement. That's the greatest threat to a just and lasting peace."

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