Iran, Israel, and Existential Threats

5:13 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Drawing of a laughing Ahmadinejad

Ahmdinejad: Axis of evil? (Image: Shahram Sharif / Flickr)

I had dinner with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday night in New York, along with dozens of other peace activists.  This is an annual event, and I’ve taken part in it more than once.

There’s some divergence of opinion on Ahmadinejad.  The New York Daily News on Tuesday called Ahmadinejad “a pure evil crackpot Holocaust denier who wants to see Israel obliterated from planet Earth.”

In contrast, a Jewish lawyer addressing the dinner gathering said that a friend had told him not to come on Yom Kippur when he should be home atoning for his sins.  “I’m going to go,” he said he told his friend, “and atone for the sins of Israel.”

The media tells us that Ahmadinejad is “an existential threat to Israel.”  Let’s consider that.

I start from the assumption that an existential threat to a human being is a greater concern than an existential threat to a government.  Denying a past existential threat to millions of human beings is offensive and dangerous.  Creating a new existential threat to millions of human beings is worse — is, in fact, the danger we try to avoid by properly remembering the past.

President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that no speech, not even a video attacking Islam, should be censored, and no speech can justify violence.  But the absence of speech, in Obama’s view, can justify war.  The Democratic Party Platform calls for war on Iran if Iran does not cease violating the nonproliferation treaty.  Obama declared on Tuesday that if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons it would destroy the nonproliferation treaty.  It would start a nuclear arms race.  Iran would be, or rather it already is, a threat to Israel’s existence.

But how exactly can Iran stop violating a treaty that it is not violating?  What can it say to prove it does not have what even the U.S. National Intelligence Estimates say it does not have and is not working to produce?  How can Iran prove a negative?  Many of us still recall that impossible task being assigned to Iraq in 2003.
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