Proceeding with caution: Israel-Iran update

11 Oct

netanyahuTikkun Olam means to repair the world.  This simple phrase holds a great amount of significance within the Jewish culture as well as around the globe. Ever since its formation in 1945, after one of the worst periods the world had ever seen, the United Nations has worked to uphold its mission of repairing the world through promoting peace and international cooperation.

Last week the leaders of countries around the globe came to New York City for the 68th meeting of the General Assembly.  193 countries’ views were expressed; however, three countries in particular gave notable speeches on one topic, Iran.  President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and President Rouhani of Iran all talked about an issue that has worried the world for several years, a nuclear Iran.

The threat of a nuclear Iran directly threatens the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel.  The new democratically elected president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, is seen as a moderate compared to past presidents.  He recently admitted that the Holocaust did occur which is a stride in the right direction.  Rouhani and Obama had a phone conversation marking the first direct contact between the United States President and an Iranian president in 34 years.  These actions have proven that Rouhani is different than Ahmadinejad was; however, the simple fact that remains is that those are a few actions done by Iran out of many and the Ayatollah Kahmeini still truly holds the power in Iran.

The international community desires to have one less conflict in the world and with the potential for one to be resolved, countries around the globe are watching to see what happens.  President Obama has stated he is willing to start diplomatic proceedings with Rouhani and Iran but will do so with caution. He said that he would like to reach an agreement with the Rouhani and has instructed John Kerry to pursue such an agreement with close cooperation with the European Union, as well as Russia and China.  These proceedings mark a major turning point in International Affairs and give a beacon of hope that a conflict that has plagued the Middle East and elicited many conflicts in that region may get solved. However, this must be done cautiously.

We as the Jewish people must keep the State of Israel in mind and must not forget the previous actions and statements of Iran.  Rouhani offers a moderate point of view from a country that has been consistently conservative in its beliefs of the State of Israel, which is that it has no right to exist.  Actions such as those must not be forgotten. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “ I wish I could believe Rouhani, but I don’t because facts are stubborn things. And the facts are that Iran’s savage record flatly contradicts Rouhani’s soothing rhetoric.”  Netanyahu’s point is one that must not be forgotten.  The peaceful rhetoric of the newly elected president cannot cloud the fact that Iran’s economic sanctions were put in place for a reason.  That is not to say Rouhani can’t be trusted, but rather we must wait to see if Rouhani proves that he can be trusted.

The Middle East is a region in turmoil.  Headlines continue to come out of that region on a weekly basis.  Iran, Syria, and Egypt all have caused the world to watch carefully as to what unfolds in those respective countries.  The situations in Syria and Egypt have taken an ancillary role to that of Iran; however, that is not to say they are any less important than the Iran situation.  Israel is surrounded by nations that threaten its very existence.  As Jewish people we must not forget the State of Israel and ensure that it continues to flourish in a region that wants anything but that.  I stand with Israel in peace and conflict; the question is who else will? Will the United States begin diplomatic proceedings with Iran? Or will the United States stand by what Netanyahu said? All are questions with answers that will soon appear.


Grant C. is the Israel Advocacy Intern at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.


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