Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Iran: What We Believe

By Tuvia Brodie

Iran presents a problem: does she really seek an atomic bomb?  If she gets one, will she really use it against Israel?

No one knows. We believe evidence exists to show that Iran aggressively enriches uranium to make a bomb. But we don’t know what to believe when Iran president Ahmadinejad says Israel should be annihilated. What does that mean, exactly? Is it just more Middle East bluster, or is it a Hitler-style ‘I’m-telling-you-in-advance-what-I-will-do’?

No one knows. Many at the UN seem to believe that it doesn’t matter. They believe that if Israel has ‘the bomb’, why can’t Iran? The US seems to believe that Iran does actively pursue a bomb. But the US also believes that immediate action isn’t necessary. The US believes that sanctions against Iran will convince her to stop its nuclear pursuits. Is this belief correct?

No one knows.

The Israelis, meanwhile, seem to believe that Iran is serious: she wants a bomb—and she’ll use it. The Israelis just don’t know what to do about it. In the past—with Syria and Iraq—Israel attacked nuclear sites and destroyed not only nuclear facilities, but also future nuclear ambitions. Iran, however, is different. Her nuclear sites are spread across different locations—some far away from Israel’s reach—and buried deep beneath ground, in bunkers everyone believes to be impenetrable. Everyone believes that Iran has turned its land-mass into a kind of nation-wide nuclear production facility. Everyone also believes that Israel does not have the weaponry or the aircraft to attack. Are all these beliefs correct?

No one knows.

Within Israel, there is no consensus on Iran. Some believe that an attack is necessary--the sooner the better. Even if an attack succeeds only in delaying the production of a bomb, these voices suggest, a short delay is better than no delay. Others believe that the ‘cure’ will be worse than the ‘disease’; an imperfect attack will cause Israel more harm than good—and it won’t stop Iran; it will just make her hungry to attack Israel.  Still others believe that Iran cannot achieve her goal soon enough to harm Israel; an attack would be stupid.

Which of these beliefs are correct? No one knows.

When it comes to Iran, it seems that the only thing we read about is what nations believe.

Isn’t it odd that, for the first time in memory, the nations of the world spend so much time discussing belief rather than fact? Even with the case against Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, the United States went to great length to showcase ‘facts’ sufficient to convince the West that action was necessary. With Iran, no such successful case has been made—or if it has, not enough believe it. Fact seems irrelevant. The question about Iran should be, what actions do fact—or our inability to verify fact-- suggest we take?  But the focus on Iran is not action or fact. Instead, the focus is belief; specifically, the belief that action can be avoided.

The world believes Iran will listen to reason. In this case of belief versus reason, what do you believe: will sanctions convince Iran to change direction? Will she attack Israel?  Will a nuclear Iran seek peace?

On top of all this, the president of the United States apparently believes that an Israeli attack against Iran before the 2012 US presidential elections will hurt his election chances; he is rumoured to have threatened Israel to delay an attack until after the elections. Is this belief correct?

No one knows.

How strange that, at this point in world history, we so eagerly put aside reason and focus instead on belief. Why is it that the world’s greatest threat since the atomic war scare of the 1950’s doesn’t involve reason or reality, but belief?

Make no mistake: the future of Israel does not depend upon fact. With this Iran business, it will depend upon belief: if Israel’s leadership believes Israel’s survivability requires an attack, she will attack; if that leadership believes we are safe, she won’t. Israel’s focus on Iran focuses on belief.

You may have missed this, but some believe that belief itself is the key to surviving Iran. They say that if Israel’s leadership accepts G-d, our survival is assured. But if our leadership’s belief is misplaced, our future could be ‘misplaced’. It’s all in our Tanach.  Belief and Israel, they say, should go together. Unfortunately, since the founding of the modern State of Israel, Israel’s Jewish leadership has rejected belief. They so prefer non-belief, they wouldn’t even include G-d in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Now, with Iran, their language becomes, ‘Well, we believe that…”?

Of course, there could be no connection between G-d and the Iran problem. All this talk about belief could be a coincidence. Then again, it could also be G-d’s way of saying, ‘hello, remember Me’?

Only G-d knows.

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