The human rights-interfaith dialogue rhetoric employed by President Obama on May 22, 2015 at the Adas Israel Synagogue in Washington DC was wonderful and made people feel warm inside. But this type of rhetoric is, in fact, messianic -- it is for tomorrow, for a time when there is no more war. That day has not yet come, I am afraid. And to speak as if it has is very dangerous.
The Iranians allegedly do not want talks to break down because of a likely Israeli air attack, which though it would not be permanently incapacitating, would do great damage, retard development, and could be repeated as needed at intervals. The Vienna talks will have one more session before breaking for the summer. Though no one seriously expected that they would achieve an agreement, the Iranians have apparently put their program on hold, without rolling it back very far.
President Obama does not want to lose the Senate to the Republicans, yet that might happen if he is seen to side with Iran, which Americans detest, and against Israel, which most Americans, including mainstream Democrats, solidly support. For this reason, the Obama Administration could be counted on to veto the anti-Israel resolutions that would surely arise at the United Nations.
The U.S. under President Ronald Reagan opposed Israel's decision to destroy Saddam Hussein's Osirak nuclear reactor, and when Israel went ahead in 1981 Reagan embargoed delivery of F-16 fighters to punish Israel. The U.S. under President George H Bush insisted that Israel not retaliate against Iraq when Saddam Hussein launched 39 Scud missiles into Israel.
A closer look at the Canada-Israel relationship reveals that Canada has exercised moral clarity by standing up to double standards, dictators, and outright hypocrisy. Canada, under Stephen Harper's administration has confronted terror, upheld international law, and promoted peace between Israelis, Palestinians and the region as a whole.
Amidst this hope there remains cause for concern given the Iranian regime's longstanding "3-D" negotiating strategy: denial, deception and delay. While the change in Iranian leadership may be seen as a sign of progress, it should be recalled that newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani had himself boasted about this strategy in earlier negotiations.
The charmless Ahmadinejad disrupted the mutually beneficial dynamic with his inability to strike the right balance between genocidal banter and diplomatic pillow talk. His unremitting anti-Semitism -- ringing with historical authenticity -- laid bare the pathological Jew-hatred of the Khomeinist creed, and amplified the threat of a unilateral Israeli response.
Voters can sour on their election picks quickly -- this is true everywhere, but much more so in the present Arab Middle East where it's seemingly always spring. Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani can tinker with the economy all he wants, but the fact is the only way to repair it is to have the sanctions lifted. And the only way to do that is to start negotiating on nukes.
In the face of international condemnation of Iran's destructive pursuit of nuclear weapons and its repeated calls for Israel's destruction, filmmaker Alexandre Trudeau reports that Iran's atomic ambitions are for "defensive" purposes only, serving as an effective "deterrent" against Israeli "aggression" and belligerence. That is at least the way Trudeau framed the second instalment of his three-part documentary that aired on CBC's The National on October 14.
Speculation over a possible Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear sites is precisely that, no matter how informed. One group, however, is conspicuously absent from most of the discussions of an attack on Iranian nuclear sites: the 25,000 Persian Jews living in Iran. The least we can do is acknowledge that they matter just as much today and that whatever tomorrow brings, their safety and well-being needs to be a priority.
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister recently convened ambassadors in Ottawa and pressed for an aggressive stance against Iran. The West's threat of military intervention in Iran is akin to spanking your child while yelling, "Don't hit others!" Canada needs to influence its allies with a "do what we do" approach.
What if Israel acknowledged its own collection of nuclear weapons and announced a willingness to get rid of the entire arsenal in exchange for an Iranian promise to stop pursuing the bomb? Worst case, Iran refuses the offer, continues building its nukes, and we're back to square one. Either way, Israel has offered peace to its most dangerous enemy.