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A Concerned AMohammad ElBaradei, IAEA Director General; Iran Breaks Seals on Container of Radioactive Uranium

To Stop Iran's Nuclear Program, West Must Join to Defend Israel

Iran and its resurgent nuclear program poses the most direct threat to the State of Israel, so in order to dissuade Tehran from going ahead with its enrichment activities, the West must first and foremost present a United front in defense of the Jewish State.

By Franco Venturini

August 8, 2005

Original Article (English)    

For the West, two crucial issues increasingly accompany discussions of how to fight Islamic terrorism and address apprehension over new attacks. What is to be done with Iran, now that it appears to be working flat out for the nuclear option? And more generally, is there or is there not a moderate form of Islam that seeks a dialogue which will isolate the killers? On the first point, the Tehran’s ruling elite is doing its utmost to prolong the confusion. A breakdown of talks with the Europeans looks imminent, but has yet to take place. But uncertainty over the amount of time required for Iran to equip itself with offensive atomic weapons is growing.

Iran's Nuclear Facilities at Isfahan [Click for Larger Image]
—BBC NEWS VIDEO: Iran Presses Ahead With Nuclear Enrichment, Break U.N. Seals on Uranium, Aug. 10, 00:04:44

The West’s uncertainty is well-founded, but this should not paralyze us, especially after the electoral victory of the hawkish [Iranian President] Mahmud Ahmadinejad. What is actually at stake in the nuclear face-off with Tehran, even though the fact is often overlooked, is the vital security of the state of Israel. Now then, the West can criticize the Israeli government. It can press for Jerusalem to follow its upcoming withdrawal from Gaza with moves on the West Bank, enabling the creation of a credible Palestinian state. But the liberal democracies can neither be divided nor waver over the unacceptability of physical threats to the very existence of Israel. Today during negotiations, tomorrow at the U.N., and the next day if necessary in the extreme case of the use of force, such a united front should be evident at once to the Iranians. If the entire West more effectively transmits this message than it has in the past, the chance of a compromise with Tehran may be less remote.

The second issue concerns the divisions within Islam, and how we should tackle them. Here, too, there is often confusion between Islamic communities in our societies and the nations of the Islamic world. On the former, Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa has in this newspaper put forward a simple, effective formula. The dividing line between moderate immigrants, who should be integrated, and extremists, who should be rejected, mist lie exclusively in their compliance or non-compliance with the rules of communal living which we call laws, and which forbid the mere incitement to violence.

But is there a moderate Islam in this world? Currently, the language of politics classifies as moderate Islamic States that are not prejudicially anti-Western. If we adopt this definition, the answer to the question is obviously “yes.” If anything, we have to hope that Iran’s nuclear capability will not make it more difficult for moderates far from Tehran to maneuver. [We must not paint all Muslims with the same brush if Iran gets the bomb].

Those who deny this are not just ignoring the still-significant list of moderate Islamic countries. They are also implying, as in Iraq, that the only good Islam is one precariously perched on allied bayonets,. According to this view, dialogue should not be sought with supposedly non-existent Islamic moderates. Their collaboration should not be solicited against Islam-inspired terrorism. No attempt should be made to isolate the fanatics within their own world. In short, we should resign ourselves from the start to a “clash of civilizations.”

Is this in the West’s interest? The prevailing opinion now appears to be no, after the dialogue-seeking initiatives of Tony Blair, and the American second thoughts [over troop reductions?], reported without denial in the Financial Times.

The greatest risk we face is that two opposing extremisms may feed on one another.

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