• 27 January 2010
  • Posted By Nayda Lakelieh
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Nuclear file

Time and time again, Iran’s nuclear program is cited as the greatest threat to Israeli security, a theme that Prime Minister Netanyahu has continually evoked since starting office last March. On Tuesday, though, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak broke away from this trend, suggesting that the domestic Palestinian-Israeli conflict poses as a much greater threat than any Iranian nuclear program, as reported by Ha’aretz .

The lack of a solution to the problem of border demarcation within the historic Land of Israel – and not an Iranian bomb – is the most serious threat to Israel’s future,” Barak told a Tel Aviv conference.

Additional sources further report Barak’s warning that unless Israel helps create a Palestinian state, it could end up losing its Jewish character or becoming undemocratic, affirming  that the peaces-deadlock is the most imminent threat.

“It must be understood that if between the Jordan [River] and the [Mediterranean Sea] there is only one political entity called ‘Israel’, it will by necessity either be not Jewish or not democratic, and we will turn into an apartheid state.”

Mr. Barak’s defiance of Prime Minister Netanyahu comes amid growing frustration and increasing desire to restart peace talks, with the Obama Administration weighing in strongly in favor of new negotiations.

Posted By Nayda Lakelieh

    6 Responses to “Israeli Def Min: Failure of Peace Process Greater Threat Than Iranian Nukes”

  1. Dr. M.D. says:

    What is the purpose of this post? It only seems to seek minimizing the danger of a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic of Iran.

    It’s troubling that the NIAC does not recognize this threat and actually systematically downplays this danger.

  2. Iranian-American says:

    Dr. M.D.

    No one is minimizing or downplaying the danger of a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic of Iran. The purpose of this post is to present evidence about exactly what that danger is. When the Israeli Defense Minister states that a nuclear-armed Iran is less of a danger than a failure of the peace process, it suggests that perhaps the perceived danger of Iran getting nukes anytime soon is in fact overstated, especially in the US.

    This is neither surprising nor unprecedented. AIPAC is a large influential lobby that has decided that overstating the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran is in its interest. Other political groups and politicians also have interest in overstating this danger. You must be aware of the overstated danger of a WMD-armed Iraq, which resulted in a war based on a false pretext. That was not so long ago. Do you not agree that the WMD Iraq threat was at the very least overstated, and more likely intentionally fabricated?

    Furthermore, with respect to Iran, overstating this threat is itself a danger. It could lead to military action against Iran, which would, from what I understand, only delay by a few years any development that Iran may be doing. At the same time, it would definitely be the best way to encourage the Iranian government to pursue nuclear weapons if it is not already pursuing them, and to speed up its efforts if it is already pursuing such weapons. Not to mention the fact that the government could and almost certainly would use any such attack to increase its repression of the opposition in Iran. On the other hand, if the danger is not immediate, the US and other nations may choose to delay any military action in Iran and see how the present crisis plays out.

    While understanding the nature of this threat may not be in the interest of certain political groups, it is in the interest of the US and the world to understand precisely just how much of a threat this is. I can not speak for NIAC, but personally, I believe this threat to be overstated.

  3. Dr. M.D. says:

    #1, I think you should recognize that Iran is clearly in the process of developing a nuclear weapons program given the consensus of intelligence agencies world-wide. The Iranian regime is not looking for the excuse of so-called Israeli threats.

    #2, so if you believe the threat is overstated, it sounds like you are perfectly comfortable living with a nuclear-armed theocracy (or at least not doing anything to prevent such an outcome). If you truly the believe the threat is overstated, how do you propose we actually prevent the regime from obtaining nuclear weapons?

    #3, the point of Barak’s comments weren’t to say that a nuclear-armed Iran is not an existential threat to Israel. The NIAC could have also found innumerable statements in which he says exactly that. In his view though, which is fair enough, he also believes that the lack of a peaceful settlement is also an existential threat to Israel. It really doesn’t downplay at all Barak’s view that a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat.

    Overall, the NIAC has systematically ignored the nuclear issue.

  4. Iranian-American says:

    #1 You seem to trust the “consensus of intelligence agencies world-wide” with too little skepticism given the recent lessons from Iraq. Those in the US that supported the Iraq war are now quick to point out that it was not only US intelligence that was wrong. Yet these are the same people who now will point to the “consensus of intelligence agencies world-wide” as some kind of proof. Your memory is not that short is it?

    My personal guess is that Iran would like nuclear weapons, and is probably, to some extent pursuing the development of such weapons. To say Iran is clearly in the process of developing such weapons is, I maintain, an overstatement.

    #2 No. I am not at all comfortable living in a nuclear-armed theocracy. I am not comfortable with my family that is in Iran living in a nuclear-armed theocracy either. I am suggesting that a military strike against Iran is, in the long run, detrimental to the goal of stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions. I am also suggesting that a risk of overstating this threat may lead to a military strike– not to mention a loss of innocent life. It seems to me you are overstating the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, and completely ignoring the threat of killing innocent Iranians. This is exactly AIPAC’s philosophy. You wouldn’t happen to be associated with that organization, would you?

    #3 I agree. Obama does not say that a nuclear-armed Iran is not a threat to Israel. I would agree with that, but I would also add that a nuclear-armed Iran is no more a threat to Israel as a nuclear-armed Israel is to Iran.

    Again, I disagree that NIAC has systematically ignored the nuclear issue. Perhaps it has not paid as much attention to it as you would like, but AIPAC has devoted much more attention to lobbying for military action against Iran than I would like. Perhaps I should expect AIPAC to stop systematically ignoring the fact that Israel has nukes, and instead lobby for denuclearization of Israel, since I believe that a nuclear-armed Israel is dangerous for the region. I’m sure a majority of people in the region would agree. But that would be silly Dr., no?

  5. Iranian-American says:

    I’m sorry, I meant to say I agree with Barak’s comment that a nuclear-armed Iran would indeed be a threat to Israel, but would add that it would be no more a threat than a nuclear-armed Israel is to Iran.

  6. Dr. M.D. says:

    Nobody should the “pull the trigger” too early in attacking Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It, of course, would only be a last resort.

    One of course must take into consideration how many Iranian civilians could possibly die but one must also consider the mayhem that a nuclear-armed Iran would cause in the Middle East, even if they don’t actually employ the weapon.

    And I don’t know where you’re coming up this nonsense that AIPAC is lobbying for war? They are lobbying for tough sanctions but I would like you to share one iota of evidence that they are lobbying for war. This conclusion seems to be based much more on prejudice than any actual evidence.

    Military action would be a horrendous outcome for all, Israel and the USA included. Imagine an Israeli or US strike on Iran. Iran would most likely rain down conventional missiles on Israel, killing thousands of Israelis. Do you think this is what AIPAC is honestly lobbying for? It seems AIPAC is lobbying hard for sanctions because it seems to be one of the only alternative means of averting a war — something of which AIPAC has no control over as it does not have nearly as much power as you think it does to influence American foreign policy.

    If the US deems it clearly not in its interest to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, then it will not and no lobby can change that.

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7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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