Hello again, ‘Mr. Chamberlain’
By Michael Stricker
Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, at the Israel Project’s pre-election foreign-policy debate in 2013. Image by the Israel Project.
On June 15, 2021, Iran announced that it has now enriched 14.3 pounds of uranium to 60 percent purity. This is in addition to the almost 250 pounds of uranium Iran has enriched to 20 percent purity in just the last five months. At 90 percent purity, enriched uranium becomes known as “weapons grade,” making it capable of use in weapons of mass destruction. This stunning increase in enrichment capability is significant and dangerous because Iran threatens Israel with destruction daily.
And so, as world powers, in trembling fashion, have been meeting with the United States administration’s representatives in Vienna, Austria, for the last three months, ostensibly exploring ways in which the U.S. may reenter the terribly flawed nuclear deal with the Iranian terrorist state, Iran has been racing toward the capability to make good on its promise to wipe Israel off of the face of the earth. Hello again, Mr. Neville Chamberlain.
Of course, since early April, the U.S. administration has asked Israel to remain patient. And while the sword of Damocles seemingly hangs over the Jewish state, the U.S. administration has promised to “update Israel from time to time.” Israel has been shunted to the sidelines while others debate actions that threaten her very existence. Moreover from the sidelines, newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet shouts out to those who tremble before the Iranians in Vienna: “Wake up … A regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction.”
For Israel and the rest of the world, patience is no virtue. The 2015 nuclear deal, the JCPOA, was fatally flawed from the get-go. It allows Iran to retain residual enrichment capacity while not addressing Iran’s ongoing ballistic missile program or its regional terrorist activities. Most egregious, however, were sunset provisions included in the 2015 nuclear deal that didn’t prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb but merely delayed that development. So how’s that going? While Israel’s “friends” dither in protracted and potentially catastrophic discussions in Vienna with the rogue terrorist nation, Iran’s breakout nuclear capacity to produce a nuclear bomb, promised to be dropped on Israel’s head, is mere weeks or, at most, several months away. With friends like these …
As a result of the Zionist dream, the liberation and self-determination of the Jewish people in the modern state of Israel — a vibrant democracy with a robust economy and more scientific papers, high-tech patents and Nobel prizes per capita than any other country in the world — arose in 1948 from the ashes of Auschwitz, only three years after Nazi Germany’s attempted extermination of world Jewry. The reemergence of the Jewish state of Israel is the manifestation of the world’s most enduring oppressed minority, after a 2000-year absence, to once again take its rightful place on history’s world stage. By any measure, the modern state of Israel is a just miracle and a success story about a scorned and tormented people who fought for their independence, earned recognition of their unalienable rights, achieved security and provided a hope-filled future for generations to come.
Unfortunately, however, during the last 73 years of statehood, Israel has never enjoyed a moment of peace. In the last 20 years alone, the Jewish state has defended itself in five armed conflicts. Her public places, restaurants, hotels and buses have been bombed and her civilian population terrorized by increasingly deadly rocket barrages. Last month, Hamas launched more than 4,300 rockets over an 11-day period alone, striking the Jewish state from north to south. Israel has seen her multiple peace offers over the years rejected and her concessions trampled. All the while, the world repeatedly calls upon Israel to “show restraint” and refutes her right to defend herself. Increasingly, some openly question the state of Israel’s very right to exist at all. And yet, in spite of living under the most difficult of circumstances, under constant and repeated threats of her destruction, Israel has continued to grow and thrive and has become the largest Jewish community in the world, approaching seven million.
At this moment, the Jewish state faces a more perilous threat to her existence than at any time ever before in her 73-year history — more dangerous than 1948, 1967 or 1973. Consider this: After World War I, the world was in no mood for confrontation. Humanity was wearied by the devastating losses of the recent global war. The world’s economies were in crises and people the world over were focusing inward, attempting to struggle with their own tribulations. Meanwhile, a radical militant movement headed by a supreme leader openly threatened regional and world domination. Its members burned books and crushed their democratic opponents. They amassed vast arsenals of advanced weaponry and invaded neighboring countries. This radical militant movement played on its own peoples’ injured pride and stressed its racial superiority. And as we all know, the Jewish people were especially chosen by Hitler and his Nazi henchmen … as a cancer … to be cut out, massed together and exterminated.
Today, once again, there is such a radical regime in Iran. It also has a supreme leader. It also butchers its democratic opponents, supports terror and seeks regional and global supremacy. Similarly, the Iranian regime daily spews its racism while it denies the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and pledges to murder another six million plus in Israel. To achieve its abominable goals, Iran is racing to make military grade nuclear material and the missiles to deliver it. I am talking about a terrorist nation that, when it becomes a nuclear power, will provide nuclear know-how or even nuclear devices to international terrorists, to Hezbollah and to Hamas or other radical Islamic groups, all operating under the protective umbrella of one radical nuclear nation.
This not speculation. The danger is real and it is now. The Iranian regime, those genocidal lunatics, has publicly declared that it is prepared to share its technology with its friends. Nor are these dangers distant from our shores and cities here in the U.S. Make no mistake about it, should Iran become a nuclear power, terrorists armed with nuclear devices could be sent here. A nuclear-capable Iran means real risk for the U.S., her friends and her allies. However, this threat is greatest for Israel; it is existential. As time ticks away and as nations cower and waste what little time still remains in discussions in Vienna that are reminiscent of the policies of Neville Chamberlain, Israel is asked to remain patient and, as always, to show restraint.
Against this insane backdrop, I recall the words of Israeli author and Holocaust survivor Tommy Lapid:
The enlightened world advises [Israel] to make compromises and take risks for the chance of peace. And we ask the enlightened world … all those who preach morality to us: What will you do if we take risks and sacrifice and put our trust in you and something goes wrong? What if the other side does not act as it is expected to, and instead hurls at us fire and plagues and poisons and possibly even nuclear weapons? Will you apologize? Will you ask for our forgiveness? Will you say, “We were wrong”? Will you send us bandages? Will you open orphanages for the children who survive? Will you pray for our souls?
The state of South Carolina, and Charleston in particular, boasts a long history of benevolence toward and acceptance of her fellow Jewish citizens. By any measure, Jews have contributed very significantly to this state. The state of South Carolina can look with great pride upon its Jewish and Christian communities alike who love the state of Israel and who actively support and defend her right to exist and to defend herself. This is a time of testing for all of us. We must not be silent. We must not be ditherers, in case those who preach patience and restraint to us have it wrong. Do what you can do to keep Israel safe and secure, and do it now.
Human decency requires acts of courage. Call or write your congressional representatives and senators. Stand openly and forcefully against rising public displays of anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism. Write letters to the editors. Make sure that we here in S.C. collectively send our message to our fellow Americans that we stand behind the Jewish state and intend to protect Israel, America’s greatest ally in the world. Be assertively and unapologetically courageous when you stand up for Israel. Do not procrastinate in these efforts. Human decency cannot suffer ditherers.
Michael A. Stricker is a respected local attorney who has strong ties to the state of Israel. Michael travels to Israel often and has a son who lives in Israel and served in the Israeli Defense Forces. With Larry Freudenberg, Michael is a political activist for a strong U.S.-Israel alliance.