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OPINION

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Iran Deal Redux

MAY 4 ▪ 2018

We learned a lot from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s televised presentation about Iran’s nuclear weapons program Monday, April 30, and almost all of it is bad. The half-ton of files, smuggled out from a secret Tehran facility, show that, despite its repeated denials, Iran has long sought to develop nuclear weapons. We can’t say how much is new information and how much just confirms what was always obvious about Iran’s military ambitions. Anything truly revelatory wouldn’t be exposed on prime-time television before going through exhaustive study and confirmation by the Mossad’s allied intelligence agencies. But we do have confirmation, in case there was any doubt, that Netanyahu has no international credibility. Like the boy who cried “Ayatollah Wolf” before a joint session of Congress, his claims about Iran have been too frequent and too urgent. No one who matters is listening anymore, with the possible exception of President Donald Trump. We also have confirmation, in case there was any doubt, that regardless of the terms, once the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was signed and Europe began to roll back tough sanctions against Iran, the game was over. Our European allies like doing business with Iran far too much and are far too tired or too fearful of commitments in the Middle East after nearly two decades of numbing levels of death and destruction to get tough with Tehran now. Netanyahu’s presentation was derided as soon as he spoke, long before any serious analysis of the evidence, and it was dismissed in a way that indicates the messenger wasn’t the only problem. Leaders such as the European Union’s Federica Mogherini were quick to rationalize anything as a reason not to reconsider the deal, but to be reassured of its value. It doesn’t matter that Iran just confirmed advances in refining technology that demonstrate its enrichment research goes on, preparing for the day the deal’s limitations run out. It doesn’t matter if the windfall Iran received through the JCPOA, none of which is benefiting Iran’s people, is being used to accelerate that research. It doesn’t matter how many armed drones Iran flies over Israel or how many bases it establishes in Syria or how many missiles it ships to Hezbollah. It all somehow justifies the value of a decade’s delay, and nothing short of a nuclear missile launch is going to change our allies’ minds. The one ray of sunshine is that the Mossad demonstrated its ability to pull off an intelligence coup. Unless this was a clever plot to confirm that it has nothing to fear from Europe, no matter the revelations, Iran didn’t want 100,000 documents about its nuclear program exposed to the world. Israel’s ability to find and spirit away such a treasure-trove should prove again to the CIA, MI-6 and other Western intelligence agencies they need a strong Israel as their forward listening post in the Middle East. So if push ever truly comes to shove and Iran unveils a shiny nuclear arsenal mounted atop ballistic missiles that can reach London if not New York, we can expect most of the nations that signed the accord to say the right things about standing with Israel. We can only hope it’s not too late. ■ 10

Cartoon by Yaakov Kirschen, Dry Bones, Israel

Israel@70: Just a Start for Atlanta It would be a lie to say Jewish Atlanta’s IsraBut this day was different from most other days. el@70 celebration was perfect. Israelis turned out to join the rest of us in celebratIn a perfect world, the kosher food vendors, ing our shared homeland’s biggest birthday yet. with no basis for estimating how many hungry Great credit goes to everyone at Federation and mouths would be wandering around the Park Tavpartner agencies for planning such a vibrant range ern, nonetheless would have exactly balanced supply of activities and food and music. There was not and demand. The ice cream would have lasted until something for everyone; there were multiple things 4 p.m., and no one would have needed to stand in for everyone. line for more than five or maybe 10 minutes for a In addition, people who had every reason not to burger or shawarma. spend the day at the park because of other big events In a perfect world, Midtown traffic would have in the community still joined the celebration. After melted away, enabling rapid transit for people who all, one of the dangers of activating the potential of a decided midafternoon Sunday, April 29, to join the growing community is that party. No one would have there aren’t enough days in run into gridlock around the year to go around. Piedmont Park and decidIt would have been Editor’s Notebook ed in frustration to reverse understandable if the By Michael Jacobs course and head home to Temple Kol Emeth crowd, mjacobs@atljewishtimes.com watch the Braves on TV. for example, struggled to In a perfect world, make it down Interstate 75 we wouldn’t have felt the after the congregation’s big need for such thorough if friendly security checks annual gala, the Avodah Awards, the night before. to ensure the safety of the thousands of people who And the nearly 400 people preparing hours later thronged together in a vulnerable, confined space. to mark Congregation Beth Jacob’s 75th anniversary That perfect world isn’t Earth in the 21st cen— yes, the Toco Hills stalwart is Israel’s big brother tury. as well as the older sibling to much of Atlanta’s But we came about as close to perfect as anyone Orthodox community — couldn’t have been blamed could have hoped for. for passing on an afternoon in the sun. Start with the weather. Sunny, 70 degrees, But they were there in force and used the modest humidity and a gentle breeze make for a opportunity to launch what could be the next big pleasant combination any time of year, but after our communal celebration, the creation of a worldseemingly endless streak of rainy weekends, it felt record cookie flag mosaic on Sunday, June 3, with a heaven-sent. potential windfall of $1.35 million for three chariThen there was the crowd. It’s rare when the table organizations in Israel. (See more about the true strength of our community — our diversity in effort on Page 7.) all meanings of the word — is on display. The cookie fundraiser may be the best sign of Even on the rare occasions when the full range all to come out of the Israel@70 event. Not because of religious observance comes together and we get of the impact of the money raised or the excitement Sephardim and Ashkenazim in one place — as hapof getting our community some Guinness notoriety, pened in August when Federation, the Marcus JCC, but because it’s an immediate effort to build on the Jewish Family & Career Services, Jewish Home Life momentum. Communities and the Atlanta Rabbinical AssociaUltimately, Israel@70 will be nothing but a tion combined to bring us The Collective — few of nice memory if it proves to be a one-off opportunity the 10,000 to 15,000 Israelis in metro Atlanta turn to come together. But if it’s just a start of the great out. And not enough of the non-Israelis join the things to come in the Front Porch era, we might look event that’s most important to the Israelis, Yom back one day and smile at how excited we got about HaZikaron. such a small, imperfect, albeit fun party. ■

Profile for Atlanta Jewish Times

Atlanta Jewish Times, Vol. XCIII No. 18, May 4, 2018  

Atlanta Jewish Times, Vol. XCIII No. 18, May 4, 2018