Is­rael’s nec­es­sary se­cu­rity blan­ket

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

Wal­ter Pincus got it wrong on two es­sen­tial points in his June 16 Fine Print col­umn, “Nu­clear-free Mid­dle East is worth imag­in­ing.”

He at­trib­uted the sud­den surge in in­ter­est in a nu­clear weapon to the belief by Egypt, Saudi Ara­bia, Tur­key and Al­ge­ria that if Is­rael has nu­clear weapons, why not them? In fact, these coun­tries have for decades be­lieved that Is­rael has a nu­clear ar­se­nal but never felt a need to build their own pro­grams. De­spite the anti-Is­rael rhetoric, none of these states truly feared Is­rael; oth­er­wise they long ago would have got­ten their own weapons.

To­day, how­ever, they are look­ing to nu­clear pro­fi­ciency be­cause a real threat to them has emerged: the Is­lamic state of Iran, ex­pan­sion­ist and threat­en­ing, mov­ing closer to a nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity.

So Mr. Pincus’s ar­gu­ment that Is­rael de­nu­cle­ariz­ing would stop pro­lif­er­a­tion is mis­guided. The anal­ogy of Is­rael to South Africa’s de­ci­sion to give up its nu­clear pro­gram was faulty. South Africa faced no en­e­mies com­mit­ted to its de­struc­tion. Is­rael faces an Iran that openly calls for the end of the Jewish state; oth­ers in the re­gion as­pire to the same.

There is a path to a nu­clear-free-Mid­dle East: Stop Iran from get­ting a bomb and have Is­rael’s en­e­mies stop their war against the Jewish state. That is a tall or­der but one nec­es­sary to con­vince Is­raelis that they do not need the se­cu­rity blan­ket of a nu­clear ar­se­nal.

Abra­ham H. Fox­man, New York The writer is na­tional di­rec­tor of the Anti-Defama­tion League.

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