Israel’s necessary security blanket
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.