Its time to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb

On March 7, Michael Lerner, on behalf of Tikkun, published a full-page ad in the New York Times declaring that the way to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon is to apologize for past U.S. sins and force Israel to remove settlements in the West Bank. Lerner apparently believes that the Iranians just want to see the removal of those settlements, while in fact they consistently advocate destruction of the Jewish state in their defense and foreign policies.

He wrote: “Some of us believe that Israel could actually work out peaceful relations with Iran and enhance its own security and U.S. security by ending the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, helping the Palestinian people create an economically and politically viable state, taking generous steps to alleviate the humiliation and suffering of Palestinian refugees, and supporting Palestinian membership in the United Nations. Those steps, done with a spirit of openhearted generosity toward the Palestinian people and the people of all the surrounding states, is far more likely than military strikes against Iran or endless assaults on Hamas to provide a safe and secure future for Israel.”

Given that Lerner is a local voice who has chosen to advertise his views on a national level, Bay Area Israel supporters should refute this idea, and support President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they join a global alliance to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon.

We have reached a critical point in deliberations on how to halt the Iranian effort to build a nuclear bomb. The question is no longer whether to stop them, but how.

An Iranian nuclear capability (not just building the bomb, but if they continue to enrich uranium beyond any reasonable requirements for nuclear energy) is now a U.S. national security problem, not Israel’s alone. President Obama has clearly warned, “The risks of an Iranian nuclear weapon falling into the hands of a terrorist organization are profound.” So if sanctions and diplomacy fail, then a military strike intended to destroy Iran’s nuclear program could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States.

Iran is the major sponsor of global terrorism, an avowed enemy of the United States and Israel, and seeks hegemony in the Middle East. President Obama has said a nuclear Iran is “unacceptable” and that a nuclear Iran would prompt other Middle Eastern countries to attempt to arm themselves, and then you “have the prospect of a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world, one that is rife with unstable governments and sectarian tensions.” He also pointed to the possibility that Iran could “sponsor and protect its proxies in carrying out terrorist attacks.”

The Iranians fund, train and arm terrorists globally and have shown no restraint in lethal attacks. Does anyone believe Iran would not increase the capabilities of terrorists with more deadly weapons against the United States, its Gulf allies and Israel?

Let’s dispel the chatter about Israel being a renegade state, dragging a gullible United States into another Middle East war, or that the Jewish American lobbyists and evangelical Christians are putting their interests before America’s. Nonsense!

Israel could have easily attacked Iranian sites over the past three years if it were eager to start a war.  But most Israelis (58 percent in a recent Haaretz poll) do not want war, and especially do not want to go it alone in bombing Iranian nuclear sites.

Indeed, Israel, the Gulf states and Europeans are all hoping the United States will lead a united effort to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. They all want to intensify economic sanctions, employing ones that might bring down the regime or just get it to stop its nuclear weapons program. Obama is ramping up the pressure, so if there needs to be military action, the major world players and Arab oil producers will be with us. That’s good!

However, if the enhanced sanctions do not halt the Iranian program — and they have not to date — then the time for negotiations and economic pressure to work will have ended. The time for reckoning may be coming soon. We — the United States, Israel and our allies — must be prepared to do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability. And that includes a joint military attack on Iranian nuclear sites.

We want Iran to stop nuclear bomb development through peaceful means and negotiation. But appearing resolute and being resolute to use military means is necessary so Iran knows Obama and Netanyahu are neither bluffing nor naive. We need to support them.

Jeff Saperstein of Mill Valley is a Jewish community activist and former marketing director for the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation. He chairs the Bridges to Israel program at Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon.