The Other Existential Threat

(Commentary) Daniel Gordis - The mere possession of a nuclear weapon by Iran would instantly restore Jews to the status quo ante before Jewish sovereignty, to a condition in which their futures would depend primarily on the choices their enemies - and not Jews themselves - make. For hundreds of years, Jewish life in Europe was a matter of either hoped-for toleration or a struggle to survive against the periodic outpourings of violent Jew-hatred. The creation and survival of the Jewish state ended a millennium of Jewish vulnerability and brought to a close a long and anguished history in which Jews were assigned the role of victim-on-call. Many people are put off by the Israeli national affect, which they take to be a mix of arrogance and bravado. This is a misperception of an attitude: We Jews no longer live - and die - at the whim of others. That sense of security would evaporate the minute Iran had the weapon it seeks. Even if Israel does possess a second-strike capability, and even if the U.S. could be counted on to punish a nuclear attack on the Jewish state, the existential condition of the Jews would still have reverted to that experienced in pre-state Europe. It would mean that Jews by the tens of thousands could die because someone else determined that it was time for them to do so. The writer is senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

2010-10-05 11:31:50

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