Why Iran and Israel should not be linked

U.S. President Barack Obama is running on a treacherous path — one that has never yielded and will not yield anything but despair. Obama, the contemporary Chamberlain, is appeasing a maniacal and ominous enemy, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at the expense of the United States’ one true ally in the Middle East, Israel — the only state in the region that shares American values of freedom, justice and liberty. He is doing so by pursuing an irresponsible policy of creating a linkage between the curbing of Israeli settlement construction, including natural growth, and the handling of the imminent nuclear threat emanating from Iran.

The notion of exchanging the freezing of growth and construction of Israeli settlements for sanctions against Iran’s nuclear projects is also misguided on Obama’s part. Obama is attempting to build a coalition of odd bedfellows, including Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the Gulf States and the Palestinian Authority, and to normalize the relations between Israel and the rest of the Middle East. This coalition, as noble as it may seem, does not contribute, in any way, to the halt of Iran’s nuclear efforts, which represent a threat to the entire Middle East, let alone the world.

Ahmadinejad is adamant in his pursuit of the development of nuclear weapons, while making no qualms about his desire and willingness to destroy Israel. Ahmadinejad and his “Islamic” regime have documented uranium enrichment sites in Natanz and in Qom. Currently, the regime is blackmailing the west in its demands for more fuel by threatening to enrich uranium, which serves as a crucial component for nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad’s Iran has, deliberately and shrewdly, hidden these facilities from the eyes of the world, in violation of international law.

Obama is flirting with a man who has downplayed and even denied the Holocaust. From conferences in Tehran, to speeches around the world, Ahmadinejad has questioned the undeniable and undisputable fact that six million Jews, along with millions of LGBT* people, dissidents, persons who are disabled, Roma and others, were brutally murdered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

Ahmadinejad even has the audacity to compare the tragedy of genocide to Israel’s counterinsurgency operation in Gaza earlier this year, which totaled 1166 deaths, some 709 of which were combatants, according to the Israel Defense Forces .

In addition, Ahmadinejad is using Lebanon as a launching ground to fight a proxy war against Israel via Hezbollah — an Iranian funded and armed terrorist organization, who also funds Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic socio-political organization, considered a terrorist organization by countries such as Israel, Canada, the U.S. and Japan.

Why then is Obama selling out Israel, by demanding a settlement freeze that does not even allow for natural growth? After all, Israel is the only state that has a functioning, vibrant and representative democracy, let alone the sole democracy in the region and the only Middle Eastern state where persons who are LGBT* can parade in the streets without criminal prosecution? It is a state which actually has an army that attempts to minimize civilian casualties — and does so, with enormous success and professionalism. However, Obama is treating Israel in a manner that is disproportionately unreflective of the democratic nature of Israel by tying the cessation of settlement construction with ending the Iranian nuclear program.

The settlements are merely homes and a road built in a disputed territory captured from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the 1967 war. The majority of the 500,000 Israeli settlers are people looking for affordable places to live. Settlements do, however, provide logistical problems for Palestinians, due to the fact that some of them are built on expropriated land. They do not violate any international law, however, as Palestine was never a power in this region, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Instead, Israeli settlements have been considered a “bad policy” by some, such as the Reagan administration.

Settlements are necessary for self-defense and contribute to the topography and the width of the Israeli land, as dictated in the pre-1967 borders, which allows for its continued survival and prevents it from being attacked. They are also part of a local issue that only affects the parties directly involved in the issue. The Israeli government’s primary right and responsibility should be to defend its citizens. Israel cannot afford to risk the lives of the Israeli public in an ill-timed withdrawal, as evidenced by the 2005 events where Israel suffered rocket attacks, which followed its disengagement from the Gaza strip. In other words, any pursued policy must first comfort the Israeli electorate and reassure its population’s security.

Obama, should direct his efforts towards attempting to curb the Iranian nuclear threat rather than trying to solve the entire Middle Eastern conflicts and intricacies. The two issues do not even compare, in scope and in purpose, and their linkage is a fatal combination that would cause the suffering of Israel, the Western world and the Iranian people themselves.

Robin Super is part of the Jewish Student Association/ Hillel Student Executive Council.