By Ira Sharkansky
JERUSALEM — Israel is too small and too poor for the demands that it lays upon itself, and are imposed by the world.
My favorite newspaper photo of the day shows a file room at a court house. It came with a story about a plaintiff’s case of medical malpractice that failed on account of a lost file. We see in the picture what we know about government offices, hospitals and other public facilities. There is too much to do in order to assure proper treatment.
Just last evening on our walk around French Hill we encountered a problem that might have justified a call to the police, but where the prospect of quick service versus the severity of the problem deterred us from making the call.
We passed by a group of Arabs dressed as if they had come from a family feast to celebrate the end of a daily Ramadan fast. Suddenly a boy of about 14 jumped, yelled, smacked his hand against a parked car, and swaggered off as if he had rendered appropriate damage to a Jew’s property.
Call the cops and point out the vandal? Last time we called the police was a more serious event of an Arab assaulting a young woman. At that time our first call to the emergency number broke off in the midst of our report. When we did make contact, it took 10 minutes for the first patrol car to arrive. This in a neighborhood bordering an Arab community with a high incidence of minor and not so minor incidents.
So last night we continued on our walk, frustrated at the system and angry at ourselves for choosing the easy over what might have been the appropriate decision.
Another case: the Supreme Court has ordered the government to reconsider the appointment of a woman to the commission investigating the seizure of the Turkish flotilla.
What to do? The law requires that such bodies include a woman, but the Court made its decision after the commission had already heard what are likely to be the most important witnesses from the government and the military.
The entire investigation is a farce. So what that nine fighters (terrorists, if you will) were killed in a military operation? How many operations of American and NATO forces have caused as many casualties in the area from Iraq eastward without provoking the United Nations and pressuring the soldiers’ home country to conduct a public investigation?
Another case: Ha’aretz is exposing that several thousand illegals from Africa have been held in detention longer than the period of time allowed by law before their cases are settled. Many of these individuals have no documents and come from countries without functioning governments. But a judge may look at the law, and order that individuals held too long be let out on the street. The individuals waiting for such a determination look something like those files pictured above: too many to deal with according to requirements.
Who’s responsible? Both Israelis and the world. Seekers of justice work to impose whatever regulations they pick up from elsewhere in order to make things better here. The people making the demands are Israelis and Jews feeling that Israel must be at least as good as other countries.
Then there is the world, always on edge in search of a new accusation that can be made against Israel.
Remember those 400 children of illegal immigrants ordered deported. There are daily articles describing citizen and overseas activists–from Eilie Wiesel downward–concerned that Israel might despoil itself by expelling children who should not be here.
None of these are bad ideas, but Israel does not have the population or resources of all those countries serving as models of public policy. And the resources that it does have are allocated more than elsewhere to defense. Staying alive comes at the cost of an ideal public administration or an environment as clean as that of Germany.
Overall, the country does not do badly with what it has. Its health and welfare, the incidence of violent crime, and the safety of its prisons look better than in the United States, but that is an easy standard of comparison. There is no other country where all of the universities are on the Chinese list of the 500 best in the world.
Thinking about making it better, I return to those moments last evening when I considered calling the cops against that teenager from Isaweea. Most likely the police had more serious things to do. One of my neighbors has a dented car, and an Arab is feeling good that he did something to the Jews. I am angry at myself, but would have been even angrier if the call to the police did not go through, if the patrol car came too late, or was met by women screaming about a racist Jew who had summoned the police for no reason about a well behaved boy.
Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University
(WJC)–In a contribution for the German newspaper ‘Financial Times Deutschland’, the president of the World Jewish Congress argues that the latest UN sanctions against Iran were only a first step and need to be followed up with unliateral measures by the US and Europe. Read the full text in English and German below.
Put more pressure on Iran
By Ronald Lauder
On Wednesday, following months of intensive diplomatic haggling, the UN Security Council finally passed a fourth package of sanctions on Iran which at least to some extent can be qualified as “strong”. The fact that China and Russia were now willing to support such measures sends out the important signal that the international community is determined. The vote at the United Nations is the fruit of hard work, in particular by the Obama Administration.
The United Nations have again made it clear that a nuclear-armed Iran is not an acceptable option. Yet whoever believes that Iran is unprepared is naïve and has learnt little from the past years of negotiations.
These sanctions come late. President Obama wanted them in place six months ago, and his French counterpart Sarkozy even promised them “within three months” – back in the summer of 2009. Precious time has again been wasted.
In the meantime, in Natanz, Qom, Isfahan and other secret locations, Iran’s nuclear program and the enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade has continued at great pace. In parallel, the regime is developing medium-range missile systems and has procured plans to build advanced nuclear warheads.
All this is happening under the watchful eyes of the international community. Reports by the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna provide clear evidence of Iran’s true intentions, as do those of Western intelligence services. Although Iran is censured when it denies IAEA weapons inspectors access to its nuclear sites, or otherwise fails to comply with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nothing else happens.
As long ago as 2006 the UN Security Council adopted a legally-binding resolution which called on Tehran to cooperate. The same year, the council passed sanctions because Iran had failed to comply with its demands.
In other words, for the last four years the regime in Tehran has been in clear breach of international law. It has defied the international community and has put up a smokescreen of frantic diplomatic activity which serves only one purpose: to gain precious time.
Any tactic suits Iran if that tactic helps to delay effective sanctions. As a result, Iran already possesses sufficient fissile material for two nuclear bombs. A year ago, it had only enough to make one.
In short, for years Iran has successfully made a fool of the international community and always been a step ahead of the diplomatic game. President Ahmadinejad will continue to make dishonest offers to the West, combined with ludicrous demands and conditions. Together with his allies around the Globe he will continue to present himself as the innocent victim of Western attacks.
Iran has managed to fool the world with a kind of pseudo diplomacy that only serves the purpose of creating confusion and seeks to drive a wedge into the international community, despite the growing threat that Iran poses to world peace.
Iran’s reasoning has been that no country will want to lose its competitive advantage in the global marketplace for oil and gas by unilaterally withdrawing from the lucrative Iranian energy market.
Regrettably, Brazil and Turkey have now deemed it appropriate to negotiate with Tehran about possible “compromises” – without the international community’s mandate to do so. At the Security Council, these two countries were the only ones to vote against the Iran sanctions package, when even Lebanon abstained.
Only a mediator that is accepted by all sides, acts on the basis of international law and is not secretly motivated by narrow self-interests can be a credible arbiter. After the events of the last weeks, I have my doubts that Ankara is well qualified to assume the role of an “honest broker”.
Moreover, why should we assume that Turkey or Brazil will achieve, in the course of a few months, the breakthrough that even diplomatic heavyweights like Russia and China could not bring about in years of intensive diplomacy and political pressure? The “deal” they presented three weeks ago was rightly rejected by the permanent members of the Security Council.
The Iranian regime will continue to gain time. As long as certain countries keep trying to score cheap diplomatic points despite the seriousness of the issue, there will not be a satisfactory solution. The international community’s unity and resolve is an absolute precondition for stopping aggressive regimes such as the one in Iran. It must not be squandered.
However, this will not be sufficient. The new UN sanctions will have to be implemented forcefully, and additional measures – if necessary on a unilateral basis – must follow suit.
The United States are forging ahead, and Europe would be well-advised to, as a minimum, withdraw quickly and fully from the Iranian oil and gas sector.
Even if this means voluntarily forgoing profits in the short term: it is our only chance to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran without military means. After years of fruitless diplomacy, now is the time for action! Further by-standing would be wantonly negligent. It appears that the European heads of government are now finally ready to act.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.
This Thursday, June 17, at 7:00 p.m. at the Ruby G. Schulman Auditorium in Carlsbad’s Dove Library, 1779 Dove Lane, Carlsbad, two AICF recipients, violinist Asi Matathias, and pianist Victor Stanislavsky, will perform works by Cesar Franck and Edvard Grieg. The concert is part of the San Diego Jewish Music Series of the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture. It is underwritten by the Leichtag Foundation.
Violinist Asi Matathias, 22, made his debut at 14 with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta. Mehta was so impressed by the youth that he invited him to solo with the IPO the following season. Mehta described Asi as “extremely musical, sensitive and technically accurate.”
After Asi’s early violin training in Israel with Chaim Taub, the talented young man continued his studies at the Universitat fur Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna. He has been supported by the AICF since 1997.
Asi has performed with orchestras in Europe and recorded with the BBC, the Austrian Radio, and the Israel Broadcasting Authority. Currently, he is working with Pinchas Zukerman as a scholarship student at the Manhattan School of Music.
Along with his studies, he continues to concertiize. His 2009-10 season included a concert at Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium, playing alongside pianist Yefim Bronfman and cellist Wolfgang Laufer; solo programs in Carnegie Weill Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, and in Japan, and another solo performance with the IPO.
Pianist Victor Stanislavsky, 27, has been an AICF scholarship winner since 2002. He has also won top prizes in Italy’s “Pozzoli International Piano Competion and in China’s International Piano Competition. Recently, he was one of thirty pianists world-wide, invited to compete in the Van Cliburn Competition.
Victor was born in the Ukraine and moved to Israel in 1990. His early training was at the Rubin Academy in Haifa. He received his BA degree with highest honors from the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music of the Tel Aviv University. In addition to soloing with Israel’s top orchestras, he has performed in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Eastern and Western Europe, South Korea and China.
After a recent Athenaeum Concert in La Jolla, Ken Herman of the La Jolla Light praised his “youthful vigor and mature interpretation.”
Tickets for the recital are $15 JCC members, $18 non-members. Call 858-362-1348.
(WJC)–By 12 out of 15 votes, the Security Council of the United Nations on Wednesday approved a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, which many fear is ultimately aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Turkey and Brazil voted against the resolution text while Lebanon abstained. Earlier this week, the permanent members of the council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – agreed on the most far-reaching sanctions package so far.
Hours before the vote, the US, France and Russia dismissed a proposal by Iran to swap some of its enriched uranium for reactor fuel, arguing that unlike the original plan drawn up in Geneva eight months ago the proposal negotiated by Brazil and Turkey would leave Iran with enough material to make a nuclear weapon.
The new measures prohibit Iranian investment in nuclear facilities and activities abroad and ban new categories of weapons to be imported into Iran. It imposes asset freezes on 40 new entities, many linked to the Revolutionary Guard in Iran. Resolution 1929 also imposes sweeping new restrictions on financial activities that could contribute to Iran’s nuclear or proliferation activities.
Travel and financial restrictions also were imposed on more officials and institutions, and the resolution has a qualified call for the boarding and inspection of ships heading for Iran. However, that can be carried out only if the country whose flag the vessel flies agrees to inspections.
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) applauded the Security Council vote. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, said in a statement: “This resolution is an important demonstration of the international community’s unwillingness to tolerate a nuclear Iran that is characterized by continuous human rights abuses and threats against its neighbors. The resolution includes a ban on Iran’s acquiring heavy weapons and prevents Iran from investing in any nuclear related entities such as uranium mines or nuclear enrichment plants.”
“The World Jewish Congress believes that these sanctions are an important step and that additional pressures must be applied as well in order to stop Iran. We applaud the members of the UN Security Council, led by the United States Mission to the United Nations which invested yeoman efforts, for all their work in passing these measures and urge the international community to immediately enact and enforce them. We also urge the European Union to enact its own sanctions, as it has been promising for a long time, which would go a long way in bolstering these UN measures. We also urge the United States Congress to finalize its sanctions legislation and President Obama to sign it into law. The entire international community can together demonstrate the courage and determination to exercise the ability to keep Iran in check,” added Lauder.
Meanwhile, Russia said the sanctions meant it could not supply Iran with the S-300 anti-missile system Tehran had ordered, a military source told the ‘Interfax’ news agency. “It is compulsory to fulfil a decision by the UN Security Council, and Russia is not an exception here,” the unnamed source in the Federal Service for Military Technical Co-operation, which supervises Russian arms sales, was quoted as saying, adding: “Naturally, the contract for the delivery to Tehran of the S-300 air defence missile systems will be frozen. Russia agreed the S-300 deal with Iran several years ago, but has never delivered the weapons, under pressure from the US and Israel.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.