Monday, August 18, 2008

Israeli petition against attacking Iran

On August 6 over 100 Israeli academics and peace activists released a statement opposing an Israeli strike against Iran. "Arguments for such an attack are without any security, political or moral justification," they argue. While this is a relatively small number, the signatories include some high visibility names and has gotten some international circulation. The Jerusalem Post interviews veteran peace activist Reuven Kaminer, who explains the thinking behind the statement and differentiates the Israeli effort from a similar international statement signed by over 150 Jews ( Prominent individual signers of the international statement include Noam Chomsky, Avi Shlaim, Lea Tsemel, Michael Warschawski, Uri Davis, James Cohen, Université de Paris VIII (France) and Canadian concert pianist Dr. Anton Kuerti.

Joel Beinin


Israeli academics, peace activists sign petition against attacking Iran
BEN SALES Jerusalem Post
Thursday, August 7, 2008

Over 100 academics and peace activists joined forces Wednesday to petition the Israeli government against attacking Iran, claiming that Israel should give more credence to current diplomatic efforts.

The petition states that though its signatories understand the significance of the Iranian threat, they believe that Israel is moving toward an attack on Iran and that 'all the arguments for such an attack are without any security, political or moral justification.'

The petition urges the Israeli government to place greater faith and show more patience in the negotiations that western powers such as the United States and the European Union are undertaking with Iran, and that a military strike would constitute 'an act of adventurism that could endanger our very existence.'

Former provost for overseas students at the Hebrew University Reuven Kaminer, who signed the petition, said that the urgency with which Israel seems to be mobilizing for a strike mandated his speaking out.

'Israel is doing this as a loose cannon,' he said. 'Israel is concerned that Obama will be president and there will not be the conditions for a first-strike policy: that if it has to be done, then it better be done while [US President] George Bush is still around.'

Kaminer feels that the petition is an important addition to the political discourse, because Israelis have a tendency to be hawkish in their thinking about Iran.

'The average Israeli is so antagonistic regarding the Iranian regime that he has a tendency not to think logically,' said Kaminer. 'We don't condone any of the state policies or thinking out of Teheran but we're against the statement that [Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] is a new Hitler. We don't think war is inevitable.'

The main advocate of that antagonism and urgency, according to Kaminer, is Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who has spoken publicly of the possibility of an attack on Iran several times.

'There's a strong trend in our country to solve these problems on a military basis, even though there are clearly no military solutions,' Kaminer said.

Mofaz's office refused to comment on the issue.

Instead of a strike, Kaminer would like Israel to look toward the multilateral talks being held with Iran, which many governmental officials have disregarded as ineffective. Kaminer, however, said that diplomatic efforts like this take time and yield far better results than military action.

'These things take time,' he said. 'I don't know how many years it took in North Korea, but the Iranians don't want to be talked down to. Given their official position that they don't want atomic weapons, that creates objective conditions for patient policies that can come out better than any war.'

While Kaminer does not expect pro-attack politicians to pay attention to the petition, he and other signatories have been in touch with members of the Israeli political left and believe that in stating their opinion, they are fulfilling their civic responsibility.

'This is not a worldwide movement,' said Kaminer. 'We feel we're making a rational contribution to an important level of discourse in our country. This is our duty as citizens.'

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
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