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August 27, 2010

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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 27, 2010 By Sheldon Kirshner The Canadian Jewish News The probability that Iran or al-Qaida will launch a nuclear attack on Israel remains low, says an Israeli foreign policy expert. Nonetheless, Israel should be vigilant and prepare for a nuclear strike launched by Iran or al-Qaida, both of which want to destroy Israel, adds Chuck Freilich. Currently a senior fel- low at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Univer- sity, he was formerly Israel's deputy national security adviser for foreign affairs and a senior analyst at the Israeli ministry of defense. In "The Armageddon Sce- nario: Israel and the Threat of Nuclear Terrorism," a speculative but chilling monograph published re- cently by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Af- fairs at Bar-Ilan University, Freilich writes, "The pri- mary source of a state-based nuclear terrorist threat to Israel stems today and for the foreseeable future from Iran." Iran has a deep theologi- cal commitment to Israel's destruction, as do groups such as al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, he notes in his paper. But in a recent interview, Freilich said that Iran, which is in the process of develop- ing a nuclear arsenal in the face of United Nations op- position, would more likely use its nuclear capability to manage events in the Middle East rather than at- tack Israel. "In the case of Iran, the greater danger stems from the influence that [a nuclear arsenal] will give Iran, rather than the actual chances of a nuclear attack," he said. "Most experts on Iran believe it is fundamentally rational, even if certainly extremist," he observed. "If this is indeed true, it is hard to imagine that Iran would actually use its nuclear capability against Israel, because of the presumed Israeli retaliation, which would be devastating." Though unlikely, Iran might provide Hezbollah with nuclear devices to pro- mote Hezbollah's defensive capabilities and enhance Iran's deterrent power and thereby stop Israel from hit- ting its nuclear sites. Of more practical concern to Israel, Freilich noted, a nuclear-armed Iran might try to exert influence if an- other war broke out between Israel and Hezbollah on the one hand and Israel and Syria on the other hand. Though playing down the possibility of a nuclear as- sault on Israel by terrorists, Freilich warned that "the risk is extraordinary, and so we must take the threat seriously and take whatever preparations are possible." In his paper, he says that al-Qaida, as well as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, are "millennial movements with dreams of a greater Islamic order, for whom Is- rael's destruction is a sacred mission." Freilich quotes al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden as saying that the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction is "a religious duty" and that killing "Americans and their allies is an individual duty for every Muslim." According to Freilich, al- Qaida appears to be the only terrorist organization that may be capable of developing a nuclear weapon on its own, although it probably does not yet have the requisite capabilities. Claiming that al-Qaida has tried to obtain nuclear technology and materials since the early 1990s, he described it as "the only completely nihilistic actor around and thus undeter- rable.., and so frightening." Freilich, in his mono- graph, says that terrorist groups might acquire the fissile materials needed to build a nuclear bomb by various means. Countries such as Pak-'~- stan and North Korea might sell these materials. Rogue elements within governments, armed forces and nuclear industries could make illicit sales. Governments might lose control over existing nuclear stockpiles. Nuclear materials could be stolen or acquired by force or from the black market. Freilich says that the In- ternational Atomic Energy Agency has documented 18 cases of theft of weapons- usable plutonium or highly enriched uranium. He says that terrorists may attempt to penetrate Israeli airspace with a nuclear bomb placed on a commercial or private plane. Alternatively, Hezbollah might try to fit its rockets and missiles with nuclear warheads. A nuclear attack on Is- rael could be catastrophic, Freilich says. "Just one relatively small bomb deto- nated in a strategic location, such as Tel Aviv, would have "devastating consequences." He warns that an Israeli peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority, based on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, might heighten the risk of nuclear terrorism. As he puts it in his paper, "A Palestinian state might create a sanctuary for ter- rorist organizations, which could use its territory, with or without its knowledge and cooperation, to develop and deploy a nuclear bomb on Israel's borders and near major population centers." He adds in a somber post- script, "The more Israel is accepted in the region and establishes peaceful rela- tions with Arab states, the more the radicals will be determined to find new ways of achieving their goals." In his view, Israel has worked hard to prepare for an Iranian or a terrorist nuclear attack. Apart from improv- ing its defenses, Israel has conducted exercises simu- lating a nonconventional missile attack. Freilich calls on Israel to pay still more attention and allocate more resources to the threat of nuclear terror- ism and adopt a "shoot first" policy to deter enemies that wish to destroy it. Potential perpetrators of nuclear terrorism must be convinced that Israel will retaliate, he writes. "In the event of a declared nuclear terrorist capability, a stated intention to acquire one, or an advanced suspect- ed one, the known or sus- pected perpetrator and host country should be attacked with overwhelming and if necessary devastating force, in the attempt to prevent the threat's materialization." Further, Israel should adopt "a declared retaliatory policy" that holds Iran and/ or al-Qaida responsible for any nuclear attack, regard- less of the perpetrator. By Adam Diekter New York Jewish Week The Anti-Defamation League continued to weather harsh public reaction to its position against the Islamic cultural center to be built near the site of the 9/11 attack. CNN host and Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria, citing the group's mosque position returned the Hubert H. Humphrey First Amend- ment Freedoms Prize that was bestowed on him by the ADL in 2005, along with the $10,000 prize, saying "I cannot in good conscience hold onto the award or the honorarium that came with it and am returning both." In another development, the leader of the Cordoba Initiative, which is planning the center, Imam FeisalAbdul Rauf, has been selected by the U.S. State Department to travel to Bahrain, Qatar and the UnitedArab Emirates Cash back: CNN's Fareed Zakaria shocked the ADL by returning a $10,000 award over the Ground Zero mosque controversy. to discuss the perception of Islam in America. The State Department said he will be prohibited from fundraising during the trip. But two Republican law- yers blasted the government's funding of the trip. "It is unacceptable that US taxpay- ers are being forced to fund Feisal Abdul Rauf's trip to the Middle East," said Reps. leanaRos-Lehtinen of Florida and Peter King of Long Island in a joint statement on Aug. 10. "This radical is a terrible choice to be one of the faces or our country overseas." Rauf has been criticized for declining to characterize Hamas as a terrorist group when asked during a radio interview. His wife, Daisy Khan, recently told the Wall Street Journal that the group commits "atrocious acts of terror." The imam has also been criticized for saying af- ter 9/11 in a TV interview that because of American foreign policy, ""in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA." The ADL said on its website on July 30 that building the cultural center at the site purchased by the Cordoba Initiative on Park Place two blocks from Ground Zero would be "counterproductive to the healing process" and that it would be in the best interests of New York City for an alternative location to be found. The statement did not call for action to stop the center, but said, "There are understandably strong pas- sions and keen sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center site. We are ever mind- ful of the tragedy which befell our nation there, the pain we all still feel" In response to the ADL, a group of 51 diverse Jews, in- cluding cantors, filmmakers, lawyers, authors and musi- cians, posted an open letter in the Huffington Post. In a New York Times interview, ADL national director Abra- ham Foxman had said that the sensitivities of families of 9/11 victims should take precedence because, "Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted." "We can relate to these 'irrational feelings," wrote the authors on Aug. 3. "Many of our families lost members to the Holocaust. And yet we believe that your position on the Cordoba House is wrong and that it goes against the ADL's description of itself as an organization that fights "all forms of bigotry." Signers included filmmakers Sandi Dubowsky and Julie Herme- lin, Rabbi David Adelson of the East Side Temple, and authors Charles London and Stephen Elliot. New York City cleared the way for the $100 mil- lion center, which is to have meeting, educational and athletic facilities in addition to a mosque, two weeks ago when the Landmarks Preser- vation Commission declined to protect the 152-year-old building. Mayor Michael BIoomberg has ardently defended the Cordoba Ini- tiative's right to build the center on grounds of religious freedom. The American Jewish Com- mittee and the Jewish Com- munity Relations Council each issued statements sup- porting the center but calling on the organizers to make a clear statement against ter- rorism and to be transparent about the project's funding sources. But the executive director of the SimonWiesenthal Cen- ter's Museum of Tolerance in Manhattan, Rabbi Meyer May said recently it was "insensi- tive" to build the center near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "Religious freedom does not mean being insensitive... or an idiot," May told Crain's New York Business, which reported the organization's position on Aug. 6. "Religion is supposed to be beautiful. Why create pain in the name of religion?" May said the view of The Simon Wiesenthal Center is not necessarily that of the Museum of Tolerance. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wi- esenthal Center told The Jew- ish Week the center's position is that the victims' families should be given "paramount" consideration. "The decision should be based on a consensus of the families of victims of what was obviously the site of the worst killing field in America," said Cooper. "Their feelings should be paramount in everybody's mind. The families should be the ones who inform us, not the other way around." In a statement sent to The Jewish Week, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf expressed gratitude to members of the Jewish community who have supported the center. The imam, who has participated in interfaith programs with Jewish groups, cited a "his- tory" of cooperation between Jews and Muslims. "I express my heartfelt appreciation for the gestures of goodwill and support from our Jewish friends and col- leagues," read the statement. "Your support is a reflec- tion of the great history of mutual cooperation and understanding that Jewish and Muslim civilizations have shared in the past, and remains a testament to the enduring success of our continuing dialogue." In his letter to the ADL, Zakaria, a Muslim born in Mumbai, India, said he hoped his rejection of the Humphrey prize "might add to the many voices that have urged you to reconsider and reverse your position on this issue. "Whether or not the center is built, what is at stake here is the integrity of the ADL and its fidelity to its mission." In response, Foxman re- leased an open letter to Zakaria saying, "I am not only saddened but stunned and somewhat speechless by your decision .... We did not oppose the right for an Islamic Center or a mosque to be built. What we did was to make an appeal based solely on the issues of location and sensitivity. Foxman added, "ADL has and will continue to stand up for Muslims and otherswhere they are targets of racism and bigotry. Adam Dickter is assistant managing editor of the New York Jewish Week from which this article was reprinted by permission. JTA contributed to this report.