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September 27, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 27, 2013 Iran nuclear program diplomacy: By Ben Cohen From the brink of war, the Middle East has moved at dizzying speed to She cusp of peace. Or so we are led to believe. The issues at hand are Iran and Syria--and incidentally, there is good reason to feel some relief from that fact, since it's a timely reminder that Palestinian opposition to Israel's legitimacy is not the core dispute in the region, but a sideshow in the larger civil war with Islam that has engulfed much of this neigh- borhood. In Syria, the regime of Bashar al-Assad claims, under the watchful eye of the Rus- sians, to be submitting vital data on its chemical arsenal, in advance of a November deadline to disarm itself of these monstrous weapons. If the Obama Administration is looking to save face from its shabby climb-down in the face of Syrian brutality and Russian duplicity, it can always assert that the Syrian disarmament process is yield- ing positive effects in neigh- boring Iran. The White House can argue that the renewed impetus for a deal on Iran's nuclear program is the result of a credible threat of force against Assad, Tehran's key regional ally. Confront these dictators and tyrants with the prospect of an American as- sault, the White House might say (off the record, of course), and they will bend. But I suspect that the White House is going to have trouble selling this line on Iran, espe- cially when you take its to-ing and fro-ing over Syria into account. For one .thingl bet- ting on the ability of Hassan Rouhani, Iran's new president, to deliver a deal is a seriously risky business. Rouhani says that Iran does not intend to build a nuclear weapon, but there is no solid evidence of his sincerity. Even if he is Sin- cere, there is no solid evidence that he can carry the rest of the Iranian regime with him, particularly given that, as president, he is subordinate to both the Supreme Leader Ayatollah All Khamenei and the powerful Islamic Revolu- tionary Guard Corps (IRGC). What strikes me, in fact, is that for all the gushing atten- tion paid to Rouhani's charm offensive, which has been as- tutely timed to coincide with his arrival in New York for the United Nations General As- sembly meeting, nothing has really changed--and I'm not just referring to Iran's state doctrine of Holocaust denial, about which Rouhani, when asked by NBC's Ann Curry whether he believed that the slaughter of six mil|ion Jews was a myth, replied, "I'm not a historian." For years, straight-faced Iranian diplomats have been turning up at meetings of the U.N. Security Council to offer assurances that their nuclear program is for peaceful pur- poses only, and that it abides by the terms of the Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Invariably, these announce- ments are compromised by reports from the International Atomic EnergyAgency (IAEA) complaining of Iran's refusal to cooperate, as well as the occ'sional discovery of yet another nuclear installation whose existence the Iranians simply forgot to disclose. PAGE 5A Dishonor, war, or both? Take the underground uranium enrichment plant at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom. In 2009, the Iranians were forced to admit Fordo's existence to the IAEA, after western intelligence services exposed its activities--al- ready, not a good start. Last week, a repoin the German magazine Der Spiegel that Rouhani was willing to dose down Fordo in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions was quickly denied by All Akbar Sa!ehi, the head of Iranls Atomi Energy Orga- nization. Salehi, who served as foreign minister under Rou- hani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, underlined that no such statement was made, and that he was unaware of any agreement to shut Fordo under the supervisionof U.N. inspectors. Then, in th e same breath, Salehi added, "Iran is ready to enhance and strengthen engagement with the IAEA." You could put that another, more cynical way: Iran is do- ing what it has always done, using diplomatic engagement to buy time for its nuclear program. After all, whether or not Rouhani's pledge not to build a nuclear weapon is genuine, the Iranian regime is either very close to obtaining one, or has already done so. Even more important than Salehi, neither Ayatollah All Khamenei nor the IRGC have explicitly backed Rouhani's conHliatory noises. Khame- nei has talked vaguely about "heroic flexibility" while emphasizing the importance of the regime sticking to its "main principles." You could spend a lifetime trying to ex- tract a solid meaning to these words, and that's precisely what Khamenei wants you to do. Meanwhile, the political and economic leviathan that is the IRGC, a military unit that has viciously repressed opposition at home while sup- porting the aggression of both Assad and the Islamist terror group Hezbollah abroad, is hardly in the mood for a historic compromise, even if it concedes the tactical neces- sity of adjusting the tenor of Iranian statements so that they sound more soothing to western ears. Should the Obama Ad- ministration become heavily invested in a diplomatic track with Iran, skepticism and dismay will emanate from two main sources. Firstly, the con- servative Sunni monarchies in the Arab Gulf, who dread the thought that Shi'ite Iran might one day dangle a nucle- ar weapon over their heads. Secondy, Israel, which has poured scorn on Rouhani's words, and for whom the following points remain non- negotiable: a complete halt to uranium enrichment, the removal of enriched uranium from Iran, the dismantling of underground nuclear facili- ties, and an end to any efforts to use plutonium to produce a nuclear bomb. That's why, when Khame- nei speaks of Iran's "main principles," we should remind ourselves of ours. The real dilemma posed by nuclear weapons is not who owns them, but who is prepared to use them. For decades, Israel's nuclearweapons, which don't officially exist, have served as a fundamental guarantor of regional peace and stability: If that vital military edge is Cohen on page 14A For one mother, is decision to 'opt out' a cop..,aut? By Devorah Blachor variables that contribute to have influenced me and my many say things like, "You perhaps this intense connec- or did my career fail so I loved JERUSALEM (JTA)--At a recent kids-included party in Jerusalem, I spent much of the time either on the floor with my daughter Marl or trailing her around to make sure she didn't eat anything toxic. A successful American journalist living here chatted with me for a few minutes, and as I left her to intercept my daughter before she reached a stairwell, she told me, "Don't worry. They get older. You get your dignity back." Funny, I didn't even have any spit-up on my clothes. But herwords tapped into the part of me that feels inadequate. It occurred to me that be- ing a stay-at-home morn was perhaps not the best strategy for an insecure woman. And now that Marl, who recently turned 2, had just started a half-day preschool program, I started to wonder how I came to "opt out"? Beyon d the "lean-in" ver- .sus "opt out" debate are a million women with an infinite number of nuanced By Glenn Mollette I suspect you are already tired of hearing about Syria. The future path is blurry-- even to our president. Assad will still be in power. How many has he killed without chemical weapons? Who is using the chemical weapons? It sounds to me like the real problem is the one issuing the orders in Syria. Americans are now on the verge of committing billions of dollars of money we do not have to impact an area of the world that already hates us. Here at home we have mil- lions who cannoL find a job. We have millions more who cannot feed their families with the paycheck they bring home. All the while our roads and bridges need desperate the big decision. IfI were following the trend of those around me, I'd have gone back to work. In Israel, women receive 14 weeks of maternity leave and are en- titled to take off another 12 without pay. At my neighbor- hood park in Jerusalem, I was one of just two mothers who came every day with her baby. The other babies and toddlers werewith full-time nannies or their saftas--some had taken early retirement to care for their grandchildren. But even though I'm liv- ing in this "working gal" environment, I was raised in a different one within a Jewish community on Long Island, where the women in the 1970s and '80s opted out" long before the phrase ever evoked the hot-button issue of work-family balance. It's just what women did, with .. some, including my mother, returning to work when the youngest child started a full day of school. decision, even Jf I've left be- hind most of the other values. Another consideration that guided me away from the workplacewas the state of the work to which I'd be returning (a topic that's oten not men- tioned in the debate). I was a freelance journalist and docu- mentary filmmaker whose biggest project lost funding midway through production, though I managed to finish it. I also wrote fiction in my spare time. _ Journalism, documenta- ries and fiction: I give you the trifecta of hopeless endeavors in these declining days of old media. When my daughter was born, the thought of return- ing to work was depressing. What would I have been going back to? Submissions and unacknowledged query letters, rejections and being asked to write for websites without being paid. Yet the judgments of oth- ers still whispered in my ear. must be so happy. You'll have your life back! You'll have so much time now." The subtext is that a woman at home with a baby must be unhappy and unfulfilled. Which brings me back to my insecurity. I wonder if the staying at home option was just an escape hatch. Maybe not returning to work was a convenient way of surrender- ing to my fears and not facing the world. Was my opt out a cop-out? Even the degree to which I opted out implies submissive- ness. Unlikewith my firstchild, when I hired a baby sitter and worked a few hours a day, with Marl I let go of most things that had been part of the fabric of my life--writing, social life and what I'll call physical mainte- nance, a list that includes pedi- cures and buying new clothes. Happily for those around me, I still showered. I was still a parent to my oldest, I still did yoga, and my partner and I built a tion I feel with my daughter is unhealthy in the same way a co-dependent romantic relationship is. I don't believe there is an absolute truth here for me-- or any woman navigating her own path. I only know that after Marl was born, I tried to get in touch with the deepest part of myself. When I did, I wanted to be with's been a process to accept myself, one that requires maintaining that connection with what I truly want while separat- ing my self-regard from the opinion of others. I work at it every day. And now it's over. Mari's in school coloring in apple cutouts for Rosh Hashanah and I'm adrift without anyone to make errands seem like an exciting adventure. As I apply for jobs, I still wonder which came first: Did I love my baby so much that my career failed, my baby? Then I think, who cares? Love comes in all kinds of dif- ferentways, butwhenever and however it comes along, let it in. It's love, and John Lennon had it right--it is the answer. At least for me. These last two years have been beautiful. There is one thing I have been doing outside of mother- ing. During Mari's nap times, I spent my"free" hours trying to sell my novels. As much as I tried to be cheerful about it, the task of marketing my work, particularly as I lack the marketing gene,was one huge dignity-suck. That'swhat I might have told the woman at the larty: Follow- ing my crawling baby around was an absolute pleasure. " Devorah Blachor writes a mystery series under the pen name Jasmine Schwartz. Her novels include "Farbissen" and "Fakakt." Dry Bones WAR Sometimes Iwonder if the Even now, when I tell people stronger connection than tired U.5. ATTACK WITH] ! THATS / Syria--- AN THe/ 000TH00G II buildings for our children, it all when a finely dressed about Syria keeps changing, i % iIi iJ"'- i We have made our military soldierhandedhimthefolded We've been hearing about do more with less but we American flag and expressed Syria for at least two years. continue to ask them to do his appreciation on behalf of Now we are hearing all more.Wecontinuetoputour America for Junior's service, the promises made by our aging seniors at risk as we Vietnamwentonfortwetve president, secretary of state make it harder for us to pay long years. It was a sense- and others pertaining to social security and cover our less waste of at least 58,000 our involvement. Over the huge medical tab. Needless Americanlivesandforsolong months the promises will to say the tax debt for our children and grandchildren grows all the more. Syria means additional taxes, not less taxes. Many of us can still re- member how tired we were of Vietnam. My brother served a year in Vietnam and it was a long year for our family. Fortunately, he came home. An older friend who lived just uIthe road named Junior was killed in Vietnam. I'll never forget his funeral. The expres- it seemed it would never end. We endured Iraq for eight years and lost almost 4,500 more soldiers and yet today the country is in constant chaos. Today we have allowed Afghanistan to surpass Viet- nam as our longest war. With all the noise about Syria do not forget we are still in Af- ghanistan. We will spend 100 billion dollars inAfghanistan this year and risk the lives of more American men and women. change, as there will be new developments, revelations and new commitments of weapons, food, soldiers and your money. Brace yourself because his- tory is about to repeat itself and we're already tired. Glenn Mollette is an Amer- ican columnist and speaker. He is the author of'American Issues" and nine other books. Find his books at Barnesand- Contact him at