Is the Bush administration losing its nerve in its confrontation with Iran over the Islamist regime's bid to obtain nuclear weapons? That's a reasonable question to ask this week after Washington endorsed yet another largely symbolic attempt by the European Union to appear as if it's doing something to halt Tehran's march to nuclear capability.
The scheme would actually allow Iran to continue nuclear development so long as it leaves the business of uranium enrichment to its Russian business partners. But our European "allies," as well as the Russians, have both been knee-deep in business and diplomatic entanglements with the radical Islamic republic. As with previous efforts at appeasement, the likelihood of the Europeans taking serious action to halt nuclear proliferation in the Muslim world is virtually nil.
In fairness, it must be said that given the size and the strength of Iran, it isn't immediately apparent what options Washington has other than diplomacy. But it is also not fair for the administration to rely on the threat of Israeli action against Iran as leverage to enhance the chances that a peaceful solution can be found.
Israel has a vital stake in this issue. After all, the president of Iran recently reiterated his government's policy of supporting the extinction of the Jewish state. But the danger here is a worldwide menace, not just to Israel. That's why it's imperative that Washington stiffen its spine and demand that its allies follow suit.
America's friends and foes need to be put on notice that the threat of Iranian nukes is an issue on which the United States will not bend. We are fast approaching the point when discussion of Iranian nuclear capability will stop being theoretical and become a practical reality that both Washington and Jerusalem will have to deal with. Now is not the time for further appeasement of Tehran or its friends in Paris or Moscow.
When Did We Get Shy?
Amid a pile of interesting data recently compiled by pollster Frank Luntz for The Israel Project comes a perplexing byte of information.
According to Luntz, though 82 percent of American Jews say they are strong supporters of the State of Israel, almost half say they rarely, if ever, speak up in its defense while conversing with non-Jews.
That leads us to an obvious query about the respondents: Since when did American Jews become shy about engaging in advocacy on political issues? After decades of high profile advocacy on every issue from civil rights to abortion, why have so many bitten their tongues when it comes to the right of the Jewish state to exist and to defend itself against a campaign of terror?
While some will try to place the blame for this on Israeli policies, this says a lot more about American Jews than it does about Israel. Given the media assault on Israel, it now takes a lot more guts to defend it, whether in the classroom or the workplace, than to speak out on many other issues.
Such uncharacteristic shyness leaves us wondering just how strong that 82 percent of Jewish supporters really is. And it also leaves us thinking that rather than worrying about trying to convince non-Jews about Israel (who are almost as overwhelmingly pro-Israel as any Jewish sample of opinion) maybe we should be putting more resources into the battle to convince more of our fellow Jews that Israel is in the right and deserves our backing.