February 22, 2007
Mobilize now against Iran and save the world
(Page 2 - Previous Page)This may seem a hopelessly difficult task, but it is not. After 9/11, one woman, a student, took on Harvard University, which was ready to accept a $10 million "gift" from a Saudi sheikh. Harvard backed down, showing that moral clarity, unapologetically and passionately expressed, can change seemingly unassailable ideas.
We must stand for a basic principle: If denying the Holocaust can land a professor in jail, denying Israel should not land him tenure.
Second, support for Israel must be demonstrated. Two decades after the massive Soviet Jewry rally of 1987, we need to return to the mall on Israel's Independence Day in May with two messages: Support Israel and Stop Iran. It is late, but not too late, to overcome those fears of being "too parochial" that the Soviet Jewry movement succeeded in dispelling more than 30 years ago.
The fight to support Israel and stop Iran now is, if anything, less "parochial" than the Soviet Jewry movement was then. Then, the Jewish world took on a global superpower, the Soviet Union, and confronted the reigning American foreign policy paradigm -- detente -- with a very different one: linkage of trade to human rights.
Then, we successfully argued that the freedom to emigrate was not just a Jewish concern, but a universal one, and we were more right than we knew. The Jackson-Vanik amendment and the Helsinki accords were critical factors in triggering the internal collapse of the Soviet empire. This collapse not only freed millions of Jews, but all the peoples behind the Iron Curtain, and ended a half-century-old superpower stalemate that threatened the entire planet.
Now the world stands at a no less fateful watershed. The world's most dangerous rogue regime is on the verge of obtaining the ultimate weapons of terror. Already, Iran's confidence that it will not be stopped has led to one war, last summer's war in Lebanon started by Hezbollah. Already, Iran is fueling conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza -- and all this before the regime enjoys its own full, declared nuclear umbrella.
The moment before mobilization is always a lonely one, in which it seems that the obstacles to making a cause universal are insurmountable. Yet, as in the case of the Soviet Jewry movement, we are not alone. We are surrounded by potential allies who may not themselves know they are ready to join us until we create a movement for them to join. Our leadership will give others the opportunity to act. If the Jewish world does not lead the way, who will? It is as true now as it was then; if we build it, they will come.
A decade after the wave of democracy that came with the fall of the Soviet Union, an Iranian-led wave of terror is rising that will not stop until it is stopped.
Ultimately, we overcame our fear of parochialism to stand up for Soviet Jewry, and left the world a much better place for it. Now we must do the same to prevent a second holocaust, and in the process save the world.
This article was reprinted from The Jerusalem Post.
1 | 2