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May 14, 2009 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-05-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Editor's Letter

AIPAC's Edgy Imprint

W

e live in a moment of time that is dangerous
because too few people see the political and mili-
tary urgency confronting not only Israel, but also

the West.
That is why last week's policy conference hosted by the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was timely.
It provided a setting to highlight the texture of the threat as del-
egates marshaled their forces on the banks of the Potomac. The
delegation was 7,000 strong and included 165 Detroiters.
Iran and its 15-year pursuit of
nuclear arms proved a white-hot con-
ference topic.
In his keynote address during the
May 3-5 conference in Washington,
David Victor, the Bloomfield Hills-based
national president of AIPAC, described
the extremist theocracy, formally the
Islamic Republic of Iran, as "a regime
with global ambitions in one of the
world's least stable regions, a regime that
publicly doubts that the historical fact
of the Holocaust exists and yet is certain
Israel should not, a regime that is the largest state sponsor of ter-
rorism on the globe and trumpets its antipathy for the West"
Victor spoke before AIPAC delegates blanketed Capitol Hill via
500 separate congressional meetings. "We must help our lead-
ers feel the urgency of this moment:' he said, "and we must help
them understand that they still have the power to ensure that
Iran does not get the bomb:'

Iran, Iran

Victor acknowledged the gravity of the U.S.
economy as well as the Iraq and Afghanistan
warfronts. But he felt a singular voice pitched to
the Iranian problem would resonate.
While President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and
his rancor toward Zionism and the West spur
headlines, it's the Islamic clerics who control
Iran and its potent Revolutionary Guard. These
ruling clerics are committed to enriched ura-
nium and warhead advances, both forerunners
to an atomic bomb.
David Victor
AIPAC's congressional message was three-
pronged: help avert a nuclear Iran, help President Obama solve
the Middle East crises through diplomacy, help Israel defend
itself through security support.
There's debate about when Iran might produce a bomb. But
no one questions its desire. A nuclear Iran indeed would threat-
en global stability.
Victor reminded conference-goers that during the presiden-
tial campaign, Obama pledged to diplomatically solve Iran's
nuclear pursuit. In my estimation, Obama also should speak
more boldly about why America would never tolerate a bomb-
wielding Iran, even for a moment.

Hard Sanctions

Victor hit on Iranian sanctions, which I've hammered on for at
least a year. The civilized world must zero in on Iran's refining
capabilities and its banking system. Iran imports refined petro-
leum products to meet 40 percent of its demand for gasoline
and diesel. "Hinder Iran's domestic refining capacity;' Victor
said, "and you threaten the shutdown of Iran's economy:'
Surely, tough economic sanctions on businesses that essen-

tially underwrite Iran's energy and military sectors, along with
tougher travel and trade sanctions, would hurt.
The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, pending in
Congress, seems solid. It targets foreign companies that provide
refined petroleum products to Iran. It also targets companies
that ship these products or ensure their delivery, or provide
machinery to Iran's refining industry. Under the act, companies
would have to choose to do business with Iran or America.
The act would expose Iran's banking vulnerability. Sanction
the Central Bank of Iran and you potentially cripple Iran's
financial network and its principal tie-in to the international
banking system.
It's because of advocacy by powerhouse lobbyists like AIPAC
as well as U.S.-supported sanctions that Iran's road "has been
made much longer and much rougher," as Victor said.

take
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FREUDENHAUS

Two-State Solution

I liked Victor's simple, yet constructive call for Israeli-
Palestinian peace. He endorsed two congressional letters that
spell out the conditions: The involved parties would negotiate a
peace agreement, with America serving only as an Israeli advis-
er; America would insist the Palestinians stop violence, terror
and incitement; the Palestinians would build the infrastructure
"necessary for a viable Palestinian state living side by side with
the Jewish State of Israel."
AIPAC further challenged "the Arab states to do far more
to normalize relations with Israel and support moderate
Palestinians."
Let's be blunt: Without authentic Arab rec-
onciliation and a sea change in Palestinian
leadership, peace will remain elusive. That's
why President Obama ultimately must defer to
Israel's expertise even as he strives for renewed
talks. If he believes a two-state solution is pos-
sible with the terrorists, apologists and deniers
who lead the Palestinians today, he's wrong.
Roz Rothstein, national president of Los
Angeles-based StandWithUs, a pro-Israel group,
put it well. She praised AIPAC, but offered this
prudent advice to the Obama administration:
"All supporters of Israel should work together to
ensure that the administration does not pressure
Israel into premature, dangerous concessions,
but treats it as an equal — a sovereign, successful state that
desperately wants peace but that knows from bitter experience
what will and will not bring peace closer."
As I reflect on the 2009 policy conference, I applaud David
Victor. Midway through his two-year presidency of AIPAC, he
has proven to be dogged, thoughtful and articulate. He grabbed
the AIPAC reins with the blessing of his wife, Kelly. They have
four kids.
In his acceptance speech last year, Victor declared: "With the
lessons learned from my parents, Kelly and I decided now was
the time for us, and for our generation, to stand up, speak up
and lead."
It was the right message then. It echoes still. E

Should Iran command AIPAC's
uppermost attention?

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Will the Arab states ever collectively
validate Israel?

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