Keeping the Pressure on Iran
Wed, 03/24/2010

As some Jewish leaders noted in a Jewish Week story this week, it’s getting harder to keep our community focused on the crisis posed by Iran’s continuing nuclear arms quest.

Jewish organizations are remarkably unified in making Iran sanctions a top priority; polls show an undiminished understanding of the huge risks a nuclear Iran would pose to Israel, to other Middle Eastern states and to U.S. interests around the world.

But maintaining high levels of activism is difficult in the face of a crisis that has resisted every strategy — from the tough talk of the Bush administration to the outstretched hand of President Barack Obama.  Years of sanctions have not altered Iran’s reckless behavior. Military action is fraught with risk, without any assurance of success. Diplomacy has been a dismal failure.

But we cannot afford to yield to that frustration and allow our activism to diminish. The centrifuges continue to spin and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to spew anti-Israel invective. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported last week that Iran is indeed working on warheads capable of delivering the bombs it is creating.

The Obama administration recognizes what’s at stake here and is dialing up the pressure on Tehran, but clearly it must do more to enlist critical international partners in a seamless international coalition to use economic leverage to stop Iran. Accomplishing that will require focus, skillful diplomacy and persistence in the face of daunting obstacles.

A number of Jewish organizations have worked hard, and successfully, to keep a strong focus on Iran in Congress and at the White House. Their work is also reflected in polls that show large majorities of Americans who recognize the huge dangers posed by a nuclear Iran.

It is more important than ever for all of us to keep our eyes on the ball – despite the frustrations of dealing with a problem that sometimes seems intractable, despite the disagreements among the experts, despite the unrealistic quick fixes we hear suggested from both ends of the political spectrum.

There are no easy solutions when it comes to Iran. But that cannot be an excuse for inaction in a crisis that threatens so much of what we hold dear.

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