Disarmament in region may be best answer

IN HER March 12 Op-ed column “Tough poses in a political theater,’’ Juliette Kayyem aptly observes that the American Jewish community “is much more diverse in its opinions than [the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee’s] vociferous leaders would suggest.’’ She also remarks that the same can be said of Israelis. Indeed, in the face of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s saber-rattling toward Iran, a recent University of Maryland poll of Israeli public opinion shows that when faced with the prospect of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, nearly two-thirds of Israelis favor the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East.

A conference in Helsinki this year will take up that very challenge: Middle Eastern disarmament from weapons of mass destruction. In 1983, Robert McNamara remarked that nuclear weapons “are totally useless - except only to deter one’s opponent from using them.’’ That principle suggests that as long as any country in the region - in this case, Israel - remains a nuclear state, other players, Iran included, will strive to become one too. It suggests further that regional disarmament, with a robust and reliable monitoring system, is the only durable solution to what otherwise looks like a perilous arms race without end.

Helsinki offers at least the possibility of the best answer to the Iranian nuclear conundrum. The United States and Israel should be booking their flights.


Michael Felsen

Jamaica Plain