They Say, We Say: " Iran is an existential threat to Israel"

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

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Is Peace Possible?

They Say:

Iran is an existential threat to Israel. Until this threat is addressed, pursuing peace is not an option. The Iranian regime is irredeemably evil - no different than the Nazis. Diplomacy is pointless with people like that. All they understand is power: sanctions and a credible threat of military action. If that doesn't work very soon, war will be inevitable.

We Say:

Anyone who cares about Israel and peace, security, and stability in the Middle East must be concerned at the prospect of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. An Iran armed with nuclear weapons represents an alarming scenario that neither the U.S. nor Israel, nor for that matter, the world, can afford to dismiss. However, they must be equally concerned about reckless talk about military action, or reckless actions that discredit diplomacy and leave military action as the only option. They must also be outraged and appalled by those who cynically seek to transform a decision about war - with all of its national security implications for both Israel and the United States - into a false test of pro-Israel credentials.

The U.S. must deal soberly with the serious challenges posed by Iran. A decision to go to war is too important to be turned into a political football. It is imperative, given the stakes involved, that the U.S. remain committed to a responsible course of diplomacy, backed by sanctions and supported by the international community. As demonstrated by past experience, engaging Iran is not easy; indeed, it will almost certainly continue to be a frustrating, arduous process whose success is by no means a foregone conclusion. But such an effort is indispensable if the U.S. is serious about dealing with the challenges Iran poses to U.S. foreign policy and to U.S. national security, as well as to Israel and the region.

Policymakers should not give in to those who, for reasons of ideology, partisan gain or political expediency, are agitating for war. For years, Israeli and U.S. experts - people with direct experience in intelligence, defense, and national security decision-making - have made clear that military action against Iran will only delay, not stop, Iran's nuclear program and will likely have far-reaching and dangerous consequences for the U.S., Israel, the region and, indeed, the world. They have also made clear that the best chance for avoiding war is tough, sustained, robust diplomacy, in tandem with sanctions against the Iranian regime. Such diplomacy should not be constrained by preconditions or arbitrary deadlines.

This is not to suggest that all options, including military action, should not remain on the table. However, it must be recognized that military action is the least desirable and by no means inevitable option of last resort. Any discourse about war must be sober and fact-based, involving an objective weighing of all options and a clear-eyed accounting of possible consequences. It must be a discourse in which the voices of reason and wisdom from America's - and Israel's - own military and intelligence communities are not marginalized in favor of the kind of dangerous ideologues and fantasists who took the U.S. down the path of war in Iraq.