Iran's Nuclear Program Today, Ours Tomorrow?

The world just might get Tehran to budge without us going crazy and acting alone. If that happens, when our turn comes, the world might insist on dealing with our toys.

Yoel Marcus
Yoel Marcus
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Yoel Marcus
Yoel Marcus

1. Responding once to a report on corruption at the Jewish Agency, the finance minister at the time, Levi Eshkol, borrowed from the Book of Deuteronomy: "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn." That's more or less how those who voted and those who didn't vote viewed this week's local elections. Mayors were reelected for the second or third time, or even more, and others were reelected even though the sword of our criminal court system was hanging over their heads. None of this made an impression on the voters.

We're not talking here about Chicago in the 1920s, when gangsters controlled city hall, but nonviolent corruption. A well-known legal figure defined this as normal corruption that stems from the proximity of money and the lack of authority of the gatekeepers: the legal advisers and comptrollers. The people are willing to accept "a little bit of corruption" as long as city services function properly and the courts deal with the corrupt - even at a snail's pace. The important thing is that they're dealing with it.

The only political aspect of these elections was the blow Shas' Aryeh Deri and Yisrael Beiteinu's Avigdor Lieberman suffered in their attempt to take control of Jerusalem. One found himself with his tresses cut off like Samson, the other, Deri, was exposed as the mouse that roared. In other words, they screwed up.

2. Iran has an exceptional ability to deceive, mislead and exploit the naiveté of the world, which wants to believe that Tehran will give in on the nuclear issue. Still, there's a very slim chance that real change is going on there on that subject. If that's the case, it means the world has gotten Iran to budge without an attack or a war, and without us going crazy and acting alone. Such a solution could have an influence well beyond Iran's borders that we haven't even begun to think about: When our turn comes, the world will insist on dealing with our toys.

3. Once back in the day when the Americans prepared "working papers" for regional peace conferences, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, who was in New York at the time, called Prime Minister Menachem Begin and asked for his consent to include a statement that we were willing to discuss everything including Jerusalem. Jerusalem? No way, protested Begin. Dayan responded: "They will want Jerusalem and we will say no. That's the way negotiations work."

That particular peace conference never took place in the end, but the Camp David talks were spawned and produced the peace treaty with Egypt. It's important that in the current talks with the Palestinians led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry we leave nothing out - for example, the second stage of the prisoner release - so we can insist that the other side fulfills its commitments.

4. The affair of the appointment of a new Bank of Israel governor may have finished with a happy ending after a four-month ordeal, but it has left behind lots of questions on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision-making. Some said the process was a joke, some said he wanted someone he knew well, some said he has a thing for English speakers and was searching for someone who could speak to him in the language of Shakespeare with an American accent. And some said Netanyahu wanted someone who owed him a favor like Jacob Frenkel.

At least this time there was no interference from Sara Netanyahu because of her fear that Bibi would have an excuse to meet with a woman in private. (In the past, meetings with Limor Livnat were camouflaged in his official appointment calendar under a man's name.) Some said he feared Karnit Flug would be too independent.

A joke going around was that outgoing governor Stanley Fischer whispered to Netanyahu: "How could it be that Hussein Obama has appointed a Jewish female governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve and you're ruling out Flug? Still, some commentators aren't sure she's the best choice. If fears of her operating too independently were what made Bibi hesitate, now he has a real reason not to sleep well at night. After all, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr.Credit: AP

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