Much of our Purim issue this week focuses on the happy nature of this iconic Jewish holiday. But it’s hard to ignore the darker side of the day, the one that reminds us that Persia is modern-day Iran and that the Islamist regime that currently tyrannizes its own people and threatens the world sounds an awful lot like Haman, the Megillah’s antagonist who came perilously close to getting his wish to destroy the Jews.
As each week passes, the Iranian nuclear alarm bell intensifies and the window of time left to avert its destructive capability narrows.
Tehran’s leaders have remained defiant against six U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding an end to the enrichment of uranium and they have repeatedly refused to cooperate with international weapons inspectors, rejecting the latest effort again last week. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declares his country has no ambition of nuclear weapons while also claiming it has begun installing new centrifuges that can speed up the uranium enrichment at its main facility in Natanz.
President Barack Obama has repeatedly stated that he will not allow Iran to obtain the bomb, a position he reiterated during his State of the Union address last week. But that is not enough at this point. He and his administration — including Chuck Hagel if he is confirmed as defense secretary — must make it unequivocally clear that containment is not an option and that the military threat remains squarely on the table.
This must be one of the primary messages the president brings to Israel and the region when he visits next month. And he must continue to pressure the international community to stand behind the threat. Iran cannot become the next North Korea.
It has become somewhat fashionable to assess the risk factor of whether Iran would use nuclear weapons if it had them, but such analysis misses a key point — the inability to assess risk when you’re dealing with a fundamentalist, Islamist regime that seeks to export that ideology across the region and the world.
As one of Israel’s foremost experts on Iran suggested during a recent briefing here at the Israeli Consulate, you can’t use rational risk assessment when you’ve got the lethal combination of a radical ideology and nuclear weapons. We can’t give them a chance to decide whether to use them or not, said Professor David Menashri, director of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University. The risk is too great.
In Persia, when the Jews stood up against tyranny, our future was restored. Today, it’s not just the Jews who must stand up to those who would seek to destroy us. Modern-day Iran is a problem for the world. Together, we must resolve it one way or another.