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Dore Gold. Photo by Rhonda Spivak.


By Rhonda Spivak

Dore Gold, former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations urged Canada to ask the UN Security Council to convene in order to discuss Iranian violations of the anti-incitement clause of the Geneva Convention.

“If a country like Canada did this, it would be significant…Someone in Iran would be alerted to this development. Canada might find support from countries such as Australia, and Germany for this action,” said Gold, who spoke to about 700 people at the annual Sol and Florence Kanee Distinguished Lecture of the Jewish Heritage Center at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue on April 26.

Gold, who now heads the Jerusalem Centre for Foreign Affairs said he agrees with the international initiative by Liberal Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler who has brought together leading human rights activists and specialists in international law who have petitioned for putting Iranian President Ahminenijad on trial at the U.N. Criminal Court of Justice for incitement to genocide.
“Just beginning the process, might give Iran pause,” said Gold, who is also a former foreign policy advisor to then Israeli Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu  and Ariel Sharon.

In his talk, Gold said that from 2002 when Iran’s secret nuclear program was discovered until 2005 world leaders tried to give diplomacy a chance in dealing with Iran.

“During that time, diplomacy with Iran failed. For the West, the negotiations were intended to lead to a mutual agreement. But  for Iran, these negotiations were a means of holding the U.N. at bay.  The first U.N. resolution against Iran’s plans wasn’t until 2006. In the meantime, while they negotiated, Iran got to work in developing its program.”

According to Gold, “In the Iranian Shiite tradition, there is a term called Takiya…That means deception.” He explained that Takiya was a strategy of survival for minority Shiites living in a Sunni world, and is an important aspect of Iranian diplomacy.  Iran was engaged in Takiya  with Western leaders between 2002-2005, when negotiations failed.

According to Gold, in 2009, when President Obama spoke about the importance of the  policy of engagement with Iran “what was seen as forthcoming diplomacy by Obama was seen as weakness in Tehran.”

Gold added, “Obama told Iran you have until September 2009 to respond to our outreach to you, and then until December 2009, but what happened as a result of these deadlines? Nothing happened. Passing this deadline was supposed to trigger European sanctions, but there were no European sanctions.”

Gold noted that ironically, Iran, which produces oil but lacks the capacity to process the oil, has to import gasoline for its own domestic automobiles. Gold said that the United States Congress and Senate were in the process of  trying to adopt legislation that would place sanctions on U.S. companies that sell gasoline and other refined products to Iran.  But he indicated it wasn’t clear whether the Obama administration wanted this legislation to go forward.

“They [the Obama administration] don’t seem to want more crippling sanctions, but rather want more limited sanctions against the Revolutionary Guard, not ones that affect  all Iranians…It’s like sanctions using tweezers,” Gold said.

He added that the Iranians have noted that North Korea has developed nuclear weapons without suffering any serious consequences, which helps fuel their ambitions.
The Iranians also like to feed the misconception that they are opposed to developing nuclear weapons, and Newsweek magazine even reported last summer that Iranian leader Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa (a ban) to that effect.  

But after engaging experts to search for the supposed fatwa, Gold concluded, “The fatwa doesn’t exist… It’s a classic case of  takiya.”

According to Gold, another misconception that is promulgated is that at Iran lacks the missiles needed to deliver a nuclear warhead.  

“There is an East-West institute in Washington [which has a Russian-American team of experts] that put out a report in mid 2009 that claimed…Iran only has liquid fueled missiles, which need a long preparation time and are clumsy, as opposed to solid fueled missiles….The report also concluded that Iran does not have long range missiles…But the very next day after the report was released, Iran tested a missile that had solid fuel and a 2200 kilometre range,” he said.

Gold added that he spoke with an Israeli expert, Uzi Rubin, the father of the aero missile, who noted that on the actual photo used in the report by the East-West Institute report, the “exhaust from the missile showed it was solid fuel, not liquid fuel.”

In regard to the missile range, Gold stressed that ultimately the development of Iran’s nuclear capability will be a problem for the entire world.

“If all they [Iran] wanted was to hit Israel, then 1300 kilometres would be enough, but they have missiles that can reach the 2200 kilometre range and the 3500 kilometre range. Why are they doing this?”

Gold noted that many in the world are ready to accept Iran as a nuclear power, on the premise that that mutual nuclear destruction would restrain Iran from actually using their nuclear weapons, as was the case with the Soviet Union in the Cold War. But Gold warned against this assumption, saying that the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, which has control of the country are more radical than most of the Iranian Mullahs.

“The leadership of the Revolutionary Guard is into the “Mahdi Cult,”  Gold explained.

The Revolutionary Guard and Ahmadinejad are believers in the imminent reappearance of the  messianic figure, the 12th Imam, who is  known as the Mahdi – who disappeared in 873 CE.

According to their belief, they can “accelerate” the arrival of the messianic Mahdi by “creating chaos.”

As Gold cautioned, “I’m not so sure how effective deterrence is with people who believe that the end of days is near.”  


If Iran gets nuclear weapons, Gold said this will mean that “we will have a nuclear umbrella over terrorist attacks.”  Iran, which is the “largest exporter of terrorism” will be able to foment more terror and victims will have to restrain their responses, for fear of  triggering Iran’s nuclear capability. Gold cited the case of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai to make this point.

“When Pakistani-based terrorists attacked Bombay in November, 2008,  and murdered more than 250 people including Chabad Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka], India said we can’t go in and respond by attacking Pakistan  for fear of escalation, because Pakistan has nuclear weapons…A country  that is the victim of terrorism can’t respond the way it would have otherwise.”

Gold also said having nuclear weapons would allow Iran to increase its terrorist attacks and undermine Sunni Moslem states such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan. 

When asked why the West doesn’t seem to be taking the threat of a nuclear Iran more seriously, Gold suggested that one reason is that there are “real economic interests” at place, noting, for example,  that a French company has “a lot of business “ with Iran.

“There is also a real reluctance for the West to see a new power emerging in the Middle East. But, in reality, Iran is much larger than Germany [for example], has a huge population, and a  vast army.”

He  suggested  because the country is in the Middle East, as opposed to Europe, the West has a mental block about assessing Iran’s strengh.


In Gold’s view, in any future agreement Israel must obtain “defensible borders,” that are not just defensible at any “given snapshot of time.”

Gold noted that Israel gave up the Philadelphi route along the Gaza-Egyptian border as part of the withdrawal from Gaza.  As a result, “Hamas has been able to smuggle in enormous quantities of weapons.”

“The Jordan Valley is to the West Bank what the Philedelphi route was to Gaza,” Gold said. “It will be very important for Israel to retain control of the Jordan Valley to prevent arms smuggling into the West Bank.”

In an interview after the event, Gold told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, that while he advocated Israel retaining a security border in the Jordan valley , “This  wasn’t in Ehud Olmert’s plan” when he negotiated with  PA President Abbas, and that it is also not something that  the Obama administration favours.

However, in Gold’s view, especially if Iran gets nuclear capacity, “Israel will need robust defenses,” and this ought to include a permanent presence in the Jordan valley, to prevent increased terror and weapons smuggling.

In his talk, Gold noted that UN Resolution 242,  does not require Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders but rather to have “secure and  recognized” borders, which  Gold said means “defensible borders.”

In Gold’s view, according to the Bush letter to Sharon of 2004, it can’t be expected that Israel will return to the pre-67 lines, but that Israel will retain the large population centres over the green line and will have defensible borders.
“There was bi-partisan backing of the Bush letter,” but Gold said, that is “Not clear whether the Obama administration sees itself legally committed to the Bush letter.”

In an interview following the event, Gold also told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that it was not clear how the Obama administration would react if PA President Salam Fayyad unilaterally declared a Palestinian state.

Gold envisioned that in such a scenario the European Union would go to the UN Security Council and ask to have such a State recognized.

“What if the United States didn’t veto, but abstained,” Gold said. “It’s not clear whether the Obama administration cares about a Palestinian state being created more than  they care about how it is to be created.”

In such a scenario if the U.S. didn’t use its veto and a Palestinian state was recognized by the world, then “Israel could face sanctions” if it didn’t withdraw.

Following Gold’s talk, he signed copies of his most recent book, “The Rise of Nuclear Iran: How Tehran Defies the West”.

Gold was introduced by former Winnipegger Max Steinkopf, a businessman living in London. He is the son of the late Maitland and Helen Steinkopf, who were close friends of the Kanee family. 

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.