One of the dangers of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons—cited not only by analysts, but by President Joe Biden and Senator Robert Menendez—is the prospect that other Middle Eastern countries will respond with their own race to the bomb, leaving a region filled with unstable and mercurial nuclear-armed regimes. In a recent essay in the New York Times, Peter Beinart sought to refute this line of reasoning, citing the fact that Israel has long had nuclear weapons without triggering such an arms race. Shany Mor responds:
The fact that Israel, uniquely in the world, is a state and a society that some actively wish to see eliminated—and that this elimination fantasy has been central to the worldview of various regional actors and has informed their political and ideological priorities for decades—has no place in [Beinart’s] analysis. The desire to see the Jewish presence in the Middle East wiped out, and the obsessive hatred of Jews which informs it, do not exist in Beinart’s analysis.
[Indeed], American policy makers treat the deterrent needs of Israel and Iran differently—[because] one of those is a tiny country whose elimination is a fantasy ideologically and theologically central to millions.
[And] it’s not just American presidents who understand that, but leaders of most of the global powers that have much less friendly relations with Israel, but have taken a similar approach to this issue. In fact, it is even tacitly understood by many of Israel’s neighbors. The whole point of the remarks by Menendez and Biden . . . is that an Iranian nuclear capability would engender a regional arms race, while whatever presumptions there have been about the status quo in the region have not.