Jacob Dayan, the consul general of Israel, visited UC Irvine last Thursday to speak about the Middle East. He compared terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah to groups fighting a country in the movie ‘Goldfinger.’ He noted that they all share the same Islamic fundamentalist ideology, which unfortunately dominates over the less popular secular nationalism in the Middle East.
Dayan recounted how he visited Arab countries’ foreign ministers over three years ago, before Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip, to present the disengagement plan. However, they all told him it wouldn’t happen. ‘Let’s assume it will happen,’ he told them. ‘Are you then willing to support some kind of [peace] negotiation?’ The ministers all replied that they were. To date, we are still waiting for those peace negotiations.
While there is great tension between Israel and the Arab countries of the region, Dayan explained they all share a common fear: Iran acquiring nuclear capabilities. Iran has been saying for years now that the only purpose of its nuclear research is to achieve a new form of reliable power. It has also ignored several economic sanctions by the United Nations.
‘The U.N.’s National Intelligence Estimate report says Iranians had nuclear military programs until the 2003 invasion of Iraq, then they stopped because they thought they were next. They are now back to enriching uranium and developing missiles with a 2,000-mile range,’ Dayan stated. How do you power your houses with missiles? Dayan told the audience about a meeting he had with the secretary general of the United Nations in which they discussed North Korea and Iran. ‘He told me, ‘The difference between the two is that North Korea acquired nuclear capabilities out of desperation. Iran wants them out of aspiration,” Dayan said.
The majority of the event focused on the Q&A session. As expected, there were several questions posed by those who are sympathetic to Palestinians, most of them hostile.
In answering an accusation that ‘Israel’s foundation as a Jewish state alienated natives and is an insult to neighbors [and it’s therefore] hypocritical for Israel to support secular nationalists,’ Dayan replied that the Zionist movement began in Europe because it was illegal for Jews to express their religion in their own countries. He said that the movement was Hebrew nationalistic, not religious, and many people who practiced Zionism had never seen a synagogue in their lives.
His driving point was that ‘Theodore Herzl, the founder of the movement, was an atheist.’ Dayan went on to say that ‘the majority of Israel is secular and supports a two-state solution