Saul Singer at PostGlobal

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer, a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post, is co-author of the forthcoming book, Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. He has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, Middle East Quarterly, Moment, the New Leader, and (an Israeli/Palestinian e-zine). Before moving to Israel in 1994, he served as an adviser in the United States Congress to the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Banking Committees. He is also on Twitter. Close.

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer is a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post. more »

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Iran the Pyromaniac

What should Olmert tell Bush when they meet on Wednesday?

Rarely has the combined unpopularity -- in their respective countries if not on each other’s soil -- of an Israeli prime minister and an American president been so great. But it would be a mistake to write off this week’s Olmert-Bush meeting as without potential, even if it is likely to be without result.

Olmert should make this meeting matter by proposing a change of direction that could outlive both leaders’ remaining tenure in office. Olmert points out a rather unavoidable truth: the prospects for Bush’s two-state vision for Israelis and Palestinians, as well as his vision of more democratic and secure region, depend on preventing the current Iranian regime from becoming a nuclear power.

The U.S. has been linking Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy to Iran, but in the wrong direction. Sure, solving the conflict would be a blow to Iran, but that’s a bit like saying putting out one fire is a blow to a pyromaniac.

Ultimately, the only way to stop a rash of fires is to stop the pyromaniac. Plus, it’s near impossible to put out a particular fire if, on the other side of the burning building, the pyromaniac is busy pouring fuel on the flames.

Even without nukes, Iran is very capable of hobbling any peace process through its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah. If Iran went nuclear, besides triggering a regional nuclear arms race and sending the price of oil even further through the roof, Tehran could be counted on to build up its terrorist clients with impunity and bury any prospects for peace.

Olmert and Bush should both say that, as important as it is to work toward peace directly between Israelis and Palestinians, such a peace will not come about without addressing the regional climate for peace, which means stopping terrorist states from literally blowing up the peace process.

Olmert should therefore ask Bush to take two basic steps during its coming U.S. presidency of the UN Security Council: 1) Open legal procedures against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad toward an indictment for incitement to genocide, which is a punishable crime under the Genocide Convention, 2) Open an investigation into Iranian support for terrorism in violation of numerous Security Council resolutions as a step towards imposing further Chapter 7 sanctions.

The Iranian regime is weak, and it is much more vulnerable to “symbolic” actions than most governments and observers appreciate. In addition to the nuclear proliferation doghouse, the mullahs should be officially marked as inciters of genocide and supporters of terrorism. This would be a true shot in the arm not just for the Iranian people, but to true moderates in the region, both among Palestinians and throughout the Arab world.

Related: Ori Nir on what Olmert should tell Bush: that it's not too late for Bush's Mideast legacy.

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