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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Israeli Deputy PM talks about Mid-East conflict

Published: October 16, 2009
Section: News

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor spoke to Brandeis students, faculty and community members Thursday evening in the Rapaporte Treasure Hall.

Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz introduced Meridor, describing the presentation as a “high level scholarly discussion” concerning the Middle East, and said Brandeis in particular is a place that “welcomes and promotes that kind of discussion.”

Meridor discussed several issues facing his country on the global spectrum, including the nuclear threat of Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The threat of a nuclear Iran has been covered significantly in the news recently, especially in relation to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threats to wipe Israel off the map. Meridor, however, refused to put Israel at the forefront of the situation. He pointed out that a nuclear Iran could mean a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT is an agreement between 189 countries to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, including only five countries that currently posses nuclear weapons. Iran is included in the NPT.

Meridor described Iran as a threat because unlike the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China, Iran is a fundamentally religious country and sees itself as having a “direct line to God.” Meridor also explained now is the time to put international pressure on Iran in order stop the production of nuclear weapons, not simply for Israel’s sake, but for the overall sake of the Middle East and the world.

After concluding his talk on Iran, Meridor transitioned into another universally recognized political issue within Israel: the conflict between Israel and Palestine. “Israel has changed extremely, both internally and in the public arena,” Meridor said.

Although the situation between Israel and Palestine isn’t ideal, Meridor said it has improved drastically since the ‘90’s. Instead of being scared every time they stepped foot outside their own homes, Israelis can now walk in the streets and feel safe. Roadblocks between Israeli and Palestinians communities have been removed, and the Palestinian community in Israel is growing and improving rapidly.

When summarizing, Meridor said very simply that Israel will not give up, even though the changes in the Middle East are “problematic” for his country.

“For 61 years, it always seems as if the odds are insurmountable…[but] I don’t think there is a more impressive story in our time,” Meridor said.