Ross: Israel has a nuclear responsibility to look for a path to peace

Oct 19, 2023, 8:10 AM | Updated: 8:11 am

nuclear peace israel...

FILE - Israeli soldiers carry the flag-covered coffin of Shilo Rauchberger at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. In Israel on Saturday, rabbis worked around the clock at Shura military base in Israel to identify and count the dead civilians and soldiers gunned down in the Hamas attack last week. Israel's military rabbinate is working on Shabbat for the first time since 2005. Some of the bodies have been brought to Mount Herzl, Israel's national cemetery in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)

(AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)

Can you really fight violence with peace? Starting a war is easy. It’s preventing one that takes courage.

And that’s what Dr Emma Belcher is trying to do. She is the president of the Ploughshares Fund, an organization dedicated to reducing the threat of nuclear war.

More from Dave Ross: Fact-checking is all too important in the war for information

And she is very worried any time a nuclear power goes to war. Which means she is very worried right now.

“Israel does not declare openly that it has nuclear weapons, but we believe it has written 90 nuclear weapons today, and it has had nuclear weapons since the 1960s,” Belcher said.

And because of its nuclear status, she says Israel has a special responsibility to control its response:

“From Ploughshares’ perspective, what we worry about is nuclear weapons. And what we’re concerned about is that should Israel and others respond and react in a way that leads to broader escalation,” Belcher explained.

“If he attacked Iran militarily, for example, which it believes was behind and supported Hamas in this horrific attack, if it attacked Iran militarily, we could see Iran take that decision, which it doesn’t appear to have made yet to develop nuclear weapons,” Belcher continued. “Then we have a nuclear Iran in the region, which could lead to Saudi Arabia getting nuclear weapons because it has said that it would if Iran did, and we could have a domino effect of more countries with more nuclear weapons, which is a recipe for disaster not only for the region but for the world.”

And she says the only way to prevent that from happening is for Israel to find a way to negotiate with its enemies, the way the United States negotiated with Soviet Russia:

“From the height of the Cold War, where there are between 60 and 70,000 nuclear weapons, we reduced down to around 12,000 nuclear weapons today so we’ve seen that that can be done, but it requires that dedication and that identification of mutual interests even with an opponent,” Belcher said.

But in those days, the US and Russia were not at war.

In the present crisis, is it reasonable to expect Israel to respond to a massacre with an olive branch?

“I think Israel has the right to defend itself. I think thinking about what that response is and how its conducted in a way that doesn’t create more civilian harm and loss and devastation is tricky, Blecher said. “Just keeping in mind that the response needs to be one that doesn’t further inflame things and one that you can take a step back from the initial emotional response.”

Which is basically what President Biden told Netanyahu: don’t be consumed by rage.

And yet, what do you do when your enemy designs an attack on civilians for the sole purpose of creating that rage, knowing that your enemy would do it again at the first sign of weakness?

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Ross: Israel has a nuclear responsibility to look for a path to peace