Earlier this autumn I went on a 4 day trip during recess to Israel. I will try and address the findings of that trip in a series of blog posts. Regular readers will know that I try and travel to the Middle East once a year. Last year I went on my own to Beirut; previously I have travelled to Jordan and parts of Turkey. The aim is to get a better understanding of one of the most complex regions in the world. I am certain that peace in the Middle East is the ultimate safeguard to the world. However, whilst the Arab spring is fundamentally a good thing it is clear that there remain massive ongoing struggles and issues across the region. The state of Syria is descending ever more gruesomely into a multi party civil war, with various factions trying to bring down Assad. Some of this conflict is spilling over into Lebanon, and even Turkey.
The situation in Israel is complex, as ever. There is significant ongoing conflict in the south of the country near the Gaza Strip. Yet the push for a peace and land swap with the Palestinians is no longer the Israeli's chief concern. The search for some sort of coexistence with the Palestinians, in whatever shape or form such a thing is, has been the number one issue for many years. But this pales into insignificance when the issue of Iran and its plan for a nuclear weapon is discussed. The harsh reality is that the horror that the world has managed to avoid for so long - namely the detonation of a nuclear weapon - is no longer a remote possibility.
When in Israel I did many things ranging from a visit to the moving Holocaust Museum at Yad Vaschem in Jerusalem, to a trip to the border of the Gaza Strip at Sderot. But everywhere we went the fear of an Iranian attack was always in the conversation, always in the background. It pervades the entire way of life. Israel presently has an election, to be decided in around two months time. Their politicians clearly are hoping that the sanctions against Iran will work and that any nuclear build up in Teheran will not materialise. But if there is one issue that will face the UN, the G8, the future american president, whoever that may be, and whoever wins the Isreali election, it will be this simple issue: what do we do if Iran manages to build, or gets close to finishing a nuclear weapon?