A leading Israeli opponent of nuclear weapons spoke to New Jersey peace activists on April 27, calling for a “weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East” that would include the dismantling of Israel’s rumored nuclear weapons program.
Sharon Dolev, the founder and executive director of the Israeli Disarmament Movement, said the benefits of a nuclear-free Middle East outweigh Israel’s fears for its security.
“Israel will lose its monopoly” on nuclear arms, she said. “Iran will lose its ambitions. They all lose at the same time, and they all win at the same time. They can all sit together and create trust and build a better path for peace. We have to believe it is possible. After all, it is up to us.”
Dolev was at the Regency House in North Pompton Plains to receive the Dorothy Eldridge Peace Award from New Jersey Peace Action at its annual dinner.
Raised in Arad, Dolev said her group began with just six people in 2010 and became recognized as an NGO by the Israeli Ministry of Justice in 2011. Last year the group coordinated the first-ever disarmament parley in the Israeli Knesset, with several legislators in attendance.
The Israeli Disarmament Movement now has 150 members, with another 2,000 “supporting us, and many others coming to our demonstrations,” she said. “It is not enough, but we will grow.”
The organization advocates for worldwide participation in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a universal ban on all WMDs.
“We know this is the campaign that is going to work — and not just in Israel. It could unite the whole Middle East,” Dolev said.
She pointed to similar efforts in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Bahrain. In 2012, her group sponsored a joint meeting at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem between survivors of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima and Jews who had survived the Holocaust.
“At the beginning of the meeting there was a lot of suspicion,” largely because of the Japanese government’s alliance with Hitler’s Germany, she said. “Then they started telling their stories and asking each other questions. They said, ‘We were all helpless over something that was so big and so huge, with people facing something no one should ever face.’”
Dolev also said that the absence of peace between Israel and the Palestinians “is not an obstacle to disarmament. It is an excuse…. It is because we do not have peace that we have to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction.”
Officially, no government of Israel has either confirmed or denied it has a stockpile of nuclear bombs. The country continues to maintain a policy of “nuclear ambiguity.” To discuss the existence of nuclear weapons in Israel is considered taboo.
Arad is “next to the reactor in Dimona, but we were not allowed to call it a reactor,” Dolev said. “We as a society all know we have the bomb, but it is something big, like God,” she said sarcastically. “It’s up there. It’s protecting us. It’s the only reason Israel still exists. We cannot question it. We cannot talk about it. We cannot doubt it.”
Her loyalty should not be in question, Dolev told her audience.
“I went to be very clear here. I am Israeli. I love my country. But there is almost nothing my country does that I can approve of. We can demonstrate in Israel every day. But if we want a ‘weapons of mass destruction-free zone’ in the Middle East, an international campaign might be more effective if we want Israel to come to the table.”