Friday, November 8, 2013

Israel is upset about peaceful efforts by the USA to stop Iran from producing nuclear weapons

When Israel developed nuclear weapons in the 1970s, it made the situation in the Middle East worse.

Now various countries in that region, which are not on friendly terms with Israel, feel threatened. They also want to develop nuclear weapons.  In fact, this situation is called "an arms race."  

(I found this hilarious cartoon on

For example, when the USA acquired the atomic bomb, Russia felt it needed an atomic bomb to be safe.  Then China felt the same way etc.  Then when the US developed a hydrogen bomb, Russia felt it had to have one as well.  So countries are continually 'racing' with each other to develop worse and worse weapons.

Here is an article about efforts by the international community to stop Iran from producing nuclear weapons.  Israel would like to attack Iran and destroy its ability to produce nuclear weapons.  The rest of the world has been trying to resolve this problem peacefully.

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to be furious - to be extremely angry

to confront someone - to deal with a person directly and forcefully.  If you 'confront' someone, you meet that person face to face and speak directly and forcefully.

to reject - to say that something is unacceptable and that it is being refused or not accepted

proposed - suggested

to find its hands tied - to be unable to take action

renewed strain - to face difficulty again; strain is like stress or pressure

to be impacted - to be affected

to curtail - to shorten, to make shorter

to contest something - to argue about something

an accord - an agreement

a knock-on effect - this expression is rarely used (don't worry about it), but it means an added effect

to stymie something - to stop something

bitter - if you taste a lemon, it tastes bitter; if a person is bitter, he is upset

to denounce s/t - to say something is wrong

the contours - the outline of something, the shape of something

leaked to the media - provided to the newspapers etc. ahead of time; a leak is when information gets out before it should or information gets out when it shouldn't

utterly - completely

tellingly - revealingly, interestingly. Basically Kerry knew that Israel would be angry and just left the country without taking photos with the leader of Israel.

a veiled threat - a threat which is not openly expressed, just hinted at or suggested. A threat is something that can hurt someone. A veil is a piece of cloth that can hide a person's face.

to clinch - to accomplish

economic sanctions - economic punishments; because of its nuclear program, most of the world will not trade with Iran

unilateral military action - when one country acts alone militarily.  Israel would like to attack Iran, but if it does this without the world's approval, the world will turn against Israel even more than it has turned against Israel in the past few years.

existential threat - Israel believes Iran will try to destroy the existence of Israel if Iran gets a nuclear weapon.

to back someone or something - to support s/o or s/t

sour ties - a bitter relationship, a bad relationship

laid bare the tension - made the stress and difficulties appear clearly

to temper the brewing deal - to try to stop the deal which is being developed.  There are many Jewish senators and congresspeople in the US Congress and Israel may ask them to try to stop Obama from moving forward on this plan.

right wing - conservative.  left wing means liberal.  Bush was right wing, Obama is considered left wing.

30 standing ovations - people in the US Congress stood up and applauded (clapped their hands) 30 times for this Israeli leader when he spoke to the Congress.  The US Congress seems to support Israel more than Obama does.

a bone of contention - a controversial issue; an issue to be argued over

to stir discontent - to make some people angry

Jewish settlement building - this is causing a lot of trouble in the Middle East.  Israelis keep building homes in areas that belong to the Palestinians.

brought to bear - caused

a heart to heart talk - a very sincere and honest conversation

a scrutiny - a close watch over

the holy of holies - the most important thing. So basically, is it impossible for Israel to live with this new deal or should the Israeli government calm down and allow this to happen?

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