Ron Radosh

Israel and Iran: What Next?

As Israel faces the possibility of increased pressure to make dangerous concessions, before the Palestinians show that they are indeed ready to accept a Jewish State alongside their own, it becomes even more important to provide information necessary for those who must continually act to defend Israel’s right to exist.

An exemplary and first rate article that touches all the bases appears in The Australian, and is written by Greg Sheridan. He ties everything together- left-wing anti-Semitism; the new radical Islamism, the new campaign to delegitimize Israel; continuing Arab anti-Semitism, and the argument that Israel does not seek peace, only expansion and new settlements.  Pass this article around. It deserves the widest reading possible.

On the issue of Iran and the bomb, a first rate interview may be found in Der Spiegel on line with my friend, the brilliant historian Jeffrey Herf. He gives the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt, hoping that its desire to negotiate is based on letting Iran know it must move to stop its nuclear development in a short period of time. He then adds the caveat: “If however, the Obama administration thinks that smiles and a new tone will change Iranian behavior, it is pursuing a policy that is both naive and potentially dangerous.” Herf reminds his readers that it is in the interests of the United States and the West to let Iran know, via tough and severe economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure, that it must retreat, and now.

Finally, David Horovitz, editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, challenges Shimon Peres’ claim to the AIPAC conference that no reason exists to think there is a division between the interests of Israel and those of the United States. But Israel and America, Horovitz responds, draw a very different line on the issue of Iran and the bomb—thereby making it clear that the Obama administration is pursuing just the path which Jeffrey Herf fears it might be following. Horowitz sees a “veritable abyss” developing between the two nations, not simply a “crack,” to use Peres’ term.

America, for one, seems to be saying there must be progress first on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, before the US addresses Iran. It is clear that Iran, as Horovitz puts it, is on a “march to the bomb” and hopes to gain it way before a single step that means anything is taken to settle Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. His bottom line: “While Netanyahu has accepted that Obama’s opening gambit, engagement, can be useful, the intended US timeline, the goals and the benchmarks currently lack cogent definition. Israel’s leadership has come to fear that our country’s existence is at stake, and America offers no solace.” 

Israel, more realistically than the United States, believes that “the Iranians will not prove amenable to diplomacy, and broadly certain that Iran will not be shifted from its nuclear course by anybody or anything short of radical action.”  There is, Horovitz argues, little room for maneuver, and there is no hard evidence that Obama is getting powers like Russia and China to go along with his agenda, and to move effectively so that the sanctions actually work. And since Robert Gates has said that U.S. military intervention would only be a last resort—-it becomes even more clear that the message to Iran is that they have unlimited time. When the United States finally decides that last resort has come—-it probably will be too late.

So, as Horovitz puts it, “the pressure seems to be taken off Iran,” and hence, Israel feels things can only get worse. So with Israel prepared to use the doctrine of pre-emption, as it has before-and the United States arguing that nothing could be worse than a strike against Iran—-the coming Obama-Netanyahu meeting could prove very tense.

Let us hope that Obama and his advisors get it right, and agree to act so that Iran does not get the bomb.