The PJ Tatler

Report: Obama Threatened to Shoot Down Israeli Jets Striking Iran

Before we get all excited about this report, let’s consider the source: an Arab news outlet quotes a Kuwaiti newspaper that quotes anonymous Israeli officials.

The problem is, even if the report is made up out of whole cloth, no one is laughing. In fact, knowing the president and the people around him, even if the threat never occurred, it wouldn’t surprise any of us if this was a part of the president’s thinking.

Here’s the original report in Ma’an:

A Kuwaiti newspaper reported Saturday that US President Barack Obama thwarted an Israeli military attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2014.

Al-Jarida newspaper quoted “well-placed” sources as saying that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had taken a decision to carry out airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear program after consultations with his minister of defense Moshe Yaalon and foreign minister Avigdor Liberman in the presence of top security commanders.

The decision came, according to al-Jarida, after Israel revealed that the United States and Iran had been involved in secret talks over Iran’s nuclear program and were about to sign an agreement in that regard behind Israel’s back.

According to the report, Netanyahu and his commanders agreed after four nights of deliberations to task the Israeli army’s chief of staff Beni Gants to prepare a qualitative operation against Iran’s nuclear program. In addition, Netanyahu and his ministers decided to do whatever they could do to thwart a possible agreement between Iran and the White House because such an agreement is, allegedly, a threat to Israel’s security.

The sources added that Gants and his commanders prepared the requested plan and that Israeli fighter jets trained for several weeks in order to make sure the plans would work successfully. Israeli fighter jets even carried out experimental flights in Iran’s airspace after they managed to break through radars.

However, an Israeli minister “who has good ties with the US administration revealed Netanyahu’s plans to Secretary of State John Kerry” and as a result Obama then threatened to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran.

Netanyahu had to abort the operation and since then relations between Israel and the United States have been declining, according to the sources quoted in the report.

If it’s a fantasy, it’s a fairly detailed fantasy. If there is a snitch in Bibi’s inner circle, he would have to be fairly high up in the national security establishment to have knowledge of the raid. If true, the news that Obama found out about the strike must have been most unsettling for the Israeli prime minister.

If I were to try to judge the reliability of this report, I’d place it at less than 50%. Arab “journalism” leaves a lot to be desired and even though Obama shooting down Israeli planes is a plausible scenario, you must either accept the fact that a Kuwaiti newspaper got the scoop of the young century or assume it’s a fake news story.

UN Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power once suggested the U.S. should invade Israel in order to impose a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s not hard to envision the mindset that would take that concept one step further and shoot down the planes of an ally trying to protect itself.

But I am very skeptical of this specific scenario having played out.