The US-Israeli tensions that have escalated over the Iranian issue during the past month have led to waves of criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Yet in reality, Netanyahu has proven to be an impressive statesman. His address to the joint meeting of Congress, though initially harshly condemned, was far from being a disaster and served to establish the parameters of the debate. His widely disseminated statements articulating the case against the Iranian “deal” resonated widely among the American public and he is due much of the credit for persuading the majority of Americans to oppose the disastrous capitulation to Iran.
It is surely absurd to suggest that out of deference to a delusionary American president, Israel’s prime minister should tread softly when his country faces an existential threat as the U.S. empowers our most dangerous Islamic terrorist neighbor to become a threshold nuclear state. All the more so when some of its leaders are undeterred by mutual assured destruction and are even now reiterating their determination to wipe the “cancer” Israel off the face of the earth.
The reality is that the U.S. administration is entering into a pact with a terrorist state that is explicitly committed to the destruction of Israel. Moreover, the U.S. will be releasing over $150 billion into their coffers, which the Iranians openly boast will be employed to bolster terror activities by its surrogates against Israel. For Netanyahu not to oppose such a policy, irrespective of the outcome, would have been unconscionable and a dereliction of his responsibility as head of the Jewish state.
As further horrific details emerge of the ineptitude and immorality of the administration in its negotiations with Iran, some of U.S. President Barack Obama’s former Democratic supporters have begun to publicly question his rationality. That the U.S. agreed to cede responsibility to the duplicitous Iranians to self-check compliance in lieu of an independent body is mind-boggling. This highlights the delusionary nature of the administration and exposes Obama’s duplicity when he assured the world that compliance would be rigorously monitored. It exemplifies the farce of this utterly sordid “deal” capitulating to genocidal Islamic terrorists.
Obama’s betrayal was further compounded when it was recently disclosed that he had already secretly offered concessions (which were rebuffed) to the satanic genocidal then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That was long before the “moderate” Hassan Rouhani, who this week accused Israelis of killing and raping women and children, assumed office.
Clearly, Obama’s long-term strategy from the outset was to create a realignment in the Middle East through a U.S. engagement with the most dangerous Islamic rogue state and thus abandon Israel, the only genuinely democratic ally in the region.
Obama’s commitment to ongoing military cooperation and repeated assurances that he “has Israel’s back” cannot be relied upon following his failure to provide political support for Israel during the 2014 Gaza war. In that war, he repeatedly condemned Israel for lack of proportionality, applied moral equivalence to Israel and Hamas, and even withheld arms shipments to Israel. This follows a clear pattern in which Obama has consistently ignored Palestinian incitement and terror, reneged on the Bush endorsement of Israel’s retention of the major settlement blocks and defensible borders, and has threatened to abrogate the U.S. veto at the United Nations enabling the Security Council to apply sanctions against Israel. It was also despicable to see a U.S. president repeatedly humiliate and denigrate the Israeli prime minister while simultaneously groveling and capitulating to the Iranian ayatollahs.
The extent of Obama’s frenzied efforts to appease the ayatollahs despite their repeated calls for death to America was exemplified in his hysterical personal attacks and intimidation of those urging Congress to reject the deal. He was especially vicious in relation to Jewish opponents, whom he went so far as to accuse of warmongering, providing legitimacy to the hoary allegations of dual loyalties extended in the past by traditional anti-Semites.
Senator Chuck Schumer, one of the few Democratic legislators courageous enough to oppose Obama, was accused of dual loyalties and subjected to unprecedented anti-Semitic venom. Obama’s hysteria even stunned some of his own Democratic supporters, who urged him to restrain himself and avoid using “anti-Jewish incitement” to promote his position.
This was also a turning point for the Jewish leadership. It is regrettable that until last month, the vast majority of normally robust American Jewish organizations, fearing a confrontation with Obama, remained silent — with the exception of the Zionist Organization of America and a number of small groups. Had they spoken up a year ago, they would be in a much stronger position today.
With Israel confronting an existential threat from a country calling for its annihilation, at long last the major organizations have joined with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in urging Congress to oppose the current deal. The exceptions include the Reform movement which, to its shame, refused to adopt any position.
The percentage of American Jews opposed to the deal has increased dramatically over the past few weeks as they absorbed the extent of Obama’s betrayal of Israel and the global erosion of the United States.
But there are still vocal elements in the Jewish community strongly supporting Obama’s disastrous policy, including, to their shame, many Democratic Jewish legislators. Their behavior is reminiscent of that of Jewish leaders headed by Rabbi Stephen Wise in 1943 who sought to placate President Franklin Roosevelt rather than demand action to save Jews during the Shoah.
Obama’s Jewish supporters comprise diverse groups. The hardline ideologues can be viewed as successors of the now defunct communist Left who defended and even applauded Stalin’s persecution and murder of Jews. They were supported by “fellow travelers” who believed that by supporting the Soviet Union, they were being progressive. Their counterparts among the liberals today shut their eyes to the existential threats to Israel posed by Obama’s policies.
Others are well-meaning liberals, blindly committed to Obama and the Democratic Party and psychologically unable to alter their allegiance even when the future of the Jewish state is in jeopardy and they are aware that the vast majority of Israelis, both in government and in opposition, are desperately opposed to this deal.
There is also a revival of the alienation from particularism or nationalism that dominated the Reform movement until the 1940s. There are groups of rabbis who, in their zeal to display their universalism, have created a diluted version of Judaism in which Israel is either ignored or demonized. The founder of the Reconstructionist movement, Mordecai Kaplan, would turn in his grave at the shameful attitude toward Israel displayed by many of his 21st-century disciples.
More importantly, there is an increasing number of secular Jews who have effectively no contact whatsoever with organized Jewish life communally, culturally or religiously. Many have gentile spouses and subconsciously identify Judaism with liberalism, automatically supporting the Democratic Party.
Yet the vast majority of committed Jews — including non-Orthodox rabbis unaffiliated with J Street — with any understanding of the dire situation in the Middle East, are now passionately opposed to Obama’s capitulation to the genocidal Iranians, and polls indicate that two-thirds now oppose the Iran deal.
Where is all this leading to? Netanyahu’s Jewish critics accuse him of constantly undermining the U.S.-Israel relationship and predict that Israel will pay dearly in the future when Obama uses his last year in office to vent his revenge and vindictively seek to impose indefensible borders on Israel and abandon it at the United Nations.
That may well occur. But Obama’s loathing of Netanyahu unquestionably predates the Iran issue and would in all likelihood have still applied even if Israel had abandoned its opposition. The fact is that, largely thanks to Netanyahu, even if Obama succeeds in vetoing congressional opposition, public opinion has turned against him.
Indeed, there is a strong probability that Netanyahu has succeeded in creating the climate in which Obama’s successor — Democrat or Republican — will be under increasing pressure to oppose Iranian hegemony in the region and seek to forestall its emergence as a full-blown nuclear state.
Contrary to critics of Netanyahu, in the context of an increasingly lame duck president and with looming elections, an environment is emerging that may in fact inhibit Obama from promoting his anti-Israel agenda.
The ongoing campaign therefore remains extremely important and a congressional repudiation of the deal, even if subsequently vetoed by the president, may serve to encourage the post-Obama administration to backtrack, review U.S. foreign relations and revitalize the crucial U.S.-Israel relationship.
Isi Leibler is a veteran international Jewish leader with a distinguished record of contributions to the Jewish world and the cause of human rights. His articles are published on his website, Word from Jerusalem.
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