We are a grass roots organization located in both Israel and the United States. Our intention is to be pro-active on behalf of Israel. This means we will identify the topics that need examination, analysis and promotion. Our intention is to write accurately what is going on here in Israel rather than react to the anti-Israel media pieces that comprise most of today's media outlets.
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Israel's Failing Strategy
The Jewish state cannot rely on the United States for its security.
Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House on Monday. Photo: chris kleponis / pool/European Pressphoto Agency
Israel's prime minister is now left to play the part of querulous Uncle
Ben, who arrives the day after the funeral convinced his scheming
siblings have already
absconded with mother's finest jewelry.
Uncle Ben's suspicions may well be right. But he largely has himself to blame for not acting in time.
Netanyahu visited the White House on Monday and on Tuesday addresses the
United Nations. It's a predictable routine. First he obtains the
stylized assurances from PresidentObama—still exulting from his
15 minute phone call Friday with Iran's Hasan Rouhani—that Iran will
not be allowed to get a bomb and that "all options are on the table."
Then Mr. Netanyahu denounces Iran at the U.N. and issues unspecified,
and increasingly noncredible, warnings that Israel
may act on its own.
All hat and no cattle, as they say.
Here's a line I never
thought I'd write: I wish Ehud Olmert were Israel's prime minister. Mr.
Olmert has many flaws, some of them well known. But he also had a
demonstrated capacity to act. It isn't clear that Mr.
In May 2007 Israel
disclosed to the U.S. that Syria was constructing a nuclear reactor in
its eastern desert with help from North Korea. Mr. Olmert, then Israel's
prime minister, asked President Bush to bomb the
facility. Mr. Bush weighed the options, said no, and proposed instead
taking the matter public at the U.N.
"I told [Mr. Olmert] I
had decided on a diplomatic option backed by the threat of force," the
former president recounts in his memoir, "Decision Points."
"The prime minister
was disappointed. 'This is something that hits at the very serious
nerves of this country,' he said. He told me the threat of a nuclear
weapons program in Syria was an 'existential' issue for
Israel, and he worried diplomacy would bog down and fail. 'I must be
honest and sincere with you. Your strategy is very disturbing to me.'
That was the end of the call."
Could Mr. Netanyahu
say the same to Mr. Obama? Maybe. The Israeli prime minister infuriated
the White House a couple of years ago by treating the president to a
public lecture in the Oval Office.
Yet Israeli policy
since then has amounted to one big kowtow to Mr. Obama's needs,
political and diplomatic. Israel apparently refrained from attacking
Iran a year ago, largely out of deference to Mr. Obama's electoral
needs. Since then it has given the administration the widest possible
latitude to pursue diplomatic initiatives until they prove their
A year on, here is where things stand.
(1) U.S. credibility
on enforcing presidential red lines and carrying through on military
threats is in tatters thanks to Mr. Obama's Syria capitulation.
"diplomatic option" is, for Mr. Obama, a journey not a destination: He
will pursue it no matter how flimsy the pretext or the likelihood of
(3) Iran has enriched
nearly 3,000 kilos of uranium in the last year alone, according to the
International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA also notes in its most
recent report that "the Agency has become increasingly
concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear
related activities . . . including activities related to the development
of a nuclear payload for a missile."
Oh, and (4): Despite
this, Israel finds itself on the diplomatic back foot because Iran's new
president, unlike his predecessor, has alighted on a less-uncouth way
to deny the Holocaust. Israel is now in the disastrous
position of having to hope that Iranian hard-liners sabotage Mr.
Rouhani's efforts to negotiate a deal that, if honored, would leave Iran
first-and-five at the nuclear goal line.
How does Mr. Netanyahu
get out of this trap? Here's another line I never thought I'd write: by
downgrading relations with Washington.
That isn't to say that
Israel doesn't benefit from good relations with the U.S. But the U.S.,
like Britain after World War II, is in retreat from the world, and
Israelis need to adapt to a global reality in which
the Americans are willing to do less, and consequently count for less.
What Mr. Netanyahu has been doing instead is granting Mr. Obama a degree
of leverage and a presumption of authority over the Jewish state to
which he is not entitled and has done little
to deserve. That needs to stop.
What also needs to
stop is the guessing game over Israel's intentions toward Iran. Mr.
Obama will not—repeat, will not—conduct a military strike against Iran.
Israelis who think otherwise are fooling themselves.
But Israel will soon
have to decide whether to act alone. If so, Israelis must proceed
without regard to Mr. Obama's diplomatic timetable. If not, they'll need
to reconsider the concept and structure of Israeli
deterrence, including nuclear ambiguity.
One last thing worth
noting: Reflecting on Mr. Olmert's decision to act against his wishes,
Mr. Bush wrote this: "Prime Minister Olmert's execution of the strike
made up for the confidence I had lost in the Israelis
during the Lebanon war. . . . The bombing demonstrated Israel's
willingness to act alone. Prime Minister Olmert hadn't asked for a green
light, and I hadn't given one. He had done what he believed was
necessary to protect Israel."
That is the voice of respect. Better for Israel to have that than any other mark of international approval or popularity.