Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and no one doubts that these are extraordinary times for Israel. The Obama administration is barreling full-speed ahead toward an agreement that will put Iran, which has openly threatened to wipe Israel off the map, R”l, a hairsbreadth away from becoming a nuclear power.
In these circumstances, Israel can’t continue business as usual. For starters, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is going to have put his noteworthy rhetorical skills in deep freeze. As difficult as it may be for a person with his mastery of the subject matter and his unique ability to state Israel’s case, he must resist interviews with leading news programs and newspapers in the United States.
This is because he has been cast as the enemy of a perfectly reasonable agreement. It’s not perfect, its backers are quick to agree, but what’s the alternative? (This is the line that the Israeli left used for decades when it recklessly proposed giving Yasser Arafat a state with Yerushalayim as its capital.) Netanyahu has been targeted by the administration for ridicule, portrayed as a radical fanatic — him, not Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — who will stop at nothing to drag America into a needless war.
For this reason, if the prime minister truly wants to convince Washington and the U.S. public that the deal with Iran is dangerous he will have to do something that he finds unnatural: keep quiet, and let others do the talking.
Second, and also most uncharacteristic for Israel, the opposition must put narrow political interests aside and unite in its expression of concern over the pending agreement. This is not the time to blame Netanyahu for strained relations with the United States. Rather, it is time for the opposition to act responsibly and voice its genuine concerns about the framework deal signed earlier this month between the P5+1 and Iran.
To their credit, Yitzchak Herzog and Tzipi Livni, who head the Zionist Union, this week raised questions about the “problematic” parameters of the deal that hold “real potential dangers for the long term.”
It’s a shame that the duo couldn’t resist a dig at Netanyahu, more than implying that he was to blame for the lack of dialogue with the West. While there’s no denying that the prime minister has a knack for getting on the nerves of President Obama and others around the world, no Israeli leader could have stopped the president in his inexorable march toward rapprochement with Iran.
Third, security experts, including former generals, have to be careful in expressing their views on the nuclear agreement. They have to take into account not just what they’re saying, but how it is being heard in the West.
Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, a former pilot who bombed the Osiraq reactor in Iraq in 1981 and who went on to become head of military intelligence, unquestionably has Israel’s interests in mind. But an interview he gave last week stating that the Iran agreement is “not bad” only provides ammunition to those in the West who blame Netanyahu for being a hysterical warmonger.
Fourth, American Jewish groups have to be extremely careful in their encounters with administration officials trying to sell them the Iranian nuclear deal. They, of course, must listen politely, and with due respect. But if ever the argument was to be made that only those who live in Israel can voice their opinions on agreements that jeopardize their security, this is it.
Finally, it’s time the Arab moderates get off the fence and openly express their concern about the deal. It’s wrong for them to let Netanyahu and Israel take the fire, especially when their participation in the PR battle would lend credence to the argument that the pending Iranian deal represents a danger to the entire region, and is not a personal battle between a U.S. president and an Israeli prime minister who don’t get along.
Min hameitzar karati kah — we cry out to the only Source of protection, for the sake of our brethren in Eretz Yisrael and the world over.