Netanyahu Speaks Truth to Power

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met President Barack Obama at the White House on March 5th for a critical meeting focusing on the impending nuclear crisis in Iran. The differences between the two leaders on how to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were barely mentioned this time.

Prior to their meeting, Obama re-affirmed what he had said the day before to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference. “My policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons,” he promised. Obama also reiterated that “the United States will always have Israel’s back.”

Netanyahu pointed to the common bond between Israel and the United States, and the threat the two allies shared in common from Iran:

“Americans know that Israel and the United States share common values, that we defend common interests and that we face common enemies. Iran’s leaders know that too. For them you’re the Great Satan, we’re the Little Satan. For them, we are you and you are us. And you know something, Mr. President? At least on this last point I think they’re right. We are you and you are us. We’re together. … Israel and America stand together.”

The three-hour meeting in the Oval Office was described as “friendly, straightforward, and serious” by an unnamed White House official quoted by the New York Times. The mood during the meeting was said to be somber and business-like, but less icy between the two leaders than during previous meetings. Netanyahu thanked Obama afterwards for the “warm hospitality.”

Netanyahu reportedly told Obama that Israel had not yet made a decision on striking Iran. Nevertheless, while appreciating President Obama’s pledge to prevent the Iranians from building a nuclear bomb rather than rely on a policy of after-the-fact containment, Netanyahu left no doubt that Israel was prepared to act alone if necessary to neutralize the Iranian threat to Israel’s very existence.

Key differences were apparently not resolved during the meeting. Obama still believes there is a window for sanctions and the blacklisting of Iran’s central bank to work in pressuring Tehran back to the bargaining table. He tried to persuade Netanyahu to give these measures and diplomacy more time before deciding whether to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Netanyahu does not like the odds that such pressure tactics would work. He expressed deep skepticism that diplomacy and sanctions alone would persuade Iran’s leaders to forsake the development of nuclear weapons. He also made Israel’s case that negotiations proposed by Iran should not resume unless Iran agreed first to a verifiable suspension of its uranium enrichment activities. Obama has not appeared willing to make such suspension a pre-condition to re-opening talks with Iran.

A key difference between Obama and Netanyahu on Iran is over timing of a possible military attack. When will it be time to move beyond diplomacy and sanctions, and take military action? The Obama administration is willing to wait until there is clear evidence that Iran is actually in the process of building one or more nuclear bombs. Israel’s leaders believe waiting that long – even if it were possible to detect such bomb-building activity occurring deeply underground – is a gamble that Israel cannot afford to take.

According to the White House official quoted by the New York Times, Netanyahu did not press Obama on this specific timing point during their discussions. Evidently, Netanyahu saw no benefit in precipitating a dispute with the United States at this time over whether or where to set a firm “red line” beyond which military action would be taken. In effect, for the purposes of their March 5th White House meeting at least, Obama and Netanyahu agreed to disagree.

However, whatever pressure the president and Obama administration officials are putting on Israel privately to stand down until the United States gives its go-ahead, Prime Minister Netanyahu will not agree to put the fate of Israel in the hands of the United States to decide.

Instead, he chose to focus on President Obama’s public statement of support for Israel’s “sovereign right to make its own decisions” when it comes to defending its own people, which Obama expressed during his AIPAC speech on Sunday. In his own speech to AIPAC on Monday evening, Netanyahu said that Israel “must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself against any threats. As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.”

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  • treetop

    Let's leave the "Free World" out of this. A nation that holds millions under decades of military occupation can hardly lay claim to being a champion of freedom and democracy. Israel has always followed solely its own interests. It does so with its occupations. It does so with its annexations. It does so with its "ambiguous" nukes and it is doing so with its attempt at blackmailing the US into war through its Aipac proxys.

    And how exactly is Iran supposed to pave the way for its 12 Immam by starting a suicidal atomic war followed by certain destruction? Stupid slogans for the simple minded.

    • stern

      "Stupid slogans for the simple minded." What a way to conclude a post that is totally simple-minded.

      Do you have any idea how many Palestinians are under the rule of either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority? They are NOT "occupied"! The vast majority of them rule themselves. Badly, but that is their choice.

      Do you know how much land Israel has "annexed"? Practically none, since that land never belonged to anyone but the Ottoman powers that ruled it before 1914. And how many other nations has Israel threatened with nuclear destruction? Precisely none, unlike Iran, which daily calls for "Death to Israel" and "Death to America".

      And do you have any idea of the way Iran intends to bring the 12th Immam? Read your Islamic theology and you will discover that this supposed "coming" must be preceded by widespread global destruction, something the mullahs are only to happy to precipitate.

      Simple minded, indeed – and you prove it with every word you write.

      • Snorbak

        Ta stern, saved me the effort.

    • Rev. Roy

      "A nation that holds millions under decades of military occupation"……Israel is a tiny nation of 7 million surrounded by some 400 million Arabs who hate their guts and want to destroy them (they tried 5 times already)…and they hold millions under military occupation???..these can only be the words of an Islamist, a brain-washed, totally inculcated pedophile admiring Muhammedan..Treetop..declare yourself for what you are…quit hiding under the guise of a "normal" person and tell us all how you are a part of this attempted Islamic
      global takeover and how your "god" says it is "honourable" to lie. C'mon now, let's hear it….
      Rev. Roy….<><

      • Snorbak

        I wonder where the likes of such people were when (Trans)Jordan annexed all of "Palestine" East of the Jordan River & declared independence in 1946?
        Or, when Jordan annexed Judea & Samaria in 1948!

      • Henry

        A war with Iran with Barack as our President would not be good for Christians nor Isreal. He is clearly a Bolshevik and he will surrender Isreal with slow reaction or no action to protect "Isreal's back."

        • Henry

          I spelled Israel incorrectly.

    • Choi

      You're starting to REEK like a PAID LEFTY SERIAL TROLL,which of course you are.
      Perhaps you're even connected to the GENERATOR of HATE in this country, aka American "academia".

    • HoR_Emperor

      "Stupid slogans for the simple minded." Well, you're certainly simple-minded in your obsessive hatred for Isreal.

    • Ghostwriter

      "Stupid slogans for the simple minded." Funny,treetop. That's what I thought of your entire post. Also,has anyone called you a Jew hating creep? Well,let me be the first to say it,you're a Jew hating creep.

  • EVABeliever

    Treebottom is a willfully ignorant anti-Semite! He ignores the truth because it is inconvenient. The truth negates his entire thesis so why use it? There is NO SUCH ENTITY AS "PALESTINIAN". There never was an Arab Palestinian government, state or culture. Where was treebottom when the Arabs controlled "East Jerusalem" and no Jews were permitted access? Treebottom should die a slow and painful death as should all other Jew hating idiots.

  • dave

    Welcome treetop, your education starts today! Stick around, I was a brain dead liberal for many years too but after studying in depth, Islamic theology, mainly the Koran and Hadith, I realised my mind had been conditioned to loathe the west and accept that everyone else in the world is good! It is called 'post colonial guilt'. Unfortunately Islam, I'm afraid is unlike any other religion and is infact 90% geo politcal ideology, 10% religion. The reality is that it is completely fascist and responsible for hundreds of millions of deaths since it began. School, college, TV, papers etc will never give you the facts, you must teach yourself now. Good luck!

  • Marty

    We can at least appreciate the fact that the iranian leadership is saying exactly what it means (except for lying about nuclear research for peaceful purposes): it wants the complete destruction of Israel – both the nation and the state. The pedophile mullahs and their apologists will achieve both if Israel relies on the current administration to pursue policies that have already failed and made the United States a laughing stock. Israel has been given no choice. It must act as it sees fit in the interest of its own national security and the physical survival of its citizenry – both arab and Jewish. No one in their right mind will blame Israel. Those who are out of their mind will not be persuaded anyway and will remain unhappy as long as Jews live and prosper.

  • dirt

    Can AIPAC see who Obama really is? Talk loud and no action, worse yet act agaist his talks. Or does AIPAC still stay deceived comfortably?

  • g_jochnowitz

    Iran's leaders are totally selfless. They are willing to let their people suffer horrible costs in order to pursue virtue: destroying Israel and killing all its citizens: Jewish, Muslim, Christian.
    Former moderate President Ali Akhbar Rafsanjani, in the annual Al-Quds (Jerusalem) sermon given on December 14, 2001, said that if one day the world of Islam comes to possess nuclear weapons, Israel could be destroyed. Rafsanjani said that the use of a nuclear bomb against Israel would leave nothing standing, but that retaliation, no matter how severe, would merely do damage to the world of Islam (reported in MEMRI Special Dispatch Series No. 325).

  • Len_Powder

    Can someone please explain to me the point of this meeting? For Obama it was all about getting elected in Nov 2012. But what was in it for Netanyahu? I can only guess that he must have come here for some other urgent business. Surely by now he's realized that it's a complete waste of time to speak with Obama. Was he actually trying to help Obama get re-elected? Stranger things have happened in politics. Maybe Obama made a secret deal with him to guarantee Israel's survival? I don't get it.

    • Jim_C

      I really would not be surprised if the latter were closer to the truth. By the way: the reason all this is happening? It's an election year in all three countries. (I know, I know–Iranian "elections." But it's showbiz there even as it is here).

  • Bell Soukup

    Just wasting some time on Digg and I found your entry. Not typically what I like to learn about, but it was certainly worth my time. Thanks.