Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
The time has come for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to confront US President Barack Obama.
A short summary of events from the past three days: On Tuesday morning, the head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Analysis Division Brig. Gen. Itay Brun revealed that the Syrian government has already used “lethal chemical weapons,” against Syrian civilians and opposition forces. Brun described footage of people visibly suffering the impact of chemical agents, apparently sarin gas.
Hours later, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Netanyahu had told him on the telephone that “he was not in a position to confirm” Brun’s statement.
It is hard to imagine the US was taken by surprise by Brun’s statement. Just the day before, Brun briefed visiting US Defense secretary Chuck Hagel on Syria. It is not possible he failed to mention the same information.
And of course it isn’t just the IDF saying that Syrian President Bashar Assad is using chemical weapons. The British and the French are also saying this.
But as a European source told Ma’ariv, the Americans don’t want to know the facts. The facts will make them do something about Syria’s chemical weapons. And they don’t want to do anything about Syria’s chemical weapons.
So they force Netanyahu to disown his own intelligence.
Thursday afternoon, in a speech in Abu Dhabi, Hagel confirmed, “with some degree of varying confidence,” that Syria used chemical weapons, at least on a “small scale.”
What the administration means by “some degree of varying confidence,” is of course, unknowable with any degree of varying confidence.
Then there is Iran.
Also on Tuesday, the former head of IDF Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, said that Iran has already crossed the red line Israel set last year. It has already stockpiled 170 kg. of medium-enriched uranium, and can quickly produce the other 80 kg. necessary to reach the 250 kg. threshold Netanyahu said will mark Iran’s achievement of breakout capability where it can build a nuclear arsenal whenever it wants.
Yadlin made a half-hearted effort Wednesday to walk back his pronouncements. But his basic message remained the same: The die has been cast.
Due to American pressure on Israel not to act, and due to the White House’s rejection of clearcut reports about Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium, Iran has crossed the threshold. Iran will be a nuclear power unless its uranium enrichment installations and other nuclear sites are destroyed or crippled. Now.
True, the Americans set a different red line for Iran than Israel. They say they will not allow Iran to assemble a nuclear bomb. But to believe that the US has the capacity and the will to prevent Iran from climbing the top rung on the nuclear ladder is to believe in the tooth fairy – (see, for instance, North Korea).
Iran has threatened to use it nuclear arsenal to destroy Israel. Have we now placed our survival in the hands of Tinkerbell? And yet, rather than acknowledge what Iran has done, Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon carry on with the tired act of talking about the need for a credible military option but saying that there is still time for sanctions and other non-military means to block Iran’s quest for the bomb.
Perhaps our leaders are repeating these lies because they want to present a unified US-Israel front to the world. But the effect is just the opposite.
What their statements really demonstrate is that Israel has been brought to its knees by its superpower patron that has implemented a policy that has enabled Iran to become a nuclear power.
Indeed, the US has allowed Iran to cross the nuclear threshold while requiring Israel to pretend the course the US has followed is a responsible one.
The announcement that the US has agreed to sell Israel advanced weapons specifically geared towards attacking Iran should also be seen in this light. Israel reportedly spent a year negotiating this deal. But immediately after its details were published, the US started backing away from its supposed commitment to supply them. The US will not provide Israel with bunker-buster bombs.
It will not provide Israel with the bombers necessary to use the bombs Israel isn’t getting. And anyway, by the time Israel gets the items the US is selling – like mid-air refuelers – it will be too late.
When, after overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, the US failed to find chemical weapons in the country, then-president George W. Bush’s Democratic opponents accused Bush of having politicized intelligence to justify his decision to topple Saddam. In truth, there is no evidence that Bush purposely distorted intelligence reports. Israel’s intelligence agencies, and perhaps French ones, were the only allied intelligence arms that had concluded Saddam’s chemical weapons – to the extent he had them – did not represent a threat.
The fact that Bush preferred US and British intelligence estimates over Israeli ones doesn’t mean that he politicized intelligence.
In contrast, what Obama and his advisers are doing represents the worst case of politicizing intelligence since Stalin arrested his senior security brass rather than heed their warnings of the coming German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.
Never in US history has there been a greater misuse and abuse of US intelligence agencies than there is today, under the Obama administration.
Take the Boston Marathon bombings. Each day more and more reports come out about the information US agencies had – for years – regarding the threat posed by the Boston Marathon bombers.
But how could the FBI have possibly acted on those threats? Obama has outlawed all discussion or study of jihad, Islamism, radical Islam and the Koran by US federal government agencies. The only law enforcement agency that monitors Islamic websites is the New York Police Department.
And its chief Ray Kelly has bravely maintained his policy despite massive pressure from the media and the political class to end his surveillance operations.
Everywhere else, from the Boston Police Department to the FBI and CIA, US officials are barred from discussing the threat posed by jihadists or even acknowledging they exist. People were impressed that Obama referred to the terrorist attack in Boston as a terrorist attack, because according to the administration-dictated federal lexicon, use of the word terrorism is forbidden, particularly when the act in question was perpetrated by Muslims.
Then there are the Palestinians. On Thursday, it was reported that in the midst of everything happening in the Middle East, Obama is planning to host a peace conference in Washington in June to reinstate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
The terms of reference for the conference are reportedly the 2002 Arab League “peace plan.”
Among other things, that plan requires Israel to accept millions of hostile foreign-born Arabs to whatever rump state it retains following a “peace” agreement with the PLO. In exchange for Israel agreeing to destroy itself, the Arab peace plan says the Arabs will agree to have “regular” relations with Israel. (“Regular” by the way, is a term devoid of meaning.) During his visit here last week, Kerry announced that the new US policy towards the Palestinians is to pour billions of dollars into the Palestinian economy. Among other things, the administration is going to convince US companies like Coca-Cola to open huge plants in Judea and Samaria.
Sounds fine. But as usual, there is a catch. The administration wants US firms to build their factories in Area C, the area of Judea and Samaria over which, in accordance with the agreements they signed with Israel, the Palestinians agreed Israel should hold sole control.
In essence, the policy Kerry announced is simply an American version of the EU’s policy of seeking to force Israel to give up control over Area C.
Area C, of course, is where all the Israeli communities are, and almost no Palestinians live.
Those Israeli communities and the 350,000 Jews who live in them are the strongest assertion of Israeli sovereign rights to Judea and Samaria. So the EU – and now the Americans – are doing everything they can to force Israel to destroy them. The campaign to coerce Israel into surrendering its sole control over Area C is a central component of that plan.
It cannot be said often enough: The administration’s focus on the Palestinian conflict with Israel in the midst of the violent disintegration of the Arab state system and the rise of jihadist forces throughout the region, coupled with Iran’s steady emergence as a regional power, is only understandable in the framework of a psychiatric – rather than policy – analysis.
For the past five years, perhaps Netanyahu’s greatest achievement in office has been his adroit avoidance of confrontations with Obama. With no one other than the US willing to stand with Israel in public, it is an important national interest for Jerusalem not to have any confrontations with Washington if they can possibly be avoided.
This attempt to avoid confrontations is what made Netanyahu agree to Obama’s anti-Jewish demand to deny Jews their property rights in Judea and Samaria in 2010. This is undoubtedly what stood behind Netanyahu’s decision to apologize to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan during Obama’s visit to Israel last month. That apology constituted a moral abandonment of the IDF naval commandos who Netanyahu’s government sent – virtually unarmed – to face Turkish terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida and Hamas aboard the Mavi Marmara terror ship.
To a degree, all of Netanyahu’s seemingly unjustifiable actions can be justified when weighed against the need to avoid a confrontation with America.
But by now, after five years, with Iran having passed Israel’s red line, and with chemical weapons already in play in Syria, the jig is up.
Obama does not have Israel’s back.
Contrary to the constant, grinding rhetorical prattle of American and Israeli politicos, Obama will not lift a finger to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. He will not lift a finger to prevent chemical weapons from being transferred to the likes of al-Qaida and Hezbollah, and their colleagues in Syria, or used by the Syrian regime.
From Benghazi to Boston, from Tehran to Damascus, Obama’s policy is to not fight forces of jihad, whether they are individuals, organizations or states. And his obsession with Palestinian statehood shows that he would rather coerce Israel to make concessions to Palestinian Jew-haters and terrorists than devote his time and energy into preventing Iran from becoming the jihadist North Korea or from keeping sarin, VX and mustard gas out of the hands of Iran’s terrorist underlings and their Sunni competitors.
No, Israel doesn’t want a confrontation with Washington. But we don’t have any choice anymore.
The time has come to take matters into our own hands on Syria and Iran. In Syria, either Israel takes care of the chemical weapons, or if we can’t, Netanyahu must go before the cameras and tell the world everything we know about Syria’s chemical weapons and pointedly demand world – that is US – action to secure them.
As for Iran, either Israel must launch an attack without delay, or if we can’t, then Netanyahu has to publicly state that the time for diplomacy is over. Either Iran is attacked or it gets the bomb.
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