The pundits are doing their best to minimize the differences between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But when you read the speeches that both men gave at AIPAC, one thing becomes inescapably clear: Obama and Netanyahu have diametrically divergent views on how to deal with the Iranian mullahs’ quest for nuclear weapons. And so, sooner or later, this issue is bound to come to a head. Indeed, a war between Iran and Israel may well be inevitable — or so Netanyahu seemed to say. Consider:
“Because of our efforts, Iran is under greater pressure than ever before,” declared Obama.
Because of our work. Iran is isolated, its leadership divided and under pressure. And by the way, the Arab Spring has only increased these trends, as the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime is exposed, and its ally, the Assad regime, is crumbling.
If only there were true, countered Netanyahu (figuratively speaking, I mean. Here’s what the prime minister actually said):
For fifteen years, I’ve been warning that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave danger to my country and to the peace and security of the world. For the last decade, the international community has tried diplomacy. It hasn’t worked. For six years, the international community has applied sanctions. That hasn’t worked either.
I appreciate President Obama’s recent efforts to impose even tougher sanctions against Iran. Those sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy. But unfortunately, Iran’s nuclear march goes on.
“There is too much loose talk of war,” Obama insisted. And this “has only benefited the Iranian government, by driving up the price of oil, which they depend on to fund their nuclear program…
“For the sake of Israel’s security, America’s security and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster,” Obama continued. “Now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in and to sustain the broad international coalition we have built…
Sorry, Mr President, but “Israel has waited patiently for the international community to resolve this issue.”
We’ve waited for diplomacy to work. We’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer. As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live under the shadow of annihilation.
Netanyahu went onto passionately dismiss the notion that a military confrontation with Iran would needlessly undermine the Obama administration’s ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis.
“I’ve heard these arguments before,” he said. “In fact I’ve read them before.”
The year was 1944. Liberal Democrat Franklin Roosevelt was president. The World Jewish Congress had pleaded with FDR to bomb the concentration camps, Auschwitz in particular. FDR refused. His war department blithely told the World Jewish Congress that
Such an operation could be executed only by diverting considerable air support essential to the success of our forces elsewhere… and in any case would be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not warrant the use of our resources…
Such an effort, [moreover], might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.
It was a sad, shameful and shortsighted moment in American history. But Netanyahu wasn’t at AIPAC to shame America. He was here to inform the world that things are different now: “2012 is not 1944,” he explained.
Back then the Jewish state did not exist. And so, the Jews had to depend upon the good offices of countries such as the United States to save them. However, that’s no longer true. Today, said Netanyahu, Israel has “the ability to defend itself, by itself against, any threat.”
Mr. President, he declared, “We deeply appreciate the great alliance between our two countries. But when it comes to Israel’s survival, we must always remain the masters of our fate.”
In other words, Netanyahu is not about to ask for Obama’s permission to strike Iran. Instead, Israel will act when it must; and that fateful and unavoidable decision is near.