Throwing down the gauntlet, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says that he knows the details of the proposed deal with Iran. On Wednesday, he had this to say, with Republican Senator David Perdue:
While Islamic State butchers the innocent, the Islamic Republic of Iran is relentlessly pursuing nuclear weapons with the express purpose of destroying Israel. The P5+1’s latest proposal won’t stop them. The Iranians of course know the details of that proposal, and Israel does too. So when we say that the current proposal would lead to a bad deal, a dangerous deal, we know what we’re talking about, Senator. I’m open to hearing the positions and arguments of those who think differently, and I would hope that they would be open to hear the arguments of Israel as well.
Perdue was just elected in Georgia; this is his first trip as a sitting senator. He’s been boning up on foreign policy:
“In my opinion the most dangerous thing to mankind’s future is a nuclear Iran.”
Yesterday, the State Department’s Jen Psaki was dismissive of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims to know about the deal:
PSAKI: So we’ve seen this movie before. There’s no deal yet. Obviously, if there’s a deal, we’ll be explaining the deal and explaining why and how it prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And if that’s the case and we come to a deal, it’s hard to see how anyone wouldn’t see that’s to the benefit of the international community.
QUESTION: Well, except for Prime Minister Netanyahu, who says that he knows what’s in the proposal that’s on the table right now, knows what is likely to be approved if it is approved – if it is approved – and he still doesn’t like it and still thinks it’s a bad – it’s bad for Israel and a threat to Israel. So again, the question is: Is it —
MS. PSAKI: Then it sounds like he knows more than the negotiators, since there’s no deal yet.
QUESTION: Is it more important to get – for the Administration to get a deal with Iran than it is to have good relations with Israel and the prime minister?
MS. PSAKI: We think it’s important to get a good deal with Iran and with the P5+1, and that will not only make the United States safer; it will make Israel safer.
It would make the U.S. and Israel safer, State says. OK: so let Americans have that discussion.
Speaking of making us safer, the National Iranian American Council has run a full-page ad in the New York Times challenging Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims to speak in the interests of Americans. “Who is our commander in chief?” Obama or Netanyahu? And the ad pillories Netanyahu for selling the Iraq war 13 years ago:
“If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.… the test and the great opportunity and challenge is not merely to effect the ouster of the regime, but also transform that society and thereby begin too the process of democratizing the Arab world.”
Trita Parsi of NIAC says Israel is trying to get Americans hurt in the Middle East:
“All doubt has been removed: Netanyahu will oppose any peaceful deal with Iran and will instead seek to blow up the diplomatic efforts of the United States and risk starting a war… Congress better take into account that if they buy what Netanyahu is selling, it will be American troops who pay the cost.”
Why isn’t Parsi on the cable shows? He says: “This certainly isn’t the first time we’ve stood up to Netanyahu. In 2011, NIAC ran a full page Washington Post ad telling the President we had his back against Bibi’s push for war with Iran. Today, we are proud to be on the right side of history as the U.S. and Iran are on the brink of a diplomatic agreement that can prevent war and benefit Americans and Iranians alike.
NIAC has announced a Day of Action before the speech to pressure lawmakers not to attend.
Netanyahu’s speech to Congress has compelled Rabbi David Teutsch of J Street’s rabbinic council to make “my first fully public statement criticizing a sitting Israeli government official.” Teutsch says that Netanyahu is “undermining the foundations of a land I love.” How? One way is by making support for Israel a partisan issue, and hurting the cause of sanctions on Iran:
Netanyahu’s decision to accept Republican leaders’ invitation to address Congress has dealt a major blow to the long-time United States-Israel alliance, in which partisan politics have until now been kept at bay. Netanyahu’s upcoming speech demonstrates that Netanyahu is siding with conservative Republicans and evangelical Christians who support his vision of a greater Israel rather than land-for-peace. Taking the Republican side is an attack on President Obama and the Democratic Party. Netanyahu’s official reason is that he wants to speak out on Iran. The irony is that in taking this route, he has disrupted a carefully shaped campaign by American Jewish leaders and others committed to containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions that would have probably resulted in sanctions being passed by Congress had he not thrown this monkey wrench into the works.
Notice that even a J Street rabbi was working toward a congressional effort to impose greater sanctions on Iran. The neocons of J Street.
Oh and James Fallows has a very good piece up at The Atlantic taking apart the Israeli claim that Iran represents an “existential” threat, and that it’s 1938 all over again.
Is there a state that faces a specific existential threat right now? Yes again. That state is South Korea.
South Korea has no nuclear weapons of its own, though the U.S. has extended its “nuclear umbrella.” Its immediate neighbor, North Korea, does have nukes, which it tested and developed while the U.S. was distracted in Iraq. North Korea’s leaders are peculiar, to put it mildly, and have repeatedly promised / threatened to destroy South Korea in a “sea of fire” in rhetoric as blood-curdling as any anti-Israel rant from Iran. South Korea’s population center is practically on the border with the North, rather than several time zones away as with Iran relative to Israel…
Is Israel’s situation comparable to that on the Korean peninsula—or, to use the more familiar parallel, to that of European Jews menaced by Hitler in 1938? It most emphatically is not, if you pay any attention to the underlying facts.
The most obvious difference is that Israel is the incumbent (if unacknowledged) nuclear power in the region, with the universally understood ability to annihilate any attacker in a retaliatory raid.
And Wolf Blitzer of CNN seems to want the Israelis to cancel the speech. He said CNN would be covering the speech live on March 3– assuming it happens; unless the Israelis make some decisions, he just said now.