And the Emmy Goes To… Naftali Bennett

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
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Naftali Bennett speaks at Reichman University, Tuesday.
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

Congratulations go to the creators of the Israeli television series “Tehran” for winning an International Emmy Award. Also very nice was the acceptance speech by the series’ director and producer, Dana Eden, who explained that the series deals with “understanding the human behind your enemy,” and added: “I think it gives a lot of hope for the future, and I hope that we can walk together, the Iranians and Israelis, in Jerusalem and in Tehran, as friends and not as enemies.”

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Forgive me, Ms. Eden, but haven’t you gone a little overboard here? For decades, we’ve been cultivating Iran as the existential threat to the State of Israel. We’ve been assassinating its scientists, infiltrating its nuclear sites with computer worms and bombing its positions in Syria. We have been mounting the barricades against anyone trying to drag us into a nuclear agreement and have deprived Israel’s education, health care and social welfare systems of billions to arm ourselves with additional missiles against it. Yet you, Ms. Eden, are dreaming about Israeli-Iranian marches in Jerusalem and Tehran.

After all, without an existential threat, we have no existence. It’s fortunate that a day after the International Emmy Awards, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was out there speaking out and bringing us back to reality. “Over the past decade, Iran could be seen from every window in the State of Israel. To the northeast, the Shi’ite militias in Syria; to the north, Hezbollah; and to the south, Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” he said.

That’s how an enemy is built. But there’s just one small problem with Bennett’s horror show. He has forgotten that Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, which have signed peace agreements with Israel, can also be seen from that same window. To the northeast, in Syria, Bashar Assad is in control – granted, with Iranian support, but mainly thanks to Russia, an ally of Israel, which “hosts” Israeli attack planes all the time.

To the east, the threat is not Iran but rather the economic collapse of the Palestinian Authority. To the southwest, Hamas is in control in the Gaza Strip, and note that this is also the organization that Israel is conducting indirect negotiations with over an agreement for long-term calm, economic reconstruction and the return of two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two soldiers.

These two fronts, where the constant rumblings of war have so far killed more civilians than any Iranian action, will continue to exist even if Israel could destroy all the nuclear facilities in Iran. Bennett claims that Israel “fell asleep at the watch” following the signing of the 2015 international nuclear accord with Iran. As with his prior claim, here too it appears that amnesia is an incurable political disease.

Who was it that got the United States to withdraw from the nuclear accord? Who encouraged U.S. President Donald Trump to impose extraordinarily severe sanctions on Iran? Who hit Iranian nuclear and military targets?

Indeed, it appears that Israel did all this in its sleep. Otherwise, it would be impossible to explain how it happened that these steps simply enhanced Iran’s nuclear capabilities. And what does Bennett suggest doing now? “If there is a return to the nuclear agreement, Israel is not a party to it and is not obligated to it,” Bennett threatens.

He’s right. Israel isn’t a party to the agreement because none of the parties invited it to participate in the deliberations. Bennett has again forgotten the extent to which Israel tried to become a party to the negotiations, at least to voice its reservations, to seek to change several of the provisions that it viewed as critical. But it got none of that. It was totally excluded. And due to all the Israeli anti-Iranian tactical maneuvering, the United States and its allies became fed up with hearing the “voice of Israel.”

When it comes to Israel not being committed to the agreement, here Bennett has resorted to every possible arrogance, delusion of grandeur and foolishness that a country dependent on broad international backing, particular that of the U.S., could permit to itself. It will be interesting to see what Israel does if President Joe Biden uses the same reasoning to say that he is also not committed to agreements reached in 1969 between Golda Meir and President Richard Nixon on the Israeli nuclear question and demands that Israel sign the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

And what if he simply makes do with delaying Israeli arms purchase deals? He has already done that with several countries that are considered America’s allies. Bennett can always explain that he was talking in his sleep.

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