Fifteen Years of Quiet Is an Eternity in Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu will keep raging against the nuclear deal with Iran, lest the voices of discontent about welfare and the housing crisis be heard.

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
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A screenshot of Benjamin Netanyahu on CNN's 'State of the Union,' April 5, 2015.
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

The international community last week imposed the toughest possible sanction on the citizens of Israel: From now until the end of June, our citizens are sentenced to dealing with only one issue – the agreement with Iran. This is our newest threat. Not the Iranian nukes, not the ayatollahs’ regime, not even Iran’s support of terror. The agreement, and all those who signed it, are now Israel’s enemies.

Does anyone remember the 1,500 missiles (a day) that Hezbollah is expected to fire at us, or the radical Islam (Sunni, not Shi’ite) that threatens world Jewry? Nada. From now on, the top threat will be “the agreement.”

The agreement – which is not yet signed – will ensure that Israel will be engaged in a worthy war: a war against the great powers, chief among them the United States. It was a little ironic to hear U.S. President Barack Obama warn anyone thinking of messing with Israel that “America will be there.” Hello? Doesn’t Obama understand that as far as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is concerned, America is the one now “messing with Israel?”

According to Netanyahu, Obama’s promise is no better than a promise by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to aid Israel if it were attacked. Washington and Tehran are now the same. Obama is the new “non-partner.” And when Netanyahu tells CNN that he assumes Obama is doing what he believes is best for the United States, he is not just positioning the U.S. administration against Israel, but he makes anyone who supports Obama – including his Jewish voters – into enemies of Israel. Because anyone doing the best thing possible for the United States on the Iranian issue is, ipso facto, doing the worst possible thing for Israel. There is no other way to interpret the choking snare in which Netanyahu is inserting the State of Israel.

Netanyahu’s disastrous rhetoric forces us to create some order here. Israel, as opposed to Iran – which is under an international inspection regime – is not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It succeeded in convincing the world to impose sanctions on Iran not just because Iran is a threat, but because there was a fear that Israel would act independently against Iran and drag the large powers into a Middle East war.

Fortunately for Israel, several senior defense officials erected a protective shield against the military option because they understood that the assessment of the national analyst, Ehud Barak – that an Iranian retaliation would kill “only” 500 people – was a blatant lie at best. “Under no scenario would there be 50,000 or 5,000 or even 500 deaths,” said the expert when he was defense minister. At least 499 Israeli citizens owe their lives to common sense, and not that of Netanyahu.

But the military option is not dead. The government that frightens its citizens regarding the landing of 1,500 missiles a day isn’t hesitating to announce the revival of the military option against Iran. So take your pick. If there’s a military option, what does Netanyahu care if there is or isn’t an agreement? Is he afraid that Israel will be isolated if it attacks Iran? As if, even now, we are suffocating from a surfeit of friends in the world. On the other hand, if he has abandoned the military option, why talk about it? Why not let the agreement play itself out?

Perhaps before trumpeting the military option against Iran, it would be worth checking how well Israel is prepared to deal with Hezbollah missiles. And before shooting down the agreement, it would be worth checking how many years of quiet it promises.

In a country that changes governments or launches small wars every two years, 15 years of quiet is an eternity. It’s quiet that we deserve. The problem is that such quiet would force us to deal with boring issues like welfare, the housing crisis and the quality of education.

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