First We’ll Take Washington

Netanyahu’s ranting is making Israel irrelevant, an insufferable nuisance, and it is causing a fissure in relations with its greatest friend.

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

If they don’t let us bomb Iran, we’ll bomb the United States. That seems to be the new Israeli strategy in the face of the Iranian nuclear threat. That was the strategy in the Marx Brothers’ movie ”Duck Soup,” in which the little debt-ridden country of Freedonia did battle and beat another mythical country, Sylvania. If their remarks hadn’t been connected to such a serious crisis, the sharp, witless dialogue between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry could provide an excellent basis for a skit, one that would culminate in Netanyahu landing a resounding slap on Kerry’s face, while in the background President Barack Obama announces America’s surrender.

Like many other countries in the region, Israel, too, is beginning to portray the United States as a real enemy. After the crisis with Egypt, which is taking the U.S. administration to task over the sanctions it imposed as a result of the Egyptian army’s seizure of power in July, and like Saudi Arabia, which declared its intention to change its America policy due to what the kingdom sees as a strategic U.S. rapprochement with Iran, Israel is now adopting a crazy policy. It is suddenly becoming an ally of the anti-American axis. It’s like a fly that hitched a ride on an elephant and is suddenly enamored of all the dust the two are kicking up.

“Many of the Arab states see eye-to-eye with Israel when it comes to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said at a conference making the 40th anniversary of David Ben-Gurion’s death. It is doubtful that an alliance between Saudi Arabia and Israel would cause Netanyahu to adopt the Saudi peace initiative on the Palestinian issue, but who remembers that when the two countries face a horrible threat from the United States at their doorstep?

Netanyahu is having a very hard time coming to grips with the fact that Israel was just the warm-up act. Israel got the international show up and running and was correct in presenting the Iranian threat as a threat against the whole world and not just against Israel. If it had not been for the rhetoric of violence and the threat of an attack on Iran, it’s possible the sanctions that were imposed on Tehran would have stalled rather than reached their current level. And without these sanctions, it is doubtful Iran would have changed its strategy and turned to the option of quick, flexible negotiations, a resumption of contact with the United States and a push for a quick resolution of the issue.

Netanyahu’s success made him believe he could continue dictating the international approach, decide the nature of the sanctions on Iran, and even force an international consensus behind the military option as a live one. But Netanyahu’s success blinded him, and now he believes he can set the terms of an agreement with Iran, challenge American policy and walk away from the process if his instructions are not carried out.

But the resolution of the crisis has passed into the hands of the major powers, and Israel is not one of them. The prior consensus behind a punitive approach is waning while the new consensus, the diplomatic one, is taking its place. Netanyahu’s ranting is making Israel irrelevant, an insufferable nuisance, and it is causing a fissure in relations with its greatest friend.

One can understand his arguments, but as long as he threatens that Israel will act on its own against Iran and that “Israel is not bound by any agreement reached with Iran,” what does he care what agreement is stitched together between Tehran and the major powers? After all, from the beginning he didn’t believe in diplomatic moves vis-à-vis the Iranians. All of a sudden, Washington has betrayed Netanyahu and betrayal of him means betrayal of Israel, world Jewry and the memory of the Holocaust.

Undoubtedly the time has come to occupy Washington. It is the genuine enemy that is leading the world to the precipice and threatening Israel’s existence. Therefore, we stand ready to commit suicide in battle against the United States as long as we emerge as having been right. We’ll agree to a compromise only if we retain the right to veto the agreements made in the negotiations with Iran. So you see, countries, too, can suffer from a Napoleon complex.

Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York, on July 7, 2010. Credit: Reuters

Click the alert icon to follow topics: