With Obama and Netanyahu Lost, Herzog Must Lead

Reasonable Israel cannot sit idly by in the face of Obama's bad Iran deal and Netanyahu's dreadful speech. Reasonable Israel has a face now who must step up to the challenge.

Ari Shavit
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Israeli Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog. Credit: AFP
Ari Shavit

Unfortunate state, Israel. Within one month, March 2015, it may undergo three dramatic events whose combination will have serious consequences.

Barack Obama’s possible deal with Iran, Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech in Congress and the Knesset elections create a potential for a storm. In the next 40 days the president of the United States could make the mistake of his life and Israel’s prime minister will definitely make the mistake of his. Meanwhile, Israel will be neutralized and paralyzed as these two leaders amuse themselves with life-endangering acts.

While Israelis continue to wonder who should be committed to a mental institution, the government or the media, two moves will be advanced in Washington with far-reaching implications.

Obama. The president believes in disarming the world of nuclear weapons. But he also believes that another confrontation between the United States and a Muslim state must be prevented at any cost. These two beliefs contradict each other. If the Shi’ite power doesn’t feel that America is ready to confront it – diplomatically and economically - it will become nuclear and the 21st century will become an era of nuclear horror.

Obama’s desire to appease Tehran (even when the oil price collapse is making it vulnerable as never before) could destroy his own vision of nuclear disarmament.

It’s not too late. It’s still possible that Iranian bravado or American disillusionment will prevent the disaster. But on the verge of the last furlong of negotiations between the American democracy and the Iranian theocracy, it’s clear that the man sitting in the White House is suffering from acute mollification syndrome. He does not see the danger, does not understand the danger and is doing everything he can to walk into the trap.

Netanyahu. When Israel had Yiddish-speaking prime ministers who never saw a Super Bowl game in their life, they knew one thing: Support for Israel in the United States must be bipartisan. But now, when Israel has a prime minister who looks American and sounds American, he acts like one who doesn’t understand America at all. Netanyahu detests liberal Democrats. But doesn’t he know that two-thirds of the Jews in America are liberal Democrats? Doesn’t he know that America of the 21st century is multicultural and open and that its values are the opposite of Sheldon Adelson’s?

Why does the intelligent person sitting in Balfour Street insist on smashing the sacred principle of bipartisan support for Israel, by speaking Republican, broadcasting Republican and identifying Israel dangerously with the Republican Party’s agenda? Netanyahu’s speech in Congress will be the culmination of a reckless, wanton policy that sabotages the campaign against Iran’s nuclear program and jeopardizes the strategic long-term alliance with the United States.

Despite the election campaign, reasonable Israel cannot sit idly by in the face of Obama’s bad deal and Netanyahu’s dreadful speech. Reasonable Israel has a face now – Isaac Herzog. This is the moment, Herzog. This is the hour to seize leadership, display leadership and leave the Bougie behind.

In a place where there are no men, Herzog must be the man. He must make the appropriate, seminal speech about the Iranian nuclear threat in Jerusalem. He must call on Obama not to make an irrevocable move that will undermine world order. He must act now as a national leader and steer the international campaign against Obama and Khamenei’s disastrous deal.

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