“Lying and cheating in the Arab [Muslim] world is not really a moral matter but a method of safeguarding honor and status, avoiding shame, and at all times exploiting possibilities, for those with the wits for it,…to convert shame into honor…and vice versa for their opponents. If honor so demands, lies and cheating may become absolute imperatives. In Shia practice, a man is allowed what is called “precautionary dissimulation,” a recognition that truth may be impossible in some contexts.” (David Pryce-Jones, The Closed Circle, p. 41)

The dance’s convoluted choreography has been negotiated. In the interlude, the participants are repositioning, each with its own agenda. One struggles for honor, the other wallows in deceit. In the end, one will insist on honor while the other holds back side agreements. How else can you account for the intentional duplicity? In the Arab bazaar, the Western mindset can’t compete. The cultural gap is too great.

For Iran, the end game is honor. It cannot agree to a negotiation that ends in compromise. Compromise is understood as dishonor and shame. It’s a position that American negotiator John Kerry has no trouble agreeing to, because his dance instructor was Jonathan Gruber. The mullahs laugh at Obama and Kerry, so weakened by their hunger for a deal that they are incapable of walking away. Why should Iran show respect to this representative of the “Great Satan” when he has no respect for himself? And why shouldn’t the mullahs just lie with a smile, their eyes twinkling at their victory? They’ve won, and John “Gruber” Kerry is looked at as a cowardly fool.

“Americans are begging us for a deal,” claimed Mohammad Reza Naghdi, commander of the Basij, a paramilitary wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). “Iran feels the [U.S.] administration needs the deal, and this belief is supported by the way the administration is acting,” said Iranian dissident Saeed Ghasseminejad. How embarrassing to be a caving Obamacrat! It reminds me of a story. During Adlai Stevenson’s 1956 presidential campaign, a woman called out to him, “Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person.” Stevenson called back: “That’s not enough, Madam. We need a majority!” Truer words were never spoken. Stevenson lost. In this day and age, “thinking Democrat” is somewhat of an oxymoron.

Yes, the Iranian economy has been hurt; and yes, their people have suffered. But the trophy of a nuclear Iran 14 years in the making is their loving homage to the “Twelfth Imam.” Remember all those pesky UN resolutions that demanded a halt to Iran’s nuclear development? The mullahs just kept shaking their heads, smiling, as their centrifuges kept spinning. It’s not just about getting the bomb. It’s about honor. It’s about mocking America and the West. At every step in the recent negotiations, they would pocket their concession and make another demand. That’s the way of the bazaar. “Gruberizing” the American public, Kerry tried to keep parts of the agreements a secret. But for Iran, victory isn’t complete without humiliating your opponent. And each time Kerry tried to hide a concession, the Iranians gleefully flaunted their victory and expose Kerry’s perfidy. JV (junior varsity) John Kerry versus the pros of Iran is not a fair fight. Jonathan Gruber was caught on video saying that Obamacare’s “success was based on the stupidity of the American people.” Kerry believed that if it worked once, it could work again. “Jonathan Gruber came under fire…after newly unearthed videos showed him suggesting that Democrats purposely misled Americans” in order to pass Obamacare. (CNN 12/9/14) Video exposed Gruber calling the plan “a basic exploitation of the American voters’ lack of understanding…because the American people are too stupid to understand the difference.” (Ibid) Could Kerry pull off “Gruberonics” again?

Both Democrats and Republicans hounded Gruber during the hearings, but will Democrats hound Kerry? Are the American people really too stupid to understand that the agreement with Iran is just smoke, mirrors and wishful thinking? If the agreement was so iron-clad, why are the mullahs smiling? When the billions of sanction dollars are released, yes, a trickle might make it into the domestic economy, affording their people a bit of relief. But the bulk of the money, everyone concedes, will go toward funding their beloved terrorist network and their precious centrifuges – their trophy for Mahdi, the Twelfth Imam. He too will be smiling. A win-win-win for Iran’s leaders, for the Iranian people, for the Twelfth Imam! That’s what you get when you deal in the bazaar and dance with despots.

John Kerry is beginning to sweat. The Commander in Chief is getting angry. He actually had to come off the golf course to speak to the lowly congressmen and senators—Democrats. Don’t they know how important this is? I can understand why he is angry. Don’t they know they’re supposed to just march in lockstep like Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer? Now what do these two have in common? Yes, sadly, two of our own tribe.

Gruber later apologized for his insulting remarks, but the Wall Street Journal dismissed the apology as unpersuasive, noting that his response to substantive questions suggested that his only regret was for getting caught on tape. John “I voted for it before I voted against it” Kerry hasn’t yet apologized for trying to put one, two or three over on senators, congressmen and the American public. Yes, he touted the “snap-back” sanctions, but he didn’t really mean it. And yes, he demanded “anytime, anywhere inspections,” but he knew the Iranians wouldn’t allow it. But Big John, the rugged bicyclist, had a scapegoat up his sleeve. If Congress doesn’t approve the agreement (not a treaty), he always has Israel to blame. But he hasn’t put anything over on the odd couple, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Saudi Prince Bandar. They’re smart. They know the bazaar. They know the dance steps. They heard the music months ago.

Writing for the London-based Arabic website “Elaph,” Bandar suggests that, unlike President Clinton whose bad deal with North Korea was made with the best of intentions and best available information, Obama is knowingly making a bad deal, one that will “wreak havoc” in the Middle East “which is already destabilized due to Iran’s actions.” Bandar points to a phrase first used by Henry Kissinger: “America’s enemies should fear America, but America’s friends should fear America more.” (Washington Post, 07/16/15) The Saudis are not happy; neither are the Kuwaitis, nor the leaders of the United Arab Emirates. And neither is Israel, where a growing majority, currently at 71 percent, are against the deal.

The official Iranian media is celebrating as Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif boasted to parliament that the agreement has “ruined the Zionist regime’s security plan against the Islamic Republic,” declaring that its nuclear enrichment facilities, research and development would not be stopped. (The Jewish Press, 07/21/15) Catch me if you can. Shall we dance?

It’s about honor and shame, or as Churchill put it when Chamberlain returned from his meeting in Munich with Hitler in 1938, the choice was between dishonor and war. You chose dishonor. You will get war. There will be no peace in the Middle East in our time. The nuclear race is on.

The Iranian leadership is much too happy, while knowledgeable and concerned people like U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are very concerned that Iran will use sanctions relief to fund Shiite terrorist groups like Hezbollah rather than to improve the lot of the average Iranian citizen. Does that really surprise you? And uber-leftist commentator for Israel Channel 2, Ehud Yaari, one of Israel’s most respected Middle East analyst and no lover of Bibi, stated: “The deal was reached because Americans have made a series of capitulations over the past two to three weeks in almost every key aspect that was being debated. Those in the U.S. who supported the agreement with Iran admit that it is worse than they thought. Now the ball is in the court of Democratic lawmakers.”

Bipartisan support? What will the Obamacrats do? Chuck the Shomer, “guardian of Israel,” is against it. So are others. Dancing with despots can be hazardous to one’s political health, especially for Jews. That’s why Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s pathetic cowardice is not surprising. Not so if you’re an Evangelical Christian. When it comes to dancing with despots, they’re not afraid to step on a few toes. Apparently, Americans are not as stupid as Kerry and Obama thought. Recent polls show that Americans are opposed to the agreement by a margin of 2 to 1, and the more they know, the more opposed they are. It’s limbo time! The more they know, the lower they go. But what will Obamacrat Jews do? Even though over 71 percent of Israelis (including Israeli Arabs) are against the agreement – and that number is climbing – Americanized Jews are only now beginning to turn against the agreement. Hurrah! (Took a while.)

Ortho-opinionator “Pinky Rosenthal” thinks the agreement (which I’m sure he didn’t need to read) was the greatest thing since chicken soup. After all, the record number of incidents of anti-Semitism in Europe doesn’t seem to faze him. Everything is une vie merveilleuse for Jews in France and simply smashing for Jews in England (no pun intended), where incidents of anti-Semitism have reportedly increased by 53 percent. Never one to let facts cloud his opinions, “Pinky” wants to blame the bad agreement on “The Bibi.” It’s all his fault. Bad, bad Bibi. Except that the leader of Israel’s Labor-Left Zionist Union “Buji” Herzog, agrees with Bibi that the agreement is bad for Israel. While Bibi and his Arab allies are sitting out this dance, “Pinky the Opinionator” and his pals, the “J Street Obama Blocking Backs,” can’t wait to fill their dance card with Iranian despots. But ” Gruberizer” Kerry still has some “splaining” to do.

Unmistakably upsetting is the agreement’s Annex III, Article 10.2, obligating the P5+1 to help Iran protect itself against sabotage. “If any other country tries to undermine [Iran’s] nuclear program, we [the U.S.] have to help them [Iran] defend themselves against Israel, Egypt, Saudis, our own allies,” explained Sen. Marco Rubio. Kerry warns Israel that a strike on Iran would be “an enormous mistake,” adding, “If the Iran deal crumbles, blame Israel!”

In an interview in The Atlantic by the Obama regime’s royal stenographer, Jeffrey Goldberg, Kerry stated, “The ayatollah constantly believed that we are untrustworthy, that you can’t negotiate with us, that we will screw them. This – a congressional rejection – will be the ultimate screwing. … The U.S. Congress will prove the ayatollah’s suspicion, and there’s no way he’s ever coming back to negotiate — out of dignity [honor], out of a suspicion that…America is not going to negotiate in good faith…would be his point.” Kerry insists he’s “gone through this backwards and forwards a hundred times and I’m telling you, this deal is as pro-Israel, as pro-Israel’s security, as it gets.” Whether Iran will “translate into active steps” its vow to wipe Israel off the map, Kerry admits: “I don’t know the answer to that.” Hold the laughter. It’s serious.

Meanwhile, Iranian negotiator Abbas Araghchi reported to Iranian journalists, “We said during the talks that we cannot not provide weapons to Hezbollah, and we are not willing to sacrifice them for our nuclear program.” (The Times of Israel, 08/04/15) It’s about honor.

One can get pretty dizzy from all the spinning in Kerry’s dances with despots. Maybe it’s time for Kerry to learn Michael Jackson’s moonwalk dance step—the art of appearing to move forward while actually being pulled backward. Perhaps they teach it at Kerry’s alma mater, the Arthur Murray Institute of Foreign Policy. Good luck, John. Watch the toes.

Shabbat Shalom, 08/28/15

Jack “Yehoshua” Berger * * Back issues are archived at The Times of Israel.com