When I was a kid growing up in the Bronx just 7 blocks from Yankee Stadium I went to my share of baseball games. Usually, when there was 1 out in the 9th inning and the score was 6-1 we left the ballpark. We realized that the odds of the losing team coming back with a rally in the 9th inning sufficient to overcome a 5 run deficit were so low it did not pay us to stick around as the outcome of the game was already clear.
Sadly the same is true with the Iran deal fashioned by the P5+1 in Vienna and announced with great fanfare in Washington and Tehran. The deal is, by the analysis of most pundits not beholden to the Obama administration, a bad one at best and a catastrophic one at worst.
As J J Goldberg wrote yesterday in The Atlantic, “The sad conclusion is unavoidable. The lifting of crippling sanctions, which will come about as part of the nuclear deal struck in Vienna, means that at least $150 billion, a sum Barack Obama first invoked in May, will soon enough flow to Tehran. With this very large pot of money, the regime will be able to fund both domestic works and foreign adventures in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere.”
That’s a potential disaster for those of us living in the Middle East and Prime Minister Netanyahu was right to put all of his efforts on our behalf into convincing the U.S. and the rest of the world that this deal is a bad one. In that vein he was probably right in going to the U.S. Congress earlier this year and making the point there and he was right to have used every opportunity to warn the world community that a bad deal with Iran will have implications for years to come.
But now, the score is 6-1 against us (i.e. the P5+1 vs. Israel) and there will be no 9th inning rally in the U.S. Congress to reverse the deal. Yes, there will be a lot of bluster, long speeches, anti-agreement demonstrations and perhaps even congressional filibustering but, at the end of the day, the Congress of the United States of America will not vote to undermine the ability of the President to negotiate treaties on behalf of his country. This in spite of the fact that last weekend, while Iran’s negotiators were in Vienna pulling the wool over the eyes of the West, the leadership in Tehran was encouraging rallies that called for death to America and death to Israel.
My suggestion to our Prime Minister (and this from someone with zero diplomatic credentials but a lot of experience at baseball games) is to leave the stadium. That is, stop the efforts to convince congressional Republicans to face down the President, stop the campaign to undermine the deal and give up the unrealistic hope that it will be reversed. There is simply nothing further to be gained from such activity and admitting when you are beat is a virtue all its own. The effort would be better spend in rebuilding our fractured relationship with the U.S.
But if he does that what should be our next move? First of all we need to do everything in our power to beef up our own security and prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. Our ally in North America should make good on its promise to bolster our defensive position and we should push for that and stop poking our collective fingers in the eyes of the President whose signature is needed to guarantee the ramping up of our defensive capability.
Secondly, we should increase our existing contacts with like-minded Arab states who are as concerned about the negative ramifications of this deal as we are. The time for that has never been better.
Third, we should get the message across to our Palestinian cousins in Gaza, Judea and Samaria that if Iran were to carry through on its threats to annihilate us they and us would end up with us on the same transports to the next world as atomic weapons are woefully incapable of differentiating between Muslims and Jews. That threat alone should be enough to drive both parties back to the negotiating table.
Finally, in the effort over the last few years to devote so much time and energy to the Iranian threat we spent too little time on the myriad of domestic problems that face us, economic, political and social. The political leadership of the country should work on coalescing in such a manner that these issues can be constructively tackled so as to ensure our collective strength in the face of the threats that face us.
Idealistic? Of course I am. How else could I live here? Yesterday 221 North Americans made Aliyah on a special chartered ElAl flight. One could rightfully ask, “Are they crazy? To come here at a time like this with all the threats that face us?” But they came, and they did so for the same reason that average birth rates here in the secular community run at about 3.7 per couple, way beyond anything you will see anywhere in the western world. Because at the end of the day, we believe in the future of this place and while it may be time to leave the ball park there is a whole season ahead of us with many more games and many more opportunities to win. Our leadership needs to understand that and we need to support them in that effort.
Yogi Berra, the former catcher-philosopher of the New York Yankees, famously once said, “The opera is not over until the fat lady sings.” For us living here in Israel, she is not yet even on the stage. So Bibi, leave the stadium, this game was won by the opposition but we have a long season yet ahead of us.