Two Flawed Leaders

Don’t conflate the threat of a nuclear Iran and PM Netanyahu’s talk to Congress on the issue. The Iranian threat is real. PM Netanyahu’s decision to speak at a joint session of Congress is a political disaster threatening to destroy US bipartisan support of Israel. Speaker of the House John Boehner’s admission, that he went behind the backs of President Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership in extending an invitation to Netanyahu, gave Bibi a chance to gracefully withdraw his acceptance of the offer to speak. Unfortunately, Bibi did not use this golden opportunity.

The Jerusalem Post of February 15 states, ‘House Speaker John Boehner said he made a politically calculated decision not to inform the White House of his invitation to Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, fearing US President Barack Obama would attempt to obstruct the speech.’

Thanks to Senator Durbin and Senator Feinstein, there was another opportunity to depoliticize the Netanyahu visit. The Jerusalem Post of February 25 states, ”Two senior US Senate Democrats had invited Netanyahu to a closed-door meeting with Democratic senators during his upcoming visit to Washington, warning that making US-Israeli relations a partisan political issue could have “lasting repercussions.”‘

If PM Netanyahu were sincere in stating, ‘my sole intention in accepting it was to voice Israel’s grave concerns about a potential nuclear agreement with Iran that could threaten the survival of my country”, he would have leaped at the chance to voice his concerns to the Democrats and depoliticize the issue. Being Bibi, he turned down the invitation claiming, ‘it might “compound the misperception of partisanship” surrounding the trip.’ How silly can you get? He must think that we are idiots.

Hopefully, all members of Congress who are friends of Israel – Republicans and Democrats – will boycott Netanyahu’s speech. Those who want to make US support of Israel a partisan issue will show up. They are Israel’s enemies. Israel desperately needs friends on both sides of the aisle. Israelis who see an empty Congress will understand that Netanyahu is willing to sacrifice Israel’s greatest political asset for his personal political gain – and throw the scoundrel out in the upcoming election.

It is ironic that PM Netanyahu is a featured speaker at the AIPAC meeting today, when he is destroying the handiwork of AIPAC – a group that has built up bipartisan support for Israel.

The Saudis and Gulf States also have good reason to fear a nuclear Iran. A YnetNews article of February 21 states, ‘Arab governments have been voicing fears to the White House regarding details of the deal with Iran over its nuclear program, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Iran, that has a Shiite majority, vies for regional dominance with Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. The latter has argued that an agreement could leave Iran with the technologies required to build nuclear weapons while removing many sanctions currently used as leverage. The report said that the rumored deal, which has been extended twice during 18 months of negotiations, has raised concerns that a nuclear-arms race could develop in the region, and has even renewed calls for a US nuclear umbrella to be extended to allies in the area.’

Arab officials said a deal would probably lead to a race by Saudi Arabia in particular to match Iran’s nuclear technology. “At this stage, we prefer a collapse of the diplomatic process to a bad deal,” an Arab official, who has discussed Iran with the Obama administration and Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, told the newspaper.

It’s time for the Gulf states to openly state their concerns on Iran and take a public stand together with Israel instead of hiding in the shadows.

There is good reason for Israel and the Arab States to fear a bad deal. A February 19 article in the Times of Israel notes that Iran is stonewalling International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection – ‘Iran agreed a year ago to work with the IAEA. But like previous probes, the investigation quickly stalled over Tehran’s insistence that it never wanted or worked on such weapons and any evidence to the contrary is fabricated.‘ Under those circumstances, it is hard to justify negotiations with Iran.

The February 25 issue of Times of Israel reports yet another hidden Iranian nuclear facility – ‘An exiled Iranian opposition group Tuesday accused Tehran of running a “secret” uranium enrichment site close to Tehran, which it said violated ongoing talks with global powers on a nuclear deal. “Despite the Iranian regime’s claims that all of its enrichment activities are transparent … it has in fact been engaged in research and development with advanced centrifuges at a secret nuclear site called Lavizan-3,

President Obama has a speech impediment that makes him incapable of pronouncing the following two words -‘Islamic terrorism‘ or ‘Islamic extremism‘. His characterization of the targeting of Jews shopping in a Paris kosher supermarket on a Friday afternoon as a random act of terror is incomprehensible. In Obamaspeak the murder of Jews by Muslim terrorists, just because they were Jews, became, “It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”

Then President Obama tried to use Christian terrorism as a justification for Islamic terrorism. In Obamathink, Islamic terrorism is not so bad because, “lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” Islamic terrorism and Christian terrorism do have something in common – killing Jews. Jews, particularly conversos, were targets of the Inquisition. On the way to Palestine, the crusaders carried out pogroms along the Rhine in Speyer, Worms and Mainz. How can the President use the evils committed by Christian terrorists as an apologetic for Muslim terrorism. Can a murderer claim innocence because Al Capone did worse things.

Although 99.9+% of Muslims are not terrorists, almost all of the recent acts of terrorism have been committed by Muslims. President Obama has taken the politically correct approach of blaming Islamic extremism on social conditions. It may be politically correct but it is not factually correct.

In a USA Today description of the White House summit on terrorism David Jackson summarizes the Obama position, ‘In fighting extremism, Obama said the United States and allies must also address the economic and political “grievances” that often fuel violent ideology. Governments must work to help provide economic opportunity, education, democracy, and the rule of law to their citizens, he said. The “best partners” for these efforts are local communities, Obama said. Family members, schools, churches and mosques, and law enforcement officials can help dissuade young people from falling for the “false promises of extremism.”

In fact, prominent leaders of Al Qaeda come from upper strata of their societies. Bin Laden came from a billionaire Saudi family. Al-Zawahiri, who now heads Al Qaeda, comes from a prosperous Egyptian background. The February 27 Times of Israel describes Jihadi John as, ‘The world knows him as “Jihadi John,” the masked, knife-wielding militant in videos showing Western hostages being beheaded by the Islamic State group. On Thursday he was identified as a London-raised university graduate known to British intelligence for more than five years.‘Much of the recruitment for Islamic terrorist organizations takes place in mosques. Ignoring the religious aspect of Islamic terrorism is equivalent to claiming that there was no religious motivation for the crusades. How silly can you get?

If we mischaracterize the problem by ignoring its religious dimension, there will be no solution.

About the Author
Richard Chasman, 1934-2018, was a member of the Modern Orthodox community in Chicago. Professionally, he was a theoretical nuclear physicist. Richard, who described his perspective as "centrist," wrote a newsletter for more than 20 years called "Chovevai Tsion of Chicago," on subjects of interest to the Modern Orthodox community.