Why does Israel hurt itself both with Iran and the West Bank? Hurt the West too?

David Horovitz, one of our deepest and most thoughtful commentators and experts on the Middle East,  writes another one of his signature fine columns– this time on the Iran talks.

He writes: “It’s entirely legitimate for Israel and the US to disagree on the
viability of an interim deal with Iran. It’s entirely counterproductive for  them to be sniping about it publicly.”

And ironically laments:

“The soft-spoken Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif – graciously telling the watching world from Geneva in his perfect English that he’s “not  disappointed at all” that they didn’t finalize a deal this time, and cheerfully musing that if there weren’t differences, the sides would not have needed to meet – emerges as warm, mild and patient, the unthreatening face of poor, sanctioned, misunderstood Iran. What a contrast to those angry Israelites.”

Meanwhile, on Nov. 8,  a TOI headline reported Kerry asking why Israel wanted to build on future Palestinian land.

I wonder if Netanyahu’s irrationality on the settlements, and  the world’s frustration with him on them, weakened his hand on Iran.

Moreover, Israel seems, as Horovitz says, to have been the country deliberately to go public with the argument.

He notes “Netanyahu has chosen to make the dispute so public,”
in which he is making it so that his views are “being hammered home daily in his withering English soundbites.”

Israel both began the public assault and seems to feel vindicated: TOI reports Channel 2 saying “Jerusalem believed that Netanyahu’s  angry public criticism of the emerging deal, and his phone conversations  with world leaders – including Presidents Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, and Francois Hollande, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister David Cameron – had played a crucial role in stalling the deal.”

Furthermore a Jerusalem Post headline runs that “Netanyahu warns American public against ‘very bad deal’ with Iran,”and the article reports that he “took his case against a nuclear accord with Iran directly to the US public on Sunday, appearing on CBS television’s Face the Nation.”

And finally, as it seems to David, on the public impression of “those
angry Israelites,” a TOI headline of news reported by Channel 2 says–

‘Israel will attack Iran if you sign the deal, French MP told Fabius’Paris
legislator Meyer Habib, a friend of Netanyahu, called his FM in Geneva to
warn of likely response should accord be signed.”

Israel will attack IranAnd after an agreement?


There are several deeper and longer-term perspectives with which to approach this:


At bottom, it has never been made clear why we don’t believe Iran’s constant insistence that it only wants a program for peaceful nuclear energy.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has repeatedly said that  nuclear arms violate Islamic Law. And if we know one thing for sure it is that they could not take Islamic Law more seriously.

They have insisted from the outset that possession of nuclear weapons violates and profanes the essence of (their interpretation of) Islam itself.

The sobriety and gravity with which they observe Islam hardly suggests
they would outright lie – which would have to be the harsh word for it– on a matter of the absolutely deepest import.

Moreover, the United States and Israel never doubt any of Iran’s other declared. religious convictions.

Why single out only this one?


Large and proud nations, built on ancient civilizations, like Iran, are
always going to feel entitled to have  nuclear capabilities and, no matter how hard we try to stop  them, they eventually will get them.

Does Netanyahu seriously think that this ancient and large and proud civilization will, over decades and even scores of decades, never, ever have a nuclear program?

Could Israel, for decades, have felt  its nuclear monopoly  would last forever, and now be stunned by the fact that it may not be—and could never be — forever?  Any more than America’s was in the 1940’s?


And what if Netanyahu attacked?

An attack would strengthen the Iranian system and metastasize extremism on the Islamic street, which in turn could convulse
the Muslim street into closing ranks.

Since an agreement would have been signed, Israel would never
be  more isolated from other and incensed Western powers—and while at war.  And with a much larger nation.

The West’s friendship with Iran would not have been jeopardized but perhaps  cemented– and at the cost of the former depth of the friendship with Israel.  This would be a dramatic consequence– on par with the dramatic nature of an attack. Especially with Rouhani. And even more after a signed deal. .


As simple elementary common sense, don’t the West and the
US have their own interests?  It is hard to help not feeling Israel is
jealous about any warming Iranian-Western relations, just as Taiwan was intensely displeased by US President Nixon’s trip to China and American’s sudden new friendship with the much larger and populous China after years as arch-enemies.

When a premier Middle Eastern journalist like David Horovitz makes his blog’s headline, “Who’s the enemy here?,” it adds even deeper poignancy to the deja vu — that it sounds like what Taiwan’s leadership must have thought when Nixon and Kissinger made their trip to mainland China and the stunning suddenness of the transformation;

And how they must have been likewise thinking– “But who’s the enemy here?!”  –And Taiwan may not have had a platform on Face the Nation.


But it’s not a zero-sum game.  Events showed that the West can be
friends with both China and Taiwan.  And America’s friendship with China
probably has acted as a bulwark to Taiwan’s defenses, in that, before the
friendship, China had nothing to lose, but then it would have had tight and intertwined American and Western ties as a deterrent to any attack.

In the same way, the West’s friendship with Iran would give Iran a lot to
lose if it were — in my view never possible –to attack Israel, and would serve as an unnecessary but still further deterrent to Iran, and an incentive for its responsibility in the region.

International friendships bolster any country’s network of ties and
accountabilities and responsibilities–just as with China or any other country brought out of isolation and into the mainstream of normalcy and international ties and connections– and the same with Iran.

The temporary delay in the Iran-Western nuclear deal is disheartening but let us hope — for Israel’s sake as well as the rest of the responsible world — for a deal soon.

About the Author
James Adler was born in Kentucky, now works in university libraries, and feels especially and intensely bound up with the fate of the Jewish people in the last hundred years, especially the Shoah, the rise of Israel "out of the ashes," and the accidental and mutually tragic collision with the Palestinians in the early and middle of the 20th century, continuing through today. He is happily married and the father of two teenagers.