Steven Frank

Why Obama is so afraid of Netanyahu

President Obama has just entered into an historic agreement with Iran, which purports to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power in the near future. One would think the President would be thrilled with this landmark accomplishment, coming after years of negotiation, ensuring his legacy as a peacemaker for all time.

But, somehow, he’s not. During television interviews, he appears peeved and irritated. And the person he seems most upset with is Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposes the agreement with Iran. Why would the most powerful person in the world let the leader of a relatively small country, an ally of the United States, no less, get under his skin?

The answer is that the President knows that his legacy regarding this agreement is not in his own hands. His legacy lies in the hands of his implacable foe who has the chutzpah to think he knows what is better for his own people than the President of the United States.

After all, let’s not forget that Israel is not a party to the new agreement, was barely consulted during its negotiation, and its objections were disdainfully ignored. And yet, who is the most likely target of any nuclear weapon that Iran might acquire? Certainly not Palm Springs. Not the Hamptons. Not the future Obama Library in Chicago. If this deal goes south, the people who will suffer will be the six million citizens of Israel, a second Holocaust, within less than a century.

During the negotiations over the agreement, Iran proclaimed that all issues were on the table, but that the one issue that was “non-negotiable” was the ultimate destruction of the State of Israel. Just four days before the agreement was finalized, Iran celebrated the last day of Ramadan with hundreds of thousands pouring into the streets of Tehran shouting “death to Israel.” Needless to say, Israel and its pushy leader, have some skin in this game.

In the end, it will be Netanyahu (or his equally stiff-necked successor) who will decide the fate of the agreement and President Obama’s legacy, not President Obama. The end game is out of Obama’s hands and lies with decisions yet to be made by the leaders of Israel. This obviously upsets the most powerful man in the world. But it’s a fact.

The agreement theoretically pushes back the time frame during which Iran can acquire a nuclear weapon for ten years. But it likewise provides Israel a ten-year window to act to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. If Iran violates the terms of the deal, if it enriches uranium, increases its centrifuges, refuses to allow inspections, it will not be the United States or the United Nations which enforces the deal. There will be no “snap back” sanctions.

The world community will dither and discuss and debate and perhaps even pass toothless resolutions denouncing Iran’s perfidy. Former President Obama and Former Secretary of State John Kerry, long-since removed from office, and drawing hundreds of thousands of dollars per speaking engagement, will posture and meaninglessly proclaim that Iran has “crossed a red line” and that there will be “consequences.”

However, if there are any consequences, they will be initiated by the State of Israel. The only force in the world with the interest and the power to curb Iran’s transgressions will be Israel. The agreement provides Israel with ten years to monitor Iran’s activities, and act, if necessary. While President Obama rhetorically announced that Iran will never obtain a nuclear weapon, it will be the State of Israel that makes sure that never happens. Israel, not Obama, will enforce the agreement.

If there is one thing that the Jewish people learned from the horrific experience of the Holocaust, it is that it can depend only upon itself for its survival. Not the United States which did little to shelter the victims. Not Europe which collaborated with the killers. Not the Church or the humanists or the good Samaritans. The current agreement with Iran only reinforces that lesson, that the Obamas of the world will always sacrifice the Jews for the sake of their own legacy. If the Jewish people are to survive after 4,000 years of slaughter, they will turn to Israel, whose mission is to safeguard the Jewish people.

Thus, the recent agreement actually is a good thing for Jews and Israel. The only thing better than a bad deal with Iran is a bad deal enforced by Israel. That is what Obama has achieved. If and when the time comes that Iran gets close to producing a nuclear weapon, Israel will intervene, just as it successfully did in preventing Saddam Hussein from obtaining nuclear weapons. When President Obama said “never again,” it was a mere political platitude. When the Israelis say it, they damn sure mean it. As Golda Meir once said: “the Jews have a secret weapon in their struggle to preserve the State of Israel. They have no place else to go.”

About the Author
Steve Frank is retired after a 30-year career as an appellate lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. His writings on Israel, the law and architecture have appeared in numerous publications including the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish News Syndicate and Moment magazine.
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