Exactly What Does Netanyahu Want?

Netanyahu’s attitude toward the recent Western-Iranian nuclear accord is exactly the attitude of IRGC hardliners, a similarity that should make all of us very uneasy. What is really going on?

The level of hypocrisy in the treatment of the Iranian nuclear issue by the Netanyahu crowd, which—may I point out–includes many in the U.S. who were elected to public office to represent the interests of Americans and who also make a point to claim that they care about Israeli national security (even though that is not their responsibility), is illustrated by what should be the laughable idea that since Iran has now retreated from whatever plans it may have had for pursuing nuclear technology, therefore Israel deserves MORE weapons. Israelis concerned about their security are the first people who should be thanking Obama for significantly constraining Iran. Israelis concerned about their security are the first people who should be demanding that Washington do everything it can to ensure that the nuclear accord is honored. Obviously, in the first place, this means that Washington must be very careful to honor its commitments, for surely the Iranians will not abide by their agreement to curtail nuclear research one second after they decide that Washington is reneging.

Hence, current efforts by the GOP to prepare new sanctions are a direct threat to Israel, because such new punishment of Iran in response to its concession would be taken by any neutral observer, much less the highly suspicious Iranians (after all the times they have been mistreated by the West), as evidence that the U.S. cannot be trusted.

Nevertheless, the Netanyahu faction and its U.S. followers are demanding either A) that the U.S. discard the greatest diplomatic success it has had in years or B) that Iran be punished for saying “Yes.” Whatever it is that Netanyahu wants, it is not stopping Iranian nukes.

Israelis concerned about their national security should be cautioning the U.S. to avoid giving Iranian hardliners any excuse to cheat and should be coordinating carefully with the U.S. to ensure that Iranians get very visible and highly valuable rewards for backing down on their nuclear research program. Israelis concerned about their national security should be demanding that Israel follow the Iranian lead toward a Mideast nuclear regime that seeks to curtail and then eliminate nuclear weapons from the Mideast, which would constitute hard evidence that Iranian moderates could wave in the face of Iranian hardliners. Israelis concerned about Israeli national security should also be coordinating meticulously with the White House to set up the best possible international process for policing the nuclear agreement to minimize the possibility that it might fail. Stabbing the U.S. in the back, subverting U.S. diplomacy, and trying to push the U.S. into a war of aggression are not actions that enhance Israeli national security.

Far be it from me to pretend to read his mind, but there are a few obvious ways in which Netanyahu benefits from whipping up anti-Iranian war fever: 1) he gets elected; 2) he makes Americans forget what his supporters on the West Bank are doing – e.g., running terror raids burning olive groves; 3) he gets tons of U.S. weapons, which he obviously likes very much using; 4) he gets enormous influence over U.S. foreign policy. He thus becomes a global player (Ahmadinejad played this same game but less successfully.)

Perhaps others can improve on this list. In any case, Netanyahu clearly wants a war fever and is determined to find a way to get it back…even at the risk of actually provoking Iran into building the bomb after all.

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Retired Israeli officials have made some very pointed observations about the illogical stance of Netanyahu. For example…

19 July 2015. Efraim Halevy, former Director of Mossad & head of Israel’s National Security Council: “If the nuclear issue is of cardinal existential importance, what is the point of canceling an agreement that distances Iran from the bomb in order to try to include in it clauses that pertain to terrorism, which certainly does not pose an existential threat to Israel?” [Yedioth Ahronoth, hosted by Americans for Peace Now]  [As quoted from Jewish Currents.]

The answer to Halevy’s rhetorical question is that the point of canceling the nuclear agreement in order to confuse the issue with “terrorism,” i.e., Iranian support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Assad and Palestine, is that those who are trying to confuse the two issues really are not concerned about the nuclear issue, always more red herring than reality in any case. The concern of the Netanyahu crowd is having the freedom to expand if possible and to maintain military hegemony over the region. Their concern is not nukes (Iran is impossibly far behind in that race) but the idea that Iran might have an independent foreign policy.  Israeli military hegemony requires that the U.S. roll over and play dead, which requires a war fever. The expansionist aspirations of the Greater Zion folks require the maintenance of “the Iranian nuclear threat.”

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