Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Benjamin Netanyahu's Most Important Task

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's place in history will be determined mainly by one thing: whether or not he prevents Iran from using a nuclear weapon to cripple or destroy the Jewish State. A national government has many responsibilities but the foremost responsibility is to preserve the safety of its citizens, for otherwise the national government has no reason to exist (and, upon failing to keep that responsibility, the national government would cease to exist). For her entire existence, Israel has been besieged by enemies who have sworn to destroy her. Many Israeli Prime Ministers have had to make fateful decisions in moments of crisis. In 1981, Menachem Begin took the bold step of disabling Iraq's nuclear program; Begin had survived the Holocaust and he correctly recognized that his most important duty was to make sure that nothing like the Holocaust ever happened again. Israel's preemptive strike against the Osirak facility was roundly condemned at the time but greatly appreciated a decade later during the first Gulf War.

Netanyahu is no Begin and it is not at all clear that he is up to the task of doing whatever is necessary to ensure Israel's survival. Netanyahu already has plenty of Jewish blood on his hands from his first term as Prime Minister, including 10 month old Shalhevet Pass, who was shot and killed on March 26, 2001 by a PLO sniper operating from the very Hebron hills that Netanyahu foolishly surrendered to PLO enemies who have sworn to kill Jews and destroy the Jewish State.

Forget that the land that Netanyahu gave away is part of the ancient Jewish State. Forget even that the land is part of the Palestine Mandate that was supposed to be part of the modern Jewish State but was instead partitioned by the British and then illegally annexed by Jordan during Israel's War of Independence. Simply remember that the land was used by Jordan in a war of aggression against Israel in the Six Day War in 1967. Israel is under no legal or moral obligation to cede control of that territory to anyone, let alone a terrorist group founded three years before the Six Day War with a charter focused not on "liberating" Palestine but rather on destroying Israel (yes, the territories the PLO purportedly seeks to "liberate" were not controlled by Israel when the PLO was formed).

Thus, the cowardly precedent that Netanyahu set during his first term as Prime Minister hardly inspires confidence that he will stand up to Iran's military and negative public opinion from various quarters in order to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, which is all but inevitable in the wake of the proposed agreement between the United States and Iran.

Caroline Glick optimistically believes that President Obama's disastrous deal with Iran could yet turn into a glorious defeat for Israel:

Last week's publication of audio recordings of former defense minister Ehud Barak discussing of Iran's nuclear program revealed that for the past several years, Israel's military and intelligence brass have blocked operations against Iran's nuclear installations three times. In 2010, 2011 and 2012 the IDF chief of General Staff and senior generals supported by hesitant cabinet members refused to carry out instructions they received from Netanyahu and Barak to prepare to carry out such a strike.

There is no doubt that one of the main reasons they opposed lawful instructions was their faith in Obama's security pledges...

Had Netanyahu kept his criticism of Obama's decision to give Iran a free hand to develop nuclear weapons quiet, the generals might have shrugged their shoulders and expressed gratitude for the shiny new weapons Obama will throw at them to "compensate" for giving nukes to a regime sworn to annihilate the country.

By making his opposition public, Netanyahu alerted the nation to the dangers. The top commanders can no longer pretend that US security guarantees are credible. Now they will be forced to kick their psychological addiction to worthless American security guarantees, accept reality and act accordingly.

Better eight years late than never.

The Americans weren't the only ones paying attention to Israel's fight. Israel's Arab neighbors also saw how Netanyahu and Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer left no stone unturned in their efforts to convince Democratic lawmakers to oppose it. And the regional implications are already becoming clear.

As the Saudis' willingness to stand with Israel in public to oppose this deal has shown, our neighbors have been deeply impressed by the diplomatic courage Israel has shown. If and when Israel strikes Iran's nuclear installations, our willingness to openly oppose the administration will weigh in our favor. It will impact our neighbors' willingness to cooperate in action aimed at removing Iran's nuclear sword from their necks and ours...

Obama's success will backfire first and foremost because thanks to Netanyahu's move to spearhead the public debate in the US, today two-thirds of Americans oppose the deal. Since Iran will waste no time proving just how devastating a mistake Obama and his fellow Democrats have just made, Obama's success makes him far less free to enact further steps against Israel than he was before the deal was concluded. The public no longer will give him the benefit of the doubt.

Moreover, since the deal is as bad as its opponents say it is, and given that most Americans oppose it, Obama's successor will face no impediments in canceling the deal and adopting a new policy towards Israel and Iran.

Hopefully Glick's analysis will be proven correct but it is disconcerting and alarming that on three occasions Netanyahu gave orders to destroy Iran's nuclear program only to see those orders disregarded. Since when do the inmates run the asylum? If that report is true, those generals should have been fired and put on trial for treason. Generals enact policy but they do not create it. What those generals did is the equivalent of a coup d'etat and, contrary to Glick's take on the situation, this suggests that Netanyahu talks a good game but lacks the power to put his ideology into action in a meaningful way. What kind of leader is disobeyed three times by his generals and takes no action?

Netanyahu is deluded if he is counting on meaningful help from the Saudis or any other Arab country. The Saudis may privately cheer if Israel destroys Iran's nuclear program but the Saudis will not help Israel to do so and the Saudis will publicly condemn Israel's "aggression" if Israel uses military force against any Arab or Muslim country, even if that country is an enemy of the Saudis.

Let no one misunderstand what is at stake here. Just like Adolf Hitler announced his program of genocide against the Jewish people very clearly in Mein Kampf, it is documented well past the point that any reasonable person could doubt that the destruction of Israel is a central policy goal of Iran:

The 1948 Genocide Convention lists incitement to commit genocide as a war crime. Much of the Iranian language regarding Israel can certainly be legally defined this way.

A common motif of incitement to genocide is the dehumanization of the target population. The Nazi weekly Der Stürmer portrayed Jews as parasites and locusts. In the early 1990s in Rwanda, Hutu propaganda described the Tutsis as "cockroaches." Before Saddam Hussein's operations against the Iraqi Shia population in 1991, his Baath Party newspaper characterized them as "monkey-faced people." Similarly, former President Ahmadinejad has called Israeli Jews "cattle," "blood-thirsty barbarians," and "criminals," while Iranian state-owned websites have explained why the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of its population would be justified. Dehumanization has also appeared in other forms, such as demonization, in which the target population is labeled "Satanic"--a theme repeatedly used by Iranian leaders to describe Israel.

In fact, according to Prof. Gregory Gordon, who served as a legal officer for the first post-Nuremberg prosecutions for incitement to genocide at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Iranian calls for Israel to be wiped off the map are "even more direct than much of the language from the Rwandan cases."

The following summary of Iranian leaders' anti-Israel statements from 2013 demonstrates the consistency of the regime's rhetoric, the clarity of its intentions, and the certainty of its beliefs. On top of all this, the statements serve as a reminder of the nature of a regime that is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability.

It is worth reading that article in its entirety to see all of the quotes--in English translation and in the original Persian--but here is a typical one from the Iranian Ministry of Defense: "If once the destruction and demise of occupying Israel was an impossible and unobtainable dream, today thanks to the historic and intelligent actions of Imam Khomeini, it has become possible and is actually in the process of occurring."

Iran intends to build nuclear weapons and it intends to use those weapons to destroy Israel, even at the cost of Muslim lives. Netanyahu's failure to protect Jewish babies from being intentionally targeted by Arab snipers is tragic but pales in comparison to what will happen if he is disobeyed by his generals for a fourth time. Nearly 40 years ago, Netanyahu's brother Yoni lost his life while leading a mission to rescue Jews from a hijacked airplane thousands of miles from Israel.
Back then, Israel understood her duty and her responsibility and acted with energy and courage. Now, with the stakes infinitely higher, Netanyahu must not fail.

Those who think that these words are hyperbolic or should only be of concern to Jews ought to recall the path that Hitler took. Hitler signed treaties with England and with Russia when it suited him and then he broke those treaties when it suited him. He initiated genocide against the Jewish people while the world reacted with indifference, at best--but Hitler's ultimate goal was not just to destroy the Jewish people but to conquer the world. Similarly, Iran's plan involves not just the destruction of Israel but a world-wide jihad. Iran's words and deeds should be taken seriously not just by Israel but by the entire world.

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