(Jerusalem, Israel) — A profound sense of dismay is spreading among the Israeli people.
The slowly but steadily emerging consensus is that the American government is poised to cut a disastrous deal with Iran that could potentially endanger the State of Israel, and that the perhaps the White House cannot be trusted as the supreme ally it has been for seven decades.
Sharp American critics of President Obama might be surprised that Israelis are only now coming to this conclusion. But keep in mind that most Jewish people tend to be left-of-center politically. They love Bill Clinton. They like Hillary Clinton a great deal. They had high hopes for Barack Obama. But those hopes have largely been dashed. Israelis were deeply grateful when President Obama made a state visit here in March. They hoped this represented a “reset” in U.S.-Israeli relations that have been strained over the last four or five years. Now they are not so sure.
Could things change? Absolutely. Could the President and Secretary of State reject a bad deal with Iran and reassert American leadership on the global stage? Yes. Could they ratchet up sanctions on Iran? Sure. Could they demand Iran stop enriching uranium, dismantle all its enrichment facilities, and abandon every element of its nuclear weapons program or be subjected to every increasing sanctions and international isolation, and a real military threat? Of course.
But while Israelis know these things could happen, they are beginning to conclude that they probably won’t. And they are stunned, and saddened.
Israelis are now genuinely and increasingly concerned that they are watching the beginning of the sunset of the “golden years” of their deep alliance with the world’s only superpower.
Consider some recent data points:
- “A full 55 percent of Israeli Jews felt that the US cannot be relied upon to safeguard Israel’s security during the Iranian talks, with 31% saying the Americans could be trusted on the issue and 14% stating that they did not have an opinion on the matter,” finds a new poll published by the Times of Israel.
- “Israel should not rely on the US as much as it traditionally has, [Israeli] Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said at the Sderot Conference Wednesday,” reported the Jerusalem Post. “The Americans have a lot of problems and challenges around the world that they need to solve and they have problems at home. We need to understand them and our place in the global arena.”
- “Israeli-US tensions over Iran have now emphatically reached the level of a major crisis, involving a fundamental clash of interests,” notes a respected Israeli commentator, echoing the view many analysts here are reluctantly stating. He noted that since the President chose to back down from using military force in Syria after America’s red lines were repeatedly crossed, “Israel has broadly concluded that — while the US insists it is not bluffing, and while it has made preparations for military action — there is no credible American military option [regarding Iran]….There is not absolute certainty in Jerusalem that the United States would have Israel’s back in the event that it did resort to force. If Israel’s leaders find themselves faced with the following equation: on the one hand, the imperative to protect eight million Israelis and the existence of the state and, on the other, the danger of enraging the international community, the choice would actually be quite straightforward. Those in the know in Israel are convinced that, against Iran’s nuclear program, Israel has formidable capabilities. This is not to suggest that the Israeli Air Force would be scrambling on the day after a deal is signed with Iran. But the option to strike would be there.”
- “There really is a sense of letdown by the United States and the need to demonstrate that Israel will be able to take action,” noted another respected analyst of U.S.-Israeli relations. “I want to add one other dimension to this: French president Francois Hollande is currently in Israel. He was greeted by the prime minister and across the board with enthusiasm, precisely because of the tough stand the French took in the recent Geneva talks that seemed to have stiffened the American position. So, at least temporarily, the French have replaced the United States as Israel’s most trusted ally and guarantor of security.”
On top of all that, now the Grand Ayatollah of Iran has said the Jewish State is “doomed to failure and annihilation” and said Israel is a “rabid dog” — right in the middle of the nuclear negotiations — and neither the U.S. or other world leaders (other than France) has publicly rebuked the Iranians.
“Israeli leaders have lashed out at Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for describing Israel as ‘a rabid dog’ in a speech on Wednesday,” reported Haaretz. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who flew to Russia on Wednesday to lobby for tougher terms in the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, said Khamenei’s comments showed Iran had not changed since relative moderate Hassan Rohani was elected as president in June.”
“He called Jews ‘rabid dogs’ and said that they were not human,” said the PM. “The public responded to him with calls of ‘Death to America! Death to Israel!’ Doesn’t this sound familiar to you? This is the real Iran. We are not confused.”
“Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman compared Khamenei’s rhetoric to that used by Nazi Germany,” noted Haaretz.
“Whoever talks about the Jews using the terminology of Goebbels and Hitler certainly has no intention to develop a nuclear program for peaceful purposes,” he said.
The Jerusalem Post reported that officials in Jerusalem have “awaited condemnation of the [Iranian] comments from senior officials of the states taking part in nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva, but such a reaction was not forthcoming. The P5+1 group of world powers negotiating with Iran consists of the US, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.”
“We knew the Americans were eager, even more so than the Iranians themselves, to reach an intermediate deal in Geneva, but we did not estimate to how great an extent,” a senior official in Jerusalem told The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew-language sister publication Sof Hashavua Magazine.
The official added that “the West is choosing not to direct its gaze at Khamenei, who is the true face of Iran and its de facto ruler, and to accept the ‘pretty face’ of Iran’s new diplomacy instead. The comments by the supreme leader, who cursed America and France at the height of the talks, constitute spitting in the face of the enlightened world, not just Israel, but the world remains silent, thinking it is rain, and continues to talk with this leader’s emissaries, who are masters of deception. They then blame us for making comparisons to the 1930s.”
The Posted noted that “an official in the US delegation to the Geneva talks skirted questions Thursday from journalists on the issue, saying, ‘Naturally, there are still expressions of the deep lack of trust between us and the Iranians — which stem from more than three decades of severed relations. We are trying to reach an agreement whose goal is to peacefully prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons, while dealing with this atmosphere, and it is not easy.”
These are sobering developments. But as Christians, we are not to fear the future. The Lord is sovereign. He sees these trends and they don’t worry Him. The God of Israel a loving and gracious plan and a purpose for the people of Israel, and the Palestinians, and all the people of the epicenter. “I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord in Jeremiah 29:11, “plans for good and not for evil, plans to give you a future and a hope.” So let’s pray with hope and confidence that the Lord will never abandon His people or forsake them. He will shake them to get their attention and draw them to Himself. But the God of Israel is not asleep on the job. We can trust Him, come what may.
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