During President Obama’s recent speech on his Iran nuclear-agreement at American University, he chose to gain support for the deal at Israel’s expense. He made the claim that “Because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support.”
The singling out of Israel is troubling. The President is well aware of other nations like the Gulf states, and especially Saudi Arabia, who also oppose the deal. It sounds like Israel is bellicose nation that, unlike the other countries of the world, is rejecting a diplomatic solution to the Iran crisis.
President Obama conveniently omitted the fact that most Sunni nations are very wary with regard to this deal. The New York Times reported that “Defense officials said they welcomed the Saudi restraint about publicly criticizing the Iran nuclear deal, in sharp contrast to the reaction from officials in Israel [and] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
The failures of this deal have even forced these Arab nations to make secret alliances with Israel, a country they have hated since the day it was formed. And don’t forget the people of the United States have themselves come out against the deal in vast numbers. An August 3rd Quinnipiac poll found that American voters oppose the pact with Iran by a margin of 2-to-1. A Monmouth University poll released last week found that just 1-in-4 Americans want Congress to approve it and only 41% of Democrats.
It’s also important to note that in a recent worldwide poll, the populations of most countries surveyed believed global warming was more of an immediate threat than a nuclear Iran. Eventually, they may be right. But right now I’m more concerned of Iran trying to polish us off way before the environment does.
Though the circumstances are, of course, different, let’s also recall that when Chamberlain was entering negotiations with Hitler for the Munich Agreement, Great Britain, France, and even President Roosevelt supported the talks. One thing that we can learn from world history is that “international experts” get it right about half of the time. The other half of the time, cities are destroyed, people die, and tyrants win.
President Obama’s speech chose to single out Netanyahu as well. “I recognize that Prime Minister Netanyahu disagrees, disagrees strongly.”
No, Mr. President. It is not just Netanyahu. Netanyahu speaks for the people of Israel who voted for him and put him in office. And he isn’t alone in his criticism. Even Israel’s opposition leader Isaac Herzog is strongly opposed to the deal and 78% percent of Israelis believe that your deal will lead to a nuclear Iran.
Herzog recently stated, “Every Israeli patriot would be worried about this agreement, and I have major criticism of aspects of it.” Herzog explained the inherent dangers in that “the agreement gives legitimization for Iran to become a nuclear threshold state in 10-15 years.” He also adds, “It’s enough to see the positive reactions of President Assad of Syria and Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, to understand what I’m talking about.”
This is the same Herzog who stated only back in March of this year, “I trust the Obama administration to get a good deal.” Yet Herzog was forced to change his opinion and turn on this agreement because of how weak it is.
But Obama’s criticisms of Netanyahu and Israel didn’t stop there. The next day, Fareed Zakaria asked Obama, “Prime Minister Netanyahu has injected himself forcefully into this debate on American foreign policy in Washington. Can you recall a time when a foreign head of government has done that?”
The question itself strongly implies that Netanyahu has no right to do all he can to stop a bad deal that could mean life or death for his country and it insinuates that Netanyahu is breaking the rules of diplomacy and trying to “inject” his undue influence into American policy.
The question also singles out Netanyahu and is worryingly reminiscent of charges of Jews exerting untold influence on other nations. And rather than challenging the insinuation in this question, President Obama simply responded, ” I do not recall a similar example.”
This uncomfortable exchange, whether intended or not, heightened false insinuations of Jewish influence over governments when in reality Israel is the nation that Iran has threatened to wipe off the map. What did President Obama think? That Switzerland would inject themselves into the debate when they face no similar Iranian threat?
President Obama also seemed to conveniently forget how, back in January of this year, British Prime Minister David Cameron tried to stop Congress from passing further sanctions against Iran — even to the point of calling US senators, trying to get them to change their votes in Congress. Apparently, when a head of state tries to influence American foreign policy for President Obama’s advantage, that doesn’t irk him as much.
And how about the extremely close friendship Winston Churchill cultivated with President Roosevelt, exchanging 1700 letters and telegrams, and having something in the range of 120 hours of close contact. This lead Roosevelt to push and influence Congress in 1940 for huge amounts of costly military hardware assistance to Britain at no cost, all for a war that the US at that point had nothing at all to do with, and that Congress and the American people might otherwise have ignored to their detriment.
Churchill also sought during the Second World War to encourage the United States Congress to greatly increase US involvement in the war effort, and after the war the war was won, Churchill addressed Congress with regards to influencing US policy disagreements with Britain in dealing with Communism.
It doesn’t help that President Obama also brought up in his speech the opposition from “lobbyists and pundits,” and how “between now and the Congressional vote in September, you are going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising. And if the rhetoric in these ads and the accompanying commentary sounds familiar, it should, for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.”
Was President Obama referring specifically to pro-Israel groups? Many people took his words to mean just that. Yet AIPAC did not lobby for, and had nothing to do with, pushing for the Iraq war. Any such insinuation could only fuel false charges of a Jewish cabal.
The manner in which President Obama portrays this lobbying effort would have you believe that there is nothing at all bad about the Iran deal, and the primary reason Republicans and Democrats oppose it is pressure outside groups, with pro-Israel groups leading the charge.
The truth, of course, is that the opposition stems from it being a fundamentally weak deal which legitimizes the world’s foremost state-sponsor of terror. The President is well aware of the fact that American voters and their elected representatives have gnawing doubts about suicidal religious zealots with nuclear weapons. But the President’s words imply that it is merely partisan politics combined with “millions of dollars” funded by mostly Jewish groups that are leading the charge against his deal.
President Obama may not have said the above outright by his words easily lend themselves to damaging misinterpretation and perverse anti-Jewish archetypes.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 30 books, winner of The London Times Preacher of the Year Competition, and recipient of the American Jewish Press Association’s Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary. He will shortly publish “The Israel Warrior’s Handbook.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.]]>