In marmur

By Rabbi Dow Marmur.

Experts in negotiation techniques tell us that the only viable deals are those that create win-win conditions. Judging by reactions from all sides, the outline of the deal with Iran doesn’t qualify. Not only is Prime Minister Netanyahu and his political colleagues against what’s being proposed, but so are many prominent Americans, now joined by two former US Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger and George Schultz.

Perhaps even more significant, the deal seems to be presented in Iran as a total and unconditional victory for the Islamic Republic. Apparently, the English and the Farsi versions of the preliminary agreement are very different.

Iran’s president is demanding the cancellation of all sanctions on the day the final agreement is signed, obviously assuming that there will be no effective monitoring of the implementation of what Americans and others seem to believe has been agreed upon.

If Iran’s meddling in Syria through Hezbollah and in Gaza through Hamas – both threatening Israel – wasn’t enough, it now also seems to be engaged in Yemen through its proxies brazenly confronting Jordanian, Saudi Arabian and American air power.

As much as President Obama seems to want the deal, it’s difficult to imagine that he’ll get it through, if for no other reason than because Iran acts as if it wasn’t really interested in it beyond its propaganda value and the hope of the lifting of sanctions. It’s also difficult to imagine that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States will support it.

All this suggests that Netanyahu will be vindicated. His political opponents in Israel seem to sense it and, therefore, he has very few critics here on this issue. Israelis seems to assume that Iran will continue to be a threat, which may be the excuse needed for both Likud and the Zionist Union to join in a so-called unity government, despite the current denials that‘s this is on the cards. National emergencies in Israel have often resulted in such governments in the past.

Does this increase the prospect of Israel going it alone and bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities? The experts I’ve read have all suggested that this would be disastrous and not accomplish much. The only consolation is that Iran doesn’t want a confrontation either. Its aim seems to be steadily increasing influence in the Middle East and continuing to threaten Israel – in other words, more of the same.

But things may quickly change – for the worse. President Obama told Tom Friedman of the New York Times: “I’ve been very clear that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch.” Rightly disregarding the lame spin that the White House spokespeople tried to put on this remarkable and ominous statement, Ari Shavit, the author of “My Promised Land,” was moved to remark in his Ha’aretz column: “In other words, the man leading a hair-raising historic adventure says he’s committing that Iran will not become nuclear before January 20, 2017.”

Shavit is not a rabble rouser and by no means an uncritical supporter of Netanyahu but a responsible and careful analyst. His fear of what might happen after Obama leaves the presidency must be taken seriously.

When I last wrote about Iran I found comfort in Howard Adelman’s comment that this was a good deal. In view of what I’ve heard and read in the last few days I’m in desperate search of further reassurance. Any offers?

Jerusalem 11.4.15 (Motzaei Chag, Motzaei Shabbat)

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