In marmur

By Rabbi Dow Marmur.

The deal with Iran is about to be signed. Even Israelis who aren’t alarmed are deeply concerned. Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel. In its massive sponsorship of terrorism on Israel’s borders, notably Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, it threatens to realize its commitment.

A deal that would ease sanctions, give Iran respectability in the family of nations and perhaps, despite the wording of the agreement, allow it to develop nuclear weapons constitutes, in the opinion of some, an existential threat to the Jewish state. Start worrying: evidence to follow.

The fact that the Isaac Herzog, the Leader of the Opposition, hasn’t expressed an opinion that goes sharply against the general mood in the country suggests that he too has started worrying ahead of the evidence.

Yes, in Churchill’s famous phrase, jaw-jaw is better than war-war, but not if the jaw-jaw only makes war-war more likely and more lethal. Opponents to the deal like to cite the agreement that was made with North Korea under the watch of President Bill Clinton and North Korea’s subsequent non-compliance with its terms. The ties between Iran and North Korea are strong, especially in the realm of nuclear cooperation. The comparison is, therefore, not too far-fetched.

Of course, we may all have been caught up in the anti-Obama frenzy reflected in Netanyahu’s address to Congress last March and fuelled more recently by Michael Oren’s memoir of his time as Israel’s ambassador in Washington. However, it’s also possible that much of the criticism of the current President of the United States is justified. He seems to give marvelous speeches, but what about his achievements?

Prime Minister Netanyahu and his emissaries will no doubt now go all out to try to persuade America’s law makers to nix the deal thus further damaging the relationship with the United States by turning from bipartisan support for Israel to a Republican issue in internal American politics.

I’m impressed by the arguments that suggest that prudent statesmanship and diplomacy would now require a very different cause of action: mending fences with Obama and asking for further US guarantees to secure Israel’s ability to respond should Iran increase its endeavour to make good on its commitment to obliterate Israel.

This would mean, inter alia, recalling the present ambassador to Washington and appointing a seasoned diplomat. It’s a pity that Shimon Peres will probably be deemed too old for the job and too hostile to the current Israeli administration to be a candidate.

The least Israel can do is to appoint a foreign minister who’ll be respected and listened to around the world. Netanyahu holding on to that portfolio, plus a couple of others, in addition to being prime minister is almost scandalous. The fact that an opposition party has to go to the Supreme Court to obtain an order that may compel him to appoint ministers, as Yesh Atid has done, is bizarre,

I understand that not all experts believe that the deal to be struck in Vienna is bad for Israel. Perhaps they know things that aren’t obvious to the public, even to those of us who follow the criticism of the current government. To end on a positive note: let’s hope that the optimists will be proven right. The alternative is too grim to contemplate.

Jerusalem 13.7.15

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