(From Israel Hayom)
By Dror Eydar
Now that U.S. President Barack Obama has secured the necessary support to ensure passage of the Iran nuclear agreement through Congress, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “well-wishers” in the media are coming out of the woodwork just to say, “We told you so.” They even go a step further and demand that we apologize for supporting Netanyahu’s address to Congress against the nuclear agreement back in March.
But they are the ones who should apologize. Their foresight leaves much to be desired: The people who opposed Netanyahu’s speech at Congress are the same people who once promoted, with every fiber of their beings, another deadly agreement, the 1993 Oslo Accords. Like the current Iran agreement, Oslo was marketed to the masses as a “peace” agreement. These same people supported Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and promised us permanent calm on our southern border. Indeed, their ability to analyze long-term implications appears quite faulty.
Around here, historic events come with a built in hourglass. Once the sand runs out, the media’s interest dissipates. But for the benefit of the skeptics among our readers, here is a list of the achievements so far in the battle against the Iran nuclear agreement:
- Obama and his team have had to withstand a powerful onslaught of distrust — the wisdom of their diplomacy and their negotiations capabilities have been called into question repeatedly. Doubt was cast over their ability to ensure American interests, be it American interests in the world or the U.S.’s relations with its allies. This onslaught, which exposed the administration’s weaknesses (and this would be a good time to congratulate the American media for being courageous enough to go after the administration — compare that to the Israeli media’s embarrassing sugar coating of the Oslo Accords and silencing of the accords’ opponents), has pushed the American president into an apologetic, defensive corner. Public opinion among Americans largely opposes the agreements, as do most elected officials.
- In response, the American administration has been forced to publicly declare its commitment to Israel about a thousand times and list the generous compensatory steps it would take to appease us — including both short- and long-term defense and development aid.
- The old threat of withholding the U.S.’s veto power at the U.N., leaving us vulnerable to anti-Israel votes, is no longer on the table. Please take note, Mr. “hold-me-back” serial resigner Mahmoud Abbas: The last thing Obama needs right now is to prove his opponents’ claims that he indirectly supports the fight against Israel’s existence.
- One of the strongest arguments against the American negotiators during the Iran talks was that they focused too much on the nuclear issue and ignored Iran’s terrorist activity throughout the world, especially targeting Israel. On this, too, the Americans have been endlessly defensive. This criticism could eventually bear fruit in the form of American pressure on the Iranian tentacles, especially in our region.
- Even if Obama wanted to punish us or sabotage Israel or even personally get back at Netanyahu, the Democratic Party would not let him. Even the Democratic senators who have promised to support Obama’s efforts did so (at least some of them) as a last resort, all the while apologizing for the problematic nuclear agreement. An election year is upon us, and the Democrats need the Jewish vote and the non-Jewish pro-Israel vote, which constitute many, many votes. Opposition to the bloody agreement with Iran crosses party and sectorial divides among the American public.
- Moreover, the efforts against this bad deal, even if it does eventually pass, are laying the groundwork for the next administration to perhaps reassess both the deal and the U.S.’s attitude toward the ayatollah regime. In the public sense, the nuclear agreement came into being without widespread support and without any moral standing. We don’t know who the next American president will be, but it is hard to believe that anyone will adhere to Obama’s radical policies.
- The adamant and extensive opposition to the nuclear agreement was important also in that it communicated to the world that our hands are not tied and that Israel is not bound by it. Despite the demoralizing efforts made by certain parts of the Israeli media as well as former Israeli security officials, as far as Israel is concerned, the military option is still very much on the table, as are a range of other options — anything our fine boys can dream up.
Israel’s brief history has taught us a lesson or two about the importance of intelligence gathering, and it taught us an important lesson about the validity of journalistic forecasts.
We have an ancient tradition: When we are pushed into a corner, we know how to take strong counter action. Our forefather Jacob sought to avoid a confrontation with his brother Esau by way of sending gifts, praying and dividing his camp. But when he encountered “the man” — Esau’s representative — while alone in the camp, he had no choice but to fight him. The twenty years he spent at Laban’s house taught him how to fight like Esau.
“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was strained, as he wrestled with him. And he said: ‘Let me go, for the day breaketh.’ And he said: ‘I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.’ And he said unto him: ‘What is thy name?’ And he said: ‘Jacob.’ And he said: ‘Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed'” (Genesis 32:25-29).
Jacob had no choice but to fight, and out of that no-choice struggle, Israel was born — the Israel that knows how to defend itself from evil regimes.
And another important lesson can be learned from this passage: If Israel can struggle with God, he can certainly struggle with men, even if they are extremely important men.
- After making the logical points having to do with political, diplomatic and military conduct, it is important to touch on the moral aspect: The opposition to evil, however it may manifest itself. Since 2009, the free world has been without a true leader. It is true that the recent global and geopolitical shifts have been too dramatic to throw on one man’s shoulders, even if that man is the president of the United States. But it is hard not to point an accusatory finger at Obama and his conciliatory foreign policy as somewhat responsible for the terrible disarray in the Middle East.
Where there are no leaders, the head of the Jewish state is called upon to be a leader, be a light unto the nations, and demonstrate that it is possible to oppose evil, even when that evil is disguised with smiles and ingratiating photo ops. The days of exile are over. The Jewish people have returned to Zion and, having undergone a long, involved process, have regained mental health. There are times when it is wise to operate behind the scenes and there are other times when it is best to take the lead and adhere to the tradition of the man of Benjamin: “Mordecai bowed not down, nor prostrated himself” even when “all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed down, and prostrated themselves before Haman; for the king had so commanded concerning him” (Esther 3:2). Even when political correctness dictated it, and even when told to do so by pet Jews who abandoned their people and their nation in favor of a pot of stew in Persia, America, Spain or Babylon.
And on a personal note: I was there, at Congress, when Netanyahu spoke. It was a profound experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It was impossible not to be in awe of the historical resonance: The head of an independent Jewish state arrived in the capital of the world, Washington (Rome of our time), and declared to the world: “The people of Israel live!” He said that even if the Jewish people remain all alone, they will fight and never be silent ever again, because this time we can defend ourselves. In the tradition of our people, we have a name for this: kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God’s name).
Dr. Dror Eydar is a columnist for Israel Hayom