I’ve held my tongue (and typing finger). Until now.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election Congressional field trip is more likely to result in long-lasting damage to the U.S.-Israeli relationship than result in some sudden reversal of the U.S. effort to reach a nuclear agreement between Iran and key world powers.
Today is not the day to debate the fine points of an agreement that has not yet been made. That’s a Netanyahu specialty. Let’s assume he will more than adequately scaremonger to whoever shows up to hear his campaign ad on Tuesday.
Suffice it to say that if you view Iran as your mortal enemy, don’t believe it will ultimately abide by any commitments it makes, and don’t believe that key Iranian leaders are rational actors, then any agreement with Iran will always be suspect. But going around the U.S. administration to Congress is a scorched earth tactic designed by idiot savants whose specialized skill seems to be weakening a heretofore strong bipartisan U.S.-Israeli relationship.
On Sunday, a group of over 180 Israeli security officials questioned Netanyahu’s judgment and indicated they felt his actions will weaken Israel’s relationship with the U.S. and are a far greater existential threat to Israel than the Iranian nuclear threat. (Click the link to read the entire Jerusalem Post article.) Those views are shared by many other Israeli political figures.
But when a U.S.-based pro-Israel group like J Street makes these same points, critics allege it is because J Street supporters are (pick one) self-hating Jews, naïve, ahistorical or just plain anti-Israel. So when this group of Israeli officials, most with deep security backgrounds, make the same points, Netanyahu’s Likud party acolytes are left with a dilemma. What to do?
We learned today. Likud released a statement that suggested these officials should not be seen as credible because — unbelievably! — they all supported the Oslo agreement and the Arab Peace initiative and are, when it comes down to it, obviously too liberal. If that’s a sign of the type of argument Netanyahu will use on Tuesday, he will almost certainly do more to strengthen his opposition and weaken his nervous supporters.