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Netanyahu, Obama and “The Last Israelis”


PM Netanyahu and President Obama

White House, September 30, 2013

Monday night I had a call from a friend, a Christian Zionist, saying that he was concerned about the so-called charm offensive by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the UN and yesterday’s appearance by  Foreign Minister  Mohammad Javad Zarif on an ABC Sunday Morning news program.  I told my friend that I agreed.  Earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had a public news conference with President Obama in the Oval Office.  President Obama reiterated his stand suggesting that he was entertaining the new Iranian initiative “clear-eyed” about the necessity to hold discussions via the P5+1 subject to extensive verifications. PM Netanyahu praised the US special relationship with Israel, but critically emphasized that continual pressure vis a vis sanctions bolstered by military options may have brought Iran to the table.  Obama was inclined to  undertake a  diplomatic initiative to see if a tough deal could be negotiated within a three to six month time frame beginning with talks by the P5+1 in Geneva in mid-October.   Watch the brief press conference here.

The contrast between Israelis and Americans in polls over the charm offensive was dramatic. A poll sponsored   by Israeli Channel 10 TV indicated that nearly four-fifths (78%) of responses didn’t trust Iran’s nuclear program.  By contrast a CNN/ORC commissioned poll indicated that three fourths of US respondents supported President Obama striking a deal Iran on its nuclear program

As noted  by Jewish Press national correspondent Lori Lowenthal Marcus in her report on the White House press conference, PM Netanyahu l views Iran’s nuclear program as an existential threat:

Netanyahu spent the bulk of his remarks focused on Iran. “Iran is committed to Israel’s destruction,” is the way Netanyahu described the situation. In the simplest possible language, and in the present tense, the Israeli prime minister made clear he does not believe a change in the Iranian presidency has altered Iran’s position towards Israel, regardless of the happy holiday message Rouhani sent to the Jewish people and in spite of the condemnation of Nazi atrocities. For the Jewish State, unless Iran fully and publicly dismantles its machinery for creating nuclear weapons, there is no question that the country remains an existential threat to Israel. As Netanyahu put it: “the bottom line, again, is that Iran fully dismantles its military nuclear program.”

Netanyahu has laid out four conditions in speeches before his visit with President Obama and his UN speech:

"We expect Obama to deliver four conditions to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. The first is a total halt of Iran's uranium enrichment project. The second is to remove all enriched uranium from Iran. The third is to shut down the enrichment facilities. The fourth is to stop Iran's enrichment project." The fulfillment of these four conditions is the only path to ensure stopping Iran's atomic project altogether, he added. "Until these conditions are met, the pressure on Iran must be increased and not mitigated."

Netanyahu can point to several indications that the Islamic Republic’s charm offensive was in line with Shiite religious practice of taqiyya, religiously sanctioned dissimilitude, lying to fulfill the way of Allah, Jihad.  After all President Rouhani had been Iran’s chief negotiator in 2003-2005  who pulled the wool over EU negotiators eyes about the real purpose of Iran’s nuclear program.  As former US Un Ambassador John Bolton observed in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, “How

President Rouhani knows what his Western audience wants to hear. As Iran's chief nuclear negotiator in 2003-05, he followed the same playbook, and it worked. By offering what appeared to be concessions, Iran acquired precious time and legitimacy to overcome scientific and technical glitches in its nuclear-weapons program, particularly at Isfahan's uranium-conversion facility.

In articles and speeches, Mr. Rouhani boasted of his successes. In 2006, he taunted the West, saying "by creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work on Isfahan.”

On September 11, 2013, Shin Bet, Israeli internal security, arrested an alleged Iranian agent, 55 year old Belgian Citizen, Alex Man. That was cover for his real name and mission. Israel National News noted:

The suspect also has Iranian citizenship, and his original name was Ali Mansouri.

A Shin Bet investigation revealed that he was sent to Israel by Iran’s intelligence services. He has confessed to working on behalf of Iran during his visits to Israel.

Contacted by Iranian intelligence years ago, he first received an explicit offer to spy on Israel on Iran's behalf in early 2012. Mansouri was working with a "special operations unit of the Revolutionary Guards responsible for numerous terrorist attacks around the world," Shin Bet sources said.

Mans had made two previous trips to Israel, one in July 2012, and one in January 2013. Both visits are believed to have been conducted with guidance from his Iranian handlers. He was promised $1 million for his work.

In late August 2013, the Iranian atomic Agency sent a 28 page letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna defiantly defending Iran’s right to continue ‘peaceful’ nuclear enrichment.  This was in response to an IAEA inspection report that the Islamic regime had installed advanced centrifuges that, as noted in this Fox News report, could “spin uranium gas into the material that can be used either as reactor fuel or as the core of nuclear warheads, depending on its enrichment level.”

The ‘peaceful’ nuclear enrichment meme was echoed in President Rouhani’s speech at the UN.  Then on ABC’s Sunday Morning program, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif was interviewed by moderator George Stephanopoulos about Iran’s position on its nuclear program.  Zarif had held a one on one meeting with Secretary of State Kerry followed by a meeting with the P5+1 contingent that included EU Foreign Relations Commissioner Catherine Ashton. Zarif, who spoke in English, denied that Iran’s program had a military purpose and that it would continue its peaceful nuclear enrichment. Watch the ABC report and interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Javad Zarif.

Iran will do anything within its means to achieve the geo-political objective of a nuclear umbrella to protect the Shiite arc ranging from Iran via Iraq through Syria and Lebanon on the Mediterranean Coast. The Obama Administration is in a weakened position in the Middle East given its assent to the UN resolution to destroy Syria’s Chemical Weapons stockpiles, a victory for Russian President Putin protective of his newly vaulted position in the region. Many view this as the improbable outgrowth of the Obama Administration ‘Russian reset” initiative. See our NER article- “American Foreign Policy Missteps in Middle East”.  To Israelis it is evidence that the Obama Administration has demonstrated a failure of will to standby a military option in negotiations with Iran. 

This weekend, I read an apocalyptic military thriller about an Israeli Dolphin submarine crew and Nuclear Iran, The Last Israelis by Noah Berg.  (Israel now has five Dolphin submarines with a sixth due from the German shipyards in 2017). The fictional scenario concerns the crew of an Israeli Dolphin submarine sent on an emergency mission in the face of a looming threat by Iran to “wipe the Zionist entity off the map of the world.” Reminiscent of moribund former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, the fictional counterpart PM in The Last Israelis suffers a disabling attack falling into a coma and is sent to Germany for treatment. The technical discussions about the operations and nuclear weaponry on the Dolphin submarine in The Last Israelis are realistic down to the means of encrypted communications with Israeli Naval Command.  Along the way to fulfill its ultimate mission the crew battles a flood from a burst pipe and a fire.  It survives to sinks an Iranian Kilo-class attack submarine tracking it. The captain learns from an emergency radio emergency center in Greece that Israel has been destroyed in a massive attack by Iran, Syria and proxies Hezbollah and Hamas. This despite the application of sanctions and interminable discussions about agreements.  All of Israel’s population, one half of the world’s Jewish population, is incinerated in a fusillade of rockets and Iranian nuclear missiles equipped with warheads purchased from rogue nuclear state, Pakistan. The submarine’s crew is provoked by the executive office  to debate and vote on whether they should execute their second strike mission launching more than 200 kilotons of explosive power against pre-set targets in Iran. The courageous captain casts the deciding vote.  The moribund PM awakens from his coma in Germany to find his country destroyed but that valiant crew of the Dolphin submarine has wreaked vengeance on the Iranian Islamic regime.

The Last Israelis scenario is a nightmare that troubles all Israelis and supporters of the Jewish nation. As PM Netanyahu knows Iran will likely achieve nuclear breakthrough before Nowruz, the Persian New Year, in March 2014. That may leave an isolated Israel to face a critical decision not unlike the crew of the fictional submarine.  Perhaps, unlike the ill-fated scenario and crew in The Last Israelis, a signal should  be flashed  by Israel to Iran’s Supreme Leader that the real  Dolphin submarines second strike capabilities have moved up to  primary.