Among all the many comments, images, threads, memes and sayings posted on social media about the Iran deal this week was an old video clip of Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the US Congress in 2002.
“There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking, and is working, and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons, no question whatsoever,” he says, in now-familiar tones. “If you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.”
Saddam, of course, had no nuclear weapons and war in Iraq could never be said to have had “enormous positive reverberations on the region,” so Israel’s prime minister has been wrong on this subject before. Might he be wrong again, this time on Iran?
Some of the wisest voices both here and in Israel suggest he might be. Why kill a deal that’s working, they ask? Why risk an untethered Iran when you knew what the tethered one was up to? Withdrawal actually makes Israel less safe.
Israel’s leaders disagree. They hate the deal, always have, and see it as a reward for bad behaviour, releasing billions of dollars back to a regime that is still intent on threatening Israel, most recently from what remains of Syria.
To hell with the deal, they say. Trump did the right thing.
The problem is that they have not yet offered a Plan B. Their criticism of Iran– on everything from human rights, missile tests, sponsorship of militias around the region and voiced criticism of Israel and the US – could be applied to any number of suspect countries in the Middle East. And still no prominent deal hater has said the deal Trump killed wasn’t working. None have argued that US withdrawal makes Iran less likely to hit out at Israel.
Moreover, Netanyahu thinks Iran is a beehive he can rattle without getting stung. He is alone in that belief. The sting would hurt the Jewish people, and war would hurt everyone.
Let’s hope Bibi’s instincts about Iran are better than they were
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