Now that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had done the dreadful deed and sounded the alarm that President Barak Obama didn’t want heard, we can focus on the alternative point of view still cynically dangled before the Israeli voter.
All we know thus far is that Netanyahu’s rival for the premiership, Isaac “Buji” Herzog, told us often and with increasing shrillness that Netanyahu is destroying that special bond between America and its presumed Israeli protectorate.
In this Herzog gives voice to precisely the same claims as made by Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice (yes, the very one who won universal distrust by disseminating the deception that the 2012 attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction to a “heinous and offensive video”). Attempting to stymie Netanyahu, she informed us that his speech would be “destructive of the fabric of the relationship” between the two countries.
For pivotal self-serving political reasons Buji can’t admit that Obama is the one who recurrently sabotages that relationship. So according to Buji’s scripted campaign theme, all was peaches and cream between Obama and the Jewish state until bully Bibi spitefully spilled the cream.
Therefore, says Herzog, he opposed Netanyahu’s address to Congress and declined the offer to accompany the prime minister in a show of unity. Herzog adamantly maintains that it wasn’t fear of giving his rival an indirect electoral boost that dissuaded him from demonstrating solidarity in the face of external danger.
Buji openly stated that he entirely subscribes to what Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry declaims before every available microphone. In his characteristic syntax-defying manner, Kerry argues that Netanyahu “may have a judgment that just may not be correct here.” Since awkward sentence structure doesn’t go over well in translation, Kerry sounded way more ferocious in the Hebrew versions to which the Israeli electorate was exposed.
It surely must have been music to Buji’s ears. It appeared as if the great Lover of Zion from the State Department was singing his own tune. This behooves us to explore the matter of Buji and the bomb.
In a remarkable interview to the Washington Post, the Labor candidate very pointedly declined to define nukes in the hands of apocalyptic ayatollahs as an existential threat to Israel. When prodded by correspondent William Booth, he only grudgingly submitted that “it’s a big threat. That’s enough.”
So what would Herzog do about the “big” non-existential threat? He’d chew the fat, schmooze. “I would rather hold intimate talks and renew the trust between the United States and Israel,” he told his interviewer.
That surely puts our mind at ease especially as Buji went on record as saying “I trust Obama to get a good deal.”
There. That seals it. Nothing to lose sleep over. The Jewish state’s bosom bud and noble guardian will do right by us. No need to obsess and kvetch about the bomb. There is someone in the White House to watch over us. We can rely on him. Buji does.
No wonder Obama prefers Buji. Their symbiosis is undeniably evident. Doubtless Buji is good for Obama’s PR and obviously Obama is good for Buji’s PR, whereas Bibi’s uncooperative contrariness discomfits them both. Obama and Herzog are united by the unconcealed desire to bring Bibi down and that trumps all other considerations.
The only question left is whether we buy Buji’s projected idyll. More to the point, do Iran’s Shiite rulers buy it? Does Buji’s optimism not arouse howls of derision in Tehran’s halls of power?
Now there’s the rub. How things turn out even for the most well-intentioned statesmen doesn’t always depend on their own much-touted goodwill but on their antagonists’ good faith or lack thereof.
So far, Herzog must concede, Obama’s record on dealing with Iran’s despots has been far from confidence-inspiring. Whether we deem Obama complicit with a rogue’s gallery of regional bad-guys or see him as merely a jinxed serial bungler, the outlook under his stewardship is far from promising.
No sooner did Obama take over at the West Wing than it became clear for those who didn’t avert their gaze that the end is near for the Mideast’s precariously-enduring remnants of delicate equilibrium. Obama ushered in chaos via what he hyped as a trailblazing new departure by the Muslim world’s surprise soul mate. The result was the mega-disaster Obama applauded as the “Arab Spring.”
But that was only the beginning of a tortuous path on which Obama seemed incapable of dodging any pitfalls. Obama consistently betrayed allies and quasi-tolerable hangers-on but was incredibly hands-off toward the true villains of the Mideastern piece.
For example, in 2009, following Iran’s rigged election, thousands took to the streets in defiance of the theocracy that Jimmy Carter pathetically enabled 30 years earlier. As pro-democracy demonstrators were killed in Tehran’s streets and as fanatic ayatollahs furthered their designs to arm themselves with nukes, the unperturbed leader of the free world spared no effort to stress the need to downplay the fuss.
Gallingly, Obama enlightened stupefied observers everywhere that he won’t take sides:”I take a wait-and-see approach… It’s not productive, given the history of US-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling in Iranian elections."
It beggars belief that Obama’s blatant double standards went unnoticed by Buji. After all, Buji’s campaign strategists recruited three veterans of his old IDF intelligence unit – the one ensconced in the comfortable outskirts of upscale Herzliya where he long ago did his military stint – to participate in a campaign video and extol Buji as a crack analyst (even though none of the three served at the time Buji did and never met him then).
Obama’s many botches in one volatile region make it incredibly hard to chalk all of them up to stupidity. Charitable as we may be, we cannot but ascribe Obama’s policy to persistent ill-will – and that’s putting it exceedingly mildly.
So how can the intelligence specialist that Buji’s electioneering propaganda claims he is avoid the impression that Obama helped the West’s enemies and betrayed its friends? This is consistent. In country after country, Obama’s mishandling resulted in destabilization followed by anarchy. Erratic as the Arab/Muslim realm has always been, it had plainly never witnessed anything like its Obama-inspired mayhem.
Is this the president Buji seriously trusts “to get a good deal” in the talks with Iran? Has Buji seriously failed to notice the spectacle of Obama’s escalating appeasement of Tehran’s nuke-craving regime? Can anyone rationally expect that Iran’s zealots would be more forthcoming after sanctions were eased and pressure on the ayatollahs had been alleviated?
The chances of that happening are just as promising as were the chances that after the infamous deal contracted at Munich in September 1938, Hitler would have been sated with just swallowing up the Sudetenland.
This hopeful scenario was unlikely from the outset but the people were deluded by soothing rhetoric. They were told to trust that they “got a good deal.”
On the day of his return from Munich, Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain assured supporters outside his official residence that he had brought them “peace with honor” and he patronizingly recommended that they “go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”
Of course, no one in Europe was to sleep soundly again for many years to come, despite Chamberlain’s cynical sacrifice of a small democracy on the altar of pseudo-peace.
Chamberlain has been popularly portrayed as having abandoned Czechoslovakia out of naiveté but, like Obama at present, he was utterly nasty to anyone who got in the way of appeasement. In his address to the British people on September 27, 1938 – a couple of fateful days before the signing of the Munich Agreement – Chamberlain made it seem that Czechoslovakia is the troublemaker, that it harasses Europe’s fellow-democracies with impertinent expectations:
“We cannot in all circumstances undertake to involve the whole British Empire in war simply on her [Czechoslovakia’s] account. If we have to fight it must be on larger issues than that.” With a few name switches, we can almost hear Obama saying the same about Israel.
Frustratingly, however, the nature of tyrants is that their appetites aren’t sated by their appeasers’ folly. By March 1939, Hitler invaded the remainder of Czechoslovakia – the very one whose security Chamberlain solemnly promised to uphold after the Munich betrayal.
Despite that, in the months leading up to the September 1, 1939 invasion of Poland Hitler still assiduously assured Chamberlain that he desires compromise. As late as August 26 (ironically the date first earmarked for the invasion of Poland) Germany dispatched emissaries to London to negotiate that compromise.
Chamberlain’s foreign secretary Lord Halifax replied in a written message that day to Berlin affirming that Whitehall too still desired “peaceful settlement.” Emissaries for both sides still parleyed on the morning of September 1 until the Germans casually announced that the chitchat is over. The pretext for the abrupt cutoff was the barefaced lie that “the Poles had launched war on Germany at 5:45.”
Could Buji’s bumbling emissaries be told on one dark history-altering morning that as of 5:45 it’s too late, that their palaver is no longer of any use? Will Herzog shooting the breeze in the Oval Office save us from precisely such a fate? Can Buji really bet our lives on his plan to “hold intimate talks” with Obama?
Obama is anything but an honest broker and he plainly doesn’t deserve the benefit of even Buji’s doubt. If anything, Obama’s established predispositions should dispel the timidity of all Israelis regardless of their political orientations – for the sake of Israel’s most basic self-preservation.
There is no danger that Bibi’s steadfastness and warning to Congress would turn Obama all the more against us. Long before Netanyahu accepted the invitation to address Congress, Obama and Kerry and their crews could already barely contain their anti-Israeli vehemence.
They were unambiguously against us to begin with. We have nothing to lose by saying so. But Buji can’t afford to own up to this truth because he has lots to lose if he does – the upcoming election foremost.
‘Debunking the Bull,’ Sarah Honig’s book, was recently published by Gefen.