No Holds Barred: To President Obama, Iran’s threats never matter

The entire nuclear deal with Iran, which may be signed before this column is published, is predicated on the idea that Iran’s words don’t matter.

July 13, 2015 22:36
4 minute read.
Muhammad Javad Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gestures as he talks with journalist from a balcony of the Palais Coburg hotel where the Iran nuclear talks meetings are being held in Vienna, Austria. (photo credit: REUTERS)

On Saturday, “Al Quds Day,” Iran had an orgy of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” chants. I witnessed some of it here in Toronto where I’m filming a new TV series. Thousands of Israel haters protested in front of the American consulate, accusing Israel of being a Nazi state and perpetrating a holocaust against the Palestinians.

The entire nuclear deal with Iran, which may be signed before this column is published, is predicated on the idea that Iran’s words don’t matter. That they’re for domestic consumption only. They don’t really mean they want to kill millions of Americans and the six million Jews of Israel.

And yet, US President Barack Obama, who says that these words don’t much matter, is the same leader who took a very different approach to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s words about a Palestinian state.

“We take him at his word when he said that it [Palestinian statehood] wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership,” Obama told The Huffington Post. The president said Netanyahu’s statement was cause for a “reassessment” of American ties with Israel.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest echoed the sentiment in his White House briefing, saying the prime minister’s words could bring punishment.

“Words matter,” he said. There could be “consequences” for Netanyahu’s statements. “Everybody who’s in a position to speak on behalf of their government understands that that’s the case, and particularly when we’re talking about a matter as serious as this one.”

Well, what about the matter of wanting to destroy America and Israel? That seems pretty serious to me.

So, according to the White House, when foreign leaders speak, it matters. What they say is consequential.

Netanyahu’s going to have to pay for his remarks.

But what about Iran? The Iranians were screaming in their thousands and tens of thousands, led by Ayatollah Ali Khameini, that America has to die, even as Secretary of State John Kerry expressed optimism the very same day that the US was going to conclude a nuclear deal with Iran whereby we’ll trust them not to build bombs to kill millions of people.

Suddenly, Iran’s words don’t matter? The most hair-raising aspect of the American rapprochement with the barbaric government of Iran is that it has all happened while Iran has continued to repeatedly threaten the annihilation of the Jewish people. Ayatollah Khameini has called Jews dogs and tweeted as recently as this past November that “there is no cure for Israel other than annihilation.”

Now, if words matter, how can the US continue to speak to Khameini’s government while it is openly threatening a second Holocaust? Why did Obama and Kerry not establish a repudiation of these genocidal words and threats as a precondition for any talks? The hypocrisy is startling. And it leads to a more important point.

By now it’s pretty clear to most that Obama kind of dislikes Netanyahu more than any other world leader.

His hostility to the prime minister has become so pronounced that a famously cool president finds it difficult to control his emotions when it comes to Netanyahu.

But am I the only one who finds it just a touch unseemly for the leader of the free world to kind of despise the leader of the only free country in the Middle East while he continually gives a pass to Khameini, the genocidal wannabe? The president has a good relationship with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the tyrant of Turkey, who has destroyed his nation’s democracy and allows fighters to pass through his nation to join Islamic State and decapitate American journalists. President Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia to pay his personal condolences upon the passing of arch-misogynist king Abdullah, a man who wouldn’t even allow women to drive.

But he finds Netanyahu odious. Go figure.

For years we Americans have heard that our president is cerebral and unflappable. That he famously remains controlled under the most emotionally challenging circumstances. It turns out that this is true for every world leader except one: Benjamin Netanyahu, who makes the President’s blood boil.

Don’t we deserve to know why? If the two leaders merely had bad personal chemistry, I could understand. They’re not the best of friends. Fine. But for Obama the dislike of Netanyahu has become visceral.

I’ll leave it to the armchair analysts to explain why.

What’s far more important to me is why Obama hasn’t even once warned the government of Iran to stop publicly calling for the destruction of his own country, America, and the annihilation of all Israeli Jews.

Would it be so hard for the president to say at a press conference, “We want to get this deal with Iran done. But let me be clear. It will not proceed so long as Iran publicly calls for the death of my fellow countrymen and the holocaust of Israel’s Jews. The United States is opposed to genocide on every level, including genocidal incitement. Ayatollah Khameini’s public calls for the destruction of the United States and Israel is a red line that will lead to the collapse of these talks, should they continue.”

Such a statement would be righteous, courageous, and inspiring. And it might go a long way toward the president recapturing some of the moral authority he has lost ever since this appeasement of Iran began.

Yes, Mr. President. Words do matter.

The author, “America’s rabbi,” whom Newsweek and
The Washington Post call “the most famous rabbi in America,” is an award-winning columnist and the international best-selling author of 30 books, including his most recent, Kosher Lust. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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