Right from Wrong: Iran, Iran, Iran and Netanyahu

In a Fox News interview with Mark Levin in March 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defined the three greatest threats to his country as “Iran, Iran and Iran.”

July 25, 2019 21:28
Binyamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu warns against nuclear Iran at 2012 UN General Assembly. (photo credit: REUTERS)

In a Fox News interview with Mark Levin in March 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defined the three greatest threats to his country as “Iran, Iran and Iran.”

This was by no means the first time that Netanyahu had pointed to the perils posed by Tehran’s race to acquire nuclear weapons, nor would it be his last.

Indeed, Netanyahu has been warning the world about Tehran’s global terrorist reach for so long that his speeches on the issue, both at home and abroad, have become a source of ridicule. Accusing him of fear-mongering as a ploy to stay in power, his detractors berate him for comparing the mullah-led regime’s evil hegemonic aspirations to those of the Nazis.

Yes, the very enemies who think nothing of comparing Netanyahu and his ally in the White House to Hitler have been downplaying the concrete danger that has been emanating from the Islamic Republic since its establishment 40 years ago – a menace that has escalated to alarming levels. Thanks to the “appeasement deal of the century,” otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, pushed forth by a coalition of ostriches, led by former US president Barack Obama and his criminally negligent, if not outright criminal, administration.

Netanyahu’s repeated appeals to the so-called “international community” not to enter into a nuclear agreement favorable to Iran initially fell on deaf ears. But it did not deter him from his two-pronged approach: gathering and exposing intelligence about Tehran’s spinning centrifuges on one hand while launching limited military strikes against Iranian and proxy Hezbollah targets in Syria on the other.

Due to Israel’s policy of “strategic ambiguity,” which in the age of the Internet is widely considered to be obsolete, Netanyahu and members of his government occasionally allude to IDF cross-border operations without being specific.

Take Wednesday morning’s missile attack on Tel Al-Hara, a military base in southern Syria believed to contain Iranian militias. Everyone assumes that Israel was behind it, and with good reason.
Nevertheless, Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi was raked over the coals this week for “explosive comments” he made on Sunday during an interview with KAN News Radio. When asked by host Aryeh Golan whether he was concerned that Washington’s mild response to Iranian aggression against a British tanker in the Persian Gulf bode ill for US support in the event that “our little Israel” were to encounter a similar problem, Hanegbi replied that he was not worried.

“For two years now Israel has been the only country in the world killing Iranians,” he said. “We have hit the Iranians hundreds of times in Syria. Sometimes they admit it, sometimes foreign publications expose the matter, sometimes a minister, sometimes the chief of staff. But everything is a coordinated policy. The Iranians are very limited in their responses, and it’s not because they do not have the capabilities, but because they understand that Israel means business. We are very firm on issues of national security.”

NATURALLY, NOBODY in the Hebrew or foreign press bothered to put Hanegbi’s words in context, preferring to report that he had “boasted” about killing Iranians when what he was actually saying was that Israel does not rely on the help or approval of outside powers to deal with its own security and defense needs.

Iran understood this message full well but took the opportunity to engage in a Twitter war over it, with its state-run Press TV posting a meme of Hanegbi’s quote and a caption reading: “This is how Israelis are freely and proudly talking about killing Iranians! Just imagine what would happen if it was the other way around!”

Hanegbi fired back, tweeting: “I saw that the murderous regime in Iran did not like that I mentioned this morning that the IDF has been exacting from it a heavy price for its unrelenting aggression against Israel. [Supreme Leader] Khamenei and [President] Rouhani were very insulted. So I thought of a creative idea that could ease Iran’s sensitivity: You will stop placing surface-to-surface missile batteries, UAVs, bases of Shi’ite militias and terrorist infrastructures on Syrian territory aimed at killing Israelis. You will stop arming Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad with deadly weapons systems aimed at killing Israelis. When that happens, we will no longer have to destroy Iranian terrorist arrays and there will be no more Iranian casualties. Deal?”

Hanegbi’s radio and Twitter remarks were simply a nutshell summation of Israeli policy vis-à-vis Iran. Furthermore, they followed two statements made by Netanyahu earlier in the month – one aimed at Tehran and the other at Brussels – voicing a similar sentiment.

On July 9, while visiting the Nevatim Air Force base and standing next to an Adir F-35 jet, he said, “Iran has threatened recently to destroy Israel. It is worthwhile for them to remember that these planes can reach everywhere in the Middle East, including Iran and Syria.”

Less than a week later, on July 15, Netanyahu reacted harshly to the European Union’s insistence that Iranian violations of the JCPOA were not severe enough to warrant a reimposition of sanctions.

In a Hebrew video clip he said: “The response by the European Union to the Iranian violations reminds me of the European appeasement of the 1930s. Also then there was someone who buried his head in the sand and didn’t see the approaching danger. It seems that there are those in Europe who won’t wake up until Iranian nuclear missiles fall on European soil and then, of course, it will be too late. In any case, we will continue to do everything necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

Luckily for Israel, Netanyahu has a friend in US President Donald Trump, who not only withdrew from the JCPOA – partly as a result of the trove of Iranian documents seized by a daring Mossad raid on a nuclear archive in Tehran – but has increased sanctions on the regime. Though necessary, these moves are not sufficient, however, as Iran has been illustrating. This is why the close ties between Netanyahu and Trump are just as beneficial to the United States.

THAT BRINGS us to a key reason that Netanyahu just broke the record, previously held by Israel’s first premier, David Ben-Gurion, as the longest-serving prime minister in the country’s history.

Though Israeli “Bibi-bashers” would have the world believe that Netanyahu’s political longevity is due to a ruthless and bottomless hunger to “hang on to his seat,” and that he stops at nothing to guarantee the fall of his rivals and opponents, they fail to acknowledge the traits and accomplishments that have led to his repeated reelection. In doing so, they cast aspersions on the electoral system and the voters simultaneously.

Ironically, many of such nay-sayers wouldn’t have a shot at being in the Knesset in the first place if it weren’t for Israel’s “parliamentary democracy on steroids,” as the current campaign by tiny parties headed by swelled-headed politicians proves.

As for the voters, well, some of us struggle with the dilemma of casting our ballots for the party that most closely represents our ideological positions, or opting instead to back the big party most likely to form a coalition that best reflects our will.

Then there are those who are more focused on ousting Netanyahu than on articulating or holding any particular views. Many such floaters are supporting the Blue and White Party, headed by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, who have a rotation agreement.

At a surprise gathering in honor of his lengthy leadership record thrown for him on Monday by his family and members of Likud, Netanyahu took an apt jab at his defamers in general and the Blue and White chiefs in particular.

“If not for the actions we’ve taken, Iran would have had a nuclear arsenal a long time ago, and its coffers with which to take over the Middle East would have been even fuller. We’ve blocked it up until now but it hasn’t been permanently blocked. No one knows what will happen... the Iranians are banking on it being only a little while more until they’re free of [us].... The Iranians are just waiting, they’re waiting for our opponents. Who will stop [them]? Benny Gantz? Yair Lapid? [Those] who said we mustn’t walk away from the [nuclear] deal? That it was alright?”

Though it was clear that Netanyahu was using the celebratory event as part of his campaign to win again on September 17, he was right to stress his point. Even one of his vocal critics, TV personality Avri Gilad, recently expressed “anxiety” about the “day after” Netanyahu, whenever that might be.

The effort to portray him as a crazed and corrupt Captain Queeg ranting and raving about “Iran, Iran, Iran” has thus been futile so far, due to his deft stewardship of “our little Israel” through ayatollah-infested waters.

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