It's been a few days, and the dust hasn't settled.
Israeli shrill, in Hebrew and other languages, has been prominent in the media here and elsewhere, along with efforts at varying hues to calm our fears.
Headlines in Israel Hayom about as expected
- An agreement to shame the world
- It doesn't obligate us
- The great powers are gambling with our future
- A felonious day
- With the help of Obama, Iran has become the most powerful state in the Middle East
- Inspection? Please inform us 24 days in advance
- The profit of Iran: billions will flow; the economy of the terror powerhouse that will surge ahead
A right of center academic cited six reasons to oppose the agreement.
- The very bad agreement reached yesterday between the Western powers and Iran underscores the weakness of the US;
- Grants Iran nuclear legitimacy;
- Spurs nuclear proliferation in the region;
- Bolsters Iran’s ability to project force and support terrorism;
- Changes the balance of power in the region in favor of Iran; and
- Brings the US into sharp conflict with Israel, leading perhaps to an Israeli military strike on Iran.
At the other end of our spectrum, Ha'aretz did not disappoint.
A lead op-ed described Netanyahu as a compulsive gambler, now putting all his money on Congress. After he lost his pants opposing agreement, he is betting his underwear on Congress, and is likely to destroy what remains of the relations between Israel and the US.
A prominent news site provided a reminder of 1973 when Israel mobilized its nuclear weapons against Egypt and Syria. The action--purposely done in ways to let intelligence agencies know what was happening--helped to speed US aid in conventional weapons, and to dissuade the Russians from helping its clients by attacking Israel.
Perhaps this was meant to remind us what Israel may do to Iran?
Bibi's colleagues were shrill in criticizing the American President. Bibi himself was careful to assert that he respected Barack Obama, even while he disagreed with his assessments. Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, made clear that they are not bound by the agreement, and that Israel would have to rely on its capacity for self-defense, without outside help.
Obama claimed that he had done the best possible to reign in Iran's capacity. He conceded that Israelis had a right to worry about Iran, and added--less convincingly--that Israel had offered no alternative. Even less convincing was his use of the slogan that sanctions could be "snapped back" if Iran cheated. The years required for various sanctions to be put in place by the UN and various governments, along with the economic incentives to trade with Iran, suggest that "snapping back" is a cheap slogan, more appropriate to advertising a household gadget than this international agreement.
Leaders of opposition parties are both siding with Bibi in condemning the agreement, and saying that they would have done better in dealing with the Americans.
Supporters of the deal acknowledge that it doesn't solve all the problems of Iran, and that it does not erase the efforts of the US and others to oppose its support of terror.
Congress remains a battleground yet to be tested.
Commentators are saying that the US Defense Secretary is coming to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates with an open checkbook, and a list of defensive weapons that will be on offer.
Could this be the reason for Bibi's hyperbole, i.e., to get more by way of security aid?
Some prominent Israelis, with significant reputations in national defense, have been measured in their criticism of the deal.
Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister, Defense Minister, and Commander of the IDF, said that Israel had the power to live alongside a nuclear Iran.
“The agreement gives legitimacy to Iran to become a nuclear threshold state . . . It allows [the Iranians] to subsidize terror and removes them from the noose of sanctions. It is fair to say that it will allow Iran to follow North Korea to become a nuclear power.”
One retired general describes the agreement as a significant blow to Iran's nuclear efforts, and that American claims of distancing Iran from nuclear weapons are correct. However, he sees Iran as a danger to the west on account of its support of terror. Moreover, the end of sanctions will provide substantially more money to continue those activities and a kind of endorsement by silence insofar as the deal does not deal with them.
Another former general sees promise in the agreement if Iran is kept to it. However, he also is concerned about the Prime Minister he once advised.
"If Mr Netanyahu, who is now intent on lobbying America’s Senate to vote against the agreement, chooses instead to burnish his grievance, he will be gambling with Israel’s security at a time when he has an opportunity and Israel has a need for renewed strategic assurances from the administration.”
The weakest argument of those opposing the agreement claim that after its 10-year period, Iran will be free to continue its development of nuclear weapons.
Ten years is a long time. Optimists note the complexities in Iranian society, with educated and secular people opposed to religious oppression, and concerned mostly for a good life and personal advancement. The regime is itself divided, with some in high laces concerned with moderation and an opening to the west. An end of sanctions will come with greater personal contacts with outsiders.
Should moderation not come, the 10 year period will also provide opportunities for western governments to react against any indication of renewed activities toward nuclear weapons.
Cynics see the 10 years as the opportunity for Obama to leave office with glory. He will have brought peace in his time, and can retire to a well paid career as senior statesperson, lecturer, and writer of books that will be assessed for what may be the true Barack Obama, unrestrained by national office. Jews will ponder the words in uses in connection with Israel, against the standard of Jimmy Carter's claims about Apartheid.
So where are we now?
That's one of the questions we can't answer.
It's a time for us commoners to hope for the best, without expecting it.