In essence, political blackmail.
This “linkage” underscores Israel’s relative powerlessness in its dialogue with the US. Simply put, Netanyahu has no cards to play. Bibi has nothing of value to trade. He has zero leverage. He has nothing to threaten as retaliation.
Presient Obama’s Chicago-style political hardball has serious implications for Israel. Forcing Israel to “go it alone” with Iran by withholding targeting information, satellite images, over-flight permissions, technical help jamming air defenses – and a whole host of other behind-the-scenes assistance – reduces the chance of Israeli military success.
But President Obama’s mafia-style offer “that Israel cannot refuse” also has serious implications for America. And if American voters knew, it is a policy they would reject.
Let me repeat that. American voters would reject a policy of forcing Israel to “go it alone.”
In a May 2009 Rasmussen poll, 49% of Americans agreed that, if Israel launches an attack against Iran, the United States should help Israel. Thirty-seven percent (37%) believed the United States should do nothing while just 2% believe the US should help Iran.
Sixty-six percent (66%) of all voters said that preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons is more important than preventing war between Iran and Israel. That was up 14 percentage points from 52% in July 2008.
Americans understand better than the Obama administration, it seems, that it is in the US’ vital interest that should Israel decide it has no option except a military strike on Iran, that the Israeli mission must succeed.
Launch national campaign
Netanyahu surely understands that as well. But…Bibi has no cards to play. In the face of political blackmail on a vital issue such as Iran, he can only retreat inch by inch and hope for better ground to defend. Without leverage, Netanyahu is forced to bargain away the Jewish claim to Judea and Samaria while hoping to keep a tenuous hold on an undivided Jerusalem.
Caroline Glick is right when she says of the Israeli negotiating position, “The game is rigged against us.”
But here in America we can apply the ultimate political leverage – the American voter – to put some cards in Bibi’s hand.
We can use those poll numbers of American support and common sense as a platform to launch a national campaign designed to break the linkage between the two-state solution and American help on Iran.
We can remind American voters why, absent of the world preventing a nuclear Iran, Israel might be forced to make the difficult choice of a military strike as a means of self-defense.
And we can send a message through the American voter to President Obama – it is in the US’ vital national interest that any Israeli military strike succeed. Don’t deny Israel the help it needs as part of your diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East. Should it come down to a military strike, help Israel succeed. The world – and the US – will be better for it.
Without a concerted, national campaign in America, without a campaign that makes President Obama pay a political price for his linkage policy, a campaign that causes the Obama administration pain, I fear Judea and Samaria, and probably a united Jerusalem, may be lost.
I close with another quote from Caroline Glick, “As we have been all too often in our history, today Israel stands alone against our enemies. We can either defeat them, or we can be defeated. The choice is ours.”
Michael Fenenbock is President of MAX Films and a long-time American political consultant. With his wife Daphne Weisbart, he founded www.DeNukeIran.com. Michael and Daphne live in New York, but spend much of their time in Jerusalem