Commentary Magazine


Obama, Kerry Sacrificing U.S.-Israel Alliance for Iran Deal

It’s the perfect metaphor for American foreign policy these days. Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to the Middle East next week to discuss the Iran deal with various American allies, but he’s leaving out one important stop: Israel. According to Israel Army Radio, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the snub by saying, “He really has no reason to come here.” Unfortunately, the prime minister is right. Though the trip is just one of many that Kerry has made, it is a telling symbol for the approach of the Obama administration on the most important issue facing both countries: the Iran nuclear deal. President Obama and Kerry kept Israel out of the loop during the negotiations and ignored its vital interests when signing off on Iran’s demands. Combined with the rhetoric coming out of both men that seeks to isolate and threaten Israel, Kerry’s pointed omission of the Jewish state on his tour is just one more indication that they seek to expand what is already a serious rift between the two countries. Though friends of Israel are rightly focused on persuading Congress to vote down a terrible Iran deal, they must also ponder the long-term impact of the administration campaign against the Jewish state.

Throughout the six and a half years as well as during the course of the negotiations with Iran, President Obama has maintained that he is a steadfast friend of Israel and will always look out for its security. If he criticized or sought to pressure its government it was, he has told us, only for its own good or because, as he noted in his recent speech to a Washington, D.C. synagogue, he wanted to help return Israel to a mythical past when it had the affection of Western liberals.

At this point, that pretense of friendship is wearing very thin. Secretary Kerry can quote a few stray retired Israeli security experts who endorse the Iran deal, but these largely disgruntled figures with political axes to grind against Netanyahu don’t speak for an Israel whose political leadership from right to left has united against the Iran deal. But the problem here goes deeper than even the profound differences over a pact that grants Iran’s nuclear program Western approval along with the end of sanctions and a vast cash bonus. The crisis in the alliance also transcends the personal disputes between Obama and Netanyahu.

The fact that the United States refused to give Israel all the details on the Iran deal that were part of its confidential appendices even after it was concluded also speaks not merely to the lack of trust between the two governments but also to the desire of the administration to cover up the extent of its effort to appease Tehran. Though it asserted there were no side deals with Iran, the appendices and the failure to make them available to Congress or the public compromise that claim. Even now, European diplomats visiting Israel are still refusing to divulge the contents of these documents to their hosts, making it difficult, if not impossible, to fully gauge the problem facing the Jewish state. All the Israelis do know at this point is that the U.S. has agreed to protect the Iranian program against further efforts to sabotage it. Along with the cooperation that now exists in Iraq and Syria between Washington and Tehran, it now appears that Israel is just one more American ally in the region and not the most influential one. Under the circumstances, Netanyahu’s bitter reflection about Kerry having no reason to come to the country may be unfortunate but it is also accurate.

The administration’s arguments that the alternative to the deal is a quicker Iranian path to a bomb or war are unpersuasive. Congress knows that tougher sanctions brought Iran to the table but that Obama’s abandonment of Western economic and political leverage over Iran during the talks is what left the U.S. with such dismal choices, not an inevitable need to bow to the dictates of the Islamist regime. But just as dangerous are Obama and Kerry’s other arguments aimed at silencing Israel and its friends.

Some of Netanyahu’s Israeli political opponents blame him for the estrangement between the countries. Those criticisms are not entirely off base because there is no secret about the fact that Obama and Netanyahu have a terrible relationship that has been exacerbated by the prime minister’s prickly personality. But the U.S.-Israel crackup isn’t a tabloid romance gone sour. The differences between the two countries are rooted in the administration’s reckless pursuit of an entente with Iran at the cost of its friendships with both Israel and moderate Arab states. That pursuit began in Obama’s first months in office, and nothing Netanyahu could have done or said would have deterred the president from this course of action. His success was achieved by a series of American concessions on key nuclear issues and not by pique about Israel’s stands on the peace process with the Palestinians or perceived rudeness on the part of Netanyahu.

Despite the attempt to portray Netanyahu’s interventions in the debate about Iran as a partisan move or an insult to Obama, keeping silent would not have advanced Israel’s interests or made more U.S. surrenders to Iran less likely. At this point, Israel has no choice but to remind U.S. lawmakers of the terrible blow to American credibility and regional stability from the Iran deal. It is the White House that has turned the Iranian nuclear threat — which was once the subject of a bipartisan consensus — into a choice between loyalty to the Democratic Party and its leader and friendship for Israel.

It is almost a given that the next president — no matter who he or she might turn out to be — will be friendlier to Israel than Obama. But the president’s legacy may not only be the strengthening of a terror state in Tehran. It has also chipped away at the U.S.-Israel alliance in a way that will make it that much harder to maintain the across-the-board pro-Israel consensus in Congress in the coming years. Given the growing dangers that the deal poses to Israel this is something that should have both Republicans and Democrats deeply worried.

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8 Responses to “Obama, Kerry Sacrificing U.S.-Israel Alliance for Iran Deal”

  1. BARRY MEISLIN says:

    That there is an “alliance” between the current US administration and the State of Israel is certainly an “interesting” idea.

    Almost as interesting as the idea that the current US administration has American interests at heart.

    But then, that might be exactly what “greater flexibility” was always intended to mean….


    Barry: “greater flexibility”, as in ‘contortionist’? It will be interesting to see how the Jewish represents in the U.S. congress respond to this.

  3. KENT LYON says:

    What, Washington worry? You have Washington confused with a serious city. Obama has transformed Washington and America into caricatures of Alfred E. Newman. Israel is alone, and has no recourse. America is now the close ally of Israel’s greatest enemy. And that state of affairs has the vigorous approval of American Jewish citizenry, which includes Chuck Schumer, Diane Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer. Go figure.


    Seems to me that the President intended, long before becoming officially the President, on giving to Iran the capacity to produce nukes. His way to “repair the world”!!!
    In the meantime, the US is on the way of being partially castrated as far as her Defense Forces are concerned.

  5. CLAIRE GEBER says:

    With the diplomatic relationship going to hell (for which Obama, not
    Netanyahu, must be entirely blamed), we often hear words of comfort that the military and security ties with Israel remain strong. No more. The Iran deal redefines “military and security ties” to mean that the US is securely tying the hands of Israel’s military forces.

    No more Stuxnet cyber-sabotage cooperation. No selling bunker-busters to Israel. Anti-aircraft missiles that will deter IDF attacks have already been sold to Iran by Russia. Re-fueling aircraft are on their way, to extend the reach of Iran’s bombers. And the US will shoot down IDF planes on their way to Iran, and withhold resupplies of ammunition to Israel’s counter-attacks on Hamas or Hizbollah, while allowing Iran to resupply their terrorist proxies with rockets.

    The only discernible purpose of the deal was to block Israel taking the military option.

  6. TIKI SHAPIRA says:

    That Obama would throw Israel under the bus was clear from the beginning and he’s not done yet. His final ‘act of friendship (in Israel’s own interest of course) will be to not use his veto power against the recognition of “”Palestine”” in the UNSC.

    Just wait and watch….it’s coming!


    Go outside. Get some more air. Take a plane. Visit Tel Aviv. Dance for a while. You are talking yourself into hysteria. Some one of you is going to do something nuts not just say something nuts. Calm down.

    Stephanie S. Lubicz M.D.!!!!

    Isn’t your first job to do no harm?

    My God! “…partially castrated” The U.S. military is on the way of being partially castrated you say.

    Please don’t perform any operations or give any advice today.

    Oh this is bad. Folks, I leave you to your doctor.

    Dr. Lubicz take it away:
    You have the operating theater to yourself. Let’s see what you do with it.

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