By Larry Gordon –
Observing Bibi Netanyahu up close address 14,000 delegates at the recently concluded annual America Israel Public Affair Committee (AIPAC) policy conference was an exhilarating experience. The masses packed into the main room at the Washington Convention Center on Tuesday morning at 7:30 am to listen to a few speakers including New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and then the Prime Minister.
It was indeed rousing, important and unforgettable. On Monday I listened intently to remarks from Secretary of State John Kerry and Arizona Senator John McCain. So let me put it this way now that I am back at my desk in New York. Menendez and McCain get it, Kerry and Obama do not and therein lies the challenges and obstacles that all of us—supporters of Israel of good faith—have to deal with today in the here and now.
Listening and studying the speakers it becomes evident where exactly the divide exists on the primary issues of the day—a nuclear Iran and peace with the Palestinians. On Iran Menendez, a Democrat, was more forceful that Mr. Netanyahu. Why in the world would anyone think it was prudent to ease up sanctions on Iran when it was sanctions that brought them reluctantly to the negotiating table in the first place?
Now that Iran is playing games in the aftermath of the Obama administrations loosening of some sanctions as a good faith gesture to a country that would not know what good faith was if it fell on their heads, the world and Israel as well are faced with some difficult choices in the weeks and months ahead.
Menendez told the AIPAC audience that it was absurd to respond to the situation by saying that if Iran does not keep their promises then sanctions can always be intensified at that point. That is wrong and more than anything else demonstrates a lack of understanding on the presidents and the secretary’s part. The New Jersey senator said that with the tools and instruments currently at Iran’s disposal they can have a bomb in sixty days.
Increasing sanctions on the corrupt regime there would take six months to have any effect and would not be felt by the people for as long as a year. So Menendez is in favor of tougher sanctions now as is McCain and Israel. Obama and Kerry just do not understand.
So the additional intrigue involved the fact that at present the Senate has 58 or 59 votes in favor of greater sanctions, a bill which if brought to him to sign, Mr. Obama said he would veto. The Senate needs 67 votes in order to override a presidential veto and that is the very serious game that is currently being played.
Then, of course there is that table that gets talked about fairly often. That’s the table with all the options on it that the president and Mr. Kerry are fond of referring to as “no options being off the table.” That is of course a not so veiled threat to take military action to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities should the situation come to that. It’s an elusive option but nevertheless an option at that.
To make matters more complicated the Obama administration has built a reputation according to Senator McCain as Mr. Obama being a president with “feckless foreign policy.” His credibility suffered grievously when he warned Syria that a US military response was imminent in response to Bashar Assad’s chemical weapon murder of over 1100 Syrians last year. And then this week with Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin making his move on The Ukraine all the president could do was freeze some Russian assets in US banks and say that he might cancel his visit to Russia in June. That’s a demonstration of strength? Is that leadership?
The mullahs in Iran look at these international events and smirk to themselves about how elementary it is to run circles around Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry. And in Ramallah, Palestinian President Mohammad Abbas is probably thinking much the same thing. That is that a weak America is an ineffective America. And as a result this is what world leaders have to take into consideration that we are dealing with a weak US president and that’s not good for anyone.
In his speech Benjamin Netanyahu chided his listeners saying that they are mistaken if the thing that Iran’s nuclear design are only being directed at Israel. He said that amongst other things Iran is continuing to build and perfect their ICBM’s—Intercontinental ballistic missiles that carry nuclear warheads. “Iran’s ICBM’s can already reach Tel Aviv,” the Prime Minister said, adding that they are continuing to produce the missiles so that they can reach every American city from New York to Los Angeles.
Bibi said that he had no qualms or reservations about what the ideas and objectives of the devious dictators in Iran were. “It’s pretty simple and I’ve said it before,” the Prime Minister said. “If it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck, in this case a nuclear duck.” More in this week’s 5TJT