Israel Facing a Perfect Storm
by Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates with Dan Diker and Shoshana Bryen (March 2015)
Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu, Ma’ale Adumim Campaign Stop, Feb. 25, 2015
A perfect storm is threatening Israel. While the world’s attention is focused on the rise of the Islamic State or ISIS with its apocalyptic view of traditional Jihadist Sunni Islam, a state with another Islamic apocalyptic vision, Shia Iran, is about to achieve nuclear hegemony in the Middle East. Iran, a notorious state sponsor of terrorism, is using proxies Hezbollah and Hamas to confront Israel on its borders and internally. A clash occurred in mid-January 2015 when the IAF attacked a convoy in Quneitra, Syria, hard by the Israeli Golan frontier killing four Senior Hezbollah Commanders, including Jihad Mughniyeh and six Iranian Quds Force commanders, notably, Gen. Mohammed Ali Allahdadi. Hezbollah retaliated shortly thereafter with an attack in the disputed Shebaa Farms area in Lebanon firing anti-tank weapons and hitting an IDF vehicle, killing two and injured several Israeli soldiers. Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hasan Nasrallah, in a public statement threatened Israel with an invasion of the Galilee followed with a reign of terror from its estimated 150,000 rockets and missiles able to cover all of Israel. Israel’s air force conducted raids in December 2014 on Damascus international airport and Dimas on the Lebanese border. Those raids on December 8, 2014 may have destroyed Russian equipment that might have deployed to counter a proposed no-fly zone inside Syria.
The IAF has conducted several prior raids that included targeting longer range Iranian–supplied Fateh-110 missiles.
Hezbollah has been engaged in actions in Syria and along the Lebanese border, fighting Sunni opposition forces. Its casualties in the nearly four year civil war have steadily mounted. Thus, despite the clash, Nasrallah may not be so inclined to open a full-throated war on Israel’s north. But Iran’s intention may be to foment a series of cross-border actions seeking to divert IDF conventional military resources.
Former National Security Adviser Maj. Gen. Yaakov Armidror (ret.) nevertheless considers Hezbollah Israel’s most significant threat ranging across its entire northern border, a development highlighted in a recent analysis from the MEMRI organization. A recent report by the Times of Israel revealed a meeting between Quds Force Commander, Gen. Qassem Suleymani and the head of Hamas’ Politburo, Khaled Meshaal in Turkey shortly after the end of last summer’s Hamas rocket war in Gaza. That marked a renewal of relations between Iran and the Sunni terrorist group to provide funding and weapons after Qatar refrained from that role it had previously held. Iran is not above working with Sunni terror groups, like Muslim Brotherhood affiliate Hamas, and even, as some analysts believe, assisting ISIS in its beginning stages. Iran is now fighting ISIS in both Syria and Iraq. Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu considers these actions by Iran and its proxy Hezbollah in the Jewish nation’s north as opening a third front. Iran and Israel have been fighting a secret war around the world over the past thirty years. This is the latest of a series of chess moves by the Persian experts of the Islamic Regime.
That conventional threat to Israel on its border is just one of the storms it is facing. The other is the existential threat posed by Iran becoming a nuclear threshold state capable of producing nuclear weapons. Iran’s nuclear program began during the Eisenhower Administration with a US agreement with the Shah of Iran to assist in building a civilian nuclear reactor. Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Islamic regime has conscientiously engaged in an illicit nuclear weapons program, with the aid of North Korea and the A.Q. Khan network, gradually building its nuclear enrichment capability. Iran is also developing its nuclear payload capabilities, nuclear triggers, and warheads to be fitted on medium range and intercontinental missiles. Intrusive inspections under the auspices of the UN International Atomic Energy Administration began over a decade ago which revealed both known and unknown cascade halls of more than 10,000 centrifuges.
extended by mutual agreement to June 30, 2015 together with release of several billions of dollars of funds impounded under US sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. An earlier date for achieving a working version of a final agreement had been announced for March 24, 2015.
say that “it would provide Iran will a license to make a bomb.” He also said in an address to a gathering of major American Jewish organizations in Jerusalem in late February, “That if the deal was a good one, then why hide it?” A reference to Israel being excluded from weekly briefings, given suspicion in the Administration that it might be engaged in leaking information.
However, Netanyahu was not alone in questioning the Administration’s negotiations for a deal with Iran. On February 5, 2015 the Washington Post Editorial Board published “The emerging Iran nuclear deal raises major concerns:
? First, a process that began with the goal of eliminating Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons has evolved into a plan to tolerate and restrict that capability.
? Second, in the course of the negotiations, the Obama administration has declined to counter increasingly aggressive efforts by Iran to extend its influence across the Middle East and seems ready to concede Tehran a place as a regional power at the expense of Israel and other U.S. allies.
? Finally, the Obama administration is signaling that it will seek to implement any deal it strikes with Iran — including the suspension of sanctions that were originally imposed by Congress — without seeking a vote by either chamber. Instead, an accord that would have far-reaching implications for nuclear proliferation and U.S. national security would be imposed unilaterally by a president with less than two years left in his term.
“An Emerging Nuclear Deal With Iran”:
The United States and its partners (Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) have properly focused in the negotiations on curbing Iran’s activities, especially uranium enrichment for weapon purposes. They are trying to structure the agreement so they would know at least a year in advance if Iran moved to speed up its program to build a nuclear bomb. That would allow plenty of time to re-impose sanctions, interrupt the program through cyberwarfare or take military action.
The nuclear threat has dominated Iran’s relations with the United States for more than a decade. If this can be resolved, the two countries may be able to tackle other differences, including Iran’s missile program and its growing involvement in regional conflicts. It won’t be easy, but it could open up space for cooperation.
Mr. Netanyahu, who is scheduled to address Congress next week, has already denounced the deal. The agreement must be judged on the complete package, not on any single provision. Even if the deal is not perfect, the greater risk could well be walking away and allowing Iran to continue its nuclear activities unfettered.
polled do not trust the President to deliver a deal with Iran to protect them against this existential threat. The risk could be a possible nuclear holocaust to wipe Israel off the map of the world and end the “Zionist Enterprise.” 3 out of 5 Americans polled are in favor of Netanyahu speaking and 3 out of 4 suggest that any deal with Iran should be subject to vetting and clearance by Congress. A Senate panel passed new sanctions legislations in late January 2015 for floor consideration shortly following the outcome, if any, of the P5+1 negotiations with Iran on March 24th.
This deepening divide between Washington and Jerusalem constituted another factor in the perfect storm facing Israel. These developments were discussed at a meeting in Northwest Florida in late February 2015. During a question and answer period following the presentation, a member of the audience confirmed that Americans on the Gulf Coast also voice the opinion that Iran’s possession of a nuclear bomb was a threat to them, as well. That comment is reflected in polls that most Americans view Iran, rather than Russia, China or ISIS at the leading threat because of its development of nuclear weapons.
In the run up to PM Netanyahu’s speech before Congress, the Administration, American media and J-Street launched their attack against his appearance in Washington. There was an instant brusque rebuttal by Netanyahu and a senior Israeli official, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice
Charlie Rose Show-PBS, Feb. 24, 2015
On Tuesday evening, February 24, 2015, during a Charlie Rose Interview (watch here) Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice commented:
On both sides, there has now been injected a degree of partisanship which is not only unfortunate. I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship. The relationships has always been bipartisan, we need to keep it that way.
Talk Toughens As US-Israel Relations Fray,” cited a White House leak that Ms. Rice had “upbraided” Israeli National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen for alleged leaks concerning the negotiations with Iran. Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, said, “Maybe Kerry doesn’t know what we know.” Buried in the front section of the same Times edition was a full page ad by J-Street, which fashions itself as “pro-Peace, pro-Israel” with the headline, “Prime Minister Netanyahu: Congress Isn’t a Prop for Your Election Campaign.”
declined an invitation from senior Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) to attend a closed session with Democratic members of the US Senate. In his view this was not necessary as he was speaking to an open joint session of Congress on a bi-partisan basis.
Secretary of State Kerry testifying before a House Committee
February 25, 2015
reported by the Wall Street Journal, on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 Secretary of State Kerry, in testimony before a House Committee hearing, struck out at Netanyahu faulting his judgment about the Iran Talks. He suggested that Netanyahu had been wrong about support of the 2003 Iraq invasion under Bush, an invasion that Kerry had voted for. Kerry concluded, “He may have a judgment that just may not be correct here.”
The superpowers are committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons, but from the agreement that’s being formulated, it appears that they have given up on this commitment.
Against this background we arranged for another in the periodic Middle East Roundtable discussions sponsored by 1330amWEBY of Pensacola, Florida.
Mike Bates: Good afternoon and welcome to Your Turn. This program is a special edition. We do this from time to time, our Middle East round table discussions. I have with me in the studio Jerry Gordon, Senior Editor of the New English Review and its blog The Iconoclast. Welcome Jerry.
Jerry Gordon: Good to be back Mike.
Bates: And joining us from Washington D.C., Shoshana Bryen, She is Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center. Shoshana, welcome.
Shoshana Bryen: Nice to be here.
Bates: Through the magic of satellite telephone we have Dan Diker, live from Jerusalem. Dan Diker is the Executive Producer of the Voice of Israel and the host of “National Security” on the Voice of Israel’s Global Radio Network in Jerusalem. Dan, welcome to Your Turn.
Dan Diker: Thanks, nice to be here Mike.
Bates: Israel is facing threats from multiple sources.
Gordon: It sure looks like that. Except it is under the aegis of a so-called phased deal over a decade. The reality may be is that Iran already has a nuclear device or is looking for a capability in that direction. That is something that is really consternating. There has been lots of commentary out of Israel objecting to what was announced as breaking news by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other mainstream media in this regard. The question really is whether or not a deal has been struck with the Islamist regime in Tehran that would allow them to become a so-called nuclear breakout nation.
Bates: Now the mad Mullahs in Iran are somewhat suicidal and apocalyptic because they think that if they do this it will bring about the Twelfth Imam and some sort of everlasting peace under Islam. However, is the secular side of Iranian society they nearly as suicidal and crazy?
Bates: Dan did you want to add to that?
directly by representatives of the American people. The White House who did receive enough warning beforehand and simply is furious about that invitation because they know that Prime Minister Netanyahu has the expertise and the know how to make the opposite case. The White House does not want that case made to the American people because they do not want the small print read that reflects the real dangers of this compromised deal with the most dangerous regime in the world.
Bates: Shoshana this deal is not being called a treaty. Does that mean that the United States Senate has no say in what happens with this agreement?
Bates: So does that mean there would be a vote?
Bates: The problem with that is?
Gordon: Dan at the start of this program I talked about some of the issues that I am going to be presenting tonight. One of them was on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent statement about Iran opening up a third front. In January we had an event on the Golan that resulted in Senior Commanders from Hezbollah and the Quds Force being killed. What can you give us in the way of background about that?
Mike: Dan, you said something that shocked me. You said that Iran might have established ISIS. Why would a Shia Iran want to establish a Sunni ISIS?
Bates: There is an Arab proverb that says the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Gordon: That is one way of characterizing it.
Diker: There you go.
Bates: I said it exactly as I meant to say it. Israel does deliver goods to Gaza, but is condemned for it.
Bryen: Dan I would say there is a precedent – and it is also Israel. Israel is on the Golan Heights, opposite Syria, and Syrians who have been injured in their civil war are brought into Israel for treatment by Israeli doctors. Somehow the word has traveled even to Israel’s enemies that Israel will do the right thing.
Bates: A very good point to bring up Shoshana. I read about that just the other day that they are bringing injured Syrians across the border into Israel and they are receiving as good care as an Israeli citizen would and brought back to good health? They are sent home at that point but the medical treatment is given because the Israeli people by and large are a very decent people. However, they are not portrayed that way in the press and by politicians. It is inexcusable that they are not accurately portrayed.
Bates: Why is there such stern opposition by Obama to this address to Congress?
Bates: And so this invitation by Senators Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein, this is for a post-address closed door discussion that from what I have read is only going to be attended by Democrats. Are these Senators Durbin and Feinstein trying to politicize this?
Bryen: The Generals understand much more about the cultural reference points of our enemies than the President does. They understand that different things can – not always, but can—influence people in different ways. They have been there, they have fought those people and the Generals want the United States to have a frame of reference that takes into account the culturalism on the other side. You can split that a lot of ways but the White House is not very good at this.
Bates: Jerry Gordon, Shoshana Bryen, Dan Diker, thank you for joining us.
Listen to the February 24, 2015 1330amWEBY “Your Turn’ Middle East Round Table discussion.
Also see Jerry Gordon’s collection of interviews, The West Speaks.
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