JERUSALEM – Despite repeated assurances by President Obama that the U.S. will not allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has quietly met with senior military and political leaders to reassess Israel’s options against the Islamic regime in the wake of Obama’s reluctance to launch an all-out military attack against Syrian positions.
Obama’s decision to wait for congressional debate and approval before taking military action was reached despite Secretary of State John Kerry’s acknowledgment that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces used sarin gas against civilians and rebel combatants on at least 14 different occasions.
Sources report that Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz were shocked by U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey’s claims that it made no difference if American air and naval forces struck key Syrian military and government installations a week, or even a month, from now. Israeli and Arab newspapers reported that it was Israeli military intelligence that provided Dempsey and Obama with irrefutable evidence about the Syrian military’s use of sarin gas.
Ironically, Dempsey and the Pentagon have reportedly asked the Israelis to prepare its elite forces units for special operations in order to secure the large number of chemical weapons sites across Syria if and when Assad is forced from power. In the interim, Netanyahu has told Gantz to continue the policy of launching attacks on any Syrian army convoy that attempts to transfer “game-changing” conventional and chemical weapons caches to Hizbullah units operating alongside Assad’s forces.
Israeli and Arab newspaper commentators have been extremely critical of Obama’s lack of resolve in quickly punishing Assad for using sarin gas against his own people. Several of them reminded their readers that Obama’s speech to the nation last Saturday night came on the eve of the 74th anniversary of the start of World War II when Hitler blitzed Poland. That took place after Britain, France and the U.S. refused to confront the Nazi leader, permitting him to accelerate his diabolical plans to exterminate European Jewry.
David Horovitz, the founding editor of The Times of Israel current affairs website, wrote, “At the very least, Obama has given Assad more time to ensure that any eventual strike causes a minimum of damage, and to claim initial victory in facing down the United States. At the very least, too, Obama has led the Iranians to believe that presidential promises to prevent them attaining nuclear weapons need not necessarily be taken at face value…Israel remains hopeful that, to put it bluntly, Obama’s America will yet remember that it is, well, America. The alternative, it rather seems, is something the leadership in Jerusalem finds too awful to so much as contemplate just yet.”
Veteran Channel 10 newsmagazine host Yaron London wrote in Monday’s Yediot Aharonot, “How will the U.S. act when Iran approaches a bomb? Is it possible to rely on the White House’s decisive statements that Iran will not have nuclear weapons? The black dot at the end of this strong sentence is suspiciously similar to the red line that Obama set for Syria one year ago. Now it becomes clear that it is not the shortest distance between two points: it bends.
“No promise from the White House will succeed in dissipating the suspicions of Israel’s leaders. I suspect that many Americans might say, ‘If it is possible to live with a nuclear Pakistan and a nuclear North Korea, it is possible to live and prosper with a nuclear Iran.’ ”
Even the British-based pan-Arab daily newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, which has ties to the Saudi royal family, ridiculed Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The newspaper opined, “We can be certain Iran has absorbed the UK’s message, namely that the international community and the West is divided and isn’t serious about dealing with vital issues, like the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”
While Netanyahu urged Israelis to remain calm and go about their “normal business” on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, thousands of Israelis continued to line up at Home Front command distribution centers across the country to receive gas masks.
For his part Assad taunted Israelis with pre-holiday propaganda, reminding them of Syria’s capability to launch military surprises. His father and predecessor, Hafez al-Assad, acted in similar fashion 40 years ago when Israelis were praying on Yom Kippur.